Survivor: South Pacific
Then There Were Five
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
December 18, 2011

Hitch your wagon to a non-douchebag next time, honey.

Hello, good people, and welcome to the penultimate edition of the BOP Survivor recap. After last week's ousting of Edna, we are down to the original Upolu alliance. Coach, Albert, Sophie, Brandon and Rick have run the table. Night one on the Upolu beach saw "temporary" three-time player Coach Wade telling his new tribe mates that a strong alliance of five could run the game all the way to the end. Those four folks bought into his story and whaddaya know? Here they are, the final five of the game. (Sure, there are two people sitting on Redemption Island...but you all know what I mean.)

After our boy Johnny Cochs almost took out Ozzy last week at Redemption Island, Edna gets her shot at him this week. The previews suggest that Edna has a huge lead on Ozzy at some point. I can't imagine they would show us in the preview that Ozzy loses, but you never know. We also get to see the Upolu five finally turn on each other. Rick and Albert are shouting at each other. Sophie is trying to break into it. If this continues, Coach and Brandon can punch their tickets to the final three. But that's why they play the game. Let's check some Power Rankings and then get to it.

Coach - 10-1. I'm taking Coach's odds down a touch, but I still think he's in the best shape to win the game. He formed this alliance and he's done a ton of the work to keep it alive. He kept Brandon in check and he brought in Cochran when they needed a vote. He held onto Edna as long as they needed her vote and he's made all of the right moves at all the right times. But now we're down to it. This is where the Marianos and Hatches of the world really make a mark. Coach is not in their class...yet. The next couple of days will determine whether or not he should be.

Sophie - 12-1. I keep saying it...Sophie is the most dangerous player in this game. She's smart, she's won challenges and she just may well be the brains of the whole operation. I see almost no way she doesn't make the final three. Her challenge, once there, will be to convince the jury that she didn't just ride Coach's coattails and that she really played a hard game. We've seen it, but I'm not 100% sure the Savaii tribe has seen it.

Ozzy - 20-1. I really don't see the others having a shot. Ozzy will win this game if he makes it to the end. Period. Anyone else, I'd say they have no chance. But when all he needs to do is win three or four more challenges...Ozzy can do that with his eyes closed.

Albert - 25-1. Albert's the third in the power alliance, but I don't think he's likable and I don't think he's played a good enough game to win. He tries to make moves, but they never materialize. People see that stuff and I think when it comes down to it, the jury would rather give the money to anyone other than Albert's smug ass.

Moustache - 30-1. If the final three works out right, I could see Rick being the "I can't stand these other two guys, I'll give the money to the moustache" vote. I don't see Rick making it to the end, but if he does, he could get some votes.

Brandon - 100-1. I don't see Brandon having a chance in hell of winning this game. While he has played a mostly honest game, he's also played a stupid game as well as a...well..."loco" game. He's a loose cannon, borderline stalkerish and he pops off anytime he feels like it. I can't imagine a jury rewarding that with $1 million.

Edna - 1 million-1. I don't care what the previews show. Edna ain't beating Ozzy. And even if she does, she ain't winning this game.

The show begins as the final five come back to camp. There's definitely a feeling of accomplishment and relief. They all get a few minutes to enjoy the feeling and, of course, pray. Coach tells us that the real game begins now and that all alliances are out the window. Talk comes around to what to do with Ozzy if he gets back in. Albert tells Sophie they'll have to do everything they can to not let him win immunity. After she walks away, he tells us that she has no idea she's next. Uh oh...

We come back from the break as the tribe starts to position itself for the endgame. Albert tells us that Coach and Sophie are his main alliance, but that Sophie is getting to be way too dangerous. He doesn't want to sit next to her at the end. Albert goes to Moustache right off the bat to confirm that they're still going to the end. Rick agrees. Albert tells us that Rick is the best person to sit next to at the end. He feels that he could beat Rick and the cult-leader, Coach at the end. And with that...

It's time for the Redemption Island duel. While they get set up, I'd like to mention that the longer it goes on, the more I hate Redemption Island and the more I miss Reward Challenges. Anyway, today's begins with a slide puzzle. They must work an axe out of the slide puzzle. Once they do that, they take the axe and cut a rope. This will drop a box of puzzle cubes. The cubes have random different colored sides. It's basically a cross between Rubik's Cube and Sudoku. You have to stack the four cubes so that on all four sides, there's one of each color with no duplicates. Ozzy blows through the slide puzzle and gets his cubes. With help from the rest of the tribe, Edna finally gets her axe and her cubes. This is actually a really tough puzzle and despite the early lead, Ozzy and Edna are pretty well even. Not to mention, Edna has the entire Upolu tribe helping her with the puzzle. After a whole bunch of changing, Edna thinks she has it...nope, two red sides on the same side. And, as expected, Ozzy plays the tortoise to Edna's hare and wins yet another Redemption Island duel. And with that, Edna gets nominated as "juror most likely to have the bitterest speech at final Tribal."

