Monty Brinton/CBS; Bill Inoshita/CBS
Stephen Fishbach
October 20, 2011 09:00 AM

“The superior man will manage many subordinates dexterously.”
– Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of the Five Rings

Has Survivor ever had two tribes as evenly matched as Upolu and Savaii? The epic back and forth continues, and – HOLY CRAP IS THAT RUSSELL HANTZ? Dude, he was right there walking down the beach with the red Villains buff on. Did someone say the word “idol” three times and click their heels together? Watch out, Upolu. That man will flip your shelter right out from under you as fast as Christine will flip you the bird.

Of course, we know the real reason for Russell’s apparition. Like Phillip’s ancestor Jessem Herring, Russell’s spirit has descended to help Brandon find the idol. The only problem is … Coach already has it. And Coach has decided that the whole “truth, honor, and integrity” thing only applies when it’s convenient.

“Is withholding information lying?” Coach asks. “It’s a gray area.” Having played Survivor with Coach, I know that he’s the king of double talk. He loves to construct ambiguous sentences like, “We’re going with the plan that we had when we walked into camp.” Coach has taken permanent residence in the “gray area.”

Coach wisely decides to keep the idol from Brandon. After all, he needs Brandon’s trust in helping save Edna, because Albert thinks that Edna is a liability.

“Somebody who knows they’re the sixth person [might] react desperately when we get to a merge,” Albert reasons. Mikayla performs in the challenges, while Edna keeps the bench warm.

I actually don’t peg Edna as a flipper. She seems too nervous to pull off such a risky move. But I also think that Albert’s real motivation in targeting Edna is not so different from Jim’s in targeting Elyse – take out the dominant player’s wing-lady. “Coach feels that Edna’s directly in his pocket,” Albert says.

The tribe divides right down the middle. Team Coach supports Edna and Team Albert supports Mikayla. The weighty decision rests on the shoulders of Cowboy Rick, who decides … that maybe Albert shouldn’t have snored so loudly. Another Fishy to Coach for keeping his alliance in control!

While Coach reigns ascendant over Upolu, things are looking rough for Ozzy on Savaii.

If you had told me pre-game that Coach would dominate his tribe and Ozzy would be outcast, I probably would have expressed mild disbelief, then asked you more pertinent questions, since you somehow knew the future: Who will be president? How will I die?

Still, it’s surprising. Ozzy’s left reeling from Elyse’s blindside. In retribution, he proclaims his independence and tells the tribe about his idol.

“He’s just behaving like a stupid b––,” Cochran assesses. People, have a little heart! This is the second girlfriend Ozzy’s lost in two weeks! And since Whitney’s cuddling with Keith, and Dawn’s married, that means Ozzy’s stuck with Cochran and his seaweed wig.

But losing Elyse may be the best thing to happen to Ozzy. The crown never sat easily on his brow. Ozzy seems more comfortable as an independent, just fishing and dominating the challenges. When the tribe wins a nail-biter immunity, all the dissension of the previous days dissolves.

“It really made me want someone from this tribe to win the million,” Ozzy says, in possibly the most heavy-handed example of foreshadowing in Survivor history.

Could that person be Jim? After sidelining Ozzy, Jim smartly welcomes him back into the fold.

“I like having Ozzy on my side,” he says. “Ozzy helps me win immunity challenges before the merge. After the merge he’s a bigger target than me.”

But if Ozzy does go to Redemption Island, as the preview hinted, that target won’t be very much help.

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