Season 18: Episode 14 - I Trust You But I Trust Me More (Finale)
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

Stephen, JT, Erinn and Taj return to camp after voting out Coach at Tribal Council. "One in four shot at a million dollars!" Stephen celebrates. Stephen points out that JT voting for Erinn instead of Coach will make him look like the villain. "It got you a lot of jury votes," says JT. Stephen denies this and instead, accuses JT of making Stephen look bad in the eyes of the jury since he ultimately betrayed Coach by lying to him. "I need to think about who I want to be there at the end with"¦who can I beat at the end," Stephen reveals.


The next morning, as the remaining Forza members awaken, JT is mesmerized at how his original tribe emerged victorious. "We were supposed to be gone a long time ago and to come over here outnumbered and now be three-to-one, and the entire jury is Timbira, I mean it's a masterpiece," marvels JT. Meanwhile, Stephen and Taj contemplate voting out JT if he loses immunity. "Better him than me," says Stephen.

JT and Erinn check treemail, which includes a plastic spider. Erinn reads treemail to her tribe, and vows to win immunity at the next challenge. "I would definitely like to win immunity today, otherwise it could very well be me going home," says Erinn.


The final four arrive on their mat, which is the middle of a giant tarantula-shaped obstacle course. Host Jeff Probst explains the rules of the challenge. Each person will race through a tarantula-shaped obstacle course to three different stations where they will retrieve a bag of puzzle pieces from each. Once all three bags have been collected, they will use those puzzle pieces to solve a web-shaped puzzle. The first person to get it right wins immunity.

The castaways race off into different netted legs of the tarantula. JT is the first to retrieve a bag of puzzle pieces, and races out to retrieve his second. The other three tribe members struggle to maneuver through the course, while JT continues to collect his bags of puzzle pieces. At one point, JT actually crawls over Taj when they find themselves in the same leg of the tarantula. Stephen catches up and retrieves his first and second bags while JT begins working on his puzzle. Stephen eventually collects all three bags of puzzle pieces and begins working on his puzzle along side JT. Taj finally makes it to the puzzle stage of the challenge, followed by Erinn in last place. As JT gets closer to finishing his puzzle, Erinn makes a miraculous comeback and catches up with JT. In the end, JT completes his puzzle only seconds ahead of Erinn. JT wins immunity, guaranteeing him a spot in the final three.


Upon returning to camp after the immunity challenge, Erinn, the last of the original Timbira Tribe, makes a suave final attempt to stay in the game. "I don't want to make it seem as though I'm scrambling," says Erinn. Erinn meets with Stephen and JT in the river and pleads her case. Erinn states that Taj has a very good chance of winning jury votes if she were to make it to the final two. Stephen and JT contemplate voting out Taj for these reasons and consider taking Erinn with them instead, since she would also be much easier to go up against in the next immunity challenge. "As long as me and you are solid, I don't give a damn what we do, man," JT says to Stephen. The duo returns to the fire pit and reassures Taj that they are voting out Erinn. "We're not sure what we're gonna do tonight, but Stephen and I are gonna stick together in every decision we make," says JT before walking out to Tribal Council.


At Tribal Council, Stephen reveals Jalapao's game plan of sticking together and systematically voting out the remaining Timbira members. Erinn admits that she would not be surprised if the pattern continues and she is the next to go. Stephen scrambles when Jeff Probst puts him on the spot by asking him if his decision tonight will be based on Coach's philosophy of taking the best to the end. Stephen is caught off-guard and ultimately reveals that he will base his vote on how to better assure him a spot in the finals. In the end, JT and Stephen went against their original tribe and voted out Taj. With three out of the four votes cast against her, Taj Johnson-George, the 37-year old former pop star from Nashville, Tennessee, became the thirteenth person voted out and sixth member of the jury of SURVIVOR: TOCANTINS: THE BRAZILIAN HIGHLANDS.


The final three return to camp after Tribal Council. JT admits that the decision to vote out Taj was not an easy one. He begins to regret his decision almost immediately when Erinn proceeds to annoy everyone with her non-stop chatter. Stephen clearly has the same feelings as JT when he reflects on being in the final three. "It's definitely tainted by the fact that we voted out Taj, and that hurts, and also just Erinn just chattering away and that's annoying and totally ignorant of any sort of emotional turmoil that JT and I are going through," says Stephen.


The next morning, Erinn forms a pact with Stephen to take him to the final two if either of them wins immunity. "He's gonna fight like hell to win today," says Erinn. "We too must fight like hell to win," replies Stephen. Faced with a difficult decision should JT not win immunity, Stephen struggles to decide whether he should stay true to his word and take JT to the finals, or do what should guarantee him a million dollars by taking Erinn.

Later that morning, Stephen and JT vow to stick together until the end no matter what. They shake hands and wait in excitement for the upcoming challenge. "One of us is gonna win that million dollars, and they're gonna have to decide between me and you," says JT. Stephen, Erinn and JT then check treemail, which explains that each of them must cross the river where they will find the torches of their fallen comrades. At each torch they will collect a representative idol of those who were voted out before them. At the end of the journey, they will burn them to pay their respects and will then proceed to their final immunity challenge.

