Survivor: Palau Episode Twelve
We’ll Make You Pay
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 6, 2005

Next stop for Gregg: toothpaste commercials.

Last week, the remaining members of Koror eliminated the last member of Ulong, Stephenie. Since Stephenie is by far the most engaging member of the cast this season, we debated throwing in the towel rather than finish the season. The six Survivors need to get a hell of a lot more charismatic, though. If Caryn and Katie make it much longer, we can’t be held accountable for our actions.

The winds are whipping at Koror on Day 31. Mother Earth is angry at Steph’s elimination as well. Tom is feeling somewhat relieved that he survived the prior night’s events. The paranoia has overtaken him, as he has looked up and realized that everyone remaining – save perhaps Gregg – sucks. The first law of Survivor is to eliminate the biggest threat. Out of these names, which one jumps off the page as a potentially dangerous opponent? Katie, Ian, Caryn, or Jenn? Wait, did we call Tom paranoid? Maybe he’s just realistic.

Tom wanders off to talk strategy with Caryn, who he says is “more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” How descriptive, Tom! Did you make that one up all by yourself? Is it time to ask her what you can do her for? Workin’ hard, hardly workin’?

Their conversation is enlightening on several levels. First, Tom restates the precarious nature of Caryn’s plight due to the fact that there is a five person alliance, six people remaining, and she’s not in that alliance. Caryn is bungee jumping with a heavily frayed cord at this point. Conversely, the attorney seems to be the only one aware of the fact that Gregg is every bit the physical threat as Tom, plus he has an automatic two-person alliance with his girlfriend. She (correctly) states that they need to get rid of him while they still can, making her the first player this season to verbally acknowledge the power player. Tom surprises us with his acknowledgement that he knows that’s likely to occur, but he just doesn’t feel right breaking their prior contract. Hey, Tom, how important is winning a million dollars, anyway?

Tree mail has arrived already, and the upcoming reward challenge promises some VIP treatment and a bit of R&R. Ian proves that he’s lost his mind by saying that if he wins and is allowed to choose a contestant to go along with him, he’d take “his girl” Katie. Dude, can we strongly suggest that you reconsider and go with Caryn, or even Tom? How about onanism? Have you considered onanism? Heck, we’ve seen a couple of eunuchs who say they’re pretty happy. Sex is overrated, Ian, or at least sex with Katie is.

This week’s reward challenge is one that rewards the Survivors for knowledge about the island. Each time they get a question right, they get to knock an opponent’s lantern closer to the water. Three hits to each lantern is all it takes, so this is a popularity contest, plain and simple. The prize this week is a trip out to a luxury yacht, a fresh shower, a feast, and an evening onboard the ship away from the other stinky Survivors. We reiterate to Ian that taking Katie would be bad. Bad, bad, bad.

Out of nowhere, this challenge turns into a soap opera: As the Lantern Falls. The players are perky Jenn, hunky Gregg, scheming Katie, jealous Ian and politician Tom. Also, Caryn is there, eliminated in the very first round because nobody cares. Goodwill Ambassador Tom tries to be diplomatic in his choices for elimination, as everyone but Katie receives a single hit from him. He is rewarded for this sycophantic behavior by being executed next. Nobody likes a kiss ass, Tom.

The machinations that make this segment such great TV involve manipulative Katie and the smitten Ian. She knows that the dolphin trainer is into her, but she has her eye on the much prettier Gregg. The key is how to negotiate with him right in front of Jenn without giving away her strategy. If, in the interim, Ian is left broken-hearted and bitter, that’s not really her fault, now is it? Gregg, picking up on the fact that all women love him and his rock hard abs, makes Katie an offer she can’t refuse. All she has to do is betray the man who loves her and she might get to take a boat trip! Katie can’t stab Ian in the back fast enough. She all but reaches into his chest, pulls out his still-beating heart and spits on it.

