Surviving the South Pacific, Episode 2: “I’m the Biggest Fool in This Game”by David Bloomberg -- 09/22/2011
Welcome back to Survivor! Last week, in the season premiere, we met some new contestants and re-met Ozzy and Coach. Ozzy won the first challenge, and so his Savaii tribe seemed to assume they were invincible. They partied while Upolu worked and schemed. But then Upolu won the challenge – thanks in large part to Semhar’s erroneous claims of being able to do well in the challenge. After some internal debate, they stood united in voting out Semhar (you can find out if it was only because of her challenge performance or if there were other reasons in my Why Semhar Lost column). So she headed to Redemption Island to wait for victim number two.
We begin this episode as Semhar arrives at her Redemption Island campsite. She feels abandoned by her tribe after she gave them “every last strength” and they voted her out. Welcome to Survivor, Semhar.
Semhar reads the posted information about life on Redemption Island – nothing we don’t already know. Then she gets back to whining about not understanding “how people can be so cold-hearted.” Seriously, Semhar, did you not understand the point of this game before you signed up?! But she’s going to turn her pain to positivity through poetry. Sorry, but I’m not going to recap her poem. Even the hermit crab runs away and hides in its hole.
Meanwhile, Savaii returns from Tribal Council. Cochran tells everybody that it means a lot to him that they kept him around. He tells us that Tribal Council was a bit of a disaster for him. He was in fight-or-flight mode and he went with “fight,” which turned into “anxious debate” from him, which he believes was not helpful (you could say that). He needs to “turn on the cool, mellow Cochran” instead of the antsy, paranoid one.
Ozzy tells us they decided to let Cochran redeem himself and that he identifies with Cochran’s passion for the game. At the same time, Cochran needs to put in the effort around camp and in the challenges. He talks to Keith, who says he thinks Cochran will really shine when the challenges turn more towards a combination of physical and mental portions. They also think Jim is smart and can do puzzles well, plus he’s a great worker – they need to keep him around. Considering that I predicted Jim as the winner (with Cochran in the finals), both of these are good news to me!
Keith tells us an alliance with Ozzy will help the tribe stay strong, but he also recognizes that Ozzy has played before and is there to win the game, so he needs to “watch him like a hawk.”
The following morning at Upolu, Coach is talking to Edna, saying he felt some bad vibes from some of the young women on the tribe right off the bat. But it felt like she had his back from the beginning. He adds to us that he was on the outs right off the bat but he feels like he has a second chance. He has a “solid alliance” with Rick, Sophie, Brandon, and Albert. He figures you can never have too many friends, though, and Edna seems like a genuinely nice person.
So he starts plying her for information to see if she thinks anybody has found the hidden immunity idol. Edna thinks Christine may have done so, as she was digging around for hours, but now she isn’t. Also, Edna has noticed how close Christine is with Stacey.
Edna tells us she believes she’s near the bottom in tribal ranking. She’s not strong physically so she needs to align with a stronger male. Hello, Coach! He tells her they want to keep the tribe strong but loyalty is the most important thing to him. He adds to us that loyalty sometimes outweighs strength in this game, so he’s going to protect her.
He ensures with her that she is with him 100%, but also admits he’s “stupid in this game. I’m the biggest fool in this game because I’m always hopeful that I’ll find somebody out here that’ll play honorably.”
Back as Savaii, Cochran is hacking away at a coconut and tells us that it’s part of “the new era of Cochran” as he’s cutting coconuts without having to be asked to do so. He says his mom is going to have mixed feelings – she’ll be proud of his work ethic, but she told him she didn’t want him handling a machete without supervision. And he shouldn’t run with scissors either. Or go in the water until 30 minutes after eating. And he should sit up straight at Tribal Council. OK, I may have made up those last three – but I wouldn’t bet against it!
Cochran wants the others to see him as a provider. He knows he’ll never be Ozzy or Keith or Jim, but at least he can be “a new Cochran.” Unfortunately, he keeps going on and on to several of the others about how much he’s working. It’s annoying me and I only had to listen to it for a few seconds – I can’t imagine how grating it may be for his tribemates.
Ozzy says he’s going to go spear fishing, but in fact he’s looking for the hidden immunity idol. He believes it’s on the beach somewhere and, even though he doesn’t have a clue yet, he is looking for anything that might be a sign. He starts climbing trees and looking in stumps. As he gets to the top of a twisted tangle of branches, he wonders what a rock is doing in the middle of a tree. Good question! The answer? It’s covering an immunity idol! As he tells us, “Three times around, you start learning what to look for!” Ha!
