Through two weeks on "Survivor: Tocantins," the eliminations have followed a very simple pattern: It's bad to be weak or old or sickly or have a name starting with "S," but it's worse to be an opinionated woman with an ample bosom and a name starting with "C." Good for Sandy and Sierra. Bad for Carolina and Candace.

Would the pattern continue on Thursday (Feb. 26) night's "Survivor: Tocantins" episode?

Pre-credit sequence. In Timbira camp, Erinn is pretending like she knew Candace was going home the whole time. She claims that her friendship with Candace was an elaborate ruse, an elaborate, exclusive, conspiratorial ruse. Coach isn't buying it. "For her to say that to us is insulting," the Pony-Tailed Machiavelli declares, making it clear that his alliance never had a place for Erinn anyway.

[Full recap, with spoilers, after the break...]

Beans, beans, the miracle fruit. In Timbira, Jerry has begun to cough. If my years of reading Victorian novels have taught me anything, he may have consumption. Erinn has begun to scratch herself nervously. If my years of watching "Survivor" have taught me anything, she may have fleas. Erinn recognizes that she has to win her tribemates back, figuring her best path back into Coach's heart would be to outperform Sierra and Debbie. She may also be able to outperform Jerry, who's having stomach problems, which he attributes to the beans. Things were tough in Afghanistan and Jerry doesn't want to show weakness. "Momma said there'd be days like this," he groans.

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. In Jalapao, they're trying to figure out their new fishing gear. "I think we all imagined we would be feasting on plates of fish," Stephen says. The reality is that they're desperate to even get minnows. "This water's just a little bit different from where I came from," JT admits. In no time (thanks to the wonders of editing), they're snagging larger and larger fish and celebrating their feast. "That fish tasted just like victory," Joe says, perhaps paraphrasing "Apocalypse Now," but perhaps not.

The blind maze and the wrath of corn. Reward time. One person is responsible for guiding their blindfolded teammates through a maze, mostly by yelling, coaching them to fill buckets with water and corn. Want to know what they're playing for? An assortment of comfort items, including a tarp, a hammock, an umbrella and other items. Debbie yells for Timbira, stymied by the fearsome independence of Brendan and Jerry. Joe yells for Jalapao, which gets out to a huge early lead. The competition is a rout. Jalapao wins reward! Coach grunts in frustration, rage and general worthlessness. Jalapao sends Brendan to Exile Sand Dune and Taj goes off to join him. They're old buddies at this point. "Winners find a way to win," Coach mumbles. "Losers find a way to lose."

Coach and Assistant Coach. Things are miserable back at Timbira. Coach calls his girlish wail at the end of the challenge "a primal yell." He keeps talking about humiliation. Debbie is taking the loss hard, but Coach urges his teammates not to get into placing blame. Coach then goes off to the fishing hole with Tyson and promptly begins placing blame on Sierra and Erinn. Coach calls Tyson his "assistant coach." Tyson can only laugh, calling it "a little schoolboy crush" and announces, with a smirk, "If I just keep plugging away, I'll eventually make coach. He may promote me. I don't know if I'll have my own team, or we'll be co-coach or whatever, but people are gonna start calling me that. I'm actually gonna demand it. If we ever get put on separate tribes in this game, I'm gonna demand that the other team calls me coach, too." Tyson is awesome.

The world according to tarp. Life is good for Jalapao. There's no blame to be placed, only backs to be patted. Joe figures they're only one challenge victory away from just sweeping Timbira out of the game. They set up their chairs. They position their tarp. They're ready to be dry, even in a rainstorm. And, indeed, Timbira is getting soaked and miserable. They have no comfort, but you know who doesn't care? Coach. "I don't care about comfort. No shelter. Let me bury myself in the sand, get eaten by tarantulas and bitten by snakes. I don't care about comfort anymore. I don't care about anything else except winning this game."

Frank Hebert's Exile Dune. This time, Taj wins the urn-selecting game, receiving a clue telling her that the Idol is surrounded by wood. They're still teamed up, sharing their secrets. They know that they have a huge advantage as the only ones finding  these clues, but they also have to prepare for the possibility that somebody else might get sent to Exile Sand Dune next time. They decide to cut Stephen and Sierra in on their deal, so that they can control any possible Exile strategy. They figure they could have a stealthy four-way alliance in place.

Sandy, Sex Kitten? They're warm and comfortable in Jalapao. They're relaxing under their tarp raving about the best sleep of their lives. "I know I'm a sex kitten this morning," Sandy growls, as everybody moves away nervously.

Step one, we can have lots of fun. Immunity time. In pairs, the teams have to roll heavy wooden blocks, which will form a staircase spelling their tribe name. This time, Timbira builds a lead and with Erinn leading them, their advantage looks insurmountable. Then, after Timbira disagreements, that lead gets surmounted. Jalapao just seems more capable of working as a team. They come from behind and win again. Taj cries and kisses the Idol. Jerry isn't getting any better and admits he may be looked at as the weakest link.

Is it sicker to be sick or to be excited that somebody else is sick? And Jerry keeps getting worse. He isn't moving. He isn't drinking. He isn't putting together complete sentences. He vows that he isn't going to quit, that they'll have to vote him out. In the water, the Timbirae discuss Jerry and the need to get rid of him. Erinn is pleased to be safe. Coach can't stand seeing Erinn happy and develops a not-so-accurate impression of her pleasure. He strategizes with his general, Tyson, about voting Erinn out anymore. He pulls Sierra and Debbie aside and rants about Erinn. Sierra remembers how eager the tribe was to vote her out when she was sick and she's ready to vote for Jerry anyway. It's hard to tell if Tyson is actually doing Coach's bidding or if he has a different strategy. Meanwhile, Jerry's search for the Idol leads him to the Tree-Mail statue where, under its skirt, he discovers the Idol. He's giddy. Erinn is also giddy, figuring out how Jerry's demise can be her salvation. "You don't wanna be like 'Hey everybody, Jerry's sick,' but you kinda wanna be like 'Hey everybody, Jerry's sick." She thinks she's safe, but Tyson sees this as a chance for a good blindside, saying "I love seeing people cry when you crush their dreams."

Tribal council. Jeff Probst insists that Jalapao has momentum, but Tyson says that momentum can shift. Then Jeff, always a fan of the pretty girls, tries arguing for Erinn's value in the Immunity game. Erinn completely agrees. Brendan celebrates the tribe's communication, but Jerry disagrees and says the tribe needs a leader. He suggestions Brendan, but Coach is all, "Oh hells no! There can be only one." His leadership has all been about eye-contact. Coach says he'd happily be the leader. Erinn disagrees. Jeff asks if it's an ego thing, but Coach says he'd just as soon be an assistant coach or some other nonsense. Everybody around him is just laughing. Coach's strategy here is actually brilliant. On one hand, he's claiming he's been a leader the whole time. On the other hand, he's twisted Jerry's words to make it seem like Brendan has been the leader the whole time and is therefore responsible for their three straight losses. 

The vote. Erinn votes for Jerry. Jerry votes for Erinn. The first two votes go for Jerry. Then one vote for Erinn. Then two straight for Jerry, wo ends the string of opinionated women leaving the game. It's hard to read Coach and Tyson's faces. Were they let down? Or did they finally just take pity on Jerry? [Post-credits: Jerry and Tyson did, indeed, decide to vote for Jerry. We never saw why they made that call.]

What'd you think of this week's episode? Is the season getting interesting yet?

 

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