by Ian Walker
This episode dives into some of the straight-up darkest stuff Survivor has ever seen, exploring new lengths some will go to win this game, even if they have to evoke the power of God to do it.
After wiping out the opposing Savaii alliance, the Upolu Five have reached the final five and now have to finally turn on each other, with the target setting squarely on Brandon Hantz’s back.
Despite all of the sudden outbursts and mood swings, several of the Upolus, namely Sophie Clarke, see the vulnerable and sweet kid that lies behind Brandon’s hard exterior, which makes him a serious jury threat. However, after pulling out a clutch victory at the next immunity challenge, Brandon appears to be fine, but now his best buddy Albert Destrade seems to be in the crosshairs.
When the tribe sits down for tribal council, Brandon immediately gives up his immunity necklace to Albert. The proceeding Q and A remains one of the best tribal council sessions Jeff Probst has ever conducted. Brandon opens up about his history being both a member of a gang and the Hantz clan (is there a difference?), and in how he would do just about anything to gain love and acceptance from those groups and just how hard it’s been for him to achieve those things. While all of this is going down, the audience is left wondering whether Coach is really going to pull the trigger on young, naïve Brandon- and he does.
In one of the most chilling moments in Survivor history, Coach evokes the name of God as justification for voting out Brandon, and tells him on his way out “It’s God’s will, go win Redemption.” It’s perhaps the most dramatic act of Coach’s Survivor career, including his trip to Exile. It also cements Brandon as one of the most tragic figures in the show’s history, as just a young kid who so desperately wants to feel like he belongs to his Survivor family but ends up getting taking advantage of instead. It’s a defining moment for both this season and in the Hantz family legacy on Survivor.