Returns Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 8/7c
Season 18: Episode 8 - The Dragon Slayer
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 10:30am

The Jalapao Tribe trek back to camp through the darkness after having lost another member at Tribal Council.  The general attitude around camp is that of hopelessness and defeat, for their tribe is now down to a mere four members compared to Timbira's six.  Joe is nervous after losing his closest ally, Sydney.   "It's not fun to lose.  It's not fun to vote people you like home," says Joe.  "We're just Jala.  We've lost Pao," says a defeated Taj.  "There's no telling what tomorrow holds in store, guys," JT mumbles.  Taj's view is optimistic. "Good things"¦maybe our luck is gonna change tomorrow."

As the morning sun rises over the Timbira waters, Coach gracefully moves his body in a ritualistic, peaceful oneness, in a slow dance similar to Tai Chi.  Lightning strikes as Coach flexes every muscle fiber in his body, clenches his fists, eyes closed, until he exhales the negative energy that once consumed him.

Back at camp, Brendan chuckles to his tribe, "Do you see Coach out there?"  Coach reflects on his meditation at the water.  "I was like, you know what?  I need to get centered.  I need to pray, I need to meditate," Coach says.  "This is about me now."  Coach proceeds to finesse his tribe members by massaging them and evoking a positive attitude around camp.  Erinn is elated at Coach's sudden acts of kindness.  "If that's the thing that turns you into Mister Nice Guy around camp you do it everyday," says Erinn in reference to Coach's morning meditation. 

At Jalapao, Joe's tribe cannot help but notice an oozing gash on his left knee.  "He swears that it's getting better but"¦I don't know.  With these eyes, it doesn't look good to me," Taj confesses.  As Joe limps about camp, his tribe members become concerned that they will continue their losing streak at the next challenge.  "If there is a merge, even if there isn't a merge, we're still, Jalapao's still down at four members," JT says. 

Treemail arrives at both camps, which hints at "getting away from camp and a feast."  The two tribes speculate that this means the reward will be a feast.  The Jalapao Tribe prepares themselves for a rigorous challenge.  "We've gotta win a feast!" yells Joe.  "If it's a merge, the game's on," JT says.

Both tribes march parallel to each other, tribe flags in hand.  To everyone's surprise, a large hut filled with a great abundance of food lies ahead.  "It's a merge!" Taj shouts.  JT finds a note and reads it aloud.  "Congratulations tribes, you have merged.  Exchange your old buffs with the new," JT reads.  The note instructs them to come up with a new tribe name, design a new tribe flag, and live at the old Timbira camp.  Coach leads the newly merged tribe in a friendly toast.  "The feast man, it's cool because"¦you know it's like getting a new girlfriend"¦there's all kinds of things to explore," Coach cockily states.  As the tribes attempt to mingle, Coach takes a liking to JT due to his amazing physical attributes.  The tribe laughs as they throw around possible tribe names, eventually taking Coach's suggestion, "Forza," which is Portuguese for "strength."  The merge tribe has been named, and as everyone becomes comfortable around each other, one tribe member gets a little bit too personal.  Sierra begins probing the original Jalapao members for information regarding how and why they voted out the tribe members that they did.  Stephen points out Sierra's carelessness.  "You do need to be discreet about how much information you give out.  These are your future competitors.  You can't just be giving out your entire tribe dynamic," says Stephen.  As the feast continues, the Jalapao four's future seems hopeless, as tribe leader JT points out.  "Going into this four on six"¦that's not good odds," JT admits.

As the newly merged tribe, Forza, arrives at the old Timbira camp, JT and the other Jalapao members are shocked to find a haphazard shelter.  JT immediately takes charge of rebuilding the shelter and adding the tarp that Jalapao had previously won to the roof.  As JT impresses the original Timbira members with his skills, Stephen points out that although they might be in Timbira's good graces, Timbira is still the dominant tribe and can pick them off one-by-one. 

At the river bank, Coach and JT bond as they partake in fishing, or as Coach calls it, "the art of the cast."  "We're kindred spirits, we both love the outdoors.  We're both warriors," says Coach as he compares himself to JT.  JT then brings to Coach's attention the dangers that Brendan presents to everyone by holding the immunity idol.  This leads Coach to believe that he should align himself with JT in an effort to oust Brendan.  "It's hard to keep six people from different walks of life to stick together when they hate each other.  So I'm just here to make sure they hate each other," JT says.  Coach now becomes motivated to assassinate Brendan at all costs.  "If you flat out lied to me, you better be prepared to go to war," Coach roars.

As the day quickly turns to night, the war against Brendan continues as it expands to Tyson and Stephen when Coach spreads the word.  Tyson agrees on an alliance between himself, Coach, Stephen, JT and Debbie.  "Brendan is the head of the dragon and in order to defeat the army, you cut off the head of the dragon," Coach snaps.  Tyson then passes this information onto Stephen, who agrees to become a part of their alliance.  "Once we get Brendan out, the game is all in our hands," Tyson tells Stephen.

The next morning, JT and Tyson bond as they fish on the river.  They discuss the importance of voting off Brendan, and acknowledge their alliance of five's domination.  "I'd like to get rid of Brendan.  He's the biggest threat.  He just seems like a sneaky bastard.  I can't look him in the eye and believe a word he says," Tyson proclaims. 

