*Update* My girl Sophie did it! I didn’t see her beating Coach, but he broke too many promises — after basing his game around “honor and integrity” — and she gave great straight-to-the-point final jury answers. No ass kissing. No tears. Maybe she wasn’t the ideal choice to win, but I can definitely see why she won. *End update*
The “Survivor: South Pacific” finale was supposed to start at 8 p.m. but, as usual, CBS had to push its Sunday night content back for football. This happens every dang week, as fans of “60 Minutes, ” “The Amazing Race” and “The Good Wife” know too well.
Anyway, once this puppy gets going I plan to document the Coach vs. Ozzy showdown. Does anyone think the non-veterans even have a chance? Does anyone else mind that idea? It doesn’t seem fair, just like it seemed almost cruel for Boston Rob to steamroll his newbies on “Redemption Island.”
This has not been my favorite season — it’s all been downhill since “Heroes vs. Villains” — but I can live with Coach, Ozzy or Sophie winning, especially Coach or Sophie. Coach has made too many promises and Ozzy + Ego have coasted on a pure physical game, but what else do we have? It’s not ideal — or even fair — but so be it.
*** LIVE BLOG BEGINS *** (refresh for updates)
8:34 p.m.: Recap of the season. Big focus on Ozzy so far. I had forgotten about Coach’s “Christian man” promise to Ozzy to take him to the end with one other person. Recap ends around 8:40.
8:42 p.m.: Brandon arrives at Redemption Island – aka Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome! Brandon feels betrayed, but he forgives Albert. Ozzy realizes Brandon wasn’t blindsided, as he said, he was just foolish to give up his immunity necklace. He was playing a “blind faith” game.
8:44 p.m.: Oooh! Coach is PISSED at Albert. He’s tearing into him for lying and bullying and knowing that Brandon was going to go home and pulling that move anyway. Albert is basically dead to Coach. That feels a bit harsh considering Coach has been making deals left and right too.
8:46 p.m.: Duel time! Ozzy will miss Redemption Island. He’s had it sweet over there. The challenge: They have to hang onto a pole for as long as they can. Oh that could take a while. Remember “Palau”? What was that, like an 11 hour challenge or something? But Jeff said they’ve never had such a narrow foothold before.
8:51 p.m.: What are the odds — Ozzy wins. He gets to go back in the game. Will Coach honor his word and take him to the end? Could he be that crazy? Why did he make that promise? In the meantime, Brandon is talking about his heart-to-heart with God.
8:52 p.m.: What, wait? Jeff just told Ozzy he has been an underdog from day one. Really? He’s been a dominating leader from day one.
8:57 p.m.: Albert said it’s definitely strange to have Ozzy back among them. It’s 4 against Ozzy. Everyone knows it. They all want to beat him in the next challenge, but how likely is that? Now it’s Ozzy talking to Coach. Coach said he doesn’t think Ozzy is going anywhere. Oh Lord — Coach said he has the hidden idol and if he wins immunity he’ll give it to Ozzy if he thinks he’s in danger. Ozzy doesn’t buy it. To his credit, he said why would Coach want him in the end? But to Coach’s face he said he thinks it should be the two of them in the end. As if it was pre-ordained once they signed up. Coach tells the camera “it’s my game to lose” because everyone wants to take him to the final 3. Is that true? If so, what does that say about how easy they all think it will be to beat Coach.
9 p.m.: Challenge time! It’ s a card balancing challenge. House of cards. Where are the big, physical challenges of yore?
9:04 p.m.: What are the odds? Ozzy wins the immunity challenge. Ugh. I guess I’m the only one bored by his domination. So will he be the next Boston Rob? Will they vote out Coach? Who does Ozzy want to sit next to in the end? I’d get rid of Coach and Sophie and sit next to Rick and Albert. They are the easiest to beat.
9:09 p.m.: Ozzy is stoked. He plans to facilitate the process of the Upolu’s turning on each other. He wants to stay the “good guy” in their eyes. He’s making Boston Rob-esque speeches. Foreshadowing? Coach tells Albert that Rick has the best bet of winning the game, which does NOT seem to be the case from here. Ozzy made a pitch for Sophie to leave. Wait, is there another immunity challenge coming? How are they going to get down to three? Rick compares Coach to an attorney, he skirts around the truth. Coach told Albert that Rick was a threat, but he just told Rick that he would never vote for him. Uh-oh. Albert just talked to Coach and Coach said he can’t wait to vote Ozzy’s ass out of there, which is in direct contrast to his “Christian man” promise. Oh Coach. You are digging your own final Tribal Council speech grave right now.