Ozzy tells us he had an immunity idol once before but was stupid enough not to play it. He’s not going to let that happen again! But he can’t let anybody know he has it or they might try to flush it out. He wants to make it to the merge, use it at the right time, and hope that it’s a ticket to winning.
We head back to the other returning player as Coach tells Brandon he was trying to cuddle up to him at night and gave him some sort of blanket to keep him warm. Brandon tells us Coach is a really good guy who played with honor and integrity, and Brandon himself wants to play the same way. But at the same time, how much of an ungodly hypocrite is he to have made an alliance with Coach without telling him about his family pedigree? It doesn’t feel right.
So Brandon quotes the Bible, which says if you have a problem with your brother, you should go to him and tell him. He hadn’t done that, but now he needs to do it. So when the two of them are alone, he asks Coach if he wants to see something cool, then pulls up his sleeve to show the “Lil Hantz” tattoo. Coach is confused, asking if that’s his last name. Yup. He ‘fesses up to being Russell’s nephew, but asks Coach to keep it to himself.
Coach looks physically stunned as he tells us about the sinking feeling he immediately had – because Russell had told him that “as a man of God” they were going to play the game together and then voted him off. So Coach tells Brandon flat-out, “I don’t wanna be played a fool twice.” Brandon says the only reason he told Coach about it is because they have an alliance. If it comes back to bite him, he still feels good about it.
Coach tells us that Brandon had nothing to gain by revealing this information to him, so he believes Brandon is true to his word and will indeed play the way a “man of God” would play. And then they pray together “in Jesus’s name.” Coach tells us it will either end up with Coach duped again or as redemption for the Hantz family.
Back at Savaii, Elyse is hungry. Jim says they’ll catch some fish, but Elyse figures the little fish swimming right near them in the shallow water are taunting her. She wants to channel her “inner Native-American self.” Okay then.
Jim, Ozzy, and Keith head out on their canoe to go fishing. Jim knows it’s not the three of them together by chance. He calls himself “a World Poker Tour champion” and says he’s already thinking a few moves ahead. As I’ve noted before, he technically did win a tournament sponsored by the World Poker Tour, but it was a preliminary event, not the main tournament, so I think he’s overstating his prowess just a bit here.
Anyway, the fishing trip gives Jim the chance to put into play his “three plus two plan,” which he explains is three guys as the core until the end, along with Elyse and Whitney as side allies. Hmm, that doesn’t sound too good for Cochran!
Keith tells us that Jim brought up the idea without knowing that Keith and Ozzy had already planned to talk to Jim! Keith figures that’s good because it gives Jim the impression of being in control. Indeed, Jim tells us he’s the “orchestrator” of the plan and feels that they know who will go home next – Cochran, Dawn, and Papa Bear, each for their own idiosyncrasies because they just don’t fit in. He admits he’s always been the one who didn’t fit in, so he knows how it feels. He’s “at the cool kids’ table” here, but only barely. So he’s done as good of a job as he can do. My question: If you feel you’re an outcast yourself, why not align with the other outcasts and vote out the cool kids?
It’s the next day and we’re at Upolu. Brandon is handing out coconut and then several of them decide to do some fishing. Mikayla tells us how she bartends and plays in a professional women’s football league at home. She figures she’s pretty tomboy and is willing to do the hard work along with the guys. She doesn’t think she’s seen as a “girly-girl,” which will help her in the game.
She and Brandon take the net to fish, but Brandon tells us he doesn’t feel comfortable around her because she’s flaunting her wares as a model. He compares her to Parvati, using her “seductive ways” to try to get attention. “Being a married man, I have to stay away from that kind of stuff.” Really? You’re that easily tempted? If I were your wife, that attitude would make me more worried than simply being able to get along with a woman and treat her like, you know, a normal human being.
Brandon says he’s made bad decisions in the past, and I wonder if one of them dealt with cheating on either his wife or a past girlfriend. But he swears he will vote Mikayla out – “ain’t no chick in this world getting’ in the way of me, my family, and a million dollars.” Famous last words, Brandon. And, really, “chick”?
