During last week's episode of "Survivor: South Pacific," Oakton resident with fellow tribemate Jim Rice to aim for Elyse Umemoto. They saw it as an opportunity to knock de facto leader and veteran Ozzy Lusth down a notch, as she is his closest ally in the game. Would it pay off this week?
The answer is a resounding YES! In the season's best episode yet, Cochran somehow pulled off a massive game-changing move to keep himself in the game and knock out Elyse, who seemed destined to coast through to the merge.
But let's give credit where credit is due. Cochran could not have pulled it off without Jim, who seems to be playing the best game so far. It was Jim who approached Cochran with the strategy last week. And it was Jim who, with his poker background, picked up a tell (we'll get to this a bit later) from Ozzy and used it to instill seeds of doubt in Ozzy's ally Keith Tollefson this week.
And let's also give some credit to Whitney Duncan, as I'm fairly certain Keith was ready to wuss out without Whitney's genius plan to break up the votes. They voted for Dawn, which put the votes at 3-2-2. [Why is it genius, you're asking? It's harder for Ozzy to pick out who voted for whom. My prediction: He'll start out like a cry-baby and trust no one, but it won't work in his favor. He's going to have to weasel his way back into someone's alliance. My guess is it's going to either be Keith because he knows about Ozzy's possession of the Immunity Idol, or Cochran and Dawn because they might look like they were just voting to save their own butts — because they were. Disagree? Tell me in the comments below!]
As for Cochran, he did all he needed to do: followed the plan and didn't screw it up for himself. Ozzy clearly wanted him gone next simply because he's an easy target and it just delays the inevitable of voting out those in his alliance. His claims Cochran only started doing work after they lost the Immunity Challenge don't seem to line up with what we've seen from Cochran since the very first Tribal Council where his name was on the chopping block. And I'm with Cochran on his assessment of Ozzy: He seems to emerge from lounging in his shelter every few days to catch some fish. A useful skill, sure, but he's certainly not breaking his back doing much else.
I have to say, I thought Whitney and Keith would back out from having a hand in Elyse's demise as I watched Tribal Council. Whitney seemed sympathetic to Cochran's personality quirks, something I can't say for Keith. But thankfully, I was wrong.
Now let's head back to the beginning of the episode and look at a few things chronologically:
- Apparently, Coach's real name is Benjamin. And he doesn't like it. We found this out after Stacey announced to the four players who attended the Redemption Island challenge that Benjamin, Albert and Sophie are running things in the Upolu tribe. I'm not sure Stacey — who lost the challenge to Christine — was completely coherent in her diatribe against Upolu, but her presence told Savaii tribe one very important thing: Upolu was not voting out players based on strength. If not strength, it must be alliances. It gave credence to some of Stacey's claims and might hurt the Upolu members who make it to the merge.
- Ozzy's tell: When Whitney and Dawn reported what happened during Redemption Island to Savaii, Ozzy let it slip that he'd vote out Albert if he were Coach. A red flag went up for Jim: If Ozzy thinks Coach should get rid of his right-hand man before the merge, does that mean Ozzy plans to do the same? The answer doesn't matter. What matters is that Jim used that to sway Keith into turning on Ozzy to help vote out Elyse. With 10 words, Ozzy lost his alliance.
- Albert found the clue for the Upolu tribe's hidden Immunity Idol. He couldn't find the Idol, so he decided to entrust Sophie and Coach with the information. Quickly, Coach finds the Idol himself. Now Albert has to trust Coach would use the Idol on him if Albert ever faces elimination. (Smart? I'm thinking no. Tell me what you think in the comments below.)
- Cochran and Keith joined Ozzy on his fishing trip. Once again, it shows Cochran making an effort for the camp. At least, the audience knows that. His tribe doesn't seem to notice yet. Cochran's resentment toward Ozzy shows more and more, as Cochran calls him "lazy" and "arrogant" after the fishing trip.
- The challenge was disgusting. Each tribe had to chew off as much meat as they could and transfer it into a basket, which was weighed to determine who would win. They’re smushing their faces in the pig, getting stuff stuck in their teeth … It’s pretty disgusting. Even Jeff Probst is grossed out (he tweeted that he almost lost it a few times while watching). Upolu won by 2 oz.
- After the challenge, Cochran begins joking with his tribemates about how they may have all contracted oral herpes. It didn't go over well with his team, and Dawn used it as an example during Tribal Council of how his quirkiness can be off-putting. [Personally, I didn't think too much about it when he said it. What do you guys think?]
- Tribal Council turned Cochran into a punching bag. It felt like he was criticized from beginning to end. But it only made Elyse's elimination that much sweeter. And that much more of a shock. If he can survive a Tribal Council like that one, he might be safe for many weeks to come.