Palau Episode 11: I'll Show You How Threatening I Am

Previously, Janu had had enough of her tribemates treating her like a pawn when they were not openly showering her with disdain. After being exiled for deliberately being the first to drop the Immunity Challenge (and getting laughed at her face by her tribemates for doing so), she came back with a different attitude that culminated in her deliberately quitting when she learned that the Horrors would boot Stephenie instead of her. With that, Janu spared Stephenie one more week on the show by taking herself away from a game that she no longer enjoyed. On one hand, yeah, she laid down her torch and that shouldn't be encouraged, but on the other hand, it was a cool way to give the nasty Horrors the middle finger, I must admit.

Credits. I don't really have the mood to comment on the credits this week because I am really bummed out by this episode. This is the first time in the history of me watching this show that I don't have anyone that I am compelled enough to root for at this stage of the competition.

Night, day twenty-seven. The Horrors have just returned from the recent Tribal Council where Janu laid down her torch. They gather around their picnic table and stare at each other. I have a feeling that between staring at each other and staring at their own navels, the Horrors are having the time of their lives on the island. Stephenie tells the camera that it is "uncomfortable" to return to a tribe where it's clear that everyone wants her out - talk about an understatement - and then she launches into a speech to the other Horrors about how shocked she is that they are planning to keep Janu, who doesn't want to be here, over someone who does, like Stephenie. I don't think she has seen the season in Amazon where the alliance of Queen Hippodeena, Jabba, and High D, with C Girl hovering at the fringes, kept the supposedly-sick Shawna against her will so that they have the numbers to give Hosannah the boot. Besides, that woman is missing the point. The point is not that they keep those who want so badly to win, it's that they keep people who are useful to them in their attempt to win the million dollars. In this, Gregg was absolutely correct when he stated just as much in last week's episode.

Tom tells Stephenie that at the end of the Tribal Council they would have voted off Janu anyway, apparently because Stephenie's determination to stay have made the Horrors see the light. Tom is a really bad liar, have I mentioned that before? Gregg explains to the camera of Tom's attempt to placate Stephenie with a clear fib to those in the audience who may be a bit slow on the uptake. Tom overdoes his fib by even giving Stephenie the Poo Poo Necklace. Stephenie therefore is not at all placated. She shuts up at the camp when she shouldn't even have spoken in the first place, but she tells the camera that while she initially believed that she, Tom, Ian, and Katie had an alliance, she is now not too sure. Something is wrong, she believes, and she says that she will find out what that is before the next Tribal Council. What is there to look into, anyway? They don't want her to win. They view her as a threat. The Tirumvirate of Tom, Katie, and Ian have changed their minds. Really, what is there to wonder about?

Indeed, Gregg tells Ian in a hush-hush manner that he hopes that Stephenie won't give them much trouble later. Ian promises that she won't. I bet he will try to sit on her face and make her cry if she tries to stir up any nonsense. Anyway, it's safe to say that the Tirumvirate has abandoned Stephenie at this point. Gregg tells the camera that the Horrors should have gotten rid of Stephenie at the very first Tribal Council after she joined the Horrors. Poor Cobb will be so happy to hear that Gregg has found some newfound appreciation of his presence around the camp!

Morning, day twenty-eight. Stephenie wastes no time in trying to ensure her own survival by approaching Katie when they go about their morning rituals around the camp. She asks Katie about the status of the alliance and Katie confirms rather reluctantly that Stephenie is now on her own. Stephenie asks her who is in charge of the Horrors. Katie points out the obvious: it's not Katie, that's for sure. She doesn't know whether Ian or Gregg runs the show though. (The smart money is on either Ian or Tom, but let's not tell Stephenie that.)