9:15 p.m.: Time for Tribal Council vote. This is the last time Coach can play his hidden idol and he’s planning to do it. I really hope Sophie wins the next immunity challenge, if only to wipe the condescending smirk of Ozzy’s face. SHE’S pretentious? Right. Even Brandon is shocked by Coach’s “bonding” “family” stuff when it comes to Ozzy. Ozzy is airing all of that to the jury. Sophie said Ozzy has disrespected her from day one. He does have a history of being not-so-nice to women. He thinks Sophie is a spoiled “brat” and has been sitting around? What about Prince Albert? Why her? Everyone has challenged Albert. And Ozzy IS arrogant. Sophie is right on this. She’s hurt and tearing up. Ozzy is a jerk sometimes. No one ever calls him on it and even Jeff is just going with the “thin skin” argument. The jury is eating this up. Except for Dawn. Dawn is nice. WHOA. Jeff tells Sophie her crying is a big reason to get rid of her? Way to editorialize, Jeff. You didn’t do that for Brandon and his 9 million emotional breakdowns.
9:22 p.m.: Rick is voted out. The final four are Ben “Coach” Wade, Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth, Albert Destrade and Sophie Clarke. Rick was NOT happy with Coach. Coach stood up to give him a man hug goodbye and Rick told him to SIDDOWN. He wishes he had made a bigger move in the game but he was just blinded by the idea that Coach was true to his word. Rick: “Ozzy’s got my vote.” Crap.
9:30 p.m.: Ozzy can “sense victory.” His plan A is to win. Plan B is also to win. His entire strategy all season has been to win challenges. But that’s not the entirety of “Survivor.” Coach is now mad at Ozzy, feeling betrayed because Ozzy outed his “Christian man” speech. He didn’t want that out there. Now he feels stabbed in the back, which is rich considering Coach told Albert he can’t wait to vote Ozzy’s ass out. But Ozzy just made a SMART move in playing the “I was hurt in the past” sympathy card. That’s right up Coach’s alley. Coach said he wants it to be him vs. Coach in the end and he wants Sophie and Albert to make fire, as in tie in the final vote and have to do a fire-making showdown. No purple rocks?
9:33 p.m. OK, now THIS is the final immunity challenge. It’s a physical challenge obstacle course, just like I like ’em. They have to bring back five bags and work on a puzzle. Ozzy had a huge lead but lost it to Sophie when it went from physical to mental. My point exactly. Sophie wins final immunity.
GO GIRL! Ozzy looks so pissed. Awesome. Dump Ozzy and keep Coach and Albert. Coach may still win, though.
9:44 p.m.: Ozzy said his mind turned inside-out at the puzzle. He’s just not a mental player. Coach declares Sophie the new “Dragon Slayer” because she slayed Ozzy. So Coach is kissing her ass now and is totally turning his back on Ozzy. But Coach goes to talk to Ozzy and Ozzy said he wants a chance to do a fire challenge against Albert. Right. Coach said it’s going against his word. But Coach has given his word to everyone. Coach doesn’t know what to do because, from the beginning, he said he wanted the “warriors” in the end and Ozzy is certainly a warrior. So it’s not easy for him to write his name down. Coach is damned either way at this point. He’s backed himself into a corner.
9:52 p.m.: It’s the final vote! I love the shocked and disappointed faces to see Sophie with immunity instead of Ozzy. Ha ha. Ozzy called it “a million dollar puzzle.” Ozzy brings up his fire-making challenge idea again. All Ozzy has is the challenges so it’s no wonder he keeps playing that one card. He has no alliances. He has no strategy. He has his own physical strength and skill — as long as it isn’t mental. “Pride comes before the fall,” Albert says as he votes for Ozzy to leave. Uh-oh. Maybe that applies to Sophie too. She voted for “Ozzy” and said “because I’m the new Dragon Slayer.”) YES! Ozzy is gone. He said he had a good run and some of his former tribe-mates applauded, but not Dawn or Cochran since he never really had a great social game with them. Albert thanked God. God is orchestrating this win.
