Pre-credit sequence. We’re down to the Final Six, as they return to Forza camp. JT is glad that the drama is gone, or at least the drama in cute little Sierra form. Little does he know that Coach is outraged that Erinn and Taj voted randomly at Tribal Council. He’s ready to bring the Warrior Alliance, the alliance that stabbed Tyson in the back, back into play, reiterating, “There’s a reason why we have a name.” Coach is really hung up on naming things, isn’t he? But I guess that’s to be expected from a middle-aged man named “Coach.” He’s proud of his honesty and his boldness, but Debbie notes, “It is so old.” As she goes and vents Coach’s disapproval to her comrades, Coach continues his slide into Shakespearean excess, slouching in a chair, muttering, “Cowards, cowards, cowards all around me.” Given the opportunity, I suspect he would exchange his kingdom for a horse.
[Is this Coach’s last stand? Recap after the break…]
Debbie versus The Downer. It’s Day 31 in Forza. “Lately, it’s been not a positive thing for me,” Debbie says of her relationship with Coach, who she dubs a “downer.” Apparently Coach hasn’t even been pulling his weight around camp lately. As Coach snoozes in the shelter, Debbie approaches Taj and JT and carps about her supposed buddy. Debbie’s volatility is a concern to Stephen and JT, who mimic the Debster until she comes over and pinky-swears that she’s only allied with them. Stephen, who thinks Debbie has a lot going on under her persona, is worried.
Will somebody get naked for chocolate and peanut butter? Oooh. It’s time for the Survivor Auction, always a favorite part of the season. Up first is a big bowl of fries, which prompts a bidding war between Taj and Debbie, won by Debbie. Chicken Parm plus a glass of red wine gets a huge bid from JT, only to be undercut by Coach. A covered platter goes to JT and turns out to be nachos. Another covered item goes to Stephen, who receives a skewer of chicken hearts. “I’m feeling my own heart increasing in volume,” says Stephen, noshing on the organs. The last item is a product plug, a phone with video messages from home. Without hesitation, everybody hands their money to Taj, bawling and grateful. Look, it’s Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George reassuring Taj that all is well at home. The last line of the message, initially inaudible over Taj’s caterwauling, is “See you back at the camp.” Jeff Probst explains the rules: If Taj makes a sacrifice and sends herself and Eddie to Exile Sand Dune, then everybody else will get a loved one back at camp. She doesn’t hesitate. “A romantic night at the Dunes,” Stephen says. Thanks, Samsung!
Sandy conjugal. There are love-birds in Exile Sand Dune, both avian and human, as Taj rushes to green Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. “I just wanted to take him to the side and have a conjugal visit,” Taj says. “She doesn’t look withered or worn down. She’s dirty. She smells filthy,” Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George says, before admitting it’s a turn-on. I really hope nothing icky happend. Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George says that snakes, scorpions and spiders are scarier than the Steelers’ defense. “I have a new-found respect for her, doing this,” Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George says, before massaging Taj’s feet and giving her a pep talk. “He’s my fire,” the invigorated Taj enthuses.
His loved on is his assistant coach. Back at camp, everybody happily greets their loved ones. Stephen’s got his brother, praising the quality of the hug. JT’s little sister gets to try on the Immunity necklace. Erinn’s father is impressed to see her less girlie. Coach tells his assistant coach that everybody in the game calls him Dragonslayer. If by “Everybody,” Coach means, “Coach,” then he’s correct. Coach and Assistant Coach crack each other’s backs. It’s very sweet. I’ll just backtrack here, in case you didn’t get it. Everybody is greated by a spouse or blood relation, but Coach is over-the-moon at being reunited with his Assistant Coach. Stephen’s brother is reassuring him that he’s doing great, but he’s just making Stephen cry. Hearing about how much the cows are missing him makes JT cry. Debbie’s husband’s mustache makes her cry. Nothing makes Erinn cry, because, as she says, “I’m a total badass.” She’s relieved that she can talk to somebody without worrying they may stab her in the back. After much lachrymosity, everybody goes home. Even Erinn finally cries at the final departure.
Did I miss anything? After some technological problems, I return to find Debbie plotting to convince Coach that Taj is out next, but to send him packing instead. She says Erinn and Taj have to go out after Coach, leaving Debbie, JT and Stephen in the Final Three. Debbie announces that she’s happy with third and vows to give either of the guys the Immunity Idol, even swearing to God. “It’s a very lucrative offer,” Stephen considers, though he admits he doesn’t really know Debbie’s relationship to God. JT figures if she’s promising them the sun and moon, she has to be making other promises also, as he puts it, “Even if she says she only wants third place, nobody wants third place in this game.”
It just doesn’t add up. It’s an obstacle course leading to a math/memory puzzle for Immunity. The first part of the challenge, with contestants digging themselves under a sandy bar, gives JT an early lead and leaves Taj hilariously stuck. Despite being the thinnest person left, Erinn is floundering in last, just behind Stephen, who can’t deal with a balance beam. JT’s lead is prohibitive, but will it be enough? Or will he get stuck on the math? Earlier in the episode, at the Auction, Debbie’s mathematical gifts were mocked, but can she come from behind to catch JT? Or will Stephen’s near-Rainman acuity lead to a stunning upset? It does. One shot through the symbols was all Stephen needed to win. Jeff is impressed with Stephen’s substitution system. Even Erinn looks a bit turned on. JT’s happy to see his boy with Immunity.
Stephen and JT 4-EVA. Stephen remembers at the start of the merge when they might have been the first two out. He feels pretty good about his position. Down by the water, JT and Stephen laugh with Taj about Debbie’s schizophrenic strategy. They’re cutting Taj in on their jokes, but JT and Stephen are controlling the game by themselves, debating the decision surrounding Debbie. The only downside to voting Debbie out for Stephen is another couple days of Coach. JT, who promises not to lie to anybody, founds himself mumbling to Coach. JT and Stephen agree that they’ve played an awesome group, because even though they’re running things, nobody seems to want to vote them out. Is this the best Two-Person game in “Survivor” history? I’m blanking on a viable alternative.
Tribal Council. Jeff prods Coach to give his definition of strength, getting Coach to praise Stephen’s strength and Debbie’s integrity. Taj quotes Coach in calling him a Warror and a Dragonslayer. Jeff mocks Coach for his self-nicknaming, but Coach salutes Jeff for trying to ferret out the truth. Coach even compliments Taj on her sacrifice in leaving her child at home, saying it would be difficult to want to vote her out. JT says that anybody who has been as honest as Coach deserves to go to the end. Debbie adds that Coach’s honesty is huge. Erinn predicts that there may be surprises in the vote. Erinn predicts it will change the way the tribe behaves, echoing that it may be a surprise. I love the way everybody on the jury laughs at anything involving Coach.
The vote. We see Coach vote for Taj, raving about her beautiful soul. Debbie writes Coach’s name down. Nobody plays the Immunity Idol. Vote one goes against Taj, the second against Coach. The third vote goes against Debbie, confusing matters. The fourth and fifth votes go against Debbie and she’s been eliminated from the game. Is anybody else amazed that Coach is still around? I sure am.
Who would you have voted out this week? Who’s the strongest player in the Top Five?
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