"Survivor: South Pacific" may have just copied and pasted last season's structure, and it may have annoyingly started by giving too much weight and attention to Ozzy and Coach, but its 90 minutes quickly proved themselves to be some of the best television the show has produced in the past year.
Both returnees quickly fell off their pedestals, being unable to complete puzzles in an opening duel without the help of their shouting tribemates. Coach's tribe seemed ready to boot him immediately even before his loss; Ozzy's tribe was ready to follow their new leader, even if it took the challenge king multiple attempts to smash an egg against his body.
But by the end of the episode, Coach had himself a five-person alliance in the Upolu tribe and a victory at the immunity challenge, whereas Ozzy's attempt to save his crush, Semhar, who fell apart during the challenge and cost them the victory, meant that the Savaii tribe was not at all under his control.
Going into Tribal Council, though, it didn't look like that: Cochran, the Harvard law student and "Survivor" fan told us that his experience "started as a dream, but it really is a nightmare now" because Ozzy targeted him, and so it was "heartbreaking and mortifying" that "the culmination of 11 years of passion for this game" would mean he'd be the first to go.
Cochran did himself no favors whatsoever with his Tribal Council defense, becoming more and more annoying. Yet his entire tribe,
including Ozzy, voted for Semhar. It was delightfully surprising, and dampened only by the realization that Redemption Island has
dragged its unwelcome butt to Samoa, which means that the person voted out at Tribal Council has not really been voted out yet.
Meanwhile, we met Brandon Hantz, this season's third example of stunt casting. But he won me over the second he criticized his
uncle Russell's social game. He even made a harsh comparison, telling us "It's like being related to Hitler" and adding, "I came out here to change the course of the Hantz family's name."
However, he has that name tattooed on his body in two places: on his back and on his arm ("Lil Hantz"). And if his strategy for
concealing those tattoos (keeping his shirt on for 39 days but sometimes lifting the front of his shirt over his head) is anything like his strategy for keeping his marriage intact (some brilliant editing has him peering creepily through branches at Mikayla), this should be an interesting season. The worst part about Brandon is that he keeps the specter of Russell hanging over yet another freakin' season; the best part is that he seems to be an individual who's interesting on his own.
Keep reading at realityblurred.com for more on Russell Hantz's nephew's big secret and behind-the-scenes details.
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