Palau Episode 14: The Ultimate Shock

Jeff "I Will Always Be On TV, Muahahaha!" Proboscis' overly-cheery voiceover comes on to remind me that I am watching the finale. A very special "Previously" from day one is in order. Ah, remember how Burnetto brought in twenty people only to eliminate three by the first episode? Such cosmetic "twist" just to get people watching - it's a good thing that people were indeed reeled in if the ratings for this season were anything to go by, heh. Burnetto decided that it will be fun for us to see the Ulong tribe unravel to its fullest and sure, it was fun until only Stephenie was left standing and was then chewed out by Horror. Only then do I realize that Tom the Mighty is an arrogant ass, not that there's anything wrong with that, Ian is a loonybin, Katie is a bitch, and - thanks to Gregg's overconfidence in his own abilities - this alliance of three slowly eat the other Horrors until only four are left now. There's J Lyo, who must be wondering herself how she lasted this long, the whiny girl-child Katie who displays the mental capacity of a spoiled ten-year old girl, the neurotic whackjob Ian, and Tom, who is looking sane in comparison to the freaks he has wisely allied himself with. Who will be the sole Survivor, Probby wonders. Why, that will be this show, of course. When all other Burnetto productions crash and burn to cinders, this show will still be on in 2015, reassuring aspiring models and actresses everywhere that they will always have someone who love them on TV. And with that, here are the credits. Oi-oi wah-ey-ey indeed.

Day thirty-seven, Camp Horror. Among crabs and gulls flying around to portray whatever week imagery this show is trying to shove down my throat, Katie is up and about moaning about how "true colors" are revealed in the previous Tribal Council and says something about how Caryn tried to show everyone that Ian tried to betray her. She has made up with Ian, it seems, but she is happy that the Jury gets to see what Ian tried to do to her and how she was destroyed by his actions. I'm a little thrown-off course by this woman's logic. Does she expect the Jury to give her the money over Ian because Ian tried to betray her? It's not as if the Jury believe that Katie's hands are free from treachery, really, not when Katie's waffling personally put Gregg and Caryn on the Jury.

Elsewhere, Ian tries to make small talk with J Lyo and she is understandably not keen to humor the man. Ian tells the camera that he suspects that the Jury isn't too happy with him so he is "feeling the heat", but he consoles himself with the fact that the Jury favorite always become the target of eviction. He thinks that Tom is the Jury favorite so Tom is the target now. He is an optimistic man, isn't he, this Ian? Now he talks about how Tom being a target, as if there aren't just he and two useless women now left trying to keep the King of Immunity Victories from getting the money. Back to camp, he and Tom try to murder a recalcitrant clam for breakfast when they hear Katie's irritating squealing. Oh no, is Katie being assaulted by seagulls? Alas, no, it turns out that she and J Lyo have found some canisters of food that is to be their Final Four grand breakfast. They read a tree-mail telling them to eat (I suppose that Burnetto is concerned that these people, with their meagre intellect, may not know what to do with the food if they are not given specific instructions via the tree-mail) and so they eat. Probby doesn't show up to congratulate these people unlike in the previous seasons. Then again, I don't blame him. I don't think these people bathe regularly. The four of them eat, congratulate each other, and pledge friendship forever. Yeah, I don't know who they are trying to fool either.

As poor Tom cleans the picnic table after their meal, the other three scamper off to plot. Apparently, as Ian tells the camera, the three of them - he, Katie, and J Lyo - will vote off Tom if Tom fails to win the next Immunity Challenge. Ian tells the camera that his personal Plan B is that if Tom wins, he will be Tom's best friend all over again. I think Ian believes that he is the Tuna Wesson to Tom's Colby. The skinnier he is, the bigger his delusions become.

Immunity Challenge time. As the four enter the clearing, Probby greets them with a yellow Chevrolet SSR. However, he explains that this Chevrolet is not for the winner of this particular Challenge. No, it's for the winner of the show, but because Burnetto is paid millions of dollars to showcase the vehicle (buy one today!), Probby is showing off the Chevrolet today. Probbby reveals that inside the glove compartment of the Chevrolet is the check for a million dollars. How exciting! Maybe the four Survivors will have to fight to the death right now to be the winner!