Christine reminds us that there is a hidden immunity idol clue hidden somewhere at camp. She hasn’t seen anybody else looking for it, so she’s going to search. She doesn’t know if there’s a target on her back (hint: yes) but she would feel more comfortable if she had it in her pocket.
Stacey approaches a group including Coach and Sophie, and Sophie (who apparently is not up on the news that Christine and Stacey are tight) says she’s worried that Christine has the idol. Stacey says if Christine has it, she hasn’t mentioned it to her.
Christine tells us one particular tree looked interesting, with lots of crevasses and hiding places. She notices what looks like a stick that wouldn’t be growing in that particular way – which is because it’s a rolled-up clue, not a stick! The clue says the idol is near the jungle, by the beach, and barely out of reach.
Now she wonders if she should tell anybody about the clue or not (hint: no). She doesn’t know what to do!
Challenge time! Upolu walks in with everybody eating something. Jeff Probst asks them what it is and Coach says they found this delicious fruit (pandera?) and the message they’re sending is that they are all eating together and sticking together – and they plan to win together.
Probst explains the challenge: Four tribe members will race to untie tangled ribbons from a very tall pole (think maypole) to release a keyring. They will use those keys to release the other four tribe members, who must work together to move very heavy crates back and forth across a platform until they can release the largest one (so it’s basically a really big sliding puzzle). First tribe to get that crate on the finish platform wins immunity and a reward of pillows, blankets, a hammock, and a mat – plus a hidden immunity idol clue. Since Upolu has to sit somebody out, Edna is chosen. And since we are shown this process, with her saying it’s up to them, I believe this will potentially come back to haunt her.
Savaii has Cochran, Dawn, Whitney, and Elyse on the pole; Upolu has Stacey, Sophie, Christine, and Mikayla. And they’re off! They all rush in to start untying the knots and then they have to unbraid the ribbons by working together, jumping over and under one another, etc. Upolu is off to a fast start, but Savaii is having some trouble – and it mostly appears to be focused on Cochran.
Upolu gets untied first and Stacey unlocks the other tribe members. They head to the puzzle as Dawn gets Savaii’s keys, but then is not exactly quick in retrieving them – to the point that Probst tells her to pick up the pace because “this is not a picnic!” Elyse grabs the keys and unlocks her tribemates while Upolu has what Probst describes as “a huge lead.”
Both tribes are now working the puzzle, but Upolu may have let their time advantage get to them, as they have slowed down while Savaii is “flying through this puzzle,” in Probst’s words. Indeed, it’s so bad that Savaii has taken the lead (as Cochran helps his tribe by yelling puzzle directions from the sidelines).
Savaii has all the pieces in place and everybody comes to help carry the final crate to the finish plate. As they’d going it, Upolu finally gets their last crate in place, but it’s obvious that they can’t catch up. Savaii wins in a comeback!
Probst sends the tribes back to camp as Brandon tells us they were too cocky coming into the challenge and have been knocked off their pedestal. So in other words, they were in the same place Savaii was before the last challenge. He promises that he will “make sure” Mikayla is voted out tonight. Yeah, we’ll see about that.
At Upolu’s camp, Coach gives props to the women for kicking butt. Christine tells us the guys needed quicker feet. She hopes she isn’t going home because of it.
Coach pulls together his allies and suggests they vote “three, three, and three.” He figures the opposition will concentrate their three votes on one of his group (probably him, based on what Christine said on Day 1), so his alliance will cast three against Christine and three against Stacey, just in case one has the idol. Coach also says Edna is totally loyal, but just to make sure, he’s going to tell her to vote Stacey at the last minute.
In a separate discussion, Brandon tells Coach that Mikayla makes him feel uncomfortable a lot because he’s faithful to his wife. Um, if you’re truly faithful, then being around her should not make you uncomfortable. It’s only if you have no control of yourself that you should feel that way!
He brings it back around to actual strategy and saying all he can think of when he sees Mikayla is “Parvati,” who screwed over many men. (Too bad Parvati can’t even see this, since she’s in Africa as part of Around the World for Free!) Plus, Mikayla is strong, which only adds to the potential problems. He’s willing to go along with the team, though.
Coach tells us it would be ridiculous to vote off the strongest woman now just because of Brandon’s feelings – and he thinks Brandon has “demons” they don’t know about. I’d say that’s fairly obvious.
