May 14, 2009 07:11 PM by Ryan Haidet
What a whirlwind episode of Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands. Coach suddenly feels pain all over his body, makes a cane and hobbles around like he’s aged 20 years overnight. After his “euphoric” experience on Exile Island, the Immunity Challenge brought Coach to the ground before he recited a poem at Tribal Council. And I laughed every bit of the way…
The morning of Day 34, Coach walked over to Stephen and JT who were making fire and told them that he was feeling quite a bit of pain. He said his lungs and back hurt. “I just hope my asthma doesn’t play up,” he said. And it was for reasons like those that he felt they should decide to send somebody else to Exile Island.
But Stephen was skeptical and thought Coach was actually scared and likely couldn’t make a fire or cook the food himself. And JT seemed to be on the same page. “Such an adventurous soul as Coach shouldn’t really be scared to go to Exile. I’m ready to test him.” JT hoped that sending Coach to Exile would make him weak for the upcoming Immunity Challenge.
Finding The Way Through ‘Survivor’
The group gathered for a lackluster Reward Challenge in which they raced through a giant maze, which spelled out the word ‘Survivor.’ At the end of the maze, the players then had to construct a pole out of small wooden pieces and string that would be long enough to retrieve a swinging sand bag. Then they had to take that bag and knock down three standing targets. The first to do that, would win Reward — an overnight trip to the Governor’s Retreat, which featured a bed, shower and feast.
The twist? They had to complete the entire challenge with their feet shackled together.
As the race got underway, JT took the lead and Coach simply followed him around the maze. And lucky for Coach, JT had been lucky in his choices throughout the maze because he found the way out rather quickly.
When they completed the maze, JT easily constructed his pole and grabbed the swinging sand bag. With three quick swoops, JT was able to knock over all three wooden targets and won the Reward.
After winning, JT was given the choice to send one person to Exile Island. He asked for volunteers, but nobody raised their hands. “Let’s be noble, Coach,” He said.
When Coach retrieved the map to Exile, he made a statement — he wasn’t going to eat anything during his stay there. He was simply going to meditate. Those comments left a sour taste in Erinn‘s mouth who then fired off a comeback. She argued that he was likely just saying these things as an excuse to make himself seem weak.
But Coach argued back. “I want it to be tough on me,” he said.
After more insanity with Coach quoting Pat Benatar, JT was given the option to choose one person to take on the Reward. He picked his long-time ally, Stephen.
Day 34 back at camp, Erinn told Taj she felt guilty about her comments toward Coach. But Taj told her it was nothing she should be upset about. “Had he won, the Warrior would have been back,” Taj said.
But despite Taj’s efforts to console her, Erinn was worried her comments might change the way others viewed her. That really had her worried she may be the next target.
Coach’s Entertaining Stay At Exile
Coach slowly climbed the sandy dunes at Exile Island and said that his stay would be just like a vacation. He could get a tan and have the opportunity to be away from all the wishy-washy people back at camp. He said that being there without food will help him be a bigger, stronger person. He vowed to not eat so he could be just like his ancestors who would go off on adventures like his to become men. “But I’m already a man, so this will just me more of a man.” He meditated and prayed under the sun before cutting off a tree limb to make a “Dragonslayer cane.”
Feast, Mirrors & Strategy
After flying in a small, private plane, JT and Stephen arrived at their Reward. They were quickly taken to their room and when they found the bathroom, they saw themselves in the mirror and couldn’t stop laughing. “I haven’t seen myself in over a month,” Stephen said as he scrubbed at his teeth.
After showering, they joined at a table wearing robes — like they were the Hugh Hefners of Brazil — as several people cooked and served up a big-time barbecue.
With full bellies, their minds turned away from hunger and swapped to strategy. They both agreed that Erinn’s comments toward Coach were out of line and they didn’t think that was a great trait in a potential ally.
Day 36 at Exile, Coach was laying in the water as birds buzzed above. He claimed to have had no sleep and was starving with very little water. But even though it sounded as if he was complaining, Coach then called the Exile experience awesome and a great way to test himself.
He said he felt nothing but incredible mental focus at the task at hand. “I plan on winning Immunity today.”
As he returned to join the group at the Immunity Challenge, he walked with a major limp. Taj couldn’t help but laugh at him. “Any 37-year-old man that believes he’s a Dragonslayer belongs in a mental institution,” she said in a confessional.
In an endurance challenge similar to one seen in Survivor: Fiji, the five contestants had to use their arms to brace themselves between two walls. They also had to stand barefoot on a pair of small pegs. But every 15 minutes they had to step down to a much smaller peg.
After the first 15 minutes, everybody was still standing — and looked somewhat comfortable — as they moved down to the next foothold. Coach made some more remarks to the group about how Exile showed him he still has strength. Jeff Probst said this challenge was perfect then because it’s all about mind over matter.
After 30 minutes in, everybody moved down to the final foothold. As Erinn tried to place one food down, she slipped off and was the first eliminated. Stephen dropped off a few moments later. Shortly after, Taj dropped out of the challenge.
When the challenge had lasted for nearly an hour, Coach started wincing in pain. He let out a shout as he struggled to stay in the challenge. Cue the dramatic music just in time as Coach fell off and dropped to the ground. The other four contestants rushed over to him. He said his back had started to spasm during the last moments of the contest. Everybody helped him up as he limped away toward the bench. His voice sounded like it had aged about 50 years. Probst offered him medical attention, but Coach denied.
His actions completely overshadowed JT’s win.
A Poem Before The Vote
Day 36, the final five returned to camp as a rain storm cut loose. Erinn was shocked that Coach had hobbled into the challenge, but yet could stand up on the small pegs for nearly an hour. Both she and Taj felt like he was over exaggerating and they felt he needed an excuse for not winning. They also said he probably didn’t want the medics to inspect him because they would have told him there was nothing wrong.
Alongside the river, Coach and JT agreed they would vote for Erinn. But even though JT had made a promise, Stephen said in a confessional that he still wasn’t sure about who he wanted to target — Coach or Erinn.
At Tribal Council, Erinn blasted Coach again for his remarks before his Exile stay. Coach once again tried to justify his words and experiences. He said that sometimes when men drop a pebble that women act like it’s a boulder.
As Probst announced it was time to vote, Coach interjected and said he wanted to recite a poem he had recently written. As the jury looked on in shocked and unamused, Coach spewed out his masterpiece:
“With friend and foe, we march to the battle plain.
Some to seek success, others to seek fame.
We play with honor for the love of this game.
And with armor or without we will toil in vain.
So that someday, someone, somewhere will remember our name.”
After that enlightenment, the group cast their votes. And it came down to just one as Stephen’s ballot was the decision-maker. With three votes against him, Coach was the latest eliminated from Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands. “It was an honor guys. Thank you.” As his torch was snuffed, he turned and saluted.
With that, the Dragonslayer limped off into the darkness. I’m sad to see him go, too. What an entertaining guy! Possibly the most unique contestant in Survivor history.
Now we’re down to four — Taj, Stephen, JT and Erinn. Who will claim the title of sole Survivor and the $1 million? Find out during Sunday night’s finale, when the winner is revealed live in New York City.
Images courtesy of Monty Brinton/CBS.
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