Survivor: South Pacific
Cut Throat
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
November 15, 2011

What can we do to make America hate us more?

Hello, good people, and welcome back to the BOP Survivor: South Pacific recap. The first act of this season was "All About Brandon" and I wanted to poke my eyeballs out with a fork. The second act of this season appears to be "All About Cochran" and I'm not too thrilled with that either. These two guys aside, I am really enjoying the season so far.

After last week's shocking turn of events at Tribal Council, where Cochran turned on his alliance and dumped Keith, there promises to be lots of fireworks back at camp as the spurned Savaii members try to slice Cochran up with words. An interesting footnote to last week's episode: in the "secret scenes" that CBS puts up on their website after the shows, there was one scene of Albert (with Coach's blessing) offering Cochran a Final Four alliance with Coach and Sophie. This is some pretty important information that goes a long way to explaining Cochran's ultimate betrayal. I understand why they couldn't show it last week. I mean, that would have killed all the suspense of the Tribal Council and the flip. What it does, though, is confirm what I suspected as I watched last week. Coach and Co. saw someone on the fence and did what it took to get him to their side of that fence, while Ozzy and Co. sat back and patted themselves on the back for how smart they were. It just reconfirms my belief that this is not Ozzy's game and that he'd be much better suited for the Amazing Race or something that didn't require him to have to read people or think too much.

Before we get to it, word around the campfire is that two people will get booted tonight, so that makes for a very interesting episode. Upolu can basically stick a fork in Savaii tonight...or alliances could be completely shifted and the course of the game altered. Can't wait to see how it goes. Okay, enough from me. Let's get to Power Rankings and then to the show:

Coach - 4-1. Coach improved his position in the game dramatically last week. He also impressed the hell out of me with his masterful handling of Cochran. As it stands now, he's the ultimate power player in the ultimate alliance in the game. He has a few different options when the game gets serious. AND he has an idol in his pocket. Like it or not, the Dragon Slayer is in a great position, much like Boston Rob last season. The interesting thing here is, THIS is when Rob kicked it into high gear and put it away. It's yet to be seen if Coach has that in him.

Albert/Sophie - 8-1. I think either of these two has a great shot to win this game. Neither of them have done anything to separate them yet. They're right there with Coach calling the shots right now. However, everyone is looking at Coach as the leader, which takes the target off of them. As it is right now, a Coach/Albert/Sophie Final Three would not shock me. And if that's the case, I really have no idea who would win.

Rick/Edna - 15-1. Despite getting votes last week, Rick is pretty much in the same position as he was before. I put Edna with him as she could be seen as the "weak player we drag to the final" for this season. If the big three falter, either one (or both) of these two could step in and possibly make a run to the end. Maybe then Rick will finally speak.

Brandon - 20-1. I still don't think Brandon has much of a chance to win this, but he is now in the power alliance in the game. And if they stay true to each other and Pagong the Savaiis, he will have earned his place in the top six. Things have been very quiet on the Brandon front recently, so it's hard to tell what everyone is thinking of him at this point. But my guess is, he'll still end up at the bottom of the Upolu totem pole when all is said and done.

Dawn - 25-1. Dawn can still make a run in this game. While I hated her change of heart once she had immunity around her neck, I still think she has the best chance of the Savaii to last in the game. She has the potential, I think, to win some challenges. She's shown a couple times that she will outlast anyone. What she needs is a break to go her way and a crack to form in the Upolu alliance.

Ozzy - 30-1. The chips are down for the Oz-meister, that's for sure. And while you have to think he'll be the biggest target of the former Savaii members, he's also the most likely to win immunity. And he's also the most likely to get sent to Redemption Island and then win his way back into the game...again. I think he has played such a dumb game that he can't possibly win it, but he does have that physical game that could manage to get him far.

Jim - 40-1. Jim is a savvy player. He's a poker player. He was all about the odds last week and was blown away that Cochran didn't agree with him that the odds were in their favor. Apparently, ANY chance to get voted out was enough to make Cochran flip. That being said, I have a feeling that Jim has the game to stick around for a while. I expect him to play the "I don't care when I go, as long as Cochran goes first" card to try to get himself a few more days in the game. It's because of this that I think he could potentially find a way to last a little longer.

Whitney - 50-1. Whitney is another player that I have very little to work with. She's done nothing really good and she hasn't done anything really bad. She's just there. She could end up being a casualty of Ozzy's immunity and Jim having better game than her. She's real hard to rank because I just don't have enough info.

Keith - 100-1. Keith will last through this episode...of this I'm sure. Doesn't look like there will be a Redemption Duel this week. Once he has one, his odds really depend on who he's against. I have him down this low because the bottom line is, he's got one foot out the door already.

Cochran - 1 million-1. Doesn't matter what happens this week, or next week or all the way to the finale. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that John Cochran will not win Survivor: South Pacific. The best he can hope is that he "won" an invite back to a future season. He'll never make it to the end with Upolu and even if he does, there are already four or five jury members who will never vote for him. He's dead in the water. The only question now is: when will it happen?

The episode begins as we expect it to, right after Tribal as the Te Tuna tribe returns to camp. And now it's time to pummel Cochran with our words. Ozzy hits him first, and (as you would expect from someone who's played the game three times) isn't really too hard on him. Cochran tells Ozzy that he hasn't been obsessed with this game for 11 years to have his fate decided by a rock. As Ozzy tells him how bad he screwed him over, Brandon comes over to check on his new buddy. He says he wants to make sure no one's being aggressive. Ya know, if he interrupted Jim; that would make more sense. But Ozzy? Come on, man! Ozzy's more concerned that he's on his 23rd day with no hooch then he is with Cochran flipping his vote. Once Brandon leaves, Ozzy tells him that he's put his butt on the line for him a couple times. Cochran tells him it was all about self preservation. Ozzy tells us that he thinks Cochran is playing like a wiener. That's how a wiener would play. Really, Oz? A wiener? Did he steal your pudding cup after he flipped his vote too?

Next up is Jim, but he doesn't linger or anything. He tells Cochran he's a poor excuse for a man and to never talk to him again. Ok, easy enough. Two down. Whitney comes next. She tells Cochran that she and Keith saved him three times over the course of the game. He tries to tell her it wasn't against her, but she's not hearing it. Also, he's got a lot to learn and he disgusts her. After the tongue lashings are over, Cochran is called over and welcomed by the Upolu tribe. He tells us that he feels good that he finally stood up to his old tribe but he's having a hard time now with the feelings in camp. As the Upolus are telling him he did nothing wrong and everything's okay, we see Whitney complaining about how she's lost six weeks of her life out there now.

Um, Whit...come on. Really? I thought the goal of doing Survivor was to keep that 15 minutes going a little longer until the music career could take off? If folks are downloading the tunes as I suspect they are, I'd say that this has been a very solid six weeks of your life. But, by all means, be sure to amp up the drama. Can't hurt, right? Jim says something about Cochran being a bleepity bleep bleep nerd. So apparently his transformation into Stan Gable is complete. And with that, let's roll the credits.

We come back from break as Coach is feeling pretty happy about the results of last night's tribal. You know what that means, right? Time for some Coach-Chi. He tells us that he really needs to focus on being humble and not arrogant and that he can go a long way. I'm so glad to hear him say that. I was afraid he might start doing arrogant things. Back at camp, Coach asks Cochran who he wants to vote out next. He says that Ozzy is the bigger threat, but on a personal note, he'd like to see Jim go next. Ozzy tells us how hard it is to trust people out there. He says that his total strategy is gone and he has nothing left. (Insert "he had a strategy?" joke here). He tells us that his plan is to just win challenges until there's no one left.

Probst sighting!! The Immunity Challenge seems to have come early in this episode, which can only mean that we will, in fact, have two eliminations tonight. Today's challenge is a fun one. Each person will start at a Survivor coconut toss court. They will toss coconuts into a ring. Basically, it's Survivor Horseshoes. The first four people to get a coconut in the ring move on to the next round. Those four will then have to crack open coconuts, pour the water into their mouth, hold it through an obstacle course and then spit it into a tube. First person to fill up their tube wins immunity. Let's choose our spots.

The coconut toss is apparently harder than it looks as they take several shots before Dawn is the first to connect. Next up are Whitney, Jim and Sophie. As the second round starts, Sophie is a mad-woman. Busting through the coconut and tearing through the obstacle course. Dawn and Whitney fall behind real quick, making this a two horse race between Sophie and Jim. Jim has actually taken a slight lead on Sophie. Jim gets to his tube with what he thinks will win, but he's just short. This opens the door for Sophie to win. But on her last run, she's unable to hold the water in her mouth and gags and spits it out. As Jim comes through the obstacle course, he throws his hands up as he knows he has it won. Jim wins immunity. (I have to admit, I like the sound of that. I have a feeling I'd hear it a few times myself!!)

We come back from break and it's time to play "It's anyone but Ozzy." Brandon, Edna and Cochran are talking about voting out Ozzy. Brandon asks how many times you get to vote out Ozzy. Cochran, "Apparently two." Okay, I'll give him that one. That was funny. We join Coach and Ozzy talking. Ozzy is telling Coach that he doesn't want to go. Coach tells us that Ozzy is afraid to go tonight. He tells us there's a stark difference in the Ozzy today (with no leverage) and the cocky Ozzy of yesterday who thought he held all the cards. But, have no fear, Ozzy, Marcus Aurelius once said, "Some of the greatest inspiration was born out of desperation." Now THAT'S the Coach we all love. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Marcus Aurelius never said that. It was a dude named Comer Cottrell, the founder of the Pro Line hair care products. Basically, he brought the Jheri Curl out of the salons and into the home. So that quote is closer to Soul Glow than Caesar. Coach and Ozzy hug it out and Coach tells Ozzy he knows he'll be back.

Next up, we see Dawn inviting Coach into the shelter to have a rest. Apparently the merged tribe is living at the Savaii Beach and it doesn't sound as though the Upolus were invited to share the shelter. Dawn tells us that she knows how the game will go now, but figures she's farther down the chain and that being nice to the Upolus might work out well for her down the road. The next conversation we see is Whitney and Jim down in the water. He tells her that he knows he's the most hated of their tribe because he speaks his mind. They're still bitter about the Cochran thing.

As Ozzy joins them, Jim tells them he has an idea. He plans to give Ozzy the immunity necklace and then give a speech about how of the 11 people there, ten of them have played an honest solid game. But one of them has not. He feels that it could throw them off if their planned vote is changed and the last thing they hear is his rousing speech about how Cochran should go. Ozzy has a new lease on life, all of a sudden. He tells us that he believes that Jim really will give him the necklace and that he'll never give up.

We come back from break to Tribal Council. And let's be honest. All that matters here is if Jim's words have any effect on the Upolus? (it won't) And will he actually give the necklace to Ozzy? (I think he won't.) There's talk about Cochran's frosty reception back at camp. Cochran did speak very eloquently, though, about his decision to flip. He mentions again that he hasn't prepared to play this game for 11 years so he could have his fate decided by a rock. It's not how you play Survivor. He mentions that there's a reason no one's pulled a rock since Season 4. No one should want to play the game like that. And now it's time for Jim's big speech. Let's see how he does. He mentions how he had save Cochran at three Tribals and then Ozzy saved him by going to Redemption. He suggests that from what he's learned about the Upolus, none of them would let someone else fight their battles for them. And none of them would have made the move Cochran did.

There's discussion about how they picked on Cochran in which completely "villainizes" Whitney. Ozzy asks Cochran when he ever berated him or made him feel bad. Cochran comes back with trying to vote him out three times and rallying people to get rid of him based on his weakness. Must be fair enough, because Ozzy has nothing else to say. Jim continues his speech by saying that he's thinking of giving his necklace to Ozzy. He says that Upolu talks about honor and loyalty and this is their chance to stand up and show all Survivor players past, present and future that this game can be played with integrity and honor by voting out the only one of the 11 of them that hasn't stood by his tribe. He talks about his warrior spirit in an attempt to get Coach's ear - which, Coach admits, he did.

Jeff asks Coach if he agrees with the message of sending Cochran out. He says that if they vote out Cochran, it's telling people that if they stand up for themselves, they're gonna get screwed and he's not gonna do that. Ozzy has the last statement of this Tribal by saying that they should think about it. If he goes to Redemption, he'll only be feeding himself instead of 11. He'll put everything he has into the duels and eventually, they'll have to start voting each other out. And when that happens, he'll be at Redemption, he'll make them a nice fish dinner and then send them on their way.

And with that, it's time to vote. But first, Jim, are you going to keep the necklace? Yes. he is. As they vote, we only see two votes. We see Jim voting for Cochran, saying that he really just doesn't like him. And we see Cochran voting for Ozzy, saying that he tried to get him out several times so he doesn't feel it's inappropriate to vote him out now. Time to tally the votes. When all is said and done, Dawn and Whitney switch their votes and Ozzy is sent back to Redemption by a tally of 9-2.

On his way out, Ozzy tells us that he took some risks and they didn't pay off, but he plans to get to Redemption and as people come through, he's going to treat them nice and send them packing.

We come back from break to join Ozzy on Redemption Island. He's exploring the reef and it's absolutely beautiful. He comes up with about a 15 pound fish. He and Keith will be eating real good for as long as they're there. Ozzy tells us that he's glad to be at Redemption. As he wonders what the rest of the folks are eating, it's time for a...

Probst sighting! Today's challenge is a simple one. Each player will stand on a narrow beam, while balancing a ball on a wooden bow. At certain intervals, they will move to a narrower beam. Last person standing wins immunity. But there's a twist. If you are confident that you won't be voted out, you can skip the challenge and eat pastries and drink iced coffee. Everyone cheers or shows some reaction to the unveiling of the food, except Coach. Jeff asks him about it and he says that he's bummed because he wants to compete. "So compete," Jeff says.

Coach goes into a comment about how they're a family and they stick together. So, it looks like the entire Upolu tribe and Cochran will sit out the challenge, while Jim, Whitney and Dawn compete. Can I just say that I absolutely HATE this. First off, I think I've been pretty obviously Team Coach for this entire season, but I cannot stand when players take food over participating in a challenge. I think it's a slap in the face to the game and the players who are competing. Coach has been playing a very Boston Rob-ish game of Survivor thus far, but Rob would never have sat down and eaten instead of competing in a challenge at this stage. It really bums me out to see someone who talks about being a warrior sit out a challenge for some donuts.

The challenge is pretty uneventful for the most part. There is some banter back and forth between Jeff, the eaters and the players. Jim is the first person out of the challenge. As he drops, Brandon throws his arms up in the air (stay classy, there big guy). The eaters than offer encouragement to Dawn and Whitney to keep going in the challenge (so they can eat more, I'm sure.) Dawn says that she'll do her best to stay up there so they can eat. It sounded sarcastic as hell to me, but when asked to explain, she says that she feels that they really are one tribe and she was seriously trying to stay there so they could eat more. This elicits several "Dawn is the best" type comments from the Upolus. But it was a really weird exchange, if you ask me.

Both ladies make it to the next round, where the beam gets narrower. While they fight this out, I will say that this is one of those Survivor challenges that heavily favors the women in the game. Rick, Coach and Albert would have had next to no chance to win this challenge, due to much larger feet that make it harder to stay on the little boards. I still wouldn't have sat out, but I can understand...a little. As the eaters grow weary, the ladies start to wobble. And despite her mastery of these "test of wills" type challenges, Dawn finally does bow out, leaving immunity for Whitney. As they head back to camp, Albert tells us that he's not thrilled with how inclusive the tribe was with Dawn at the challenge and he wants to nip it in the bud as soon as he can. Hmmmm...someone's paying attention and thinking a little. Let's see if he can pull it off.

We come back from break to a game of what I think is "It's anyone but Jim." As if the whole tribe sitting out of a challenge didn't upset me enough, the first thing we see is Cochran prancing around in Coach's trademark black jacket. He's doing some strutting and break dancing. In the middle of this, Jim tells us that Cochran is playing the most brilliant third place game ever (though I think Rob Cesternino might disagree here). Cochran now has Rick's cowboy hat on and Coach and Edna are cheering him on as one of the tribe now. Seeing him with Rick's hat, I only have one thought...the lack of a hat is going to make Rick real hard to find on the Where's Survivor Waldo game board.

Jim tells us that regardless of Cochran's game, he's in trouble and really only has one last shot to avoid Redemption. And even though he doesn't say it, you know the fact that Ozzy will be there waiting is weighing heavily on his mind. So he makes his move by drawing out a very nice graphic in the sand for Albert and Sophie, showing who he thinks is in which corner. He says that Coach has Edna, Brandon and Cochran under him. He also mentions that Rick has given his word to Coach and he feels Rick is the only one who wouldn't go back on that. So that gives Coach five people and Sophie and Albert on the outside looking in. And looky here, he has three people ready to join an alliance and change the game.

