Pre-credit sequence. Wow. It's been a long time since last we hung out with our favorite "Survivor: Tocantins" castaways. Or, I guess, since we spent time with our least favorite "Survivor: Tocantins" castaways. We begin in Jalapao camp, where JT isn't concerned about the loss of Spencer, but he says that any loss is a tough one with a potential merge approaching. Sydney's worried about her fate if Jalapao loses again, though she's cuddling up with Joe again to make sure that her position secure. Joe, who admits he has "a thing" for Sydney [That's what she said!], assures her that she's safe. That's a ton of foreshadowing if Timbira ends up going to Tribal Council this week. Usually "Survivor" editing isn't this predictable.
[Will Jalapao lose another member on Thursday's (April 2) show? Click through for the full recap.]
Might-have-beans. Speaking of Timbira, another storm is brewing. Was Coach able to predict this one? No, as the amateur meteorologist is causing trouble in a different way. They're cooking beans, but Coach likes his beans well-cooked [That's what she said!], even if it requires putting unboiled river water in with the legumes. When the downpour continues, Coach leaves his beans to seek shelter. "It's another one of those Coach Moments," Brendan says the next day when Timbira faces a pot of overcooked, caked-on beans. Sierra is disheartened by the demise of the beans. Coach is half-amused, half-annoyed and totally sarcastically apologetic. Brendan, though, has learned to stop worrying and love the Coach, saying, "I totally accept that, because he's a predictable player and predictable in this game is great."
Idol chatter. Jalapao has only five members left. JT thinks everybody is looking at him kindly and that he, in turn, is being honest with everybody. Taj is plotting with Stephen, though. She wants to tell JT that she has the Idol. Her strategy confuses me a bit, but she mostly wants to ally with JT without revealing the Exile Sand Dune Alliance. Stephen just likes his position in the middle of everything.
Days of swine and roses. The Reward Challenge involves tossing ceramic pigs over a tribe-made barricade. Want to know what they're playing for? The winning tribe gets to go to a waterfall for a BBQ. The thought process on barricade building isn't well-explained, but I like anything involving swine-tossing. It's harder than it looks. Timbira gets out to a big lead until the editing suggests an unexplained change-of-tide. The teams are close down the stretch, though it's hard to know who's doing what and why some strategies are working. Timbira's porking is superior [That's what she said!] and they win reward. Yay? As variety is the spice of life, Timbira decides to send Joe to Exile. Joe, in turn, picks Erinn to come with him. He values her for aesthetic reasons, but also suspects that she could be flippable in the event of a merge. JT isn't worried about losing a reward, but darned if he's going to let another immunity get away from Jalapao.
From ham to hamburgers. The waterfall is quite picturesque, even if it doesn't have a corporate sponsor. Why didn't Applebees sponsor the burgers? Why aren't they enjoying Fantas? It's not like "Survivor" to skip a branding opportunity. "I'm gonna eat enough to puke and then I'll have room for hamburgers after that," Tyson says. They tear into the food like they've been in the Brazilian outback for weeks. In addition to burgers and beers, they also have floating rafts, so frolicking ensues. A small part of Coach feels badly for Erinn, but only a small part [That's what she said!].
New faces on Exile Sand Dune. Joe lets Erinn pick the urn. She gets the clue and goes off to read it alone. She realizes immediately that the Idol is at camp and has to decide if she trusts Joe. It doesn't take her long to let him in on the secret. Joe figures that he's capable of switching from his Betty (Sydney) to this new Veronica (Erinn) if a better alliance opportunity comes up.
We know that he knows that we know where the Idol is, but does he know that we know he knows? You know? Back at Jalapao, Stephen and Taj recognize that Joe will zoom right in on the Immunity Idol, so they decide to construct a fake Idol with whatever they have available. It's an arts-n-crafts project for Taj, who has beads and feathers and ropes. She inserts her Faux Idol under the Tree Mail Guy's skirt and sneaks away. She makes the mistake of hiding the real Idol in the most obvious of places and JT stumbles upon it immediately. JT goes to Stephen with his knowledge, forcing Stephen to decide how he wants to play things. Stephen plays a bit dumb and then turns around and tells Taj that she should tell JT, making it look spontaneous. This is a fun bit of circular secret-telling and Taj assures JT that if he needs the Idol, he can have it. JT is impressed with out honest and forthcoming Taj and Stephen were with him. Meanwhile, what is Sydney up to? Is she so tied to Joe that in his absence, she just goes spinning off by herself?
JT can't shoot straight. It's time for Immunity. The challenge requires slingshotting and puzzle-making. Tyson and JT take on slingshotting responsibilities. Tyson liberates his puzzle-pieces first and makes a snarky comment about JT's relative slowness, asking if he wants him to do it for him [That's what she said!]. Timbira has a head-start with Brendan and Erinn on puzzle duties, with Jalapao's Joe and Stephen right behind. Jalapao can't catch up and Timbira wins Immunity. "My bad, you guys," JT says. Coach accurately notes that the balance of power has now tilted.
Be careful what you find under Tree Mail Man's skirt. Looks like that pre-credit sequence wasn't a tease. Jalapao faces elimination and JT is still taking responsibility, even if nobody blames him. Meanwhile, Joe has an icky wound on his leg. Is it dangerously icky? Or just icky? It isn't icky enough to prevent him from going rushing off to Tree Mail. He barely looks at what he pulls out from under Tree Mail Man's skirt, assuming it's the real deal. Feeling confident, Joe determines that Taj is everybody's vote. Sydney is impressed that Taj isn't trying to sway anybody. The reason Taj isn't lobbying is because she's pretty sure that Sydney's the one leaving. "There's no way I can vote my hidden Immunity Idol out of the game right now," JT says. Down by the river, JT and Stephen try convincing Joe that Taj's ties with the other tribe could be an asset. He isn't buying it and he's annoyed by their strategy. He suggests he might try to give Sydney is Idol just to spite them. What percentage of the law is possession on "Survivor"? That is to say, is the Idol Stephen's because it's in his pants [That's what she said!]? Or is it Taj's, because she found it? Stephen figures the Idol is his and that this may be a good chance to vote Taj out.
Tribal council. Conversation at Tribal Council is all about an upcoming merge. What could that mean? What will that impact their votes? Taj makes her case for the relationships she's made with Timbira and how that would help Jalapao. Then, with Jeff's urging, JT notes the negative side of those relationship, an idea that Sydney drives home.
The vote. We see Joe vote for Taj. We see Taj vote for Sydney. Taj looks perplexed. Sydney looks beautiful and pulls close to Joe. Jeff asks if anybody's going to play an Idol. Nobody does. It goes 2-1 for Taj. When the second vote goes against Sydney, though, it means that JT and Stephen stayed true to their girl and that the model is done. Good-bye, Sydney.
Honestly, who are you rooting for at this point?