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Last night’s Survivor was very cut-throat. As usual, Brandon does a lot of repenting, Dawn does a little ass kicking to win immunity for her tribe, and Cochran and Marijuana Jim devise a plan to disrupt Team Pretty. I am loving Savaii this season. Is it just me, or is the Upolu just a bunch of Shady McShadersons?

The episode begins with Ozzy and Elyse getting cozy on a hammock. Marijuana Jim is getting jealous nervous that their bond may be tighter than his is with Ozzy. He’s worried Ozzy is morphing into Rob Mariano. MJ quickly realizes that Elyse has to go before they become a power couple. Has someone been smoking dope watching Bachelor Pad? Marijuana Jim finds a quick ally in Cochran, as it buys him more time to prove himself.

Over at Upolu, Brandon Hantz Crazy Pants is apologizing to Mikayla for gravitating towards untruth. He next approaches Edna to repent for his lying and to casually mention that Edna is not a member of the main alliance like she thought she was. I couldn’t tell if it was a strategic move on Brandon’s part or inadvertent slip-up. You never can tell with that sneaky BHCP.

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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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Last night’s Survivor: South Pacific had the blue Upolus scheming, leading each of them to wonder which tribe mates they should trust, while the red Savaiis welcomed Cochran…but for how long?

Semhar is the first castaway sent to Redemption Island and is overly emotional as she awaits the arrival of the next cast off from the main island. Fear not, she chooses to combat her feelings of negativity by channeling her inner Maya Angelou.

On the main island, at the Savaii camp, Cochran is thanking his lucky stars he didn’t get his torch snuffed and is thanking his teammates. He promises he’ll prove them he’s a worthy ally. Ozzy identifies with his passion but needs to see some getupandgo from the little guy. Keith is finally getting some air time, both befriending and questioning Ozzy.

Day four at the Upolu has Coach telling Edna he feels like he started on the outside. He asks Edna who has the immunity idol. As there has been no obvious digging, she is concerned it’s already been found. Edna is worried that she may be the first voted out of her tribe, so she strategically aligns herself with the pro.

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Last night the ninety minute premiere of Survivor: South Pacific aired on CBS. Two former Survivor staples and two-time previous game players Ozzy Lusth and Coach Wade are back to square off with the newbie castaways on an episode aptly titled “I Need Redemption.”

Right off the bat, we meet John “Cochran” Cochran who has watched every season of the show, and even wrote a prize winning paper on it while in law school at Harvard. Native American Elyse isn’t much into the outdoors, but she’s hoping her heritage will work to her advantage, and then there’s Rick a rancher from the Midwest. Stacey is a funeral director and mortician who promises to be nosy and while pretending to play nice. Russell Hantz’s (a former Survivor with multiple games under his belt) nephew Brandon likens himself to Hitler’s nephew and vows to change the perception of his family’s name. Maybe not the most accurate of comparisons, but he doesn’t want his fellow castaways to know that he shares the blood of a Survivor competitor who wouldn’t have won any popularity contests.

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Think you could survive another season of competition and deprivation in the wild? CBS hopes so! Survivor: South Pacific is returning for its 23rd season!

The drama begins in Samoa, as the 18 castaways are divided into two teams, the Savaii Tribe and the Upolu Tribe, both named for Samoan islands. The cast will include 16 Survivor novices and two former castaways back for revenge, another chance at famewhoring, and a million dollars.

This isn’t the first time CBS has employed this trick, as Season 21, Redemption Island mixed in two experts with the pack of amateurs castaways. Even though several of the cast members are first timers on Survivor, many have “experience” with reality tv – and you know what that means: they know how to cause D-R-A-M-A!

CBS has released the names of the 16 newbies this week and plans to release the names of the final 2 contestants later in the week. No ideas yet of who it could be! I’m hoping for Richard Hatch, if he’s not back in prison! Also one of the new contestants, 19-year-old Brandon Hance, is actually the nephew of villain Russell Hantz!

Borrowing another twist from Redemption Island, the eliminated castaways aren’t immediately vanquished, but instead go to “Redemption Island” (the place, not the season) where he or she will face off against the next person eliminated by Tribal Council. The loser of the duel will then be sent home, while the winner remains in the game until the next person voted off arrives, where the cycle begins anew until ONE eliminatee, referred to as the Sole Survivor, is left standing. The Sole Survivor will then return to the game to compete for the million dollars. I guess, no one is truly safe in this edition!