Seconds after she has thrown Ian under the bus, Katie realizes what happens to those who betray. They have a tendency to get slapped in the face by karma. Gregg finds himself in a position to target either Katie, the dumpy chick who is stalking him, or Jenn, the pretty girl he suspects might be his island soul mate. Attempting to play the game a bit, he asks Jenn for permission to knock her out of the game. This blows up in his face on two fronts. The first is that Tom, Ian and even Probst start laughing uproariously at his emasculation. The second is that Jenn gives him a look of disapproval that hasn’t been seen on this planet since Dick Cheney’s daughter told him who she was dating. Cowed, Gregg immediately reneges on his recent agreement with Katie, eliminating her from competition.

A priceless moment ensues as Katie moves over to the loser’s bench and tries to sit beside Ian, who promptly gives her the coldest shoulder available outside of Antarctica. Ian is beginning to see our point of view on the Katie Dating issue. Meanwhile, Gregg wins the reward challenge over Jenn but is then allowed to choose her to come aboard the yacht with him. Jenn has seen this challenge go about as well as humanly possible. First, her man has groveled at her feet right there in front of everyone and second, that scheming Joan Collins wannabe Katie has gotten her come-uppance. Things are going swimmingly. But then Probst announces that Gregg gets to bring a third person on their moonlit cruise, meaning that Gregg can string along Katie for a little while longer. Nothing kills a romantic mood like having Katie around and if you don’t believe us, just ask Ian.

All kidding about the segment aside, we can say with total sincerity that this made for great television. In the Simpsons vernacular, you can freeze frame the moment when Ian aka Ralph Wiggum’s heart breaks. Also, the schism in the tribe is clearly spelled out during this challenge. Ian and Tom stand in polar opposition to Gregg and Jenn. The former duo thought that Katie was with them, but they have come to realize that she is the very definition of an opportunist. Katie will go along with whichever group is willing to carry her useless carcass along as far as possible. Meanwhile, Caryn remains on the outside looking in, but if Ian and Tom have any sense about them, she is with them now for better or for worse. That makes for a three to three deadlock, indicating that nobody there is completely safe at the next vote. We list Gregg as the favorite to win it all, but his interaction with Katie might blow up in his face if jealous Ian seeks revenge for his public humiliation. The wheels are in full motion.

As if reading our thoughts, Ian states the following after the commercial break: “Today at the challenge, Katie chose to throw me into the water rather than Gregg. I said, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ If Katie is willing to sell me out for a night on a yacht, there is no way she is going to hold onto me for a million dollars.” You got that right, man. While we still wonder about what made him come to be attracted to Katie in the first place, we at least credit Ian for seeing her for what she really is early enough in the proceedings that he can do something about it.

Mirroring our thoughts about the current status of the game, the landlocked trio discusses the fact that they need to enact a new strategy. As the situation stands, Katie is clearly not with them any more, meaning that they need to bring Caryn into the fold. In addition, Tom, Caryn and Ian must figure out how to successfully target the true threat on the island, Gregg. Otherwise, they are reduced to competing against one another for fourth place. As much as we are lost in admiration for Gregg’s play in the game thus far, the reward challenge behavior was a dramatic misstep and possibly a fatal one.

After the commercial break, we’re taken aboard the Palau Aggressor II (a fitting name where Gregg is concerned) to hang out with the happy group of winners. They’re all given brand new swimsuits (is it catty to say that Katie’s looks waaaaay too small for her?) and then sent out to the massage tables. During the massage, Gregg gets a repeat of last week’s guy-on-guy action as a strange gentleman suddenly takes the place of his masseuse and begins rubbing his feet. Gregg realizes that these hands feel a bit…different, and turns to see his best friend behind him. After sussing out this situation, Gregg’s buddy seems excited to be there, but a little nervous about the prospect of potentially having to play wingman and entertain Katie.

An appetizer of chicken wings is served, and while the group is eating, two more people arrive on the scene. For Jenn, it’s her sister, which is normal enough. Katie, however, is such a marvelous people person that the only unfortunate soul willing to visit her is her brother-in-law. Unless they’re having an affair, this is just plain weird.

