“Survivor: Tocantins”: Episode 12: The Ultimate Sacrifice

[First off, as a Milwaukee-area resident, I’m obligated, if not compelled by mayoral proclamation, to wish you a Happy Danny Gokey Day. Today’s his American Idol homecoming, and I’d thought about going to his appearance at the FOX 6 Studios that I pass on my way to work, but I didn’t make it. I did, however, take several pictures of the coverage on my TV this morning, and snapped two blind drive-by pictures through my car window as I passed the station, so I feel like I participated. We now rejoin my Survivor recap, already in progress …]

… and says they should be cut off at the kneecaps and run through with a sword for their “cowardly” votes against Stephen and Debbie. Coach tells Debbie that he wants the Warrior Alliance to attack Taj and Erinn — after all, there’s a reason the alliance has a name — and he poetically comments to the camera, “Cowards, cowards, cowards all around me.”

Debbie, who advises Coach to just let it go, sees that it’s not good for her to be aligned with him, and decides to step up her game. She tells J.T. that she’s been second-guessing about Coach a lot, which gets J.T. and Stephen wondering if Debbie’s a sweet, chatty, dangerous loose cannon.

Instead of a reward challenge, there’s the Survivor auction. The ground rules: Everyone is given $500, there’s no sharing of money or food, and bidding is in $20 increments. The highlights of the auction were: Debbie not grasping the “$20 increment” rule (Taj bids $40; Debbie bids $50 … sorry, $70 … sorry, “whatever — I want to go up one time”); Stephen bidding on a covered item that ends up being chicken hearts (Erinn lets out a yell, but Stephen digs in and gamely says, “I’m loving it — I’m feeling my own heart increasing in volume”); and the last item, a video phone message from home.

For the video message, the players are allowed to pool money, and because Taj is away from her young son, the others give her their money (although, now that I think about it, weren’t Taj and Erinn the only ones who still had all their money?), and she doesn’t have to bid against anyone. She watches husband Eddie George tell her not to worry about things at home, and he says at the end, “See you back at the camp.” This line doesn’t register with Taj at first, but then it does, and she excitedly rips Probst’s left arm off.

Probst then gets a little evil, saying that Taj can either have her husband visit their camp, or she can make a sacrifice and let the others’ loved ones come to the camp instead. Luckily, the sacrifice is for her to meet her husband at Exile, and when she agrees to it, epic music swells and everyone gets all huggy and weepy. Me, too, ‘cept I’m watching this alone, so it’s just the weepy part.

Taj and Eddie meet at Exile, where Eddie’s turned on by how great she looks, and Taj says, “I just wanted to take him to the side and have a conjugal visit.” Meanwhile, back at camp, J.T. hangs with his little sister, Debbie reunites with her husband, Stephen is told by his brother “Don’t eat me,” Erinn tells her dad “I’ve definitely changed a lot — I’m so bad-ass,” and Coach tells his assistant coach (!) “Guess what they call me in this game? The dragon slayer.” Oh, and that stuff Coach and his assistant coach are doing together? Just stretching and back-cracking — “we’re not doing weird sexual positions,” Coach feels compelled to clarify.

Aaaand back to the game. Coach would like to vote out Taj next, afraid she might play the hidden immunity idol. J.T. seems to agree but tells the camera he’s just telling Coach what he wants to hear. Meanwhile, Debbie’s angling to vote out Coach, even going so far as to tell J.T. and Stephen that if they take her to the Final 3 and she wins immunity, she’ll hand immunity over to one of them — she’s swears she’s OK with finishing third behind the two of them.

But rather than this being an offer J.T. and Stephen can’t refuse, it makes them more cautious of Debbie — what else might she be promising people? They discuss with this Erinn, who concludes, “Yup. She goes. Do not let her win immunity.”

The immunity challenge is an obstacle course ending with 10 spinning math symbols whose order has to be memorized to solve an equation. This looks good for the anti-Debbie folks, seeing as she sucked at math at the auction. Whereas others have to go through the course twice because they can’t keep all the math symbols in their head, Stephen takes the slow, steady (and physically uncoordinated) approach, studying the symbols for quite some time, using a good system of memorizing them, and, utterly surprising himself, winning immunity.

At Tribal Council, there’s more talk of Coach’s “honesty” and warriorness. Coach says he didn’t come up with the “Warrior” label himself, and Probst gets a dig in with “Let me guess — some chief in a small village …” I was hoping Coach would use the opportunity to tell an outlandish tale, but sadly, he did not.

Although J.T. and Stephen debated voting out Coach, they get rid of Debbie instead. Coach does not look happy. Will he congratulate J.T. and Stephen on another bold move, or will he finally understand that his Warrior Alliance is just an excellent name and nothing more?