'Survivor: Tocantins' Aftergasm: That Coach We All Hated
Survivor: Tocantins is still in its early stages, so we must refrain from judging so soon. The real players, the ones who will stamp their mark on the season, the ones we'll perhaps remember in the future, have yet to assert themselves, have yet to garner the necessary screen time.  As always, the CBS editors are biding their time.  So, in the interim, in the early stages of the Survivor season, we have to chew on what CBS allows us to chew on.  Last night's episode, the third of the season, will emerge as the turning point in how viewers digest the pungent stew that is Benjamin Wade, a man better known as “Coach.”  I was on board with Coach over the first two episodes, as I imagine a significant amount of other viewers were.  Last night, however, it appeared that the editors could no longer withhold the depths of Coach's douchebaggery.  Coach is awful, and now everyone knows it. 

Coach is a dominating presence, for sure, and it takes a certain type of swagger to dominate other Survivors, the likes of which are inherently attention whores. Coach is shameless in his self-promotion, as evidenced by his embarrassing performance during last night's tribal council.  If you needed any more evidence (as if nearly twenty seasons wasn't enough) that Jeff Probst is the best host in reality TV history, watch last night's tribal council once more.  Probst pushed all the right buttons and outed Coach as the arrogant gas bag that he is. 

Tribal council does a funny thing to the castaways.  For some reason, it gives Survivors a comfortable and safe place to air their grievances, it allows them to be far more honest about their tribe members than they would ever be at their camp.  Erinn Lobdell took the Probstian bait and called out Coach. Thank goodness she did. While it was a risky move, it was also worthwhile, because it put Coach in his place, brought the camp's tensions into the open, and I suspect the Timbira vibe will be severely altered as a result.  Put simply, I don't think Coach will be able to recover from what happened at tribal.  The tribe basically told him that Brendan Synnott is the better leader (likely true).  It wasn't just that Erinn implied a preference for Brendan, it was that she inferred a complete and utter rejection of the idea that Coach could or should be their leader. 

How will Coach react to this very public vote of no confidence?  That's the question.  The correct strategic move for Ben would be to take it in stride, fall back, allow others to lead and to bide his time.   However, this strategy goes against everything that Coach stands for.  He has to lead – his self-identity relies on this.  To suddenly fall back into the pack is against his very nature.  He will not sulk away quietly into the night.  Coach and his Mormon underling Tyson Apostol will battle the rest of the tribe, and I don't think they will win. They can't.  Erinn threw down the gauntlet, and Coach is vulnerable as a result.  He could be gone as soon as next episode. 

As for Jalapao – this could turn into a beat down.  Jalapao is strong, harmonious.  Even if they do lose an immunity challenge in the near future, they have an easy scapegoat in Sandy Burgin.  To have a crazy old bag like Sandy on hand has to put the rest of Jalapao at ease with the knowledge that they have a one tribal council buffer to work with.  A lack of stress, in that way, certainly helps the collective psyche of a tribe.  Even more than that, Jalapao is likable from top to bottom.  I usually hate at least one member of each tribe at this juncture, but Jalapao has proven themselves to be an exception.  As hard as I try, no one on the tribe draws my ire.

Next week, I see another Jalapao immunity challenge win in the offing.  If that happens, my choice for elimination on Timbira is Coach.  Mark it down – Ben Wade is on his way out the door.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)