“Survivor: Tocantins”: Episode 1: Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Vote Out …

We start by seeing the sites of Brazil: Soccer. Beaches. Shaking hips. That big Jesus statue. And 16 Survivor contestants riding in a truck for a long time.

The tribes have already been divided (Timbira, and something that sounds like “Jello-pow”), but no one has spoken to each other yet. Even so, they’ve reached some conclusions:

* Erinn loves Tyson. Tyson thinks Erinn could be a bitch.

* Stephen is happy to see Sandy — he knows he won’t be first to go, since his tribe has “the strung-out old lady.” She thinks he’s a geek she’ll be able to lead around.

* Sierra feels sick and is trying to hide it. Coach is onto her, and thinks she could crumble.

When the truck stops, the tribes have 60 seconds to grab as many supplies as they can. I’m thinking that anything still left on the truck — people included — after Probst counts down to zero should be out of the game. That doesn’t happen, but my wish to thin the herds almost comes true — Probst tells the players to vote for which person from their tribe won’t make the four-hour journey to camp.

Because the folks don’t quite know each other’s names, Jello-pow — no, wait, it’s Jalapao — votes for “Grammy,” “guy with glasses and peachy orange shirt” and “older lady,” and Timbira votes for “zebra-striped top,” “purple tank with the ruffle,” “blond girl with jeans and striped shirt,” “young lady, blond, with black and white blouse” and “Sierra.” Older Grammy Sandy is upset, and Zebra Sierra says she has strep throat and a fever of 102, but she thinks she could have contributed.
But Sandy and Sierra aren’t out of the game — they just get to fly to camp in a helicopter instead of walking to camp. Sandy is elated, but Probst says hey, you were a quick outcast, so if I were you, I wouldn’t be smiling — I’d be thinking about how to change my tribe’s opinion of me.

We get to know the players a little as they walk to camp:

* Spencer’s the youngest contestant ever

* Stephen thinks his anxious New Yorker personality may not connect with Southern boy JT

* Jerry tells the camera he knows how to give orders because of his Army background, but he’s trying to play it low-key (when asked how he keeps in shape, he gives a vague “I work out; I keep active”)

* Coach sees himself as a renaissance man/adventurer/leader/inspirer, and he tells the camera something about our viking/samurai/Native American ancestry. For an inspirer, he loses my interest pretty quickly. He tells Brendan he’d like to make this game a true survival of the fittest and get rid of the weakest players first.

Sandy and Sierra get to their respective camps, and they each find a note that says they can use this time alone to start setting up the camp, or to search for an idol that will save them at the first Tribal Council for their tribe (the “Jalapeno — I don’t know how to say it — tribe,” in Sandy’s case. It’s “Jello-pow,” Sandy. Just remember: Angry Jello). Sandy chooses to look for the idol because her tribe will probably vote against the “old woman” again, and Sierra decides to set up the camp, figuring that if she doesn’t redeem herself now, she’s in the doghouse forever.

When the Jalapao members arrive, Sandy hadn’t found the idol, and she hides the note in her boobs. She greets her tribe with open arms and wide eyes that make her face look like that of Alice from The Brady Bunch, and she avoids their questions of  “Why isn’t our house built?”

Timbira gets to their camp after dark, and Sierra has their shelter built. She tells the tribe that she understands why they voted against her, saying, “Yeah, I would have voted against me, too, ’cause I know I looked sick.” They’re impressed by the work she’s done, but Coach thinks the trek to camp was a bonding experience for the other seven tribemates, and that Sierra is still a weak link.

The next morning, when Jalapao is trying to build a shelter, Sandy goes to “use the restroom” and searches for the idol. She digs up a clue that tells her to go 10 paces. Problem is, she doesn’t know what a “pace” is, and her prayer to the “pace gods” doesn’t help. I truly believe Alice from The Brady Bunch would have had the same problem.

Over on Timbira, Tyson retrieves water in the buff, cracking up his tribemates. He tells the camera he’s “probably not the stereotypical Mormon” and that he’d use the million dollars to buy himself a man-tiara, if they make those.

For the immunity challenge, six members run over sand hills and into the river to get a raft of puzzle planks. The other two members use the planks to build a staircase, and after the tribe goes up the stairs, two members work through a table maze. After a close race in which Sierra screams like someone who does not have strep, Timbira wins.

Carolina tells the camera that with every failure there’s an opportunity for growth, so she gives the tribe suggestions on how to improve camp life. Taj tries to non-confrontationally tell Carolina she’s being a little whiny, and Carolina non-confrontationally agrees.

Spencer doesn’t really want to get rid of Sandy, and the other guys don’t like how bossy Carolina is. Meanwhile, Sandy returns to the beach to search for the idol, determined to “figure out what ’10 paces’ are.”

The discussion at Tribal Council centers on Sandy being old and Carolina being annoying. Carolina admits that she needs to check herself before she speaks so she doesn’t come across as whiny, but her admission doesn’t save her, and she’s voted out.

And I learn that, despite what her tribemates called her, her name is pronounced “Caroleena,” which screws up my implied rhyme in the title of this blog. Well, then. I guess nothing could be keener than to vote out Caroleena.

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS © 2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc.


  1. Hmmm, indeed. The CBS site says, “When one castaway reveals her true identity, her tribemates question her motives and secretly target her.” The only female castaway with a secret identity (that I know of) is Taj, whose group Sisters With Voices has sold millions of records — AND she’s the wife of former NFL star Eddie George, so if folks find either of these things out, they might hold it against her.

    Then again, the CBS site also says, “One of the most outspoken castaways shows his true colors during a demanding physical face-off with the opposing tribe.” Probably Tyson, right? He calls himself “witty, charming and arrogant” — so far, he’s just shown his tribemates the charming (and naked) side, so it’s only a matter of time before the arrogance oozes through his pores.

    Is one of these the Poison Apple? And how long will I have that ’80s song “Poison Arrow” stuck in my head? (“Shoot that poison apple through my hear-ar-ar-art.”) Thanks, Zhillbear junkie!

  2. Hmmm, I hear that next episode has been titled “The Poison Apple has to Go.” Could this refer to Sierra because suddenly everyone on her tribe is getting sick? Could it refer to bug-eyed Sandy who is just nutty enough to cause no end of problems? Could it be Coach, because enough with the philosophy already!? My bet is on Tyson who could be more trouble than Johnny Fairplay.

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