Survivor: South Pacific
Double Agent
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
November 8, 2011

Not as nice as she looks.

Hello, good people, and thank you for joining me for another thrilling episode of Survivor: South Pacific. This is the episode we've all been waiting for. After making one of the hugest moves in Survivor history last week, Ozzy will put his money where his mouth is by taking on Christine in a Redemption Island duel. The win would be her sixth in a row, but let's be honest; she hasn't had competition like Ozzy before. Aside from the Redemption Island drama is the "will there or won't there" be a merge and the Savaii not-so-hidden idol that rests around Cochran's neck. I realize there's another tribe on the show, but right now, they don't have anything this awesome going on, so suffice to say that everyone knows the idol has been found and there's been a lot of praying going on.

Now, I know that everyone wants to get right to the episode, but my contract here at BOP mandates that I have to include Power Rankings on each recap. And unless I want to lose all the fame and fortune I have from writing this recap, I better comply. I will say this, though: in all my seasons of doing recaps and putting together Power Rankings, I think this is the most up in the air it's ever been for me. I have no idea who to put where right now. I have a feeling things will clear up after tonight's episode. But for now, this is a total wild ass guess, so wagering.

Coach - 6-1. Coach stays atop the list, but this could be his last week here. With a merge looming, and Stacey and Christine outing him as the leader of Upolu, the smart move for Savaii would be to target him. And while he has an idol now, that only buys one reprieve. He's still in a real nice position, but with a merge coming EVERYthing can be shaken up.

Cochran - 10-1. I have to move Cochran up now. He has Ozzy's idol and is in the power alliance in his tribe. When tribes merge, I can't imagine Upolu would target him as a threat. I'll also be interested to see if he tries to broker something with Coach, in the event Ozzy DOES come back into the game and double crosses him.

Albert/Sophie - 15-1. No change here. They're still #s 2 and 3 to Coach and I think if they get the leg up on the Savaii tribe, they are more likely to stick together to the end. I also think with Coach branded "the leader", these two could skate under the radar for a bit and could potentially make a move should Coach get dumped.

Jim - 20-1. Jim is still in control of his alliance, but he doesn't have the idol in his hand. Which takes some of his power and gives it to Cochran. I still think Jim will have a major impact on the rest of this game, but right now, he'd be best suited to sit back and observe rather than get out there and act.

Dawn - 25-1. I think there's a lot of game left in Dawn. She's in a good place in her tribe, but more than that, she will be a threat to win individual immunity every time out, I think. While all the alpha males target each other, don't be surprised if the little English professor from Utah is still in this game on the final episode.

Rick/Edna - 30-1. I don't know where to put either of these two, so I'll lump them together here and say that if either of them makes a deep run into the game, I'll be shocked. Not only that, but if they last that long, I'll be incredibly bored, so it won't really matter. They're in the Upolu alliance, but they're not players in it right now, which makes them very expendable.

Whitney - 40-1. Whitney seems like she could be a casualty of the numbers. She could end up on the wrong side of things and she's shown me nothing that says she can make a run at this thing and stay in the game. If there was someone I could vote as "most likely to be used for her vote and sacrificed later" Whitney would be that person.

Brandon - 50-1. I still don't think he's long for this game, but I think he'll make it another episode at least. I wouldn't be shocked to see Savaii target him as a possible defector based on the Hantz legacy. Again, he won't be the first targeted, but I think they'll look to him sooner rather than later, just based on the annoyance factor.

Keith - 75-1. With Ozzy out of the main game, Keith becomes the biggest target on the Savaii tribe. My guess is that if tribes merge, Upolu will line him up to be the first to go. If the tribes don't merge, I could still see Keith as the target of the Jim/Dawn/Cochran alliance. Especially considering Cochran has the idol, effectively taking him out of the conversation.

Ozzy - 100-1. I toyed with actually putting Ozzy higher than this, but I figured I'd stay with my formula. I think there's no chance that Ozzy loses this duel tonight. The big question is, will it put him back in the game? Or will he have to wait for his next opponent? Based on last season, the winner of tonight's duel would come back into the game...which makes last week's decision look genius. Of course, he could also lose and be the dumbest player ever.

