Survivor: Tocantins
You're Going to Want That Tooth
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
March 13, 2009

Only one Survivor winner per relationship allowed.

Previously on Survivor: Brendan found a hidden Immunity Idol. Taj informed Sierra that they were in an alliance so secret, Sierra didn't even know it yet. Finally, the chick who should have been voted off at the beginning of the show, Sandy, finally got the boot. We'll miss her the same way people miss syphilis.

Speaking of raging communicable diseases, this week's episode starts with Stephen scratching Taj's itchy welts. He remarks, "I've never brought this much pleasure to a woman before." We suspect that Stephen is just thinking about ways that he can bump her off so that he can have Eddie George all to himself.

After the itching session ends, Taj and Stephen go hover around a giant phallic symbol where they believe the Immunity Idol to be hidden. Sure enough, Taj puts her hands under the skirt and coaxes out its buried treasure. The potential for sandbags and surprises after the merge are countless at this point. We've got the completely unknown hidden alliance of four, and we've also got two people in each tribe that have a hidden immunity idol in play. Finally, if the group of four does make it past the merge, they're going to have to turn on each other at some point. The possibilities of duplicity are endless at this point.

The other important aspect here is that Stephen is the one with pockets; therefore, he is the one who exits the area in possession of the idol. Right now, it may not seem like much, but down the road, Taj is going to regret that "possession is 9/10 of the law" maxim. Meanwhile, the further good news for Stephen is that he finally has something in his pocket to show JT that the guy might actually want to see.

Over at Timbira, Sierra politely asks Debra and the gang if they need any help with daily chores. As Debra and three others walk away, they indicate that they're good. Without even pausing for another breath, Sierra turns to Brendan, who is building the fire, and accusingly states, "Dude! You didn't say anything!" Her main concern is to make sure that Brendan was not intentionally shutting her out, and once he assures her this is not the case, they begin to strategize about the long term benefits of their union. We cannot help but notice that while they celebrate their post-merge success, it's clear that the other four members of the tribe have formed a tight bond. Everyone who's certain to make it to the merge, raise your hand. Not so fast, Sierra.

Hello, Probst-y! For today's Reward Challenge, there will be several rounds where players will sit on a disc, while a player from the other team spins them around and around. After the spinning is finished, the disc-sitting player must get up and make their way across a balance beam. First player at the end wins the round, and the first team to win three rounds wins the reward. And what are they playing for? A trip to the Charmin Cafe. That's right. The Charmin Cafe. We know that players will have the chance to enjoy some food, but we can't get past the fact that the big reward is sponsored by toilet paper. And Jeff does in fact make a point to note that there will be a lovely toilet complete with the sponsor's product.

Essentially, what it comes down to is the fact that it is much easier to spin the women around rapidly, so they're consistently dizzier than the men they're racing against. The only time a female wins is when the ladies are going up against each other. In the end, it's Jalapao that wins reward. They choose to send Brendan from the opposing team to Exile Island (again), while he chooses secret ally Stephen to go with him. Taj hides behind other people as if to show she doesn't want to go back to Exile this time, and her Jalapao teammates seem to respect Brendan for choosing someone different.

There may be a downside to Brendan's actions, though. The editing makes it appear as though players like Tyson and Coach may have suspicions about the connections he has made on Exile Island, which means they're necessarily going to see him as an increased threat. We're not sure Coach is truly that savvy, however.

When Jalapao goes to Charmin Cafe to receive their reward, there are sweets everywhere. The nicest and most exciting surprise, though, is that there are letters from home for each of them. They all share some tears, but in the midst of their celebrating, Joe mentions that Taj is in a dangerous position on their team. She's been gone at Exile Island so much that she hasn't had a chance to strategize with them and create a tighter bond. He sees her as a bit of an outsider on their team. Once again, we have concerns about the secret alliance thinking too long-term. You have to get to the merge in order to have your group make it further.

When we return to Timbira, we learn that it wasn't just the editing trying to make us believe that Tyson and Coach are a touch suspicious of Brendan. As Debra wonders aloud why Brendan chose Stephan to go to Exile Island with him, Tyson tells the tribe that he thinks that Brendan is trying to forge some relationships and that perhaps he should be next to go. Coach seems to be onboard with the plan, but Erinn reminds us that she hates Coach. Just like everyone else hates Coach. The difference is that she's in a position to do something about it.

