I don’t even remember what season Survivor is in now (23?), but this veteran series still has the ability to shock. Add to that the slickest production values in the genre, and it’s easy to remember why this is still one of the best reality shows around.
If you haven’t watched this week’s episode, stop reading and fire up your DVR now (or go to CBS.com). However, if you have witnessed the lunacy, follow the jump to the rest of the photocap.
I’m going to keep this brief because honestly, I’m tired. The big story this week was that Coach, Brandon, Sophie, Rick, and Albert finally had to turn on each other for the first time since forming their alliance in the early days of the game, and as expected, there were plenty of fireworks. Albert got the ball rolling by targeting Sophie, who I had always assumed was his partner in crime. I figured the two of them would pair up to take down Coach and Brandon, but apparently Albert had other plans. Coach wisely deduced that Albert was threatened by Sophie’s superior intellect, and thus he wanted her out.
Coach, however, had other plans. He no longer wanted wee Brandon around, especially after his dad bullied him last week during a reward challenge. Sophie made a strong case against the mini-Hantz too, noting that he’d be difficult to beat in the finals (not true), and Coach was more than happy to join the effort to vote the evangelical off the island. Part of me thinks Coach was simply exhausted with this whole religious angle he (and the others) have been pulling since midway through the season. Let’s face it: the only reason why any of these jokers have been calling upon Jesus has been to mollify Brandon. The kid is a crazy loose canon, and the last thing any of them needed was him feeling jittery and either exposing the team’s grand plans or defecting to another side. Spearheaded by Coach, the decision to use religion to control Brandon was brilliant — and eerily similar to other situations in the real world, both past and present.
Somewhere along the line, I began to think that this Tebowing group truly thought they were communing with God — one can only endure so many prayer circles before the ruse becomes real. However, judging by the clever way Coach and Albert played Brandon (to different ends), it was clear that both men were invoking God for purely strategic ends.
First we had Albert. He had made one too many promises to too many people, and now his words were coming back to harm him. You see, Albert had vowed to take Rick to the end, but then he had also made a pact with Brandon and Coach. So who would it be? Brandon of course called him out (noting that a sinner will have his sins broadcast from the mountaintops or something like that), and Albert wound up looking like a blubbering idiot as he dug himself in a hole of lies. Yup, it looked like he was going home, especially since Brandon of all people had immunity. Sorry, Coach. No luck with your plan to oust mini Hantz.
But perhaps I spoke too soon.
In the wake of the big fight, Albert cornered Brandon and pleaded for forgiveness and understanding — it was the Christian thing to do, after all. He played to Brandon’s ego and his religious compassion, and somehow, despite having just been caught in a total lie volcano, Albert managed to pull off a coup: getting Brandon to donate his immunity necklace to him.
Brandon immediately informed Coach of his intentions, undoubtedly thrilling the guy who had previously thought his target was untouchable this week. Brandon then said he knew Coach would never vote against him should he give up the necklace right? RIGHT???
Coach then stated something so savvy and clever that he should win the million just for saying it: he noted that while God may have been telling Brandon to give up the necklace, God’s will for Coach may in fact be something else entirely. Translation: if I vote you out, it’s not because I’m betraying you — I’m merely doing God’s work.
And so Coach managed to use religion to exonerate himself when he did ultimately vote against Brandon, who — yes — gave up his necklace for Albert. It’s what God wanted, Coach explained to his Padawan, noting that it was now his mission to redeem himself on Redemption Island. Oddly enough, I think Brandon actually believed it. I know six people who didn’t though: the jury, who was slack-jawed and googly eyed.
I think we deserved a big time crazy blindside episode like this after four weeks of predictable ousters.
Poetically enough, as Brandon marched off into the night, the immunity necklace around Albert’s neck unhinged itself and fell to his lap. Not so safe anymore, buster.
Now we only have the finale left. There are many questions to be had: can anyone stop Coach? Will useless Rick make it to the end? And will Ozzy return to the game (he’s had two close-calls with Redemption Island termination, both at the hands of seemingly harmless opponents Edna and Cochran)?
I cannot wait. Even despite the patch of predictability, this has been a great season.
“Dear God: thanks for getting us this far and blah blah blah have we paid enough lip service to Brandon yet?”
“I have this great idea: I’m going to lie to everyone and then alienate myself. YES!”
“Ugh. This is the worst Starbucks EVER.”
“I don’t think this iPad is working.”
“Time to tap into Asian stereotypes. Puzzle Powers GO!”
DJ Edna in da HIZZ-OUSE!!!
“I rather like my sculpture. Almost as much as I like my homemade visors collection.”
Edna: “Jeff, I learned so much on Survivor. I learned I could rough it out here, I could push myself harder than before, and I could make a visor from a piece of parchment like nobody’s business.”
“I could have done more. I could have made another visor! ONE MORE VISOR FOR THE CHILDREN!”
“Mmmmm… peppermint mocha. Oh wait: that’s just dirty salt water with a dead crab floating in it.”
Brandon: “Hey Albert. What’s up?”
“Oh nothing. Just hangin’ with my shirt open.”
Albert: “You are really very small.”
Coach: “Seriously? Do you seriously have to put your nuts in my face?”
Brandon: “Hey, I have a question.”
Coach: “STOP BULLYING ME!”
“If I have to look at that little Hantz punk one more time, I’m gonna–
“Goddammit he’s behind me, isn’t he?”
“Hey Coach. I just found this piece of styrofoam. Wanted to give it to you.”
“Praise the Lord! I won! God has saved me! Now… how should I go about messing this up?”
“Please Lord, let me suckle on the teat of a Macy’s Day Parade balloon.”
“Hey, there’s a carrot up there. GIMME!”
“You know what? I think I do like smoked herring.”
Brandon: “Get the hell out of here, Albert.”
Albert: “I’m sorry: Ally McBeal was a great show, and I won’t say otherwise!”
Rick: “Ally McBeal was overhyped AT BEST.”
“Dammit I have the theme song to One Day at a Time in my head.”
“Albert, I want to do something real stupid because I’m young, impressionable, and generally gullible.”
“Coach, I’m going to give Albert my necklace. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m just… trying not to laugh.”
“Jeff, I don’t really like thinking things through; so I’m gonna give Albert my immunity necklace.”
“I just shat my pants.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s a dumb ass move.”
“Seriously, Jeff. I need some new undies and some disinfectant for the bench.”
“Also, I dressed like salad tonight.”
“I just… I don’t really understand what’s going on here. Why would Brandon ever give up immunity? Is he really that dumb?”
“I just want to apologize, Jeff. I neglected to tell Jim that yes, I am that dumb.”
“Hey guys, I’m doing my racist ‘Wise Old Chinese Man’ face. Check it out, guys! Ahhhh so…”
“WE CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER!”
Brandon: “It’s okay, my brother. It was God’s will.”
Coach: “Yeah… uh… sure.”
“Gurlfriend, this shit cray!”
“Brandon, you are officially an idiot.”
“Apropos of nothing, my fingers smell amazing. Is that allspice? Yes, I believe it is.”
What did you think about this episode? Glad to see Brandon go? Who do you think will win this thing? Coach looks to be in the best position, but might Albert or Sophie overthrow him?