05/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Survivor Tocantins: Much Ado, in re: Nil

Unlike the Pope, I really am infallible (And I still say Galileo was wrong! The earth does not revolve around the Sun; it revolves around me!), which means when there's a cock-up like there was this evening, when my VCR, an early wood-burning model Betamax, actually hand-signed by Max himself, failed to record tonight's edition of Survivor: Tocantins, it can't be my error. Sure enough, I found a suicide note from my Betamax machine, saying it couldn't face another Tribal Council blindside, or even just listening to any more of Ex-Coach's blather, and had taken The Coward's Way Out. (That's through the door on the left.)

Fortunately for all of you, I did watch the show as it aired, and made some drunken scrawls that I think are notes, or perhaps doily designs (You can never have too many doilies!), so I can still recap this episode of heartbreak, betrayal, and pole-holding; I just have to do it from memory, so all the quotes are approximations. Nobody actually said any of this stuff, just stuff like this stuff, so this is roughly as reliable as the Congressional Record, or, well, Reality Television.

They opened with the last remnants of Jalapeno sitting about camp after last week's Tribal Council, bewailing what a bunch of losers they all are. Can't argue with that. One of them suggested that henceforth (Whoever it was who said it, they did not use the word henceforth) they should only be known as Jala, as they had lost their Peno. There are few more unpleasant experiences in Life than having your Peno chopped off, not that I'd know. Chances are, I was liquored up anyway. Taj then turned into Large Orphan Fannie, telling them that things will be better tomorrow. Suddenly JT Farm Boy, Stephen Five-Face, Joe Gangrenous Leg, and Taj Fannie launched into a rousing version of Tomorrow from Annie, the most obnoxious musical of the last century. At least, I think they did. As I was drifting off, I was almost certain I heard their voices, plaintive with terror, belting out:

We'll still be the same tomorrow,
Betcha your fake idol that tomorrow,
We'll still be lame.

Meanwhile Timbirra is a hotbed of conniving, two-faced evil. We were treated, if that's the right word, to a sequence of Ex-Coach the Barboobian doing his new morning ritual, which involves yoga, prayer, posing, preening, wearing his hair in a topknot that would embarrass Woody Woodpecker (The best cartoon character name in film history), chanting, self-worship, sacrificing someone's first-born, and bragging. Oh, and maybe a virgin sacrifice as well, if one can be found. Ex-Coach was heard to say something damn close to "I see it; I wanna nail it." The horror. The horror.

But his morning meditation now was part of his Charm Offensive, to try and acquire allies as the merge loomed. (They knew a merge had to be looming, because two more team immunity challenges and there would have been no one left for Timbirra to merge with.) Ex-Coach's Charm Offensive consisted of meditating on his own awesomeness in calf-high water for a few minutes, and then sexually coming on to each tribe member. And the really creepy part was, it seemed to be working. I don't know about charm, but watching Ex-Coach feel up his tribemates one after the other, was certainly offensive.

Never shy about blowing his own horn, and aware that no one else is likely ever to blow it for him, Ex-Coach was telling people this evening about how he was both a soccer coach and a conductor of a symphony Orchestra (They should be called the Have-My-Sympathy Orchestra) in California, commuting back-and-forth by airplane. Assuming there's even one word of truth in that, now that he's been fired from his coaching job, he must be saving a fortune on airfares. Well, music's loss is soccer's gain.

Everyone is feeling Joe's leg. Well who could resist? "It's hot!" said one of the guys. It is hot! It's also grossly infected, poisoned, as pus-filled as a spoiled Twinkie, and looks about ready to fall off. When they get tree mail that implies the next reward might be a feast, Joe says, "We gotta win a feast." He doesn't need a feast. He needs industrial-strength antibiotics, and maybe surgery. Instead, I imagine, out comes the terribly-not-helpful Survivor staff Christian Science Practitioner, to let Joe know that his swollen, purple, pus-bloated, diseased limb is merely a manifestation of his belief in horribly-infected legs. Here, read Science & Health, and pray.

Merge Feast: There was no Reward challenge. Instead, they had The Merge Feast, as all the surviving survivors stuffed their faces together while getting to know each other's game personas; I mean becoming close, intimate, utterly honest, life-long friends, and allies to the death.

Taj announced that she was happy for the merge because she "missed girls." I thought Taj was married to that guy who won that award they give murderers. Now suddenly she's lezzing out all over Debbie Bad Nose Job, Sierra Mist-For-Brains, and Erinn Friendless? If Taj likes women so much, why did she relentlessly vote off her female Jalapeno tribemates? Maybe she should have thought of that before helping remove Carolina, Sandy, and Sydney.

Sierra was blurting out Timbirra's whole tribe dynamic to the new tribe members, as though the concepts of strategy, and playing-it-close-to-the-vest were alien to her. Stephen, Taj, and Brendan were lucky she didn't blurt out that she was in a secret alliance with them. But perhaps it slipped her mind. As we shall see, it slipped all the rest of theirs.

