By EW Staff
Updated April 10, 2009 at 03:47 PM EDT
Credit: CBS

I have to say, I really enjoyed tonight’s episode. It was very different from your typical Survivor episode and maybe that’s what I liked about it. I don’t always like an episode dominated by strategy talk but tonight was an exception. Tonight, I loved the dizzying amount of strategizing.

There are so many alliances going on that for the first time in 18 seasons I am delightfully confused. I can barely keep track of them all. It doesn’t take a very smart 5th grader to tell there are going to be a lot of blindsides coming up in the next few weeks. It’s almost guaranteed with this many alliances, not all of them can hold up. Betrayal is coming. To win this season of Survivor you are going to have to play a fantastic mental game from here on out.

If you let your guard down for one moment or trust that anybody is telling you the truth, your odds for being out skyrocket.

Which brings me to Coach. He is one of the most naïve dragon slayers I’ve ever met. He took JT’s handshake and promise of loyalty straight up without a chaser, no ice, just down the hatch. If he didn’t have all the tattoos I would seriously wonder if Coach was a real dragon slayer. All the dragon slayers I’ve met are notoriously lacking in the trust department. It is part of the dragon slayer training. Even Wikipedia has a pretty extensive manual on dragon slaying and the third rule is “trust no one, slay every one.”

Speaking of Coach’s tattoos, they all look very new. The ink is very bright and colorful. I would think given all of his adventures and death defying escapades that the ink would be a bit faded if for no other reason than all of the wear and tear. QUESTION: Is it possible that he actually got most of the tats in anticipation of Survivor? I bet at least two of them are within the last six months. I’m giving 5-1 odds.

By the way – so many people got upset last week because I said Taj was ‘second tier’ smart. It had nothing to do with her being a woman, it had to do with the way she is playing the game. I think she is playing a bit passive and that’s just my take. Remember, I’m just a reality show host,.. and yes, I get paid either way.

While I’m at it, let me share for those of you who don’t read the comments that people make in response to this blog that last weeks collection of responses was the most negative ever! Record setting in veracity and volume. I actually printed out all of the comments and posted them on my refrigerator… and my oven…and my kitchen table…and then I moved to the living room…and finally the downstairs bedroom. The rest of them I took to the local recycling plant, which refused them due to excess weight.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: I hated the stupid “flashes of lightning” we added to Coach’s meditative stretching at the top of the show. I don’t like any of those cheap effects but clearly I was outvoted this time.

Anybody else wonder how JT still has a belly? I think it’s getting bigger, too. Is that from the merge feast? That kid must have eaten a lot. It doesn’t take a huge imagination to imagine JT at about 65 years old. Same ole swagger, bit of a grin as he sips on his third beer. He could easily be a sheriff of a small town. Or that guy who everybody knows because he can fix anything. He’s the somewhat surly old man who doesn’t say much, mostly just nods, which makes him even more mysterious, but when he does talk, the townspeople, they listen.

It’s the same on Survivor. People seem to listen to JT. Dunno why exactly but he has an easy way about him and that charm is working very well. People who get other people to listen to them do very well in this game.

QUESTION: Why is everybody so turned off by Brendan? Are they jealous or just threatened? I like Brendan. I can see that he’s a threat but everybody seems to have a lot of animosity toward him. I really don’t get it.

Tyson is a blast to watch and I love his witty commentary… but Tyson hates everybody. I am so curious what is driving his hatred of Sierra. Doesn’t he know, Sierra could end up married to a Survivor producer and then if there’s another all-star season and Tyson is on it, he might have to deal with a producer who married Sierra and that could make him feel bad, requiring therapy and possibly acupuncture? Doesn’t he think about stuff like that? Who doesn’t think about stuff like that? It could happen.

I loved the immunity challenge. For my money, this is the perfect type of Survivor challenge. Very simple in concept but very difficult to execute. Hang on for as long as you can until you have to let go at which point prepare to lose most of your skin.

The best/worst moment of the night had to be Sierra sliding down the post. I still cringe thinking about how much skin scraped off as she caught every part of that pole on her way down. Sierra is a model and I’m guessing her day rate will be greatly diminished as a result of that challenge.

In case you are wondering, my reactions to those things are not fake, we don’t come back and shoot them later – I really do make that kind of ridiculous face when I see things like that happen. Biggest drag of the night – losing Joe to an injury. You could tell from his reaction that Joe was in some serious pain. I can tell you from his comments to me after the docs gave him the news that he did not want to leave. He was very disappointed.

INSIGHT: Our medical team checks on the Survivors throughout the course of the show so it was not unusual for them to take a look at Joe. The rules of Survivor are very clear regarding injuries. You can stay in the game as long as you like, unless our doctors decide that an injury is life threatening, at which point our doctors can pull you from the game whether you want to go or not. That is what happened to Joe. Joe did not want to leave, we did not want Joe to leave. The doctors insisted he leave. There was nothing we could do about it. Just like when they took out Penner and James in Fans Vs. Favorites. The doctors have a big voice on Survivor when it comes to the health of the contestants and for good reason. We are in the middle of nowhere and if someone gets in trouble it is not a quick trip around the block to the nearest hospital. In Tocantins, we were several hours by car and nearly two hours by helicopter from the nearest hospital. They looked at his leg and decided the infection was too risky. He was evacuated and taken to hospital and he is doing fine. We have an amazing medical team. They not only take care of the Survivors but also our crew of over 400.

Last word of the night goes to Serena who absolutely hates Stephen. She thinks he is a “three-faced, lying, manipulative, scheming, back-stabber, follower!” To further quote Serena, “He probably started liking the Lakers when Shaq and Kobe won their three rings together.” Clearly Serena likes her hoops as well. This is an assessment I agree with completely (except for the follower part) and is further evidence of why I refer to him as a very smart player, definitely first tier.


–Jeff Probst

Also, check out Dalton Ross’ TV Watch from last night’s episode as well as the Survivor deleted scene, embedded below.