And despite Brandon saying he’d go along with the team, he is lobbying some of his allies to get rid of Mikayla. Sophie can’t figure out why he’s focused on her – she’s worried that he may be threatened by strong women, which also means he could turn his focus to her later.
Coach joins the group and is surprised to hear Brandon say they’ve decided to vote out Mikayla. But Sophie feels like Mikayla would vote out Christine if they tell her to do so. And Coach thinks they need her for challenges.
The group isn’t being very secretive in their gathering, as Christine and Stacey notice the group. What worries Christine the most is that Edna is part of their discussion “with no problem.”
Then Mikayla tries to join the conversation and Coach asks her for some privacy. Really? They don’t even pretend to be talking about something else? Wow. Then Stacey walks up too, so Coach says he’s taking a walk and leaves. Edna does likewise, saying she’s getting her bag. Rick makes an excuse, saying everybody is paranoid right now. Albert thinks Coach has gone a bit off the deep end and doesn’t trust any of the women right now.
Mikayla can’t believe the scramble that’s going on, with some people apparently not thinking she’s trustworthy – and she didn’t even do anything wrong!
We find out that Edna is a terrible liar, as Christine asks her what they were talking about and Edna claims she doesn’t really know, she was just covering her own butt. Well, what were they saying? Edna says she thinks they were talking about targeting Sophie first. The problem is that Christine is no dummy – she saw Sophie among the group! She tells Edna flat out, “You’re messing up your story really big-time.” Heh. Edna just says she doesn’t know what the story is. Obviously.
Christine has no idea what’s going on – she was leaning towards Edna because you’re supposed to vote off the weak, but now she recognizes it could even be her! She and Stacey approach Brandon and Rick, with the former telling her “it’s a cluster” now. But Brandon says he’s voting off Mikayla because she’s a threat. Christine says to let her know, and then tells us she’s just confused. “It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”
Stacey pushes Christine to go along with them, worried that it might be one of them instead – but Christine thinks it’s one of them anyway! So she takes her clue and starts looking for the hidden immunity idol.
While she does that, Coach, Brandon, and Edna talk about locking in the vote. Brandon gets insistent about voting out Mikayla. He lies and says Christine and Stacey told him they were voting out Mikayla, then admits to us that he hated to lie, but he felt he had to do so. He doesn’t like or trust Mikayla, and she has every guy but him wrapped around her finger. “Mikayla will be going home tonight.”
Coach can’t believe it. He tells Sophie that these people are amateurs. Well, yeah – not everybody can turn Survivor into a full-time gig! He’s pissed off because Mikayla didn’t do anything wrong, but “Brandon wants to control the situation.” Coach preaches to some of the others (I see Rick, Albert, Sophie, and Mikayla) that the game is simple: You find people who are loyal to you and that’s it. “You’re loyal or you’re disloyal.” He hopes the six people he’s aligned with have the character he judged them to have, or else there will be “an ass-whipping at Tribal Council.”
Speaking of which, it’s time for Tribal Council! The Upoluns get their torches and have fire for the life of their game. Probst begins by asking about first impressions – does Brandon think he made a good one in this group? Yes, he does. He’s polite and a hard worker.
What does Coach think the first impression of him was? He thought it was pretty bad after losing the first challenge. But he wanted to pick up the pieces and form a good group to get to the merge.
Somehow we jump from there to Coach saying he heard just before Tribal Council that Christine and Stacey wanted to vote out Mikayla. Mikayla looks shocked while Christine and Stacey look at him like he’s crazy – and he tells them not to do that. Brandon maintains a much better poker face than Jim did last week.
The women say they never said anything about that and Coach says that’s because they haven’t talked strategy with him at all. He wants to finish without interruption and he’s going to lay it all out. The gloves are off. Probst chimes in with a “so glad you’re back.” Heh.
Coach reiterates that Survivor is simple: You find people who are loyal and stick with them. He doesn’t want Mikayla to go home because he wants the tribe to win the next challenge.
Is Mikayla nervous? Absolutely – you never want your name to come up. She doesn’t get it.
Stacey says she never talked to Coach about Mikayla so his honesty and loyalty “just failed.” Um, the problem is that he never said he talked to you – just that he heard it. He may be wrong (and he is), but that doesn’t make him dishonest or disloyal. Coach points this out as well.