Meanwhile, Taj becomes concerned over the fact that since the merge, her Exile Alliance of Brendan and Sierra have yet to make any moves or show signs of continuing their alliance.  Brendan expresses his position regarding his alliance with Taj, Stephen and Sierra.  "My Exile Alliance [is] still laying low which is what I think it needs to do because that alliance is only effective once the numbers get down to seven or eight.  And so right now Joe needs to go, JT needs to go, and then my Exile Alliance can kind of take charge if need be," Brendan confesses. 

Tyson approaches Debbie and brings her in the loop, officially making her the fifth member of Coach's "Power Alliance."  "[Brendan]'s like putty in my hands.  I can mold this game however I want to," Tyson smugly proclaims.  Meanwhile, Joe and Erinn sneak off to the treemail statue to continue their search for the hidden immunity idol.  Erinn rubs Joe the wrong way when she fails to convince him that she did not find the idol.  The two approach the statue, lift the grass skirt, but to no avail.  The immunity idol is nowhere to be found.  "There's a very specific pocket where something should have been on the back of that treemail post, so we can assume that Brendan or Sierra has the idol, we'll vote them both out, and then we can actually play the game for real," Erinn announces.

The newly merged Forza Tribe arrives on their green mat.  Host Jeff Probst explains the rules of the challenge.  Each tribe member will hold onto a pole for as long as they can.  The last person left on their pole wins immunity.

The challenge is on with everyone atop their poles holding on for dear life.  Stephen struggles to hang on, and slides off to the ground, becoming the first person out.  Joe shakes and falls, the wood raking against his chest.  Jeff Probst points out the severity of Joe's knee injury, which is now completely swollen pink flesh with a nickel-sized hole of puss.  "Wow.  What is going on with that?" Jeff asks.  "My knee's infected," Joe replies.  "Doesn't look good," says Jeff.  Coach smiles as Brendan falls out of the challenge.  Taj and Erinn fall out of the challenge right after Brendan.  After twenty minutes, JT falls out.  Now with only original Timbira members left to win the challenge, Coach points out that Timbira will be safe at Tribal Council.  Shortly after saying this, Coach falls out of the challenge.  Sierra struggles, and slides down the pole in a nasty fall.  After thirty minutes, gravity gets the best of Debbie, and she becomes the last person to fall out of the challenge.  Tyson wins individual immunity.  Jeff Probst instructs Joe to stay behind to let the medical team take a look at his knee.

After the challenge, Dr. Lucy McKinnon of the Survivor Medical Team assesses the damage done to Joe's knee, and derives that Joe's injury is severely infected and too close to the bone.  Without treatment, he could risk death.

Back at Forza, JT and Stephen scramble to keep their newly formed alliance and plans to vote out Brendan in tact.  The thought of Joe possibly being asked to leave the game looms in the minds of the three remaining Jalapao members as they prepare to enter their first Tribal Council as a merged tribe.  After JT and Stephen separate from the group, Erinn suggests voting out JT over Joe because JT presents a bigger threat.  Tyson tells Erinn that he'll vote with her but later admits that it's all a ruse.  "In my alliance now, Stephen and JT have replaced Brendan and Sierra," says Tyson.  "As the old adage goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer," he continues. 

Tyson sneaks away from the other tribe members to catch up with JT and Stephen.  He assures them both that Debbie is with them one hundred percent, and adds that he will try to bring Erinn in.  Upon rejoining the rest of the tribe, JT suggests that it might be a good idea to go fishing before it rains.  This works in JT's favor when Coach decides to join him, allowing the two to go off alone to strategize.  As Brendan watches the Forza Tribe scrambling before Tribal Council, he admits that he will be armed and ready.  "I'll have the immunity idol in my pocket and I'm not afraid to play it tonight," says Brendan. 

Coach and JT strategize by the river, and Coach assures JT that his life in the game will be protected by his new alliance.  Coach tips JT off that members of the original Timbira Tribe are targeting him, but that there is nothing to worry about as things will go according to their plan.  After nicknaming JT "The Warrior," Coach and JT shake hands and JT is off to bring the news to Stephen.  Stephen is paranoid that if things go wrong, JT will be voted off.  The two now realize that their fate rests on whether or not Brendan plays his idol.  Stephen suggests turning the tables on Sierra by splitting the votes between Brendan and Sierra in order to protect JT.  The word of this plan spreads to Tyson and Coach, who buy it.  Coach highlights the ingeniousness of this new plan because Brendan and Sierra's votes will not count under any circumstance.  "At this point in time, I feel brilliant!" shouts Coach.

As the rain begins pouring down, Jeff Probst pays a surprise visit to the Forza camp and delivers some bad news.  Joe will be medically evacuated and taken to the nearest city for treatment on his knee.  There will not be a Tribal Council since Joe is being taken out of the game.  To everyone's shock, all preparation for Tribal Council has been thrown out of the window.  "I think someone on the old Timbira Tribe just bought themselves three days and they don't even know it," says JT.  "The dragon slayer has to wait another day to taste blood," says Coach.

As Joe is airlifted away in a helicopter, his weary eyes reflect great disappointment and the wonder of what could have been had he stayed longer in the game.  "The doctor said that if it got bad, which it would have if I would have stayed, that I could potentially lose my leg or lose my life.  I don't want to die.  I'd rather walk home," Joe says, leaving his parting words.