Survivor: Tocantins Recap
One of Those Coach Moments
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 2, 2009

If they knew she could wink like that, I bet they would have kept her!

Previously on Survivor: we got a two-week break thanks to March Madness. It was awesome. Also, a bunch of people we don't like went to an isolated location and tried to live by only their wits. We can't really be bothered to remember who any of them are except for Eddie George's wife. *sigh* Back to the grind. At least some sort of country music awards show is pre-empting Amazing Race on Sunday.

Okay, so the scenes from the previous show remind us that a couple of people have hidden Immunity Idols and also that there is a super-secret cross-tribe alliance. So there is plotting and scheming afoot. Some of that scheming includes Joe & Sydney from Jalapao Tribe. They're discussing who would be next to go home, and basically it comes down to Joe saying, "You're pretty hot. You can stay." Sydney thinks this is quite fine.

The next segment - at Timbira - is the longest, most involved discussion of beans we have ever heard. It's like Blazing Saddles, but without the payoff. We won't bore you with the details (seriously, this is a discussion about beans), but let's just say that Coach wanted them cooked longer than everyone else and burned them in the process. This doesn't sit well with Sierra, who just wanted to enjoy a nice bean meal. Coach is not ingratiating himself to Timbira at all, which ordinarily would just mean they have good judgment. He's going beyond annoying when he causes food to be inedible, though.

Of course, Brendan, one of the players in the super secret merge alliance, notes that Coach is irritating and in it only for Coach, but also says that he is predictable, which plays right into his own plans. This is a pretty astute observation, actually. Brendan is a smart player so far, but we've seen similarly strong strategists get blindsided when they make the wrong chess play.

For some reason, Eddie George's wife decides that she wants to tell JT (note: not a person in her super-secret post-merge alliance) that she has the Immunity Idol. When she shares this information with Stephen (note: a person in her super-secret post-merge alliance), he looks perplexed and wonders aloud if she really believes that's such a great idea. She seems to think that JT is somewhat on her side already, and if she can rope him in by showing him she trusts him, she won't receive votes at the next Tribal Council. She has no intention of carrying the alliance past the merge, but will use the hell out of him to get there. Stephen is probably right to be skeptical of this idea's practicality, though. JT is likely as not to try to force the idol to be played. Eddie George's wife might be guilty of trying to play too many pieces on her game board.

Probst time! We've missed you, Jeff! Actually, we haven't even thought of you as we reveled in the joy of basketball. But that's okay. It's time for a reward challenge. Each tribe will have a limited amount of time to build a barricade. Once this is done, the teams will try to toss ceramic pigs through the barricade built by the opposing tribe. The first team with xx pigs tossed through the barricade wins a trip to a lovely waterfall, where they'll be served the perfect All-American picnic, including burgers, drinks, and other delicious treats.

Timbira breaks out to an early lead with five piggies. Is that the one that went to market, or the one that cried wee wee wee all the way home? We're not sure. JT's of Jalapao starts to adapt to the challenge, though, and they're soon tied, especially since Tyson begins to struggle a bit. However, JT's efforts are for naught. It's an exciting match, but Timbira pulls it off. This means that they get to choose a member of Jalapao to send to Exile Island. Since the super-secret post-merge alliance is already solidly in place, Brendan selects Joe. When Probst asks Joe which member of Timbira he wants to take with him, he chooses Erinn, for "strategy" reasons. We're pretty sure his "strategy" of wanting to hang out with her is the same as his "strategy" for wanting to keep Sydney around on Jalapao. He thinks they're hot.

We get to see some nice moments as Team Timbira gets to enjoy their reward. They totally dive into the food (so much so that they'll probably feel sick later) and have a generally wonderful time together. Even Coach says that (since Erinn is on Exile Island), these are exactly the people he would have wanted to share this experience with. None of his tribemates reciprocate his sentiment, of course.

With Joe and Erinn at Exile Island, we might have the makings of a second super-secret post-merge alliance! If there are enough of these before the merge, we won't be able to keep up with all the permutations. It's like Clue with the multiple endings!