Unfortunately, no. Instead, they have to do another tedious maze/race tower structure telethon thingie where they must first crawl along under some tires and look in each tire for a key, use the key to unlock the gate to the next challenge, a climbing course to the top to untie some ropes and move on to find a grappling hook. This hook must be used to collect four rungs of a ladder. The ladder is then used to climb up higher. The first two person to do this and raise their flag will move on to the next round where they will first zip down the tower structure to the water to collect a bag. Inside the bag are three numbers. The first person to find the correct combination of these numbers to open a padlock of a safe and raise the flag inside the safe wins the Poo Poo Necklace. Isn't this an exciting event?

Katie tanks pretty much from the moment Probby tells them to get moving. You know, it used to be that people coming on this show train and get in shape to last in the wilderness. I guess things are different nowadays. J Lyo manage to keep up with the men until she reaches the grappling hook where she can't figure out how to use it. Ian and Tom charge ahead to the next round. Ian actually surges ahead in this one but at the end, Tom gets lucky when he happens to stumble upon the correct combination first. So yes, Tom wins the Poo Poo Necklace again. What a shocking and unexpected turn of event!

As the four go back to camp, Ian tells the camera that now that Tom can't be evicted, it's obviously J Lyo who will be leaving. Meanwhile, J Lyo is trying to sell Tom that booting Ian will remove Tom's greatest competitor when it comes to winning the Jury's votes. Tom however talks about how he has a Final Three promise with Ian and he won't break it, blah blah blah, and if his horn playing isn't loud enough, he even tells Ian in front of J Lyo when Ian walks in on them, "In spite of how tempting as it is to cut you loose and let you fly tonight, I can't do it. I won't do it because of the bond that we've made and the promises and -" Here, J Lyo interrupts to say that Tom doesn't have to say anything more. Tom and Ian then hug J Lyo and tell her how happy they are that everyone is fine with J Lyo going home. J Lyo cries but Tom is pleased because he has proven what he believes to be unparalleled gameplay full of integrity and what-not. It is always easy to claim such when you're in the position of victory, isn't it? Tom tells the camera, in case I miss out on Tom's attempt to canonize himself as the saint of Palau, that he is taking a great risk in keeping Ian but that's the way it has to be because he won't break his word.

Later that evening, Katie wants a share of Tom's martyr pie too because she announces about how horrible she feels at being such an incompetent twit on this show. Tom tries to upstage her by saying that he may have cost himself a million dollars by keeping his word to Ian. Oh, Tom, does he want a medal for that? Ian, probably trying to do some self-congratulatory chest-thumping himself, says that he is so pleased that Tom is sticking with Ian because if Ian is in Tom's shoes, Ian would be having a conflicted time trying to make such a decision. Now, despite having said earlier to Ian in front of J Lyo that he was tempted to take up J Lyo's offer, Tom now tells the camera that he is insulted that Ian doesn't see Tom as a "rock solid" ally like Tom apparently sees Ian as. He says that this isn't a big deal with him. I guess it isn't, because now he's running off to J Lyo to tell her that he may be open to sending Ian home now because Ian has entertained thoughts of sending Tom home. I guess in Tom-speak, "in spite of how tempting it is to cut you loose and let you fly tonight" is the same thing as "Ian, you and I are like glue together, buddy, like the chewing gum stuck to the windshield of my big, huge fire truck back home". J Lyo tells Tom that Ian has been thinking of booting Tom tonight if Tom hasn't worn the Poo Poo Necklace and spills the details of the Katie-Ian-J Lyo alliance (if you can call it that since the alliance never gets off the ground in the first place). It may be a decent move on J Lyo's part, but it's one that comes too late. She should have told him this before the Immunity Challenge to sow seeds of discord between Ian and Tom.

Tom then tells J Lyo that they need to talk to Ian. Indeed, they now confront Ian back at camp where Tom now proceeds to steamroller Ian over, with J Lyo's backing, with accusations of Ian plotting against Tom behind his back. Ian, who in the past few episodes has shown that he is a moron who really believes that he can't lie in this game, stammers that he's just playing the game like everyone else. Tom climbs higher on his self-righteous padestal and cuts off Ian, saying that he has heard all he has to hear.

This bizarre indignance on Tom's part spills over to the Tribal Council that night, where the Jury listen with all shades of bemusement (or in Cobb's case, plenty of melodramatic eyerollings for the sake of melodramatic eyerollings - we need some in every Tribal Council, after all), where Tom goes on about how he is willing to risk a million dollars for the sake of "honor" and how he is "troubled" that Ian isn't willing to do the same. Is Tom for real? Expecting someone to be more honorable and not play for the money on this game is very easy for him to do when he is wearing that freaking Poo Poo Necklace, of course, but it's not only that, it's also because his entire reasoning is whacked that has me feeling disgusted with Tom. Expecting Ian to honor his word to Tom when he himself has told Ian earlier that he was tempted to betray Ian is hypocritical at best, because Ian has not betrayed Tom yet so this makes his sin as big as Tom's entertaining brief ideas of betraying Ian - in short, both men still remain true to each other at the end of the day. Does Tom expect Ian to genuinely become his best buddy in this game and hand him the million dollars just because Tom wears the Poo Poo Necklace? This is Survivor, not the Olympics, and it is ridiculous to expect fairplay. Probby however gleefully abets the complete breakdown of Ian by asking Ian why doesn't Ian tell Tom if Tom is being voted out. Why indeed? Maybe because there's no point in telling as Ian will not be going through with the plan? Because in this game, it's every man for himself?

Tom compares real life to Survivor - an act which, if you ask me, is ground for total disqualification of what he has to say next - saying that there is no use in Ian "trying" to take Tom to the Final Three, apparently because when the two men make an alliance, they have to take each other to the Final Three no matter what. This version of things according to Tom is different from how Tom justifies betraying Stephanie and their Final Four agreement, I suppose, but I don't live in Tom Land or speak Tom, so I am not the person to judge here.

Now Ian tries to waffle his way out with half-truths and outright lies, saying that he has never intended to betray Tom, but of course, it's clear that Ian has issues about wanting to be desperately liked and loved by everyone that he can't take a lie and stick with it. As J Lyo grins, pleased at punch with the chaos she has stirred up, Katie realizes that people aren't talking about her so she demands to know whether Ian is lying to her about their plan to vote out Tom. She wants Ian to know that she is very angry that Ian cares more about Tom than her. She wants to know now whether Ian has lied to her. Ian tells her that he hasn't lied to her. At this point, I give up on this man. He must choose now one person to side and he still can't do it. As a result, both Tom and Katie think that he has lied to them. Tom and Katie are very similar in that they both recognize Ian's pathetic need to be loved by all and aren't above exploiting it until he breaks. Right now I can hear the last vestiges of Ian's sanity breaking into shards. After this show, he'll probably spend the next few months in an asylum gibbering incoherent apologies to Katie and Tom.

Finally, Probby ends the bizarre Jabberings of the Deludedly Self-Righteous and One Broken Brutus and asks the four to vote. Tom and J Lyo give Ian the finger while Ian and Katie gun for J Lyo. Since it is a tie, Probby asks for a second revote between Katie and Tom. Neither refuse to budge so it's up to the fire-starting event as tiebreaker. It's the same one used to determine whether Bobby Jon - aw, I miss him - and Stephenie would be the last standing Ulongite. Because J Lyo spends more time at camp testing out Gregg's potential as a matress, she never able to start a decent fire. Ian has his going in no time so it's time for J Lyo to step up to Probby and get her torch snuffed out. Probby tells the remaining three that they are the Final Three. Really? Can someone check on the veracity of this statement from Probby? Anyway, he sends them back to camp. Meanwhile, J Lyo tells the camera in her parting words that she will not vote for Katie because Katie doesn't stick with the plan to vote out Tom. Newsflash, J Lyo: Tom can't be voted out tonight. Besides, is J Lyo trying to tell me that she actually intended to vote for Katie to get the million dollars before Katie once more makes another Jury member angry at her? Yeah, I don't believe that either.

