In perhaps the most religiously fundamentalist Christian episode of Survivor ever, God intervened and caused Coach’s tribe to win, leading Ozzy to have a vision and sacrifice himself. Whether it was due to another intervention of a higher power in a CBS reality series or just the game play and work of the producers, it was another strong episode in a time in the season when episodes tend to slump a little.
Instead of being awesomely blindsided, as happened the last time he played the game, Ozzy handed over his idol to a fellow competitor and told his tribe to vote him out to Redemption Island, so he could beat Christine and keep their tribe dominant should the tribes merge after that duel.
Yes, this entire strategy assumes the two tribes will merge, and, of course, that Ozzy will win against Christine, who has had a streak of duel wins and is also gaining confidence; when Probst told her, “You’re becoming a legitimate force,” she replied, “I’ve always been a legitimate force.”
Jeff Probst pointed this out at Tribal Council, suggesting that Ozzy could “go out a bigger fool than you did last time” if he loses to Christine. I am so excited about that possibility I can barely wait for next week. Ozzy acknowledged that this will be either one of the “stupidest” or “one of the most iconic moves in Survivor history”; he told Probst it is “the ballsiest move that I could possibly think of.” And for someone who’s already shown his balls and more on a sex reality TV show, that’s saying a lot.
I am glad Ozzy gave himself credit in an episode where God was getting credit for the other tribe’s behavior. It started off innocuously, with Coach doing his tai chi thing while the editors superimposed images of the sun and screaming eagle sound effects. Coach decided that his team needed a morale boost, so he decided to pretend to find the hidden immunity idol, a lie to cover his other lie (he led Brandon to believe that the idol was still hidden).
So the tribe prayed for help finding the idol. Yes, once again, God was called upon to intervene in a reality TV show, which is so ridiculous I cannot even start to digest it. Of course, Coach praying along with Brandon for help to find the idol that he had in his possession was, as Sophie said, “icky,” though Coach went on to ask for more help (“I ask you to give us a victory in this next challenge, in Jesus’ name we pray”). As a godless heathen, I don’t believe in an interventionist god, but some people do, obviously. How is it possible for a smart person like Coach to believe that God would actually intervene here while letting people die in war or famine or genocide, or just suffer miserably while some yahoos win a challenge on a reality show? It’s absurd.
God may have actually doled out punishment to Coach for this blatant attempt at misuse of heavenly power by giving Coach’s tribe the win, so they had to suffer through their “reward,” emphasis on the scare quotes. It was a screening of Adam Sandler’s new movie Jack and Jill, in which Adam Sandler plays a female character, too, because it’s 2011 and he wanted to do something creatively challenging and totally new.
The reward was one thing, but horrifyingly, the producers let the movie basically buy the challenge, so Jeff Probst had to try to explain who the challenge mirrored the movie’s plot using a pretty thin analogy. Luckily, it was a specious connection, and nowhere near what, say, Big Brother would have done in the same position. But remember how quaint it was when Probst offered Mountain Dew as a reward and people freaked out about that?
The challenge was a version of the challenge where tribe members guide others who are blindfolded, only this time it was through an obstacle course that included water. It’s always entertaining to watch people bump into things and fall while blindfolded, especially because it’s ostensibly someone else’s fault, so it was great fun–and another strong challenge (even tainted by Adam Sandler).
During the challenge, as the lead ping-ponged between the tribes, Coach prayed for help, and then, when his tribe won, he literally forced them all to their knees in a circle for a group prayer. That’s about the time I would have said, “The only way I’m getting on my knees is for a different kind of group activity, so stand up and take some credit for your own actions and effort, you simpletons.”