Last week, Harvard law nerd John Cochran made what some are calling one of the biggest blindsides in Survivor history by switching allegiances to teammates of the former Upolu Tribe. The move didn't sit well with Denver dispensary owner Jim Rice, who called the rat-faced weasel a coward to his face, in a move characteristic of Rice's up-front style of play.
And while I whole-heartedly backed Rice's sentiment, I also knew that it was exactly that approach that was going to put his chances at $1 million (and my gig as a reality TV game show critic) at risk.
Picking up where week eight left off, the remaining members of Savaii all take turns confronting Cochran before heading off to their part of the group campsite. Ozzy lays a guilt trip on him, pointing out that he had put his ass on the line and kept Cochran safe just two episodes ago when Ozzy took the fall in the tribal council and was sent to redemption island to face Christine. Our boy Rice puts it more bluntly, saying: "You're a fucking coward and a poor excuse for a man. Don't ever fucking talk to me again." Shit, even quiet, sweet southern belle Whitney drops some hatred on the pasty ginger, saying he disgusts her before stomping off.
Meanwhile, Coach is beaming with arrogance about what he sees as his orchestration of the game. He again goes into his feet-in-the-surf Tai Chi routine for the cameras, flexing for closeup shots while acting completely unaware of the production crew standing in the water a few feet away.
There was no Redemption Island challenge this week, so we essentially got a double episode: two immunity challenges and two tribal councils.
The first immunity challenge this week came within the first ten minutes, pitting everyone against each other in a battle of the coconut. The first part of the game had everyone playing a version of corhole, lobbing coconuts into a roped-off sand pit instead of beanbags onto a piece of plywood. The first four to hit bullseye -- Dawn, Whitney, Sophie and Rice -- all who moved on to the second round that had them cracking open cocunuts, getting a mouthful of coconut juice, running an obstacle course and then spitting the juice into a tall glass tube. First one to hit the line with juice wins. I was stoned, and the whole thing flashed me back to a long forgotten Double Dare episode.
I'll also admit now (in case it wasn't obvious already) that I'm pulling for Rice. Yes, I get paid to write about the guy and if he wasn't in the medical marijuana industry I probably wouldn't have started watching this show and ruining any change for a normal Wednesday night at home. But all that aside, I really want the guy to win and found myself yelling at the TV for as he came from behind to beat a gagging and puking Sophie.
Despite winning immunity this round, Rice isn't optimistic about his chances in the long run. With Rice safe, Ozzy is the clear choice for the remaining Upolu tribe members to pick off, but after that Rice is next. With his days numbered, his only chance is to stir things up and try to get Cochran voted off the island for being the only one of the remaining eleven players to backstab anyone. He's right, though the idea has a slim chance of catching on with anyone of his opponents, and I can't blame them. As I've said all along: there's $1 million at stake here. Further, anyone would be smart now to take Cochran with them to the final judging, because nobody would vote for Cochran after the way he's played the game. As much as it sucks to admit, it would be a pretty smart move.
Rice makes his plea at the tribal council, appealing to Coach and several other players by speaking of playing the game with honor and intengrity. Nevertheless, Coach and Upolu feel they have to stick up for Cochran, who has fed them full of stories about being belittled by his former tribe, Rice in particular. The reality is that Cochran played up his insecurities from day one, and is as much to blame for his being pegged a weakling as anyone else is if not more. Predictably, the remaining Upolu members and Cochran end up voting Ozzy off to Redemption Island.
The second immunity challenge of the episode came with a sweet twist. The challenge was to balance a ball on a bow-like curved track while balancing themselves on a beam, however anyone who felt they were safe from elimination could opt out and instead chow down on pastries, muffins and iced coffee. Of course the former Upolu Tribe members and Cochran opted out for the treats, leaving Dawn, Whitney and Rice to the challenge. Rice took the Zen approach, zoning out on his ball until losing its balance and dropping out first. Dawn and Whitney remained, with Dawn sucking up to the players pigging out by acting sincere and saying she hopes they all enjoy the treats like she baked the damn things herself. All that talking didn't do her any good in the challenge though, and she eventually lost out to Whitney.
Rice has no delusions. He knows he's being sent off the island now and it all goes back to Cochran's double-crossing moves. In a last-ditch hail Mary attempt, he tries to get former Upolu members Albert and Sophie to vote for wimpy former Upolu member Edna but it doesn't pan out. Instead, Albert suggests they vote off Dawn, who is quickly gaining favor with the other players -- at least more so than Rice has. In the end, the planning is for nothing though and Rice is sent off to join Ozzy and Keith on Redemption Island. All three of them looked like their dog had been run over, and I wanted to pass the doob I was finishing through the TV to them.
Anyway, at the least we've got one more episode to go before Rice gets the boot. At best, though, he could remain on Redemption Island until the end -- which still would only give him a slim chance of winning it all, as he won't have any time to bond with other teammates who will eventually become the jury that decides who takes home the $1 million prize.
This week's Survivor strain: Trainwreck Like Cochran's strategy in relation to Jim Rice's game, this strain will wreck any chances you may have at finishing what you set out to do. I forgot to snag a pic before chiefing my stash, so the pic above is from our friends at KindReviews from a review they did last year.
More from our Survivor archive: "Survivor update, week eight: Big shake up for dispensary owner Jim Rice and his Savaii Tribe"; "Survivor update, week seven: Dispensary owner Jim Rice plays on as Ozzy seeks Redemption"
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