“Survivor: Tocantins”: Episode 7: One Of Those “Coach Moments”

Yeah, I was lazy and never wrote up a recap of last week’s recap episode. Relying on my memory and sketchy notes, the high points were: Tyson and Stephen each identified Coach as being Steven Seagal-ian; Timbira found a fruit that tastes like foot; Sydney’s fire-making abilities led Stephen to remark that she’s both a woodland goddess and a big threat to him; Tyson said that when he gets home, he’ll probably be disowned by his fellow Mormons so he’ll have to move “somewhere less Mormony”; Coach was condescending to Sierra (wait — I think I have that in this week’s sketchy notes, too); Stephen comforted Taj because she felt ugly due to scores of bug bites; Coach and Tyson said they won’t vote for each other; J.T. and Stephen promised each other Final 2; and Brendan and Stephen bonded on Exile because, Stephen said, they spooned “quite a bit.”

Now for last night’s episode … Sydney’s nervous that she might be the next one voted out, but Joe (who, he confesses, has “a little thing for Syd”) assures her that the tribe would vote out Taj instead, and that Sydney will survive until the merge.

Timbira, meanwhile, is cooking beans. Coach has a delicate palate and likes his beans softer, so he wants them to cook longer. He adds river water to them, which means they have to boil for six minutes, but when a nasty storm hits, Coach takes shelter and doesn’t stay out to tend to his precious beans. Half of the beans ended up burning to the bottom of the pot, and the other half tasted like charcoal. Coach tells the camera that he was merely a victim of circumstance, that the bean burning was just the result of a bad combination — “no need to blame anyone.” Coach offers his tribemates a horrible apology, saying, “I’ll take full responsibility — I don’t care. … Forgive me, all of you, especially you, Sierra, who seems to have the most angst about it.”

Brendan calls Coach’s selfish behavior another one of those “Coach moments” (complete with air quotes). Seeing as CBS used this phrase as the title of the episode, you can tell this is the most interesting part of the show.

Taj knows that she might be in danger of being voted out, and she plans to forge a bond with J.T. by telling him she has the hidden immunity idol. Stephen thinks that doing so may lessen his importance to J.T., so he advises her against it, saying it may make J.T. wary of her.

At the reward challenge, the tribes have five minutes to build a barricade inside the other tribe’s frame, and then they have 10 minutes to toss as many ceramic pigs as they can to each other, including through the barricade the other tribe built. The game results in lots of shattered pig pieces and a Timbira last-second win. They choose to send Joe to Exile, and Joe picks Erinn to accompany him — he tells the camera it was a strategic move to take someone who could flip to the Jalapao side after the merge, since she’s an attractive woman whom he can charm with his Joe charm.

Timbira is rewarded for their win by a trip to a waterfall and a feast of watermelon, chips and hamburgers. Coach says he kind of feels bad that Erinn’s not there to enjoy it, but then undermines his professed sympathy by saying she’s lucky to still be in the game.

On Exile, Erinn’s urn has the clues to the idol, and her butt gets a blur. She and Joe do bond a little, and she decides to show him the clues that say the hidden immunity idol is hidden in each camp’s tree mail statue, and they think it would be neat if they both found their tribe’s idol.

Meanwhile, Stephen and Taj decide to make a fake idol and put it in the tree mail statue. After doing so, Taj puts the real idol in a bag, and J.T. discovers it when he’s looking for a bag to take with him for fishing. He talks with Stephen, who tells him that Taj had told him about having the idol but lets him believe that Taj had just found it, and doesn’t tell him about the Super-Secret Alliance he has with Taj, Brendan and Sierra. Taj, not knowing that he already knows, tells J.T. that she has the idol, and that he or Stephen can use it if they need to.

The immunity challenge involves using a slingshot to break tiles and release bags of puzzle pieces. Tyson and J.T. shoot for their respective tribes — they could let someone else shoot, but they don’t. After Tyson has broken all three of Timbira’s tiles, Joe asks J.T. if he wants to keep shooting, and Tyson offers, “I’ll come over and do it, if you want.” J.T. does eventually break his third tile, but Timbira wins immunity, which we already figured, because besides the bean debacle, we really haven’t seen any drama on their tribe during the episode.

Joe has an infected leg or something. I’m not paying attention — there’s some bloody flesh onscreen. Still, he sprints pretty ably when he “goes to get water” and ends up at the tree mail statue, where he finds the fake idol Taj had made.

J.T. and Stephen want to keep Taj (and their alliance with Taj and her hidden immunity idol), so they try to convince Joe that the relationships she made with Brendan and Sierra on Exile could be helpful after the merge. Joe says he can’t get onboard with the plan to keep Taj, and he tells the camera that he might hand over his (fake) idol to Sydney. But then, Stephen and J.T. discuss the fact that Stephen actually has possession of the (real) idol, so they could get rid of Taj and keep the idol for themselves.

At Tribal Council, it’s discussed that Taj’s selling point is that she’s formed useful relationships with Brendan and Sierra, and Sydney’s selling point is that she’s loyal to Jalapao because she hasn’t formed such relationships. We see lots of shots of Taj wincing as the votes are being cast (like she’s got bad gas, or maybe a guy off-camera is shining a bright light in her eyes to increase the dramatic expressions), but Taj survives, as Sydney is the one voted out.

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS © 2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved