Is it just me or is this season shaping up to be highly frustrating for fans of the game interested in strategic gameplay? There have been more boneheaded moves in just 3 episodes than we’ve seen in a few seasons. Many coming from the same guy (Brandon.)
Beginnings. Episode 3 begins as Christine arrives at Redemption Island to meet Semhar. As they chat, Semhar asks about Coach. “He’s a big fat pain in the ass,” says Christine. Christine also tells us she plans on being around for a while. “The fat lady has not sung,” she tells us.
As Upolu returns to camp after evicting Christine, Mikayla is (for good reason) on edge with Brandon, who targeted her for seemingly no reason. Brandon is feeling guilty, with some heavy regrets for his actions at Tribal. “I reap what I sow, man.”
Day 6 at Upolu begins with Tree Mail, and it is informing the tribe of our first Duel at RI. Coach and Stacey both volunteer to go witness the Duel for Upolu, and we see that Ozzy and Elyse go for Savaii.
The Duel. So it is Semhar versus Christine in our first Duel, a challenge that we saw during Survivor: Samoa. A totem must be balanced on a pole, and every few minutes another length of pole must be added. First person to have their totem drop from the pole, is out, and is the dreaded first person to leave the game. Semhar preps herself by spitting some spoken word art, known to others at the arena as uncomfortable gibberish, as we see them glance awkwardly side to side, while Probst gives out a big sigh. When the poem ends, the challenge begins. After only a few lengths of pole, it is Semhar’s totem that drops first, and just like that, Semhar is a goner. We hardly knew ya, Semhar. Christine meanwhile says that she’s “hoping to pull a Matt,” and string together a bunch of consecutive RI wins…one thing is for sure: She’ll be around next week.
God-smacked. This year’s Jesus-freak is Brandon Hantz, replacing Matt’s constant Bible-talk from last season. God is not too happy with Brandon thus far though, as he tells us that “God was chastising me big time.” Oh God, you devil you. In an effort to come clean with his internal struggle with good versus evil, Brandon decides to finally take off his shirt in front of everybody, revealing his Hantz tattooes and his heritage to us all. He then says perhaps the worst line in Survivor history: “I’d rather make friends out here than a million dollars.” I could feel Russell’s anger up here in Detroit all the way from Texas after those words were uttered. It’s “water up under the bridge,” Stacey tells Brandon, but most everybody is taken aback with the news, most notably Mikayla, who knows better than to trust him. Coach thinks that it was a mistake for Brandon to share, but in Coach’s weird world of morals and ethics, this honesty somehow gained Brandon some loyalty with Coach. Coach does mention that although Brandon is still in his alliance, that maybe he’s not “both feet in now.”
A Brother Type Thing. At Savaii, Ozzy shows us why he has a horrendous reputation as a a social game-player, when he decides to share the fact that he has an Idol with his seemingly closest ally, Keith. “We have a brother type thing going on,” Ozzy says. He of course asks Keith not to share this info. So of course Keith does almost immediately, with Whitney. Interesting dynamic. And it was in passing, but we see Whitney rocking Keith in a hammock, in control. We haven’t seen much of Whitney yet this season, but could this little gesture from Keith point to the real power player at Savaii…Whitney?
Group Smug. At Upolu, Mikayla decides to confront Brandon to find out why he doesn’t like her, but could not have possibly anticipated the result. Brandon admits flat out that he tried voting her out because he didn’t like her, mentioning nothing about his secret creepy forbidden attraction to the lingerie football star. But in another un-Hantz-like maneuver, Brandon decides to get the group all together to address the issues between him and Mikayla. Oh how I hate these uncomfortable group meetings. Brandon kind of loses his temper, and goes all Hantz on Mikayla, while the rest of the tribe stays quiet in silent horror. Sophie calls Brandon a “loose cannon” adding that “it’s inherently in his bloodline…he’s a devious jerk.” Needless to say, Coach’s alliance is becoming uneasy with Brandon’s reckless nature. “He has a different kind of aggression than Russell had, but aggression nonetheless.” How did Coach become the most insightful, articulate, and wise person on Survivor?
Immunity Challenge. A challenge involving body boards, and a flag puzzle ended up as a win for Upolu, who also scored a reward of coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, milk, and a clue to the hidden Idol. While Ozzy did great during the body board segment and Whitney excelled during the last puzzle portion, Papa Bear stuck out like a sore thumb. Jim immediately mentions his name as the target at the upcoming Tribal.
Does a Papa Bear S**t in the woods, or is he just digging? With the tight Savaii alliance of 5 – Ozzy, Jim, Whitney, Elyse, and Keith – there are 3 that sit on the outside – Dawn, Papa Bear, and Cochran. “Do you have butterflies?” Cochran asks Papa Bear. “Nah, Gas,” he replies. In the minority, Papa Bear knows he is the target and in trouble, and begins snooping around to find out how the vote will go. His inclination is right, he is a detective after all…he is definitely the target. He figures his only chance is to find the hidden Idol, so he runs…not walks…into the forest and begins digging around. Elyse happened to see him bolt off, and is suspicious. Did he find an Idol? Ozzy, Keith, and Whitney know that he didn’t, but they can’t share the fact that Ozzy has it. Papa Bear is desperate, and decides to create a fake Idol in hopes the others won’t vote him off. “He came back with a huge smile and a bulge in his pants,” notes Cochran. “He clearly wants us to think he has the Idol.” It seems like a pretty obvious conclusion as to who will go home.
Tribal Council. And we were right. Although Papa Bear and Cochran were both grilled with questions, it was Papa Bear who was sent packing to Redemption Island, in a vote of 6-1-1 (he voted for Jim, Jim voted for Cochran in case Papa Bear did have an Idol.)
Analysis. I like Papa Bear, and was sad to see him go. He is an example of how hard it is for an older person to win the game, although he is not officially done yet. He seemed smart and likeable, but is a detriment to the tribe during physical challenges, and his age kept him from forming any close bonds at Savaii. Click this link for my “Bonus Analysis” of tonight’s episode over at TheTVKing.com.
Next Time On…Is Cochran a mastermind after all? It is implied that he may have rallied the troops in hopes of blindsiding Ozzy. Could it work? And at Upolu, Brandon’s “paranoia reaches new heights.” Man that’s gotta be good. And you won’t want to miss Papa Bear face off against Goldylocks Christine at Redemption Island.
Our first Exit Interview of the year will post tomorrow, with Semhar, our first cast-off. I also will have a special guest on the FilmSurvivor Podcast tomorrow, Marty Piombo from Survivor: Nicaragua. So subscribe above and also be sure to follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli, or at my website, www.tomsantilli.com.