'Survivor: Tocantin's' secret is safe, but the meds take a toll on Joe

Stephenfishbach_survivortocantinsbrazilianhighlands_240 Tonight is the night that's a big night in any season of Survivor -- the merge, and Survivor: Tocantins is no different. Alliances will be tested, immunity will be individual, and gamesmanship will be at an all time high. I think I can be conservative in hoping that the promise of drama this season (as represented most strongly by Coach, Tyson, and Taj) will finally play itself out. I don't imagine that Jalapao will react as patiently to the nuttiness that Coach and Tyson are prone to displaying. And I don't think Timbira will take very kindly to Taj's outbursts. But the big question is -- what will become of Team: Secret? Well they be the powerhouse that I think they will, or will they shatter under the pressure of the merge?

A new tribe is born.
The episode proper begins with the strains of O, Fortuna from the cantana Carmina Burana as Coach performs his own brand of Tai Chi. Thanks for amping up the crazy factor CBS, don't stop there. Oh good, they didn't. Coach says he started the "samurai thing?" On top of everything else, does this man have any concept of time and space? Or does he figure that he lived in feudal Japan in a past life?

Joe's leg is still a concern for Jalapao as both tribes head into the competition. Not so much a competition, to be accurate, but a merge feast. Green buffs are passed out, and the era of the Forza tribe begins. Everyone is excited, and bellies are full, but the high spirits do not last long, as the reality of the game returns. The various alliances are trying to feel out each other's strategies, and Sierra questions the former Jalapao member's voting strategy. Stephen is concerned that Sierra is being too forward in her approach

Secrecy vs. lunacy.
The Forza tribe returns to the former Timbira camp, and Coach makes an effort to bond with JT, whom he clearly admires. But JT isn't giving up all the goods, telling Coach that Brendan has an idol, but not telling him that Taj (possibly) does. They forge a tentative friendship, but my feeling is that it won't last. Tyson and Coach are trying their best to undermine Team: Secret, working on Stephen with their plan for getting rid of Brendan as well.

Jamesthomasjr_survivortocantinsbrazilianhighlands_240 Secret slipping away?
Dawn breaks for the new tribe, with an immunity challenge on the slate for later in the day. JT and Tyson are bonding now, and I begin to wonder if he and Stephen might consider flopping away from Team: Secret. They have always been less sold on that alliance, and they could be swayed. I hope the vote tonight reveals their intentions.

Brendan is pushing the votes he can towards Joe, and Tyson is willing to let him believe that he will stick with Brendan in a Timbira alliance. Meanwhile, Joe and Erin take the opportunity to search the Timbira camp for the Exile Island immunity idol. Not finding it (as Brendan and Sierra never bothered to make a fake idol) they surmise that the idol has already been discovered by one of the previous visitors to Exile Island.

The immunity challenge is one of endurance, testing a contestant's ability to cling to a pole. Stephen and Joe drop out fairly quickly, Joe's bum leg clearly a factor. After the passage of a half hour, the contest is down to Debra and Tyson -- two people whom I thought were in an alliance together. Erin sends a few jibes Tyson's way, but Debra is the one who slips up first, allowing Tyson to win the first individual immunity contest of the season. But what's this JT is saying about having no other option than Coach and Tyson? Does he not remember that Taj and Stephen have given him an in on Team: Secret?

Stupid doctors
. Joe is being checked out by the Survivor medical team, and they inform him of the seriousness of his leg infection. Tyson is bragging about his prowess at the competition as the rest of the tribe is concerned about Joe's status. Stephen, too, appears to be sold on Coach and Tyson's agenda. You know guys, I'm actually beginning to like Tyson. He sure puts on a hell of a show. His breath on the small of Brendan's back? Sierra competing in Survivor to give hope to stupid people? Bloody classics! He's the wackiest Survivor guy since Greg in season one!

Stephen is working on Taj, and now Team: Secret is in danger. She seems willing to take her long-time pal Brendan out at the knees. JT and Coach are slapping five and hugging -- the alliances are all upside down in this game! Wow! I am dying to see how tribal plays out tonight! Stephen recognizes that Brendan's possession of the idol is a danger should they all vote for him, and should he play the idol. He comes up with the idea to split the (wow, that's a freaky looking crocodile - sorry, I digress) votes between Brendan and Sierra, ensuring that either of them will have the majority of the votes in the event that Brendan does not try to save himself. Coach is felling WELL in his cups.

Joedowdle_survivortocantinsbrazilianhighlands_240 OH NO! What's this? Jeff walks into the Forza camp and announces the fact that Joe has been removed from the game for medical reasons. AUUGGHHH! All this Machiavellian maneuvering and I don't get to see it played out at tribal council? Très anticlimactic!

*Sigh* I suppose that I can wait another week to see how everything plays out. I am assuming, however, that within the space of another episode, the shakiness of Team: Secret will still be a factor. A lot can happen in the space of three days, and victors could turn to victims in the space of a few minutes. I have to say that this was a poor ending for an episode of Survivor, but at the same time, I am eager to see what happens next!