Sandy Burgin the fourth castaway eliminated from 'Survivor: Tocantins'
By John Bracchitta, 03/06/2009
Sandy Burgin began her time on Survivor: Tocantins as a Jalapao tribe outcast who thought that she had been eliminated by a twist vote before she had even seen her tribe's camp. However, while the 53-year-old bus driver from Louisville, KY was able remain in the competition until Day 12, she became the fourth castaway eliminated from CBS reality competition during last night's broadcast.
"I was slung out right off the bat, the first day without anybody knowing me or anything," Sandy said following her elimination. "Then I kinda got in with [my tribemates], I was like the mother hen over all these little ducks, and I stayed around a lot longer than I thought I was going to and I didn't quit, so I'm real proud of myself."
Survivor: Tocantins' fourth episode began on Night 9 as the Timbira tribe returned to camp from Tribal Council where they had just eliminated an ill Jerry Sims from the competition
For Benjamin "Coach" Wade, a 37-year-old soccer coach and part-time orchestra conductor from Bolivar, MO, the Tribal Council session had been doubly frustrating. Not only had he had to delay eliminating Erinn Lobdell, a 26-year-old hairstylist from Waukesha, WI, from the game because of Jerry's illness, but he'd also had to have listen to Erinn say felt he was an inferior leader to Brendan Synnott, a 30-year-old entrepreneur from New York, NY.
"She said Brendan was a better leader [than me], but she doesn't know what she's talking about. It pissed me off," Coach said. "It made me think Erinn's gotta go because she is the cancer of the tribe. She would've been voted off tonight, almost unanimously, had it not been for Jerry coming down sick."
The following day, Brendan told the tribe that it was "great" that Survivor host Jeff Probst had brought up the notion of leadership for their tribe at the Tribal Council and added that they should all decide on a leader so they could "be done with it."
While Brendan added that he by no means had to be the leader, his tribemates -- including Coach, who seemed mildly frustrated at what he was saying -- agreed that Brendan was the best leader for the tribe at the moment.
Meanwhile over at Jalapao's camp, some tribe members began worrying about the time Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George, a 37-year-old from Nashville, TN, had spent in Exile so far in the competition. However, instead of catching on to the dual-tribe alliance that she had secretly been forming with Brendan, her tribemates instead worried that her body may be wearing down from spending so much time living out in the wilderness away from camp.
"When Taj goes to Exile I think we're all concerned about how she's holding up," said Spencer Duhm, a 19-year-old college student from Lakeland, FL. "It's definitely worn her down to be out there and to be out in the elements with no food [and] no water... So were all concerned with the toll it's gonna take on her in the long run."
However, while some worried about Taj's future in the game, she helped increase her chances of lasting longer in the game when she took aside Stephen Fishbach, a 29-year-old corporate consultant from New York, NY, to ask him if he wanted in on her secret cross-tribal alliance.
"Do you wanna be part of the biggest upset in Survivor history?" Taj asked him, before outlining how she and Brendan hoped to find both Hidden Immunity Idols based on the clues they had received in Exile and how he would be picked to go to Exile next time instead of her so no one would become suspicious.
Stephen accepted Taj's idea, and later gloated about the good fortune he had just fallen into.
"I might have just stumbled ass-backwards into a huge alliance!" he said excitedly.
However, the plan almost hit a huge snag over at Timbira's camp when Brendan was unable to get the time to talk to Sierra Reed -- a 23-year-old model from Los Angeles, CA whom he had chosen to include in the alliance and get sent to Exile so as to not raise suspicions as well -- and tell her to send Stephen to Exile along with her instead of a Timbira member who was not in on the alliance.
The tribes then gathered with Jeff for their Reward Challenge, which they were told would consist of three members -- two men and one woman -- holding a pole on their shoulders as two members from the opposing tribe doled out 10 lb. weights to be put onto the poles of the opposing tribe members.
The tribe with the castaway who was the last to drop their poles because of the weight would win a "Camp Raid," in which two of their tribe members would be able to go to the opposing tribe and take two items from their camp.
After Sierra volunteered to sit out the challenge for Timbira, Debra Beebe, a 46-year-old middle-school principal from Auburn, AK; Tyson Apostol's, a 29-year-old bike-shop manager and former professional cyclist from Linden, UT; and Brendan held the poles for Timbira while Taj, Joe Dowdle, a 26-year-old commercial real estate broker from Austin, TX; and James "JT" Thomas Jr., a 24-year-old cattle rancher from Samson, AK, held for Jalapao.
After the remaining members from each tribe began doling out the weights in 20 lb. increments, Brendan was the first contestant to be eliminated, dropping his pole as his weight was increased from 200 lbs. to 220 lbs., tying the all-time record weight for the classic Survivor challenge.
Tyson was the next contestant to fall after dropping the 140 lbs on his pole. JT followed after also tying the record 220 lbs. but not being able to hold it up for too long.
Following Joe's elimination, Debbie and Taj both faced off a the final two contestants. While they both began with equal weights of 80 lbs. on their poles, Debbie was unable to handle 100 lbs. as long as Taj was, dropping her weights and giving Jalapao their fourth straight challenge win.
Taj also followed through on her plan and sent Sierra to Exile. However, having not spoken to Brendan, Sierra didn't know to send Stephen to Exile. Fortunately for Brendan, Sierra chose Taj to go along with her to Exile instead. unknowingly saving the alliance for the moment.
As Timbira returned to camp, Coach worried that Jalapao could use the camp raid to land a death blow to his tribe.
"My biggest concern when we lost the challenge today, I thought they could clean out our food supply and then it would go downhill." he said.
