Tyson and Coach talk a lot about how awesome they are, but an injury ruins their grand scheme -- and saves Brendan from almost sure elimination

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 28, 2015 at 03:18 AM EST
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Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS
S18 E8
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“I spent about 10 minutes in the water getting refocused and it was like, boom! And everything just clicked. This is about me now.” —Coach

I’m not gonna lie: There are a lot of good parts to this quote. But the best is that it assumes it hasn’t always been all about Coach. As if Coach has the capacity to ever make it about anyone else but him. He’s probably the most egotistical Survivor contestant ever, just edging out Richard Hatch, Boston Rob, and Johnny Fairplay (although Fairplay’s was more an act than anything else). But there has been a noticeable shift these past few weeks in the way that producers have been handling the fired soccer coach. At the beginning they were just showing him straight up, and, as a result, we all were pretty much despising him. Seriously, I cannot remember anyone getting universally hammered more than him on these here message boards. (Ya’ll are cold.)

But now the editors are having fun at his expense. They mocked his weather prognosticating skills to hilarious effect, and then this week showed him doing his yoga-like meditation alongside booming orchestral music, and flashes of lighting and claps of thunder. In effect, they have made him a cartoon character. And now, instead of hating him, we’re merely laughing at him. It’s amazing, really. I feel little to no animosity towards Coach anymore, because he has simply become his own little self-contained sitcom. (Oh, look, here comes wacky neighbor Tyson over for a visit! What shenanigans could they be up to next?!) Of course, that could all change if he starts yelling at women again, but for now, producers have found their sweet spot with the Jedi wannabe.

Which brings us back to the latest episode. After completing his morning meditation, Coach went over to give Erinn a backrub. Watch out, Coach — you might catch cancer! She’s in danger of infecting the tribe, remember? Over at Jalapao, meanwhile, the tribe was down to just four members. “We’re just Jala. We lost pao,” joked Taj. And things looked to be getting worse. Joe’s infected knee was starting to resemble a huge zit just waiting to be popped. Joe insisted it was looking better, although his power of positive thinking also probably had him making passionate love to Sydney underneath the Tree Mail statue and we saw how far that got him.

Speaking of tree mail, both tribes received a message alerting them of a feast. “I get excited when I hear anything that starts with an F,” said Taj, and while that could be construed as being a bit on the dirty side, I have to heartily concur. Fudgesicles, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Fonzie, the criminally underrated Fletch Lives — they all make a strong case for the letter F being the mightiest of alphabetical properties. But the real letter in question was M, as in merge. Would they? They would! But we knew that already from last week’s preview, so I don’t know why I just got so excited. However, it wasn’t just any merge — it was a merge with superdope lime green buffs. They say it’s not easy being green, but I beg to differ: Those things were stylin’. Coach, of course, put the merge into his own unique and somewhat skeezy terms, comparing it to getting a new girlfriend, because “there’s all kinds of things to explore.” It’s times like this when you wish you kept a vomit bucket next to the couch — you know, just in case.

NEXT: Coach channels Marc Singer

Of course, you can’t have a merge without a new tribe name. Stephen’s suggestion of Dingues was thankfully shot down. Coach then pushed through his nominee of Forza, which, when roughly translated from Portuguese, means self-obsessed-jackass-who-lives-in-his-own-universe-in-which-people-worship-those-with-ridiculous-looking-ponytails-and-poor-weather-forecasting-skills. But before Coach could celebrate his new tribe name being picked, Sierra Mist decided to make an already awkward merge feast even more awkward by asking the Jalapaoians (I just made that word up) about their last 2 votes, which she deemed “shocking” but were, in actuality, not shocking in the least.

Once they all got back to camp, Coach brought J.T. on a little fishing expedition, while explaining his preference for fly fishing due to his love of “the art of the cast” which, of course, was not pretentious in the slightest. (Any normal person, of course, would have just said, “I like casting.”) And then Coach did something very curious — especially for him. He went and made an alliance with one of the strongest competitors in the game. Curious because even though Coach said he and J.T. were kindred sprits and warriors and lots of other fancy names from fantasy novels that don’t really mean a whole lot here in the real world, keeping him around would translate to sharing the spotlight with another alpha male. Then again, not curious, because, according to Coach, all the men seem to be cancer-free, as opposed to the women. Still, I always thought the object was to get rid of big threats, not bring them along to the finals. Obviously, Coach views Brendan as a bigger obstacle, and I get that. But wouldn’t it be smarter to align with, say, Taj than J.T? Oh, right — cancer. I forgot.

So then Coach continued pretending he was the Beastmaster or some character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, going on and on about cutting the head off a dragon (with the dragon being Brendan). Speaking of Brendan, I was getting more than a little frustrated with my episode 1 pick to win it all. First of all, he apparently told everyone his professional background as an entrepreneur, which is just plain dumb. And them he made no contact whatsoever with the Jalapao members of his Exile (non) Island alliance. I understand what he was saying about wanting to keep the alliance in his pocket until he needed it, but dude, if you don’t check your pocket once in a while, stuff can fall out. Brendan didn’t have to make any big moves, but a simple conversation with Taj and Stephen may have stopped them from slipping over to the side ready to vote him out.

