Survivor fans, are you ready? This game is on.
The cast of Survivor: South Pacific—including returning vets Ozzy and Coach—are playing to win.
That should go without saying in any million-dollar competition—unless you saw Redemption Island's one-man Rob Mariano show, in which a bunch of young pretties competed to hand their rival the title of Sole Survivor.
Sure, each South Pacific tribe has a "bevvy of beautiful bikini babes," but this cast is also smart, fierce, competitive…and interesting. And that includes Russell Hantz's nephew, Brandon.
So do the rival returnees stand a chance with their new tribemates?
What Went Down
After the assembled Upolu and Savaii welcomed Coach and Ozzy to Redemption Island Arena, the two-time vets smashed paint-filled eggs to determine their allegiance. After Ozzy painted himself (and Jeff Probst) in Savaii red, his tribe embraced him with open arms. Next to this Ozzfest, the Upolu tribe greeted the Dragon Slayer with…handshakes.
Their tepid gesture turned ice cold after Ozzy defeated Coach in their mano y mano Hero Reward Challenge, with everyone but Edna abandoning him in the arena. Coach is a sensitive soul, and it's hard to see him being treated like Russell—by Russell's nephew to boot! If anyone should've stayed behind, it's Stacey, who hollered a lot of nonsense while Savaii's Jim clearly and concisely directed Ozzy to victory.
Instead of building a shelter, Savaii celebrated their win with a group swim and an impromptu performance—and lots of hair tossing—by "spoken word artist" Semhar. "Superfan" Cochran performed for anyone who would listen to his self-deprecating wisecracks. Laidback Ozzy was in no rush to set up camp, horrifying the older folks by suggesting, "We can sleep on the sand." Medical marijuana dispenser Jim probably thought he'd found a new customer.
At Upolu, Coach and Sophie had a smart-off by conversing in Russian, Brandon went fishing (with his shirt on, determined to hide the tattoos that identify him as "Hitler's nephew"), and the whole group got to work on their shelter. When Coach, reverting back to English, shared shelter tips and identified sources of food (he'd competed in Samoa in Heroes vs. Villains), the tribe visibly warmed to him. Everyone except Christine, who, after calling Coach and Ozzy "temporary" players, immediately resumed painting the target on her back with her obvious searching for the Hidden Immunity Idol.
Unsurprisingly, Christine wasn't invited join Upolu's Fab Five alliance of Albert, Brandon, Sophie, rancher Rick and…Coach 3.0. Aw! Also off the guest list were Stacey, not bright enough to realize she'd found the Immunity Idol clue, and two Hantz foes: Edna (who told Brandon, "I hope it's not Russell!" as the vets joined the game) and Mikayla the Temptress.
Although Upolu got off to a rocky start in the game, their physical and organic strength gave them a victory when it counted: the first Immunity Challenge. Upolu's Albert rivals Ozzy's athletic agility, and Savaii—especially with Semhar's airballs—couldn't compete against Dream Team of Brandon, Keith and "shooting machine" Mikayla.
It's easy to blame Semhar, and Jim didn't hold back: When the basketball bragger said she felt "sorta bad" for blowing the game, he exploded, "I feel sorta bad when I'm out of milk!" But Savaii was not thriving under Ozzy's "Bob Marley"-style leadership: Dawn collapsed in tears (and probably came thisclose to burying someone's shoes à la Nicaragua's Holly), Cochran confused camp for a comedy club, and the tribe seemed more intent on brushing their teeth than working.
With two performers on the block at Tribal Council, Savaii chose comedy over spoken word, saving Cochran (with a stern warning) and sending Semhar—the most ill-prepared Castaway—to Redemption Island with nothing but a toothbrush. "I should have taught her how to make a fire," Ozzy said regretfully as Jeff snuffed her torch.
What Lies Ahead
Semhar is guaranteed a victory in the first Redemption Island if (1) it's a hair-twirling challenge or (2) Cochran is her opponent. Semhar was right about one thing: "Cochran may be a huge fan of the game, but he's not necessarily playing the game." Neither is Semhar, really, and before Nicaragua we'd have put all our chips on her quitting as soon as Jeff combined the words "you" and "Redemption Island." But this is Hotel California-era Survivor. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Next Time, on Survivor
Can Cochran really invent himself as a working machine, or will the camp's genie stay in the bottle? Does Brandon reveal his secret identity to Coach? Can Semhar survivor alone at Redemption Island?