We visit Brendan and Stephen at Exile Island for a few minutes, and Stephen informs Brendan that he and Taj did in fact find the Immunity Idol. He also notes in a brief confessional to the camera that while he does like the idea of the two-tribe alliance as a blindside for the future, he doesn't have a lot of reason to trust Brendan at this point. He's known the guy for all of five minutes, after all. Stephen isn't going to disregard the possibility of teaming up with Taj, Brendan and Sierra, but he also is going to continue to work the alliances he already has (read: JT).

We learned in a news story earlier this week that cutie-pie (that's from Kim) Spencer is dating Survivor China winner Todd. This surprised us, because we hadn't recalled Spencer ever saying he was gay. And as he has a conversation with Sydney about cute girls on the island, we become a little more confused because if he's gay, why would he be talking about the hot chicks? Spencer answers this question for us as he reveals that he has chosen not to tell any of his fellow cast members that he is gay, as he doesn't see that he has anything to gain by doing so. In fact, he even seems to believe he might have something to lose, which is a little surprising, given that Survivor has historically shown that most people on the show have pretty open minds. Hell, even ol' Rudy had an alliance with Richard Hatch, and Rudy was probably about as severe as it gets when it comes to homophobia.

Spencer does go so far as to reveal the person who he is most concerned about. He seems to think that JT would be a huge threat to him if Spencer's homosexuality were revealed. This seems a little odd, given the bromance that has been taking place between JT and Stephen. Perhaps there's some context there that we're missing.

Probst Returns! And today's game has teams playing a game where they will launch a ball out over the water for their teammates to catch. Opposing players can block net holders from making any catches. JT makes some amazing, acrobatic catches to put Jalapao ahead 2-0. Then, Brendan shows some skills of his own to snag two of his own and tie the match. As Taj wears down and she battles with Brendan, JT makes another skillful catch, but there is a cost. The ball hits him in the mouth and he loses a tooth. He throws it in the water, but Probst says, "Let's find that tooth. You're gonna want that tooth." JT properly points out that it's just half a tooth. Kim can speak as someone who has had a tooth break in the past. You don't need the half that breaks off. It's just going to need a crown and possibly a root canal anyway.

The tooth loss doesn't impair JT any, because he gets yet another ball, but Tyson keeps Timbira alive by catching a ball in the next round, and then ties the game. This means that whichever team scores next wins immunity. And it's Tyson who catches the ball, which thoroughly pisses JT off. Spencer barely guarded Tyson, and in fact his effort looks quite wimpy. Instead of winning immunity, JT is handed his lost tooth. Going into the break, JT says that Spencer has to go.

Back at Jalapao camp, Taj is pissed. She's angry that they lost and she shows some hostility to Joe, whom she also voted for in the previous Tribal Council. After her outburst, Spencer approaches JT, Stephen and Joe and tries to plead his case, but it all seems extremely half-hearted and unconvincing. Basically, we know that JT lost a tooth in his efforts to secure a win for his team. Spencer...well, Spencer stood around a lot. Given that JT has a leadership role in the tribe, Spencer seems to be in serious trouble.

Of course, Survivor tries to throw a curve ball in the mix by showing Stephen display some serious " preciousssss" behavior as he turns into Gollum over the Immunity Idol. He starts pondering how he could better his position by voting out Taj and keeping the idol for his own use in the future. Given that we're awfully close to the point that a merge could actually happen, this would be extremely poor strategy. Brendan and Sierra would immediately see him as an enemy and might even potentially out him as a traitor to the cause to the rest of the group. Since he's not in any danger of being voted out tonight, he needs to do what he can to insure that Spencer - a player with usually solid social skills - goes home.

The big discussion at Tribal Council does not involve the vote. Joe makes sure to accuse Taj of having the Immunity Idol and claims she's being duplicitous about it. For her part, Taj point blank says she doesn't have it, which is technically true. Still, Joe either seems to have a really good read on the situation or he just doesn't like her, because he is not trusting her a bit at this point.

None of that matters much, though, because Spencer had a terrible performance in a challenge where Spencer lost a tooth. Spencer votes for Taj, but everyone else votes for him. He seemed to be playing a solid game up until this week, but all of a sudden, he's out. Assuming there's a merge at ten players, the four people in the Exile Island alliance only need to dodge one more bullet before they take complete control of the game.