Stephenie then makes the mistake of approaching Tom, although to be honest, I don't know what else she could have done. The numbers are definitely not in her favor. Tom promises to take care of her and then says that she makes herself a threat by being so strong and... er, winning, he says. Yes, he says "winning", because Stephenie has been a terribly obvious Immunity Challenge hog so far, I tell you. Tom assures Stephenie that he understands her predicament at being on the chopping boot because he assures her that he is on the chopping boot too after two more people. Yes, that's reassuring, truly. Stephenie will be so comforted to know that Tom may be joining her at Loser Lodge three Tribal Councils later. Until she does the math and realizes that after three Tribal Councils, Tom would be in the Final Three. Tom? Stick to being a fireman, dude, because you absolutely suck at lying. That makes you a good person in real life, most likely, but in this show, that's a weakness, not a virtue. Tom tells the camera that he is sure that he is going after Stephenie. He overestimates the intelligence of his fellow Horrors. What a nice man he is, indeed.

With Stephenie out of the way (maybe Tom asks her to go fetch a stick and she obediently runs off to do his bidding), Tom gathers the original Horrors and asks them not to vote him out because he is a strong player. Wow, that's an original argument. Does it work? Common sense will suggest that no, it doesn't, but remember, one should never overestimate the intelligence of this tribe. Tom hopes that his passionate argument will sway the tribe in his favor. Yes, they will happily let him win the million dollars. Oh, Tom. No wonder he feels threatened by intelligent people.

As Tom goes out to... um, wet his back and tan his stomach, I think, because he's imitating a plank out at sea, Katie asks Gregg, J Lyo, and Ian what they think of Tom's babbling about how they should keep him so that he can stomp them all in the end. The three don't really say anything that will placate Katie because Ian's with Tom and Gregg and J Lyo think that they are secure with their alliance with Tom and Ian. Katie shouldn't be expecting a serious answer from these people. Well, she tells the camera that she is in an alliance with people who can trounce her in physical challenges (unless, I suppose, the challenges involve eating cakes and fatty foods). She is starting to wonder what it's like to ally herself with people that she can beat. Therefore, she approaches Stephenie and J Lyo on the possibility of forming an all-female alliance. Since they don't approach Caryn, I suppose they believe that she will be grateful to enter an alliance that is formed behind her back. J Lyo tells the other two women that she is willing to betray Gregg in order to get further into the game.

Stephenie is happy to take part in the alliance if it really happens. Duh. All they have to do now, Katie tells the camera, is to convince Caryn to join the alliance. Meanwhile, the three women decide unanimously to boot Tom provided that he doesn't win the Poo Poo Necklace again. Stephenie tells the camera how silly it is that she is perceived as a physical threat when the men are obviously bigger threats in this area than she is. She's seeing the light there. Who are those people in the Horrors that keep telling everyone what a physical threat Stephenie is? The men, naturally! Stephenie isn't really a physical threat but Tom, Ian, and Gregg are using her as a shield. As long as they can keep using her as the Physical Threat Boogeywoman, they think they can stop people from focusing too much attention on them. In her confessional, Stephenie goes on to say that the women would be run roughshod by the men after she goes. She thinks? Most likely the men would cannibalize each other, allowing some of the weaker tribe members to slip through the cracks. Back to the intrigue-laden discussion, Ian shows up and the women disperse as a result. Stephenie vows to the camera that if the Horrors believe her a physical threat, why, she'd show them what a threat she is! How enthusiastic, I suppose. And how sad, really.

Later that day, the Horrors receive tree-mail that promises them plenty of food, drinks (read: alcohol), and mental puzzling. The Horrors deduce that there would be an auction coming up next, as opposed to the usual Reward Challenge, and Tom also hopes that there would be the typical correspondences from home thingie as well because, as he tells the camera, he is hungry for "a little food for the soul". Yucks, if he's one of those people who collect Chicken Soup books religiously, I don't want to know.

Indeed, the Horrors soon enter a clearing and take their seats as Probby addresses them about what they are about to do. Each Horror is given $500 (Probby's trivia: Palau uses US currency!) that they can keep (to be used as toilet paper, I suppose) or use to bid on the auction for the usual food and stuff. Bidding will always starts at $20 and bids will be made in increments of $20. Probby first takes out something covered by a green cloth. Stephenie asks Probby whether he will show them what they are bidding for and he answers that he won't. Gee, how exciting! Finally J Lyo plunks down $120 for it and Probby uncovers "it" to reveal that it is actually chocolate sundae. J Lyo is thrilled and Katie even very nearly cries happy tears for her.

