SOUTHERN CHARM: JT unanimously wins Survivor: Tocantins
“I Trust You But I Trust Me More” JT continues to dominate in Immunity Challenges and, with Stephen, comes to a crossroads in their alliance with Taj. And once they achieve their dream of a Final 2 together, dirty laundry is aired at the final Tribral Council which tests the limits of their alliance – and their friendship.
Forza returns to camp and JT admited that he was concerned about jury votes. Stephen was also concerned, noting that backstabbing Coach would make him look bad, but JT would still be seen favorably since he didn’t vote against him. Stephen said he was loyal to JT but was more loyal to himself, and began thinking about ideal final 2 opponents. The next day, he and Taj began to talk about JT as a threat.
The first Immunity Challenge was an obstacle course shaped like a giant tarantula, with the “legs” made up of netted tunnels leading to stations which contained puzzle pieces. JT took an early big lead and Erinn almost caught up, but JT ended up winning. Taj noted that if any Jalapao member would have won the plan would have worked. Erinn begins working both JT and Stephen, noting Taj has played a very good social game and would not be a good final 2 opponent. Stephen suddenly became very loyal to JT and both checked in with Taj to make sure the plan was still in place.
At Tribal Council Stephen revealed each of the last 3 Jalapao members picked a Timbera member to work on to address problems and implode the alliance. Erinn said she specifically avoided scrambling to avoid being voted off, noting that it hadn’t worked for anyone else before her. Taj said Erinn would be a bad Final 2 opponent because old Timbera members might vote for her just because she is a former Timbera, but Erinn counters that they all had wanted to vote her off long ago. Erinn gave herself a 33% chance of staying, adding she would be surprised but not shocked if she was voted off. Taj said she would be very shocked if it was her. Taj ended up being blindsided, and in her confessional said if Erinn made it to the final 2 she would vote for her.
The next morning JT was struggling with the previous vote, saying he already thinks they might have made a mistake because Erinn was annoying and wouldn’t shut up. Erinn tells Stephen that if she wins the final Immunity Challenge she would take him, and Stephen seemed ready to say he would take her, with Erinn noting that neither he nor JT wanted to go up against each other and that JT knew if he didn’t win immunity he wasn’t going to the final 2. JT and Stephen discussed their options with obvious tension showing.
After the Rite of Passage, the remaining 3 players went to the last Immunity Challenge. The challenge consisted of a concentration-centered game where players dropped balls into a shute which went around a track and dropped out alternate exits, with new balls dropped in at predetermined time intervals. Erinn was the first out and Stephen struggled with several near-misses before finally dropping out, giving JT his third straight immunity win.
Stephen confessed a huge weight lifted off him by losing and not having to pick between an easy win (Erinn) and his ally (JT). Erinn talked to JT, telling him she would not get any votes from Timbera jury members and also that Stephen told her he would take her to the final 2 if he had won. Obviously disturbed, JT said Stephen would have to make a pretty good case for keeping him.
At Tribal Council, Erinn’s pitch for staying was that she was very beatable in a final 2 vote. Stephen’s pitch was loyalty, amusingly and clumsily bringing up the day 39 breakfast the two had been talking about since they formed the alliance. Despite the hole Stephen had dug himself, JT voted Erinn out and Stephen was visably shocked.
The next morning, Stephen told JT that they were friends for life. They had their breakfast and discussed first impressions of each other, with JT thinking Stephen was strong and very religious, and Stephen thinking JT was a “gregarious charmer”. JT said in confessional that he had not had any doubts in any Tribal Councils up until the last one that night.
At the final Tribal Council, Stephen said in his opening remarks that his road to the Final 2 was much harder than JT’s because he was not the outdoorsman JT was. He added that it was more important for him to focus on what he had gotten from the game and he thanked the jury. JT said he worked very hard, and that most people who work hard are identified as threats and eliminated early, adding that he had not received a single vote through the entire game. He also addressed jury blindsides, saying votes were determined based on who would have voted them out, which seemed to surprise Debbie.