They had to pick a new tribe name, so they chose Fourza, which means "strength," or "manly," or "dripping with potency," or "Better than your lame-o suggestion," or "yowza." Or maybe just because, for Jalapeno limping into the merge, as Chico Marx might say, "Fourza alla you gotta left."

So would the Awesome Foursome now become The Awza Fourza?

My notes got sketchier as the show went on and on. Ex-Coach said of the merge that getting new tribe members is "like getting a new girlfriend." Ew. And that's an "ew" on behalf of both the tribe members and the girl friends. Either way, Teddy is going to end up having to enlarge his Panama Canal down in the basement once again.

There are two types of people on earth: those who feel that "The worst day of fishing is better than the best day of doing anything else," and those like myself who feel that "The worst day of being tortured with a cattle prod to the genitals is better than the best day of fishing. And any day spent being dead beats fishing as well." Ergo, I do not watch fishing on TV. And what could possibly be worse than watching fishing on TV? When it's JT and Ex-Coach bonding as they fish. As my attention drifted away, I heard Ex-Coach say something to JT along the lines of "I felt it the moment I put it in." How disappointed I was as my head snapped away from my cocktail shaker and back to the TV, only to see it was Ex-Coach blowing a load of smoke up JT's ass about how "We're both warriors." No, he's a ranch hand and you're a psychotic egomaniac. Jerry Army Sergeant was a warrior, but you voted him out.

I'd be worried about any influence Ex-Coach might trick the none-too-brilliant JT into, except that both of them were merely pretending to bond, while hoping, in JT's case, to size up his opponents and trick one into thinking him a friend, and in Ex-Coach's case, to manipulate JT into blindly following his orders, both great, and incredibly trivial. "I will not lie one time" Ex-Coach lied. Meanwhile, JT can't wait to lie to Coach.

But there's a more active, and possibly even smarter evil at work in Fourza, namely Tyson the Nude Mormon. Next time a Mormon missionary knocks on your door to impress you with his moral church and get you to vote against gay people's civil rights (Eat Vermont and Iowa, Mormons!), remember Tyson, a completely typical, everyday Mormon, chosen at random to represent his church on national TV.

"I'm just here to make everyone hate each other." said Tyson the Loving Latter-Day Saint.

"[Brendan] seems like a sneaky bastard" said Tyson the Sneaky Bastard.

"Lying to everybody actually gives me pleasure." said Tyson the Trustworthy Man of Faith. I jotted these quotes down as I watched, wanting to learn from his wisdom. He really said this stuff.

Ex-Coach and Tyson schemed against Brendan. They went right to Stephen, the go-to-guy for treachery. Stephen agreed with them to vote out Brendan, agreed with Taj to vote out Brendan and Sierra, agreed with Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet to vote out Taj, agreed with President Obama to vote out "Bad Times," agreed with JT, I think, to vote out himself, until reaching the moment of His Supreme Accomplishment: Stephen is now in a secret alliance with everyone in Brazil! I think he may even be in one with Jeff Probst, and with Adam Lambert over on American Idol just to be on the safe side, and possibly even with Benjamin Linus on LOST, in case Stephen turns out to be as fictional as his word is.

Joe, who is in a Super-Secret Stupid Alliance, or is it a Super-Stupid Secret Alliance, with Erinn, once he could limp off with her alone, discovered that it never even occurred to her to go see if the immunity idol is there or not. He dragged her out to the Fourza Tree Mail statue, and together they discovered that its butt cavity was fully evacuated. Maybe it was there yesterday, Erinn. If only you'd bothered to look. What else did you have to do? Watch Ex-Coach meditating on his awesomeness?

Immunity Challenge: There was a row of large, carved wooden poles stuck in the ground. The Survivors were told they had to hold onto a pole for as long as they could. The last one still holding onto his or her pole would win immunity. Pole holding. Oh goodie. Wake me when someone wins. What else is on? Smallville is a repeat, but hey, that new sitcom with Amy Poehler is on right now. I could change the channel.

Mark Burnett? Hello? Are you trying to drive away viewers? Endurance contests like this are always a snooze. I hate them on Big Brother also, though at least on Survivor, they don't end the show with the contestants still hanging on. Even gay porn knows that you won't watch people just holding onto poles. If you don't at least move your hand a bit, it will get very boring very fast.

Was that Stephen or Joe who said, "I love you, pole," to his pole? I hope it was Joe. But it sounds more like Tyson the Latter-Day Narcissist to me.

Stephen proved himself no homo, as he was out first. He can't even hold onto his own pole, and he expects to be able to juggle 8 different alliances? (Or is it more than 8? He has Taj-JT-Stephen, and Taj-Brendan-Sierra-Stephen, and JT-Ex-Coach-Tyson-Stephen, along with his individual alliances with each individual contestant.)

It was too bad Spencer was already gone, as women and gay men not surprisingly were the better at clinging to poles longer. Joe was soon out, as was Brendan. Ex-Coach Wimmin-Hater did surprisingly well.