Caryn and Stephenie decide to place down a joint offer for the next mysterious item and plunks down a total of $260 for it. Probby asks them whether they want to trade the mysterious item for another mysterious item. If there is any other way to make the previous sentence seem less awkward, please let me know. Anyway, Stephenie half-jokes that she'd at least like to smell the two mysterious objects before she decides. No luck there. Finally she and Caryn decide to trade and realize very happily that they have traded cheese and crackers for a burger, fries, and Coke. By the way, I love how this show always thrives on showing the audience that the best food in the world are apparently unhealthy fat-filled fast food and sugary desserts. Cholesterol makes the world go round, baby!

Ian plunks down $280 and Gregg adds $20 for something that closes at $300. Probby asks Ian whether the man wants to trade this something for another kind of something in a jar. Ian refuses. Luckily for him, Probby reveals that the jar contains crabs while the something he has bidded on is a meal spaghetti and garlic bread. Probby invites Ian to come take a bite and Ian misunderstands, choosing to take a bite of spaghetti instead. Horrified by this insolent attitude, Probby realizes that Ian isn't so hot after all. And then it hits him: Ian smells really badly. He says this with a visible shudder and the other Horrors laugh at his visible discomfort. Ian lingers a little longer around Probby, causing Probby to shudder one more time, before taking the meal back to the seat so that Gregg can get his $20 worth of nibble.

Probby offers some beer for $40 for the first bidder. Ian quickly makes his bid and takes a huge gulp. He tells Tom how good the beer is after making this orgasmic belch. I'm sure the stench of beer in his breath will greatly increase his already stinky appeal to skunks everywhere.

And now, the big auction. Probby brings out letters from home for the Horrors and Tom starts bidding for his soul food. He gets his letter for $220 and starts crying when he sees this paper with tracing of a hand from one of his kids. Everyone starts crying when he stands up and holds up the drawing to show it around like one of his hunting trophies. Probby then tells the others that they too can get their letters from home for the same price that Tom paid for his. Caryn, Gregg, Katie, and Stephenie choose to do this. I know Ian can't afford to pay $220 but I don't know why J Lyo chooses not to plunk down the moolah. Oh, I know. She is sane enough to realize that she will be seeing those people she left behind very soon and it's better to keep the $380 as toilet paper. Stephenie cries as she looks into her envelope and exclaims that her boyfriend as well as her family members have written to her. Whatever, the heartless Probby dismisses them now that the auction is over. The auction is dull, so I suggest that for the next time, instead of giving the Survivors money, let's have them offer alliance secrets or other equally fun currency for these items!

Back at camp, everyone who has letters settles down to read. The camera focuses on Stephenie as she reads out twelve letters and cries. She gets determination and strength from these letters, she says to the camera, to go forth "in there like a wildfire" and win the million dollars. Which she would then presumably distribute among her huge clan of admirers, I suppose. I will believe her if "winning" and "Stephenie" can ever be put in the same sentence that doesn't involve a negative in the context of this show.

Ian, in the meantime, decides to take a bath. Goodness me, please don't tell me that he hasn't bathed until now? As he gets down into the water with those zillion beauty products and toiletry stuffs that the Horrors have won during the show, Gregg decides to join him. Ian asks Gregg to give him a helping hand because his own "monkey hands" can reach his back so Gregg ends up washing Ian's back with a cloth. I think I've seen this exact same scene in a gay adult film I sort of accidentally downloaded from the Web a while back. J Lyo, watching the two men, says that the two men make "quite a picture" and wonders why Ian doesn't ask any of the women of the tribe to give him a helping hand. Because Ian wants Gregg to wash his back, that's why! Katie giggles to the camera and says that Ian and Gregg have a "little moment" (how emasculating) "down in the water" (oo-er, down there?) so oh no, maybe Gregg and Ian have a secret alliance! Ian assures the camera that he is "comfortable" with his sexuality (read: gayness) to hold a "Grecian bath" with Gregg. Tom walks past and Ian asks him whether Ian's back looks clean enough. Tom says, "No, there's not... um, I'm not going to clean it for you but there's, uh... you look nice and clean!" And then he runs off into the bushes because he is so hot after watching the scene between Gregg and Ian. Just kidding. And then Gregg surfaces from the water and licks his lips while Ian gives him the thumbs up gesture. Just kidding!