The 90 minute season premiere airs Sept. 14 8/9c on CBS. The cast bios and photos for the 16 new contestants are below!

UPDATE - Ben “Coach” Wade and Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth are rumored to be the two returning cast members.

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Following a season filled with twists, the finale episode of Survivor: Redemption Island aired tonight as a new winner emerged!

The game began with the final and very anti-climatic Redemption Island challenge. Playing for an opportunity to be voted off again by Rob Mariano were his zombies Andrea, Matt, and Grant alongside Mike. Andrea made it very clear going into the game that she was the “under under dog” so of course the challenge was one that was geared for her she was able to win. It was a challenge which required balance, and after Grant, Matt, and Mike lost balance in that order, Andrea won her shot back into the game.

While it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Rob’s groupies Ashley and Natalie to team up with Andrea and vote off Rob one of the men, they simply failed to use their brains as Rob was able to convince them, quite easily, to vote off Andrea. Rob was so confident in his mind control over his cult members that he even contemplated not playing his idol. Ultimately he did though he didn’t need to as the others voted off Andrea.

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The next to last episode of this season’s Survivor: Redemption Island begins with Ashley relishing in the blindside the Ometepe served fellow tribe member Andrea. Meanwhile, once the newest cast-off arrives on Redemption Island, Andrea somehow tries to gain sympathy for her recent betrayal while blaming Matt for her decision to vote against him. Needless to say, Andrea is getting zero love from the folks she has sent to Redemption Island before her.

The duel among the Redemption Island crew involves navigating a handle through a long maze of tiles (similar to a Cracker Barrel game, if I recall) and then completing a puzzle at the end. Ralph starts off strong and is the first to finish the maze. GO RALPH! Andrea is so far behind on the maze, mumbling and grumbling the entire time. Much like with past duels, Mike wins, with Matt a close second. Fortunately for Andrea (and unfortunately for me), Ralph can’t get the puzzle together and is sent to the jury.

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Steve Wright

This season’s Survivor: Redemption Island has brought us a lot of twist and turns, but one of the more memorable moments came when Steve Wright and Former Federal Agent? Phillip Sheppard got into a verbal showdown.

Steve called Phillip crazy, because you know, he kind of is, and Phillip decided the word “crazy” was racist and equivalent to the n-word. Here’s to hoping Kelly Bensimon isn’t reading this and getting any ideas.

In a new interview with PEOPLE following his elimination on the show, the 51-year-old (he’s only 51?) former NFL Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle discusses his time on the show, how his faith helped him, and touches on the whole Phillip issue. Excerpts from Steve’s interview below -

Did you ever play up your “weakness” for strategy?
No. I wear my feeling on my sleeve and if I was saying that I was feeling it, I was feeling it. But I’d also get out of it pretty quick; it just depends on when it was. It’s an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster the whole time you’re out there. One minute you’re starving and the next you are saying, ‘Okay, I’m just not going to eat today.’ And you just deal with it and get over it. It’s pretty amazing just keeping the faith and setting short term goals and getting through it.

Does faith play a large role this season?
God’s been a big part of my life and I attribute everything to God. Julie had walked away from God and was going through a really terrible time with her divorce and the foreclosure. Mike and I just spent time talking to her and she re-dedicated her life so it was a pretty big topic out there. Plus lying around all day and night, you really get in to what your soul is all about when you’re around each other 24/7. We were going through some pretty crazy and difficult times together and having faith just really helps a lot so we talked about it.

Phillip alluded to being in on the joke that he is “crazy”. Do you believe that?
Any great actor couldn’t act it 24/7 for a month. The real you is going to come out sooner or later and its just really exposing him for who he really is. I highly doubt that he was a special agent or anything like that. I called him “crazy” and all of a sudden he thought that that meant the N-word. I just think he’s mentally and emotionally unstable and I think Jeff did a good job exposing it. I’ve gotten great response from my family, friends, and teammates. The guy is who he is. I think he’s just a few bricks short of a whole load. He’s a bit loony.

Meanwhile on tonight’s all new episode of Survivor, Andrea takes part in her first Redemption Island duel. Back at camp, one castaway plots making a big move that could prove to be costly. The episode airs at 8/7c on CBS.

TELL US – THOUGHTS ON STEVE’S INTERVIEW? DO YOU THINK PHILLIP IS REALLY CRAZY OR JUST PRETENDING TO BE?

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