Christine - 1 million-1. I know I've done this twice before. But I overrated Stacey and Mikayla. I don't think I can overrate Ozzy in a one and done challenge. I see no way he loses. Which means I finally get to wave bye bye to Christine. I've been wanting to do that since her "they're temporary players" comment in the first five minutes of the show. Can't wait!

The show starts as Savaii returns to camp after sending Ozzy to Redemption Island. Cochran is amazed at the turn of events and that this should go down as one of the greatest moves in Survivor history. As they talk around the fire, Keith takes Cochran to task for not just stepping up and going to Redemption and showing what he can do. He says that he would never just let someone else fight his battles. Well, except for that one time when he voted out Ozzy to go to Redemption Island to battle Christine. I mean, just that once. Discussion turns to Cochran being a spy into the Upolu tribe and Keith asks him if he's ready to be the villain. Cochran tells us that he should be great at being a spy as he's already pretending he likes his own tribe.

We come back from the credits as Ozzy arrives at Redemption Island. He plants his story with Christine about Cochran playing the idol on him. He actually plays it very well and Christine buys it 100%. As the sun comes up, it's time for the Redemption Island duel. Let's see if Ozzy's big move pays off. As Christine and Ozzy come in, the first thing I notice is that the entire tribes are there. That can mean one of three things. Either someone is coming back into the game, the tribes are merging, or both. Right off the bat, Probst asks Ozzy if he's surprised to be on Redemption Island. Whoa, whoa, whoa...wait just a minute. Probst KNOWS he's not surprised to be there. He was at Tribal when Ozzy voted himself out. I'm trying to figure out what the play here is. It's like he's setting Ozzy up to plant his deception in the other tribe. Is it me, or does Jeff get closer and closer to entering the action every year? To me, this is damn near choosing the Savaii tribe and setting up their lie. Seriously??

Anyway, so Jeff asks Ozzy if he's surprised and what we get is a 100% complete backfire. Ozzy just goes off. As he's yelling at pointing at Cochran, Albert looks over at Coach and says, "I don't buy it." Coach shakes his head, he doesn't either. Hell, even Christine, who totally believed Ozzy at can tell she doesn't believe him anymore. I mean seriously, the worst acting job ever. But anyway, let's get to the duel. Today's duel is the "build a pole to retrieve some keys" challenge. Elrod excelled at this one last season. The big announcement is that the winner of this challenge will go back into the game. Survivors ready... Looks like two different strategies are in play. Christine goes for speed, Ozzy goes for strength. So naturally, Christine starts to get her keys first, but her pole falls apart. Ozzy's pole is very sturdy, but it's just a tad short and the key falls to the ground. He reaches out to get the dropped key and brings it in. As Christine works on her pole, Ozzy manages to retrieve both keys and unlocks all of his locks and wins his way back into the game.

People will talk about this move for a while. Ozzy takes one for the team and then goes into Redemption Island and wins. This is the kind of thing Survivor legends are made of - except for the whole "Ozzy didn't HAVE to go to Redemption Island" thing. Christine has made it crystal clear that she had no intention of joining back with Upolu. So, yeah, it's cool that his gamble paid off. But you have to wonder if the gamble to keep Cochran in the game (and give him an immunity idol) wasn't really the biggest gamble of them all.

Christine finally tosses her buff in the fire, but we're not done. Drop your buffs, everyone. It's merge time. In probably the biggest upset of the RI duel, Cochran actually catches the bag of buffs that Jeff throws to him. As the new merged tribe heads to camp, Ozzy is patting himself on the back for the amazing move he just pulled off and he just hopes that Cochran will be able to handle his portion of the plan to infiltrate Upolu.

As the newly merged tribe gets to camp, it's merge feast time. This is the time on Survivor where we pretend that we're all happy to be together and that we're all gonna be nice to each other. After stuffing their bellies and downing some beers, we find Coach and Cochran chatting. Cochran is telling Coach that he feels like this merge is a rebirth for him. Coach nods and says that this is where the game gets real.

