Survivor: South Pacific
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
October 10, 2011

Cast Away II: Total Rejection

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: South Pacific. We're three episodes into the new season and I have to say I'm really liking it a lot. Of course, that could be because of my sweet new drinking game!

Previously on Survivor: Brandon continued his descent into absolute insanity, Coach is large and in charge in his tribe, Ozzy can't keep a secret and told Keith about his idol and Johnny Cochs made it to his third life as the Savaii tribe decided Papa Bear was the weakest link and sent him packing to Redemption Island.

Previews for tonight suggest Johnny is planning to make a move...on Ozzy! While I like having Ozzy in the game, I would really enjoy seeing him sent home with an idol in his pocket...again. And oh yeah, Brandon is apparently gonna get crazier. I mean, what's left really? Dude is pretty much certifiable, so we need to keep beating that dead horse? What's that? He's a Hantz? that case, I guess we DO have to beat that horse a few more times.

Before we get to any of that, though, it's time to update the Power Rankings. Considering how the last episode went, there's really not much of a change in the rankings. No one really screwed up and no one really took a big step either.

Coach - 5-1. I'm switching Coach and Ozzy this week. Mainly because I really think Coach has positioned himself VERY well within his tribe. Brandon's insanity has caused a lot of unrest in the tribe and everyone seems to be going to Coach. His biggest test will be whether or not he can corral Brandon and keep him in the alliance. Or, just cut him loose when he realizes that Brandon can't be corralled.

Ozzy - 8-1. Ozzy's still in a good position within his tribe. But he told others about the idol. And Keith also went and told about it. This just has the makings of Ozzy getting blindsided again. I think this week's previews are probably misleading, but I can still see it coming. For his sake, I hope Ozzy can see it coming as well.

Keith/Jim/Albert/Rick/Sophia - 12-1. While a couple of these people may separate themselves from the pack this week (I'm looking at you Keith and Jim), they still haven't done a whole lot to warrant a separate entry on the rankings.

Whitney/Elise/Mikayla/Edna - 15-1. If not for being the object of Brandon's desires and having a sweet tree mail hat...this group would be the "who?" group of Survivor: South Pacific. This, of course, pretty much guarantees that at least one of these people will be in the finals.

Dawn/Stacey - 30-1. Dawn has really stepped up in challenges and as long as Johnny Cochs is around, she has at least one more vote before she'll be in any danger. Stacey is still on the outside looking in, but the continued deterioration of Brandon's sanity tells me the spotlight won't find her for a couple votes.

Johnny Cochs - 40-1. And Johnny Cochs lives to see another day. He's made it through to two easy Tribals though. Now, he is hands down the weakest link on this tribe. Previews show him trying to make a move with Jim against Ozzy. If it works, it will be brilliant and Johnny will leap up the Power Rankings next week. As it is, I don't see him getting the support from the tribe and should Savaii go to Tribal, I expect Cochran to be heading to Redemption Island.

Brandon - 50-1. This dude keeps getting worse and worse. For now, Coach is kinda keeping him under control. Previews suggest he now doesn't like Albert or Sophie either and I think that will spell the end of the Hantz era on Survivor. Coach is working with him, but he's still a little leery of him and an attempt to break up the alliance that Coach created on day 1 might just spell the end for Brandon should Upolu go to Tribal.

Christine - 100-1. Christine showed last week that she has the strength and will to beat one of the weakest people to ever play Survivor. This week she gets Papa Bear and I have to say, I think she stands a good chance of lasting one more week. I do, however, think this will be her last good moment on the show as only a Johnny Cochs elimination would have her favored to win again next week.

Papa Bear - 1 million-1. He seems like a great guy. But he's not a great Survivor player. He's done nothing to stand out in the challenges and I think Papa Bear is just too old, slow and out of shape to pose a huge threat to Christine in this week's duel. I do expect him to throw his buff in the fire; making the Savaii tribe the only tribe to have members actually go home.

