Savaii tribe rips the meat out of Ozzy’s mouth

Forgive the completely sexist headline, but I couldn’t resist conflating Survivor‘s grossest challenge ever and some members of Ozzy’s tribe blindsiding him by voting out his “hammock sweetheart” Elyse, as Cochran called her. Awesome television once again.

An excellent episode started with a recycled challenge at Redemption Please Go Away You Awful, Awful Twist Island, where Stacey went home. This ball-dropping challenge made its first appearance in Survivor Tocantins, where you may recall the final three had to compete in it with one hand tied behind their backs. On Redemption Island, they were able to use both hands, but Stacey’s lack of strategy–she just dropped additional balls in without timing them–led her to drop one relatively quickly.

One thing I hate about Redemption Island is that it gives bad players (i.e. people voted off) a chance to be even worse players, which usually means telling the other tribe about their original tribe’s strategy. In Stacey’s case, she told the others that “Benjamin is running” the tribe, which Probst pointed out was her “way of fighting back.” Ooh, burned.

And actually, it did chaff Coach’s ass. Earlier, he said, “I gotta get a hold of myself and say, ‘Dragon…’” I really didn’t want to know what Coach called himself when holding himself, but it’s clearly not Benjamin, as he freaked out when he learned about this. “If anybody calls me Benjamin to my face, I’m gonna go nuts. My parents call me Coach. I’ve been called Coach since I was 18,” he said.

Well, bullshit, Ben. I’m not sure where this is coming from, because it’s simply not true: When I spent time with him for this Playboy story, his friends called him Ben, as did his boss at the college; people attending a concert he conducted called him “maestro” and the program identified him as “Benjamin J. Wade.” So people call him names other than Coach all the time. Clearly, though, he took Stacey’s attempt at disrespect as disrespect and overreacted to it.

She also said that Coach entertains his tribe with “Halloween jokes” and “Chuck E. Cheese” jokes, which I hope get released in book form some day.

Meanwhile, Cochran settled into his role as a sort of Puck-slash-Statler and Waldorf, narrating even while he’s participating. He went out fishing with the dudes so he wouldn’t be “viewed as one of the girls hanging around camp while the true men go out fishing.”

After Ozzy chastised any of us sitting on our couches eating Cheetos who think we can fish like he does, because he said it’s “underwater yoga” that’s “very difficult,” Cochran delivered the line of the night, perfectly summing up the disappointment that is Ozzy 3.0. Cochran said people see Ozzy as a “superhuman, Mowgli-esque guy that can do no wrong. But Ozzy has kind of faded into this middle-aged Ozzy who has a few moments of glory each day where her runs out and gets us some fish, but otherwise he’s just kind of a lazy ass, he’s becoming the arrogant fisher boy, jungle boy who feels like he can do no wrong and is entitled to our deference, and the more he acts like this, it’s going to come back and bite him in the ass.”

And that it did.

But just barely, since his tribe lost the most nauseating challenge in Survivor history by just two ounces of saliva-soaked, herpes-infested meat. Yes, we’ve seen this challenge before (Amazon was its first appearance, I believe, and that season is coming to DVD if you want to relive it), but it was different this time. That’s because, in HD and surround sound, it was much, much more disgusting. We saw meat and spit flying, even being spit onto well-placed cameras. The audio was spectacular, which is to say that it sounded pretty much exactly like the sound design on The Walking Dead.

The camera and audio crew deserves an Emmy for that challenge alone. Meanwhile, Probst was having a field day as people helped each other get meet out of their teeth, and since their hands were tied behind their backs, that happened with their mouths. It was an intimate and violent challenge that left people with chipped teeth and Ozzy with a dislocated jaw, or so he said.

Upolu won by two ounces, and their reward, besides meat and vegetables, was their 22 pounds of pre-chewed meat, “spit and all, baby,” Coach said. “Wash off the spit and chow down.” And then spray vomit all over your living room.

Back at camp, Cochran tried to lighten the mood following their loss by telling everyone, “We’re probably going to have oral herpes.” He asked, “Doesn’t everyone have herpes?” and said “you haven’t lived until you’ve had a cold sore.” It was funny, but that humorless dolt Keith told Probst at Tribal Council that it disgusted him.

Keith was super annoying tonight, in no small part because he was shocked by Jim’s suggestion not that they vote off Elyse, but that they not tell Ozzy. Keith said, “How’s Ozzy gonna trust me?” He won’t, and that’s the point, idiot. Ozzy made a pretty fatal move by confessing that, if he was Coach on the other tribe, he’d vote off Albert pre-merge, getting rid of his stronger ally. Jim smartly read that as what Ozzy likely planned to do, and thus planned to vote for Elyse along with Cochran and Dawn.

But while Keith recognized that threat, he wanted to have it both ways, and he managed that: he and Whitney both voted for Dawn, essentially throwing away their votes but still allowing Elyse to be voted off, blindsiding Ozzy. I can’t wait to see how Ozzy reacts to both that and to that cowardly move, because those votes suggest Keith knew but didn’t tell Ozzy. Way to get your ally to trust you. Time to climb into the hammock and make amends.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.