'Survivor: Tocantins' Aftergasm: J.T. Crushes the Competition
Monday, May 18, 2009
Everyone has a crush on J.T. It's just the way it is. He's one of those rare dudes who effortlessly pulls everyone in by sheer force of personality. Anyone who claims to dislike J.T. is bitter or jealous or both, and are only masking their own latent crush on the Alabaman cattle rancher. As great a guy as James Thomas Jr. is, however, he's not a terribly interesting person. He's a simple, down-home man. Great to have a beer with, not-so-great to psycho-analyze. J.T. led a blind-side parade throughout Survivor: Tocantins and, yet, did not inspire the usual pettiness from the jury. Again, it's just the kind of guy J.T. is that, even after he played a part in orchestrating the elimination of all the jury members, he's still held in high regard. He's a genuine guy, hard-working and pleasant. It was impossible to be mad at him, and that's why the jury gave him the unanimous vote.
You have to give CBS credit - they wrung out about as much drama as was
humanly possible out of a finale whose outcome felt more or less
predetermined. Going into the night, J.T. was the favorite. Everyone
assumed he was going to win, and he won easily. Yet, the two hours
stayed entertaining, mostly thanks to the underrated Erinn Lobdell, who
played a desperately shrewd game until the bitter end. Erinn could not
have done any more. She managed to plant seeds of doubt in J.T. and
Stephen's minds without ever coming across as desperate or malicious.
Her performance in the finale makes me wonder if Erinn played a more
integral part in her self-preservation (or, in Erinn's own words,
"self-perserverence") throughout the entire season.
Unfortunately, the Survivor castaway who took the biggest hit to their
reputation last night was Stephen Fishbach, who came across as a
pathetic nerd during the final tribal council, defensive and awkward.
There's no doubting his intellect, and he obviously knew that beating
J.T. in the final vote was a longshot, but I still wish he had carried
himself better. Stephen acted naÃ¯ve at tribal council and, whether
this was by design or not, it still made him look foolish. Of course
J.T. is going to take shots at your character, Stephen. You're playing
for a million dollars. That's what happens. Despite having the
upper-hand in the battle of eloquence, Stephen was the one scrambling
at tribal council, while J.T. was in control, direct and mostly
honest. The unanimous vote was no surprise at all.
Taj Johnson-George's journey was knee-capped too soon for my liking,
but it was probably the right move by Stephen and J.T. I am
disappointed that Taj didn't pay closer attention to her potential end
game and concoct some sort of plan to get rid of J.T. earlier. She admitted
during the live reunion special last night that getting rid of J.T. was
never even considered. This is baffling, because Survivor has always
been about identifying the alpha dogs and exterminating them the first
chance you get. When Ben Wade won his immunity a couple weeks back,
everyone should have realized that J.T. was destined to win the whole
thing and bounced him. Taj had to know that her alliance with J.T. and
Stephen was never going to net her a million dollars.
I've already written too much about Coach Benjamin Wade this season, so
I'll keep this brief. I like Coach. He's arrogant, delusional and a
psychopath, but he's harmless. His presence was always entertaining,
and I'm going to miss him. Given the comments made by his "lady
friend" last night, and the ever-present knowing smirk on Coach's face,
I think the possibility is there that Coach pulled a fast one on us all
season. I doubt he's a completely normal guy off camera, but he's
definitely not really the Coach that we saw during Survivor: Tocantins.
Survivor: Tocantins was, all in all, just another solid season of the
greatest reality show to ever exist. Can't wait till Survivor: Samoa
in the fall.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer