Survivor: South Pacific
Running the Show
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
November 17, 2011

Jim is absolutely destroying Keith at strip poker.

Hello, good people. So, I told David and Kim that I felt safe enough to not participate in this recap and that I would prefer a 12 pack of donuts and some iced coffee. As you can see, I'm writing a recap right now guessed donuts! They're slave drivers, I tell ya. Slave drivers!!!

But enough about me...let's talk Survivor: South Pacific. Last week was a busy busy week. Savaii was steamed, so Cochran got reamed. Jim won the game so they wrote down Ozzy's name. The Upolus chose to eat, and Jim lost his seat. Coach seems to be in control, Dawn and Whitney should be next to go. The game belongs to the Upolu six; I just wish they'd stop being...jerks.

Tonight's episode looks to feature two players going home and two more players getting voted out. The way they're showing things, you have to think Ozzy wins on Redemption and the two Savaii girls will be his next two opponents. But Albert has something up his sleeve, after the Power Rankings, we'll see what it is.

Power Rankings:

Coach - 4-1. I have to leave Coach where he is. Despite the suggested dissention in the ranks, everyone keeps marching to Coach's tune. And as Jim so cleverly laid out in the sand last week, he has the numbers to make it all the way. If Albert and Sophie don't make a move soon, their best bet will be to sit with him in the Final 3.

Albert/Sophie - 8-1. That being said, the power duo of Albert and Sophie are still pretty strong in this game. And they're both very smart. As it is now, there are nine people still in the game. This is the time to make a move. Previews hint that they will...let's see how that plays out.

Rick/Edna/Brandon - 15-1. I've moved Brandon up with Rick and Edna because they all seem to be riding Coach's coattails here and could very easily make up his Final Four. These folks could actually band together and make something happen...but much like the chucklenut brigade that played with Rob last season, I don't see any of them stepping out of Coach's shadow and taking the step out onto that limb.

Dawn - 20-1. If there were someone most likely to win immunity and completely screw up the Upolu plan, it's Dawn. She's also very nice and everyone seems to love her. So she'll definitely hang out longer than Whitney. In fact, I wouldn't be completely surprised to see her become a large part of Albert's plan to take over the game. I just wonder if it'll be too little too late.

Cochran - 40-1. Should Dawn win immunity, you have to think Cochran's the vote. Either way, though, Cochran still can't win this game. He might make it far, even to the end. But there's no way he'll ever win. I should put him lower, but considering that there are three people with one foot out the door, I have to put him up here.

Whitney - 50-1. Only an immunity necklace will save Whitney from being the first boot tonight. And I don't see that happening. Whitney should be the first one sent to Redemption Island tonight. And once she's there, whoever survives the challenge tonight will be ready to dispatch her right away.

Ozzy - 100-1. While all the ads and the editing are pointing to Ozzy making a huge stand at Redemption, it could all be an attempt to trick us. But honestly, I don't think so. Neither Keith nor Jim has proven to be any kind of challenge stud, like Ozzy. So I would expect Ozzy to win tonight sending Keith and Jim to Ponderosa as the first two members of our jury.

Keith/Jim - 1 million-1. That's right, I'm putting all my eggs in the Ozzy basket. I say he wins tonight and Keith and Jim see their game end. You can mark their final Tribal Council votes as "Anyone But Cochran." Now, let's get to the episode!

We begin tonight on Redemption Island and Jim's arrival. No one's shocked to see him. Jim tells us that Upolu is very cult like right now and if it keeps going, Coach will win the million. Over at Te Tuna, the tribe gathers and Coach tells everyone that Jim is the most dangerous kind of person out there because he can lie right to your face and turn on you. He tells us that at this point in the game, it's very important to make the people at the bottom of the tribe feel like they're not at the bottom, or they'll revolt. He suggests that we see way more blindsides than we see alliances sticking together. This tells me more and more that Coach has really learned something here and it's what made Rob so strong. No one thought they were at the bottom of the pecking no one ever thought to make a move. Coach tells Whitney and Dawn that he doesn't make the decisions. They decide everything as a group. Whitney tells us that it's obvious that Coach is running the show and she's amazed that such smart people can be so stupid.

