May 07, 2009 07:51 PM by Ryan Haidet
The best family visit episode in Survivor history. Period. Tonight’s Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands delivered a gushy rush of emotion as the final six contestants were paid a visit from home. But even with all that love, the game is still very twisted with scheming and deception becoming the norm. To top it all off, one castaway made a huge comeback during the Immunity Challenge to win it all.
After voting Sierra out of the game, Coach was causing drama back at camp by complaining to Debbie. He told her that Erinn and Taj took the cowardly way out by throwing their votes away at Tribal Council. “I am so pissed at them,” he said. But Debbie didn’t really see eye to eye because she was frustrated that he simply couldn’t let it go.
Debbie Swaps Sides
Day 31 brought a realization for Debbie. She didn’t feel it was good for her to be attached to Coach any longer because of the negativity attached to him. So that morning she told JT and Taj that she was a bit apprehensive of Coach and his future in the game. JT felt she was simply scared. “Debbie may be more of a loose cannon than I thought.”
Later, as JT and Stephen were complaining about her, Debbie approached them and asked for an alliance. “I am in it with you two till the end,” she promised. As Debbie shook their hands, Stephen’s disgusted look said it all. For being a smart player in the game, Stephen sure seems like he has issues with hiding how he really feels because his face says it all.
Sold!…Food & Family
Each of the final six were given $500 to spend during the classic Survivor auction — one of my personal favorites. Just three rules — they couldn’t share the money, they couldn’t share the food and bids had to be in $20 increments.
Up for bids first — a big bowl of french fries. Taj and Debbie were both excited and got into a bidding war. Taj was up first with a shout of $40. Then Debbie, a school principal, fired out a bid of $50. So when Jeff Probst told her it had to be in $20 increments, she bid $70. Apparently she didn’t understand the concept of $20.
But eventually she got the hang of it and won the fries for $120.
Up next was chicken parmesan with garlic bread and red wine. JT bid $300 with Coach upping it to $320. With that bid, the Dragonslayer shoveled the food down his gullet like a medieval king. OK, not really.
After a couple of other food items, including nachos and chicken hearts, Probst pulled out the best item — a cell phone. On it were messages from home. “Only one person can buy this and win this,” Probst explained. This item had an exception — the group could pool their money together for one person. JT offered up some cash for Taj and everybody followed suit. “You guys, I love you to death for giving me this,” Taj cried. She didn’t even have to go through a bidding war. She got it for just $20.
She approached Probst and watched the video from her family. Tears streamed down her cheeks as her husband sent his love. The other five contestants teared up as they looked on.
But it got better.
When the video was over, Probst hinted at a comment her husband made at the end of the message. “See you back at the camp,” he had said. “When Taj realized her husband was in Brazil, she freaked out and started screaming excitedly. “Can we go now?”
Then came the twist.
Taj was told that only her husband would be back at camp. The other loved ones would not be there — unless she sacrificed comfort and went to Exile Island with her husband. She agreed to that without any thinking and rushed off to Exile while the other five contestants headed back to camp.
Taj arrived at Exile Island and embraced her husband in a tearful hug. They shared multiple kisses. “He just looked like an angel,” Taj said.
Her husband was thrilled to see her, too. “She looks great,” he said. “She looks happy. She doesn’t look withered or worn down.” He also said it was kind of a turn on seeing her in the wild.
Back at camp, the other five Forza members raced down to see their loved ones. Tears were flowing as fast as the nearby Rio Novo river. Stephen’s brother was there. Debbie’s husband was shocked at how she had been living. JT’s little sister mentioned the family and cows back at home. Erinn’s dad was proud of her as she showed him around camp.
The only person who didn’t seem to get too emotional was Coach — his guest was his assistant coach. He helped Coach ease some of his sore spots by cracking his back and more. “We are not doing weird sexual positions, by the way,” Coach explained.
When the time arrived for the loved ones to leave, everybody had trouble saying goodbye. It was a really nice thing to see how attached and caring everybody left in the game actually is. Because when the sun came up the next day, the scheming was back.
On Day 32, Coach targeted Taj. He told JT that he was concerned she may play the hidden Immunity Idol soon. Although JT made it seem like he was on Coach’s side, he said he simply tells Coach what he wants to hear.
Back at the fire, Erinn, Debbie, JT and Stephen said that maybe it was time to cut Coach loose. They agreed it would be a blindside. “He’s going to feel mostly betrayed by me,” Debbie told the group.
Later that day, Debbie made a new promise to Stephen and JT — that if they got to the final three together and won Immunity that she would give it away to one of them. Stephen wasn’t sure of her promise even though he felt it was a very “lucrative” offer.
A Big Comeback
The Immunity Challenge was the best one in a long time. The final six had to work their way through several obstacles — digging a hole to get under a log, crossing a balance beam and going under a rope crawl. At the end of it all was a group of mathematical symbols, which were constantly rotating. The first contestant to remember all 10 symbols and use them to solve a math puzzle would win Immunity.
After the competition began, Taj got stuck under her log after only getting her head through. JT was the first through and got across the balance beam and under the rope crawl. He started memorizing the symbols as Debbie was next to get to the math signs.
JT got back to the start first and started working on the math answer. He didn’t have all of the symbols, so he went back for more. Everybody except for Stephen had made it to the symbol station — some multiple times. He just couldn’t cross the balance beam. But when he did, Stephen spent a long time at the rotating symbols. He came back and started solving the puzzle minutes after everybody else had already made several trips.
He quickly solved the mathematical puzzle and won Immunity.
“She Will Not Lie To Me…”
After some last-second scheming and strategy back at camp, the six Forza members arrived at Tribal Council. Coach called Stephen a warrior since he went from a boy who likes to read books to a warrior who takes on adventure. Umm, OK.
Coach then said he felt Debbie was playing the game for the same reason he was — integrity. “She will not lie to me in this game,” he said.
Prior to the vote, Erinn said that there will be a surprise. Debbie agreed.
When it came time to vote, Debbie wrote Coach’s name down after saying she would never lie to him. So much for integrity.
When Probst read the votes, it was revealed that Debbie was the 11th person eliminated from the game. Coach looked utterly disappointed as her torch was snuffed.
Only two episodes left as the finale approaches on Sunday, May 17.
Images courtesy of Monty Brinton/CBS.
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