Survivor Palau Episode Nine

I Will Not Give Up

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

April 15, 2005

Well, pink is supposed to be stylish for men this year.

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It’s night 21 at Ulong. We’ve all seen this horror movie before. The tribe of nine has been reduced to one spunky, vivacious vixen. Stephenie has grabbed her flashlight and headed down into the basement. Is she alone in the dark? There seems to be a cameraman, but what do we know about this unseen stranger? He has survived, while everyone else has vanished from the island. And his machete has blood on it! Of course, that’s probably just because he stole it from crazy Matthew from a few seasons ago.

Uber-producer Mark Burnett has decided that it’s not enough this season to just have the show play out as it typically does. Now he’s also performing cruel psychological experiments on his contestants. This explanation is the only one possible for him to send a tribe member back to camp all alone. It’s the reality show equivalent of solitary confinement. Ulong keeps losing, so he’s thrown Steph in the box. We look forward to her being forced to make out with the evil warden, then having a knife fight in the courtyard.

Stephenie discusses the experience during a monologue. The highlight is when she mentions that Bobby Jon taught her too well about how to build a fire. Had he not done this, she would have had no hope of beating him at Tribal Council. Of course, Steph deserves a lot of credit as well. Her initiative in learning the various camp tasks was her salvation in the end. For Bobby Jon, it was just more well-intended bad luck.

“Twenty-two days down, seventeen to go.” You have to admire the woman’s focus or impossibly optimistic point of view about her current situation. Of course, from her perspective, the remaining Ulong-er probably thinks she’s lost about as much as one person possibly could in an entire season. So, her luck is due to improve.

Day 22 at Koror finds the Ulong exterminators lethargic. Ian is frustrated with the behavior of Coby and Janu. The latter woman is accused of sleeping all the time. Meanwhile, Ian has picked up on some sort of attitude issue from Coby. Shocking!

Looking for ways to keep busy, the Ulong tribe (?) goes fishing. Steph straps on the mask and goes underwater. She returns looking very much like Ursula Andress/Halle Berry, but she has no luck catching anything. She then proceeds to vainly attempt to knock a coconut out of a tree. After a few failed tries while the cameraman does nothing to assist, she resolves herself to a day without food. Then, her luck changes and she liberates one coconut from its perch. Holy crap, is this segment cruel!

Apparently, Steph’s tribulations are so harsh that even a grinch like Burnett has his heart grow three sizes. The governor has called and given inmate #1 a full pardon, sending a note to her indicating that she should grab all her stuff and row over to the other camp. The young woman bursts into tears of joy and relief at this news, quickly grabbing some items and getting the hell out of Dodge. In a classy moment that exemplifies the fire in her belly, Steph grabs the Ulong tribe banner to take with her to Koror’s home base.

When the Ulong tribe (?) arrives at Koror, hugs are shared by most. Janu even considers getting up for a moment before realizing how much effort would be required in such an endeavor. Exactly when did she become Dagwood Bumstead anyway? If she eats a giant sandwich, the transformation will be permanent.

Stephenie dutifully delivers the message she has been asked not to read first. The text starts with “Ulong has been conquered, so enjoy the spoils of war.” Wait, is that an open invitation to pillage and plunder the camp and make Steph their sex slave?

The next several minutes involve her integration into the new tribe. You remember the Simpsons episode where Bart was named the heir to Mr. Burns so he got to move into the mansion? It’s kind of like that. “Wow, they have a toilet that works!” What marvelous technology. Also, remember the Simpsons episode where Lisa becomes jealous of that girl who sounds just like Winona Ryder? Jenn is like Lisa here. Apparently, she took an instant liking to Stephenie since, you know, they’re both pretty and stuff. Then, she found out that Steph is also better than her at competitions, so now she is riddled with envy. We expect this to end with Jenn destroying Steph’s diorama minutes before Principal Skinner awards Ralph Wiggum a prize for bending his wookie. Hey, if Survivor isn’t going to be entertaining, we’re going to amuse ourselves by remembering moments from other TV shows that don’t suck.

Not everyone is pleased by how popular Stephenie is with Koror. Coby goes off on a rant that makes him sound like Comic Book Guy describing Aquaman’s pending nuptials to a woman without gills. Okay, that’s the last Simpsons reference this episode, we swear. Anyway, the point is that Coby is jealous that Stephenie is the belle of the ball while he is stuck being the lonely wallflower that none of the boys notice. You can understand the bitterness, though. He has spent a lot of time maneuvering, manipulating and strategizing. Stephenie is an x-factor and all she can do is mess up his big plans.

Soon, a pair of authentic Palau-ians…ers…ites arrive to teach the new Koror tribe members how to fish. Basically, it involves catching little things to use as bait for small fish. From there, they’ll move on to larger catches. Eventually, they’ll have bait big enough to catch Big Tom.

Things get contentious rather quickly, as the fishermen state that some people should be assigned to handle the bait, and others will do the fishing. Coby immediately steps up to take charge of the bait and suggests that Ian should assist him, which doesn’t sit well with Tom. The NYC fireman displays an ugly side as he seems to be suggesting that Coby ought to stay on shore and do the bait work with the ladies, while the manly men – consisting of Tom, Ian and Greg - will head out to do the fishing with the tribesmen. Coby is bitchy as usual, but he really has reason behind him here.

