Notes: Nothing out of the ordinary scoring-wise in this episode: two JT challenge wins, and a simple 3-2 majority vote. But since the episode presented the Coach boot as Stephen's choice, we thought we'd delve into that a bit, to see if he made the right one. We're not sure he did.
Stephen's only possible path to a victory would have required him to vote JT out. Clearly, that couldn't have happened in the previous episode (even with the reckless bravado immunity would have given him), since it was a 3-3 Jalapao-Timbira tie, and nobody else was even thinking of voting out JT. Just as clearly, it couldn't have happened in this or future episodes, because JT wins this and both remaining immunity challenges. What's striking, though (from Coach's final words), is how severely Stephen underestimated Coach's fury at Stephen's betrayal of the Warrior Alliance, and how much that was amplified by JT sticking with Coach on this vote. Stephen may have had a chance at a stronger showing with the jury if he'd voted for Erinn instead.
Voting out Coach here, however, might also have backfired, and perhaps even ended up worse for Stephen (as in third place). If JT was willing to play into Coach's warrior ethos here, there's no reason he couldn't have kept doing so at the next two votes, bringing Coach to the final two with him, rather than Stephen. This would be the best move for JT, and he would have kept his pact with Coach, while making a stunning game move against a strategist who might respect it.
So Stephen really didn't have a viable path to the million here, despite how deeply involved he was in his and JT's overall strategic thinking. Of the two choices, voting out Erinn here might have given Stephen a slightly better chance to win, because clearly the jurors have been deeply unimpressed with Coach for the past two Tribal Councils. Simultaneously, however, doing so would have decreased Stephen's chances of reaching the finals. Much as Coach admitted his fully fed and rested self couldn't have outlasted JT in the IC, Stephen really had no chance to beat JT in this game.
Oh, and to mark the final exile of the season, here are the rankings for cumulative days spent on Exile Island:
1. Taj (7 days); 2. Stephen (6 days); 3. Brendan (5 days); 4. Erinn (4 days); and three-way tie for 5th - Coach, Sierra, Joe (2 days).
- Coach received 3 votes, from Stephen, Erinn, and Taj (voted out, 3-2).
- Erinn received 2 votes, from JT and Coach.