Brendan Synnott the eighth castaway voted out of 'Survivor: Tocantins'
By John Bracchitta, 04/17/2009
After 24 days in the Brazilian Highlands, Brendan Synnott became the eighth castaway to be eliminated from Survivor: Tocantins during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
Brendan's elimination came after he boldly announced he was holding one of the hidden Immunity Idols but failed play it during a Tribal Council session in which he thought he'd masterminded a plan to vote off fellow castaway Benjamin "Coach" Wade, a 37-year-old soccer coach and part-time orchestra conductor from Bolivar, MO.
However Coach and his allies had secretly developed their own plan to vote off Brendan and anticipated that he might have an idol and play it, resulting in him receiving one more vote Sierra Reed, a 23-year-old model from Los Angeles, CA who was his closest ally in the game.
"I knew at the merge that what would happen is I'd become a big target. I didn't think it would happen quite that quickly, but it kinda feels good to blindside because I wanted to blindside somebody too, that's all part of the game," Brendan, a 30-year-old entrepreneur from New York, NY, said following his elimination.
"The thing that Sierra probably needs most is in my pocket right now, but it doesn't matter, she'd be the next regardless to go, it's just a matter of time."
Survivor: Tocantins' eighth episode began on Night 21 with the Forza tribe sitting by a campfire talking about Joe Dowdle's surprising withdrawal from the competition earlier that day.
"That sucks, Joe left camp today and there was just kind of this funk permeating the camp," Coach explained about how he decided to tell stories of his previous travels to boost morale. "We're sitting around there looking at the fire and nobody is saying anything and I just wanted to share a piece of my life with them."
However, Coach's story -- during which he said he was air-dropped into the Amazon to go kayaking and captured at the Peruvian border by a local tribe and then beaten and almost killed before he escaped and paddled away in his kayak until his hands bled -- elicited nothing more than blank stares from the other castaways.
"Honestly Coach is either the new coming of Jacques Cousteau or he's basically the biggest fraud that's in this game," Brendan said later. "I don't believe this guy anymore. If I don't believe his stories, how am I gonna believe what he's saying to my face?"
The following day, James "JT" Thomas Jr., a 24-year-old cattle rancher from Samson, AK, reiterated that he was comfortable with his standing in the tribe now that he'd formed an alliance with Coach; Tyson Apostol, a 29-year-old bike-shop manager and former professional cyclist from Linden, UT; Stephen Fishbach, a 29-year-old corporate consultant from New York, NY; and Debra "Debbie" Beebe, a 46-year-old middle-school principal from Auburn, AK.
JT also noted that, as viewers had already seen in last week's Survivor episode, the alliance had already decided whom they would be sending home next.
"So Brendan's going home [next]," JT said.
Covering all of his bases, JT also took a moment while fishing alone with Erinn Lobdell -- a 26-year-old hairstylist from Waukesha, WI who felt her only alliance had been with Joe -- to try and recruit her with his other alliance with Stephen and Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George, a 37-year-old from Nashville, TN.
Later that day, the castaways then met Survivor host Jeff Probst for their next Reward Challenge. The challenge featured three rows of boxes with ceramic tiles on the top of them and after being divided into three teams of three, the castaways would have to take turning tossing balls and trying to break the eight tiles in one of the other team's row of boxes.
The last team to have any tiles remaining would receive a white-water rafting trip down the Rio Novo followed by a picnic lunch, as well as the chance to send one of the castaways on another team to Exile alone.
The castaways were then split into their three teams: with the Black team consisting of Brenda, Debbie and JT; the Red team consisting of Tyson, Taj and Coach; and the White team consisting of Stephen, Erinn and Sierra.
After several rounds, the Red team became the first to be eliminated when Erinn broke their last tile, leaving the Black team with one tile left and the White team with two left.
The Black team then narrowed it down to one tile left for each team, however both team's final tiles got chipped by throws but did not break completely. Brendan finally won the challenge for the Black team by knocking the White team's last tile completely down.
After learning that they wouldn't be going on their white-water rafting trip until the following day, the Black team decided to send Stephen to Exile.
As the castaways left to return to camp Tyson said he was not happy to have lost the challenge but was confident Brendan would not be able to change his upcoming fate by spending some time with JT and Debbie during the rafting trip.
However, during the rafting trip, Brendan was able to befriend JT. After the two discussed strategy, Brendan said he'd been very impressed by JT and would do what he could to take him to the finals.
"I know it's crazy, but for me winning in this game is about getting to an outcome at the end of the game which is going to satisfy me," Brendan told the cameras. "[And] if [JT] wins [the competition], that's like me winning the game."
The next day, after not getting any sleep as he formulated a plan to try and save JT -- who he felt would be on the chopping block at the next Tribal Council session -- Brendan told Sierra that they, along with Taj, Stephen and JT, should join together to eliminate Tyson, Coach and Erinn.
Sierra seemed to be supportive of Brendan's plan, as was Taj when he mentioned it to her after.
The contestants then met with Jeff for their Immunity Challenge and were told that they would each be attached to a long rope that was threaded through an obstacle course. The first three castaways to complete the first course would then move on to the finals, where they would have to thread their way through a second, three-story-high obstacle course. The first person to finish it would win individual immunity at the evening's Tribal Council session.
The first round of the challenge then began, with Tyson, JT, Brendan and Sierra jumping out to a lead. They remained neck-and-neck as they entered into the last obstacle, but Sierra proved to be the odd castaway out as JT, Tyson and Brendan were the first three to finish the first round.
For the final round, Brendan was able to jump out to an early lead, but was caught up to and beaten by Tyson, who finished the challenge first and won immunity.
Following the challenge, Coach credited Tyson for preventing Brendan from winning immunity so he could still be targeted at the upcoming Tribal Council session.
"Tyson saved the day ensuring that Brendan will go home tonight," Coach said before detailing his plan further. "In case he plays the [Immunity Idol] we're gonna split the vote [with] four for Brendan and three for Sierra. Brendan's the dragon, I'm the dragonslayer."
After returning to camp and hearing Coach's plan, Tyson agreed but said he preferred for Brendan to go home first so he could have more time to taunt Sierra.
Meanwhile, seemingly completely unaware of Coach and Tyson's plan to oust him, Brendan went forward with his own plans to team with Sierra, JT and Stephen to try and get Coach eliminated instead.
"I think that this will be one of the biggest blindsides so far in the game," he said.
The castaways then traveled to meet with Jeff for Tribal Council.
After immediately catching some flack from JT and Taj about his longwinded and somewhat outlandish stories, Coach not only inisisted that his stories were true, but added that he had actually been toning down his tales for the other castaways.
"What I've been through in my life, its been pretty fantastic. I've got scars all over my body that I can point to of the five, six, seven, eight of the life or death situations that I've been through," Coach insisted as the other contestants cracked up in laughter.
When asked how important it was to eliminate a stronger contestant from the competition, Brendan said that while he understood the motivation to vote based on strength, other factors also played into succeeding on Survivor.
"It's natural to wanna go after the strong, but just because you're strong doesn't mean you go deep into this game."
Taj felt differently and thought that eliminating the stronger competitors was a smart idea. However she added that she was hesitant to vote for JT because she had grown to like him so much.
"I mean JT is fast, he's a lovable person and he's like a triple threat because you just can't find anything wrong with him," she said.
Just prior to the vote -- but after Tyson told Jeff he suspected that anyone who had been to Exile could have a hidden Immunity Idol -- Jeff quickly asked Taj, Erinn, Stephen and Brendan if they had an Idol. While the first three castaways denied having anything, Brendan seemed to surprise even himself when he revealed that he had an Immunity Idol.
"I have it," Brendan admitted before smiling and slowly putting his head into his hands.
The castaways then cast their votes for who they wished to eliminate. Just prior to revealing the votes Jeff asked if anyone wished to play an Immunity Idol, but Brendan only took a drink of water instead of deciding to play his Idol.
The decision proved to be costly, as Brendan received votes from Debbie, Taj, Coach and Stephen to narrowly edge out Sierra, who received votes from Tyson, JT and Erinn, and was voted out of the game. Only Sierra and Brendan followed through with Brendan's plan to vote off Coach.
The next episode of Survivor: Tocantins will air Thursday, April 23 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.