Welcome back, "Coach" Wade. Or are you now Benjamin? For four episodes, you hid the Dragonslayer from view, and for a minute there, we thought the entire episode would again be washed away in a monsoon of Hantz tears. No, seriously, the Lil Hantz great flood started less than a minute into the episode's new footage. But no, Benjamin "Coach" wade managed to part the salty sea, and insert himself into essentially every following Upolu scene, including the duel, in which his name spoken about 4359 times, despite his not even being there. That's almost Russell Hantz-level Trolly power there, sir.
Even Albert's noble yet fruitless hunt for the Upolu hidden immunity idol, even though he clearly found the clue at least an episode or two ago (when Albert was far more clean-shaven and had yet to receive his swim trunks), quickly became "Coach can call on God to find a hidden immunity idol, just as Phillip called on Jessup Harring to find his hidden shorts." Far be it from us to question the mighty deities of editing, but was it really necessary to cram all this together as "Coach has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, then God saves him?" Albert did find the clue, after all (a while ago, before Coach was feeling put upon). He deserved better than having this lumped in with Coach praying below a tree for an idol, then magically finding said idol a few feet away from where the camera crew has set up shop. Oh, producer winks and nods masquerading as serendipity masquerading as divine guidance... you are almost as believable as you are ubiquitous.
But back to Benjamin. When your tribe won immunity, you graciously allowed Brandon a chance to have a non-crying confessional, then elbowed everyone else aside to cackle/gargle your way through a confessional WHILE gnawing on a previously partially masticated chunk of meat? We told you Benjamin Wade had Stark direwolf blood in him.
Wow. When each of Rick, Whitney and Albert gets more speaking time than you in an episode, that's when you know you're really, really invisible. Especially coming after last week's touching, special episode of "Edna's Really Annoying And We're Totally Voting Her Out Except We're Actually Voting Out Stacey Instead And We're Just Ridiculing Edna to Distract From The Obvious Boot." (CBS may have opted for a shorter title, that's the one we had in our notes, sorry.)
Although to be honest, it's also noteworthy that, apart from a few mutterings at the duel, Mikayla also was roundly ignored this time around. Not a leer to be found anywhere. Guess that's what happens when the episode is largely Hantz-free. (Please note that we went out of our way to avoid a short joke there.)
This week, the Beasty award was savagely earned, and the beast in question was clearly a ravenous wolf (actually, to extend the tired analogy, probably more of a lion for the winner). Or possibly a school of piranha. A colony of flesh-eating bacteria? Zombies at a brain buffet? Eh, one of those. The type of beast isn't important, really. What is important is that, if there's ever another challenge that involves tearing strips of meat off of a cooked pig, in hands-free mode? Watch out for Jim.
Although, to be fair, a special mention must be made of Ozzy's laudable attempt to argue that, since he had the entire roast pig carcass (and rotisserie spike!) in his mouth as the challenge ended, he ought to be able to put it in Savaii's basket. That Probst just has no imagination when it comes to creative rules interpretation.
This one was the biggest shocker of the episode. Just last week, we'd already been warned that Jim and Cochran (and Dawn) were wanting to vote for Elyse, and some delusional fanboy openly mocked that plan, pointing out that a 3-2-2 was pretty unlikely, since at least three of Ozzy-Elyse-Keith-Whitney knew Ozzy had the hidden idol, so an idol-flushing vote split plan wouldn't work. Little did we know that, despite the ads' assurances that Cochran would be dusting off his Big Move Armory this week, Ozzy himself would provide the impetus for Elyse's ouster, with his careless chatter that Coach should boot Albert circa merge. At least as explained on the show, the credit for seizing on that tidbit clearly belongs to Jim, who drove home the "let's protect ourselves by weakening Ozzy's hand" point with Keith, avoiding what probably would have been somewhere between a 4-3 and a 6-1 Cochran boot.
Credit should also probably go to Keith and Whitney, although their deliberations were largely kept under wraps for suspense purposes. They managed to defy Jim's explicit wishes (voting out Elyse), by casting two throw-away votes for Dawn, knowing the Jim-Cochran-Dawn troika would still take Elyse out. From the previews, though, it doesn't look like this had the desired effect of retaining Ozzy's trust, so Jim's move, making fear work in his favor, earns a well-deserved Slitty this week.
Recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Stacey Powell