The show opens up with Elyse and Ozzy hanging out in the hammock. Elyse is asking him if everyone in his family is athletic like he is. He says not really and that he's always been into "survivalism." As he discusses his love for Robinson Crusoe, Elyse is just staring into his soul with her little heart eyes. Over this, Jim tells us that he is not digging the Ozzy-Elyse hook up. He says that Ozzy is already a huge physical presence in this game and with Elyse as another vote; he becomes a serious voting presence. Jim's worried that if that happens, Ozzy will just run the game the way Mariano did last season. He tells us that he doesn't think he can get Ozzy, but Elyse has to go.

So Jim goes to our good buddy, Johnny Cochs. He suggests that Ozzy is getting too strong and that Elyse might be the best target should they end up at Tribal again. Jim says that Elyse is a "variable" and he likes "constants" in this game...whatever that means. Either way, Cochran is very excited to finally be in on "the plan" and he gladly shakes Jim's hand and agrees to do this. He tells us that he is a little leery of Jim's "car salesman" smile and suspiciously white teeth. Cur the theme...

We come back from break to the Upolu tribe. And guess what, Brandon is whining about good intentions and pride and lying. Wait a minute...I think they're playing last week's tape. We see him apologize to Mikayla and that he feels really bad. She tells us that he did the right thing and all, but she's not really buying it. He just keeps doing ignorant stuff and then apologizing for it. All she keeps thinking is "look who his uncle is." Which, to Brandon's credit, is EXACTLY why he didn't want to tell the tribe in the first place. I think what we could be seeing with Brandon is a little bit of "Island Madness" seeping in. He was thinking with 100% of his faculties before the show began and he knew that telling the tribe his name was a huge risk. Now that he's in the game, not getting sleep, not eating and staring at Mikayla's mostly nude body every day...he can't think straight anymore.

Not content to apologize to Mikayla, Brandon continues on to Edna to apologize to her for lying. He tells her that there's a core five in the alliance and she's not part of it. He says he likes her a lot and hates that he and everyone else has lied to her. This is all news to her and Edna is now on high alert.

Over at Savaii, Tree Mail arrives with everyone's bathing suits. Dawn, as a Mormon, is thrilled to not be running around in her underwear anymore. The mail also announces a duel. Johnny Cochs steps up to go and when no one else will, Jim finally agrees to go as well. He is totally in with Johnny, but he would have preferred to not be too obvious. He was hoping someone else would go so as not to arouse suspicion.

Dawn is now telling us how concerned she is about her age on this tribe. As she's looking at Whitney and Elyse in their bikinis, she feels like she's the "Rudy" of this tribe and she's only 40. She knows she is going to have to continue to battle it out in challenges or she'll be the next to go. Next up is Jim trying to talk strategy with Ozzy and Elyse. He says that he thinks it's a good idea for the other tribe to think they're weak. Ozzy tells us that he thinks Jim is trying to play strategy too much. As he and Johnny Cochs leave, Ozzy pokes fun at them for all the strategy talk and how it's way too early to be thinking like that.

I'm of two minds on this subject. First - um, Oz? Yeah...that's why you suck at this game! Because you don't think "strategy" until your torch is getting snuffed with an immunity idol in your pocket. Second - Um, Oz? You are not Rob Mariano. Don't try to play his game. YOU can't control people. YOU aren't that smart. You need to stop goofing on these guys and consider them a serious threat to your game. If not, guess what? Your torch is getting snuffed with an immunity idol in your pocket. No sooner did I finish typing that, but Dawn says basically the same thing. That he is strategizing, just not with them. And that this is nothing but an attempt to have no one else actually thinking.

We come back from the break to Redemption Island. Today's challenge pits Christine against Papa Bear. Jeff asks Papa Bear how it feels to see Jim and Johnny Cochs in the stands. He says it's not that big of a deal. He also says that if he gets back in the game, he's going to the Upolu tribe where he'll spill everything about the Savaii tribe. He suggests Christine would switch tribes as well. Lucky for us, Brandon chose to go witness the duel and takes this opportunity to apologize to Christine for...well; I can't even keep up anymore. Can we just get to the duel now?