Good heavens, Tom can't let it rest. Back at camp, he tells the camera that he is now personally begrudging Ian for trying to "submarine" him. "Submarine"? Why is it that every other word from Tom's mouth has some phallic overtone to it? Tom accuses Ian, "You weren't going with me to the Final Three to duke it out like men!" Yeah, because only cowards form counter-alliances in this game! Survivor is for pussies! Real men fight to the death! If I ever have any questions about how Hagrid would be if he ended up in the Final Three, I only have to look at Tom. Both men have the same delusions that they are somehow bringing integrity and honor into the game when all they bring to the table is a thick and unpalatable slice of hypocrasy pie. Ian tries to reply to Tom's accusations but Tom just keeps, to use Tom's own word, doing a "submarine" on Ian until Ian can't get a word in. Tom accuses Ian of being the worst liar ever - which is, of course, true. Now Katie joins the fray, saying that Ian is really a nasty fellow for trying to stick it to Tom who has been with Ian all this while. Excuse me? If Ian is nasty, what does that make her since she too has been in the thick with Ian in the plot against Tom? Katie tells Ian to confess that he has tried to plot against Tom, although what good this will do for her, I have no idea, since Ian's admission will only mean that Katie and Ian are both in cahoots against Tom. Maybe she wants Ian to openly announce that Katie is his ally? Maybe, in a roundabout way this will, in her twisted mind, prove that Ian will love her more than Tom? Ian is shocked that the two twits are coming down so viciously on him when all he tries to do is to "play the game". Tom cries in self-righteous indignance that they should all be playing the game "together". I have to laugh at this. Does Tom actually believe the nonsense he is saying? Even if that's the case, why isn't Tom also ragging on Katie as she is in this plot against him with Ian?

Tom goes on and on, now insisting that Ian would have voted out Tom if Tom hasn't worn the Poo Poo Necklace. Caught in the feeding frenzy, Katie seems to forget about her part in this Foul Treachery Against Tom by saying that the situation with Ian has turned "so ugly" and insists that it shouldn't be this way, the situation between the three of them.

"The game is what the game's going to be!" Tom lectures Ian. I don't think at this point he himself knows what he is saying.

"I'm trying to tell you what was going through my mind and my heart and my soul," wails Ian.

"Oh, it's your soul that's speaking to us now," Tom spits.

Katie seethes. "Why don't you just say, 'Hey, I'm playing a game, I'm making double deals everywhere, and I got caught.' Why can't you just say that?" she cries without any shred of irony. Wow, her lack of self-awareness is really astounding.

"I'd love to tell you that it's time to just step up, be a man, and admit to the whole thing, but you know, that'll... I don't know, that'll come with age, I guess, where you're just willing to 'fess up. It's just weaselly to still be saying that, 'Oh, I wasn't going to do it! I wasn't going to do it!' You slipped tonight, and you blew it!" Tom nags at Ian.

Poor Ian can only wish that he has a hole to crawl into. The night lingers, but I doubt he has a good night sleep over it. That's the difference between a good Survivor player and a lousy one: someone like the Robfather and Big Gay Hatch will have happily lied through their teeth with a wink to the camera while Ian will stammer and go crazy because nobody loves them anymore. People like Ian have no right to be this far into the game. Even the much maligned Scoutmarm Lil doesn't hesitate to play the game at this stage. Ian is like the idealists of yore like the Moppet, Gabriel, in Marquesas - he really has no stomach for this game. That makes Tom the Crybaby John of this season, the Julius Caesar to Ian's failed Brutus.

Morning, day thirty-eight. Poor Ian is all weepy and blubbering as he tells the camera about how he is at the worst point in his life. It certainly doesn't help when Katie later approaches him and tells her that he should take her to the Final Two. He says that he will (silly boy). She says that after last night, she can't be so sure now. Can she? Sheesh, give that a rest already, stupid cow!

If the melancholy isn't fun already, let's add insincerity as icing to the cake of hypocrasy and delusional self-righteousness. Yes, it's now time for the silly Wailing of the Department Ai-yai-yai See Their Torches nonsense as the three are told by tree-mail to collect the torches of their evicted tribemates and throw them into the river in the tradition the locals use to honor their dead. Yes, the evicted Survivors are dead! Isn't that horrible? Imagine poor Wanda decomposing in some bog, her music forever silenced. My heart breaks at the painful thought.