Day twenty-nine. Tom and Caryn walk together in a secret pow-wow moment where Tom once more spins his masterful web of manipulation, telling Caryn that currently she is at the lowest rung of the tribe after Stephenie but Tom doesn't want to deal with Ian in the long run so Caryn can now join the alliance of he, Ian, Katie, J Lyo, and Gregg as alliance member number six. Caryn, obviously not the smartest bulb around, believes that a three-day reprieve is her way to be "in" so she comes away from this bewildering discussion believing that she and Tom have an agreement to keep watch for each other. Meanwhile, Tom says that he has made a "good move" getting Caryn into the Horror alliance that currently excludes Stephenie just in case someone gets the funny idea of voting him out in Tribal Council if he doesn't win the Poo Poo Necklace.

It's now time for the Immunity Challenge. Probby welcomes the Horrors into a clearing where there is this big board set-up with tiles. The Horrors must, from a distance away, toss coconuts to break the tiles that correspond to their own color. The first to break five tiles is the new temporary owner of the Poo Poo Necklace. Anyone who breaks another person's tile will add one tile to the other person's total, so really, everyone should try to break their own tiles. And with that simple set of instructions, Probby allows the Horrors to tear up the stage with coconuts.

Ian breaks one. Katie misses. Gregg breaks one. J Lyo takes out Caryn's, earning her a sarcastic thanks from that old hag. Caryn misses, Tom takes out Katie's, and Stephenie gives Caryn another one. Without doing anything, Caryn is currently leading with two broken tiles. Heh. Next round, Ian breaks another one, Katie once more misses, Gregg breaks Ian's, J Lyo breaks Tom's, Caryn breaks Katie's, Katie giggles (ugh), Tom breaks his, and Stephenie misses. Stephenie is still not in the running for the Poo Poo Necklace, as Probby points out. Ian now breaks his, Katie breaks J Lyo's, Gregg breaks his, J Lyo gets hers, Caryn breaks Stephenie's, Tom breaks his, and Stephenie once more misses. Ian now hits Stephenie's, Katie hits hers, Gregg breaks his, J Lyo misses, Caryn misses, and Tom breaks Ian's last tile, thus giving Ian the Poo Poo Necklace. If Probby loves the clean scent of Ian as he puts the Poo Poo Necklace around Ian's neck, he doesn't say it. Maybe he catches a whiff of Gregg on Ian and is seething in jealousy.

It rains later that day and Tom finds it amusing that no one can run off to talk because of the downpour. He will be more amused when the rain stops and everyone runs off to plot. Sure enough, Katie and Caryn go off to look for snails. Stephenie hopes that Katie is recruiting Caryn to the proposed all-female alliance but she has some reservations about the alliance coming to fruition. Sure enough, Katie is telling Caryn that Tom has to go. "I've accepted that I'm going to have to write his name down or else he's going to win," Katie tells Caryn. Katie is annoying but she is a sharp cookie. How stupid is Caryn? She starts saying to the camera that she and Tom have agreed to look out for each other so she runs straight to Tom with news that the women are plotting against the men. Tom is suspicious of this news from Caryn because, as he tells the camera, he can't find any reason as to why Caryn will want to tell him all this. Tell me about it. How is this woman a lawyer again?

