Stephen Fishbach wonders if the veteran player has been replaced by an evil twin

By Stephen Fishbach
Updated September 22, 2011 09:15 AM
Credit: Monty Brinton/Landov

“Do not be misled by the reactions of your own body.”
– Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of the Five Rings

Jeff Probst – what have you done to Coach Wade? Two episodes in, and we haven’t heard one Amazon adventure story. Not one reference to ancient samurai warriors. Not even a haiku.

Where are the mythic vendettas? Whither the puppy-dog romance? Instead, it’s just strategy talk, humility and savvy social gameplay. If this were a soap opera, we’d learn that Coach was replaced by his evil twin. In science fiction, he’d be a robot programmed by Mark Burnett. But this is Survivor, and Coach wins another Fishy Award.

Coach’s CRABS Swarm Across Upolu

For his inner circle, Coach has built what Survivor Andrea calls the CRABS Alliance – Coach, Rick, Albert, Brandon and Sophie. Coach also has a side alliance with anesthesiologist Edna. “Coach has a history of playing well,” Edna says, clearly misunderstanding the word “history.” That’s okay, Edna – the tree-mail visor is going to be the fashion accessory of the fall season.

Coach may not have a track record of good gameplay, but he’s learned from his mistakes. “I’m the biggest fool in this game!” Coach tells everybody. He plays up his past reputation for his current benefit.

He also targets his biggest threat, Christine, who scurries around the beach looking for idols and still refers to him as a “temporary player.” What is it with the Survivor fans this season just not being any good at Survivor?

Beware of Boobs

The only thing that could scuttle Coach’s plan to oust Christine is sex-starved Brandon. Brandon thinks that Mikayla’s boobs are bewitching the men on the tribe. Which men, exactly? There’s only one guy who’s obsessed with Mikayla’s cleavage. It’s the same guy who’s a charter member of the Survivor never-nude club.

“I call her Poverty,” Brandon says of Mikaya. Maybe he means Parvati? “She’s using her seductive ways and her young girl attitude to get people in.”

Nevertheless, Coach convinces his CRABS to vote for the scheme-y older lady instead of the athletic young airhead. To cement his plan, he makes a big show of calling out Christine at tribal counsel, solidifying her as the target and shaming anyone who might vote otherwise.

So Christine leaves, and Coach is triumphant. Just one word of advice: When you tell someone to “give us a little bit of privacy,” as Coach told Mikayla, it becomes fairly clear that you’re talking about them.

Not the most subtle move, but practice makes perfect. And after all, it took Boston Rob four times to get Survivor right.

Meet the New Cochran. Same as the Old Cochran

Over on Savali, Cochran has reinvented himself. Nu-Cochran can cut open a coconut without being asked – though not apparently without then telling everybody about it. Nu-Cochran will just almost lose a challenge, not completely blow it. Nu-Cochran is just like Old Cochran, but marginally less useless!

Meanwhile, poker player Jim is really excited about poker player Jim. “I’m a world poker tour champion,” he gloats, before laying out his “3 + 2” alliance consisting of himself, Ozzy, and Keith on the inside and Whitney and Elyse on the outside. That leaves out the Misfit Toys – translucent geek Cochran, crazy mom Dawn, and lovable teddy Papa Bear.

The “3 + 2” alliance sounds a lot like Gabon‘s Onion alliance, just with more math and fewer vegetables. And that worked out great for everybody!

Meanwhile, Keith can hardly stop rolling his eyes. “[Jim] thinks he’s in control,” he says. “I’m the architect!” exclaims Jim.

Oh, and the other big news on Savaii is that Ozzy finds an idol.

Ozzy has an idol. Coach is a strategic mastermind. Who could have imagined that playing a game multiple times would make you good at that game?