This week’s edition of Survivor: South Pacific examined an important question — and thankfully it had nothing to do with whether or not Edna’s blind loyalty to Coach would result in her eventually serving as Ozzy’s Chief Hiney-Wiping Officer. (More on that horrific image in a moment.)
No, as Jeff Probst so astutely framed it, Tribal Council asked the members of Upolu which type of tribemate they’d rather have heading into a possible merge: The physically stronger player (Mikayla) who could help them win the final pre-merge immunity challenge and enter a blended tribe with a numbers advantage, but whose loyalties were slightly questionable once they reached that point in the competition? Or the undeniable weakling (Edna) who might hurt their chances at the final challenge, but who also seemed willing to follow them into battle and carry out their most explicit instructions?
That debate caused a rift at Upolu — even among the Alliance of Five (Albert, Sophie, Coach, Brandon, and Rick). Coach wanted Mikayla ousted for not following his tepid command to stand down during the immunity challenge when her coconut-launching skills proved dubious, and he got Brandon and Edna to agree to his plan. Edna shouldn’t be on the chopping block, Coach insisted, because he believed in a post-merge scenario she would carry out his every order, even going so far as to follow Ozzy “every time he takes a s***” and “wipe his a**.” (File under: Visuals we could have lived very happily without.)
Albert and Sophie, meanwhile, approached Mikayla about sending Edna to the guillotine. In a Survivor draft situation involving Edna and Mikayla, pointed out Albert, “I’m going with Mikayla 11 out of 10 times” (Side note: Thank you, editors, for the many loving closeups of Albert during this portion of the telecast. I’m returning the favor with a bonus Albert photo below.) The divided tribe put the heretofore “seldom seen, and almost never heard” Rick in the swing-vote position. “This sucks,” he said, exhausting his vocabulary quotient for the episode.
Ultimately, though, Rick chose loyalty over strength, sending Mikayla to Redemption Island. At least she won’t be tempting Brandon anymore with her Dance of 1,000 Survivor Buffs. And at least we got Edna and Mikayla throwing amusing barbs as they held up their votes to the camera:
Edna: “I hope your time here has helped your future modeling career.”
Mikayla: “I don’t even know how you got this far.”
In other news this week…
* Ozzy threw a tantrum returning from the Tribal Council ouster of his hammock buddy Elyse, declaring himself a “free agent.” Dawn, rapidly becoming my favorite player, wasn’t having his indignation over being left in the dark about the blindside. “Give me a break, Ozzy,” she groaned. “There’s stuff that you’re withholding, and you know that.” Ozzy, in a move that was both infantile and strategically questionable, went all “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah: I’ve got the immunity idol!” Cochran best summed up Ozzy’s woeful social game: “In all senses, he’s behaving like a stupid bitch.” But eventually Ozzy apologized to his tribemates, they had a kumbaya moment, and went on to win the immunity challenge and share a picnic lunch and natural waterslide adventure.
* At Upolu, Brandon found the clue to the hidden idol and shared it with Coach and Albert, not realizing that duo (along with Sophie) already had it in their possession. “Is withholding information lying?” the increasingly intolerable Coach wondered, trying to ease his guilty conscience. Albert, proving he’s got brains and beauty, made a strong case not to come clean to Brandon: “He’ll fly off the handle if he find we’ve been one percent dishonest.” Ding ding ding ding.
* An emotionally spent Christine won a game of Redemption Island Shuffleboard over Elyse, but not before flipping the bird to Rick after he cheered her efforts. Those Savaii folks should be rooting hardcore for Christine at the next duel, no?
* I loved how Jeff Probst described this week’s wacky-complicated immunity challenge — build wheelbarrow; maneuver it through maze and fill it with coconuts; turn wheelbarrow into slingshot; launch coconuts to break ceramic busts — as if it was the most mundane activity ever. There’s a reason this guy keeps winning Emmys, after all.
And that brings me to my two poll questions this week. First, are you Team Savaii or Team Upolu? (I’d have to go with the former, despite really digging Albert and Sophie on the latter.) And did Rick make the right call with his Tribal Council vote? (I’d say “no.” After all, Mikayla definitely trumps Edna from a physical standpoint, and I didn’t get any sense she’d flip to Savaii if she made it through to the merge.)
Weigh in with your votes below, then hit the comments to talk about this week’s Survivor. And for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!