Unless your nickname is Coach (his real name is Ben Wade, for those who don't know) Survivor: South Pacific is not a good season to have a nickname. Whether they were given their nickname or asked for it, none of the nicknamed has fared well in the first three episodes.
However, this was the first week any of them were left out.
We're talking, of course, about John "Call Me Cochran" Cochran, the now-voted-out Mark "Papa Bear" Caruso and Brandon "Lil Hantz" Hantz. The irony of Papa Bear being voted out this week is that until the very end of this episode, he was the only one of the three to have not done anything to hurt his cause.
Instead, the perennially neurotic Cochran and Brandon live on to see three more days. And the pair is dominating the screen. Not in traditional Survivor ways by manipulating players to do what they need, but simply by being the only characters worthy of face time. Any drama, fun quotes or interesting television has come from their insecurities.
The main difference between the pair is that you can root for one and hope the other leaves the game soon. Cochran's neurosis is derived out of a life saying strange things and looking different as he told Papa Bear before he departed. Many of us can understand where he derives his insecurities from.
Brandon, on the other hand, is a concoction of what seems to be a very challenging life, to put it mildly. By his own admission, his current daily struggles are atoning for previous sins or evils earlier in his life. He's trying to life a godly life and whether you are strong believer or not, it is hard not to applaud such an attempt.
Yet, what seems to be a recurring theme with Brandon is being apologetic rather than doing the right thing the first time. It makes one wonder if his life has been spent apologizing for mistakes rather than a period of mistakes followed by a period of repentance.
He started the game talking about how he wanted to play honestly and did not want to be like his uncle, Russell. Yet six days in to the game he's manipulating people trying to get Mikayla voted out. When the plan fails and he is confronted by Mikayla, he becomes immediately aggressive and makes the poor girl cry.
I have no affinity for Mikayla one way or another. But, as Coach said, Brandon's display shows a form of aggression that different from Russell, but aggression none the less. Perhaps Brandon is struggling trying to be someone he's not. The way he handled the situation with Mikayla was not someone trying to live a Christian life.
My ambivalence towards Mikayla is an example of what I believe could be a problem with this season and perhaps this format - no other characters are emerging but those who are odd. After Boston Rob and Russell last season who do you think of? I'll bet the first name that came to mind was Philip.
Same is true for this season. Ozzy, Coach and who? Brandon is probably first, followed by Cochran. Who else is interesting so far? Jim (more on him later)? Maybe, but debatable. Anyone else? Not really.
I find myself rooting for Coach, but perhaps I should be rooting against him and Ozzy. Perhaps if they are voted out the other characters can emerge a little bit more. I'd be interested to find out.
More from this week:
- Why do people keep telling others that they have the idol? Boston Rob didn't and won. Other people keep opening their mouths and not winning. Amazing.
- Are people still enjoying Redemption Island? I find myself bored during these challenges.
- I can't believe Ozzy lost a water-based challenge. Those who know Ozzy will recall that he's a fish in the water. Too bad his team kept him down, but he also lost the body board.
- Does everyone know that Jim's real name is Jim Rice? Wait. Let's not talk about the Red Sox after this year's collapse. I'm still reeling.