by Josh Wigler
Maybe I spoke too soon when I said last week's outing was the best "Survivor" episode of the season, because I think last night took that crown pretty quickly — and with the way things are currently set up, we're looking at an incredibly epic "Survivor" finale come Sunday night (December 18).
With only one episode to go, it's time to make some final predictions. Here's a breakdown of all the people left in the game, starting with who I think is least likely to win (spoiler: it's Brandon) and ending with my pick for Sole Survivor.
» Congratulations, Brandon, you've matched Erik Reichenbach at the very top of the Survivor Hall of Shame! If you didn't watch last night's episode — and I don't know why you'd be reading this otherwise, unless you're MTV Newsroom blog editor John Mitchell and you basically have no choice (sorry John!) — Brandon won the immunity challenge last night, got into a big fight with his "trusted" ally Albert, smoothed things over and gave the endangered Albert his immunity necklace because God told him to, and subsequently got voted out himself. It was awesome. I knew Brandon wasn't built to win the game, but I had no idea the extent of his self-destructiveness. There's no excuse other than stupidity to have given that necklace to Albert. Anyone with half a brain could sniff out Al's bulls**t, but perhaps the Hantzspawn doesn't meet that qualification. He'll have his shot at reentering the game in the finale, sure, but I doubt he'll earn it. Ozzy is on a tear right now, and I don't see Brandon putting a stop to that. Even if he does reenter the game, his blunder was so stupid that there's no jury on the planet that would vote him for the win.
» Likewise, Albert has zero shot at winning the game. None. Everyone on Upolu has turned on him, so he's lost those votes. The weenie way in which he handled tribal and Brandon's passing of the idol was so pathetic, see-through and cowardly that I can't imagine an already bitter Savaii wanting to back his case. (Of course, if Albert had returned the idol to Brandon, he would've gotten voted out himself; it was lose-lose.) Suddenly, Al has become a top candidate to bring to the end zone, purely because he's such a lost cause.
» I still don't think Rick has a snowball's chance in hell at winning the game, based on the low profile he's enjoyed all season. I do wish the editors had given him more time to shine though. Rick's shown more heat in the past two episodes than he has all season long, and I'm actually starting to like the guy. But unless we're looking at the quietest "Survivor" winner of all time, I really thinks he's out of the running.
» Ozzy has a lot of obstacles to overcome, chief among them reentering the game. He'll beat Brandon at Redemption and get back into the mix, I'm sure, but then he has to keep trucking through those challenges. He can definitely keep winning — he's one of the best challenge competitors "Survivor" has ever seen, if not the best, and he's in much better physical health than anyone out on the beach. If he can't win those immunities, there's always Coach's pledge to take Ozzy to the end (which Coach won't honor if he has any sense whatsoever). If Ozzy can make it that far one way or the other, he wins, hands down. But that's a lot of ifs.
» For some reason, no one wants to vote out Coach, even though he is a shockingly serious threat to win. Albert says he's a perfect person to sit next to because the jury views him as "the cult leader." Apparently, Albert didn't watch "Survivor" last season, because being a cult leader is exactly why Boston Rob won. Coach has shown an amazing amount of maturity and growth this third time around -- the way he voted Brandon off and handled that fallout with a hug and a "go get Redemption" was brilliant, appropriately emotional, and a move that secures BHantz's vote in the end I think. Get him to the finish with the right people and Coach wins the game. That means he can't be up against Ozzy or...
» Sophie. Believe it or not, Albert put it best: she has built quite the resume for herself over the past couple of weeks. She's won challenges, she's made strong relationships, she's been making strategic moves alongside the guy at the top of the alliance food chain, her observations at Tribal Council have been insightful and on-point, she hasn't pissed people off in the same ways that others have… Sophie's got everything you could ask for from a "Survivor" winner. I think she can beat Coach, because she can match everything he brings to the table, with the added bonus that, hey, she's never played this game before! I'm still of the mind that any jury would prefer to vote for a newbie over a veteran, especially if the noob played just as well if not better than the vet. That's certainly the case in a Sophie versus Coach showdown. If she goes up against Ozzy, it's a much tighter race, and I think she loses there — but I also don't think it's going to get to that point.
If there's a gun to my head, my family held hostage in some remote location and I have only five seconds to tell you who my pick to win "Survivor" is or everyone gets their brains blown out, the answer is easy: Sophie is our next "Survivor" champion. (Now, please, let my family go!)
Who do you think will win "Survivor" this season?