Palau Episode 6: Jellyfish 'N Chips

Previously, Ulong was dying, dying, dying. In an attempt to spice up the deathwatch (as opposed to throwing in some tribal switch thing to save the Ulongites), Burnetto introduced a Twist. Of course, one could be cynical and point out that the double elimination was necessary in order to prevent the show from running for more than its allocated thirteen episodes. The Horrors, forced with the need to boot someone out, sent Willard packing, apparently because he was lazy or too smart (the Horrors couldn't decide on which). Despite the tribe's self-imposed ban on intelligence, trouble may be brewing in the Marxist paradise of Horror because Gregg and J Lyo were planning to recruit Cobb and Janu to square off against Tom the Mighty, Katie, and Ian. But first, they wanted to get rid of Caryn. Oh, and the in the end, the Horrors won the dubious reward of a chance to sabotage the Ulongites so they bestowed Immunity on the one most likely to be voted out, Ibrehem. Deprived of an Ibrehem boot, Jumbles and Bobby Jon targetted Angie because she was the only one who dared to point out how stupid the men were in the previous episode. Knowing where the wind was blowing - and realizing that her vote didn't matter now - Stephenie joined the two men in booting her ally. So goodbye, Angie. I never knew how fond I've become of her until she got the boot, sigh. And now, this episode. Will someone finally pull the plug on Ulong?

Credits. Anyway, with all the agonizing prolonged life support of Ulong, I am starting to suspect that in the end, the winner will be an Ulongite. I could be wrong, of course, but the previous pattern of underdogs from a decimated tribe ultimately clinching the title seems to be supported this time around by the editing of Stephenie and Bobby Jon as the wily adaptationist and the pained martyr so far. The Horrors are getting a too-positive edit and, like the glorious tribes of previous seasons such as Rothunk in Marquesas and Quack in Pearl Islands, will start showing horrific cracks once they are forced to cannibalize each other. But that's just my speculation.

Night, day twelve, Camp Ulong. The tribe of four miserably return from their Tribal Council to enjoy their postmortem reflections. Ibrehem is mildly amused that he gets to stay when he is so sure that he is leaving. Stephenie, for some reason, announces that the Ulongites should try working on their listening skills and predictably Jumbles interrupts her and starts talking over her about how he agrees that the ability to listen to other people is an important skill. Jumbles doesn't get the joke that is his entire existence, the poor dear.

Stephenie tells the camera that Ibrehem knows that he will be the next to go, what with him narrowly escaping the boot just earlier. Is it just me or the conversations and confessionals of this tribe just jump from topic to topic without rhyme or reason? Anytime now, one of them will break into song and dance. Jumbles decides that it is always good to reopen wounds during the lowest moment of the tribe by attacking Ibrehem for his lousy performance in the previous Reward Challenge. Bobby Jon tells the camera that he wishes that Jumbles will just cram it. "If you can't get over beef stew... puh-leeze!" he says mockingly, referring to what the Horrors get to eat in the previous Tribal Council (along with root beer - beef stew and root beer, what an... unique combination). And with that, everyone settles down for the rest of the night.

Morning, day thirteen, still at Camp Ulong. As Ibrehem prays in the morning - omigosh, a Muslim praying on TV, will the FCC reprimand Burnetto for this? - the show intersperses the scene with his confessional, where Ibrehem thanks his "God" (shouldn't that be Allah?) in keeping him on the show and he has a newfound illumination of how the whole concept of God works now. If I'm getting his point correctly, God will always help you win a million dollars if you're proving to be hopeless in doing so on your own. Or something.