Albert tells us that while Jim's plan is very creative, he doesn't need to entertain it, as he has a plan of his own. As suggested after the last challenge, Albert must be targeting Dawn, because we're treated to shots of Dawn getting along with other Upolu people. Albert tells us that he feel Dawn is more dangerous than Jim because she's more likable and is slowly working her way into their alliance. Albert takes his concerns to Sophie, who tells him that they're just fine. She tells us that she thinks he's thinking a bit too much right now. Coach and Brandon join the conversation and Albert presents his opinion to them as well. Brandon seems intrigued, but Coach hasn't told him how to feel about it yet, so he says nothing. Coach then treats us to an analogy that only Coach could spin. He tells us that Jim is like a rhino, while Dawn is like a snake. The rhino will just charge right at you, all fists and fury, while the snake will slither around a while and try to work its way in. Frankly, I would say Dawn is anything but a snake, but this is a Coach-ism and who am I to correct it?

Right off the bat, Tribal is already pissing me off. Cochran shows up in Coach's jacket and Rick's hat and I want to punch him the peas. Worse than that, Brandon is wearing Cochran's sweater vest. What the hell is this? Survivor: Barbie's Camping Trip? Jeff asks Coach about sitting out of the challenge and Coach confirms that it's down to Jim and Dawn tonight. Sophie suggests that Jim is the larger threat while Albert says that Dawn is way more likable and she's real tough in challenges as well. Jeff asks Dawn if she feels that voting them out is what the Upolus should do. She admits that it's exactly what the Savaii tribe would have done if they had numbers. She adds in that she doesn't think they would have chosen to eat today. She says that it was hard for her to watch them eat.

Aw, shit. Here we go. Brandon has his hand up. And you know when Brandon puts his hand up at Tribal Council, there's getting ready to be a real long barrage of stupid thrust on our ears. Brandon tries to "catch" Dawn in a contradiction because earlier she said she wanted to last as long as possible so they could eat. She rationally explains that she did want to see them eat a lot, but it was hard for her to watch. Makes sense to every sane person on the planet. But Brandon uses this as his way of showing why Savaii is getting Pagonged. Honestly, as with most of Brandon's arguments, I can't even figure out a way to spin it so that it makes sense, so I won't try. The only thing Brandon said that made any sense was that the Upolus plan to vote out all the Savaiis.

Jeff asks Whitney what she thinks of everything. She breaks down in tears now over the vilification she feels at the hands of the Upolu tribe. She doesn't like being pegged as a bully. She's not a bad person. Jeff asks Brandon if it's hard to see Whitney cry. He says that he hates to see her cry and rambles on some more. But before he finishes, he says that it's a "no brainer for me." I can't help but think that most of Brandon's life has been a no-brainer, amIright? And with that, it's time to vote.

They show us none of the votes this time around and the only real mystery of this vote is who the Savaiis decide to vote for, but you have to assume it will be Cochran. Anyway, let's read the votes. Well, looks like Jim stuck to the plan and all the Savaiis vote for Edna. But Albert and Sophie didn't budge and Jim goes home 7-3. While Jim would have been my vote as well, I can't stand the cockiness the Upolu tribe is showing right now. As Jim exits, even Coach gets in on the act with a big grin and an obnoxious wave. C'mon man, what happened to integrity? What happened to sportsmanship? You don't rub your opponent's face in a loss. You shake his hand, tell him good game and go about your business. You're a coach for crying out loud. You'd NEVER approve of one of your soccer players taunting an opponent. So why do you have to do it?

Dammit, I was very much in the corner of this tribe, but after this episode, I don't know who to like anymore. On a different note, this should be an interesting Redemption Island challenge now with three pretty decent challenge threats going at it. You have to think Ozzy is the favorite to win...but Keith and Jim are no challenge slouches.

Next time on Survivor: Albert seems like he might finally make a move. But continuing in the footsteps of Rob, Coach is onto him. He even throws in a line about being dead if you go against the family. Meanwhile, Ozzy lies in wait over at Redemption, making himself a huge threat. One thing I'll mention about next week: from what I hear, the Redemption Island challenge will not be like last year, where only the loser goes home. This time, only the winner will stay. Also, two more people get the boot. Seems like it should be pretty ho-hum (Dawn and Whitney) right? Well, don't count on it. Until then, take care.