Pre-credit Sequence. It seems like only yesterday that Jalapao was in control and Timbira was only a challenge or two from being run out of the game for good. Now, as Jalapao returns to camp, they're down 6-4 with the merge looming. After losing his cuddle-buddy Sydney, Joe is especially concerned, as is the ultra-competitive JT. Only Taj is comfortable, perhaps because she escaped elimination. "We're just Jala. We lost Pao," Taj cracks predicting that maybe their luck is just a day away from changing.

[Recap for Thursday (April 9) night's "Survivor: Tocantins" after the break...]

Meet the New Coach, rather different from the Old Coach. The more Timbira's won, the more Coach has become an epic figure. Don't believe me? Ask the "Survivor" editors, who cut together a montage of Coach greeting the day set to "Carmina Burana," accompanied by faux thunder-and-lightning. After 10 minutes of meditation, he centers himself and declares, "This is about me now." It's about time. He'd been so selfless previously. But the other Timbirites are noticing the difference in Coach and not just that he's starting going around in circles giving free massages. "I like New Coach," Erinn announces, which isn't as bold as announcing you love New Coke, but it sounds just as absurd to me. New Coach is feeding his teammates and being friendly and doing his hair, though Brendan takes exception to Coach's claim that he started the samurai thing. 

It's just a flesh wound. Joe, it's never a good thing when your wounds start to feel hot. He figures a bug, a bacteria or a parasite got into his leg. Taj isn't believing Joe when he says his leg is getting better. Of course, we all know that if it were anything serious, the medics would have yanked him from the game days ago. Right? Tree Mail has implications of a merge, but it may just be a reward challenge with a feast. Taj doesn't much care, as long as she gets food. JT doesn't much care, as long as he finds a way to redeem himself for past challenge performances.

Viva la Forza. The teams find themselves out on a sand spit with a hut and an elaborate spread of goodies. They also have new green buffs, meaning that the merge has, indeed, come. They'll be moving over to the old Timbira camp and coming up with a new name. "It's like getting a new girlfriend," Coach explains, "There are all kinds of new things to explore." Coach is certain that his group is in control, though he gets a quick man-crush on JT and Stephen. Potential new tribe names are tossed out, including "Dingus" and "Forza." Into the midst of this talk of nomenclature, Sierra throws a curveball query asking the former Jalapoians to explain their last two votes. Much hedging ensues. I never heard any consensus, but the subtitling people have decided that the new tribe is "Forza." JT doesn't like the numbers, but he hopes to uncover some fissures in the Timbira unity.

Fomenting hatred. The new Forza tribe arrives at their new camp, accompanied by rain. JT is not impressed by their "little doghouse shelter." The Timbira alliance gets to play the role of gracious hosts, showing the weakling Jalapoas (embodied by the limping Joe) around with a condescending magnanimousness. "They can pick us off if they want," Stephen says. "We're dependent on their good graces." The Coach-JT bromance advances over fishing. Coach sees a fellow warrior in JT. Oh no. What of Tyson? JT, though, is smarter than he looks. He tells Coach that he'd gotten the impression that Brendan is running the game and says that he doesn't think Taj has an Idol. Coach and JT make a pact to keep it real. "It's hard to keep six people from different walks of life together when they hate each other," JT says. "So I'm just here to make sure everyone hates each other." Go JT. 

You're dragon me down. For his part, Coach is ready to go to war with Brendan. He approaches Tyson with an alternate alliance of Coach, JT, Tyson and Stephen. Tyson throws in Debbie to make five. "When you want to defeat the army, you cut off the head of the dragon," Coach announces cryptically. Tyson cuts Stephen in on the new alliance. Stephen doesn't care which alliance he's in, just so long as the cool kids let him play.