Over at Camp Horror, which is right now the most boring tribe on earth, Ian starts the day by talking about how the tribe won root beer and beef stew and then booted Willard, so yes, the whole yesterday was perfect. Tom talks about the tribe having some "projects" going on. The "project" turns out to be Katie weaving some ugly looking thing, much to the disapproval of killjoys Cobb and Caryn, both who want Katie to work a little harder around the camp. But Katie is working hard - at being cute! That way, her boyfriends Tom and Ian will protect her and everything will be nice while the ugly old workers Cobb and Caryn can do everything and still get booted at Tribal Council. The "projects" turn out to be a puppet show of what the Ulong tribal council. When you have to create a puppet show to commemorate your own victory... Meanwhile, Gregg and J Lyo are cuddling on the hammock. Maybe they have been in that position since yesterday. Where's the sign? Ah yes, there it is: THE MOST BORING TRIBE EVER. Not that I can fault them for that, since they are winning and all.

The increasingly skeletal Janu along with Puppet Gal Katie later go out to retrieve the tree-mail. The mail comes in the form of a tube and a single Pringles chip tied to it. The typically atrocious poetry hints of a shooting challenge. The Pringles is a giveaway of the prize being Pringles - which everyone knows is the ultimate snack food, better than tiramisu, so eat plenty of Pringles today, people - and the only person excited about Pringles is Katie. I think the others miss Mountain Dew as much as me. Anyway, the Horrors launch into their tribe cheer because what the heck, they are so competitive that way.

For once, the Reward Challenge doesn't take place in water. The tribes walk into a clearing where Jeff "How Come People Don't Love Me So Much Anymore?" Proboscis awaits. Today, the Tribes will take turn at the "replica of a 50-caliber small-class cannon" (one for each tribe) and shatter eight colored tiles. The winning tribe will get on what Probby calls, somewhat redundantly, "a very unique one-of-a-kind Japanese boat" where the Survivors will enjoy an even more unique meal of Pringles and mai tais, which I hear is a unique Palau delicacy. Wait, there's more: winners will also get to snorkel in Jellyfish Lake, where they will get to see many freshwater (and hence stingless, more the pity) jellyfish. Oh boy, this episode is going to be one of those boring "See Survivors pretend to enjoy nature" episodes.

The Horror sits out Ian, Janu, Katie, and J Lyo. How cocky - the Horrors must be so confident (or itching to take out Caryn) if they are willing to let those four tackle the Immunity Challenge.

Round one. Bobby Jon aims and misses. Gregg aims and misses. Jumbles, no good. Cobb, no good. Ibrehem, Allah doesn't care. Tom hits. Sheesh, is there anything that he cannot do? Stephenie hits while Caryn's aim goes awry. Now the two tribes are tied at the end of the first round. Boy, this scene is even more dull when I'm recapping it. Anyway, round two. Bobby Jon scores. Gregg ditto. Jumbles doesn't hit, neither does Cobb, but Ibrehem scores one for Ulong. Tom misses - I bet he did that on purpose because... I mean, come on, he is Tom the Mighty! - and Stephenie steps up to score one for Ulong. Caryn also scores. The score now is four for Ulong and two for Horror. Round three. Bobby Jon is getting the hang of it, notching another point for Ulong. Gregg also hits. I think he's copying everything Bobby Jon does, hmmph. Jumbles, Cobb, and Ibrehem all miss. Tom also misses. Oh no, his batteries must be failing! Stephenie once more hits the target. That woman is cool. Caryn also hits. Six for Ulong, five for Horror. Round four. Bobby Jon hits. So does Gregg. Hey, stop that, Gregg! Stop copying Bobby Jon! Jumbles misses while Cobb finally hits a target. The tribes are tied now. Ibrehem misses. Tom comes up for victory - and misses. Oh dear, what is going on here? Stephenie, on the hand, is just awesome as she hits another tile without breaking a sweat. Caryn needs to hit in order to force a tie but she crumples under pressure and hands over the victory to Ulong.

It is quite touching to see Ibrehem, Bobby Jon, Stephenie, and Jumbles celebrate. They really need this victory more than anyone else on the show. Probby tells those four to get ready for the party that they need to attend - what's with that bitchy tone, Probby? - and for a while, the Ulongites are oblivious to everything but their bliss.