Back at camp, Albert continues his chattiness. He tells us that he doesn't care about honor and integrity within this game. We join Brandon and Albert talking about their final three plans. Albert confirms that the two of them and Coach will go to the end and they need to take out Sophie next. And they really need to be ready to take Ozzy out. Brandon tells us that his agreement with Albert and Coach is 100% and Sophie will be the next vote. Sophie, meanwhile, is telling Coach that she's concerned about Ozzy. He's the last impression people are getting before they head to the jury. She feels that they need to send Brandon to Redemption to face off against Ozzy so they can get rid of one of the two most dangerous players out there. She tells us that while she knows different, superficially, Brandon is the most Godly and honest man out there and that's NOT someone she wants to sit next to at the end.

I think this is one of those things that people should really pay attention to. At home, we've seen all of Brandon's nonsense. The players (especially the Savaii) haven't. It's why I keep arguing with David over whether or not Coach is running the show. We see all and we can see that Sophie is doing a lot and that Coach has gotten pretty lucky along the way. But what the jury members see is that Coach is running the game and has been since day one. Our perception doesn't mean's all in the perception of the other players. This all being said, Sophie pulls in Moustache to have him join the plan to vote for Brandon. He's in.

The next scene is Albert pleading his case to Coach that Sophie is the most dangerous player in this game and that the jury will not respect Brandon's game. Coach is every bit as adamant about keeping Sophie as Albert is about getting rid of her. Coach tells us that Albert's scared of her because she's smarter than him. Coach is convinced that Brandon will win. As he tries to explain this, Brandon walks up into the conversation. As Coach is trying to tell Albert that he doesn't know how the juries work, Brandon pushes more and more about what the conversation is. Coach obviously has a Hantz bee in his bonnet. Brandon asking about this, he says, is trying to bully his way into what they were talking about. It's amazing that Russell (after all this time) is still in Coach's head. So much so, that I think Coach is treating Brandon as though he is Russell. He tells us that he's now even more sure what he has to do next, and that's get rid of Brandon.

Probst sighting! Today's immunity challenge is a physically tough challenge. Each player will need to use a rope to walk up an inclined platform. Ever so often, they'll have to stop and untie a bag of puzzle pieces. Every time they get a bag, they have to go back down to the bottom, put it on their stand and then go back up. The first couple will be easy, but the last couple are way up there and will require quite a bit of strength to get to. Given their living conditions, this is gonna be a rough one. Once they have all their bags of pieces, they'll need to match up all pairs of symbols. When they've matched everything, there will be three tiles left over. On the back of those tiles are numbers. The three numbers (in some order) will be the combination to a lock. They unlock that lock and their flag will raise, giving them immunity. It will also earn them a pizza delivery back at camp when the challenge is over. But really, who cares about that, right?

As the challenge starts, Brandon and Rick take off. Coach and Sophie are a little behind and Albert is way behind. As the challenge progresses, Brandon is ahead of everyone at the fourth and fifth bags, but Rick takes the lead after the fifth bag. Brandon and Rick are neck and neck as they start to get their puzzle pieces out. Rick, Brandon and Coach start working on the puzzle about the same time, with Albert and Sophie lagging behind. Brandon and Coach set themselves apart on the puzzle and are dead even. Brandon takes a slight lead and starts up the wall with his three tiles. As coach makes his way up the wall, Brandon enters the right code and wins immunity and a guaranteed spot in the final four. Before they head back to camp, Jeff tells Brandon that he can invite one other person to have some pizza. He chooses Moustache to share pizza. Jeff mentions that they will NOT be allowed to share with anyone else. As they head back, Coach tells us that it must not be Brandon's time to go, but he's pissed about it.

We come back to camp as a pizza guy on a jet ski arrives at the beach with Brandon and Rick's reward. Sophie tells us that Brandon screwed up the plan today and that it's Albert's time to go. Coach is on board with this, so I guess it's time to play "it's anyone but Albert." Sophie wants to go "smell the pizza"...but it's really a chance for her to tell Brandon and Rick that Albert's next to go. Brandon tells us that he doesn't feel like he can believe Albert anymore. So he goes to Albert and asks him if he promised the final three to Rick. Albert looks him dead in the face and tells him that he never promised Rick to the finals. So Brandon goes and gets Rick and Rick confirms what we all saw. Albert DID promise the finals to Rick and Brandon wasn't in that group. And the fight ensues. Moustache is pissed at being called a liar. You can tell that he doesn't like that label a bit. Sophie tells us that she's thrilled to see Albert's true colors coming out in front of everyone. Albert tells us that he has a ton of damage control to do before tonight's vote.

The next thing we see is Albert trying to get Brandon back on board. He tells Brandon that he has no desire to go to the end with Rick. Brandon tells us that he Albert is his friend and that he feels he should forgive. And just like that, Brandon is back on board. He tells us that he feels that Albert deserves to be there and if he has to, he'll give Albert his immunity necklace. He knows Albert and Coach will not vote for him.

