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Last night’s Survivor: South Pacific began with Christine joining Semhar on Redemption Island. She’s down, but not out, and both women are confident about their potential second chance after the duel.

At Upolu, Mikayla tells Coach she was blindsided by Brandon, and guess who just happens to interrupt their conversation? Why it’s mini-Russell Hantz himself! I assume that he is going to apologize to Mikayla for his lies, but instead he opts for a side hug from Coach. Brandon never planned to come on the show and play the game like his uncle. He wanted to be a hero not a villain. Oops!

The Upolu tribe receives two invitations to attend the duel. Coach requests to go, and Stacey wants to join him. Ozzy and Elyse are the witnesses from tribe Savaii. During her week on Redemption Island, Semhar has found time to braid her hair. I almost didn’t recognize her. Right away, Christine tells Jeff Probst she was voted off the main island because of Coach’s disdain for her (true) after she called him a temporary player.

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The duel consists of balancing a totem on the top of a rod, while adding more pieces to the bottom of the rod. It’s almost like connecting a bunch of PVC piping together in a straight line. As the rod gets longer, the totem will be harder to balance, and the first lady to drop her totem loses. Before getting started, Semhar does a quick poetry slam about having multiple babies with a lover she’s yet to meet. Um, yeah. Even Jeff is visibly irked at her performance, as it’s holding up the duel. There are a few intense minutes of balancing, but in the end, Semhar’s poem wasn’t enough to keep her around.

Jeff makes the mistake of asking Semhar a question about being the first to go, and she begins crying, saying it reminds her of her past, moving around a lot, and feeling abandoned. Again, Jeff’s eyes glaze over, and I swear he’s about to tell her he’s a badass television host and not a therapist. He reminds her it was her idea to come on the show. Semhar then gives her blanket to Christine, who loves that Coach came to watch her lose and now looks like a big ol’ fool. She heads back to Redemption Island to wait for the next castoff.

Brandon’s guilt is weighing very heavily on his heart. He can’t believe he lied to his tribe. I’m betting he’s more upset because he got caught and now no one trusts him. I know Brandon “confessed” at the last tribal council, but I think it would have been obvious to the Upolus what happened even if he had stayed mute. Hoping to gain back some trust, he decides to reveal his secret and finally takes off his shirt in front of the others. Stacey’s face is priceless, but she assures Brandon that she never judges a book by its cover. Mikayla, who clearly brought a ton of lingerie with her, thinks he is shady. Coach thinks Brandon is an asset and still trustworthy. Geez.

Over on the Savaii side of the island, Papa Bear is worried that he, Dawn, and Cochran are the lowest players on the totem pole…he and Dawn because of their age, and Cochran because, well, it’s Cochran. He’s concerned that he hasn’t made strong bonds with any of his tribe mates. Meanwhile Ozzy, who becomes hotter the dirtier he gets, knows he has to eventually trust someone with the knowledge of his immunity idol. He decides on Keith, and they are some nice eye candy…and both are very trustworthy. Ozzy wants Keith to keep his secret, but of course he runs to tell Whitney, so she, in turn, will also “trust” Keith. Dude, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to get on Ozzy’s bad side.

Mikayla confronts Brandon about what he has against her. I wonder if he’ll be honest and tell her that she gives him impure thoughts, and he doesn’t want his wife watching this later and leaving him because he can’t stop drooling every time Mikayla models a new lacy bra. Nahh. Instead he tells her that he doesn’t like her and most of the tribe doesn’t trust her and wanted her out as well. Um, is that why she didn’t get voted off at tribal council?

However, because Brandon’s a “meek Christian” he is expected to back down from Mikayla’s “attack.” Doing just that, he calls the tribe together, asks who of them are actually trustworthy and requests that everyone stop putting him in the middle of their drama. Sophie feels like Brandon is torn between being a devout Christian and the fact that he’s got “devious jerk” blood running through his veins. Mikayla goes off to cry by herself. Brandon goes to sleep by the fire, as ashes cover his body. Symbolism much, CBS? Coach hopes Brandon’s outbursts won’t cause him to be the next one out, but he admits to Sophie he can see a little Russell in him.

Holy crap! The immunity challenge is even more involved than usual. It goes a little something like this: sprint across a wobbly floating bridge with a boogie board attached to a long rope, grab one of five bags while your team mates pull you to shore on said boogie board by operating a giant wench. Once all five bags are retrieved, other peeps must hoist them with Batman-esque grappling hooks from atop a very high wall. Next unroll the painted tarp/banner things from each bag down the wall and arrange them so they create the team’s tribal flag. The team that finishes first wins immunity, AND…milk and cookies? I think Dawn may have just wet herself a wee (ha!) bit at the excitement of it all. I don’t get it, all that work for a Tollhouse and some cow juice? Maybe that’s why I watch the show instead of trying to be on the show.

It’s Ozzy versus Brandon, but Ozzy’s rope gets knotted and that puts the Savaii far behind. Who knew that Dawn would be the one to make up that time for the red tribe as well as gain a significant lead? However, she loses that lead to Brandon later in the boogie board races. Ozzy catches up only to drop his bag in the water. When it’s time for the grappling hook portion of the race, the tribes are neck and neck. Coach proves just a little faster than Whitney with the hooks. Upolu gets their banners unrolled and put together correctly before Savaii can get all of their banners out of the bags. Savaii is heading back to tribal council while Upolu is rewarded by Nestle.

Marijuana Jim wants Papa Bear gone. Cochran keeps giving pep talks about how close it was and how everyone (“everyone…even me, guys! Even me!”) did a great job. Dawn is sitting pretty because she totally “kicked ass” (thanks, Ozzy), and Papa Bear knows if he goes tonight Cochran will go next time. They aren’t on the Barbie and Ken team because, as Cochran so astutely recognizes, “we look different and we talk different.” Savaii is like my middle school cafeteria right now.

Team Pretty decides on Papa Bear. Ozzy informs Cochran that his beautiful crew has unanimously chosen Papa Bear, but they are going to tell Papa Bear that Cochran is on the chopping block. Cochran doesn’t take a lot of comfort in being safe, since he was obviously the clear second choice for elimination…again.

Marijuana Jim quickly tells Papa Bear that Cochran will be going to Redemption Island. “Why?” Papa Bear is no fool. He doesn’t buy it for a second and goes running like a banshee into the jungle to Find. That. Idol. You know, the one Ozzy already found days ago. Since he can’t find something that isn’t there, he fashions one out of a rock and some grass and plans to tell everyone he’s found the idol. Cochran doesn’t believe he’s got it for a second, but he’s worried that if his tribe is fooled, the votes will be switched to him. Ozzy thinks it’s hysterical to watch everyone freak out about Papa Bear’s potential find.

At tribal council, Cochran gives his best effort to sell himself to his tribe mates. Papa Bear explains to Jeff that there is a team of five, while he, Dawn, and Cochran are outcasts. Dawn doesn’t necessarily agree. Yes, she has little in common with Team Pretty, but she says throughout the day everyone interacts. She doesn’t necessarily see an “us versus them” mentality. Marijuana Jim backs up Dawn, but Papa Bear isn’t buying it. As he doesn’t have an immunity idol to play, Papa Bear is voted off and heads to meet Christine on Redemption Island.

Next week, Cochran emerges as unlikely strategist and a paranoid Brandon strikes again.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE EPISODE? THOUGHTS ON LIL’ HANTZ? IS HE JUST LIKE HIS UNCLE? SHOULD PAPA BEAR HAVE BEEN THE ONE TO GO?

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