The Ulongites are shown onto the boat where they get to eat Pringles and drink mai-tais in-between doing pathetic Survivor trivia quizzes on the stupidly named "Pringles Prints". They toast and vow never to lose anymore. Sigh, three beautiful people (oh, and there's Jumbles as well) so happy on a boat. How do these beautiful people end up on a losing end of this magnitude? The jellyfish are beautiful, of course. This brings me to another thing: can we get Bobby Jon to host some travel and adventure show where he gets down to minimal bare essential clothes every week? This guy has his asshole moments but he is so, so good at playing the role of the wounded martyr. When he says that he will never forget the "euphoric feeling" of his dive at Jellyfish Lake because in that Lake, he was in some place that he would most likely never visit again. That sounds like the post-high babble of a first-time junkie. But still, it's all in the delivery and beautiful sad eyes that I can drown in forever. Bobby Jon, therefore, can get drunk and cry on TV anytime and he'll make that beautifully bittersweet instead of pathetic because he is such a pretty wounded martyr that way. As evening falls and the escape from the pressure of being first-class losers winds down, the Ulongites try to milk memories to last their lifetime. Goodnight, Bobby Jon. Try not to get too depressed when the crap hits the roof.

Night, Camp of Horror. A storm is coming. Ian is confident that their shelter can withstand the storm - "I'd like to see them try!" he cries to the skies - but Tom the Mighty isn't so confident. And...

... Morning, day fourteen, Camp of Horror. Excuse me? Where is that storm that I am promised? The sun is shining but apparently a storm did hit the Horrors in the previous night as they are grumbling about it as they go about their morning duties. Janu is feeling the worst. The Insider clips have indicated for a few weeks now that Janu is severely dehydrated for the last few days, which is unfortunately what happens when a woman of her (small) weight comes onto this show. Janu is shown to be ill for the first time, although the editors try to pass off her illness as the effects of the storm. She is also lonely and homesick on top of being ill. Tom advises Janu to just rest today and think positive thoughts of tomorrow. He also reassures her that the tribe will not boot her and she will easily make the Jury. And maybe even to the final three, he quickly added. Tom isn't that good in lying. He's definitely toast come the merge. On the other hand, Katie tells the camera that Janu is being a "drama queen". Now this creature will be more likely to make the final three than Tom the Mighty.

Over at Camp Ulong, the four ragtags have tree-mail. They receive a crate and an instruction to make this crate as "imprenetrable" as possible so that the "enemy" cannot open it. They are to bring their new-and-improved crate to the Immunity Challenge. As they set down to work, Jumbles announces that he knows what seems like some magical "Navy" knot. He says that even if the Horrors can locate the knot, they won't be able to do anything to it. Maybe the knot has a bulletproof vest or something. The four get down to the task in enthusiasm. "We spent a lot of time tying this one knot," Bobby Jon says with a swoon-inducing smile (Tom who?), "that he said is like, 'That when you pull on it? It's just going to get real, real tighter!'" Stephenie explains to the camera that the knot is fiendishly hard to locate and grins because she thinks that Ulong has Immunity all bagged up.

At the Immunity Challenge site (beaches again, yay), sure enough Probby reveals that each tribe must crack open the other tribe's crate. Before that, each tribe will swim out to sea and collect three bundles of sticks within twenty minutes. The tribe can use these sticks to create a fortress to protect the crate. He is joking, right, about the "fortress" part? I think a crab can accidently brush its leg against one of those constructions they can make out of the sticks and send the whole "fortress" crashing to the ground. Still, what can the Survivors do? Probby says jump, they jump.

For the Horrors, Ian, Janu, Katie, and J Lyo will be doing this Challenge because they couldn't sit out on a Challenge twice in a row. And right away, Ulong is a mess. While Ian and J Lyo swim out to collect the bundles, Katie and Janu work at tying their crate. Remember that early on Katie is all about weaving and making puppets? It looks like she has her uses after all! But while Stephenie and Bobby Jon swim out to sea, Jumbles is preoccupied with tying up his Roman toga bottom while Ibrehem just dawdles in the shallow water. Maybe he should apply that magic Navy knot thingie to his skirt as well. That way, no one can tell where his rear end is. (Then again, maybe I don't need that knot in order to not do so.) It looks like Ibrehem's job is to wait, collect the bundles from Bobby Jon and Stephenie, and then pass them to Jumbles. Jumbles in the meantime is still trying to fasten his skirt. Cobb points Jumbles out to Caryn and they both sniff in a superior manner at the loser in question.