Bette Davis eyes. Are there any women in the new Forza tribe? Are they doing anything at all? After the commercial, we watch JT and Tyson bond over Razor Catfish. Tyson agrees that he's only got eyes for Coach. JT agrees he's only got eyes for Stephen. They all agree that Brendan is the game's biggest threat. "He just seems like a sneaky bastard," Tyson says. "I can't look him in the eye and believe a word he says. You can look me in my sweet blue eyes all day and I'll tell you sweet nothings and you'll believe all of them." Taj, meanwhile, is concerned that Sierra and Brendan haven't acknowledged that they're allied. For his part, Brenda wants his alliance to lay low and for Joe and JT to get picked off. He doesn't know that Debbie is perfectly happy to join the alliance in booting Brendan. Oh right. There was also the Latecomers Alliance of Joe and Erinn and they think they have an Idol as well. Or Joe thinks he has an Idol and he doesn't know why Erinn isn't coming out to say whether or not she has an Idol. They go to their Tree Mail Guy and see that the Timbira Idol is gone. They assume that either Brendan or Sierra has it. Good. They're not as dumb as they look. Wait. I take that back. Erinn has glasses, so she can't look dumb.

Pole-dancing for Immunity. It's time for our first Individual Immunity Challenge. It's an endurance task. They have to hold onto a pole for as long as they can. "I've got a lot of limbs here, Jeff," Stephen says, flailing early. "More than the rest of us?" Somebody asks from off-camera. Stephen goes out first, followed quickly by the crippled Joe. Jeff, noticing Joe's knee for the first time, comments that it doesn't look good. Brendan, Taj and Erinn go out next. While JT has the potential to become a Challenge juggernaut, this isn't a good one for him, as he hits the deck. The last four people standing are all from Old Timbira, though Coach and Sierra slide next, leaving Debbie and Tyson. "Tyson, you be careful you don't fall off," Erinn advises. "Don't boss me around, lady," he responds, but she counters with, "I just don't want you to break your pretty little face." That's speaking his language and he responds, "That's true. It is my moneymaker." He doesn't let go, though and he holds out until Debbie bails. Individual Immunity is Tyson's. That means that we have four Idols in the game right now, one fake. Jeff, meanwhile, requests a medic for Joe.

No, you're disturbingly full of pus. Dr. Lucy pokes and prods at Joe. She makes an assumption that there's a bunch of pus in there. Joe says he has no interest in going out. Dr. Lucy warns that the infection might enter his bone or his blood. She throws out the words "might risk death." 

Forza, thankfully, is pus-free. Nobody's worried about death back at Forza, especially not Tyson. "Yeah, so I kick ass like I always do," he says, adding, "And, uh, if any ladies want my phone number, I guess ask." As rain pours down, the Timbira Bloc debates between voting out JT or Joe, with Erinn correcting accessing that JT should go first, because Joe can't beat anybody at anything. I'm tired of transcribing Tyson's awesomeness, but his  cut-downs of Sierra and Brendan are fabulously cold-blooded. Brendan is willing to speculate on a scenario in which he could be in trouble and says he'll bring the Idol. That's a good idea, because even Taj is willing to be swayed to vote Brendan out because he hasn't been friendly enough. JT is feeling OK, but he knows that if Brendan plays the Idol, he's going out, so he plans a vote-splitting strategy with Stephen, a plan that would make Sierra the alternate choice. Coach and Tyson are both cool with that.

Anti-climax. Coach thinks he's The Orchestrator, for arranging the vote the way he wants it. He also would like for you to call him The Dragonslayer. I'm sorry, but no man is entitled to three self-appointed nicknames. But complication comes out of the mist in the form of Jeff. He breaks the news that Joe is out of the game. That means no Tribal Council. And nobody gets voted out. Oh boo. What a rip-off, especially if you happen to be Tyson, who won Immunity for nothing. Tyson's afraid that the plan will leak before they can boot Brendan. Joe catches a chopper to the hospital, where we suspect he'll get a shot of penicillin and be OK.

Stupid anti-climax. Any thoughts at all about this week's "Survivor"?

 

 

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