The two women want to know who told him this and start to push it. Brandon, obviously (to us) afraid that Coach will answer, asks them to “simmer down.” Yeah, that’ll work.
Albert speaks up, saying he didn’t tell Coach anything about them because they never shared that information with him. But they need to pay attention to their string of logic – they are saying he’s being disloyal but he’s actually demonstrating that very loyalty by not giving away who told him! This use of logic seems to stun Stacey.
Albert continues that the hidden immunity idol started the paranoia, and Probst wonders if they looked for it as a group or did people scatter around. Coach says he knows Christine was looking for it the very first day and then was digging around again today.
Probst says Coach threw Christine under the bus for a second time, to which she responds, “He’s good at that.” She says he’s obviously threatened by her, and Coach sarcastically replies, “Totally.” But Probst wonders if any of it goes back to her comments at the start of the game where she said he was only around temporarily. She says yes and mimes crying, as if he’s being a baby, saying he feels hurt. Coach continues the sarcasm, saying he loves her Long Island attitude.
Probst says there is a question that hasn’t been asked yet – and it’s one he’s surprised Mikayla hasn’t asked: Did Christine or Stacey actually say they were voting against her? If she goes out tonight, it will be the quietest exit he’s seen in a long time.
So Mikayla looks at them and asks if it’s on their mind. Both say they never said they were writing her name down. I know they’re telling the truth, but they say it in such a way that it sounds like they’re parsing words. She asked if it was on their minds, but they answered that they never said they were writing her name – that’s not what she asked!
As Probst is about to move along, Brandon raises his hand and sighs heavily. I can’t believe this – tell me he is not about to come clean! But he does indeed! He says he told Christine and Stacey to vote out Mikayla. The women immediately jump on this and say he was the one who said it and they were never going to do it. Coach sighs. Probst smiles huge and says, “Mikayla, welcome to Survivor.” She can’t believe it either!
Probst says with all these factions in the tribe, how does she make sense of what’s happened? Christine thinks they are a happy family – she thought she was part of it, but— Probst interrupts to say she doesn’t know that she isn’t. You never know who is telling the truth, so does it worry Albert that he doesn’t know where anybody stands? Albert says they all got more information than they bargained for, but it’s great when people reveal themselves. Character will come to the surface no matter how hard they try to mask it.
With that, Probst says he has “no idea” what will happen, but it’s time to vote. We see none of the votes. Probst tallies them and calls for the idol, but nobody brings it out. So it’s time for him to read the votes: Sophie, Edna, Christine, Stacey, Christine, Stacey, Christine, Stacey, and… Christine! She looks a bit surprised while Coach turns and gives her a smug smile. And after all that, Mikayla didn’t even receive Brandon’s vote! So much for his multiple guarantees.
After Christine’s torch is snuffed, Probst tells Upolu that they are only five days into the game and already the biggest obstacle for this tribe is trust. They’re going to have to work on that or they’ll be coming back a lot.
As Christine heads to Redemption Island, she tells us that she doesn’t know what happened at Tribal Council, but she thinks “Coach had a heavy hand in the voting process.” Ya think? She doesn’t know what Coach’s problem was (gee, maybe it was you flat-out telling him that he was a target from the get-go) but “he’s a tool.” She gets to camp and has to shake Semhar a couple times to let her know that she has company.
The voting went as follows:
Next time: The pressure is on Ozzy, as he seems to make a mistake in a challenge while Whitney thinks he’s up to something and Jim thinks they should protect against the possibility that he has the hidden immunity idol. On Savaii, Brandon wrestles with the truth while Sophie calls him “a devious jerk,” Coach says he lets things get to him, and Brandon says it’s a “constant battle” for him between good and evil.
I’ve said before – repeatedly – that what happens at Tribal Council rarely matters in terms of the vote. And here we saw it again. Coach’s alliance came in with their plan to target Christine with a backup of Stacey. Despite everything that went on and the revelations that Brandon was lying, they still voted that way. (And I truly have no idea what Stacey or Christine was thinking in regards to their votes. It seems they had no idea either.) Any repercussions will come next week.
As we wait for that, be sure to keep checking back here at Reality News Online for all of our articles, including Teeuwynn’s and Kari’s Insider video recaps, Chris’s Missing Intelligence Award, Sarah’s Big Picture strategy column (returning after a season’s hiatus), my look at Why Christine Lost, Brian’s rankings, and William’s prediction for next week!
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