Jesus/Coach sends a member of his flock to Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome

Divine intervention and/or incredible self-delusion and/or good strategy sent Brandon Hantz to Redemption Island on Survivor South Pacific, as Ben “Coach” Wade turned on his ally after Brandon shockingly gave up immunity during Tribal Council. That sends us into Sunday’s finale with Brandon facing off against Ozzy Lusth during the final Redemption Island duel, and Coach, Sophie Clarke, Albert Destrade, and Rick “Who?” Nelson as our final five.

Before we get into the crazy events of the episode, a disclaimer: I let God write this recap, so no don’t even think of blaming me for anything you don’t like about it. Actually, Coach’s strategy of telling Brandon that he was voting him out because God told him to was pretty genius–except I’d bet Coach believes that 100 percent. It’s odd, isn’t it, how if you hear voices, you’re crazy, unless you say that voice is a higher power?

First, at the duel, Edna didn’t almost beat Ozzy; the preview tried to get us to believe she’d defeat him, but of course, since the preview suggested that, we knew it was likely a fake-out. Edna lost even though, as Jeff Probst pointed out during the duel, there was “an entire tribe working on this duel” because they “so desperately don’t want Ozzy back in.”

Back at camp, Sophie nicknamed Redemption Island “Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome,” and pointed out that he’s been poisoning the jury, comforting and feeding each person before sending them to the jury after winning a duel. Although Albert approached Coach about voting out Sophie, because Albert always thinks his dumb plans are the best move possible, Coach and Sophie wanted to send Brandon to Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome, and the editors kept including Brandon foreshadowing his exit: “This is fate. We’re in God’s hands,” “God’s got everything under control.”

Brandon twice walked in on conversations about the tribe’s plan to vote him out–twice! The second was the most incredible, as Coach was doing a on-the-fly interview (when a producer pulls a contestant/cast member aside and asks a question about something that just happened in the moment, instead of later during an interview), and Brandon just walked up behind him.

Coach was talking about being annoyed at Brandon, mostly because Brandon figured out that Coach was talking about voting him out because Brandon had become too sane and likable post-merge. “Come on, man. Don’t sound like Russell,” Coach told Brandon, adding “you say that’s not what we’re thinking about” even though Brandon knew exactly what they were talking about. But thankfully, they hugged it out (Brandon pleaded: “Please give me a hug man”), and Coach told us in the start of his on-the-fly: “The apple never falls far from the tree.”

But the apple won immunity, though he credited God, who we can thank for making the episode even more interesting, because his win threw the tribe into chaos. Rick, worst cast member ever, full of pizza that Brandon won as reward and shared with him (Brandon called Rick “Cowboy”–he has a nickname?!) exploded on Albert, telling everyone that Albert wanted to send Sophie home. Earlier, Rick and Albert talked about this, and about going to the final two together, and Rick said, “I haven’t changed anything.” No shit, you haven’t even been on the island for most of the season.

Coach said, “I believe in divine intervention,” and suggested God wanted to save Brandon, hence his immunity challenge win. But then Brandon told Coach, “You know by now that God speaks to me,” and said they had to forgive Albert and stick with him, and thus vote off Sophie, and Brandon was so convinced that he had to forgive Albert that he decided to give his individual immunity to Albert.

And that’s exactly what he did, right at the start of Tribal Council. Albert, being sane and rational, did not give it back, saying he’d give it back if he knew Brandon was in trouble. Albert did cast the only other vote for Sophie, perhaps as a way of trying to win Brandon’s favor as a jury member.

Coach knew he was the swing vote, so he did what any logical, sane person would do: waited for the voices in his head to tell him what to do. “I will do whatever God tells me to do,” he said. “I begged God to speak to me like he’s never spoken to me before.” One name came down from upon high repeatedly, and that left Coach “at complete peace,” he said before casting his swing vote to send Brandon home.

“It’s God’s will. Go win Redemption,” Coach whispered to Brandon as he hugged Coach. And with that, Mark Burnett got two seasons of Redemption Island actually being about religious redemption, alienating a bunch of Survivor fans in the process but giving Jesus a nice pre-birthday present that I’m sure Jesus will pay back by helping Burnett sell his Todd Palin reality show.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.