Guess the Hantz doesn't fall far from the tree.
Poor Brandon, there he is trying to play the game like a good Christian married man and that temptress Mikayla is messing with his head. And besides, what if she goes all Parvati on his ass?
Seeing as he's Russell's nephew, Brandon couldn't resist tinkering with Coach's game plan and throwing a lie into the mix to try to oust his enemy Mikayla from Upolu. Too bad for him that Coach decided to expose the anti-Mikayla conspiracy at tribal council and Christine, the closest thing he had to a nemesis in the South Pacific, got sent to Redemption Island instead.
The question for Coach is whether he'll be able to stick to his goal of playing the game with honesty and integrity, and maintain his alliance with Brandon, who's clearly a loose cannon.
As Coach astutely noted, "I think he just has demons that we don't know about that he's facing on a daily basis."
Mikayla doesn't deserve to be demonized, as far as I can tell. She seems less Parvati than Stephenie LaGrossa, at least in terms of her physical strength. Sure, she cuts a fine figure in her purple bikini briefs, but is it her problem Brandon can't keep his eyes off her goodies? As I've said before, Brandon seems to have inherited Uncle Russell's misogyny.
Speaking of Uncle Russell, Brandon came clean to Coach about his notorious family connection.
"I really like Coach. I think he's a really good guy," reasoned Brandon. "He's played the game twice with honour and integrity. I want to play the same way, but in the back of my mind the whole time, I'm thinking to myself, man, how ungodly or how much of a hypocrite do I look like having made an alliance with Coach and he doesn't even know I'm Russell Hantz's nephew?" So he rolled up his sleeve and showed Coach his "Lil Hantz" tattoo.
A man less focused on his integrity than Coach might have seen a golden opportunity. After all, Russell was his "No. 1 nemesis" on Survivor and now he had potentially damaging information about his blood relation.
Instead, Coach took the high road, after being reassured that Brandon wasn't going to play him like his uncle did, and he and Brandon prayed together.
"It's gonna go one of two ways. It's either gonna be Coach Wade duped once again in Survivor or it's gonna be redemption for the Hantz family," said Coach. "I hope it's the latter."
Over on Savaii, Ozzy and Keith had teamed up and then formed a three-person alliance with Jim, allowing him to think the whole thing was his idea. The two hot girls, Elyse and Whitney, would be brought into the fold, Jim decided, with Cochran, Dawn and Papa Bear on the chopping block. Jimmy was proud to be the "architect" of the plan, although he acknowledged "I'm probably the least of the cool kids ... I'm barely at the cool kids' table."
Ozzy solidified his position even further by using his monkey-like tree-climbing skills to find the hidden immunity idol, sans clue. The trick will be figuring out when to play it and how to keep it hidden, if his tribe mates eventually suss out where it's supposed to be and find the hidey hole empty (where's Bob to make a fake idol when you need him?).
All in all, Savaii isn't exactly a hotbed of drama. Cochran's on his campaign to make himself indispensable at camp, although I'm not sure chopping coconuts is the most strenuous of tasks. Still, the Survivor nerd tried to imbue the job with a sense of danger, noting that his mother had urged him not to handle a machete without supervision.
"New Cochran cuts open a coconut when he needs to and he does it by himself with a machete," he said.
New Cochran also talks about himself in the third person, which is weird. And then, after presenting the coconut to Keith to drink, he had to ruin the effect by prattling on about it being "the fruit of my labours so it's like a child."
"I'm drinking your child?" said an amused Keith.
Part 2 of Cochran's scheme, making himself useful at challenges, didn't go so well.
The challenge, played for both immunity and the reward of blankets, pillows, a hammock and a mat, involved splitting the tribes into groups of four: the first four had to unbraid ribbons from a sort of May Day pole to release a key ring and then unlock the other four; those four then moved heavy crates around a platform, like a slide puzzle, until the heaviest crate could be slid under a railing and carried to a mat.
Upolu, last week's winners, came in cocky, with the whole tribe sucking on pandora fruit. "The team that eats pandora together sticks together and wins together," gloated Coach.
