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Survivor
Coach, Albert, Sofie, and Ozzy of "Survivor: South Pacific"In a nutshell, the ending of Survivor: South Pacific was a satisfying one. The person who best combined their physical, mental, and social gameplay was victorious. SPOILERS ahead!

Sound the Tribal Theme Horn --- Ahhhh-WOOOOOOO!!





And that person was Sophie, who displayed ferocity when she had to and played it loose and mellow and went along with the Brandon-Albert-Coach Jesus Flow when she had to.

Ah, but Coach, Coach, Coach.... for the past two months, I had been rooting (much to my amazement) for the Dragonslayer to win the million. He had dramatically improved his play and his attitude, even if strategically he was never in the same league as, say, Boston Rob or, as it turned out, Sophie. I just wish that Coach hadn't blown it in the final three days with again pitching his "warrior loyalty" stuff to Ozzie. It was bad enough to do it the first time when they huddled at Redemption Island, but to repeat it when Ozzie joined the tribe after winning yet again in the final Redemption Island duel? Why could Coach not simply say, "Sorry, man, I can't do it.... not if I want to win"? By keeping that offer open and then voting Ozzie off, it made him look far more two-faced than he had seemed beforehand. Cochran summed up perfectly in his question/statement to the Final Three, saying that he respected Coach's play a hell of a lot, but Coach's insistence on ALWAYS wrapping his actions in Honor and Integrity -- while lying to people's faces -- was bound to cripple his chances of winning at the Final Council. As pal Mike Ferguson astutely put it, Coach should have followed the "Todd from China" rule: Own up to stabbing people in the back, but don't brag about it.

Sophie, on the other hand, did a VERY good job during Final Tribal Council, and her temporary breakdown at the previous Tribal Council might have earned her votes with the Jury. And after she endured Ozzy's jibes that night, how freakin' awesome was it for her to beat the Challenge Fiend/Porn Star in the final Immunity Challenge? Definitely noticed by the Jury. Also satisfying? That Albert received zero votes. Astonishingly, he said that afternoon that he really felt confident heading toward the Final Council. Wow. That's a serious case of self-delusion. I cracked up along with the Jury when Albert -- true to form -- tried to kiss up to Jim on the very first question. With that burst of "Oh you gotta be kidding me" laughter from the Jury, I think even Albert began to realize that he had no chance.

About Brandon Hantz... sheesh, it's hard to criticize this completely messed-up kid. Married and with kids at age 19 (?!?) and clearly wrestling with dark urges, he entered Survivor wanting to restore the Hantz family name after Russell's brilliant ruthlessness besmirched it... only we found out a few weeks ago during the Loved Ones visit that the Hantz family is just fine with their cutthroat image. And now Brandon says he's pretty much on the outs with his entire family. OK, sure, Brandon played idiotically and was seemingly unable to ever put a lid on his emotions, but to be rejected by his family because he wanted to make them ... look nice? That's messed up, but hardly surprising, especially after seeing Brandon's father/Russell's brother several weeks ago. The "win at all costs" attitude is clearly built into the Hantz DNA, but considering the white trash existence that a number of them apparently have, it hasn't paid off too well. Shocking! Whodathunkit?

Miscellaneous notes to Survivor producers: 1) No more repeaters, the three-timers especially. As enjoyable as Boston Rob, Coach, and Ozzy have made it at times this year, it's old. 2) Do away with Redemption Island. When you're voted off, you're off. That's it. 3) Hey, thanks for ditching the maudlin "Tribute to the Fallen" montage. I'm hoping it was an editorial decision, not something simply left on the cutting-room floor.

Next time: Survivor: One World. Terrible title, cool concept. Color me intrigued by the image of two tribes fighting and squabbling on the same beach.

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