And…just when you thought the episode couldn’t possibly get any duller, we cut to the guys as they go out fishing. If we wanted to watch this crap, we’d turn it over to the Outdoor Channel. So…sleepy.

They do come back with a pretty good haul, though, including a lobster and some mega-sized fish. One of the kindly Palau teachers also has some rum, and you know what it goes well with rum? Well, besides Coca-Cola, that is. Coconut! Thank goodness there’s an abundance of those on the island. The Survivors put the rum in the coconut and drink it all down.

At dinner, the scene basically plays out as follows:

Tom: Grog man good! Provide much food for life-giving!

Almost everyone else: We all love each other. Except for Coby. Because he’s gay.

Coby: I swear to God I’m the only sane and intelligent person here.

Steph: What the hell have I gotten myself into?

During the next segment, there’s a whole lot of scheming going on. Coby makes his move quickly, taking Steph aside to tell her about the political climate of Koror. The Red State group includes Tom, Ian and Katie, but Steph already knows this since she made an alliance with this bunch on day one. Coby further reveals that Greg and Jenn are swing voters, claiming to side with Tom, but actually having a double secret pact with Coby and co. Finally, Coby groups himself with the disenfranchised Blue State group, which means Janu and Caryn join him on the fringe. He also discloses that various members of both groups are jealous of Stephenie and believe her to be a strong threat.

The lone remaining Ulong-er gleefully reports back to the other pretty girls about Coby’s various statements. During a monologue, she appears to be convinced that everyone – especially Coby – is lying to her. Ironically, he has taken the bold tactic of being completely honest, partially as a sign of respect and partially because the truth is more incendiary than any lie he could have possibly fabricated. Stephenie is suffering from extreme information overload at the moment. She might know more than Google.

The other relevant discussion involving Steph is with Tom, who has become afflicted with Queen Ami disease. At some point, there must have been an un-televised ceremony where Tom was declared lord and master of Koror. He declares that Stephenie has been deemed worthy of further survival than most of her peers. Ulong’s finest (which isn’t saying much) will be allowed to –almost- medal. Tom, in his infinite fireman wisdom, has decreed that only the favored loyal subjects Katie and Ian will advance further. Tom, of course, is the grand champion as well as beloved emperor of the universe in this fantasy. Generally, for sci-fi this bad, you have to read L. Ron Hubbard.

Tom is heading for the biggest fall since Humpty Dumpty.

But not tonight. The Immunity Challenge is, as Probst describes it, willpower. That’s it. Stephenie’s eyes literally light up when she hears him say the word. Essentially, the contestants, who are now competing for individual immunity, all stand on perches. The one who is able to remain the longest without either sitting down or falling in the water will win.

Since the challenge is obviously going to take a long time, Probst passes some of the time by attempting to instigate. And it works. He points out that everyone could jump off their perches and feed on the new girl, but Tom shrugs that notion off. Coby takes this opportunity to burn all remaining bridges by being a complete and utter prick. “But let’s not all be stupid.” Okay, Coby, but you’re gonna have to shut your damned mouth first.

At the hour mark, Probst brings out doughnuts. Thirty seconds later, Janu and Coby are tormenting their fellow competitors by languidly feasting upon the sugary treats. In case you’re wondering if you misread that, yes, it is Janu and Coby, the two most vulnerable members of the tribe who are taunting their peers. The singing Survivor from episode one used better game strategy.

At the two hour and 23 minute mark, Papa Jeff brings out 15 chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. There is an immediate jailbreak as Greg, Jenn, Katie and Ian splash down on their way to Nestles Tollhouse bliss. Ian even licks the plate. Sensing weakness at the three hour mark, Jeff unveils a pizza, causing the malnourished Stephenie and the overachieving Caryn to throw in the towel. Tom wins the first individual Immunity Challenge, while Katie glares at the women who were smart enough to wait for an actual meal.

Tribal Council takes place immediately after the challenge, which means there’s no time for scheming and negotiating to take place. Have we mentioned how dumb Coby and Janu were during that challenge? It’s only inches short of monkeys throwing their own feces at you.

The usual pre-voting discussion takes place, as Probst points out that one of the eight people who jumped into the water at the challenge just had a million dollar meal. He follows that up by reminding Steph of her vulnerability, but that she certainly has been consistently kicking Jenn’s ass throughout the course of the game. Jenn offers up a fake smile as she notes that she’s always liked Steph, but isn’t going to lie about the fact that they’re in a fierce competition. Just wait ‘til Steph steals Greg, honey.

The vote is almost certain to come down to one of three names. Will Coby or Janu be (rightfully) punished for their stupidity? Or will the Koror tribe continue its quest to make Ulong as extinct as the dodo? In the end, it really isn’t even close. Janu and Stephenie each receive a vote, but the rest go to Coby. He went from mildly annoying but dangerous to just plain annoying in the span of three days. The most shocked person appears to be Janu, who is starting to look like Hilary Swank at the end of Million Dollar Baby. Coby grins and compliments Tom on his gameplay. Tom doesn’t say anything, but his eyes scream “don’t touch me.”



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