'Survivor: Tocantins' Aftergasm: J.T. Crushes the Competition
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 naïve 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