Brendan was the first jury member to speak. He first asked Stephen what difference it makes who grew the most during the game and facetiously asks if JT should have been handicapped. JT said growth was irrelevant and that Stephen hid in the shadows. Stephen noted that hiding in the shadows was a valid strategy.
Erinn was the next jury member up, and told Stephen she had seen him play 3 separate alliances, all made up of members of the jury. Stephen said if she accepted that style of play he hoped she would vote for him, but if not he would understand. She asked JT how Stephen is the best player and JT answered that he was, at the time, the most honest and a good enough player that JT recommended him to Coach for the Warrior Alliance.
Debbie was the next jury member to speak, and she told JT that lying was his M.O. and asked if he was actually an honest person. JT told her she would have done the same thing and it’s what he had to do to get where he was. She then asked Stephen if he, honestly, had won immunity if he would have taken JT to the final 2. Stephen stammered and said he didn’t know, but when pressed further said he feared he would have taken Erinn.
Coach then went forward and said he was proud to see the warrior and the wizard, members of the Warrior Alliance, in the final 2. He asked each for examples of their honor and integrity; JT said he knew Coach was going to get voted out but he still kept his word and didn’t vote for him. Stephen said he “never took the weasel way out” and had yet to say anything bad about JT during the questioning.
Sierra was next and immediately laid into JT, asking him how he could be the strongest player when he took the weakest player to the final 2. JT said Stephen was one of the strongest, but Sierra said if he had been up against Tyson or Brendan he would be a better man.
Tyson was very laid back, and during his questioning JT admitted he could have made final 2 without Stephen but it would have been much harder.
Taj was the last jury member to address the final two. She started by saying she wasn’t bitter that she was on the jury because that’s just how things went. She asked JT why it was so hard to vote Coach out but so easy to vote her. JT answered that it was not effortless at all; it was the hardest of all of the votes. She countered by asking if it was so important to blindside her. Stephen threw JT under the bus by telling Taj he presented the idea of voting Taj out to Stephen much earlier and several times since and he talked him out of it. JT said flatly that it wasn’t true and that Stephen was trying to make it sound like he saved her. Things got extremely tense, with JT asking out loud in disbelief if that was the guy he voted for. Stephen attempted damage control by saying their friendship was worth more than a million dollars, and JT countered, still in disbelief, by reminding him he would have taken Erinn to the final 2.
JT won by unanimous vote – just the second unanimous vote in Survivor history.
- For all of the worry about Stephen being intelligent and well-conversed, he sure did string himself up during the final Tribal Council. It would have been much easier on him if he would have had the mental fortitude to flat out lie and insist he would have taken JT to the final 2 – but he couldn’t do it. JT was much more calm and collected and easily cut through Stephen’s attempts to throw him under the bus; specifically with Stephen’s claim that JT wanted to vote out JT earlier and mentioning that it was Stephen who said they didn’t need her because he owned her Hidden Immunity Idol.
- It’s a good thing Taj wasn’t bitter that she was on the jury, because she most likely would have been there even if Erinn had been voted out first. It’s to be expected that she would be upset over being blindsided by her alliance, but to think she would have made final 2 is pretty delusional.
- Never before have we seen a jury so eager to award a player the million dollars. Once Jalapao recruited Erinn and blindsided Brendan the remaining Timbera members seemed not only resigned to their fate, but completely accepting of it. It was shocking that, as Taj noted in the reunion show, the idea of voting out JT had never come up a single time.
- Kudos to Erinn for being able to manuever into the final 3 and nearly the final 2 without “scrambling” – just by pitting two “warriors” against each other. It appeared she never had a chance with JT but she did plant the seeds of doubt, while she had Stephen wrapped around her finger. She also replaced Taj in her own alliance – one that Taj herself created.