A little later, when they are away from everyone else, their conversation continues. As he talks to Coach, he tells them that everyone talks down to him and that Keith is probably the worst of all. He suggests that he might be working with the wrong people. Coach's response is actually, quite amazing, "Here's the thing, I'm gonna tell you right now. Our tribe isn't budging. And I feel like you guys are trying to play us, okay? You guys came up with a story, you sent Ozzy to Redemption, you got an idol in your pocket, knowing Ozzy would win Redemption. It was a risk, but you knew Ozzy would win Redemption."! I've been on the Coach bandwagon this season, but that was pretty impressive. And you could tell from Cochran's face that he knows he's screwed. But Coach goes on. He says that his tribe will vote six strong and if Savaii does the same, they will face a one in five chance of pulling the black rock (well, it's a one in nine chance actually) and that's a bullshit way to play the game. He goes on to say that regardless of how Cochran was really treated at his camp, whether he's lying or not, he knows how people like that feel about people with intellect. He says that he's been picked on his whole life. "I might be the Dragon Slayer now..." (I love that line.) He tells Cochran that he knows how it feels to be superior to people in one way and they try to find ways that you’re inferior to cut you down. He tells Cochran that he has the chance to change the game for himself and then he (and this is fantastic) draws an actual line in the sand and asks Cochran to cross that line and change the game.

The next scene we see is Cochran with Coach, Albert and Sophie. Sophie tells Cochran that everyone knows Ozzy was lying, but she wants to know if he volunteered to go. So Cochran starts talking. he tells them all about Ozzy's dream and how he wanted redemption. He then asks them if they'll look down on him for ditching his old tribe. Albert jumps in and says that it's not being disloyal when you haven't really been part of the old tribe anyway. They treated him so bad, that of course it's not disloyal to flip on them now. Next up, Cochran talks to Brandon. Brandon asks who would be the angriest. Cochran says that Jim has a bad temper but Keith has been the hardest on him from the beginning. All of a sudden, Brandon turns into the Godfather and offers protection from anyone on the other tribe.

Okay...a quick break in the action, because I find this all fascinating. Cochran is a frickin' Harvard Law Student. You don't get into Harvard Law without being a really smart dude. But Coach, Albert and Sophie are SO much smarter than him in this game it's almost embarrassing. In ten seconds you can tell what he's all about and they just feed him line after line of everything he wants to hear. Hell, even Brandon is feeding him what he wants to hear. Although, in Brandon's case (and maybe Coach's), I think he means every word he says. By the time they're done with him, it's no wonder he wants to switch. They've welcomed him in as one of their own...probably promised him some sort of deal if he flips and they are essentially telling geek that he can show those bullies once and for all. And Cochran is buying every bit of it.

Or is he? I'm going to gloss over the part where he calls himself a strategist, nay...a mastermind (but not an evil mastermind) to get to the part where he actually gives Ozzy his idol back. As he does this, he tells us that he felt he had to give it back as he hasn't decided which way he's going to go. He is, however, excited to think that he holds the keys to his own game now. And he's even more excited that he will have a say in how the entire season of Survivor: South Pacific will play out. And there it is! He's such a fan of the show that I don't think he cares how he finishes, as long as he makes his mark. He doesn't seem interested in being Natalie White, Danni Boatwright, Chris Daugherty (I'll save you the Googling...they're past Survivor winners). He's more interested in being Russell, Johnny Fairplay or Rupert. Someone who's remembered. Regardless of what they're remembered for.

We come back from break and Cochran is pow-wowing with Dawn. He tells her that he's voting with Savaii on the first vote no matter what. He says that he doesn't want to pull rocks and he might switch on a second vote. Dawn is leaning toward being with him. She says that they've treated him very badly and she doesn't care for it. She tells us she feels like she should have stood up for Cochran at some point, but she's protected her own interest up until now. He tells her that so far in the game, his fate has been in the hands of other people. And he would rather take control of his own destiny instead of leaving it in the hands of rock drawing. As soon as Dawn gets herself together, they come back with Tree Mail announcing the first individual immunity. As we head to the challenge, Dawn tells us it's time to stand up even if it hurts her footing in the game.