The final three make their way to the top of a mountain where they pay their respects to each of the castaways that had been voted out. After all of the representative idols have been collected, they burn them in a small fire pit and prepare themselves for the final immunity challenge. "There's no reason why I'll lose this challenge and it's gonna take an act of Congress to get me to step down from anything"¦I mean, I won't. My body will have to fail me," says JT.


The final three make their way to the final immunity challenge and arrive on their mat. Host Jeff Probst explains the rules of the challenge. Each person must place a ball in a chute, where it will spiral downward until it drops out of the bottom, where it must be caught and placed back in the chute. Every few minutes, another ball must be added. The balls will alternately fall out of the left and then the right side of the chute, making it more difficult to keep track of which side they will exit from. Each ball must be caught before it hits the ground. As soon as someone allows one of their balls to hit the ground, that person is out of the challenge. In a final twist, Jeff reveals that one hand will be tied behind their back to make things more difficult. The last person standing wins immunity.

The challenge begins using one ball, which everyone gets through with ease. Jeff then orders another ball to be added. All three castaways seem to get the hang of it until a third ball is added. Erinn drops a ball and is out of the challenge. JT and Stephen now battle it out for a guaranteed spot in the final Tribal Council. A fourth ball is added, ramping things up. Stephen slips up and drops a ball, granting JT final immunity.


Back at camp, Stephen expresses utter relief that JT won immunity instead of himself because it saved him from having to make the difficult decision of who to take to the finals. Erinn probes JT to see who he is leaning towards taking to the finals, and makes a case against Stephen. She reveals that Stephen made a promise to her to take her to the finals if JT lost immunity. "You would be the more logical person to take"¦no doubt about it," JT admits to Erinn.

Stephen begins to worry as Tribal Council draws nearer, and questions JT regarding his decision. "Why take a gamble on me when he can have a lock with Erinn?" ponders Stephen. JT struggles with the dilemma of taking Stephen, his ally and friend since Day One, or Erinn, who would be a better person to guarantee him the million-dollar prize. "If I was to lose because of that decision I made, I think everybody would be pretty disappointed in me," says JT.


At Tribal Council, Erinn describes her earlier pitch to JT, in which she argued that JT would have a much better shot going up against her in the final two instead of Stephen. Stephen's defense is that he and JT have had long-term commitments to each other that were founded on the first day of the game. JT admits that both Stephen and Erinn have made legitimate cases, and he is faced with a predicament either way. Stephen becomes fearful and mentions that JT has made serious promises to him, and he would be severely disappointed if JT went against his word. Ultimately, JT stuck to his word and voted out Erinn, bringing his longtime friend, Stephen, to the end as promised. Erinn Lobdell, the 26 year-old hairstylist from Waukesha, Wisconsin, became the fourteenth person voted out and seventh member of the jury of SURVIVOR: TOCANTINS: THE BRAZILIAN HIGHLANDS.


As the sun rises on Day 39, JT and Stephen celebrate making it to the end. "Stephen is here with me just like we planned a long time ago. It's kinda hard to believe," says JT. The two check treemail and are awarded an abundance of breakfast food including eggs, sausages, pancakes, and orange juice. After devouring the meal, they open a bottle of champagne and toast to making it to Day 39. "Tastes like victory," laughs Stephen. The duo reveals what their surprising first impressions of each other were. "In spite of our completely different backgrounds, our minds seemed to totally work in sync," says Stephen. With the final Tribal Council on the horizon, JT and Stephen vow to put their friendships aside as they plead their cases for a million dollars. "I am not going out without a fight," Stephen pledges.


At the final Tribal Council, JT and Stephen give their opening statements. Stephen is quick to point out that, although he is not an outdoorsman or athlete, he has transformed into a better person having gone through this experience and improved on his survival skills. JT bluntly admits that he could have easily won against Erinn in the final Tribal Council but, instead, did the noble thing and took Stephen with him.

The jury addresses Stephen and JT, asking them vital questions to help them decide who is the most worthy of the million-dollar prize. As the questions get tougher, JT and Stephen begin to turn against each other. Stephen's defense is that, despite his physical weaknesses, he outwitted the other tribe members to get himself as far as he did. JT professes that he was a natural leader, provider, and outstanding physical competitor. Debbie brings up an interesting point when she asks Stephen if he would have taken JT with him had he won immunity. Stephen stumbles on the question, but finally reveals that he is afraid that he would have brought Erinn with him instead. Sierra lashes out at JT for taking weak players with him to the end. "That just might be your downfall and the reason why you're not getting a million dollars," Sierra snaps. Stephen is devastated when JT lashes out, saying that he did not need Stephen to get him as far as he did. The final jury member, Taj, becomes emotional as she asks her two closest allies why they turned on her. While JT apologizes, Stephen attacks JT for wanting to take out Taj because she had a better chance at winning the final immunity challenge over Erinn. This comment prompts an argument between JT and Stephen, ending with JT asking Stephen whether or not he would have taken Erinn with him to the finals instead of JT had he won immunity. Stephen dismisses the question. "I just feel like a fool, man," says JT, shaking his head.

Having given the final two a chance to plead their case, the jury members cast their votes for the winner. Host Jeff Probst reads the votes live from New York City, and with x out of the seven votes cast for him, James "J.T." Thomas of Alabama won the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollar prize for SURVIVOR: TOCANTINS: THE BRAZILIAN HIGHLANDS.