“Drama queen” Coach finally voted out

Say what you want about Survivor TocantinsBenjamin “Coach” Wade: He made excellent television for 12 episodes. His final episode last night was no exception, and the series’ editors were once again brilliant with their edit of Coach, combining epic helicopter shots, nature footage, and images of him silhouetted against the sun with visual and audio cues that highlighted his never-ending ridiculousness.

What can one think about a man who, in all apparent seriousness, calls himself “the last of the Mohican” and also invites criticism by saying, “hit me with your best shot, Pat Benatar”? Taj apparently had enough, summing him up well at various points by saying, “This guy is such a drama queen” and “any 37-year-old man who thinks he’s a dragon slayer belongs in a mental institution.”

Sent to Exile by JT–even though he was whining about his aliments and insisting one of the women should go–Coach went into full-on warrior mode, and the editing mocked him by including music that seemed to take him seriously, at least until it stopped abruptly as a way of pointing out how absurd he sounded. “It’s going to be like the ancient American Indians that are my ancestors, who used to go out in the wilderness for 48 hours, and they would commune with the creator of the universe, and they would become men,” Coach said. “But I’m already a man [music stops] so this will just make me more of a man, but this is going to be more of an adventure.”

Erinn actually almost went home, thanks to the way she called him out on his never-ending bullshit. When JT sent him to Exile, Coach said he’d take the “monastic approach” and not eat or make fire while there. Erinn said, “He’s going to take the martyr approach” and would be “minimizing the experiences” of those who went before him. Coach argued back: “I want it to be tough on me,” and then the drama queen said “my body is about this close right now from total disaster,” listing ailments such as ruptured discs and asthma (“I can’t breathe”). Once he was done making excuses, he said, “I make no excuses.”

JT called Erinn’s comments “a dumb move” and Stephen said, “it kind of makes me want to keep her less” because “it’s not strategic.” But he joined Taj and Erinn to vote Coach out, crushing his dreams of changing the game forever. The suspense of whether or not that would finally happen lasted until the very last second. Beat that, The Hills.

Coach almost won immunity, or at least, was one of the final two in the endurance challenge. He showed up from Exile hobbling like an old man, and then when he finally gave up and jumped down, fell to the ground moaning. Stephen and JT seemed genuinely concerned, while Taj and Erinn rolled their eyes. Coach refused medical attention–perhaps, as Taj pointed out later, because if he was examined, they’d find nothing wrong with him, since he seemed just fine later, walking around camp.

Coach’s unrepentant lying continued when, after being sent to Exile by JT even though he didn’t want to go, started saying things like “I put myself” out there and “I did it,” as if he’d volunteered. At least he was honest when he thanked JT and Stephen “for protecting me” during the last Tribal Council and said, “obviously, I’m still at your guys’ mercy.” He also said a bunch of stuff about their warrior alliance and honor and honesty, which means he probably won’t give Stephen his vote Sunday night.

Speaking of the three-hour finale, we’re apparently headed for a final two for the first time in many seasons, since Probst said there would be three Tribal Councils, and just four people remain. It’s pretty clear that JT and Stephen will be the final two, and JT has the win wrapped up–although since it was Stephen’s vote that sent Coach home, there’s a possibility of some conflict between them. Will they turn on one another, or go to the final two as they’ve planned nearly all season?

Before all that goes down Sunday, let’s have a moment of meditative silence for the awesome man who called himself “unbreakable, unbending, unyielding, immeasurable, immovable, invincible,” and later inexplicably slipped into the third person to say, “Coach Wade’s body might be failing him in many ways, but Coach Wade still has what it takes to outlast anybody out here in this environment. Period. Paragraph.”

But now Coach Wade is out of the game, exclamation point, paragraph, dumbass.

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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.