And then there was Tyson. You know, we’ve been giving Coach the business for his oversized ego, but HOLY CRAP, what the hell is going on with Tyson?! We sorta give him a pass because he seems to do it all with a wink and doesn’t take himself too seriously, but on a few occasions this episode he crossed the line from likeable loon to that annoying cocky guy from high school you wanted to punch in the face but didn’t because he was bigger and more popular than you and would stuff you into a locker. (Clearly I have some issues that need to be worked out.) “He’s like puddy in my hands,” Tyson said of Brendan in one of his many I’m-so-awesome sound bites. “I can mold this game however I want right now.” Tyson is clearly a manipulator — of the cameras. I’ve seen his type many times on Survivor before. He knows how to perform to get maximum camera time and set himself apart as a breakout character. And I don’t really have a problem with that. But he definitely came off as trying a little too hard this episode. Dial it down about 12 percent, my man.

NEXT: Meet the kiddie doctor!

So off to the immunity challenge we went, and it was one of my favorites — a good ol’ fashioned endurance contest. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of enduring going on from the ex-Jalapaoians. They (along with Brendan and Erinn) dropped early and often, leaving Coach to gleefully point out that the final 4 were all from Timbira. And then he jumped off. His drop was followed by Sierra scraping herself silly as she fell. “That post got every part of your body on the way down,” said Probst in a comment that reminded me just how juvenile I can be in turning pretty much any innocent remark into an inappropriate sexual innuendo. (We all have our hidden talents.) It eventually came down to Debbie versus Tyson, with Tyson winning immunity, thereby giving his ego another boost.

And then the game turned. It seemed like an innocent enough comment, with Probst asking Joe to hang back as the others all went back to camp so that medical could take a look at his infected knee, but we all knew what that meant. Look, I never like to see anyone leave the game because of an injury. It’s a big time bummer for them, and a bummer for us as well in terms of the lack of any Tribal Council drama. But there are few things I love more that watching Jeff Probst supervise a medical intervention. There’s the injured party down on the ground having his wound examined. There’s the doctor administering to the infected area. And then there’s Probst, awkwardly kneeling yet hovering over them both. (So much for doctor-patient privilege.) I also love how this seasoned medical professional is regulated to the goofy title of Doctor Lucy. What the hell? Is she a doctor or a Peanuts character? And if she is a doctor, she must be a pediatrician, because as far as I know those are the only docs that go by first name only in their title. Was Joe about to be sent away with a Thundercats Band-Aid, sticker, and a lolly? There was nothing necessarily funny about this scene, and yet I found it hilarious.

Unfortunately, it was clear that Joe’s situation required more than a mere sucker. Although you know what would be fun? To not tell the other contestants, so they can continue plotting and scheming against each other for no reason! Well played, Survivor producers. Well played, indeed. Back at camp, Tyson was letting us know that “I kick ass like I always do.” Memo to Tyson: You’re much more entertaining when you are dissing others as opposed to complimenting yourself. “I never liked Sierra, ever. I have no clue why she’s out here other than to just give hope to all the stupid people around the world.” Ah, see —much better! Tyson then lied to everyone about voting off J.T. when, in fact, he, Coach, J.T., Stephen, and Debbie were plotting Brendan’s downfall. They even brought Taj aboard who was willing to send her former ally packing due to his neglect in acknowledging the Exile alliance. Stephen then came up with the smart plan to split the votes between Brendan and Sierra so they could not be undone by him playing the hidden immunity idol. Nice, Stephen.

NEXT: This just in: Coach says he rules!

Meanwhile, Coach who told us he had “no patience for sitting around holding a rod in my hand without anything working” (no effort necessary turning that into innuendo) couldn’t settle on whether he wanted himself to be known as The Orchestrator or The Dragon Slayer. Wow, that is a tough call. I can see why he was torn. Hey, why not just make like Hannah Montana and get the best of both worlds by combining the two options into The Orcheslayer? I have no idea what it means, but it’s no less stupid than the other two. Of course, Coach would be orchestrating exactly nothing because we all knew Joe was going to have to leave the game, but producers were simply waiting for the perfect moment to tell the others. “At this point,” gushed Coach about his plan to oust Brendan. “I feel brilliant.” There’s our cue!

Sure enough, here comes the rain and thunder, and here comes Jeff Probst into camp to share the news that Joe was being airlifted (or rather already had been judging by the drastic weather differences between the two scenes) to safety. Joe wasn’t happy to go, but realized it wasn’t worth losing a leg over. “This game is cool, but it’s not that cool,” he astutely recognized. Ah, Joe. Much like Sydney, not a whole lot to say about the guy. He looked like Shane from The Shield. He had a crush on a hot blonde chick. Not much else to report. Bummer about the knee, but better to lose him than Brendan.

It will be interesting to get Jeff Probst’s take on the injury and how it may have altered the game, and you can do that by going to read his exclusive EW.com blog. Oh, and remember last week’s amazing deleted scene where we saw Stephen apologizing to J.T. for knowing about Taj’s hidden immunity idol and not telling him? Click on the video below to see this week’s exclusive outtake. And Josh Wolk and I will totally be grilling Joe about his Sydney crush on Survivor Talk, which should be up sometime over the weekend, so make sure to check back for that. Lastly, a lot of you Survivor freaks have been with me here on EW.com for quite awhile, so I want to make sure you guys have a chance to reap some of the benefits that the site has to offer. Jessica Shaw and I are now hosting a new show called Must List Live! that goes up every Monday and looks at all the entertainment stuff happening for the week. We also have celebrities (like Anthony Hopkins and Simon Cowell) pop by. But what’s coolest is that we’re now giving away FREE passes to Comic-Con in addition to a free hotel room and passes to our exclusiveEntertainment Weekly Comic-Con party. Click on the link above to check out the video to see how you can win. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be sharing a Milwaukee’s Best (or two) in San Diego this summer. In the meantime, whose ego is bigger: Coach or Tyson’s? Sound off on that and anything and everything else on the message boards. See ya next week!

[Sorry, video not available]

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Survivor

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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