Cool. Today's duel is the "toss the sandbag onto the barrel challenge." There are ten barrels on the field and the first person to land a sandbag on each one wins the duel and lives to fight another day. Easy enough? Great. While this duel was actually a lot of fun to watch, it'll be boring to try to recap. In a nutshell, Christine jumps out to a quick lead and after a few misses, Papa Bear catches up and eventually pulls into a 9-9 tie. As both throw a couple more bags, Christine finally lands her 10th bag and Papa Bear becomes the second player to throw their buff in the fire. As everyone heads back to their respective camp, we'll take a quick break.

Okay, that WAS quick. We come back from break to Upolu on the morning of Day 10. Edna is still freaking out over what Brandon told her. So, to combat that, she feels she really needs to turn up her social game. Included in this is being WAY over-interested in what everyone has to say, walking on Coach's back, laughing hysterically at everyone's jokes, the whole nine. What she's doing, however, is pissing everyone off. Stacey is annoyed that she doesn't have an "off" switch. Mikayla is annoyed with the 1000 questions she asks every time someone speaks. Mikayla and Stacey are both annoyed with her laugh. I don't know. I may have to go back to Sugar's crying to remember a tribe so annoyed with one person.

We come back to Savaii and Jim and Johnny Cochs have returned. Jim is asking Dawn if there was any talk while they were away. She tells him about Ozzy's "strategy" comments. She tells Jim that she thinks he's full of crap. Johnny goes to talk to Dawn also and she says that she'd like to get Ozzy next. I have to say, Cochran is pretty impressive in this scene. This is a clinic on how to get someone to do or say what you want them to all the while, making they think it's their idea.

As Dawn mentions getting rid of Ozzy, he tells her that Jim is a little nervous about booting Ozzy so soon. He then asks her who's closest to Ozzy? Elyse? Dawn says that Elyse is definitely closest to Ozzy. "In his back pocket" are her exact words. Cochran asks, "Would you wanna take out Elyse?" Almost like, "are you SURE about that?" Dawn says that if people are nervous about targeting Ozzy, Elyse is definitely the play. And just like that, Dawn is not only on board, she's feeling pretty good that "her idea" is in play with Jim and Johnny Cochs.

Johnny tells us that he is absolutely thrilled with this plan. As a huge fan of Survivor, he'd always hoped to one day be in on the big move that changes the course of the game. And this is that move. He can't wait to see how the "pretty people" take it when their alliance is broken and Elyse goes home. Before we head to commercial, I'd like to mention that I LOVE the idea of booting Elyse and totally screwing up Ozzy's game. He's always been a little too proud of himself for my liking. But I'd be remiss not to mention the fact that there are currently seven people on the Savaii tribe and only three of them want to vote Elyse. The other four are in a pretty tight alliance and I see no way they'll be able to get the fourth voted needed to boot Elyse. More than likely, they'll just have a 4-3 vote that will do little more than put the surviving two (Jim and Dawn, most likely) at the bottom of the Savaii totem pole. But, it's good to dream, I guess.

Probst sighting!! Today's challenge is one of my favorites. The first time they did this challenge, they had an epic battle between Colby and Mike Skupin in the Outback. Three people from each team (two men and one woman) will be chosen to hold a pole across their back. The tribes will take turns adding weight to the person of their choice from the other tribe. They will add 20 pounds per turn, 20 on each side. Last person standing wins immunity and chickens for their tribe. The weight bearers will be Albert, Brandon and Stacey for Upolu and Jim, Keith and Dawn for Savaii. I think it should be noted that both Coach and Ozzy managed to stay out of this one. I guess they can't be blamed if they don't play.