The next morning, Coach-chi has his first disciple. Cochran is in the water Coach-chi-ing. He tells us that he hates to admit it, but he is drinking the Coach kool-aid. After they finish, Coach tells Cochran that he's worried. Albert has been real squirrely and Brandon is being Brandon. He feels that something is going on and he's afraid he'll be the target. Cochran, of course, is worried about being the first of their seven to be voted off. He tells us that Coach is very worried about Albert making a move. He says that if Albert were to take control, he fears for his own game.

And with that, it's time for our Redemption Island Duel (Truel?). Today's challenge is the one where they stand with the arms up and out holding up a couple poles. Any movement will cause the poles to fall. Last one standing with his poles upright wins the duel. Losers become the first and second members of the jury. Time to separate the man from the boys. Whatcha got, Oz? And with the slightest lapse in concentration, Jim loses control of his poles and becomes the first member of our jury. After much shuffling and a few near falls, Keith finally loses one of his poles, becoming the second member of the jury. Ozzy wins the duel and remains in this game. I'll go so far as to say that he also has two votes in the final tribal, should he make it there.

We come back from break to Ozzy loving life on Redemption Island. He's fishing and exploring and telling us all about how this is the way to go. While he's eating lots of fish and resting and getting ready for his duels, the rest of the players are worried about the game and the other players. He's pretty sure Redemption is the perfect place for him. As we leave him, we're treated to a fantastic shot of him standing on the very top of a palm tree and looking out over his kingdom. He tells us that anyone coming through Redemption is going to be in trouble.

We check in with Te Tuna as Rick is pulling up an empty fishing net. As Ozzy had mentioned, there's not a lot of eating going on at Te Tuna. We join a conversation between Dawn and Cochran where Dawn is lamenting the fact that she did not "out" Cochran's plan to flip when she had the chance. She feels she hurt her own game by doing so and is hoping he'll return the favor. He admits to her, and to us, that he's considering flipping back to that side of things. He's concerned that the promises he's received to get past the final seven may not be solid. Plus he thinks that if he can save Dawn and Whitney, maybe they could be jury votes in the end. And with that...

Probst sighting!! Today's challenge will see the players with a bowl of rice balanced on their head. They'll have to cross two teeter totters and then dump the rice into a basket. If they drop the bowl or touch the bowl, they have to go back to the beginning. First one to fill their basket wins. To assist in the challenge, each person is given a bean bag to put on their head to help them balance a little better. Once again, this seems like a challenge tailor made for the women. And Brandon, it would seem. Dawn, Brandon and Sophie are neck and neck when they dump their first bowls. Everyone else is having a rough time with this.

Cochran is especially inept. Whitney, as she has shown with every challenge, is okay at it, but painfully slow. Coach finally dumps a bowl of rice and Whitney finally gets past the teeter totters only to lose her bowl right before dumping it. In the meantime, this has really become a three horse race between Dawn, Sophie and Brandon as all of them have two bowls in and are heading back with their third bowls. Sophie has filled her bowl to overflowing in hopes that she'll have enough to win. Brandon and Dawn both get there first, but they don't have enough to win, they each need one more bowl. Sophie slowly makes her way there and when she dumps, the flag raises and Sophie wins immunity! Before they head out, Jeff announces there will be a twist at tonight's Tribal Council. Dawn tells us she and Whitney are in big trouble, but she's holding out hope that the twist may help her somehow.

We come back from break as everyone congratulates Sophie on an amazing job at the challenge. Cochran sits down with Coach to confirm that Dawn and Whitney are next. Coach feels that Dawn will win the game if she makes it to the end. Cochran tells us that he's concerned that the twist at Tribal will be a second immunity challenge and vote right there. And if either Dawn or Whitney is left and wins, will he be the next choice. Dawn and Whitney are discussing what plans they could possibly have. They decide that Albert is the one to approach. So they go to him and suggest that Coach will take Edna and Sophie to the end. They tell him that they have two votes to offer to someone who wants to change the game.

Albert tells us that he has an idea of getting Edna out for a couple reasons. He wants to reward Cochran for making the move to join them and he'd like to curry favor with the Savaii ladies in hopes that he can earn three jury votes with this one move, while only losing Edna, who wouldn't vote for him anyway. He tells Whitney that Edna is one that needs to go, the way she follows Coach around and that she brings nothing to the table. With Cochran and Dawn, they need to find one more vote. Meanwhile, Brandon mentions to Coach that he thought they weren't supposed to making themselves available to the Savaii members.

