JT loses a tooth and Spencer goes home, but not because of his challenge performance

Spencer Duhm, the youngest cast member in the history of Survivor and the current boyfriend of a former winner, went home during last night’s episode of Survivor Tocantins, the last real episode until April.

He was voted out apparently as a result of his performance in the immunity challenge, during which Spencer didn’t do much and tribemate JT sacrificed a tooth. “The only thing I have for you is your tooth,” Probst told them as they left, ending a surreal sequence during which Probst took possession of the tooth (“here, I’ll hold it”) after Brendan found it (“you want this back, JT?”) after JT spit it out and then threw it to the ground.

Despite the fact that Jalapao comes off as “just a bunch of happy morons over there that don’t know how to play the game,” as Spencer told me a few minutes ago, there was actually a lot of strategizing, like a day-two alliance between the men, and then “a sort of secret alliance” between Joe, Sydney, and Spencer. “I know Taj gets a lot of credit for the Exile thing, but I think Stephen, JT, and I were definitely the ones playing the game the hardest strategically on that tribe, and they just didn’t show it because there’s just so much going on at Timbira and at Exile that I guess the time just didn’t allow it, but there’s a lot going on with us,” Spencer said.

Spencer told me he was voted out not because of his challenge performance–“we moved on from that, trust me”–but “Joe went to Sydney” and told her “if you don’t turn on [Spencer], it’s going to be you.” They went back to JT and turned the tribe against Spencer, as his multiple alliances “ended up making me seem really sneaky.”

While that was happening, Spencer said he was “thinking, it’s Taj before Sydney,” which is why he voted for Taj. Had he known they were targeting him, Spencer said, “I definitely would have raised hell, trying to out a bunch of alliances … but I didn’t think I was going home.” Only when it took everyone a long time to write their votes did he figure it out, because “they’re not writing, ‘Taj, I love you,’ they’re writing ‘Spencer.'”

Pre-game, Spencer told me he wanted to be a follower in the game, but his multiple alliances actually led to his downfall. Still, he doesn’t regret that. “Had I just rested on my laurels and just gone with the guys’ alliance and gotten voted out without playing my own strategy to keep myself safe, then I would have been really disappointed with myself,” he told me. “As a fan, it was an amazing experience, and one that I will never forget, and I would totally do it again in a heartbeat. I am so fortunate to have been chosen for the show.”

In last night’s episode, we saw Spencer talk to Sydney about relationships, and he essentially lied to her about his sexual orientation. Spencer told me that he never ended up coming out to anyone, because like he said on TV, “I didn’t want them to have any kind of minor, subconscious reason to get rid of me.” He said that Sydney figured it out, because “Joe and Sydney would snuggle, but I wouldn’t, and she took that as me being gay.”

Speaking of sexual orientation, during our pre-game interview, Spencer was critical of previous gay contestants, including Todd but primarily Survivor Gabon‘s Charlie Herschel, and he got a lot of harsh criticism for it.

I asked him about that this morning, and Spencer said, “I had completely forgotten about that interview entirely, so when I read it I was mortified, my jaw just dropped. I was yelling at the computer screen, I was like, ‘Shut up, Spencer, shut up. Stop talking.’ And when I read the stuff about Charlie I was so upset with myself, and so I immediately contacted him saying, ‘I sincerely apologize, I was a complete ass, I don’t know why I said any of that, it was completely out of line, I don’t even know you.'” Spencer said Charlie “just kind of laughed it off and he’s been great, and I really appreciate that because I was so bugged by it, the fact that I said all that stuff, and I was really irritated with myself, but he handled it really well and he was very nice about it. We handled it right away so the fact that people kept making an issue out of it was ridiculous, but that’s what people do, so, nothing else to talk about, I guess.”

Meanwhile, Spencer is dating Todd Herzog, and their relationship has generated such interest that someone offered to sell–sell, not send–me a photo of them taken yesterday in a Utah mall. While Spencer wouldn’t talk about about his relationship with Todd or his “personal life,” when I told him about the photo, he said, “Are you serious? Oh my goodness. … That is ridiculous. People are weird.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.