Survivor: Palau Episode Two

Love Is in the Air, Rats Are Everywhere

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

February 25, 2005

Da plane! Da plane!

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Night three at Koror is not the happy song and dance to be expected of the tribe not currently voting a member off. The events of the capsized boat and new living arrangements have combined to make Caryn regret her decision to sign on for the show. She is in a lousy mood, and she doesn't want to be the only miserable contestant. That means she comes out swinging. Her first target is Tom, the man she blames for picking the new place instead of the prior island. She attempts to demean him for his mistake in a classic example of Monday morning quarterbacking. Tom is having no part of this, immediately pointing out that his initial reaction was to stay. He mentions that three others shouted "new adventure!" when the question was posed, so Tom went along with the group think. This fact check is of no matter to Caryn. She's tired, she's cranky, and she wants to ensure that her bitching disease is communicable.

All this does is turn the tribe against her on the issue. As the level-headed Katie, an advertising executive, states, "Caryn is really annoying, because she has not stopped talking about how this island sucks and how everyone didn't want to come here." In a priceless moment of editing, rain starts, causing Caryn (and Caryn only) to exclaim, "OH NO!" Caryn, if it's raining on your part of the island, odds are better than average that it is raining on the other part of the island as well. More to the point, if you are complaining about something that even Coby is taking in stride, you have crossed a dangerous line.

Symbolically, the new beachfront is already infested with rats. It's hard to decide who is more frightened by this realization, Janu the cabaret dancer or the rat. She shrieks and flees in terror, but the cameraman comically captures the rat jumping straight up in the air, stricken with fear. It's like the rat is saying, "I can handle a lot of living conditions here on this crappy island, but nobody told me I'd be stuck with Survivor contestants."

Sanitary note: one of the other rats has his head entirely inside one of the coconuts the Survivors are drinking. If there is a bubonic plague outbreak, we know the cause.

The losing tribe at the first immunity challenge, Ulong, is slumbering peacefully now that their most temperamental member is gone. It's like a Disney song of happiness and joy. A humorous moment ensues when the leadership vacuum is addressed by the group. "So, what should we do?" is the question posed. The answer is lost in the deafening noise of crickets chirping. Without the drill sergeant around to tell them what to do, we're half afraid a couple of them will forget to breathe.

White trash James drawls a few comments about the situation. "We can make our own decisions and be democratic about it. We're Americans and we're gonna do democracy." Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the red state voter!

James biographical note: his wife is named Brandi. If only she had been Brandine, we could have called him Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel for the rest of the year. Aww, screw it, we're doing that anyway. Then, later on, we're doing democracy!

Rather than risk further conversation from James, the show skips straight to the first reward challenge of the year. Savvy.

The challenge involves a combination of balance, dexterity and ruthless aggression. A single contestant from each tribe will attempt to navigate a series of balance beams. Their task is made more difficult because two members of the opposition are allowed to throw medicine ball-like objects at the racers as they attempt to capture a flag. Since some of the balances are moving, it's tricky to simultaneously avoid a braining while making headway towards the flag. The prize is worthy, though. It's fishing gear that would make Rupert proud. In addition, if Ulong wins, the tribe will also receive a flint. Since Koror is not given the same option, it's readily apparent that this group will be forced to go snorkeling for flint later on in the episode.

Pratfalls abound throughout the competition. James makes it all the way across only to somehow manage to get thrown off right at the finish of his leg. His legs fly up in the air such that he manages to bust his butt against the wall in front of him. It's painful and gymnastic! Coby spends a comically extended period of time attempting to get in touch with his chi only to trip on his first step and eliminate himself instantly. Caryn tries to spin out of the way of a sandbag only to twist herself off her feet, banging her head on the way down to the water. It's the Karma Challenge!

Before the competition starts, Suicide Girl stated that her continued insecurity about tribe status will be alleviated by a strong performance in the challenge. Rather than show this to be empty lip service, she proves her mettle. Angie is the first contestant to make it all the way across and deliver a flag to the base. She winds up retrieving three of her team's needed ten flags. So impressive is Angie's determination that she merits a kiss from Kim at the end of the competition. Angie appears to be safe in the short term as long as she stays beneath radar and doesn't make waves.

As Ulong returns to camp, they celebrate Angie's accomplishments. Most of the group had her pegged as the weak link, and it's to their credit that they're so upbeat in their encouragement. Even Bobby Jon, who has shown a lot of anger during challenges so far, is impressed. "I don't know what got into her, but it was good, and it totally changed the morale of our whole tribe."

