Survivor: Palau Episode One, Part One
This Has Never Happened Before!
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
February 18, 2005

He's turned away from her for a reason, you know.

Probst sighting! Hey, would you look at that! Jeff has used his income from All-Stars to buy himself a speed boat! Nice. And here in a few minutes when he hits the island, he will have 20 new contestants. He can pick from among them the woman he will seduce after the season is over just like Julie last year and Jerri after season two!

We start with a Finding Nemo moment under the sea then cut straight to the danger shots. Look! It’s a shark! And lingering pirate remnants! And flotsam and jetsam from World War II. Palau is a very dangerous place, viewers! A survivor could die at any second! And we mean it this time, not like the others when admittedly, we were just trying to pique your curiosity. Lives are in serious danger! You should keep watching.

In case you thought that was a typo earlier, let me assure you that there are in fact 20 contestants this season. And all of them are stuck manning a rowboat since our man Jeff kept the 30 person yacht all to himself. This is what it must be like to be an Atlanta Falcon not named Michael Vick.

Day 1 begins with more focus on the sharks, the sunken war boats, and unexploded ordnance. We get it, Burnett. We’re already watching, so you can stop selling us. It’s not like The Apprentice where everybody is ditching you after last season.

The Viking horde approaches land. Randy Moss, of course, is nowhere in sight. The Survivors are cut off by Probst and his three-hour tour boat. We promise to give huge bonus points here and now if cannons pop up off the starboard bow.

The surprise announcement Pretty Boy offers is that the game is on. Right there, right then, a mile from shore. The first man and the first woman who reach the immunity idols positioned on the beach are safe from the first Tribal Council. A stunned moment of introspection occurs as the contestants debate how strong they are at the triathlon. Eventually, the group decides that they will row closer before turning on each other. It’s a metaphor for early alliances in the game.

“Jeff’s a sumbitch, let me tell you that.”

Let the confessionals begin!

A steelworker named James kicks things off with this sexy quote. Our initial impression is that he likes the Christian Bale character in The Machinist just a little too much. Beneath the genteel Southern twang beats a black heart that would make Chris, last year’s winner, beam with pride.

Next up is Coby, a hairstylist, who is wearing a pink shirt and has genuinely awful hair. We’re just going to ignore him for now.

Caryn, a civil rights lawyer, chimes in with her equally blah quote about the situation. So far, we’re not impressed with the new crew. And it’s only about to get worse.

At this point, a woman later identified as an English teacher named Wanda breaks into show tunes. Yes, we’re quite serious. Confused about which reality show she’s on, the heir apparent to William Hung stands up in the boat and begins to sing to the tune of Heart and Soul, punctuating seemingly random words with a chorus of SUR-VI-VOR! She’s written 63 songs about Survivor. And they all bring us pain.

At this point, an older, bald, bearded lawyer named Willard (who looks nothing like Crispin Glover) mentions to the camera that he had the desire to knock her off the boat. We have to say that the footage verifies that obliterating her with the oar was definitely on his mind.

Since Wanda also physically resembles our most hated Survivor ever, Lill, we resolve to despise her for the duration of the show. People like Wanda are what keeps us out of karaoke bars.

Stephenie (yes, we’re spelling it correctly) and Jonathan, a Dave Coulier look-alike, remember that fortune favors the bold. They are the first Survivors off the boat. She performs a graceful swan dive, which Jonathan tries to mimic. The end result is a cannonball. The duo quickly deduces that fortune is less favorable to the stupid. They get dusted so quickly, Stephenie actually asks to get back on the boat at one point.

Once the boat is fairly close to the island, the 18 marginally smarter Survivors jump off the boat. A young man named Ian (imagine a clean-shaven Sawyer from Lost) absolutely smokes the competition in reaching the first idol. From there, it’s a footrace between Jolanda and Jenn for the women’s necklace. Jolanda somehow manages to emerge victorious and (barely) keep her top on.

The initial speculation focuses on the fact that everyone is at the same camp and that there don’t appear to be tribal flags anywhere. The lone flag on the beach simply reads “Survivor Palau”. We must admit that the prospect of a completely individual competition is a tantalizing one, as alliances would be much easier to form then quickly discard.

The sheer volume of Survivors at camp leads to an unusually organized delegation of assignments. Like good little worker bees, the 20 contestants all accept tasks quickly and in an orderly fashion. Considering the fact that we have historically seen only eight (or nine) people on a tribe at the start, we can’t help but wonder exactly what Burnett has in store for this group. Unseen monsters? Polar bears? Tom Cruise’s cousin?

Crazy Lady is singing again. C’mon, headhunters, where are you?

A humorous moment ensues as Tom, an NYC firefighter, passes on the opportunity to build a fire. As he simply states, “That’s a losing job.” Tom has done his homework. Meanwhile, James fails in his attempt to start a fire. James has not done his homework.

At this point, Jolanda the barrister places a singles ad seeking “a young Hercules”. We suspect that our hairdresser friend, Coby, will not be responding. It seems she has made the fatal mistake of wearing her Sunday best on the boat trip, leaving her stranded on the island in heels. So, she needs a strapping young lad to whip out his machete and sweep her off her heels…err, sweep her heels off. Well, chop them off.

