Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands is the eighteenth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. The season was filmed in the microregion of Jalapão in Tocantins, Brazil, and first aired Thursday, February 12, 2009. CBS began casting for Survivor: Tocantins once production for Survivor: Gabon was underway. Applications were due by July 15, 2008, with in-person interviews being conducted in various cities sometime in August 2008, and semi-finalists traveling to Los Angeles, California sometime in September 2008. Sixteen applicants were chosen to compete on the show, and were initially divided into two tribes. Exile Island returned this season, but with new twists. Instead of one castaway sent to Exile Island, two were sent. While on Exile Island, each exiled castaway picked from one of two urns. One urn contained a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol and an option to join the opposing tribe, while the other urn contained nothing.
James "J.T." Thomas, Jr. was named the winner in the final episode on May 17, 2009, defeating Stephen Fishbach in a unanimous vote. In addition, J.T. was named "Sprint Player of the Season", earning the fans' vote over Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George and Sierra Reed. Thomas was the second player to win the game by a unanimous vote, following Earl Cole of Survivor: Fiji, but the first to receive no votes throughout the season in addition to a unanimous jury vote.
The complete season, including the mid-season recap episode and live reunion show, was released on DVD exclusively through Amazon.com on August 5, 2014.
|Contestant||Original tribe||Merged tribe||Finish|
|Eastwood, CarolinaCarolina Eastwood|
26, West Hollywood, California
|Jalapao||20||1st voted out|
|Smith, CandaceCandace Smith|
31, Dayton, Ohio
|Timbira||20||2nd voted out|
|Sims, JerryJerry Sims|
49, Rock Hill, South Carolina
|Timbira||20||3rd voted out|
|Burgin, SandySandy Burgin|
53, Louisville, Kentucky
|Jalapao||20||4th voted out|
|Duhm, SpencerSpencer Duhm|
19, Lakeland, Florida
|Jalapao||20||5th voted out|
|Wheeler, SydneySydney Wheeler|
24, Raleigh, North Carolina
|Jalapao||20||6th voted out|
|Dowdle, JoeJoe Dowdle|
26, Austin, Texas
|Synnott, BrendanBrendan Synnott|
30, New York City, New York
|Timbira||7th voted out|
1st jury member
|Apostol, TysonTyson Apostol|
29, Lindon, Utah
|Timbira||8th voted out|
2nd jury member
|Reed, SierraSierra Reed|
23, Los Angeles, California
|Timbira||9th voted out|
3rd jury member
|Beebe, Debra "Debbie"Debra "Debbie" Beebe|
46, Auburn, Alabama
|Timbira||10th voted out|
4th jury member
|Wade, Benjamin "Coach"Benjamin "Coach" Wade|
37, Bolivar, Missouri
|Timbira||11th voted out|
5th jury member
|Johnson-George, Tamara "Taj"Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George|
37, Nashville, Tennessee
|Jalapao||12th voted out|
6th jury member
|Lobdell, ErinnErinn Lobdell|
26, Waukesha, Wisconsin
|Timbira||13th voted out|
7th jury member
|Fishbach, StephenStephen Fishbach|
29, New York City, New York
|Thomas, Jr., James "J.T."James "J.T." Thomas, Jr.|
24, Samson, Alabama
James "J.T." Thomas, Benjamin "Coach" Wade and Tyson Apostol later returned for Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where they placed 10th, 12th and 15th, respectively. Wade would return for a third time in Survivor: South Pacific, where he placed as runner-up. Apostol returned for his third appearance in Survivor: Blood vs. Water, alongside his girlfriend Rachel Foulger, and he eventually won the season. Stephen Fishbach returned for Survivor: Cambodia. He placed 9th.
The players were split into two tribes, Timbira and Jalapao, prior to the game. However, before the game started, Jeff stated that each tribe was to vote for one of their own to not make the trek to camp. The selected members, Sierra from Timbira and Sandy from Jalapao, assumed they had been eliminated, but it was then revealed that these two would be flown to their respective campsites while the rest had to trek for four hours while carrying supplies. Nevertheless, this would impact their game; both Sierra and Sandy became distant from their tribes. Sandy was eliminated, but Sierra was spared due to Timbira's repeated immunity wins.