And for a while, it looked like they would. Cochran and the women of Savaii made a tangled mess of the ribbon task, giving Upolu a huge lead. (My favourite Jeff Probst diss of the night: "Dawn needs to pick up the pace; this is not a picnic.") But then Upolu's cockiness got the better of them, with Coach, Brandon, Albert and Rick taking too long to slide their puzzle pieces around. Ozzy, Keith, Jim and Papa Bear whipped through the puzzle in no time at all (it was amusing to hear Cochran and the girls yelling instructions from the side, as if that was helpful or something) and brought Savaii their first win.
With tribal council looming, Coach had a plan. Everybody had seen Christine digging all over the beach, looking for the hidden immunity idol, so they'd try to flush it out by casting three votes for Christine and three votes for Stacey, her ally.
Coach was nursing a grudge against Christine: "I haven't forgotten what Christine said on Day 1, 'Coach is a temporary player.' I haven't forgiven her for running around looking for the immunity idol." (Christine did not have the idol, although she'd found the clue that Stacey overlooked last week.)
The fly in the ointment was Brandon.
"I've got my doubts about Mikayla 'cause I'm faithful to my wife," he told Coach. Huh? Like you think she'd touch you with a 10-foot pole?
"I have a bad feeling. All I keep thinking about is Parvati, Parvati, Parvati. She screwed me and mine," Brandon said.
His get-Mikayla scheme wasn't gaining any traction with Coach and it got Sophie's back up. "Maybe he's threatened because she's a strong woman," said the other strong woman.
So Brandon appealed to the underdogs, Christine and Stacey, telling them Mikayla was the biggest threat, which just left them scratching their heads. Then he lied to Coach and said that Stacey and Christine had told him they were voting for Mikayla.
Damned if some of the first words out of Coach's mouth at tribal council weren't that he'd heard that Christine and Stacey wanted to oust Mikayla. The ladies objected vociferously that they hadn't said any such thing and demanded to know who Coach had heard that from, but he wasn't saying.
The topic got switched to Christine's idol-hunting activities and her targeting of Coach his first day on the beach. Asked by Jeff if her comment then was the source of Coach's animosity, Christine cheekily replied, "I think he feels hurt that he's temporary."
Then, unluckily for Brandon, Jeff turned the talk back to the plot against Mikayla.
"You've not asked Christine or Stacey if they said it (that they wanted her gone)," Jeff told Mikayla. "If you go home tonight, it will be the quietest exit I have seen in a while."
So Mikayla asked them, "Is it on your mind?" and both said no.
Brandon, likely worried about not being godly enough, spilled his guts: "I kind of told you guys to vote for Mikayla." Coach did not look amused.
"It's great when things come to surface and people kind of reveal themselves," said Albert, somewhat ominously, "because a person's personality will creep in and a person's character wil creep in a little bit no matter how hard they try to mask that."
In the end, not one vote was cast for Mikayla, not even Brandon's. Christine's torch was snuffed, four votes to Stacey's three. Sophie and Edna, Coach's other bestest ally, got one vote each.
Christine kept her Long Island attitude intact on her way to Redemption Island.
"I don't know what Coach had in mind, but he's a tool," she said.
Then it was time to wake up the sleeping Semhar. I haven't mentioned her, but we had a glimpse of her on Redemption, sniffling about her abandonment issues. "I don't understand how people can be so cold-hearted," she said. Um, have you watched the show?
Her pain provided a perfect opportunity to break into poetry, something along the lines of "You walked away, I was left to crash ... I'll never understand how men like you can cause so much damage ... I miss feeling loved."
Frankly, unless the Redemption Island duel is a poetry slam of some kind, I think Christine's gonna wipe the floor with Semhar.
Next week, it looks like the pressure's on Brandon. "This is a constant battle for me: good, evil, good, evil, good, evil," he laments. Never mind calling in the medics, is there a therapist on the beach?
I'll be watching Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Global TV and recapping it here.