After weeks of everyone deservedly picking on nerdy law student Cochran for being a scrawny weakling ginger that didn't contribute much of anything to the team (including this medical marijuana critic), he finally snapped like a freckled twig and completely changed the game for Denver dispensary owner Jim Rice and the rest of the Savaii Tribe.
The pace of the episode picks up right away, with the Savaii Tribe continuing to discuss its strategy from week seven that sent three-season veteran Ozzy to Redemption Island to face Christine, who has been alone by herself for nearly 20 days. Side note: I would have scoured every inch of that island for something to puff with 20 days to myself.
As the team predicts, Ozzy wins the jailbreak-esque Redemption Island challenge by tying sticks together with hemp twine to form a long pole and snagging sets of keys faster than the clearly weary Christine could. To be honest, I was sad to see her go and felt that she would have destroyed Cochran in the competition and easily deserves to be in the game more than he does - and that was before he dropped his bomb.
And what a bomb it was.
The plan was that the Savaii Tribe would tell the Upolu Tribe that Cochran played the idol and forced Ozzy to go to Redemption Island and then pretend to ostracize the Harvard student for his supposed treachery. The thing is, they all overplayed their part -- including Ozzy, who clearly would make an awful actor -- and everyone on Upolu saw right through the plan from the start.
After the two tribes had shook hands and met one another over a picnic lunch of fresh cheese, bread and beer on the beach, Upolu leader and veteran Survivor player, Coach, pulls Cochran aside for a chat. Clueless to strategy, Cochran runs his mouth on the lie for a few minutes before Coach stops him, smiles and then outlines the entire Savaii Strategy move-by-move.
This shocks Cochran, and the kid breaks down about how he's felt picked on by his teammates the entire time and that he is considering switching over. Coach runs with this, promising Cochran everything -- from protection in votes to women in the tribe -- if he comes over to Upolu. This clearly sinks in, because Cochran pulls the bitch move and spills the entire strategy to the Upolu Tribe just to gain acceptance.
Cochran does keep to his word and give Ozzy back the immunity idol that Ozzy had handed over in last week's episode. He actually fakes it for his team, lying and telling them that he's still going to remain loyal to Savaii. Sadly, he fails to realize that he's no better with the former Upolu members than the Savaii members; both see him as a weakling. I'll admit that his team has been a bit hard on him, namely Keith. But this is a game for $1 million and Cochran was constantly the weakest link in challenges for the team. Hell, he's the weakest link in challenges even without his team.
The challenge this week was for each player to stand on a curbstop-like wooden perch, balancing in their hands a coconut suspended between two pieces of hemp twine. It looks easy, but no doubt tedious and grueling at the same time to be balancing not only your body, but a coconut the size of a softball at the same time. Because of the teams merging, this was the first time that individual immunity was awarded at a competition and although the remaining twelve players are still voting six and six along former team lines, it was really everyone for themselves. And of course the game weeds out the two weakest players first: Cochran and Upolu member Edna. Ozzy and Savaii tribe mommy Dawn win the competition overall, protecting themselves from elimination.
The rest of this episode became convoluted quickly. So bear with me here: While the Upolu tribe is getting in a circle praying together, the Savaii tribe members -- still thinking Cochran is on their side -- get together to strategize. They come up with a plan that will give them the best odds of getting one of the opposing team members voted off. Knowing the vote will likely be a six-six tie, they guess the opposing team will go for Whitney and plan to give her the idol after all the votes have been cast. They also decide to gun for Upolu Cowboy (and owner of a sick mustache), Rick.
As quick as he can and like a trusty lap dog, Cochran runs and tells Upolu tribe member Sophie the entire plan. And of course, she refuses to give up the Upolu tribe plan once he's finished blathering about everything. Later, Sophie shows how little she actually thinks of Cochran by calling him a "dodge-ball target" (one of the better insults I've heard in a while, actually).
In the elimination ceremony, each of the six Savaii Tribe members predictably vote for Rick in the first round, but the six Upolu members vote for Keith instead of Whitney, as Savaii had hoped and they ended up wasting their idol on Whitney. This forced a second round of voting in which people could only vote for Keith and Rick, and that's when Cochran made his final decision to flip. Keith was sent off to Redemption Island with a 6-4 loss. Cochran turned to Ozzy and Rice to apologize, but Rice only offers a death stare back and calls him a coward to his face. The kid is still going to lose the game, but now he's going to do it looking like a complete rat. Then again, he is eventually going to be a lawyer, so maybe it's only fitting.
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As for next week: we get a glimpse of a possible shakeup. Rice apparently uses the fact that Cochran can't be trusted as leverage to bring UpoluTribe members into some sort of alliance -- namely Sophie and Albert, who never really seemed to buy into Coach's coach bullshit in the first place.
This week's Survivor strain: Kief Box Salad. No specific strains this week, just a blend of a dozen or so strains from a variety of sources. Like the Savaii team rolling the dice on the tribes converging, you never know what you're going to get when you mix everything together in the vaporizer. Thankfully, I didn't come up with any dirty bugs in the mix like Savaii did with cockroach Cochran.
More from our Survivor archive: "Survivor update, week seven: Dispensary owner Jim Rice plays on as Ozzy seeks Redemption"; "Survivor update, week six: Dispensary owner Jim Rice's plotting works out for now"