Both the hidden immunity idol and Exile were in play, with the clues to the hidden idols available at Exile. The winning tribe of each reward challenge would be able to select one member of the losing tribe to be exiled, while the exiled player would be able to choose a member of the winning tribe to join them. Brendan from Timbira and Taj from Jalapao formed a secret cross-tribe alliance for the merge, bringing in Sierra and Stephen, respectively. The alliance members saw several repeat visits to Exile, securing both immunity idols by sharing the clues. After J.T. accidentally stumbled upon the hidden immunity idol in Stephen's pocket, Taj and Stephen agreed to bring J.T. into their own alliance, and the three decided to share the use of the hidden immunity idol. Timbira was able to win the last three tribal Immunity Challenges, leaving Taj, J.T., Stephen, and Joe as the only Jalapao members remaining. Shortly after the merge, Joe was evacuated from the game due to an infection in his knee.
After Joe's evacuation, Timbira had a major numerical advantage on Jalapao, up six players to three. However, Timbira had divided into several factions: Coach, Tyson, and Debbie, Brendan and Sierra, and Erinn on the outside. Coach's faction decided to align with J.T. and Stephen in an attempt to overthrow Brendan and Sierra. With Brendan and Sierra acting distant, Taj and Stephen decided to betray their Exile alliance; Brendan neglected to play his idol and was voted out. With the dissent among Timbira exposed, J.T., Stephen and Taj aligned with Erinn, navigating between the two Timbira factions to eliminate them all, becoming the final four.
After knocking Taj out of the game due to her likelihood of winning the jury's vote, J.T. eliminated Erinn after he won his third consecutive immunity challenge, bringing Stephen to the final Tribal Council. Stephen's poor Final Tribal Council performance combined with JT's likability led the jury unanimously voted for J.T. to be named Sole Survivor, believing J.T. played a stronger game compared to Stephen's.
|Episode title||Original air date||Challenge winner(s)||Exiled||Eliminated||Finish|
|""||February 12, 2009||Timbira||None||Carolina||1st voted out|
|""||February 19, 2009||Jalapao||Brendan||Candace||2nd voted out|
|""||February 26, 2009||Jalapao||Jalapao||Brendan||Jerry||3rd voted out|
|""||March 5, 2009||Jalapao||Timbira||Sierra||Sandy||4th voted out|
|""||March 12, 2009||Jalapao||Timbira||Brendan||Spencer||5th voted out|
|""||April 2, 2009||Timbira||Timbira||Joe||Sydney||6th voted out|
|""||April 9, 2009||None||Tyson||None||Joe||Medically evacuated|
|""||April 16, 2009||Brendan, Debbie,|
|Tyson||Stephen||Brendan||7th voted out|
1st jury member
|""||April 23, 2009||Debbie, Erinn,|
|Debbie||Stephen||Tyson||8th voted out|
2nd jury member
|""||April 30, 2009||Stephen,|
|Coach||Erinn||Sierra||9th voted out|
3rd jury member
|""||May 7, 2009||Survivor Auction||Stephen||Taj||Debbie||10th voted out|
4th jury member
|""||May 14, 2009||J.T., [Stephen]||J.T.||Coach||Coach||11th voted out|
5th jury member
|""||May 17, 2009||None||J.T.||None||Taj||12th voted out|
6th jury member
|J.T.||Erinn||13th voted out|
7th jury member
|"Reunion"||May 17, 2009||Jury vote|
- In the case of multiple tribes or castaways who win reward or immunity, they are listed in order of finish, or alphabetically where it was a team effort; where one castaway won and invited others, the invitees are in brackets.
- Combined reward and immunity challenge.
- There was no reward challenge or exiling due to the merge.
|Rating/share (18-49)||Original air date||US viewers|
|259||1||"Let's Get Rid of the Weak Players Before We Even Start"||8.0/13||4.5/13||February 12, 2009||13.63||#12|
With the castaways already split into tribes, they were dropped off by truck in a clearing. The game started immediately with Jeff announcing that the tribes would have 60 seconds to gather as many supplies from the back of the truck as they could. Timbira took all of the water and bags of beans, leaving Jalapao with only some melons and a few other supplies. Jeff then announced that the tribe's campsites were about a 4-hour trek by foot away, that one person from each tribe "would not be making the journey" and a vote would take place immediately. Jalapao voted for Sandy and Timbira voted for Sierra. Sandy and Sierra thought they were being voted out the game, but Jeff announced that they would only not be making the trek to camp and instead would be flown to their campsites by helicopter. When Sandy and Sierra arrived at their respective campsites, they were given the option to start setting up camp or follow clues to a disposable Hidden Immunity Idol that can only be used during their tribe's first Tribal Council. Sandy opted to follow the clues, but did not find the idol before her tribe arrived. Sierra opted to start setting up the camp in order to improve her impression with her tribe. Carolina was upset that Sandy did not work on the campsite. Timbira's trek did not end until dark, by which time Sierra had built a shelter big enough to house the entire tribe. Despite her hard work, Coach's view on Sierra did not change and he still wanted to vote her out first. On day 2, Sandy resumed her search for the Hidden Immunity Idol, but was stumped by the second clue.
At the Reward/Immunity Challenge, Sandy gave Jalapao a big lead by building the staircase quickly. However, Brendan and Erinn quickly solved the table maze for a comeback victory for Timbira. Back at Jalapao's camp, Carolina's bossy personality irritated the others, while Sandy's effort at the challenge impressed her tribemates. Still concerned about being voted out, Sandy went searching for the Hidden Immunity Idol before Tribal Council, but was again unsuccessful. At Tribal Council, Jalapao decided that Carolina should leave and she was voted out. Before sending the tribe back to camp, Jeff gave them flint.
|260||2||"The Poison Apple Needs to Go"||7.8/12||4.5/12||February 19, 2009||13.59||#11|
In a quest for protein, the Jalapao tribe broke open a termite mound to eat the termites. At Timbira, Sierra decided that she needed help following the clues to the special first Tribal Council-only Hidden Immunity Idol and she recruited Brendan in the search. Together they went to the beach to follow the clues, but were caught digging a large hole on the beach by Debbie and had to stop their search. Sierra came up with the cover story that she and Brendan were building a fire pit for the tribe that night, which Debbie believed and relayed to the rest of the tribe. Candace and Coach argued over how to cook the afternoon meal on day 5. Back at Jalapao, Taj told her tribe that she was married to famed football player Eddie George. At the start of the rain-soaked Reward/Immunity Challenge, Jeff announced that someone from the losing tribe would go to Exile Island. He added that there was a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol at Exile Island, and a twist would be revealed after the challenge.
Jalapao overcame a 2–0 deficit to win the challenge and chose to send Brendan to Exile Island. Jeff announced the twist was that Brendan could choose one person from the winning tribe to join him on Exile Island; he chose Taj. J.T. and Stephen put their newly acquired fishing gear to use, but did not catch anything. On Exile Island, Brendan and Taj found two urns and each had to choose one. Brendan's urn contained two notes: the first note was a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol which he could optionally share with Taj and the second note telling him that he could switch tribes if he wanted to. After some pestering by Taj, Brendan shared the clue with her and they realized that the clue hinted that there was a Hidden Immunity Idol back at each tribe's campsite. They agreed to work to get sent back to Exile Island together to collect more clues. At Timbira, Candace lobbied her tribemates to vote for Coach, but her negativity backfired on her and she became the target to vote out. When Brendan returned to Timbira's campsite, he lied to his tribemates telling them that Taj had the urn with the clue and that she went to look for the Hidden Immunity Idol on her own, but did not appear to have found it. At Tribal Council, Candace's lobbying to vote out Coach could not overcome her negativity and she was voted out.
|261||3||"Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This"||6.9/11||4.0/11||February 26, 2009||12.05||#11|
Back at camp after Tribal Council, Erinn scrambled to realign herself with the rest of her tribe after Candace, with whom the tribe thought she was aligned, was voted out. Jerry started to develop stomach pains which he blamed on Timbira's diet of beans. At Jalapao, the tribe struggled with their casting net, only catching a few minnows, but had better luck with the fishing line and hooks.
At the Reward Challenge, Jalapao easily won and selected Brendan to return to Exile Island. As per their agreement the first time they went to Exile Island, Brendan selected Taj to return with him to Exile Island for a second time. On Exile Island, Brendan and Taj shared the next clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, further cemented their secret alliance, and discussed bringing Sierra and Stephen into their cross-tribe alliance.
Jalapao secured their third challenge win in a row at the Immunity Challenge by coming from behind during the staircase assembly task. After returning to camp, Jerry's weakening condition made him a target for elimination. Coach was upset about Erinn's reaction after she realized Jerry was sick and he was likely to be voted off next. Coach tried to persuade Tyson, Sierra, and Debbie to keep Jerry and vote out Erinn, but Sierra did not want to "sever off another limb so we can get our vendetta's against Erinn" and cast her vote for Jerry. Tyson tried to get Jerry to stick it out and vote against Erinn. A few hours before Tribal Council and using the second clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, Brendan found the Idol hidden within the statue next to the tree mail. At Tribal Council, Tyson looked for a blindside against Erinn, but the tribe could not ignore Jerry's illness and voted him out.
|262||4||"The Strongest Man Alive"||7.0/11||3.9/10||March 5, 2009||11.85||#15|
Back at camp after Tribal Council, Coach was angry at Erinn for saying that Brendan was a better leader than himself, but he eventually accepted it and anointed Brendan as tribe leader. At Jalapao, Taj told Stephen about her secret alliance with Brendan and told him that if Jalapao were to win the next Reward Challenge, they would need to choose Sierra to go to Exile Island, who would pick Stephen to go along. However, Brendan could not find the time and privacy to tell Sierra about the alliance.
At the Reward Challenge, Brendan, Tyson, and Debbie shouldered the weight for Timbira, and J.T., Joe, and Taj for Jalapao. Brendan dropped out first when he was about to carry 220 pounds (100 kg). Tyson dropped out next at 140 pounds (64 kg), leaving just Debbie for Timbira. J.T. carried 220 pounds (100 kg) before dropping out next, tying the weight carried by Rupert Boneham in Survivor: Pearl Islands. Moments later, Joe dropped out at 140 pounds (64 kg), leaving the two women to continue the challenge. Just as both women were to move to carrying 120 pounds (54 kg), Debbie dropped her pole, giving Jalapao their fourth straight challenge victory. In a rare show of sportsmanship for Survivor, Taj congratulated Debbie for a "hell of a job". Jalapao selected Sierra to go to Exile Island, but since Brendan did not tell Sierra of his alliance's plan, she immediately picked Taj to join her. Joe and J.T. arrived to raid the Timbira camp and they chose to take Timbira's larger sack of beans and a can for water. Sandy derided the decision, stating that they should have taken both sacks of Timbira's beans. On Exile Island, Taj got the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, which told her it was hidden around the tree mail area. Taj told Sierra about her secret four-way alliance and Sierra readily agreed to join the alliance.
At the Immunity Challenge, Timbira broke Jalapao's winning streak. Before Tribal Council, Jalapao was undecided whether to vote out Sandy or Sydney. Ultimately, Taj, J.T. and Stephen did not want to risk Joe and Spencer feeling betrayed by voting Sydney off, so the vote went against Sandy and she was voted out.
|263||5||"You're Going to Want that Tooth"||7.3/12||4.1/12||March 12, 2009||12.82||#15|
The day after Tribal Council at Jalapao, Taj and Stephen found the Hidden Immunity Idol in the statue next to tree mail. Taj gave the idol to Stephen as he had shorts with pockets and was able to conceal the idol. While the rest of Timbira was off fetching water from the river, Sierra told Brendan that she decided to join the Exile Island alliance.
Jalapao won the Reward Challenge by a score of 3–1 and chose Brendan to go to Exile Island; Brendan chose Stephen to join him. Midway through enjoying their reward, J.T. found envelopes with letters from home. Back at Timbira, Tyson told Coach and Debbie that he was suspicious that Brendan was building relationships with members of Jalapao and that they should vote out Brendan at the next Tribal Council. On Exile Island, Brendan talked to Stephen about cementing the secret four-way Exile Island alliance, but Stephen was privately unsure about tying his fate in the game to the alliance. Spencer decided to keep his homosexuality a secret from his tribe, thinking that there was nothing to gain by coming out and also that it might conflict with J.T.'s Southern values.