The tribes do a pretty good job of spreading out the weight and at the 26 minute mark; Dawn and Stacey are holding 100 pounds each, Albert and Keith, 180. Jim and Brandon are both holding 200 pounds on their back. The one thing I notice here as they show all the weight holders. Some of them (Jim and Brandon especially) seem to be very balanced. Dawn and Stacey, not so much. It's like the people putting the weight on never thought about how the weight has to be evenly distributed or it could completely throw off the holder's balance as the weights get heavier. At this point, the unevenness of his bar and the heavy weight causes Keith to drop out of the challenge.

Next up, Brandon and Jim get 20 more pounds to tie a Survivor record. At the sight of this, Albert somehow loses his grip and drops out of the challenge. Next up, Jim and Brandon get 20 more pounds to set a new Survivor record. Both guys really gut it out here, but the weight is just too much and Jim drops out. About a minute later, Brandon also drops out. So it's down to Stacey and Dawn. Both ladies get more weight and are at 120 pounds now. Kinda interesting that they showed Dawn talking about how she would really have to do well at the challenge. Seemed extraneous at the time. As they add the next 20 pounds, Ozzy suggests that they need to watch out for the balance (at least SOMEONE noticed it). With the extra weight, both ladies start really teetering. Stacey is bent at a complete 90 degree angle with the bar balanced on her ass. Dawn is about to lose it. As it turns out, Ozzy's reminder to balance it out helped as Stacey's bar (which wasn't balanced) starts leaning heavily to her left and it's just too much weight for her to even it out and Dawn wins the challenge for Savaii.

Normally, I would think it's time to play "It's anyone but Stacey". After all, she's the only one not in any kind of alliance on the tribe. However, she did just spend almost an hour holding up over 100 pounds on her back. For me, that would earn her three more days and I'd just turn around and dump Edna. She's annoying and not very useful around camp or at challenges. But that's me.

As Upolu comes back to camp, Stacey echoes my sentiment saying she feels like she did an awesome job and should have earned her stay in the game. But, she got votes last time, so she's still worried. Coach takes a minute to give the tribe a pep talk and to tell Stacey how awesome she was in the challenge.

Edna, meanwhile, is feeling the heat of being the weakest link. She decides that after ten days of not speaking to Stacey, now is a good time to see what she thinks about all this. Stacey really doesn't care to talk to her about it. She tells us that she doesn't have any use for Edna and the rest of the tribe should wise up and dump her ass.

Coach comes over to talk to Stacey as well. I'm not sure exactly why he came over or what he was hoping to accomplish. But Stacey tells him that she really feels like Edna should go. She tells him that she's been pulling her weight around camp and in the challenges and Edna hasn't. It seems to me that Coach is almost feeling the way that I do. Like she really did earn the right to stay in the game. However, he's part of an alliance that may not feel the same way. Stacey tells us that she doesn't but Coach's BS at all. She says she's not quitting and that she may have to lie to stay in the game.

Enter Brandon. Stacey tells Brandon that he needs to be watching "them." When Brandon pushes her to figure out who "them" is. She asks him who he called out the other day, which leads him to Mikayla, Albert and Sophie. And just like that, the seed of doubt has been planted in Brandon's head. He already doesn't like Mikayla, so in his twisted little stalker mind, I'm sure it all makes perfect sense. Naturally, Brandon runs right to Coach with his "news." He tells Coach that their five person alliance may not be an alliance anymore. "Stop it. Just stop it." If anyone had wondered if Coach learned anything after his other two stints on Survivor, this few seconds confirms that he did. He tells Brandon to stop believing every single thing someone tells him and especially not to listen to the person that's on death row. He tells him that the game is only going to get crazier and if you believe everything someone tells you (especially the person that knows they're next to go), you may as well just throw in the towel now.

Brandon counters by asking Coach how many people told him they were solid in the past. A valid point. Coach admits that he played those other seasons with his head in the sand and that this time around, he's much more aware and that Brandon needs to chill out. Sophie tells us now that she feels like her alliance might need some reshuffling. She is VERY concerned about Brandon and whether or not she can trust him. Coach chimes in telling us that Brandon is a good kid, but he's worried that he could mess everything up at any time. He feels this is his last chance to win this game and he doesn't want anyone to screw it up for him.