No torches for Wanda and Jonathan, as befit their status as cannon fodders for Burnetto's pathetic attempt at first episode twist. They don't get to speak and the three don't have anything much of substance to say to them. With those two dispensed with, the three Horrors will have to find some nice things to say about the Ulongites that they barely know. Of Jolanda, Katie calls her a "fierce competitor". Jolanda tells the camera that she has found strength in this game. This strength will carry her when she's depressed over being the first officially evicted loser of this show. Ian calls Ashlee a "sweet belle of the South" and Ashlee tells the camera that she is happy that she manages to last only two episodes into the season, only she pretends that it's such a great achievement. The three have nothing to say about Jeff W, maybe because "He has no penis, I hear!" is not something you can say on primetime TV, but Jeff W insists to the camera that he would have been a contender on this show if it wasn't for that stupid coconut. I know. I would've been beautiful and hot if it wasn't for that stupid coconut too. That stupid coconut ruins everything, I tell you. Jeff W says that well, at least nobody hates him. No one can hate a man with no penis, dear - no one is that heartless. Nothing is said of Jeff W's paramour Kim either, but Kim tells the camera that she has learned so much about her "mental abilities" on this show. So have I, Kim. Thanks for the enlightening education.

Um, Willard. "Bye, Willard!" Ian says as he watches Willard's torch sinks into the water. I can really believe that the Horrors are all friends with each other, I tell you. Willard says that he is crankier in real life. I'll have to take his word for it since that man has barely any screentime on this show. It's Angie's turn now and all Katie can say is Angie's name. Sheesh. Angie says that this game teaches her to rely on other people. Yeah, and then they kick her out of the tribe without a care in the world. Katie says that Jumbles made her laugh every time he came to a challenge. Yeah, he was a total idiot that way too. Ian calls Jumbles a "character". I can't figure out what Jumbles is saying to the camera but I hope he manages to find a way to secure the cloth he wraps around his waist by now. No one cares about Ibrehem and Ibrehem says that the game has made him more spiritual. Maybe that's his way of saying that he hates people and wants to retreat to a monastery in some remote district of Angola. Ah, the tragic hero Bobby Jon. The three pay tribute to how Bobby Jon always tried so hard (and of course, never succeeding) and Bobby Jon ruefully admits this in his clip. I miss him. He's beautiful. No one cares about Cobb and Janu, the pariahs of Horror, and Cobb and Janu have little to say other than trying to make themselves out to be bigger threats to Horror than they actually were. Stephenie is given a fond farewell and she says that she is proud to be the last standing Ulongite, which will be fine if Ulong isn't going down in the memory of the audience as the worst tribe in the history of this show. It's like claiming to be at the head of remedial class. The fact that it is remedial class sort of negates everything great about being at the head of the class. Gregg blabs about playing with integrity (dude, you lost - shut up, dude), Caryn talks about how "consuming" the game is (nobody likes you either, Caryn), and J Lyo insists that she has proven to all watching this show that she is no "girly girl". I think self-delusion is a pandemic condition among the Horrors. Anyway, with that, this tedious ceremony is done. I feel like I've just attended the worst funeral ever.

The three now paddle their way to the site of the final Immunity Challenge. This one is simple: Probby explains that the person to stand the longest on a disc attached to a buoy in the sea wins Immunity. They can hold on to a pole for balance but that's about it. One hour. Two hour, and the sea is becoming rough as the winds start to blow. Whoa, steady there, Ian. It strikes me that at this point I don't really root for any of them and they can all sink to the bottom of the sea for all I care. Ian's too screwed-up and needy, Katie is a raging psychotic bitch, and Tom is a bullying asshole. What's to love? Where's the love? At 3 hours and 18 minutes, it begins to rain. Tom thinks that the rain is easier to bear than constant hot sun though. After four hours, the sun is once more shining brightly. Heh. Ian thinks that he can beat Tom. Katie's back hurts. She steps down after four hours and 51 minutes, whining that she's in a "bad way". I know, dear. It's now down to Ian and Tom.

Hours pass. Katie takes a nap on Probby's raft while Probby says in bemusement that four hours and thirty minutes have passed since Katie stepped down and the two men have not spoken to each other. No deals? After the two men joke about Probby giving them food with humor they don't feel, Tom tells Ian that if Ian steps off the disc, he'll take Ian to the Final Two. If Tom beats Ian, he'll take Katie to the Final Two. Huh? Ian says that he won't step down. Tom then says, "You're that afraid of going to Tribal against me right now? With all your persuasive language skills?" HUH? I must be in some truly bizarro corner in Tom Land where it is cowardly to go man-to-man with Tom after Tom has, only yesterday, accused Ian of being a coward for not facing him man-to-man. The two men then launch into an utterly ridiculous exchange straight out of a bad Hemingway parody, where both men insist that they will not step down or go out on the other person's terms after agreeing to set off together at the count of three.