Despite J.T. losing half of a tooth and almost single-handedly winning the Immunity Challenge for his tribe, Tyson and Brendan helped score a victory for Timbira. Tempers flared at Jalapao over their performance at the Immunity Challenge, with J.T. upset at Spencer's poor defense and Taj venting at Joe. Joe wanted to vote off Taj for this reason but Jalapao eliminated Spencer instead, voting him out.
|264||6||"The First Fifteen Days"||5.0/8||2.3/6||March 26, 2009||8.15||TBA|
|A recap of the first fifteen days including previously un-aired bonus footage.|
|265||7||""One of Those 'Coach Moments'""||6.5/11||3.6/11||April 2, 2009||11.27||#17|
The day after Tribal Council, Sydney was worried that if Jalapao were to lose the next Immunity Challenge that either she or Taj would be voted off as the men would stick together. Joe tried to assure her that she would make it to the merge as she was trustworthy and the men would vote off Taj first. Taj and Stephen discussed telling J.T. about the Hidden Immunity Idol, but not the secret four-way Exile Island alliance in order to secure his vote at the next Tribal Council. Over at Timbira, Coach clashed with his tribe over him burning a pot of beans.
The Reward Challenge was closely fought with Timbira winning with a score of 14–13. Timbira decided to send Joe to Exile Island and he chose Erinn to join him, thinking that she would be a good candidate to flip her tribal loyalties once the merge occurred. On Exile Island, Erinn selected the urn with the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol and shared the clue with Joe. Joe and Erinn thought that if they could find the two Hidden Immunity Idols, they could have a strong alliance together. To counter Joe figuring out Jalapao's Hidden Immunity Idol had already been found, Taj and Stephen crafted a fake idol and placed it in the statue at tree mail. After using the real idol as a model for the fake one she made, Taj tried to hide it her bag, but J.T. stumbled upon the idol after she walked off. Stephen tried to cover for Taj by telling J.T. that Taj had just discovered the idol moments earlier and had shown it to him. A bit later, Taj showed the idol to J.T. and told him that he could have it anytime he needed it. J.T. believed Taj and Stephen to be honest in their story and that he now had a strong alliance with them.
At the Immunity Challenge, Tyson gave his tribe a large lead by winning the slingshot shoot out over J.T. Brendan and Erinn finished off the puzzle to give Timbira their third Immunity Challenge win in a row. After the challenge, Joe told his tribemates that Erinn kept the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol to herself. Using an excuse that he wanted some water, he went to find the idol, not knowing that what he found was a fake. Joe told the tribe to vote out Taj. Stephen and J.T. tried to convince Joe to vote out Sydney, but were unable to convince him to change his vote. Stephen and J.T. thought about the possibility of blindsiding Taj at Tribal Council since Stephen had the Hidden Immunity Idol. However, the two kept to their alliance with Taj and Sydney was voted out.
|266||8||"The Dragon Slayer"||6.6/12||3.5/11||April 9, 2009||11.24||#16|
Anticipating a merge, Coach refocused his game and tried to get along with his tribe. Over at Jalapao, an infection on Joe's left leg appeared to have gotten worse. The tree mail on day 19 hinted at a Reward Challenge with a feast for the winner, but the tribes instead arrived at the challenge site to see a hut with a feast and note saying that they had merged. The castaways named their new tribe Forza, a transliteration of força (Portuguese: "strength"), and moved to the old Timbira campsite. Coach approached J.T. about forming an alliance, which suited J.T. as he was concerned about Jalapao going into the merge down 4 to 6. After cementing the alliance with J.T., Coach approached Tyson about forming a four-way alliance with J.T. and Stephen, targeting Brendan as the next to be voted out because Coach and Tyson did not trust him. Tyson talked to Stephen and Debbie about the potential alliance. Taj was concerned that Brendan wasn't holding up to his end of the secret Exile Island alliance, but Brendan wanted to keep it a secret and lie low until there were only seven or eight castaways left. Joe and Erinn went to get the Timbira Hidden Immunity Idol, but found nothing and figured out that either Brendan or Sierra had it.
At the Immunity Challenge, Tyson outlasted Debbie to win the first Individual Immunity. After the challenge, Jeff told Joe to stay around so that the Survivor Medical Team could look at his infected leg. The doctor diagnosed that infection was serious and could spread to Joe's bones or blood, which could lead to amputation of his leg or loss of his life. Stephen, Tyson, and Coach decided to blindside Brendan and negate him potentially playing his Hidden Immunity Idol by splitting the Tribal Council vote with four votes against Brendan and three votes against Sierra. However, all of the plotting would have to wait potentially three more days when Jeff arrived at camp to announce that Joe had been medically evacuated from the game by decision of the Survivor Medical Team and there would be no Tribal Council.
|267||9||"The Biggest Fraud in the Game"||6.8/12||3.5/11||April 16, 2009||11.64||#15|
Coach continued to feel that he was in control of the game and he targeted Brendan for elimination next, followed by Sierra. With Joe's departure, Erinn lost her only alliance member and thought about aligning herself with the former Jalapao members.
