Truth be told, the challenge is one of the season’s less exciting ones, the standout moment being when Probst announces “Arlene already slowing down,” only to then watch Cochran gallantly defend his mother: “Don’t say anything about my mom, Jeff.” And with that, John just locked up the mom vote for this season’s Fan Favorite award. And lord knows he’ll need it if he wants to overcome Malcolm’s seemingly insurmountable “Gosh, He’s Dreamy” voting bloc.
Of course, the family Cochran has no chance of winning this challenge — and nor should they want to — so John makes some small talk with his mother about the flight over. You know, keepin’ it light. In the end, Brenda and her pop win, and I’ve already discussed at length what a mistake that was. She selects Dawn to go with her, but then Probst says, “Let me complicate things a bit.” He hands Brenda a Sprint phone and she informs the rest of the tribe that they each have a second loved one there, eliciting our Incredible Dawn Meehan GIF of the week when she bellows “NO WAY!” at the top of her lungs. (Someone please get on making that.)
Probst tells Brenda she can keep what she and Dawn have, “or you can give up your love and the love you just teased Dawn with, and the other four remaining Survivors and their loved ones will enjoy the barbeque.” (First off, how great is the expression “give up your love and the love you just teased Dawn with”? It sounds like a threat from some maniacal villain plotting against a do-gooding Disney princess. “And you shall never love again! BWAHAHA!!!”) Either way Brenda’s screwed, but she chooses the latter.
So we’re off to witness one of the oddest looking rewards in Survivor history as Sherri, Cochran, Erik, Eddie and their combined eight loved ones go on to a small floating party platform out in the water. It looks like a miniature version of the one Rodney Dangerfield runs over with his boat in Caddyshack, or something you might see in the Jaws or Piranha 3-D franchises, with a bunch of drunken idiots about to be devoured by a killer sea creature. No such excitement will happen here.
Making things even more awkward is the fact that John Cochran is now telling us all about his puberty, which is something I sort of feel like the less I know about the better. But I would like to know more about Cochran’s dad, whom John accuses of “going Hollywood” because he is wearing sunglasses and working the grill. I love the fact that this is how Cochran views Hollywood — people in sunglasses grilling meat. How glamorous! Actually that sounds more like…well, pretty much anywhere else in America. Wouldn’t “going Hollywood” involve more like a tofu salad or eating sushi off of a naked model or something? Someone needs to take Cochran to Hollywood. That much is clear.
As weird as things are on the floating party platform, at least they are not downright depressing like back on the beach where Dawn is crying for approximately the 3,743rd time. She’s lonely, she’s hungry, she misses her family, “and the fact that I’m about to spend camp tonight with people who are full and have seen their loved ones for the whole afternoon makes me want to spit!” Spit? Spit?!? Spit on what? The ground? Go ahead. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t care. You’ve already rained tears on it for 35 days so it probably won’t even know the difference.
Brenda sees Dawn struggling and tells her to let it all out. “Don’t lose hope,” Brenda says while comforting her. “Four days from now we’re going to have big smiles on our faces. I guarantee you that.” Well, one of you…maybe.
NEXT: Brenda jumps out of the challenge and out of the game