Ian, our male immunity idol wearer of the moment, chooses this opportunity to reveal himself as a dolphin trainer. This makes one of the items on the inevitable food challenge something of a no-brainer. How do we describe Ian? Well, you know how nobody ever believes that putting glasses on Clark Kent would make people not realize he’s Superman? When Ian has his glasses on, you start to believe it. The moral of the story: if you get chosen to do the show, get lasik surgery first.

Since the contestants have been caught off guard by the surprise start of the show, everyone needs a tailor. People are hemming their dress clothes left and right in order to make them livable for a period of 39 days. Oddly, all the mangled clothing still looks more normal than everything we saw at the Grammys the other day.

Success is achieved earlier than normal as a reject named Angie joins Willard, Caryn, and Coby to find the water source along with a bag of shoes. Angie and Coby immediately decide to be BFF, as their lack of normalcy makes them natural candidates to start the Outcasts Alliance. We bet they both taped Freaks and Geeks every week back in the day.

It’s tree climbing time, and former Vegas showgirl Janu is up to the challenge. The Cher twin jumps up and climbs to the highest branches. Even Donkey Kong would be impressed by her skill in this capacity. She later explains it’s her rock climbing training finally being put to good use.

Demonstrating that it’s never too early to make promises you never intend to keep, Stephenie and Tom start to negotiate. The duo decides without Ian’s consent that the three of them will make a good alliance. Effectively, everyone wants to make sure they aren’t alone if it does turn out there is a quick vote.

Jolanda takes time out to eat a grasshopper. Just because. We’re going to ignore Jolanda for a while.

Coby establishes what sort of player he will be by developing a wordless feud with Jonathan. Some perceived slight or, more likely, Coby’s own insecurity, causes him to target the physical threat for elimination. He talks with Caryn first but later professes he has discussed it with pretty much everyone else in the tribe (save the intended victim). Apparently, he feels that his Jedi mind tricks will warp tribe opinion against his sworn enemy. Coby, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the fact that you’re an outcast is because you turn psycho if somebody says hi to you in a tone you don’t like? Coby seems to be one of those players who feels empowered by a sudden opportunity to gain revenge for every slight from his youth. The fact that they are giving him so much face time tonight means that either he is gone fast or they want him to be the new, tax-paying Richard Hatch.

The morning of day two brings a visit from Mr. Probst. The survivors try to hide their nervousness by feigning excitement for his presence. The good news for them is that there are going to be tribes. The man and woman who won immunity, Ian and Jolanda, will pick teams of nine (including themselves). Those 18 people are not eliminated from the competition. The one who sang plus a friend, on the other hand, are gone. That’s right. We’re going to have twin eliminations in the first half hour of the show. All right, Burnett, you’ve got our attention.

The rule is that Ian must pick a woman and grasshopper scourge Jolanda, whom I guess we can’t ignore any longer, must pick a man. From there, they alternate picks and sexes but in an unusual way. The first pick makes the second pick, the second the third, and so forth. Ian is on the clock and with the first selection of the 2005 draft, he picks Katie. Jolanda takes the impossibly named Bobby Jon, a younger man who just might be her Hercules. Katie chooses Tom for their tribe. Bobby Jon takes Stephenie. Tom chooses Janu. Stephenie picks Jeff. Janu begets Gregg. Jeff begets Kim. Gregg selects Jenn. Kim wants James. Jenn likes Coby (dumbass). James takes Ashlee. Coby backstabs Suicidegirl for Caryn. Ashlee chooses Ibrehem.

The four remaining players are Angie, Willard, Jonathan and the psycho singer. Caryn is given the choice of which man will survive and which one will be eliminated. Caryn, who had previously bonded with Willard and who knew Coby disliked Jonathan, chooses…yup, Willard. Cute young Jonathan, bane of Coby, is eliminated from Survivor through no fault of his own. Ibrehem needs to make the same decision between Angie and Wanda. To the surprise of no one who has seen the episode thus far, he chooses Angie. Who’s singing Survivor songs now, Wanda? Err, other than Jimi Jamison.

Coby cries crocodile tears over his tormented decision to plot against a complete stranger. Since Crazy Singing Lady is gone, we migrate our hatred for her over to him.

Speaking of which, CSL sings her way off the island. Poor Jonathan not only gets eliminated from the show, but he has to ride on the boat alone with this nutjob. That’s like losing twice.

We figured there was something up with the 20 players, but being kicked from the show for not being picked for a Shirts vs. Skins game is lousy. Not quite Outcasts Return lousy, but a bad idea nonetheless.

Since that was a bit hard to follow, let’s try to make it easier to understand. There are two new tribes of nine members now. The first tribe, Karor, is comprised of Ian, Katie, Tom, Janu, Gregg, Jenn, Coby, Caryn, and Willard. The second tribe, Oolong, is made up of Jolanda, Bobby Jon, Stephenie, Jeff, Kim, James, Ashlee, Ibrehem and Angie. We see them as being split up among Jeff, Kim, James and Angie, the normally named folks, and Jolanda, Bobby Jon, Stephenie, Ashlee, and Ibrehem, the *ahem* more adventurously named. And the tribes will live on the same beach. The scheming should be off the charts this season.

Check back tomorrow to read part II of our debut episode recap.