The Reward Challenge was a nailbiter when the challenge came down to two partially broken tiles for the black team of Brendan, Debbie, and J.T versus the white team of Erinn, Sierra, and Stephen. A final toss by Brendan knocked out the final white tile and his team won the challenge. They selected Stephen to go alone to Exile Island, per the rules post tribal merger. Unlike most rewards in past seasons, the winning team went on their trip the next day instead of immediately after the completion of the challenge. On their picnic, Brendan talked to J.T. about going all the way to the finals together. The next day, Brendan talked to Sierra and Taj about a plan to keep J.T. in the game and to vote out Coach, Erinn, and Tyson.
The Immunity Challenge was won by Tyson for the second time in a row. Coach and Tyson conspired to split the Tribal Council vote four votes for Brendan and three votes for Sierra to protect against Brendan using his Hidden Immunity Idol. Brendan wanted to finally reveal the secret Exile Island alliance to blindside Coach. Stephen and J.T. thought about following the Exile Island alliance. At Tribal Council, Brendan revealed that he has a Hidden Immunity Idol, but opted not to play it, thinking he was safe. However, Stephen, J.T., and Taj aligned themselves with Coach and Tyson to blindside Brendan.
|268||10||"It's Funny When People Cry"||6.8/12||3.2/11||April 23, 2009||11.30||#12|
After returning to camp from Tribal Council, Sierra thought she was the next one to be voted out and she tried to smooth things over with Coach. The next morning, Sierra continued to plead for her life in the game, but Tyson ridiculed her and said that she would not be able to change the vote and she would be voted out next.
At the Reward Challenge, the red team of Debbie, Erinn, J.T., and Tyson prevailed over the black team of Coach, Sierra, Stephen, and Taj. Stephen was chosen to go to Exile Island for the second time in a row because the red team did not want to give Sierra the opportunity to find a supposed new Hidden Immunity Idol since Brendan took his with him when he was voted out. At Exile Island, Stephen found the seventh clue to the original Hidden Immunity Idol, meaning no replacement Idol was put into play. Sierra continued lobbying Coach to give her a second chance to remain in the game, but Coach refused her pleas. After describing the Immunity Challenge, Jeff offered anyone who felt comfortable enough in the game to sit out and eat pizza for the duration of the challenge; Coach, J.T., and Stephen chose to eat.
Debbie won the challenge with the last slide of the game by knocking away Sierra's puck. Back at camp, Erinn pointed out to Stephen and Taj that there was an opportunity to vote out Tyson, the biggest perceived threat at the Immunity Challenges. Stephen agreed that this might be their only chance to take him out, so he convinced J.T. to blindside Tyson. J.T. was concerned about breaking up the "warrior" alliance he had with Coach and Tyson. At Tribal Council, Tyson and Sierra insulted one another, but it was Tyson who was voted out.
|269||11||"They Both Went Bananas"||7.0/12||3.6/11||April 30, 2009||11.73||#17|
Upon their return to camp after Tribal Council, Coach and Debbie were upset with J.T. and Stephen for not telling them about the blindside of Tyson. Debbie talked to Coach about reforming the Timbira alliance to regain control of the game.
The Reward Challenge was won by Stephen, who selected fellow ex-Jalapaos Taj and J.T. to join him. Stephen selected Erinn to go to Exile Island because he felt that he had a strong alliance with J.T, Taj, and Erinn and that they needed one of their alliance members at Exile Island to find any Hidden Immunity Idol, but there was no new clue to a new Hidden Immunity Idol. While on their reward, J.T., Stephen, and Taj discussed strategy for the next Tribal Council, either voting out Debbie or Sierra. Coach and Debbie tried to strongarm Sierra into rejoining the former Timbira alliance, but when she hesitated, they angrily turned on her. Coach felt a line had been drawn in the sand and approached J.T. about what his plans were for the final four. Coach lied to J.T. that it was Sierra who brought up bringing back the old Timbira alliance. Meanwhile, Sierra told Stephen that it was Coach and Debbie who brought up the Timbira alliance. The differing stories made J.T. and Stephen suspicious of all three of them.
At the Immunity Challenge, Coach, J.T., and Debbie moved on to the final round, which was won by Coach. In an effort to show that she was not lying about her version of the potential reforming of the former Timbira alliance, Sierra confronted Coach and Debbie about what exactly happened between the three of them in front of the whole tribe. Coach said that Debbie wanted to talk about a former Timbira alliance, Sierra got into Debbie's face, Debbie started to cry, and then he said that he did not want a Timbira alliance. Stephen and J.T. believed that Sierra's confrontation brought into the open Coach's half-truths and Debbie's scheming and they considered voting Debbie out, but also thought that voting Sierra out would cause less drama in the future for the tribe. At Tribal Council, Coach and Sierra continued their confrontation about who said what regarding a Timbira alliance. Unable to sway her tribemates, Sierra was voted out.
|270||12||"The Ultimate Sacrifice"||7.0/12||3.8/12||May 7, 2009||11.99||#15|
Upon returning to camp after Tribal Council, Coach was livid about Erinn and Taj voting for Stephen and Debbie, respectively, at the last Tribal Council. He talked to Debbie about targeting Erinn and Taj next, with Taj to go first. On the morning of day 31, Debbie woke up feeling that she needed to move away from her alliance with Coach and told J.T. and Stephen that she wanted an alliance with them. However, Stephen was worried that she was just playing the game instead of wanting a real alliance.
On the last item up for bid, Jeff presented a Samsung Instinct loaded with a video message from loved ones at home and announced that the usual Survivor Auction rules would be suspended and that the castaways could pool their money in order to get one of the castaways to win the item. Everybody gave their remaining money to Taj so that she could win the item uncontested. At the very end of the video message, Taj's husband, Eddie George, said that he would see them back at camp. After pointing out the last line in the video, Jeff told Taj that only Eddie would be back at camp, but if Taj offered to go to Exile Island where Eddie would join her, the other castaways' loved ones would be at the campsite. She immediately accepted the offer. Back at camp, the castaways were joined by Coach's assistant coach, Debbie's husband, Erinn's father, J.T.'s younger sister, and Stephen's brother. After the loved ones had left, the game resumed on the morning of day 32 with Debbie continuing to push her allegiance to J.T. and Stephen, even so far as promising to give the final Individual Immunity to one of them should she win it and they make it to the final three. The three continued to be suspicious of her promises, and after J.T. and Stephen told Erinn of this offer, Erinn said that Debbie had to go next. Coach, still uninformed of the voting out of Debbie, pushed the idea of voting out Taj to prevent the Hidden Immunity Idol from being played.
At the Immunity Challenge, Stephen was way behind the others as he stumbled off the balance beam several times, so he tried to remember all ten symbols in one pass, while the others needed multiple trips to try to remember the symbols. Stephen's memory technique did not fail him and he was able to come from behind to win Individual Immunity for the first time. Before Tribal Council, the game controlling alliance of J.T. and Stephen were torn between using the opportunity to vote out Coach or Debbie. They decided to move against Debbie, and she was voted out.
|271||13||"The Martyr Approach"||7.0/12||3.8/11||May 14, 2009||12.18||#18|
Coach was shocked by the turn of events at the last Tribal Council, especially after he was told that Debbie voted for him. Coach told J.T. and Stephen that he did not want to go to Exile Island because of his asthma, but J.T. and Stephen believed that Coach was scared to go to Exile Island and looked forward to sending him there.
The Reward Challenge was won by J.T. by a wide margin. He selected Stephen to go with him on the trip, and Coach to go to Exile Island. After he was selected to go to Exile Island, Coach said that he welcomed the opportunity to test himself and would take the "monastic approach" on Exile by spending the time meditating without food or water. This did not sit well with Erinn, who suspected that Coach was seeking an excuse for his inability to light a fire and prepare his meals. She called him out for trying to take the "martyr approach" and use his time at Exile Island as an excuse for not winning the next Immunity Challenge. While Stephen and J.T. enjoyed their reward, Erinn admitted to Taj that she felt a little guilty about what she said to Coach after the Reward Challenge, and was worried that what she said could cause J.T. and Stephen to vote her out before Coach. Taj reassured her that this was not the case, that their alliance was still strong. Coach did exactly what he said he would do on Exile Island, except for drinking some water, and was mentally refocused on the game. While on their reward, J.T. and Stephen talked about voting Erinn out before Coach because of what she said to Coach.
