Survivor: Tocantins: Episode 4, "The Strongest Man Alive" Recap

At the end of Day 9 Timbera returns to camp at night. Ben wants Erinn out. He says she’s the cancer of the tribe. I seem to recall he previously considered Candace the cancer. I’d point out that he’s only referring to the threat these women pose to him in the game but that was transparent weeks ago.

Coach offers Brendan the leadership position but he tries to make everyone feel guilty for it. Woody Erinn neurotically babbles that she didn’t mean to suggest Coach wouldn’t be a good leader because she thinks he’d make a great leader. Oh yes, this is the Timbera I love and the one that I’ve missed all week. They’re miserable. They hate each other. The nastiest things they say about each other are the compliments.

After the break, Taj pulls Stephen aside and asks him to be a part of the cross-tribal alliance. He jumps at it. Stephen's obviously a smart guy. It's not beyond him to create these opportunities for himself, not just take them when they're offered. Come on, Stephen. Wake up.

At TImbera Brendan realizes as they’re all leaving for the challenge that he forgot to tell Sierra about the alliance. Since the plan was to send her to Exile Island so she could strategize with the other side that could be awkward. Brendan, you had over 24 hours, man. It wasn’t possible to take her aside at any point? I'm just picturing Taj approaching Sierra and her backing away making a vampire cross with her fingers as though Taj were the biggest, craziest schemer of all time.

At the Reward Challenge, the weight bearers hold poles on their shoulders. More and more sandbags are added until one side collapses like a donkey in the desert heat. The winners get to raid the enemy camp. How very retro – how terribly Pearl Islands. I like it. Brendan goes for the record at 220 pounds of weight captured by Rupert in the Pearl Islands but he can’t do it. JT can. He breaks the record. Debbie is the last one to break down for Timbera, as Jalapao wins again.

With Jalapao getting to raid what little Timbera owns this could get worse and worse. We could definitely be looking at another Palau, where Kuror ransacked Ulong week after week. I do like Jalapao, with Sandy and Taj and TJ. I wouldn't mind seeing them all stick together at this point.

At camp Timbera goes over the worst case scenario of what Jalapao could take. JT and Joe only take one of the two sacks of beans, carrying off a water can as their second item out of mercy. JT thinks crushing Timbera wouldn't be worth the trouble it would cost Jalapao if the tribes merged or switched. Sandy says that’s like going up to someone who’s got 100 guns and taking just 75 of them. You’ll still get killed. We have a delightful montage of Sandy saying bizarre things.

Sydney is tired of Sandy repeating everything she says at least three times. Sandy dislikes Sydney for running around in the boy’s boxers with no bra pn in order to keep JT and Joe's loyalty. She says Sydney had better take her panties off if she wants to stay. You get the feeling we’re headed to a showdown between them. If I were out there I might well be won over by Sydney. She's not just beautiful. She also seems like a sweet girl - not innocent - sweet. There's a difference. But as a viewer I’m rooting for Sandy. As cute as Sydney is, I'll take Sandy's snappy one liners. 

When Taj tells Sierra about the cross-tribal alliance at Exile Island, Sierra responds, “I just got goosebumps.” She’s in. The alliance is a clever idea, especially in a season where there are so few likable people on each tribe. I’d be thrilled to get a chance to screw Coach over too.

Tyson runs around in a loin cloth and Debbie falls down laughing, screaming “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Erinn bursts into tears and walk away. She tells us in a confessional how lonely she feels. Tyson can’t wait to vote her off because he thinks she’ll get really upset, and that would be funny. Tyson continues to remind me of Greg Buis from Borneo, and indeed Greg enjoyed the cutthroat aspects of the game, too. But Tyson at least wants you to believe that he's not mischevious, he's a bit sociopathic. I'm all for color but is that really a nice shade?

The immunity challenge is pretty routine – collect the puzzle pieces and put them together. Amazingly enough Timbera wins, thanks in large part to the fact that Tyson’s pretty sharp. That's not a surprise. Tyson seems like exactly the kind of jackass who doesn't like to mention he's got a high IQ. 

At Jalapao, Joe’s lining up the guns at Sandy. Taj is targeting Sydney, who she believes is weaker in the challenges than Sandy. Stephen seems unsure. He doesn’t want to anger Joe and Spencer. In a conversation about what everyone enjoys most about playing Survivor Sydney says “The chance to be sneaky.” She’s trying to be flirtatious and coy but it seems to make people nervous. Mind you, I said it seems to. It also seems to me like the show is making an awful lot out of an awfully minor comment, which makes me think they’re artificially trying to make it look like Sydney’s at a greater risk than she is.

At Tribal Council JT calls Sandy the mother of the crowd. Uh oh. That’s a Survivor kiss of death. That’s bad. Jeff points out that Sydney is wearing JT’s boxers. Sydney says she flirts with everyone – women even – but definitely Joe. It’s funny. I even detected a note of flirtation in her mentioning that she flirts with women. She didn’t say it like she was stating a fact. She said it like she was trying to get attention. Sydney tries to explain how people assume because she’s a blonde model that she doesn’t have anything to say “but umm…. I don’t know.” She can’t find enough to say to finish the sentence. I'm kidding. I do think she's a nice girl. But that was an unfortunate soundbyte.

Sydney votes for Sandy. “It’s just your time to go.”

Jeff will read the votes.


Sandy, channeling Doctor Sam Beckett, says “Oh boy.” She cries. Jeff snuffs her torch and she’s gone. I’m sorry to see that. Despite Jeff Probst’s bigger than life claims at the beginning of the season that Tocantins had more likable characters than ever before, I’m just not seeing it yet.

Next week on Survivor , Tyson finds out about the cross-tribal alliance and tells Coach and Debbie. And Taj acts out, telling everyone that they can kiss her, well, grits. Even if the cross-tribal alliance makes it to the merge they'll only have four against six. If their plan is already known JT would be their only chance to tie the score. Will it happen? It would be kind of a bummer if it didn't. But consider this dismaying observation. If the cross-tribal alliance did work wouldn't Coach be the first one they voted out? And if he did go half way through the series would he be as central a focus of this season as he has been?

-Henry Jenkins, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CBS)