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Survivor: Tocantins — Overcoming First Impressions

February 12, 2009 09:09 PM by Ryan Haidet


In the rugged desert of the Brazilian Highlands, 16 new competitors were ready to begin the adventure of a lifetime. With temperatures topping 120 degrees and sparking dangerous wildfires Survivor couldn’t have picked a more stunning location, which is captured beautifully in crisp high definition. Divided into two tribes, Jalapao (red) and Timbira (black), each person had already started forming first impressions of the other competitors as they bounced along a dirt road in an unsteady-looking truck. Little did they know that those first impressions were about to make a major impact on the start of the game. Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands was on!

The truck finally rolled to a stop when host Jeff Probst told them they had 60 seconds to gather whatever supplies they could. Everybody instantly scrambled and started shouting. “Everything you can get your hands on — and if for no other reason, to make sure the other tribe doesn’t get it,” Probst shouted.

Voting On First Impressions Alone

After that fast minute was over, they were given maps, which would lead them to their camps. But then they were told two players wouldn’t be making the journey. Everybody grabbed a marker and piece of paper and wrote down who they wanted to “vote out.” Jalapao fired the majority of their ballots against Sandy. “I’m pissed,” Sandy said. “I am so pissed.” Timbira cast the majority of their votes against Sierra, who was battling strep throat. “I think I could’ve brought a lot to this team,” Sierra said.

That’s when the twist was revealed. Probst said that they wouldn’t be taking on “this adventure,” which meant they wouldn’t be walking to camp. Instead they were getting a helicopter ride. Sandy and Sierra stepped inside the helicopter as their tribemates began their long four-hour walk.

Along their walk, Jalapao stopped to discuss the map. In a confessional, Spencer, the youngest contestant ever at 19 years old, said that the trek was extremely difficult. But J.T., a cattle rancher, didn’t seem to be having too much trouble. The physical aspect didn’t worry him, but he was frightened about the social game.

As Timbira trodded along, Benjamin, also known as “Coach,” grabbed the map and decided to lead the way. He told Brendan it was time to change the game, which has turned into survival of the weakest. He asked Brendan to help him keep the game strong.

An Easy Choice For Each

Sandy was the first to arrive at Jalapao and got very emotional as she stood at camp. She was very disappointed that the first vote fell against her. It didn’t take her long, however, to realize another twist that was in her favor. She found a clue inside a pot that said she needed to make a choice. She could start building camp, which might improve on the poor first impression, or she could search the camp for a hidden immunity idol that would be good at her tribe’s first Tribal Council. She didn’t even think twice and started the hunt for the tiny idol.

At Timbira, Sierra read the clue and quickly chose to build the camp. “They say that first impressions are everlasting, but hopefully I’ll change their opinion of me,” she said as she tied logs and other items together.

Hours later, as Sandy was sitting at camp, the rest of her tribe suddenly showed up. She hid the note since she hadn’t found the idol, but ran over to embrace everybody in hugs. Carolina was upset when she arrived to see that Sandy had done absolutely nothing when they just got done walking four hours.

Timbira arrived to camp after sunset as Sierra continued to construct a shelter under the stars. “She’s been doing a lot,” Jerry said. Coach said he felt the experience of voting for her in the first-impression vote bonded the group together — but it didn’t change his mind. He felt she still needed to go.

Day 2 at Jalapao, the 8 players worked together to build a hut — sort of. Carolina kept saying that she wanted to hurry and finish the shelter so they could take some time to rest. Then Sandy told the others she was going to use the restroom and look for more supplies they could use along the way. Instead she used her time to search for the hidden idol. She reached the lake’s shore and started digging in the white sand. Moments later she dug up another clue, which led her to another spot to dig.

At Timbira, Sierra, Debbie and Tyson went on a search for water. And without thinking twice, Tyson totally stripped of all his clothing as he crossed a river — and much to Sierra’s amusement. She stood along the shore and giggled as Tyson marched along the water proudly baring it all.


Survivors Ready? Go!

But the laughing was soon over as the two tribes gathered for their first challenge. Six members of each tribe had to race across a series of sand hills and into a river where they’d retrieve a raft filled with puzzle planks. Then they had to bring those puzzle planks back to the other two tribe members waiting back at the start. Those two members would then construct the planks to build a staircase. At the top of the staircase, a table maze had to be completed, which would then raise a flag. The first tribe’s flag to shoot into the sky would win the challenge. Up for grabs was fire in the form of flint along with Immunity.

The race was on and it was very close as each tribe dragged their pieces from their rafts back to the start. Then the stair building began. Sandy and Taj took an early lead for Jalapao while Sandy and Erinn worked for Timbira. At the top of the stairs, Jalapao worked on the table maze first, but Timbira was close behind. In a quick comeback, Timbira finished the table maze first and raised their flag. Jalapao was set for their first elimination.

Just Be Quiet

Back at camp, Jalapao started strategizing about who to take out first. While relaxing in the river, Carolina said that they need to clean up around camp. Taj warned her that she was already causing tension in the group and needed to start watching what she was saying. Then they showed an award-winning one-second shot of Carolina digging in her nose. Maybe she thought that needed cleaned up, too.

Spencer was busy campaigning to keep Sandy in the competition and didn’t think it was fair to vote her off based on first impressions. He felt she was very strong in the challenge. His campaigning was successful, too, because the guys of Jalapao were starting to turn on Carolina based on some of her comments at camp.

The First Torch Snuffed

Jalapao arrived at Tribal Council, a large hut very reminiscent of the set from the Marquesas season. The discussion brought up the first-impression vote. The others had seen Sandy as an old lady, but she argued that she could fit into the tribe. As for Carolina, she said the group probably felt she speaks her opinions too openly. As Probst read the votes, it was revealed that Carolina was the first person to have her torch snuffed. Guess you should’ve kept your mouth a little more quiet.


The episode didn’t offer anything too thrilling, but the cast is great so far and the scenic shots that Tocantins offers delivers a different look to Survivor, which has seen many atmospheres in its 18 seasons.

Images courtesy of Monty Brinton/CBS.

For other great Survivor: Tocantins news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Tocantins. Discuss on our reality TV message boards. You can also read more about each of this season’s contestants by checking out our Survivor bios page.

Topics: CBS Reality TV Shows, Survivor |

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