10:04 p.m.: The final three are Sophie, Coach and Albert. It’s “an Ozzy-free camp.” Coach may be in trouble. They are going to beat the crap out of him in the final jury speeches. Coach is on Cloud 9. He quotes Shakespeare or Mark Twain or whoever doesn’t want to wake from a dream. They wake up to a huge breakfast feast.
10:06 p.m.: Aaaaaand the honeymoon is over. Sophie and Coach think it should be down to the two of them. They plan to talk bout Albert’s “squirrely” side. Sophie wants to keep her emotions together so no one thinks she’s a nut job. She’s going more logically than emotionally. Sophie talks to Albert and they kind of knock Coach too. Albert tells the camera he thinks he played a much better game than the other two. When was this? Which season of “Survivor”? This one? Nope. There was a time when I thought he was a great bet to win, but from Prince Albert to his “squirrely” behavior, I think he’s out of the running. No?
10:09 p.m.: Time for the final vote. The power has shifted to the jury, which now includes Ozzy wearing pigtails.
Albert said he is honored and privileged to be there. He says the game in essence is a “social experiment.” It’s not a game about chess pieces, it’s a game about people. A higher power brought them together. He thanks them for being part of a journey they will never forget. He’s thankful for the opportunity. Total job interview.
Sophie cuts to the chase. It’s outwit, outlast, outplay. She won three immunity challenges. For strategy, she made a five person alliance from the beginning and kept it to the end. Socially, she’s not a used car salesman but she worked on her social game and she was as honest as possible.
Coach says wow he can’t believe he’s up there. Redemption Island was built for someone like Ozzy whereas Coach is a bit of a character. Last time he played the game with arrogance and this time he tried to change and play with compassion. This time he tried to not bend others to his plans he just looked around at the others. When you open up yourself to others you receive back tenfold. (Yeah, you receive anger at broken promises…)
10:16 p.m.: The (bitter) jury speaks!
Ozzy announces that no one wants to vote for any of those guys — as if they ALL wanted to vote for him and his pigtails. He insults them all, tween girl hair and all, and asks about how Coach played the game. Coach admits he played honorably most of the time but not always.
Jim asked Albert why Sophie and Coach shouldn’t win the game. And he told Albert not to start with a compliment. So Albert started by complimenting Jim’s question. Albert said he and Sophie carried Coach to the end. Albert said Sophie did not play as good a social game as he did.
Dawn asked Sophie why she aligned with Coach and Albert. Sophie told Dawn she wished she was a man because they can get two young girls to follow them around. Coach was like a young girl to her because he said his loyalty is worth more than a million dollars. He wanted actual redemption. With Albert, he was into strategy and she liked aligning with someone who could talk strategy. But as time went on, her relationship with Albert soured. Albert is still there because keeping him gave her a better shot at getting to the end than Rick.
Rick said Coach wanted to play with honor. Does he have anything to say to Rick? Coach just said “I apologize.” Rick called Albert on playing the God card with Brandon, which was a bunch of bull. Rick said Sophie lied; she said her name is worth a lot and she only lied when necessary and it hurt her most to lie to him. Rick is bitter!
Brandon said Coach told him he would never write his name down. Coach said he believes Brandon should be there. He said he elevated them all? Albert said he would do anything to win but he would never compromise his relationship with God.
Whitney said Albert is “sleazy” and he buttered people up when he knew they were leaving the game. She said Coach used God as strategy. She called Sophie the most condescending person she ever met. (Has she met Ozzy? Ozzy loves pretty girls but he’s condescending to everyone else, like Cochran and Sophie.)
Edna said the most historic way to manipulate people is through religion. (Nice!) She said they shouldn’t hold any hard feelings against them duping them because they signed up for it and they were successful. Love it.
Keith asked why Coach didn’t play the individual immunity idol at all. Coach said he did think it was a tribe idol. Coach almost used it at the 6/6 tribe meet. He didn’t play it because he didn’t need to play it. Sophie said Albert found the clue with the help of Sophie and others distracting. They were going to keep it for the three of them but they staged a discovery of the idol.
Cochran said more than anyone he was a fan of Coach and Coach tricked him. He played on his ego. Cochran said he loved that. (I knew he would! Good for him.) What Cochran didn’t appreciate is how often Coach talked about honor. Coach said he came into the game wanting to do the right thing but he ended up doing all the wrong things. Coach also called himself “a terrible strategist.” Sophie said he was his strategist. Albert said it was he and Sophie together.
