Pre-credit sequence. Does anybody else find it odd that in the past week we've had a non-elimination leg on "The Amazing Race," a "Survivor" without a Tribal Council and an "American Idol" episode where the person with the fewest votes didn't go home? What an anti-climactic week! They're also frustrated at the new Forza camp. As Coach puts it, a funk is permeating the camp. The solution to the funk (Other than an air-drop of deodorant...)? Story-time, courtesy of Coach, who recounts an adventure from his time in the Amazon, a tale of vicious and diminutive Peruvian Indians who beat Coach with clubs. Yikes. Sounds scary. Though, who hasn't wanted to beat Coach with a club at some point? The Murderous Dwarves were about to kill the Dragon Slayer, but he escaped, hearing the pitter-patter of their tiny feet on his trail. "You don't wanna say, 'Coach, hey, let's have a reality check,'" observes a skeptical Deb. Brendan posits, "Coach is either the new coming of Jacques Cousteau... or he's the biggest fraud in the game."
[Full recap of Thursday (April 16) night's "Survivor: Tocantins" after the break...]
Better the Dragon Slayer than the Dragon's Toilet Paper. We're up to Day 22 in the game and Coach's daily routine of meditation continues, accompanied by harp. JT is confident in his alliance with Coach, Stephen, Debbie and Tyson, but he know Brendan wants him out. A newly serene Coach returns to tell his accolades that his meditation ritual is a special brand of mojo only passed along by monks to their true believers. Eyes are rolled. Coach goes on about his status as Dragon Slayer. Brendan is the Dragon. What is Sierra? Well, according to Coach, she's the Dragon's bowel movement and she'll have to go after Brendan. While Coach spreads his scatological nonsense, Erinn tries to get to know JT better, speculating that this is her chance to be a power player, or at least a swing vote.
Tile tragedies. It's time for a Reward. Want to know what they're playing for? The winning threesome gets to go on an afternoon of river rafting. That will be followed by a picnic. Divided into three teams, they're tossing orbs at tiles, trying to shatter the other team's titles. It's Debbie, Brendan and JT against Tyson, Taj and Coach against Erinn, Sierra and Stephen. It's down to the Black and White teams. Brendan knocks out the final White tile, giving his team reward. Coach, who claimed to have played this game before, looks miserable. The Black team decides to send Stephen off to Exile Sand Dune. "Be the Wizard," Coach tells him. Which is the Kristen Wiig "Saturday Night Live" character who's always trying to one-up everything? That's who Coach is.
Labor pains. On Exile Sand Dune, Stephen gets the new clue to the same old Idol. All alone in Exile, Stephen puts in some quality time trying to make fire, suggesting that the alternatives were making fire or dying. After an hour, he's on the verge of death. Then he gets spark. "It was like giving birth to my first child," Stephen says, all aglow.
Brownies and bromance. With two guides steering them, JT, Debbie and Brendan shoot the rapids. "I felt just like a little kid," JT gushes. Brendan, watching that childlike enthusiasm, praises JT's "great soul." On a sand bar, they devour chicken, sandwiches, brownies, chips, watermelon and beverages. JT and Brendan, formerly adversaries, begin to bond. Over food, Brendan tells JT he has a few ideas of how to keep him in the game. Brendan, obviously smitten, tells the camera that even though he knows that if it came down to him and JT in the finals JT would win, that would still be a result that would satisfy him. He ponders what he'd have to do to get JT to the finals. JT's magnetism is apparently amazing. Brendan follows Stephen and Coach in falling for JT's charms.
The love for JT grows. It kept Brendan up all night thinking of how to get JT into the finals. Finally, the pieces fell into place. Back at camp, he pulls Sierra aside. Sierra agrees that JT is one of the most amazing people she's met in her life. Brendan suggests they take out Tyson, Coach and Erinn with a newly constituted alliance. Sierra's game. Then Brendan approaches Taj, who ponders the meaning of the word Timbira, musing "I really want to know what that word stands for, because it could stand for 'confused.'" Taj agrees that JT is the greatest flavor of human ice cream ever churned up.
Monkeying around. It's Immunity time again, as Jeff Probst removes the Idol from Tyson's neck. Tyson says, "It's too gaudy for me anyways." It's a long and complicated obstacle course where players are attached to ropes and have to follow their lines through a series of knots and twists and turns. Tyson and JT get out to a quick lead, with Sierra and Brendan close behind. Taj is stymied, as is Coach, a fact that amuses Jeff, who jokes, "Coach, stuck. Nothing prepared him for the rope-a-dope." JT, Tyson and Brendan move on to the Final. In the Final, set on a dazzling jungle gym, Tyson shoots ahead and wins Immunity for the second consecutive time. Coach thinks he's voting out Brendan. Brendan thinks he's voting out Coach. They can't both be right. Can they?
Triple play. Back at camp, there are hugs for Tyson, for his Immunity, and for Stephen for his fire-building. Of Stephen, Coach says, "The Wizard is coming into the Man of the Mountain." Tyson stops the hugging to make sure that everybody is on board with the plan to split votes between Brendan and Sierra. Everybody agrees with the plan. Then, back at camp, Brendan makes sure that everybody is on board with his plan to vote out Coach. They all agree that they are. "I think that this will be one of the biggest blindsides so far in the game," Brendan says. JT tells Stephen the new plan. Once again, Stephen is happy regardless. JT says that he has the entire game in his control. He can go with either alliance. Brendan makes sure that the Timbira alliance is voting for JT. "Brendan suspects nothing," Coach says. Sadly, he's right. There are three possible solutions to the vote tonight and Brendan is clueless about the one closest to him.
Tribal Council. Erinn says Tyson keeps everybody laughing. Taj and JT agree that Coach tells the best stories. Jeff asks Coach to clarify if the Amazon story was actually what happened or the movie version of what happened. No, Coach assures us. This was actually the sanitized, PG-13 version of the story. He says that the pygmies wanted to eat his a**. With Jeff goading him on, Coach lists six or seven times he's faced down death and laughed. The conversation around the fire is all about how powerful a player JT is and how he needs to go home. Coach says something about the Seven Layer Party Dip of the Vikings and how he likes to play with the best. Jeff asks the various formerly Exiled people if any of them have the Immunity Idol. Everybody denies it, but Brendan.
The vote. Coach votes for Brendan and tells the Dragon/Dragon Slayer story for the fifth time this episode. Brendan votes for Coach and makes no reference to dragons or their feces. "This is my Wizard lightning, shooting you back home," Stephen says as he casts his vote. No Immunity Idol is played, as Tyson and Coach exchange dragon-slaying grins. The first two votes go against Coach. The third and fourth and fifth go against Brendan. The next three votes go against Sierra, setting up a tie. The last and deciding vote goes against Brendan. I guess we know which alliance JT and Stephen picked. How very sad that Coach gets to be so smug.
That was one of the season's very best episodes, right? Did JT and Stephen make the right choice?