Last week, Jim Rice ended up as the hero for his Savaii Tribe after pushing his team to victory in the elimination challenge.
This week, though, the role of tribe savior was usurped by his teammate, veteran Ozzy.
Two former Upolu tribe members faced off in the Redemption Island challenge to start this week's episode. Having been in isolation since being the first person voted off the island, Christine came into the arena not saying much of anything and wearing a pissed-off look. Her opponent, Mikayla, on the other hand, looked a bit scared to be up against such a clearly bad-ass competitor. Their challenge was to build a bridge that led to a puzzle board, one plank at a time. After crossing, they then would pull apart the planks of the bridge and use marked ones as puzzle pieces to form the Polynesian-style human image of Redemption Island. It's like a puzzle within a puzzle, man.
Mikayla nearly came from behind for the win, but missed two flipped puzzle pieces, giving Christine the few seconds she needed to finish her puzzle and win the challenge. Once again, the scrappy Jersey woman was sent back to her 16th day in isolation and counting.
On the walk back from watching the Redemption Island challenge, Savaii tribe members Ozzy and Cochran came up with a "worst-case scenario" plan that would send Ozzy to Redemption Island if their tribe loses the upcoming challenge. Their thinking was that Ozzy can beat former Upolu member Christine and stay alive on Redemption Island just long enough to wait out the eventual merging of the two tribes and the one surviving castoff.
The hidden Immunity Idol necklace that Ozzy found would go to Cochran, who agreed to give it back to Ozzy once the big merge happens. The downside is that if the merge doesn't happen the day after Ozzy is voted off, as everyone assumes, it will leave Savaii down one of its strongest players. Are you still following me? Good. Trust me, it was hard enough to figure it out the first time, let alone write it after a few bowls in the thirty minutes following the episode.
We then got more glimpses into the overall douchery that is Coach. Following a prayer in the surf, the dude went into this half Tai Chi/half little-kid-fighting-imaginary-bad-guys routine while waves crashed around him and a helicopter flew overhead filming the whole thing. Dude probably walks around in half-robes à la Quagmire in his downtime.
Meanwhile, weirdo Brandon was still searching for the Immunity necklace that his teammates found days before. Coach realized that the tribe can't tell Brandon he was out of the loop or the kid would freak out big time -- so they conceived a plan to send everyone out to look and fake find the thing. Brandon brought everyone in for a prayer, which got really strange when Coach used Brandon's religious weakness by praying to God to help them find the idol. They eventually found the necklace, which Brandon predictably attributed to a higher power: "It's definitely an advantage having the big guy upstairs on your tribe," he said at one point, beaming with self-righteousness. It is ass hats like this guy that remind me why I spend my Sundays skiing instead of in some church.
The team challenge this week was a blindfolded maze, with two callers yelling out directions to the four blindfolded teammates, as well as attaching the sightless searchers to a guide rope. The rope helped lead the team members to hanging bags along the course containing different puzzle pieces. Once done collecting the pieces, the last blindfolded pair then had to arrange all the pieces by which ones match.
Rice did the calling along with nerdy law student Cochran, while the rest of the team fumbled along through course. Both teams stayed about neck and neck through the entire race until Cochran fumbled tying Ozzy and quiet southern belle Whitney to the guide line, causing the team to fall behind and lose the challenge. Upolu, overcome with joy, got into another weird group prayer together and were sent off to watch the latest movie bomb from Adam Sandler, Jack and Jill. Religion crap aside, I realized that I really hated Coach when he admitted to still enjoying Adam Sandler movies, and that he somehow found a deep, team-inspiring message in Sandler's latest cross-dressing role as his own twin sister.
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Meanwhile in Savaii-land, Ozzy and the rest of the team were clearly pissed at Cochran for blowing the lead and forcing them to send someone to fight to stay in the game on Redemption Island. Ozzy was clearly ready to go back on his word and send Cochran to his fate, but after a long night's sleep, he woke up zen and stayed true to his original pact with the Harvard dweeb, confident that he can beat Christine and be reunited with his tribe in just a few days. Everyone else seemed to be wary of giving up one of the strongest players on a chance they may come back to save Cochran, who Rice said would be the "fourth guy" behind the oldest remaining Savaii tribe member, Mormon soccer-mom Dawn.
At the ceremony, Ozzy made it clear that he wanted to go, saying his "heart and gut" were telling him a journey to Redemption Island would prove his worth in the game. Apparently, such a big move could really earn him huge points in the long run, when a jury of castoff peers votes to decide who wins the $1 million. Despite some objections, and host Jeff Probst hinting that the merge might not come as quickly as they all think, the team unanimously voted off Ozzy and what might be their best chance at remaining a strong unit.
This week's Survivor Strain: SAGE. This wild, gamey and amazingly potent sample was the perfect way to wind down and zone out to the scene of a tropical beach after a day of blizzard-like conditions, snapping tree limbs and maddening traffic. The sample above came from The Clinic's grow, but lots of other shops seem to have it in stock in Denver right now, too, including C.D.S., Alternative Medicine Capitol Hill, Herbs4You and The Giving Tree.