Pre-credit sequence. Debbie is gone. Will anybody notice? Coach is a little bit relieved, after seeing his name written down at Tribal Council. JT and Stephen cleverly lead Coach to believe, somewhat correctly, that Debbie had been orchestrating his demise and that they protected him. “I’m like the lamb led to the slaughterhouse,” Coach sighs, interpreting the action of the other players as a counter-attack to save Coach. “This is the first time in this game where I’m almost speechless. Almost.” Coach is grateful, but he’s also smart enough to realize that he’s no longer in control in the game and that his actual elimination could be coming at any moment.The clip ends with Coach seemingly crying on JT’s shoulder in gratitude, relief or general dementia.
[Full recap of Thursday (May 14) night’s “Survivor: Tocantins” after the break…]
Coach sandbags. It’s Day 34 at Forza and Coach is still singing the same old song. He knows he’s at Stephen and JT’s mercy, but the Dragonslayer can’t help but try to plead to pick the ladies off next. He’s worried about elimination, but more worried about who should get sent to Exile Sand Dune next. Coach doesn’t want to complain, but his new complaint is a scarred lung from the previous night’s came fire. Then, talking to the camera, it becomes asthma that’s keeping him down. And also his back. He first talks about the nobility of the game and then lobbies to the guys that Erinn or Taj should go to Exile Sand Dune instead of him. Stephen suspects that Coach is scared and that he may not be able to light a fire or cook food. “Such an adventurous soul as Coach shouldn’t really be scared of going to Exile,” JT chuckles.
JT sandbags. The Reward Challenge involves a running shackled through a Survivor-shaped maze and later knocking down targets with swinging sandbags. Want to know what they’re playing for? An overnight trip to The Governor’s Retreat, for a shower, a bed and a feast. Does that sound worth playing for? Yes, probably. I’m not sure what the point of the shackling is. I’d initially thought they were all shackled together, but no, it’s just like somebody tied their shoelaces together as a prank. Nobody’s falling down, which is a huge disappointment. JT gets out to a huge lead, with Coach drafting off of him. It hardly matters, as JT is unstoppable, winning Reward. JT’s first choice is to send Coach to Exile, urging him to be noble. Coach promises to take the monastic approach, not making a fire or eating. Erinn tears him to shreds, saying it’s the martyr approach, so that he has an excuse if he comes back weakened. After saying that Erinn is just tearing him down to raise herself up, Coach runs through a litany of his medical infirmities, ending with “I make no excuses.” Oh, Coach. JT only gets to take one person with him, that being his boy Stephen. JT’s amused that Erinn took the brunt of Coach’s ire at the exile. “People are so dumb in this game. They talk way too much.”
Girls’ time. Erinn and Taj are getting some alone time back at Forza, giggling about how nice and sunny a day it is, how sunny things will be for Coach. Taj is confident that her alliance with JT and Stephen is strong, so she isn’t sad about missing out on the reward. Erinn is feeling a moment of guilt at her tirade against Coach, but only a moment. She’s actually feeling bad that her words might cause Stephen and JT to view her negatively. She cops to growing paranoia. Is anybody else astounded that Erinn is still around? Talk about coasting magnificently.
Alone time. Accompanied by faux heroic music, Coach makes his way to Exile Sand Dune, carting his belongings like a Dragonslaying Sisyphus. He’s a rock. He unleashes an epic mission statement that I can’t transcribe quickly enough. He says he could stay in Exile for a week. He’s communing with nature, like the Native American warriors on spirit quests to become men. “Well, I’m already a man, but this will make me more of a man.” He asks the Gods to forgive Erinn and pushes towards Nirvana on his own. “Coach Wade’s body may be failing him,” Coach Wade tells Coach Wade, but Coach Wade also thinks Coach Wade’s mind is strong. Coach Wade stands atop the hill, arms propped up on a staff, like Jesus of Brazil.
Boys’ time. Things are far nicer for JT and Stephen, who are traveling via private plane to the fancy retreat, where they’re greeted by a team of servants and shown to a comfortable domicile where they’re treated to their first mirror in a month. Stephen is impressed by his beard, but disgusted by the state of his teeth. JT talks his way through a luxurious shower as Stephen sits outside hanging on his every word. Oh nice. Their dinner is churrascaria, or “a meat festival” as Stephen calls it. They toast each other as the Final Two, agreeing that Erinn should have kept her mouth shut.
Rickey Henderson and Coach Wade would get along well. Has Coach Wade found himself yet? Or are those birds in the sky hovering over Coach Wade’s decaying corpse? Coach Wade appears to be either dead or serene, relaxing by the waterside. “Yes, I’m walking slower. Yes my asthma is still at the forefront of things…” Coach Wade begins, repeating Coach Wade’s symptoms. But, “I do not feel tired. I do not feel hungry. I feel nothing but incredible mental focus on the task at hand,” Coach Wade says, quoting Marcus Aurelius and blowing a kiss to the Gods.
The Young Buck and the Old Warrior. It’s time for Immunity and Coach returns, marching from the horizon, staff in hand. It’s hilarious. “Any 37-year-old man who things he’s a Dragonslayer belongs in a mental institution,” Taj cracks, as Coach calls his time in Exile the best of his life. It’s an endurance task, requiring contestants to hover between boards, held up only by pegs. Jeff Probst says it’s all about mental toughness, asks Coach if his time meditating in Exile Sand Dune might have been a perfect preparation. Coach gives another speech, as Taj crosses her eyes and Erinn grins. Erinn slips first, followed by Stephen and then Taj. “The Listener and the Talker, the Young Buck and the Older Warrior,” Jeff says, looking at JT and Stephen. JT says he’d step down for a steak. Wait. How much meat did he get on his Reward trip? Coach, though, is having one of those battles-of-the-best he’s been hoping for. JT is showing no discomfort, but Coach lets out a roar of pain, as he steps down, leaving individual Immunity for JT. Coach curls into a ball in martyred agony. Even Jeff can’t mock him, though he asks if he wants medical to look at his spasming back. Coach declines.
A tribe divided. Storm clouds are billowing in Forza, followed by a hard rain, which pelts the Reanimated Corpse of Coach, who promises that he’d have let JT have his steak and beer, if they’d been available. Erinn and Taj, though, aren’t buying it, aren’t giving Coach their sympathies. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the other,” Coach says of the Immunity show-down, though he also admits that his bravado is a way of reasserting his manliness. JT is sure he’s keeping his word to Coach and voting Erinn out, but Stephen isn’t so convinced. “I’m done with the surprises at Tribal, man,” Coach says, expressing his confidence in the Warrior Alliance. After all, they named it. He vows to be the last member of Timbira standing.
Tribal Council. Jeff forces Erinn to relive her tirade against Coach, though she acknowledges that she was also being a drama queen, trying to play up the difficulty of her own time at Exile. Coach says his past experiences made Exile easier for him. Wow. Coach’s speech about men dropping a pebble and women seeing a boulder is impressively chauvinistic. Erinn says somebody will be surprised tonight. Coach, though, says that nothing that happens will be a surprise. But wait… There’s more. Coach has a poem! It begins “With friend and foe we march to the battle plane…” From there, I tune him out, as does the jury, which takes a well-deserved nap.
The Vote. Erinn votes for Coach. Taj votes for Coach. Coach votes for Erinn and actually praises her as the cat with nine lives. Does that mean that the entire vote swings on Stephen? Interesting. Jeff reads the votes in predictable order so that it’s 2-2. The deciding vote eliminates… COACH! Sierra does a happy dance. Erinn smirks. Stephen runs his fingers through his beard. Coach takes the slow walk down the steps and out of the game. In his post-interview, Coach recognizes that it was Stephen who betrayed him, dubbing him the Evil Wizard. Ouch.
So? Now that Coach is gone, are you glad to see him leave or will the finale be duller with him gone?