Finally, finally, eleven hours and forty-five minutes into the ordeal, Ian announces that he would step down and let Tom take Katie to the Final Two so that he can win back their "friendship". Probby approves, although I'm dead sure that he is dying to run back to his trailer where he would then collapse into hysterical giggles, and goes as far as to say that Ian is "winning back" his "integrity". Probby is full of shit sometimes, I tell you. Wait, did I say "sometimes"? Make that "nearly all the time". Tom approves. ""Ian would have my friendship after this game anyway but he wins my respect back," he tells Probby. Wow, Tom acknowledges that his respect is worth a million dollars. Ohmigosh, I want to be respected by him too! Katie approves as well. I feel queasy, as if I've just watched two grown-ups mercilessly kicked a baby black-and-blue for a million dollar prize money. The three Horrors are friends again because Ian has finally done the right thing: back out and give Tom and Katie a chance to win the million dollars. Who won't want great friends like these two? Probby decides that they shouldn't waste time with a Tribal Council so he'll hold an impromptu one now. Tom says magnanimously that he is voting out his "buddy" Ian and it's done. Ian goes with Probby and Tom says that he now feels so much better. Yes, I'd bet.

Let me say here that this is probably the most nauseating Final Three I've ever come across because I have never seen such outright bullying and steamrolling of a codependent whackjob's mental fragility by two other contestants. This is even worse that Bray and Porno bullying Jan the Hen into evicting Helen back in Thailand because Tom and Katie are claiming high moral grounds while they stab, flay, and hang Ian high and dry for money while claiming that it's all in the name of friendship. The both of them repulse me even worse than Hagrid. My only regret is that one of these two bullies will be a millionaire at the end of the episode. It's not that I like Ian either - I pity him, in a way, because of what the other two put him through, but he is accountable for his own actions and he is a complete codependent and emotionally needly whackjob. I can't bring myself to root for such a poor player!

Day thirty-nine. Final day! Tom and Katie, after they have done their thing and burned the shelter to the ground, congratulate each other on being such wonderful people and players. To the camera, Katie vows to expose Tom's character deficiencies like his "scary beast" nature to win the votes of the Jury. Tom vows to be full of honor for the Jury and says that he will not tell any "half-truths". Shut up, Tom. Don't make me despise you more than I already do. Those two morons paddle to the Tribal Council by evening to arrive at the site by nightfall.

The Jury are there, all ready to pretend that they actually consider reason in their decision on whom to award the money to. They listen as Tom gives them a speech that Chris the Slug could have scripted, all about how happy he is to be here standing before them, how honored he is, and how he is an honorable and hard worker who has never said anything bad about the members of the Jury. Katie then steps up to tell the Jury that while she may not have played even a close game to Tom, she should be given credit for coming this far without ever winning Immunity. Er... that is an achievement? She then says that it is her Great Plan to ride the coattails of Ian and Tom so she should be respected for that too. Maybe I should also respect Katie's ability to grasp at straws until they break into two.

Cobb kicks off the sanctimonious Jury grilling. He says that he has plenty of issues (I know, he doesn't have to tell me) and he intends to lay them all out to the two twits standing before him. Claiming that he has no respect for how the two of them played the game even as he respected them for outplaying him - I know, it makes no sense to me too, what he's saying - he then turns to Katie and tells her flat that a vote for her is actually a vote against Tom because Katie sits out on challenges, doesn't do any work around the camp, and "your self-proclaimed social skills really don't lie anywhere outside of your alliance" because he thinks that all she did in this game is to ride coattails. Hey, that worked very well for nearly all the previous winners! Cobb then tells Tom that Tom played nearly as dirty as Ian and he would be watching and listening hard to Tom's answers in the Tribal Council. "And know this: with every word you say, it could cost you a million dollars!" he tells Tom. Is it just me or is everyone in this episode speaking like they are in a really bad Shakespearean melodrama?