Sierra's pole got lucky when she lost her grip and went down her pole in a wild, rough thrust, her pole battering her frail bony frame as she plummeted. "That pole got every part of your body" someone said of her fall, though unless she spun around as she fell and they edited that out, I'd say her buttocks and shoulder blades got away scot free.

It came down to just Debbie vs Tyson. Debbie was smoked. So Tyson can cling to a large erect pole longer than anyone else. Who couldn't see that coming?

Tyson referred to his face as his "money-maker." His captions call him a "Professional Cyclist." What other trade has he been plying with his face? I assume it's a profession of long duration. "If any ladies want my phone number...." Tyson began, only to trail off. He had no idea how to finish that sentence, probably because no lady has ever wanted his phone number, not even his mother. In any event, I'm sure Tyson's phone number can be found on stalls all over Salt Lake City's finer bus stations and air terminals.

As Tyson smugly plotted against Brendan, he went on about how Brendan has felt Tyson's "hot breath" on his neck, back, small of his back, behind his left earlobe, between his thighs, around each toe, up his lazy river, into his Valley of Death, and so on, reading a whole catalogue of erogenous zones where he's blown Brendan. Why are we only just now hearing about this? Why weren't we shown this? It would be a damn sight more entertaining than watching clinging to a pole.

Jeff Probst had taken a look at Joe's leg at the challenge and was mildly horrified. He insisted on Medics being called out for Joe. (The camera crew following Joe about every day for weeks had felt no such compunctions to summon medical aid.) They should call a shrink for Ex-Coach, and men in white coats carrying a straight-jacket for Tyson. The medic's report was along the lines of "Yup. That's an infection all right." Big help she was.

Clearly scared, you could see in Joe's eyes that he was imagining the conversation going along these lines:

Joe: "Can you save my leg, doc?"

Doc: "This was a leg? Sweet Holy Christ, no!"

Joe: "Will I need surgery?"

Doc: "It's way too late for surgery. I'm gonna have to take you around back and shoot you. You got the Old Yeller Doomsday bacillus. Only cure is a shotgun blast to the forehead. If you'd just come to me 27 minutes earlier, everything would have been fine."

Stephen proposed to Taj backstabbing Brendan. Taj, devoid of loyalty, was fine with it. Brendan expected his Awesome Foursome allies to vote how he told them to, even though most of them had already promised several random people to vote him off, except when they were promising to vote Sierra off.

JT and Ex-Coach had springing up between them a new mancrush so fierce and fake, I expected Stephen to get jealous. Ex-Coach's new self-proclaimed identity is now "The Dragon Slayer!" He hasn't slain any dragons, nor has he engineered a single eviction since Candy, back in episode 2. He's not a dragon slayer; he's a drag queen slayer, because the two drag queens watching the show with me were all exclaiming "Who is she? Who was she? Who does she hope to be?" while rolling about my floor, laughing hysterically, and disarraying my empties.

I got completely lost in the overwhelmingly complicated plotting, backstabbing, and treachery. The Lord of the Rings has a simpler plot. Trying to follow the machinations made Dame Agatha Christie's head hurt, and she's dead.

And then all the plotting was for naught. The Immunity Challenge was for naught. Tribal Council was cancelled. Joe washed out and was sent home. His leg was so bad, they were all in danger. It might have broken free, grown a replacement body of virulent evil, and gone on a killing rampage. That sort of thing happens to Brazilian explorers in movies all the time! Joe was blindsided by his own body. Frankly, I wouldn't mind being blindsided by Joe's body myself, although I would prefer he'd go for the side of me that can see, as he is well worth a good gander, which is also good for the goose - Ow! - but not until after Joe's Old Yeller Flesh-Eating Doomsday bacillus is all cleared up. Right now, Joe literally hasn't a leg to stand on.

If only it had happened last week, when the ER series finale was on, Joe could have hopped over at 9 PM directly from Brazil on CBS to the Chicago emergency room on NBC, and have had his leg saved by someone as handsome as he is. But ER is gone now, and Joe is trapped in Tocantins, with only primitive witch doctors practicing their jungle joo-joo to try and save his rotting limb. I hope it's not already piranha food.

"Can you tell Joe we love him and miss him?" asked Taj the Two-Faced Woman who had tried to vote him out, and made the fake idol she left for him to be fooled by, giggling at how easy he was to hoodwink. Nice lady Taj. I'm impressed by your concern for yourself - I mean Joe.

So beautiful Joe Adonis is gone, leaving only Brendan Hot Pecs as The Last Hunk Standing. (Tyson and Ex-Coach think they are hunks. They are mistaken. Horribly, horribly mistaken.) Poor Joe; he never even got the chance to use his phoney-baloney fake immunity idol and be made a humiliated laughing stock out of as he got voted out. Rats!

In the previews of next week, we saw that Ex-Coach is still "Dragon hunting," to the terror of all nearby windmills.

Cheers darlings.

To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to
The Morehead the Merrier.