Survivor: Tocantins
Let's Get Rid of the Weak Players Before We Even Start
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
February 12, 2009

We'll mess her...assets.

Survivor's back, and this time it's in Brazil. We hope it goes better for them than it did for the Simpsons when they got in trouble with their tourist board. Jeff Probst was so excited about the prospect of this trip that he went ahead and got the wax!

As for BOP, scoutmaster extraordinaire Jim Van Nest has a scheduling conflict, so we'll be taking care of you again this season. Given past history, this guarantees that this season will suck and we'll be bored to tears. Why does Jim get the good ones?

Probst gleefully points out that the temperatures in the remote region where the camps will be based can reach 140 degrees. We guess that Survivor has figured out that the best way to get higher ratings is for contestants to spontaneously combust.

Just as has been the case in the past seasons, Survivor is looking to play up the romantic angles whenever possible. The speed with which a likely hookup occurs could create a sonic boom. At the one minute mark, according to our TiVo, hairstylist Erinn of the Timbira tribe professes her love for "tall, spiky-haired model boy".

Not so fast. The aforementioned "tall, spiky-haired model boy" turns out to be Tyson, a professional cyclist in the Timbira tribe. His first impression of his various tribemates includes the observation that the younger brunette "comes off as being the bitch". Oh, it *is* going to be one of those seasons.

Stephen, a corporate consultant on the Jalapao tribe laments, then celebrates the presence of "the strung out old lady" (we'll call her Sandy), taking comfort in the fact that with her there, he knows he won't be the first to go. Immediately, we cut out to Sandy, who is a bus driver, also on the Jalapao tribe. She emphasizes that Stephen "looks like a geek" and says she's gonna be able to "lead him around real easy". Their white/trash May/December romance could be the new Harold & Maude.

Next up is Sierra, a model on the TImbira tribe, who complains to the camera about sore tonsils. Don't worry, Sierra. We're sure that the medical facilities in the Tocantins will be state-of-the-art. This causes Benjamin, the soccer coach who apparently prefers to be called "Coach" to take time out from his busy schedule of grooming his mullet to note the likelihood of Sierra's crumbling. Apparently, Survivor just couldn't cast any optimists this year.

Once the map shows that they are exactly in the middle of nowhere, Probst announces that the tribes have already been divided and states that this is their first opportunity to work together. Each team has 20 seconds to retrieve as many supplies as possible from the vehicle they rode in on before it departs. For what it's worth, the Survivors do a pretty good job of stripping the truck bare.

Probst divides the troops up and asks them for their thoughts. Coach takes this opportunity to openly gloat that they got all of the water and beans. The host quizzes Spencer from the other team about his thoughts on the matter, and he blithely states, "We'll be all right. We'll make do." Probst's face expresses the appropriate amount of skepticism. Without missing a beat, he points out their majestic surroundings and notes that they're the only people around for miles upon miles. He also gleefully states that they have a four hour trek to their camp, and will have to carry all the heavy supplies they just acquired through the heat of the day.

Even better, though, is the fact that Probst drops a bombshell. Each tribe will vote for a player before they even begin their journey. Wow. On the plus side, we view this as 6,000 fewer words we'll be required to write. On first glance, we believe that bus driver Sandy and tonsil girl Sierra seem most likely to go. If it's not one of them or one of the people we've already mentioned, someone is going to go home without being shown.

But wait. We're going to have to write those 6,000 words after all. It's a swerve. Probst points out that he never actually said that a player would be eliminated - just that they wouldn't make the four hour trek. Instead, the people voted for by their peers get to fly in a helicopter to camp, making them the most well-rested. The interesting development here is that Sydney votes for Stephen (the "nerd") and Brendan votes for Erinn (the "bitch"), immediately creating public enemies. Everyone else votes for Sandy and Sierra, just as we predicted.

Spencer takes this opportunity to point out that he is 19-years-old, which means that he was ten when the show started airing. We don't even know what to say to this.

Early politics unfold in the Jalapao tribe. Stephen states that he just can't see himself, "an anxious New York jew," developing an dalliance with Alabama good ol' boy JT. This seems like an error in judgment, as JT is the hero of the moment, carrying some of the heaviest objects as well as successfully negotiating the map. Our favorite moment in this segment, however, is when Taj states that she's enjoying the marathon trek because she came on the show to lose her baby weight. She's gonna be a size 0 by this time this is over, we're sure.