Back at the campground, Tom and Ian continue their earlier conversation. They have come to the realization that as things stand at the moment, if they were to go along with their original alliance and vote out Caryn as planned, they’re looking at finishing in no better than fourth place. Knowing that the tie-breaker might mean they have to pull rocks and potentially be eliminated at the next vote, they both agree that this strategy makes the most sense in the end. This discussion exemplifies the fact that this season has seen far more intelligent game play than in the past, and we’re happy not to be screaming at the television, telling people how stupid they are.

After this little chat, Tom and Ian tell Caryn to continue acting as though she believes she is the next person to be voted out. She says that she is “a very good actress.” Does this seem like ominous foreshadowing to anyone else?

Going back to the other half of the tribe, the other people on the yacht get quickly tired of Katie, so they toss her out into the ocean. Well, that’s not completely accurate, as the other folks also jump off the boat for the opportunity to swim with some dolphins. This continues for a little while before the dolphins say, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

The yacht trio talks some strategy with their friends and family members, revealing that they believe themselves to be headed to the final three. Katie shows her complete oblivion by stating that she’s the only one being sneaky. This tribal council has all kinds of potential to be faaaaaantastic.

Soon, it’s time for the yacht people to return, and the castaways who had to remain ashore are a little bit disappointed to realize that the reward involved visits of friends and family. If they were sick and angry about what happened in the reward challenge before, the bile is only amplified now.

With treemail comes the message that the Immunity Challenge will involve elements of numerous previous contests. There will be four different rounds, whittling the contestants down by one person through each go-round. The bad news is that balute makes a return here. For those of you who have blocked this bad memory from your mind, the balute is a partially developed duck egg. We’ll fast forward through that portion.

The first section is an obstacle course, which naturally puts Caryn and Katie at a huge disadvantage. The order of finish is pretty much exactly what you would expect. Tom and Gregg finish in a dead heat, followed by Ian, then Jenn. Caryn proves too frail as Katie beats her by a fairly comfortable margin. We move on to the puzzle challenge, so naturally the competition of the minds eliminates Katie. The Fear Factor competition, however, sees a surprise. Jenn is able to handle her undeveloped baby ducks just a hair (or should we say feather?) better than Gregg, and he’s out. This means that Tom, Ian and Caryn’s plan can go forward as they were hoping. Next up is the knot-untying contest, which knocks out Jenn. Tom and Ian are doing target practice, and the skinny dolphin trainer emerges with immunity.

“So, I can say with a lot of confidence that Caryn will be going home tonight.” – Gregg

“I think it will be interesting how the whole thing plays out.” – Ian

The game is afoot.

We expect a quick shift to Tribal Council, but that doesn’t happen. The rat metaphor is broken out as Ian takes Katie aside minutes before Tribal Council to reveal the plot against Gregg. At first, we are taken aback by this strategy, because it initially seems like an attempt by Ian to curry favor from the girl he loooooooves. After a moment, we fully appreciate the genius of the strategy. No one is more aware than Ian of Katie’s treachery and selfishness. Ergo, revealing to her that she needs to vote Gregg off is a foolproof plan. If Katie does not act in her own self interest (HA!), there is a 25% chance that she will be going home tonight. There is no better way to strong arm her into voting against Gregg.

At Tribal Council, it’s readily apparent that the deception is a complete success. Gregg and Jenn are fighting to hide secret smiles the entire time. In fact, Gregg is even envisioning himself rolling around in piles of money while Probst questions the group. All that needs to happen is for Caryn to exit, leaving Gregg, Jenn and Katie on a power play against Ian and Tom. But the viewing audience knows that’s not going to happen. The only question is whether the vote is deadlocked at 3-3, or if Katie flips and Gregg is instantly eliminated. Since we know Katie cares only about Katie, she naturally betrays her alliance with Gregg and Jenn. Survivor: Palau’s super couple is broken up as Gregg is knocked out of the competition.

The moral of the story? You should always have going away sex before Tribal Council, just in case.