We join a chess match between Cochran and Albert. Albert tells Cochran that he's sitting seventh right now. Cochran is a little miffed that they would think Edna is more important to them than he is, the guy who saved all their asses. Albert tells him of the Edna plan and they go out to find Sophie. Albert lays down the plan. He gets Sophie to admit that Edna has the most allegiance to Coach. Sophie tells us this could be their one shot to make a move because of the two free votes out there. She says that Albert is trying to take control and she's the swing vote. She is trying to decide what will likely take her to the end. Coach, however, is onto Albert. He sees him talking to everyone. He can't decide whether Albert's trying to garner votes or make a move. He tells us that there are three ways to motivate people, coddling, reaffirming and fear. He has chosen to be like the old mob boss (or Boston Rob) and threaten "death" to anyone that goes against the family.

We get to Tribal and Jeff starts off with Dawn asking her what the plan was back at camp. She says it's time for the Upolus to think about using them, suggesting that the people at the bottom of the pole for Upolu should join them. Whitney says that other than Cochran going seventh, she doesn't know who's on the bottom. Cochran is aware of his situation, but he has some things in place and when he gets to the seven, he should be able to maneuver. Jeff asks him, as an avid fan of Survivor, has he really not thought past the seven? He says that he has and he hopes to be on the right side of a fracture. He also says that this is the perfect time to make a big move, with two votes on the line. Dawn tries again to offer her loyalty to whoever would like to go with her (Albert).

Jeff asks how concerned Coach is. He says he worries all the time. There are some thinkers on his tribe and he worries when he sees them talking to people. He also mentions that even though it looks like he's the leader, he is not in charge of anything with this tribe. Whitney rolls her eyes at that and Jeff calls her on it. She says that she always sees people reporting back to Coach, which suggests he is the leader. Albert confirms that the Savaii members think Coach is the leader, but he's not. Coach chimes in that he's not the leader, but he likes to have the information. He files it away and when his life is in jeopardy out there, and that day is coming soon, he'll use that information. And with that, it's time to vote.

The only vote we see tonight is Whitney's vote for Edna as she hopes that there are four more of them. As Jeff reads the votes, they alternate between Edna and Dawn until they're tied 2-2. After that comes the string of Dawns that send her to Redemption Island to be a sacrificial lamb to Ozzy. And now it's time for the twist. There will be an immediate immunity challenge with a vote to follow. Yeah, Whitney...if you want to stick around and you've just been saving up, now's the time!

This challenge is a quiz on survival skills. You answer wrong, you're out. Last one still in wins immunity. The first question dumps Rick, Edna and Albert. The second question dumps Cochran and Brandon. The third question dumps Coach, leaving Whitney and Sophie to battle it out. The fourth question, and we will have a winner, dumps...Whitney. Sophie wins immunity again! Forget celebrating, Sophie. You have to go vote now. We see no votes this time, but do we really need to? It's a 7-1 vote, Whitney is headed to Redemption Island with Dawn and Ozzy.

And here we are. The Pagonging is complete. I hate to keep mentioning Rob Mariano, but he played quite possibly the most perfect game of Survivor ever last season, and Coach is following his blueprint to a tee right now. But now is where it gets real rough. Coach has kept his tribe together, despite some serious thoughts about flipping from Albert. The question now is, can he keep his tightest alliance together long enough to ensure himself numbers to the final Tribal? This is where Rob really kicked it into gear. I don't know that Coach has that gear but I can't wait to find out.

Next time on Survivor: it looks like the target FINALLY lands on Brandon's back. We see Albert and Coach talking about Brandon. And next we see that Coach feels he should upgrade his name from Dragon Slayer to Zeus. There he is, ladies and gentlemen! There's the Coach we all know and love. I have to say, I'm a little disappointed to see him acting like this. While I know he's never been there before on Survivor, I'm sure he's been there on the soccer field. He knows what it's like to win. So, dammit, hand the ball to the ref and act like you've been there before. I can't imagine he'd tolerate one of his players calling themself "Zeus" and acting a fool because they won. And I wish he'd stop doing it. Now, if he makes it to the end and wins the million, then maybe we'll call him Zeus. Probably not, though. Til next week, take care.