Probst sighting!! He starts by learning that the new tribe name is Te Tuna. Keith says it has something to do with how a coconut came to be. Yeah, and what did Murlonio mean again? Anyway, today's challenge is a test of wills. Each person will stand on a narrow beam holding a set of ropes balancing a coconut. After a length of time, the rope length will increase. Last man and last woman still on the beam holding a coconut will win immunity. And we're off. Cochran wobbles as soon as the challenge starts. We're only a few seconds in when Edna loses her coconut and Cochran loses his balance. They're out of the challenge. Everyone else makes it to the rope lengthening. A few seconds into the second round, Whitney drops out. Then Sophie. This leaves Dawn to win immunity for the women. Coach, Rick, Jim and Keith all drop out before the next round. This leaves Brandon, Ozzy and Albert. They'll stand now until there's a winner. Brandon's the first to drop out. And after a little while, Albert finally loses control and Ozzy wins immunity.

We come back to camp after the challenge and the Savaiis are patting themselves on the back. They discuss the plan to vote for Sophie or maybe Rick. Ozzy asks if everyone is solid. As they all confirm, Keith asks Cochran like three times if he's gonna flip. So the always calm Cochran says, "Why, should I flip?" He says that he's in and is okay with going to rocks. Jim tells us that we're looking at a deadlock at the vote. With that settled, they discuss the odds. It breaks down like this: anyone with immunity doesn't have to pull a rock. So Ozzy and Dawn are safe. Whoever gets votes from the other tribe ALSO doesn't have to pull a rock. And if someone plays the hidden idol, THEY won't have to pull a rock. Jim suggests giving the idol to Whitney. I really have no idea what the logic there is, but that's what they seem to have decided. So, if that's the case, Whitney, Ozzy and Dawn will be immune from rock pulling. So will either Jim or Keith (assuming the Upolus try to get rid of a strong player.) That leaves the other guy (Jim or Keith) and Cochran as the only Savaiis pulling rocks, against all of the Uplous (save the one person who plays the hidden idol, should they choose to do that.) And while that sounds like great odds for the Savaii tribe, it doesn't sound like great odds to one John Cochran. He tells us that he loves this game and he respects this game too much to let his fate come down to the chance of pulling the wrong rock out of a bag.

Right away, Cochran goes running to Sophie with what he's learned. He tells her that the Savaii's are voting for Rick and Ozzy will give his idol to Whitney. He suggests to Sophie that the best thing would be if Rick plays their idol and then no one has to revote. She agrees with him, but considering what her tribe has built, that's too big of a risk to take at his word. He asks her who they're voting for and she refuses to tell him. He then asks her for her tribe's protection if he does flip. Sophie tells us that while you can never be sure about someone flipping, she feels like Cochran is leaning that way. She says he's worried about getting beat up, which is "legitimate thing for a dodge ball target to be afraid of." Next up is Cochran telling Coach how they're going to eat him alive tonight. He asks where he's going to sleep tonight and Coach tells him right in between the Upolus. Coach then tells us that he's done all he can do with Cochran. He's told him that he'll be appreciated and respected with the Upolus. He says he's convinced him that the weak will finally be strong and that the nerd will finally take down the bully.

The next conversation I find very interesting. Cochran is talking with Dawn. He suggests that he might switch his vote on the revote at Tribal. She says that she won't tell anyone, but she has to think about it. She tells him that before the challenge she was thinking that this wasn't the best option for them. That starting a war wasn't in his best interest. What I find interesting here is how much a person's opinion can change once they have that immunity necklace around their neck. I mean, why would Dawn EVER switch her vote now? She's immune from the vote AND the rock drawing. And with that necklace came the "Go Savaii" pennant, I guess.

Cochran tells us that the fact that she's bailing on him does give him pause, but he's been offered a nice promise by the Upolus in exchange for his vote. He tells us that he's not sure what to do...stick with the people that have been ignorant to him for 21 days, or jump ship and become hated. Dawn is trying to convince him that he's making a mistake and he's trying to convince her that he wants to have control of his own fate. I'm telling you that he wants to be known as "the guy who made the big move". By the looks of it, two of us are going to be right.

