By Josh Wigler
That... that didn't really just happen, did it? I've been watching "Survivor" for 23 seasons and I've never, ever seen anything like that. Before moving into spoiler mode, let's just say someone made a move that's one part bold, three parts stupid and perhaps just a little bit genius as well. Get the full scoop on this week's "Survivor" beyond the break.
Ozzy has owned his fair share of boneheaded moves in the past, but this latest one could well take the cake: after losing what looks likely to be the last tribal immunity challenge going into the merge, Ozzy volunteers to be sent to Redemption Island so that he can personally knock reigning duel champion Christine out of the game for good, keep the numbers even for his tribe, and make it home in time for the traditional merge feast. His tribe, almost uniformly unsold on the plan, ultimately bends to Ozzy's request.
As I said... pretty bold, really stupid and a touch genius. Let's tackle all three points.
» Bold: Ozzy has played the game three times now and has placed well in both of his previous seasons. He's run a wide gamut of challenges from feats of endurance, strength-based competitions and even puzzle-centric courses. Simply put, Ozzy is one of the single best challenge competitors "Survivor" has ever seen, let alone his tribe. If anyone is going to go and defeat Christine on Redemption Island, it's him. Whether it's the smart move or not, Ozzy's willingness to go out and defeat Christine so that he can come home and keep the numbers even between Savaii and Upolu is ballsy as hell. Gotta give him credit there.
» Stupid Part 1: The entire Savaii tribe wants to vote out NuCochran, not Ozzy. No, NuCoch isn't as likely to beat Christine, who's shocked us all by winning so many challenges in a row with such ease. But does he have to beat Christine? If NuCoch leaves the game tomorrow, he'll likely be replaced with an even angrier, more motivated ally in the form of Christine, who would want to help Savaii bury Upolu. Loosing NuCochran is a win-win and no risk to Ozzy, or at least much less risk than, you know, voting yourself out of the game based on a dream.
» Stupid Part 2: If the merge doesn't happen after Ozzy beats Christine, then what? Savaii is minus their best competitor, while Ozzy has to hang out on Redmption until another, potentially stronger challenger (like Albert?) comes out to play? Or worse — what if Ozzy doesn't beat Christine? That would make him getting voted out with an idol in his pocket during "Fan vs. Favorites" look like a fart in the wind compared to the full-on crapping-your-pants levels of embarrassment he'll suffer if he loses on Redemption.
» Stupid Part 3: Speaking of idols, Ozzy had one again this time before volunteering to go to Redemption Island. He gifted it to Cochran, of all people. Not Keith, his closest ally, or Dawn, who seems like the most sincere player out there, but Cochran, the guy who has repeatedly been told is on the bottom of the Savaii pecking order. NuCoch might be "holding on" to the idol for Ozzy, but the reality is, he is now fully in possession of the idol. It's his to use or not use. Hopefully for Ozzy, Cochran has more honor than that, but he is well within his rights to hang onto the idol for as long as he wants. In other words, Cochran just received one of the most precious gifts you can get in this game. Ozzy, meanwhile, just crapped his pants again.
» Genius?: If Ozzy succeeds in his mission — if he goes out and defeats Christine then promptly reenters the game right at merge time — he looks like a hero. He's singlehandedly preserved Savaii's numbers (though I don't believe they were ever in danger) and demonstrated the kind of guts it takes to win this game. If he makes it to the final three with that kind of history on his side, it won't matter that he's already played "Survivor" three times: he was ballsy as hell in this game, and it paid off huge for his allies. Ozzy is in a do or die situation, yes, but if he doesn't die, he's got a great case on his side for why he should win the million dollar prize and Sole Survivor title.
But there are a lot of ifs in that equation, and the biggest one is, will Savaii honor Ozzy's sacrifice? NuCoch already has Ozzy's idol, so his bulletproof vest is gone. If Cochran chooses to keep the idol from Ozzy, the three-time player suddenly becomes very easy to vote out again, assuming he doesn't go on an immunity tear (which is entirely possible based on past performances). It was always in Savaii's best interests to get Ozzy out sooner rather than later, and if his hissy fit last week wasn't enough reason to boot him, they just got all the firepower they need: if Ozzy makes it to the end, he wins. And if he makes it too far into the merge and starts winning challenges, he's probably going to get to the end, hidden idol or not.
So if Ozzy loses against Christine, and the tribes merge, and Christine comes over to Savaii, it's all good for Savaii. If Ozzy wins, and the tribes merge, Savaii keeps their numbers and has an eventual easy-to-explain sacrificial lamb down the line. The biggest winners of Ozzy going to Redemption Island are Cochran and the rest of Savaii: voting him out was a genius move on their part.
Assuming there's a merge next week, that is… if there isn't, well, perhaps we're looking at category four stupidity.
What do you think of Ozzy's move? Bold? Stupid? Genius? Let us know in the comments section below!