Gregg conveniently forgets that he actually plotted against Tom, albeit half-heartedly, first with Cobb and later with Katie when he accuses Tom of breaking their precious five-person alliance with him and J Lyo and asks Tom to defend himself. Tom, who said that he would never give any half-truths to the Jury, says that he was misled by Ian into thinking that Gregg would betray him. It's hard to find fault with Tom in this case though because sometimes the only way to satisfy a liar is by telling him a lie that he wants to hear. A delusional twit like Gregg doesn't want to hear the truth, he wants reassurance that he is still a great specimen of manhood even if this reassurance is a lie. It's obvious that Gregg is saving his venom for Katie when he then turns to Katie after being placated by Tom's lie. "You were worthless around camp. You were insignificant, even embarrassing, on challenges. You would think that the least that you could do was, you know, make some friends around camp, yet I still can count a number of instances where you've ridiculed - made fun of - almost all these Jury members and even betrayed them at times. So my question to you is: explain to me and the Jury how being so pathetic is your 'plan'. Not your plan to get an invite to Number Two, but your plan to win you a million dollars," he pretty much spits out through his teeth at Katie. Boy, he must have rehearsed this speech quite often before the mirror in Loser Lodge, mustn't he? Katie looks shocked that she isn't as universally beloved like she expects to be and somewhat tearfully tries to insist that she has a plan and she is sorry if Gregg thinks that her plan is "pathetic". She says that she has her own strategy that Gregg may not understand if he judges her by the "athletic card" that people like Tom plays. She has a point there, I think, but Gregg isn't looking for an answer when he says the things he said to Katie.

Stephenie is next and she asks Tom to explain his decision to abandon her to the wolves when they had an alliance of sorts for the Final Four. Tom says that she must understand that he can't sacrifice himself or break his word to his allies to her. It's too bad that Tom doesn't have the same understanding that he is asking from Stephenie for Ian, isn't it? That's Tom, always picking the most convenient honor and integrity playing cards to pretend that he is so much better than the common player of the game. Stephenie asks Katie why Stephenie shouldn't vote for Katie. Katie tells Stephenie that it is Tom who came to her even before Stephenie joined Horror to tell Katie that the Horrors must evict the Ulongite who would be joining them. Tom insists that it is not logical for him to tell Katie that they should vote out Stephenie who was in an alliance with him, Katie, and Ian for the Final Four pact. Why isn't it logical? It is logical because Tom could have imagined that he'd prefer his alliance of five with Gregg and J Lyo and view Stephenie as discardable. It is only not logical if people are stupid enough to believe that Tom will never ever break his word, which he did when he voted Stephenie out of the tribe. Stephenie just takes a seat again without saying anything more to the two of them.

Janu takes the spotlight now. Janu asks Tom whether it is hard for him to compromise his ideals and principles in this game. Tom insists that he has never - EVER - compromised them, blah blah blah, he just drew lines but never crossed them (huh), wah wah wah complete BS alert. Janu then asks Katie to give three positive adjectives and three negative ones to describe her strategy and gameplan. Katie correctly assumes aloud that she will never have Janu's vote (remember, Katie was Janu's biggest antagonist during Janu's final days at Horror) so she's not going to give Janu the satisfaction of seeing Katie grovel. Janu tries to pretend that she would have voted for Katie if Katie says the correct things but Katie isn't playing. Poor Janu, deprived of her moment of glory, has to return to her seat.

Caryn pretends to care about Tom's answer (something lame and insincere about how Tom cares for Caryn and respects her, blah blah blah) before unleashing her full venom on Caryn: "You were phony and cruel to everyone except Tom and Ian. Aside from that, I also observed, laziest person at camp, mean, bad at challenges, unkind, and betrayed me. Give me one reason I should vote for you!" Katie probably knows by now that Ronald McDonald has a better chance of winning a million dollars than her. She tells Caryn that if Caryn wants to base her vote on a personal level, there is nothing Katie can say to change her mind. Caryn now accuses Katie of making alliances and riding coattails of her allies to come this far. Unlike Caryn who singularly tries to win Immunity week after week, I suppose. "That's why you're sitting over there, because you didn't make one," Katie replies. Zing! Score one for the fat cow! Poor Caryn can also bluster without a comeback and sit back down.

J Lyo is up now. She calls Tom a chauvinist who doesn't respect her. Tom proceeds to tell her that of course hhe does (especially, of course, now that she isn't in his way to getting that money) after he has seen her in action "late in the game". Of course, Tom never elaborates on this but I don't think J Lyo really cares to hear the answer. The Jury have an anti-Katie agenda that must have been fuelled by hours of alcohol-inspired brainstorming in Loser Lodge because J Lyo, like everyone else on the Jury, now targets her ire on Katie, saying that Katie could have played like a "strong woman" but instead play by being a "doormat", implying that it must be disgusting to be playing like Katie who is disrespected over and over again throughout the game. Of course, Katie should have been like J Lyo, who has been a strong woman who has never ridden a man's coattails! J Lyo must be one of the most delusional creatures to ever slither in the wilderness of Palau. Katie insists that she is a strong woman and she has no regrets about playing by her own strategy.