Ian and Tom discuss Caryn's tattle-tale and Ian leans towards the possibility that Caryn is just "telling stories". Ian confronts Katie in a private rendezvous and tells Katie upfront what Caryn is telling him and Tom. Katie tries to deflect the question by instead acting offended by what Caryn did. She never flat out says that Caryn is telling the truth or lying, instead choosing to act outraged at Caryn's fib. To the camera, she says, "We can't get a female alliance together because Caryn sucks!" And I agree with her. Caryn sucks. She's an idiot because she tattles on the women for no good reason. It's not as if Tom offered her a prime alliance spot, but a mere inclusion into an already crowded six-person alliance where she would no doubt be the first to go when it comes down to six. Katie's offer of a four-person alliance is more pragmatic. Back to the discussion, Katie tells Ian and he agrees with her that they both have a primary alliance to each other (news to me, that). Katie says that she will be loyal to Ian and asks Ian to consider voting out Tom. Katie tells the camera and later to Ian that Tom stands a very good chance of winning every Immunity Challenge from hereon. Katie tells the camera that she thinks that she has a chance of getting Ian to her side against Tom, although she doesn't believe that it will be easy. Ian, however, refuses to give her a clear answer as to what he is going to do at Tribal Council. Caryn shows up to break the discussion and Ian tells the camera that both Stephenie and Caryn need to go in order for his plan, whatever it is, to work. He's not sure whether he should boot Tom. Caryn worries to the camera after seeing Ian and Katie in discussion that she may have put herself in danger by tattling on Katie to Tom.

Gregg is adamant that Stephenie must go because "she brings a complexity to the game right now" and he believes that she must go in order for the original Horrors to go back to their planned ritual of cannibalistic backstabbing. How stupid is he to never even entertain the possibility of including Stephenie as one of his pawns to the finish. Don't tell me that this idiot actually believes Tom's propaganda about Stephenie being the physical threat? Meanwhile, Stephenie tells the camera that she has done all she can to tell the Horrors that it is in their best interests for Tom to go so all she can do now is to sit and wait to see what the idiots will do at Tribal Council. Stephenie is right about Tom but she is wrong about the intelligence level of the Horrors, with the exception of Katie who is the only one, apparently, to be playing the game.

Night, Tribal Council. Probby waits until the Horrors are seated before inviting the Jury members to come in and get some airtime. Janu still is on the skeletal side but she looks like a regal Egyptian queen when she is cleaned up. I can barely recognize her. Strange as it sounds, the more I reflect on the previous episode, the more I like Janu. Probby opens a pointless discussion about paranoia and group that can be summed up, simply, by the following sentence: "Everyone pretends to be friends with each other and it's all good, really, even if there is some strategizing, but really, YES REALLY, we're all good and solid, la-la-la..." Tom continues on the railroad to WTFland by saying that he intends to downplay his physical strength but now he is winning the Poo Poo Necklace six million times because he "cares for the tribe". And he hopes that the tribe will understand his motivations for doing so. Wow, how touching! Next thing I know, he will be saying that he wants to win the million dollars to keep the tribe united. Don't betray each other, people, just let Tom win and everyone will stay forever friends!

The Horrors now vote. Ian gets his vote speech aired. He says that he is voting for one of the fiercest competitors he has ever met. Katie also gets her vote speech aired, where she says that she is just going along with the rest of the tribe and her vote is not of a personal nature. Probby returns with the urn after "tallying" the votes and ouch, apart from Stephenie's vote for Caryn, everyone else sends her packing to Loser Lodge. She expects this though but even so, she flees the Tribal Council pretty quickly, maybe to leave the scene before her will breaks and she starts to cry because she has fought so, so hard to come this far. The Horrors look sad, as they should be because apart from Tom, they have committed their first big mistake as a tribe. Probby points out that the tribe is now down to the original tribemembers and sends them back to camp.

Stephenie talks about, predictably, how proud she is to be the last Ulongite standing (since when is even being in Ulong something to be proud of?) and how great a time she has on the show. And with that, she's gone. Aww, I'll miss her. The numbers are against her and the format of the show this season is suckworthy in that she ends up being the only member from Ulong in the "merge" with Horror. Upon reflection, Stephenie doesn't really have a chance the moment she becomes the last Ulongite living among the Horrors. She has the comfort of knowing that, ultimately, she's right all along about Tom, but that's a small consolation, I know, to a season that starts out pretty well but ends up plunging straight into predictability and boredom.