“Survivor: Tocantins”: Episode 9: Exit The Dragon

The episode begins with a Joe-less tribe sitting around the campfire at night. The mood is quiet, or, as Coach puts it, there was “this funk that was permeating the camp.” So he tells ’em a story to show them “no matter how bad it gets in your life, there’s always something that’s gonna make it much worse.” (Note to self: If Coach writes a motivational book, don’t buy it.) He tells of the time he was dropped off by a military helicopter in the Amazon to go kayaking (by himself — National Geographic wanted to come, but he said, “No. The trip’s about me“), but was captured by 4-foot-tall indigenous people who tied him to a stake and took turns beating him with a club (Erinn looks interested in doing this herself), but he escaped and then paddled his kayak so hard that his hands started bleeding.

Everyone is silent after Coach tells his story. Was he exaggerating? Delusional? Lying for the heck of it? Finally, Brendan asks the most awesome question: How much did it cost to have a military helicopter drop him off? (The answer: nothing, because Coach pulled some strings. Of course he did.)

The next morning, after the tribe watches Coach doing warrior poses in the water, Sierra informs him that he looked hilarious. Ohhh … Sierra … no. Don’t. Poke. The jackass. Coach again tells the camera his dragon analogy, with Brendan being the head of the dragon, Coach being the Dragon Slayer, and Sierra’s comment making her “the bowel movements that come out of the dragon.” (Note to self: If Coach writes a book of analogies, consider buying it.)

Erinn and J.T. talk, and she says she likes his old Jalapao tribe better than her old Timbira tribe, and that she doesn’t have any alliances. J.T. tells the camera it’s good to know he can call on Erinn’s vote if he needs it. This encounter begins the episode’s recurring “Everyone hearts J.T.” theme.

The reward challenge is for a whitewater rafting trip and picnic. Coach looks excited when Probst mentions the rafting; the women look excited by the mention of brownies. The players are divided into teams of three — each team has a row of ceramic tiles, and players toss balls to try to break the other teams’ tiles. Early in the challenge, J.T asks why his black team is being targeted. Erinn replies that their team’s a little stacked, and J.T.’s teammate Brendan says, “We’re throwing underhand, breaking tiles — none of us have ever done this in our lives.” Coach raises his hand and says, “I have.”

I realize who Coach reminds me of — that Penelope character on Saturday Night Live, who plays with her hair, one-ups everyone, and is best friends with a tomato and Liza Minnelli.

Coach is becoming more Penelope by the moment — pretty soon we’ll hear, “I’m the best whitewater rafter in the world … I’m the mayor of Whitewater, Wisconsin … I discovered Wisconsin … I’m made of cheese …”

Turns out, the black team does win. They choose Stephen to go to Exile, and as he’s leaving, Coach says “Be the wizard” to him, and they bump fists. Way to hide an alliance.

J.T., Brendan and Debbie have a great time on their reward. Brendan asks J.T. if any Timbira members have approached him for an alliance, and J.T. says no, but he’ll entertain any ideas. Brendan becomes smitten with the awesomeness that is J.T., and he wants to take him to the Final 2.

On Exile, Stephen gets a new clue to the hidden immunity idols that have already been found, and reads a rhyme that contains the line “Look in the gap that you’ll find in the rear.” He manages to make a fire — an experience, he says, that was like giving birth to his first child. I assume he’s using a simile and not recalling when he actually gave birth.

Back at camp, Brendan doesn’t sleep because he’s too busy thinking about how to get J.T. to the finals. He talks with “Dragon Poop” Sierra, who agrees that it would be heartbreaking to vote against awesome J.T., and so the plan is for Brendan to activate his Exile alliance with Taj and Stephen to take out Coach and Tyson. So the Coach/Tyson twosome and Brendan are both pretending to vote out J.T. but are really trying to blindside the other. Taj (who, incidentally, says she loves J.T.) comments that Jalapao hasn’t had to figure out how to overcome being the minority in the merged tribe — Timbira’s too busy trying to take each other out.

For the immunity challenge, each player is attached to a rope that’s threaded through an obstacle course. J.T., Tyson and Brendan are the first three to finish the course and go to the next round, in which they do the same thing, only through a three-story course.

Tyson wins immunity, so now Brendan’s target has been narrowed down to Coach. Tyson talks with Taj, J.T., Debbie and Stephen about who’s voting against Brendan and who’s voting against Dragon Poop (they’re splitting their votes in case Brendan plays the hidden immunity idol).

Then Brendan talks with J.T. and Stephen about voting out Coach. J.T. says it’d be awesome, and he and Stephen think this may be their best chance to get rid of Coach.

At Tribal Council, Taj mentions Coach’s Amazon survival story, and when Probst looks shocked, Coach says he actually toned it down (I ain’t even going to allude to what was in the R-rated version), and he’s been through “five, six, seven, eight life-or-death situations” in his life. Probst asks “Really?” and Coach says yup — hurricane, shark, crocodile, murderous Amazon tribe … (he only listed four, so I’m assuming some others are: choking on a cheese sandwich, a game of Twister gone horribly wrong, and whacking his head on the medicine cabinet door when reaching for the hemorrhoid cream).

Probst asks each person who’s been to Exile if they have the hidden immunity idol. When he gets to Brendan, he raises his hand and announces, “I have it.”

But he doesn’t use it. And he should have. With four votes against him (three against Dragon Poop, and two against next week’s presumed Dragon Poop Slayer), Brendan’s voted out.