The Immunity Challenge was won by J.T. when he outlasted Coach, who collapsed from the challenge due to back spasms. Coach declined having the Survivor Medical Team look at him as he said he feared that he would be pulled from the game for medical reasons. Erinn and Taj were suspicious that Coach was playing up the sympathy card and that he did not want a medical exam because he knew that it would reveal that he was not hurt. J.T. and Stephen told Coach that their alliance was good and that Erinn was going to be voted out, but Stephen was not sure who he would vote for. At Tribal Council, the confrontation between Coach and Erinn at the Reward Challenge was discussed again. Just before the vote, Coach recited a poem, which visibly annoyed the jury members. Stephen cast the deciding vote against Coach and he was voted out.
|272||14||"I Trust You But I Trust Me More"||7.0/11||4.2/||May 17, 2009||12.94||#14|
Back at camp after Tribal Council, Stephen was concerned that he would be perceived as the one who betrayed Coach and that he lost jury votes.
At the Immunity Challenge, J.T. got a large lead during the puzzle piece bag retrieval stage, Erinn made a huge comeback from last place during the puzzle assembly stage, but J.T. managed to finish his puzzle just in front of Erinn to win immunity. Erinn pleaded her case to J.T. and Stephen that Taj was a threat for winning jury votes. The men agreed that they would take each other to the Final Two no matter what, but were undecided on if Erinn or Taj would be a greater threat at the next Immunity Challenge and with the jury. At Tribal Council, the men decided to break up the Jalapao alliance that existed since very early in the game with a vote against Taj and she was blindsided by a vote of 3–1.
On day 38, Erinn and Stephen told each other that they had to win the Immunity Challenge as neither stood a very good chance against J.T. with the jury. J.T. gave his word to Stephen that he would take him to the Final Two and Stephen likewise gave his word. The day's tree mail told the Final Three to take the traditional journey honoring the castaways voted out before heading to their final Immunity Challenge.
At the Immunity Challenge, Erinn was out first with three balls simultaneously going. With four balls circling the track, Stephen bobbled and dropped a ball, giving J.T. his third Immunity Challenge win in a row. Back at camp, even though Stephen lost the challenge, he felt a great relief that he would not have to decide who he had to take to the Final Two. Erinn told J.T. that Stephen told her that he would take her to the Final Two over J.T. to ensure himself a victory with the jury. When J.T. asked him, Stephen denied that he would have taken Erinn to the Final Two. At the final Tribal Council, J.T. decided to stick with his alliance and promise to Stephen, voted against Erinn, and she became the final member of the jury.
J.T. and Stephen enjoyed the traditional Final Two breakfast that they had planned to be at since the very beginning of the game. At the final Tribal Council, Brendan focused on Stephen's opening statement that he had grown personally in the game, asking Stephen and J.T. if personal growth was relevant and important to winning the game. Erinn asked Stephen about his changing alliances between the Jalapao Three, the Exile Island alliance, and the Warrior alliance. She asked J.T. why Stephen was the best player in the game. Debbie questioned J.T. about if her first impression of him of being an honest person was correct or if lying and deception was his M.O. She asked Stephen that if he had been the one wearing the Individual Immunity necklace at the last Tribal Council, would he have taken Erinn or J.T. to the Final Two. Coach asked J.T. and Stephen for examples of honesty and integrity during later stages of the game and being the noble warrior. Sierra had no question to ask of Stephen. She asked J.T. what he meant by taking the strongest players to the end as she called Stephen one of the weakest players in the game. Tyson asked J.T. if and why Stephen was an asset to him in getting to the Final Two. Tyson asked for a response from Stephen about J.T.'s answer to Tyson's question. Taj asked J.T. why, if it was so hard for J.T. to write down Coach's name at Tribal Council, it seemed so effortless of him to write down her name and why he thought it would be easy to lie to her. She asked Stephen why he felt it was so important to blindside her and if he felt that she was that big of a threat in the game. The jury vote went unanimously for J.T. and he became the eighteenth Sole Survivor.
|273||15||"Reunion"||6.4/11||4.1/||May 17, 2009||11.59||#20|
|The castaways return to discuss the season with host, Jeff Probst.|
- No vote; Joe was medically evacuated from the game.
- Erinn and Stephen were not eligible to vote as the only eligible players they could vote for were each other.