Survivor: South Pacific
Taste The Victory
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
October 18, 2011


Hello, good people, and thank you for joining me for another thrilling episode of Survivor: South Pacific. I'd like to start this article by apologizing to Brandon. Dude, I'm sorry I called you a crazy stalker dude. I'm also sorry that I suggested that some of the people might not be safe around you. That's NOT how I want to write my column. I mean, just because I work with David and Kim doesn't mean I have to write like them. I'm trying to repair the BOP legacy with my appearance here, so I apologize for any harm I've caused you. It's just that you're really freaking me out dude. Like, seriously. I could totally see you grabbing a machete and hacking up your entire tribe and burying them at sea. Dammit...I did it AGAIN! That's NOT who I am. I'm so sorry, Brandon. Let's get to the show before I get a knock on my door in the middle of the night...

Previously on Survivor: Christine held serve at Redemption Island and Papa Bear was the second person sent to Loser's Lodge. Ozzy has decided that strategy is a bad thing, while Jim and Cochran have decided three is greater than four. Coach still has a grip on his alliance, but for how much longer? And *BLAM!* Stacey was sent to Redemption Island to face off against her bestest buddy, Christine.

Promised tonight is one of the most disgusting challenges ever as well as our first blindside at Tribal Council. Muahahahaha....who could it be? Hopefully it's a good one and it's not a blindside only set up by creative editing. I guess we'll just have to watch to find out. But before we do, let's check in with the BOP Survivor Power Rankings.

Coach - 5-1. I'm leaving Coach on top for now as he still seems to be in charge of the Upolu alliance. I'm not sure how much longer this can last, but for the time being, everything still seems to go through Coach. His speech to calm down Brandon last week, in my opinion, was a sign that Coach Wade has learned something on his two previous stints on Survivor and that he might be in it for the long haul.

Ozzy - 8-1. This could be the last week that Ozzy is ranked this high. He still has the immunity idol and he has the numbers on his tribe. But Jim, Cochran and Dawn want to make a move. If any one of the other four is wavering, Ozzy could be on his way out. His reluctance to talk strategy could end his game long before he'd like. But for now, he's still in a great position, so he stays at #2.

Keith/Whitney - 12-1. Keith and Whitney seem pretty well joined at the hip. No one seems to be noticing this as all are focused on Ozzy and Elyse. As we've seen, a real solid two can go far in this game. While Jim and Co. are focused on Ozzy and Elyse, Keith and Whitney are in a position to come out of that battle relatively unscathed. They could turn out to be the power pair as this game moves on.

Albert/Rick/Sophie - 15-1. This trio seems pretty tight right now and they are all going along with the Coach alliance thus far. I have to wonder, though, how much longer Sophie and Albert will put up with Brandon. And when they decide they've had enough, will Coach be on board, or will that be the fracture in the alliance?

Jim - 20-1. Jim has good ideas, but thus far, his timing has been off. I love that he wants to make a move on Ozzy. I can understand going after Elyse instead, just to be safe. What I don't like is that he doesn't seem to notice that his three won't beat Ozzy's four. He's in a position right now where if he makes his move and it fails, he's outta here. If he makes his move and it works, he's on the fast track to the Final 3.

Dawn - 25-1. Dawn laid it down last week. She let her actions speak for her and I think she's in this game for a while. I don't know that she has what it takes to win, but she definitely has what it takes to be a player after the merge. Her best move right now is to let Jim and Cochran do the talking and if they merge, she's right with them. If they fail, she can sit back and watch them burn.

Johnny Cochs - 30-1. Have to move Johnny up a bit this week. While I still don't see how his new plan with Jim will work, he's making moves and I've just got a feeling that he's gonna be with us for a while. I don't think he has the end game, but he does seem just slippery enough to keep avoiding the vote. If they can somehow pull off the upset and dump Elyse, he's in great shape.

Mikayla/Edna - 40-1. These two are in a weird place. Both of them get along with that core alliance of five, yet neither of them are IN it. Coach has Edna's back and Mikayla seems like she might be alone out there...but she is pretty good in challenges. Their big hope right now has to be that the alliance gets tired of Brandon's act and chooses one of them to be his replacement in the five.

Brandon - 50-1. I really think Brandon is next on the Upolu chopping block. If Coach has truly learned from the past, he has to know that someone that is this unpredictable and this much of a wild card is dangerous to keep in this game. The rest of the tribe is tired of him and I think the next time Upolu loses, they'll finally give him his walking papers.

Elyse - 75-1. I'm going out on a limb here, but the plot to get her out of the game added to the promise of a blindside vote tonight has me thinking that Elyse takes the walk to Redemption Island tonight. If this is how it goes, I can't wait to see how it happens.

Stacey - 100-1. Stacey proved last week that she's one tough lady. She also seems to have a very strong sense of revenge in her. I think she goes into the duel this week and dismantles Christine to stay in the game.

Christine - 1 million-1. Christine has had a good run, but she's no Elrod. I think she meets her match this week in Stacey and is sent home as the third person to be out of Survivor: South Pacific.

We begin the show at Sour Island as Stacey arrives. After some pleasantries, it's a whole bunch of Coach bashing and tribe bashing. I've never seen anything like this season for whiners getting voted out. Stacey talks about how the tribe is not one happy family. Of course, they kind of are, she just wasn't a part of it. I'm consistently blown away by people this season who are simply on the wrong side of the main alliance who are taking their boots so personally. It's a game, people. It's a game for a million dollars. I'm sorry you didn't end up at the cool kids' table, but you didn't. Get over it. IT'S NOTHING PERSONAL, so stop taking it that way!

We come back from the credits to Brandon waking folks up for Tree Mail. And if you had the three minute 57 second mark for when Brandon would cry the first time, please collect your prize. The Tree Mail is requesting folks to check out the Redemption Island Duel. Albert and Mikayla are sent to watch and Coach is just hoping that there isn't a bunch of dirt drudged up by our ousted competitors. Of course, Stacey vowed to blow everything up, so I'm sure I'll want to gouge my own eyes out by the time the duel is over.

Right off the bat, Jeff asks Stacey how she feels about seeing her tribe mates. Stacey tells everyone that "Benjamin" is running the show and Albert and Sophie are right there with him. When Jeff asks about the "Benjamin" thing, she says she refuses to call him "Coach." I guess it's her way of putting it to The Man. She talks about how he says he's so loyal, but he ain't loyal. Albert says it under his breath, "Sour grapes." I just wish he'd have said it out loud. It's real simple, "Um, Jeff...that's just sour grapes from someone who found herself on the outside looking in." I mean, I would have said it. Anyway, let's get to the duel. If only there was a way that both of them could go home...but I guess I'll have to settle for one. And at this point, I hope it's Stacey, because I don't think I can listen to her nonsense for another episode.

Today's duel is a metal spiral chute. They will put a ball in the chute and then catch it at the bottom and re-start it. Every couple minutes, they'll add a new ball. First one to drop a ball loses. Obviously, the more balls in the chute, the more concentration it will require to keep catching them. Also, you have to think a little about spacing them out so they don't come down at the same time. Of course, if you're Stacey, you don't need to think about anything, you just do. Because that's worked well for her so far. As both women have three balls going, it's not too much of a surprise that Stacey drops her ball first and Christine lives to see another duel. As Stacey throws her buff into the fire, I can't help but think that this season is really working out for me, in terms of who I personally want to see on my television. If only Christine could go home, I'd be feeling pretty good about the cast that's remaining. As they head back to camp, Albert is not happy to have been called out as the number two, and he knows Coach is gonna be pissed.

We come back from break for the fallout at Upolu camp. Right off the bat, Albert tells Coach and the rest of the tribe about how "Benjamin" is running the tribe. Brandon, you gotta love him, says, "Who's Benjamin?" Coach is none too happy. He says that if anyone calls him Benjamin to his face, he's gonna go nuts. Which has me wondering, really? Really?? I mean, I get it; you're used to being called Coach. But for someone to use your real name, I don't get why that would upset you, but whatever, I guess. He does say that even his parents call him Coach. He tells us that he's worried about being the main target once the tribes merge. "Could this day get any worse?" Uh oh...those kinds of quotes are only shown if, in fact, the day COULD get worse. That's not sounding too good for the Dragon Slayer.

We check in with Savaii for the first time and Ozzy and Elyse are canoodling. Elyse tells us about how strong her alliance with Ozzy, Keith and Whitney is. She is feeling real good about her position in the tribe. Meanwhile, Cochran is still trying to re-work his image as a hard worker. As he comes to camp with an armful of fire word, from their resting place, Ozzy and Elyse talk about how much he's doing. Ozzy then asks him how to spell Cochran. This leads to a funny exchange where Cochran tells him he won't need to know how to spell the name, as he'll have no reason to write it down. He tells us how hard he's been working around camp and he's pretty sick of watching Ozzy and Elyse lay around all the time doing nothing.

The RI duel watchers come back and spill the beans about everything that Stacey said at the duel. They tell them that Coach is in charge with Albert and Sophie. In the middle of this, Ozzy mentions that if Coach is smart, he'll get rid of Albert soon. Jim asks him why he would boot Albert. He then tells us that he was blown away that Ozzy would suggest Coach should boot Albert. Because if Ozzy thinks that Coach should boot Albert, then maybe Ozzy feels like HE should boot one of his strong alliance mates, like Keith. He tells us that nothing sells like fear and he's going to put the fear into Keith to help him get rid of Elyse next.

