Survivor fans, watch for our quiz, How Well Do You Know: Survivor: Tocantins, to be published the morning after the series finale!
Survivor: Tocantins Recap
The Martyr Approach
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 14, 2009
Previously on Survivor, Eddie George made his first appearance. This happened when his wife, Taj, was given a choice to go to Exile Island, thereby allowing the other remaining contestants to visit with loved ones. The grandiose title of this episode was The Ultimate Sacrifice, a hugely misleading description. Had Taj been forced to choose between seeing her husband or the others getting to see their loved ones, that would be a potential display of selfless sacrifice. Instead, Taj got a much more secluded rendezvous with her husband. If that's a benevolent act, every person in the world on a romantic getaway this week is destined for Heaven.
Also, Deb was voted out. This was boring.
In terms of the remaining Survivor contenders, five remain. Coach, the laughing stock, has been edited to have almost no chance of winning. Erinn, his frenemy since the start, is in the same boat unless something surprising happens. We'll discuss the possibilities in this regard for Sunday's column, assuming she survives tonight's vote. Taj is the happy to be there player in our estimation, despite playing an excellent game. She made a strong alliance with first Stephen and later JT with the end result being that she became the tribe's mother hen instead of Deb. Even as she was being eliminated, Deb still didn't fully grasp that this was the case. We are of the opinion that Taj has been one of the best strategists this season; however, people now realize she needs another million dollars the same way that Aquaman needs swimming lessons.
This leaves two players to discuss, J.T. and Stephen. What we termed early on as a surprising bromance has evolved into the game's power couple a la Rob and Amber, albeit with (presumably) less kissing. Stephen is one of the best strategists in the show's history yet we are of the opinion that J.T. might be even better in this regard. The southern youth has gleefully relished his ability to betray any number of players without anyone suspecting him capable of such treachery. A genteel southern accident goes a long way in fostering trust from strangers, apparently.
Stating the obvious, the winner of Survivor this season is going to be either Stephen or J.T. The decision will be resolved by whether Stephen is punished by embittered, jealous voters or not. J.T.'s amiable personality makes him Mr. Congeniality, but it's possible he will be viewed as too simple-minded to deserve the title of Survivor champion. His subtle brand of treachery may prove too deft in the end. In that scenario, Stephen takes the grand prize. Otherwise, J.T.'s popularity wins the day. All of this changes the instant that the other three players grow proactive in targeting either of these two for elimination. WHY OH WHY WON'T THE THREE OF YOU WORK TOGETHER TO ELIMINATE THE GAME'S POWER DUO??? Please let this happen tonight. Otherwise, we're facing two hours of rather dull television on Sunday.
The show begins with the tribe arriving back at camp after Tribal Council, and Coach continues to prove to be one of the most deluded contestants ever to play the game. JT and Stephen inform him that Deb was the one gunning for him at Tribal Council and tell him she was the only person to write his name down. He is floored by this revelation, and a little bit touched. When he saw his name come up during Jeff's tally, Coach was convinced that he was leaving, mainly because he is the only worthy contestant remaining. He is pleased that JT and Stephen are playing the game with truth and honor. Honestly, the only reason he's still around is because he's the kind of person you don't mind propping up to the end. Also, he has no concept of how to play the game, really. It's a miracle he's lasted this long.
On another note, the move to eliminate Deb was probably a masterstroke by JT and Stephen. Not only do we already know that Deb respects what they did because she was playing the game hard herself, they now have Coach's vote secured because he feels indebted to them for keeping them around. Frankly, Stephen and JT have played this thing about as well as a two person alliance can. If they don't get cocky, they should really be able to run the table.
A brief discussion ensues about who will go to Exile Island next. Coach strongly suggests that he believes that one of the girls should go. Coach makes it very evident that he is scared to go to Exile Island, which is pretty funny considering what a great adventurer he is. He tells JT and Stephen that he worries his asthma and back problems will flare up at Exile. This only makes JT and Stephen all the more eager to send Coach to spend a few days by himself. They reason that they want him to become exhausted at Exile Island, which means he won't be able to win the Immunity Challenge. This is especially important since they intend to send him home at the next Tribal Council.