They're struggling more at Timbira, since they are having to carry the heavier items, such as the water canisters. Jerry, the only one to smile during this whole thing, tells the camera that he is a first sergeant in the Army National Guard, a detail he chooses not to share with his tribe mates. Meanwhile, Coach wants the world to know his entire resume. He gleefully points out that he is a college soccer coach in one state and a conductor of a symphony orchestra in another, making us wonder if he is also an airplane pilot, or possibly identical twins who have confused the producer of Survivor.

Next, we see Sandy melting down during her helicopter ride before eventually standing at the new encampment and crying while whispering words of reassurance to herself. The game is not four hours old, and already Sierra and Sandy have had crying jags and been "voted out" by their peers once. We really don't like their chances of winning.

When Sandy and Sierra arrive at their respective camps, they learn that they have the option to use the time waiting for their tribemates to search for a hidden immunity idol or they can work on building up their camp area to try to ingratiate themselves with their team members and make the area more habitable. Sandy chooses to search for the idol, saying that she's got to look out for #1, but Sierra works on the camp, trying to make things nice for her new cohorts.

The Jalapao tribe arrives at camp, and they're frankly a little pissed that Sandy hasn't done any work in her time alone. They're all nice to each other's faces, but the comments to the camera indicate that Sandy doesn't like them and they don't really like her. To be fair to the Jalapao folks, Sandy does seem all kinds of crazy. She hasn't had the frame of mind to be able to find the idol and she's not very good at knowing the right things to say. She's clearly pretty defensive and it's not doing her any favors.

Meanwhile, Sierra has done exactly what she has set out to do. She built the shelter for her team and has done so all while having strep throat. She tells her teammates that she understands why they voted for her, and even Coach gives her props. Still, he notes that on their four-hour journey to camp, Timbira has had the chance to bond, and she's the odd man out. He believes she still needs to be the first person voted out.

Carolina, a bartender on the Jalapao tribe is starting to enter our consciousness with some bitchy/bossy behavior. She's already taken several shots at Sandy, and now she's started telling everyone else at camp the best way to do things. We don't like her chances long term, either. Thus far, we're pretty sure that Sandy, Sierra, Carolina and Coach aren't going to win.

Sandy has gone off looking for the idol again, but she's encountering some problems. The first is that she has dug up a clue. In it, the diabolical producers have instructed her to go ten paces toward a palm tree. The trouble is, she doesn't know what a pace is. She also has no idea what a palm tree is, apparently, as she starts walking toward some local shrubbery. Oh dear.

At last, it's time for our good friend Jeff Probst to announce today's challenge. Winner gets to take fire back to camp, and also wins the all important immunity idol. Like so many challenges in recent years, this is a fairly convoluted event. Each tribe must run out through the water to pull a raft full of stairs back to shore. Then, these stairs must be pushed and tugged over a sand hill to the final point where they will be put in the proper position to create a staircase. At the top of these stairs is a final puzzle that kind of looks like a fishing rod. In the beginning both teams are even, but Jalapao breaks away as the stairway portion of the challenge begins. They have their last two people working on the fishing rod portion of the game, but they struggle a bit and allow Timbira to catch up. In fact, Erinn and Brendan work so well together, they calmly navigate the puzzle and take Timbira to victory. It's an impressive display of cool teamwork.

And so, of course, it's time to play "It's Anyone But Sandy." Oh, who are we kidding? The editors shouldn't even bother here. Just take us to Tribal Council and show us Jalapao voting her out.

Still, Carolina makes a strong case for herself by returning to camp and bossing all her teammates around. She advises them that perhaps they should clean things up, which Taj bluntly ridicules. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Spencer argues that Sandy did a fantastic job in the challenge and thinks that she has earned her spot on the tribe. Clearly, there is at least a tiny amount of discussion going around about whether Sandy or Carolina is more worthy of staying.

Either way, Sandy recognizes that she desperately needs to find that immunity idol. She's determined to figure out what a "pace" is (it's a delicious salsa!), but we're pretty sure she's impaired by her lack of palm tree knowledge.

But wait! Sandy didn't need that idol after all. We're blown away as Carolina is the first person voted off of Survivor: Tocantins. Apparently, her Immunity Challenge performance combined with Carolina's extreme bitchiness was enough to keep the bus driver but dump the bossy chick. We're impressed that this group was fairly open minded, and though we think Sandy probably isn't long for this game, she at least has been thrown a lifeline.

And the good news for Sandy is that since she's staying in Brazil, she has a little more time to figure out what a palm tree is.