Back at Upolu, Albert is still smarting from how he was outed at the duel. He feels that he's going to be seen as threat come merge time, so he needs to start looking for the clue to the hidden idol. He searches for a while and finds the clue that suggests that the idol is on the beach and that it's out of reach. So he starts scaling trees and searching, but he can't find it. So, he decides to bring Sophie and Coach into the mix to help find the idol. He thinks it will garner favor with them AND he needs some help to find it. So they all take off to find this idol. After checking several trees and having no luck, Coach decides to pray to, I don't know... (Jessum Herring?) to find the idol and what do you know, he does find it! As he tells us about the idol, he is like a little kid at Christmas time and it thrilled at how the stars are aligning for Coach Wade. I guess the whole "Can this day get any worse" was like...a trick. Those tricky Survivor editors!

Anyway, as Coach pats himself on the back, I have to wonder if his whole "loyalty" game is going out the window as he talks about "his" idol. Then oddly enough, the very next scene is Coach showing the idol to Albert and Sophie and telling them about how they're running the game now. Say what you want about the guy, but in three seasons on the show, he has stayed true to his word and he remains loyal to his people. He tells us how exciting this is, but that he's got to calm himself down, "Get back down there, dragon." He says he's not running the game right now, but that it's pretty close. And honestly, as long as he keeps that mentality, he really could go far in this game.

We come back from break to Cochran preparing for his first fishing trip with Ozzy. He tells us that he brings "zero experience, zero ability and zero confidence" to the trip. He's really just hoping to not embarrass himself out there. Which leads us to several fantastic shots of Ozzy fishing. He tells us that while it might look easy on TV, it's really not easy and it does take a lot out of him. He's happy to play the provider role and he thinks it's putting him in a position to say this is "his tribe." As the fishermen return to camp, there is much rejoicing as Ozzy has caught 11 fish. Cochran tells us that having watched Ozzy's other seasons, he may come across as a Mowgli-esque jungle boy...he's really more like Middle-Aged Ozzy who has his moment of glory everyday when he brings in the fish, but otherwise pretty much lays around all day and does nothing. And the more he acts like that, it's gonna come back to bite him in the ass. Okay, I have to say, I'm liking Johnny Cochs more and more each week. Where I would have expected him to be more in awe of someone like Ozzy, he's pretty much grown tired of the guy. He sees him as little more than a lazy dude living off of past glory. Good for him. I hope he can stay around long enough to send Ozzy's smug ass home. And that leads us to a...

Probst sighting! Today's challenge is actually quite simple. Each tribe has a spit with a roasted pig on it. Each player will have their hands tied behind their back. They have to bite off pieces of meat and put them in a basket. The team that gets more meat in their basket after ten minutes wins immunity and some spices, bread and vegetables. I won't be too descriptive with this challenge as it is the most disgusting challenge that they've ever had on Survivor. The best part of the challenge is some of Probst's commentary. Right off the bat, he lets off this gem, "Coach gnawing off something big."

"Rick with a HUGE piece of meat."

"Jim with a huge piece of meat in the end."

Yeah, I know. I just degenerated into Beavis, but I can't help it.

This challenge was so gross that I had to resort to humor to get through it. An interesting note is that toward the end of the challenge, Rick dropped a good sized chunk on the ground and Mikayla goes and picks it up. As Jeff weighs the baskets, Savaii has 22 pounds 12 ounces. He hooks up Upolu's basket and it comes in at 22 pounds, 14 ounces. Upolu wins immunity! And if that's not good enough, they also get to take their 22 pounds of meat back with them. And as disgusting as the challenge was and all the spit and nastiness that is sitting in that basket, I have to say, after two weeks, wash that stuff off and let's chow down. That pork would be tasting GOOD! Quick note to producers of the show: I get it. You haven't had a real gross food challenge in a while. And I know you added the extra sauce to make it as disgusting as possible, and I'm ok with that. I do think the cameras IN THE FRICKIN' BASKETS might have been a little too much. Watching that stuff fall out of their mouths from the side was bad enough. Watching it come right at me was as gross as it gets.

We come back from break while Upolu, specifically Brandon, cooks up that pork with the new spices and veggies. Finally something positive. I knew he had it in him. Coach, meanwhile, is as excited as I've ever seen him. He's honestly like a kid in a candy store with his new-found success in this game. I know a lot of people don't like Coach because of his previous seasons on the show, but if I wasn't before, I'm now 100% rooting for the guy. I think it's amazing how a few seasons and some good editing can totally change my opinion on this.

Over at Savaii, the tribe is discussing their wounds from the nasty challenge. Cochran chimes in that they're all probably gonna have oral herpes now. He tries to explain that cold sores are herpes...but they just gross out and make fun of him. And we've all of a sudden entered a game of "It's anyone but Cochran." He's running around working his butt off, while Ozzy tells us that he's the weakest link and everyone is good to vote him off tonight. Dawn tells us that she's not down with that. It's time to break up Ozzy and Elyse. She and Cochran discuss that Elyse has to go.

