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Survivor: South Pacific – Who Will Go (to Redemption Island) in Episode 2?by William Hammon -- 09/21/2011
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Remember how I said last week that the pre-game promos were trending away from showing us who would be booted early? Well, I was kind of right. As it turns out, of the five players featured in the commercials leading up to the season (seven if you count Ozzy and Coach), the only one who was in any danger was Cochran, and even then, I was correct in my assumption that he’d have enough of a social game to survive the initial vote.
Apart from that, however, I pretty much didn’t get anything right, except for the fact that I knew Ozzy and Coach would not be targets, despite the initial reaction to Coach’s presence by some members of the Upolu tribe. Still, I don’t take too much pride in that last bit, as anyone who didn’t see that coming has not been paying attention to the show for the past several years.
That said, there was plenty to take away from last week’s premiere, which means I finally have something to go on as I assess the potential evictees each week. I was able to learn a lot about several of the players, and as it turns out, some of them may never learn anything.
We’ll start with the returnees, Coach and Ozzy. Coach was 100% correct to tell his tribe that he is not a strategic threat, because he isn’t. He never has been and he never will be.
Coach’s modus operandi has always been to entertain his tribemates with stories (thereby playing a reasonably decent social game), pump them up for challenges, and do his best in his own right in that respect. He talks a big game about the whole “honor and integrity” deal, but just like every self-righteous player in Survivor history, his definition of morality is always skewed by how and if people react within his interests.
Because of that, he was able to forge an early alliance with Sophie, Rick, Brandon, and Albert. As an insurance policy, he also has Edna in his back pocket, due to her act of kindness after the “Hero” challenge (which was really just a scaled down rehash of an old tribal immunity challenge from Thailand – the one Sook Jai threw to get rid of Jed, setting the events leading to their own demise in motion).
Coach is going to be the same old Coach, but whereas before he was portrayed as something of a comical character, this time he’s being presented, at least in the early going, as an underdog, someone who we’re meant to somewhat root for. From where I’m sitting right now, it looks like we’re meant to think that Coach will have a better go at the game than he did the previous two times.
It’s kind of like the edit Jerri Manthey got in Heroes vs. Villains. She was the same Jerri she’d always been, but we were just presented a different interpretation of her because she wasn’t the main villain that time. The same will hold true for Coach.
Even the episode itself was a microcosm of that theme, as he came into the game seeing sneers and hearing cocky lines about how he’s a “temporary player.” He then lost a challenge and was completely down in the dumps, with only Edna showing him a basic level of human courtesy. By the end of the episode he had an alliance in place, a functioning camp life, and tribal immunity. It may have only been for one week, but he truly got the redemption he needs, for now at least.
Ozzy on the other hand talked a blue streak about how he had to change his game around, and instead by the end of the show it appeared that he hasn’t learned a damn thing. In Cook Islands, his only “strategy” was to win challenges and weed out anyone who didn’t gel with his macho style. This led to one of his dumber moves in the game, throwing the second immunity so he could vote out Virgilio, aka “Billy” (which still infuriates me, as he was the closest thing to a derivative of my name to appear in 23 seasons of this show, yet we have “Semhars” and “Gandhias” and “NaOnkas”).
In Micronesia he made an even bigger mistake, latching onto his showmance Amanda and aligning with Cirie, James, and Parvati, even though it was abundantly clear that the girls were going to snake him at the first opportunity. He ended up getting the boot with an immunity idol in his pocket.
In this first episode, he made the same mistakes. He latched on to the first pretty face that batted eyes at him, Semhar. What is it with Ozzy and beauty queens (Amanda competed in Miss USA and Semhar won Miss Eritrea on a whim)? Rather than eliminate an actual weakness, he spent the post-challenge campaign trying to take out a perceived weakness in Cochran, because Cochran wasn’t as macho as he was.
It’s almost like a weird case of reverse chauvinism. He expects all the men to be muscular and athletic like him, and since Cochran isn’t, he wants him gone. Meanwhile, he’s cozying up to all the ladies, especially the one who actually failed in the challenge, and he coddled Dawn during her second-day mental breakdown.
He wants to be the alpha male and lord over the females. Rather than learn from his mistakes the first two times, he’s combined them into what seems like an invitation for Jeff Probst to snuff his torch.
Speaking of not learning from past mistakes, let’s begin the discussion of the new players by looking at Stacey and Christine. I know that a lot of players are recruited for this show, but both of these ladies are supposedly fans. Why then would they make the same mistakes that Kristina and Franssessqua (that’s her name now) made just a few short months ago?
Christine tried to draw a target on Coach’s chest by calling him a “temporary player,” but instead she did more to draw it on herself, and as an older woman, it was already pretty big. Franssessqua did the same thing last season and ended up the first one out. If you’re going to be on this show, you have to accept that stunt casting is going to happen.1 2 3 4 5 Next-->
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