10:33 p.m.: The jury votes. It’s almost time for Jeff to take whatever crazy transportation he can for the LIVE finale.
Cochran votes for Coach. He hopes they aren’t super bitter and vote for Coach too. I knew Cochran was a true gamer and would appreciate Coach’s move. But the other are bitter.
Sophie voted for Dawn, as I figured she would after that Q&A.
*** LIVE FINALE ***
10:35 p.m.: The finale is live in L.A. … we don’t see Jeff do anything more than walk the votes into the studio. No chopper? No boat?
1st vote: Coach
5th: Coach Wade
6th: Sophie (tied 3/3 right now)
8th: The winner of “Survivor: South Pacific” – Sophie!
*** REUNION ***
Sophie had just graduated college about four days before getting to the island. And now she is the new Dragon Slayer.
Jeff said Sophie played a quiet game. She said she probably had her finger on the pulse of the game the entire time. They created this religious framework and being loyal and trustworthy and she worked around that. She said in real life she does tend to be more of an observer. She’s now Facebook friends with everyone in her small town of Willsboro, N.Y. On the topic of being a spoiled brat, Sophie said she’s going to try to be more like Dawn. Dawn is pretty cool.
I do feel bad for Coach, but he has a lot to be proud of — and he got the redemption he wanted. This is good PR for him.
Jeff asks about all the prayer out there — not just general prayer to God but specifically for winning challenges or for someone to find an idol. Coach said it became a prayerpalooza.
Jeff asks if Coach had brought Rick to the end instead of Sophie, would Coach win? Yes, he would’ve. He would’ve gotten the four votes.
Jeff asks if Ozzy got to the end, would he win? Yes. But Sophie won thanks to that million dollar challenge.
Ozzy calls Sophie one of the smartest players to ever play the game. He was very kind to her. Jeff said he dominated, dominated, dominated and then a puzzle came up — his bread and butter. So what happened? Ozzy said he didn’t focus when he needed to. He beat himself. I think he did OK, it’s just that Sophie’s mind works a different way. He had the physical part down but her skill was in the mechanics of solving complicated puzzles.
Ozzy makes a speech (a long one!) about falling down and getting back up again.
Thankfully Jeff asks Ozzy about Cochran — someone else who didn’t want Ozzy to win. Ozzy only says he maybe regrets not giving Cochran the idol. So he doesn’t regret treating Cochran like crap, condescending to him? That’s all he had to do — treat Cochran like an equal.
Because Jeff worships Ozzy (at Sophie’s expense, even though she won), he finds a gushing Sanjaya girl in the audience and has her ask Ozzy how he does it — how does he climb those trees like they are nothing? How is he just sooooo super dreamy and perfect? Good God.
Cochran, I don’t hate you! I think you made a smart move, then blew it when your ego exploded and you had no follow-up plan. Cochran is not getting any loving out there. No dates. He wants women to “come at me.” Ha!
Brandon said not everybody in his family is happy — “especially Russell,” who is in the audience. The rest of Brandon’s family isn’t there. “I don’t think a lot of people are very proud of me.”
Jeff talks to Russell in the audience. Did Brandon restore the Hantz family name? Russell said he is Uncle Russell, but he is also Russell from Survivor. He will sit down and shut up if Brandon wants him to. But Jeff wants Russell to critique Brandon’s game. Russell said Brandon went out there to change the family name, but “I made greatness. I brought the game to a level that is — you can’t even comprehend.” (Ugh.) What did Brandon do wrong? “Everything,” Russell says. Jeff said (joking?) that next season should be Russell vs. Brandon. NO MORE HANTZES. Just bring them onto your new talk show, Jeff, since you love them so much.
By the biggest margin in history, Ozzy won Player of the Season. Cochran was second, but not even close.
Whitney and Keith are now a couple. She was in a relationship when the show started. It made People Magazine headlines and all. “Survivor” is a condensed dating show.
Edna’s husband loves the new Edna and now she’s pregnant.
I feel bad for Brandon that his family has turned against him, but he was so wrong for this show — from Mikayla to the breakdowns to giving away his immunity idol.
Jeff gave Sophie the check for $1 million. They’ve never done that before. So is she not going on TV in the morning?
Next season will be “Survivor: One World,” starting in February. Two tribes will live together on one island.
Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this little archive.