Jim takes this time to finally go to Keith with the bombshell from earlier. He suggests to Keith that if Ozzy thinks Coach should dump Albert, then Keith has to be one of Ozzy's first targets. Keith agrees with Jim right off the bat, but then he says one of the dumbest things I've heard this season. He's worried about whether or not they should tell Ozzy and of course, Jim says no. "But then he's not gonna trust us." *headslap* If you dump his girlfriend, genius, he's not going to trust you ANYway! For the love of...this mentality is why Rob Mariano is a millionaire right now. Everyone just bowed down to him last season, they may as well have written the check. Keith tells us about the new plan and that he's just not totally sure what he and Whitney should do. So he goes to Whitney, and her thought is that instead of voting for Elyse, they could vote for someone else and then the trio of Dawn, Jim and Cochran would win the vote and Elyse would go home. WHAT??? If there's anything worse that turning on your boy and dumping his girlfriend, it's passive aggressively turning on your boy and letting someone else vote out his girlfriend.

The next thing we see is Jim telling Johnny Cochs that Elyse is the vote and he gets to stay in the game. He's completely blown away. He is prepared to go to Redemption Island, but he doesn't want to. He says that he doesn't care if Ozzy thinks they're all against him...they ARE all against him. He does expect some fireworks if they manage to vote out his "hammock sweetheart."

Tribal begins for Savaii and Jeff starts by asking Ozzy that in his experience, what stage of the game are we in. He says the merge is still too far away to be worried about it and that they really need to be concerned with keeping a strong tribe. Elyse suggests that you have to be good in challenges, work around camp and have a strong social game to be of use to the tribe. Jeff asks Johnny Cochs about Elyse's statement. He wants to know if his antenna goes up since he's obviously not one of the stronger players. "The novelty of attending Tribal Council long since worn off for me." And I guess so. Every Tribal turns into a "let's bash Cochran" circus. The bummer is that Jeff seems to be the ringleader. While I know he's been more and more aggressive over the seasons at Tribal Council, he has been downright brutal and damn near prejudicial against Cochran, in my humble opinion. It's as if he just looks at the dude as a goof and wants to exploit that as much as possible. He's not Phillip. He's not Coach Version 1.0. He's a decent kid who is in the middle of his dream and Probst is just destroying him in every Tribal. Apologies, but it had to be said.

Cochran says that he hates to keep seeing his name come up and he feels that everyone did a great job at the challenge, a fact that is proven by how close the challenge actually was. Jeff asks if Jim kept going over the challenge, since it was so close. Jim says they all did. He also points out that they have more injuries from this challenge than any other. The laundry list includes cuts, scrapes, chipped teeth, a broken tooth, a dislocated jaw and some teeth thrown out of whack due to the pork and not wearing a retainer like he should. Not saying that Cochran doesn't deserve some of the crap he gets...I just don't think he deserves it from the host of the frickin' show.

Probst asks Dawn if Cochran's need to assess everything is good or annoying. She finds it endearing most of the time, but it is helping her to become more tolerating of others. Jeff then asks Elyse if she feels for Cochran. She says that of course she can, no one likes to be picked last for soccer. They slam Cochran a little more and Jim is finally asked if the vote is personal or strategic. He says that while he is voting by strategy only, he knows how it will affect the person, so it's always personal. And with that, we'll finally vote.

We only see 2 votes tonight. Jim votes for "Lys" saying that he's trying to weaken Ozzy. And Ozzy votes for the "Coch-train" and tells him it's all about keeping the tribe strong. And I'll go tally the votes. First vote: Cochran. Then 'Lys'. Then Cochran. Then "Elice." Then Dawn and Dawn??? Final vote: "Elise." If Stacey were there, she'd say "BOOM!" That sound you heard was Ozzy's ego crashing. I'd like to point out that I found it interesting that they included Ozzy asking Cochran how to spell his name and then we see three different people spell Elyse's name differently.

And before I sign off, I have to reiterate how STUPID it was of Keith and Whitney to vote for Dawn. While they didn't write down Elyse's name, they allowed her to go home. And by voting Dawn, they didn't actually cross over to the Jim alliance. What they did was alienate themselves from everyone else in the tribe. I have no idea how they could have thought that was a good idea, but it couldn't have been a worse decision, if you ask me.

Next time on Survivor: Ozzy is pissed! He declares himself a free agent. Coach is worried about Brandon. Did I mention that Ozzy is pissed? And Cochran says he doesn't care if Ozzy wants to be a crybaby. He'll go home next. And with that, I have a feeling our game is getting ready to get interesting. Until next time, take care.