The next talk is Brandon going to see Coach. He tells Coach that God has spoken to him and that Albert should stay. He tells Coach that he will give Albert the necklace if he has to. He says that he knows Coach would never write his name down and that this will be their chance to show what they're all out there for. He basically plays the "God wants us to do this" card. Coach corrects him that this is what God wants HIM to do. He says he's going to pray about it and will do whatever God tells him to do. Brandon accepts this and coach goes to pray. A name kept coming into Coach's head and that's who he's going with tonight.

Real quick, I have to say...I'm sick to death of the religion/God stuff going on on this show. It got a smidge annoying with Matt Elrod last season, but it's gone completely to 11 now and it is seriously cutting down on my enjoyment of the show. Mark Burnett, Jeff Probst...please hear my plea. Stop this shit now. I'm not a religious person at all and even I am annoyed at how these idiots keep justifying all of their lies and deceit as God's will. I think it's amazing that when they pray for God to guide them, He always tells them exactly what they want to hear. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE try your best to cast this out of the show. Oh yeah...and get rid of Redemption Island while you're at it. By the power of Tebow...please make it happen.

We begin Tribal tonight with Jeff asking Brandon how nice it is to have immunity. "I want to give my immunity necklace up." Everyone in the room is shocked. Brandon gets up and gives the necklace to Albert. Now THAT'S how you start a Tribal Council. Brandon says that he has maintained that he would stay true to his word and that he's started something and he plans to finish it. Coach tells everyone that Brandon was going to vote for Albert, but he prayed about it and he decided that he needed to protect Albert. Brandon explains to everyone that he used to be in the "gang scene". He says that he was always loyal to his friends and that when he asked for the same loyalty in return, his friends were never there for him. He feels that his friends in this game WILL be there for him. As Jeff suggests to him that these guys could be screwing him over as well. Brandon says he feels that Albert and Coach are his best friends right now and that their bond is real.

Albert explains that his feelings in this game have changed and that his bond with Brandon is that tight. So, Jeff puts him on the spot and asks him whether or not he'll return the necklace if he thinks Brandon is in trouble tonight. Albert says that he would. When asked, Sophie says she doesn't know what to believe from Albert anymore. She says that he's been sneaky and she will not rely on faith in Albert from day one.

Jeff finally turns to Rick. He says everything was great and now one of them is going home. As he's talking, he mentions that Coach has the idol. Coach does admit he'll play it if he thinks he's in trouble. Rick then mentions that he is really interested to see if Albert would give the necklace back if Brandon was in trouble. Brandon admits that he feels now that it might be his time to go. Jeff turns to Albert and asks him if he feels he has an obligation to give the necklace back. Albert says that Brandon should feel secure enough in him and Coach that he can make a move like this. Therefore, he's not giving the necklace back.

Now, there are two schools of thought on this one. My thought is that Albert has sealed his own fate in the game here. Everyone can see that Brandon is toast and Albert just went back on his word from five minutes ago that he would give up the necklace. The other (wrong) school of thought is that Albert just made Coach out to look like a horrible villain here, if he votes out Brandon. I think Coach is in a really bad spot here. On one side, he's got Brandon (and now Albert) making him out to look like a complete monster if he doesn't completely alter his game (potentially costing him a million dollars) and keep Brandon. Not to mention, this is his third and final time playing. After all the time, blood, sweat and tears he's put into this game...should he really be expected to throw it all away (in his mind) by keeping a guy because he doesn't have any friends in his real life? Also, what happens if he does dump Sophie? He loses a vote, that's for sure. Not to mention, he'll be putting a very eloquent woman on the jury who just might make it her mission in life to see that he DOESN'T win this game.

Jeff asks Coach about his involvement here. He says that he prayed about this vote and that he is at complete peace with what he has to do. Brandon has the last word by saying that Coach will do what God wants him to do and if that's voting him out, he feels Coach will vote him out.

And with that, it's time to vote. We see four of the five votes. Brandon and Albert vote for Sophie. Sophie and Rick vote for Brandon, "Dumb move." Coach's vote is kept secret, but I think we all know who it is. Jeff reads the votes and the 13th person voted out of Survivor: South Pacific...Brandon. As he heads out, Coach pulls him in for a hug and tells him that it's God's will for him to go to win Redemption. The jury is stunned at this development. Before they go, Jeff tells them that they will witness the final Redemption Island duel. The winner of the next duel will re-enter this game and duke it out to the end.

Next time on Survivor: the season finale is this Sunday. Will Ozzy continue his quest for Redemption? And if so, does he get voted out a third time? Can Brandon win his way back in and throw a monkey wrench in everyone's plans? Will we have another Survivor proposal during the live reunion? Come on back Sunday night to find out! Til then, take care!