Since they're starting at the very beginning, just like Taj and Brendan way back in the day, Joe and Erinn are each told to choose an urn. Only one urn contains a clue about the hidden Immunity Idol, and Erinn is the recipient. She quickly susses out that the idol is back at camp, and that there is probably more than one. Ultimately, she decides to share this information with Joe, whom she deems trustworthy. We think that in her case, "trustworthy" actually means "trustworthy", rather than cute.

We wonder about the hidden Immunity Idol here. If Joe and Erinn learn that both of them have been discovered, there's a chance that they might uncover the original super-secret post-merge alliance. They'd almost have to know that Brendan and Eddie George's wife have been working together.

But wait. Eddie George's wife and Stephen are back at Jalapao, and they discuss the possibility of creating a fake hidden Immunity Idol and putting it in the secret hiding place. If they can make one as convincing as the Creations By Bob in Survivor's previous season, this is a pretty sound strategy. It really is fascinating how Eddie George's wife and Brendan do seem to be thinking a good ways ahead. If their super-secret post-merge alliance does make it to the merge, they're going to be truly formidable.

Lo and behold, Taj's false idol does look pretty good...not as good as Bob's, but still okay. Of course, she goes and hides the real idol in a bag, and JT immediately discovers it. Whoops. JT goes to Stephen and asks him about it, and he is flummoxed. So...

Remember back when Stephen thought it was a bad idea to tell JT about the hidden Immunity Idol? Yeah, that's come right back to bite him in the ass. He goes to Eddie George's wife and tells her that yes, he thinks they should share the news with JT. Of course, it all might be too little, too late. JT seems pretty savvy and is also good at hiding his brains behind his Southern accent. He's definitely going to complicate matters for Taj, Stephen, Brendan and Sierra (even if he doesn't know he's changing the game for two members of Timbira).

Oh, wait. Did we say that we thought JT seemed savvy? Strike that. He claims that he thinks Taj trusts him and believes that she will honor a promise to give him the idol if he is in danger of being voted out. So now, by our count, Taj is in an alliance with Stephen (semi-secret), JT (semi-secret), Brendan (super-secret) and Sierra (super-secret). It's enough to give both of us migraines.

Also of concern is the fact that JT doesn't catch the fact that Taj says, "We're together to the merge!" Stephen quickly corrects her, saying, "To the merge? We're together to the end!" It's not even very subtle, but JT is so happy to have some good buddies that he misses the implication. Okay, he's so pretty. Kim will play female Joe for a moment.

Speaking of pretty, here's Jeff Probst! Today's Immunity Challenge is a combination slingshot competition and puzzle-solving contest. Each team must destroy three tiles in succession in order to have bags of puzzle pieces be released. Basically, JT and Tyson are the lone slingshot dudes, even though the rules allow the teams to swap players out. It's a close competition until JT manages to hit a tile in just such a way that he leaves himself with a tiny target. This allows Tyson to pass him up, and Timbira breaks away pretty easily. Hmmm. Is it possible that Eddie George's wife's promise to give JT the idol could be tested as soon as tonight's Tribal Council? That would be something.

It's possible, but if we look at things realistically, smart money has to be on Sydney. Jalapao is down to five players, and if JT, Taj and Stephen are in a true alliance, Sydney is the next logical choice. Of course, the alarming infection on Joe's leg might cause the tribe to vote him out due to fears about his health, but that seems pretty unlikely.

Joe is completely lacking in subtlety as he says he's going to go off for a walk, and he quickly discovers the fake hidden Immunity Idol. People just never seem to learn.

Despite the fact that Joe and Sydney seem to think that Taj is the one to vote out, JT and Stephen are all about sticking with Taj...until the budding bromance crew realizes that Stephen actually has the Immunity Idol and it would be safe to vote her out. We're sure this is just editing for suspense, but the two friends do have a point. Get rid of Taj and they have an idol all to themselves. Also, that gets rid of the awkward third wheel.

And, our suspicions that it's the editing trying to mislead us are absolutely correct. Even though JT appears to waffle some, there was really no doubting that he'd stick with Taj if Stephen had anything to say about it. There's no reason for Stephen to burn bridges with his super-secret post-merge alliance, and since he has some sway over JT, he's able to convince him to vote for Sydney. Poor Joe. He's quickly running out of pretty girls to "strategize" with.