The Masterminds: Stephen and JT Take Full Control of the Game


While the direction of the game may have been slightly unclear in the previous few weeks, there is no doubt after Week 12 that Stephen and JT – the most unlikely of duos – are in total control of Survivor Tocantins.

After voting out Sierra last week, former Jalapao members Stephen, JT and Taj somehow managed to even-up the sides with only three ex-Timbira left in the game. Stephen himself wonders how the once outnumbered Japlapao managed to outplay and outlast the heavily favoured Timbira tribe following the merge. The answer; they were just smarter. Having Taj infiltrate the tribe and create the Exile Alliance caused Coach and company to fear Brendan so much that they took their collective eyes off the prize. Instead of eliminating Jalapao one-by-one and dealing with internal tribe politics later, they cannibalized themselves.

Realizing her place in the game is at risk, Debbie turns on the Southern charm and attempts to throw Coach under the bus by declaring her unwavering commitment to getting Stephen and JT to the final two. She goes so far as to suggest that should she win immunity a the end, she would hand it over to either JT or Stephen, thereby sacrificing herself, should they decide to take her to the final three. Stephen smells a rat right away and JT smiles and nods, never lying or letting on that he ain’t buying what Debbie is selling.

The Reward challenge is the annual Survivor Auction where players are given money to bid on food and other items. Debbie gets herself a large order of fries, Coach gets himself an plate of veal parmesan and JT gets a nice bowl of chips, salsa and guacamole. Stephen bids $100 for a hidden item that ends up being a skewer of grilled chicken hearts…mmm. Stephen has no issue and enjoys every last bite.

Then Jeff brings out the Samsung iPhone wannabee and explains that it is pre-loaded with messages from loved-ones at home. JT hands his remaining cash to Taj and the rest of the group follows. Taj cries and screams and cries some more as she watches the footage of her husband, ex-football star Eddie George, and her family at home. She then learns that Eddie is in fact on the island…cue more tears. But as always, there’s a twist. Taj can bring Eddie to camp, or take him to Exile Island thereby letting the other castaways also receive a visit from their loved-ones. Duh! This is a no-brainer. What would have made this more juicy is if it was an either/or option. Either Taj gets Eddie and the rest of the tribe gets nothing, or the rest get their visit and Taj gets nothing. Guess they couldn’t waste all those flights to Brazil so Taj gets alone time with Eddie and the others hang out back at camp with their loved-ones.

In another classic Coach moment, his loved-one turns out to be none other than his assistant coach (what would Tyson say…I thought he had that title). Coach has assistant coach bend him and manoeuvre him in all sorts of ways to help crack his back…he assures viewers that they are “not involved in any strange sexual activities.” Coach also lets his assistant know that in the game he is the almighty “dragon slayer,” and he is “in total control of the game.”

As we head towards the immunity challenge Debbie still tries to prove her devotion to Stephen and JT by further distancing herself from Coach. Coach himself warns JT and Stephen about Taj and the likelihood of her playing an idol at some point. Stephen is amazed that the former Timbira alliance is basically begging to stay in the game.

The immunity challenge involves marginal physical abilities and some basic memory and mathematical skills. My money is on corporate consultant Stephen, who immediately falls behind during the physical portion of the challenge. JT has a huge lead going in to the math portion of the game but he needs repeated visits to the math symbols in order to memorize the sequence. Stephen takes one, long look and makes his way back to his board, solving the equation and winning immunity!

At Tribal Council, Coach is once again the centre of attention as he refers to his integrity and warrior status repeatedly. He also expresses complete trust for Debbie. When the votes are tallied, it is clear the Jalapao alliance is strong and Debbie is removed from the game. Not before Coach realizes that he received a vote as well, and that vote came from Debbie. Coach is now alone in the game, and likely the next to go home unless he wins immunity.

This is finale week with a show on Thursday night and the three-hour final episode and reunion show on Sunday.

Here are my predictions:

• Coach goes next. I doubt he wins immunity and they are all sick of
his warriorness.

• After Coach, Erinn is next to go. She has no friends in the game
and has flown under the radar long enough.

• The Jalapao three will remain in-tact all the way to the end.
I predict a final three just to keep it interesting will go to the jury.
If that is the case, it will take as little as three votes to win and I
don’t see Taj getting the money as she is the wife of one of the NFL’s
biggest former stars and a current TV personality. She doesn’t need the
money.

• If they go with the traditional two finalists, it will be JT versus Stephen
in front of a jury of seven.

• Either way, I can’t see JT losing at this point. He has played a good
physical game, an impressive social game, and everyone seems to like him.
Still, don’t underestimate the ability of Stephen to treat the final Tribal
Council like a corporate boardroom as he presents his case. If he can
convince the group that he was the brains behind JT, he could just pull out
a victory.

The Scribe has Spoken…

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