Dawn tells us that she won't be telling the rest of the tribe about his plan. She seems to think that he may change his mind. A couple thoughts right here before we go to Tribal. The first is that by not alerting her tribe, she is continuing the tradition of wishy-washy play on the Savaii tribe. Too many of these people are afraid to actually step up and make a decision, so they make no decision and let the blindsides happen. The second thing is, Ozzy has the power to stop this right now. Give Cochran the idol. He says he's afraid to pull give him the idol so that he doesn't have to. The way I see it, you're wasting the idol on Whitney anyway. Any tribe worth anything is going to take their shot with either Keith or Jim. And if you're gonna waste the idol, why not use it to protect your most questionable member? And therein lays the problem with Ozzy's game. He's not smart enough to think of those things and he's not observant enough to know that Cochran is thinking of flipping on him. If Savaii loses tonight because Cochran flips, the fault lies as much with Ozzy as it does with Cochran.

We get to Tribal and let's be honest. This whole thing boils down to "will he or won't he?" They talk about the odds and the possibility of a tie vote. They also talk about whether or not someone should or would flip. Albert makes the most interesting comment about Ozzy's acting job at Redemption Island. Basically, the Upolu tribe didn't buy it for a minute. Ozzy then comes clean and admits they still have the idol. And with that, it's time to vote. They don't show us any votes this time around.

Ooooh...suspenseful. Anyone want to play a hidden immunity idol? Ozzy stands up to play his (you still have a chance to save yourself, big guy) for Whitney (OH!). Time to read the votes. First six come up Keith, nextsix6 come up Rick. And we're tied. And we'll have a revote. This time around, you can only vote for Keith or Rick. If you want to switch your vote, now is the time to do it.
Once again, the first five votes come up Keith. The next four come up Rick. One vote left. Eighth person voted out of Survivor: South Pacific...Keith. And with that, Cochran, horrible player that he is, decides to say "I swapped. I'll explain" to Ozzy and Jim, like they're going to give a crap why he did what he did. He just completely throttled their game and seems to think he can talk his way out of it.

As Keith heads down to Redemption Island, a very interesting exchange of words takes place. Jim is calling Cochran a coward and Brandon chimes in, "Don't talk to him like that. That's what you get for talking to people like that in the first place." And he tells Cochran, "Just stay close to me." I've given Brandon a pretty hard time in this column. And I still think he's a miserable Survivor player and borderline stalker/psycho with the whole Mikayla thing. But, he meant every word he said right there. IN his mind, Jim and Co. got what was coming to them. Further, I have no doubts that had someone tried to go after Cochran, they'd have had Lil Hantz to deal with. Say what you want about him, but he meant that shit right there. And I have to say, I gained a little respect for him for that.

I'm sure you're all wondering "Hey Jim...what do you think of Cochran's move?" Well, I'll tell ya. If you ask me, he should have tried to broker a deal with Ozzy for the idol. Flipping like that will not work out for him. He should know that. No one who flips on their tribe like this EVER wins. That being said, he was never in with his tribe. They talked down to him and then had the nerve to ask him to be the double agent. I can certainly understand what made him flip, but I think he did in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons.

But no matter what you think of Cochran's move, you can't deny that Ozzy is on a streak of horrible game play of epic proportions. It started with voting himself out, which was totally unnecessary, and then it ended with him burning his idol on the least likely person instead of the guy that was obviously teetering on the edge of his alliance. I have no love for Cochran as a player, but he did take his own fate in his hands and he may have just improved his status in the game. At best with Savaii, he was #6 out of six. With Upolu, maybe he hangs around a bit. Maybe Coach rewards him for making the jump. Maybe he becomes the swing vote when they get down to the six Upolus and him. If that happens, then he's looking at Top Four. One thing's for sure...tonight around camp is going to be rough going for one John Cochran.

Next time on Survivor: Everyone hates Cochran. Ozzy hates him. Jim hates him. He disgusts Whitney. Jim wants to get some votes for Cochran. Sophie and Albert seem like they might be listening. Can't wait to see them roll that one by Coach. Either way, next week should be an explosive episode and I can't wait. 'Til then, take care