He's right, too. Within minutes, the team is able to get fire started from their newly awarded flint. Refreshing smiles are displayed all around. It's a huge departure from the group's demeanor of the previous day, after losing the previous challenge and contending with the thoughtless bluster of the now-ousted Jolanda. Doing democracy really seems to work for these kids.

Random observation: James has the biggest nostrils I have seen since Steve Martin in Roxanne. He's like a modern day Tycho Brahe. That nose cannot be real.

Spirits are so high that eager boys Jeff and Bobby Jon head out to try their hands at fishing. Even though their prize catches wind up being rather tiny, they're very optimistic about future prospects. Nemo and his undersea friends had best be on their guard.

As a parting shot, Jeff takes time out to express a bit of schadenfreude. "Being well fed and well nourished is a huge advantage at the next immunity challenge. I'm glad they don't have the flint, and I hope they don't find it." He's right, of course. They'll make for much better TV that way.

Speaking of Koror's lost flint, the members of that tribe have apparently chosen the worst possible time to go on their underwater treasure hunt. The current is so strong that it barely appears that the boat is moving. Coby and Caryn "help" by sitting on the shore, bitching about how their teammates are looking in the totally wrong spot.

All at once, the search and rescue team locates the box. Unfortunately, it's approximately 25 feet down and impossibly heavy. Although Ian makes a few attempts at trying to hook the box to a rope, he rapidly becomes exhausted from the exertion. After a tense few minutes, though, he becomes Koror's hero of the day as they finally get the box hauled into the boat. The attitude at camp turns 180 degrees as the quest for fire is, at long last, a success. This is a significant boost going into the upcoming immunity challenge, where a demoralized Koror could have seen disastrous results.

How good is it going for Ulong right now? Stephenie says they are able to eat for the first time in four days! Apparently, they were on some sort of group hunger strike that had yet to be mentioned. We suspect exaggeration, but the point stands. They've got fire, they've got fish, they are living the caveman's dream right now. CAPTAIN CAVEMAN!!!

Ashlee has not watched much Survivor in the past. How else could we explain the fact that Ashlee abstains from eating and hanging out with the group? Everyone knows by now that the worst thing in the world to do is alienate oneself. Not eating is an equally serious sin. Ashlee damn well better be impressive on the challenge because if she is not and the group loses, Little Miss Isolationist 2005 will be next on the chopping block.

"Kim has been snuggling on Jeff a lot." Hmm, sounds like somebody wants to get a gig on The Amazing Race after this season is over.

Probst Sighting! Today's immunity challenge requires a working knowledge of Morse Code. Color us skeptical about Cletus' chances. The goal is to swim out to a pontoon, submerge and pull a barrel underwater for a set distance. Once completed, the crate releases eight mess kits that contain morse code on one side. The message must be deciphered, then the kits lined up in a fashion which spells out the word "immunity".

Since all eight contestants of a tribe must reach the pontoon before they submerge, Willard slows down his team. Ulong already has moved their crate ten meters before Koror even begins to dive. Tom takes over from there, though. The fireman's first attempt immediately neutralizes the advantage the other team had. From there, his other dives are the key to his team acquiring a massive lead. Ulong's team is comprised of mediocre swimmers who are unable to submerge for an extended period of time. This causes them significant overhead as the various people need time to dive, position themselves and then return to the surface. Tom is such a dominant swimmer that he remains below the water while a series of six different members of the opposing tribe swap in and out. He all but single-handedly wins the challenge for his group, as they easily input the code once on the surface. Ulong is heading to Tribal Council. Again.

It's time to play It's Anybody but Ashlee. First, we start with Kim. 'She's not pulling her weight.' Then, it's James. It seems Cletus is just bugging people. Go figure. In the end, it appears that the battle lines are drawn between the Ashlee and Kim camps. Ashlee's candidacy is helped by the fact that she is friends with Stephenie, a woman who already has formed an alliance with Tattoo Angie and Cletus. The four of them are countered by Kim, Ibrehem, Bobby Jon, and Jeff (Kim's new fella). The schism is simple to explain. Stephenie is concerned about a potential Rob and Amber situation down the line. She wants to break up the most unbreakable of alliances before it gets too ingrained. The other dispute is over which person is weaker, Ashlee or Kim. Anyone who has watched the episode knows the score, though. Ashelee didn't eat with the group on the night they attained fire. There is no bigger no-no on the show save throwing up. Tribal Council reveals that the professed four/four split is a myth. Everyone knows Ashlee wants to go home (and, according to her exit monologue, fantasize about hunky Ibrehem). She gets six votes while happy couple Jeff and Kim get a single vote each. Ashlee is the fourth player eliminated, leaving Jeff and Kim free to do democracy in the privacy of their own tent for at least another three days.



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