JT and Joe -- who were sent by their tribe to Timbira's camp to take the items -- did indeed focus on food, but JT decided to not take all of their beans just in case some type of twist sent him to the Timbira tribe.
"I think it's very smart to not take both sacks of beans because you have to look forward in t this game. There could be a switch at any time, and if I was to end up over there at he Timbira tribe with no beans because I just stole both sacks I be pissed," he said.
Instead, JT and Joe decided to take only the larger of the two bags of beans and a water container. Upon returning to camp, Sandy could not comprehend why they had left any beans behind.
"They're probably thankful to y'all that you just took a bag of beans," she told them.
"You know, if they're thinking strategy, I don't think it's the right strategy," she added later. "It's like 'Okay you've got 100 guns, lets take 75 of them. You have 25 of them.' And oh, maybe [they'll] be able to take a shot at us."
As the tribe cooked up beans, which Sandy repeatedly referred to as "fartin' beans," some of her tribemates began to tire of her constant banter.
"Sandy is starting to get on my nerves," said Sydney. "As crazy as she is, she repeats everything [she says] at least three times and I think it's starting to wear on everybody, not just me."
However, Sandy didn't seem to think too highly of Sydney either, saying that the model had been "ssing everything from head to toe to enchant every one of the boys" on the tribe.
"[She runs around in boxers [and] doesn't sleep in her bra at night... [She's] up against the boys 24/7," Sandy said. "Trust me, she's playing this game hard."
After arriving at Exile and learning that Sierra had not been told about the alliance, Taj filled her in on their plan and had no trouble getting her to join.
"This is an absolutely amazing plan. It just feels great that I built an alliance with Brendan, that I chose the right person who was smart enough to form an alliance, to create this awesome foursome ruling all the Idols," Sierra said excitedly.
Additionally, Taj received a clue all but confirming that the Hidden Immunity Idol at her camp was hidden in their Tree Mail statue, as was the one Brendan found at his camp only days earlier.
The following day, the tribes met Jeff for their Immunity Challenge. For the challenge, one member at a time from each tribe would run out on a path to retrieve one of eight different puzzle pieces containing different letters on each of its sides. After retrieving the pieces, they would be placed into a frame and twist them until they revealed the phrase "Escape the vote, (tribes name) wins immunity."
With Taj sitting out -- because she told her tribemates that she couldn't run -- for Jalapao to even the teams, the challenge got underway. After Jalapao jumped out into the lead with a slight advantage after the first five pieces, Sydney's trouble untying the knot to give her the puzzle piece allowed Debbie to tale the lead for Timbira.
After Timbira got their final puzzle piece back first, both teams struggled to figure out the phrase and the piece in the proper order. However, Timbira was able to figure it out, breaking Jalapao's win streak and winning immunity.
After their loss, JT admitted to Jeff that the upcoming Tribal Council would be a "tough" one for his tribe.
"We've become one group here, we're trying," he told Jeff. "Nobody wants to go home, nobody wants to vote someone else home."
Spencer added later that Jalapao had missed out on a great chance to hold a large advantage over Timbira.
"The challenge was something we took as our big opportunity to gain numbers in this game and to hold them for some time," he said. "But right now we're gonna go back to six-on-six, so it was just overall very frustrating."
Upon returning to camp, Taj wanted to go look for the Immunity Idol at the Tree Mail statue and tell Stephen about what she had learned, but first decided to focus on the upcoming Tribal Council vote.
While Joe told Sydney that he was "kinda glad" they had lost the challenge so they could finally get rid of Sandy, Taj held a different opinion as she spoke to JT, Stephen and Sandy that she felt Sandy had outperformed Sydney in the recent challenges.
Very much aware that she was on the chopping block, Sandy did not know how worried she should be after hearing Taj's comments.
"I've got mixed emotions. I don't feel bad and I don't feel good," she said. "Taj is leaning towards Sydney, and she said I did better in the challenges actually than Sydney. But we'll see."
While aware that her name may be brought up for elimination as well, Sydney left for Tribal Council relatively certain that Sandy would be the one going home.
"As far as I know the vote's gonna be going onto Sandy K tonight," Sydney said. "I feel like I've tried to get on the good sides of people, so hopefully it's not me. But then again it's Survivor, so everyone wants to win."
At Tribal Council, Jeff began by asking Sandy if she felt she had recovered from the initial "First impressions vote" on Day 1, during which her tribe had voted for her thinking that doing so would eliminate her.
"I believe I did recover. I fit in with this gang quite well, given the fact that I'm the older woman," she said.
"Sandy's kinda the mother of the crowd," JT added. "She takes care of us and brings us up to do the harder work."
After saying that her age may hinder her somewhat in the competition, Sandy added that Sydney had been using her flirtatious ways to get allies in the tribe -- including wearing JT's boxer shorts around camp.
"It's hot out there, I don't have shorts, [just jeans]," Sydney responded.
"I have a flirtatious personality," she added later, admitting to Sandy's claims as well as Stephen's that she had flirted with Joe more than anyone else. "I flirt with women. I definitely flirt with Joe, he's a great guy. I get along with him really well. Its just inevitable for me, I think."
When asked how she felt the tribe would be different following the vote, Sandy answered vaguely, saying only that she felt some people would not be happy.
"I think there might be a person or two upset pending on the outcome," she said. "I imagine there'll be a couple real upset, so tomorrow will tell the story."
However, following the vote it was revealed that, not counting her vote for Sydney and Taj's vote for Joe, that all of the votes had been for Sandy and that she had been eliminated.
"Well, after tonight's vote both tribes are even 6-6. Brand new game," said Jeff.
The next episode of Survivor: Tocantins will air on Thursday, March 12 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.