The tribe arrives at Tribal and Jeff starts with the challenge. He asks Stacey what finally happened. She says she just held on as long as she could. He asks Coach if it's a double edged sword in that challenge, lose and it's on you. Coach says he was impressed with how Stacey did in that challenge and she showed her warrior spirit.

Jeff says that this tribe has always talked about keeping the tribe as strong as possible. How is strength described at this point? Sophie says it's more about the strength of numbers. If you come to a merge and your numbers aren't strong, it can kill you. It's about the balance between physical strength and team unity at this point.

The next little segment is one of the weirdest I've seen in a Tribal Council in a long time. Jeff asks Rick (there's a Rick on this show?) what the most annoying thing about Albert is. Rick is completely shocked and really has nothing to say. But since this is basically his first time on camera he comes up with, "He snores." He asks Brandon the most annoying thing about Edna. He goes on to say that she kinda talks too much and has a lot of opinions. Edna doesn't think that rings true at all. Edna, the most annoying thing about Stacey is... She says that she has a hard time engaging her in a conversation.

Jeff asks Stacey if she has a hard time opening up to people. She says that she's opened up to several people out there. Mikayla, what's the most annoying thing about Brandon? about an endless list of possibilities. She takes the easy way out and says that it's always in the back of her mind who his uncle is.

Jeff is a bit shocked that Brandon told them who his uncle is. Jeff asks her if he's such a good kid, why does it matter who his uncle is? She says it's just there and it just kinda does. And here's where Brandon needs to learn to edit himself. He starts off saying he's proud to be a Hantz and that he loves his uncle, but their games don't have to be the same. He feels like he shouldn't have to prove himself in that way, but feels like he does. That was an excellent answer and very good speech.

If he would just leave it at that, maybe the drama surrounding him would go away. Of course, we can't be that lucky. He starts to tear up and starts going on about being someone that God's proud of and that he doesn't want to be misrepresented to his family. He says it was hard on his family the way Russell was on the show and that he doesn't want to put his family through that again. At least, that's what I think he was trying to say. Either way, he really should have just dropped it after the opening part. Albert says something about trust for a second and now it's time to vote...thankfully.

As with a couple other episodes this season, I honestly have no idea who the vote is tonight. Stacey seems to be the logical choice. She's on the outside looking in. But at the same time, Edna is annoying and weaker than everyone else. As Jeff reads the votes, it turns out to be unanimous. Stacey votes for Edna and everyone else votes for Stacey. As she prepares to get her torch, Coach suggests to the tribe to give her a hug. Surprising ONLY to Coach, she refuses his hug and steps over to have her torch snuffed. On her way out, she says she WILL be back.

Before I sign off for this week, a couple words of advice to anyone else who ever gets to play Survivor. First off, you don't HAVE to answer Jeff's question. So if he asks you, "What's the most annoying thing about..." don't answer him. And if you do, give him a lame ass answer like Rick did. Apparently, your tribe wasn't giving him anything, so he's fishing for controversy. He's fishing for emotions.

If you don't answer him, it's better in the long run for you, your alliance and your game. Second, when you've just voted someone off of your tribe, unless they're related to you, they are NOT gonna want a hug from you, so don't even try. Especially don't try to force the issue like Coach just did. Dude has learned A LOT from his previous two games, but in that one action, he showed that he still has much to learn. People are not happy to be kicked out of this game...and they certainly don't want to show any love to the person that kicked them out. So, to you future players...don't do that.

Next time on Survivor: another fun challenge, albeit a gross one. It's the "bite off some cooked meat and carry it over to a scale, and the most meat at the end wins" challenge. Johnny Cochs is worried about herpes and Coach does NOT want to be called Benjamin. Should be a good one...see ya then. Take care.