And with that, we have a Probst sighting! Today's Reward Challenge has contestants going through a maze while shackled at the ankles. Once through, they have to build a pole, which will then allow them to pull some sandbags toward them. They will aim these sandbags at a target and raise their flag. Honestly, there's not much to say about the challenge. JT is the domination. Coach tries to follow him and get caught up at the end, but JT is in great physical and mental shape. A lot of people really think Stephen is in control here, but we still maintain that JT sees the entire board of the game as it is happening. He has an uncanny understanding of what people are thinking at the time they are thinking it.
As a result, he doesn't back down from his earlier plan and he sends Coach to Exile Island. Coach informs the group that he will take the monastic approach, meaning he will not build a fire, will not eat, and that he will spend his time meditating. Erinn points out that what this really means is that he is taking the martyr approach, thereby diminishing other people's experiences on Exile and giving himself an excuse if he performs poorly at the Immunity Challenge. Coach admits that his body is failing him in a number of ways, but says he'll continue to give it his all. It's important to note that Erinn's caustic remarks toward Coach don't sit well with the rest of the tribe. JT thinks it was in poor taste for her to taunt him, but it seems doubtful that his plans are in any way affected. He elects, naturally, to take Stephen with him for the Reward Challenge. The Bromance continues!
With regards to how the competition stands between Stephen and JT for the final vote (we're just presuming they're the winners at this point), we think that JT's decision to send Coach to Exile Island means that Coach will behave like the child he is and vote for Stephen instead. We'll try to keep a running evaluation going of how the vote should split between the two power players until one of them is eliminated or wins.
Survivor shows us some conversation between Erinn and Taj and a bit of Coach's rumination over his time at Exile Island, but it's all very predictable and dull. Let's go instead to JT and Stephen, who take a private plane to a resort that looks absolutely lovely. The two luxuriate in a shower (separately, though there is some nice porn-style music to accompany the segment) and then have a big barbecue dinner. As Stephen explains it, the whole thing is a "meat festival". After the funky music, that's a pretty funny way to describe it. JT and Stephen do discuss some strategy, which centers around Erinn, who we know aggravated them with her "martyr" comment. We're pretty sure this is just editing to make people think that Coach still has a fighting chance.
"This guy is such a drama queen! He's so dramatic. Any 37-year-old man who thinks he's a dragon slayer belongs in a mental institution." --Taj, in regards to guess who
Probst reappears for the Immunity Challenge. Today's event has the contestants balancing on very small footholds and arm holds. It's all about who has the best balance and most determination. And naturally, we're set up for a JT/Coach showdown, which is particularly noteworthy since Coach hobbled to camp. In the end, Taj utilizes a bit of psychology to get into Coach's head, telling him to be careful and not hurt his back. He immediately starts to struggle and then he falls down from the balance area, giving JT immunity. He curls up in the fetal position, either in genuine pain or to elicit some sympathy. Some tribemates feel sorry for him, but others remain suspicious.
Of course, this means that it's time to play It's Anyone But Coach. JT and Stephen do tell Coach that they thought Erinn's comments at the Reward Challenge were uncalled for and unnecessary. It seems that JT is pissed enough that he's going to vote for Erinn. Stephen isn't totally certain whether he'll team with Taj and Erinn to vote Coach or with JT and Coach to vote Erinn, but we'll still lay odds that the plan already in place to send Coach home will be held up. JT and Stephen haven't gotten as far as they have by using bad strategy, after all.
Tribal Council is about what you'd expect, and there's not much need to go into it. Coach says a bunch of weird stuff, but only gets weirder as Jeff prepares the tribe for the vote. Coach announces that he has written A Poem, which he proceeds to recite for everyone. No, we are not going to transcribe it. Probst cannot think of a better way to go into the vote, which means that he can't think of a better way for Coach to be sent off, because he's about to be eliminated. As we have surmised would happen, Coach was voted out, and presumably sent to Arkham Asylum.
One interesting note: JT does in fact vote for Erinn, which should mean that he has moved back ahead in Coach's esteem with regard to jury vote. In his final comments, Coach correctly deduces that "evil wizard" Stephen was the one who cast the vote against him.
The preview for Sunday does indicate that we will have a Final Two rather than a Final Three. Will the girls be able to come between the Bromance Alliance? We're betting not.