Finally, Ian is up. Sheesh, poor Ian, even now he has to choose between the nagging shrew and the bullying asshole. He asks the both of them, "What's the biggest reason that we as a group shouldn't give you a million dollars?" Katie says that they won't give her the money if they don't like her sense of humor and personality. She'll be glad to know that they are more than happy to oblige her. Tom lays on the crap thickly and smoothly, saying that he already has his "payday" because he had learned so much from his experiences and that, of course, he and Ian are now friends forever, la-di-da, pass me the puke bucket, somebody.

Closing statements time. Tom makes himself a martyr some more. If he makes himself a bigger martyr, this show will have to move to Borneo to accommodate the size of his growing head. He says that he stayed with his allies and kept his words even when these people are "at folly and hurt other people". Who on earth speaks like that in real life, anyway? Tom magnanimously says that he will apologize if he hurts anyone's feelings. That's easy for him to do after he has implied not so subtly that these other people at the ones "at folly" in the first place. Katie on the other hand gives this bizarre line where she asks the Jury to respect her for coming here to compete against Tom, whom she has no real chance to beat, and somehow this is tied up to Katie's "strategy". This may work if Katie has a direct hand in getting Tom to pick her to the Final Two. I guess she can argue that she psychologically abetted Tom when the man manipulated Ian into giving up but the Jury, who aren't there to watch Ian's humiliating descend into dementia, won't understand what she is saying. Katie insists that she is leaving this game with her self-respect intact. That's good because she obviously doesn't have any respect from her fellow contestants after this brutal Tribal Council.

Finally, it's time to vote. Probby obligingly reminds the Jury members that this time they are voting for and not against a Survivor. Stephenie casts the first vote. Janu tells the camera that she is voting for Tom because he picked her for the Horror tribe way back then. So much for Katie ever having any chance at getting her vote, really. Gregg and then Caryn cast their votes. Cobb votes for Katie, saying that he thinks Katie was more honest in her answers in the Tribal Council. J Lyo and then Ian vote. With that, Probby takes the urn and he then walks off the Tribal Council and...

... Straight into the studio where the audience cheer as he gets ready to reveal the votes to Katie and Tom who don't even bother to dress up in the rags they were wearing at the last Tribal Council. The winner gets a Chevrolet SSR as well as a million dollars, Probby reminds everyone, and then reads the votes. It turns out that only CObb voted for Katie because the rest of the votes are for Tom. Tom the Mighty is the Sole Survivor of Palau! Everyone hugs and with that, this season is done with. Next stop: Guatemala!

Yeah, yeah, Tom is a nice guy, blah blah blah. The fact that he is a fireman will guarantee that there will be people who insist that he is a beacon of all that is good about humanity. But is he a worthy winner? On one hand, there is no denying that he played his part in winning Poo Poo Necklaces. Bullying and mentally breaking down his rivals are legitimate ways to win in this game, I have to give Tom that. But there is an anticlimatic quality to Tom's win. He only has to withstand miserable competitors like the overconfident Gregg and the codependent Ian. There is no true challenge to his authority so Tom's victory seems like a foregone conclusion than an epic triumph. In a way, Tom is a worthy winner despite his descend into sociopathic aggressiveness in the finale, even if he wins for the wrong reasons (the Jury are voting against Katie as much as they are voting for him). It is hard to imagine what may happen if Ian didn't give up on the game.

What I am saying is, after the fun that is schadenfraude at watching Ulong's destruction ebbs and Stephenie the underdog gets booted, this season doesn't have any entertaining storylines anymore. Tom's victory is a satisfactory ending but I still feel like I'm robbed of the penultimate drama that could and should have happened in the finale. All I get instead is a bunch of vindictive Jury kicking a fat cow to the curb - a hollow and pointlessly bitter experience because Katie is already pathetic enough without having to be the target of a lynch mob. Hopefully Guatemala will provide a more entertaining conclusion because Palau may be better than Vanuatu but it ends on a flat note.