Finally, both tribes have their bundles and Jumbles abandons his attempts at preserving his modesty to get to work. Hi there, pixels! Everyone works, with Cobb audibly fretting in the sidelines that the Horrors may be falling behind to the Ulongites in their fortress-building. And then twenty minutes are up and each tribe now dash to pull down the other tribe's fortress - literally with their teeth, in the case of Janu. The Ulongites have to unknot many, many knots because the Horrors had decided to just overwhelm the Ulongites with sheer number instead of sheer complexity. As for the Ulongites, well, what do they expect from following the instructions of a man who can't even tie his toga bottom securely? The magic Navy knot isn't so magical after all as it gives way to the Horror's itchy fingers and teeth all too easily. Maybe the Army knot is better? Stephenie watches in dismay as the Horrors open the Ulongites' crate and raises their flag up the pole to signify their victory. Monroe is never going to leave the Camp of Horror at this rate. Probby doesn't even bother to hide his contempt towards the Ulongites as he tells them that he expects their company at Tribal Council.

Morning, day fifteen. The mood in Camp Ulong is understandably bleak when they get back from the Challenge. The four are also at the moment trying to save themselves by getting the other person to take the fall. Ibrehem moans that the tribe has never won a single Immunity Challenge but hey, he'll vote for the person who does the worst in the Challenge. He is talking about Jumbles, just to make this clear in case some people are now wondering whether Ibrehem will just vote himself out tonight. Stephenie and Jumbles have a hushed-up discussion where she tells him that Ibrehem and Bobby Jon will vote as a bloc so she suggests that she and Jumbles team up and send Ibrehem their votes in order to force a tie. But first, she wants to be sure that Bobby Jon is not going to turn on Jumbles. Jumbles is confident that Bobby Jon is not voting for Jumbles. I wish I know the reasons for these people's assumptions but not even my excursions into the Insider areas shed much enlightenment. Ho hum.

Jumbles then proceeds to give a confessional where he rags on Ibrehem and offers a statement that won't make him very popular: "By the grace of Allah, he didn't go. Well, my God says he is today." If that is supposed to be a joke, I'm afraid it doesn't come off too well. A better joke is how confident Jumbles is of Bobby Jon's backing when Bobby Jon is right now thinking of voting Jumbles out because he believes that Jumbles cast a vote to him in the first round of voting in the previous Tribal Council. Stephenie cast that vote but Bobby Jon believes that it was Jumbles who voted for him because to him, the handwriting on the vote sheet was "a male handwriting". I don't know what to say. Are women supposed to write in... what? Flowery curls? Elegant cursive? Dotting their i's with smiley faces? I'm starting to believe that Bobby Jon isn't the kind of person who reads and writes often.

How lucky for Stephenie then that Bobby Jon believes that he can determine the writer's gender from the handwriting because when she approaches Bobby Jon, he tells her about his suspicions about Jumbles. Stephenie says that she voted for Angie, which is half-true because she did vote for Angie in the tie-breaker round. Stephenie tells the camera that she doesn't like to lie but she has to in order to stay in the game. Now that is one line that Survivors should use more often, so good for her! She's playing the game and I respect that. She and Bobby Jon come to an agreement to vote for Jumbles along with Ibrehem. Bobby Jon and Stephenie also agree that it will be the two of them to the bitter end. As Stephenie says, they both deserve to over Jumbles and Ibrehem and I agree with them.

Bobby Jon tells the camera that he is sure that Stephenie isn't playing him. Like how he is sure that Jumbles wrote his name down in the previous Tribal Council? Stephenie tells the camera that she has two options: force a tie with Jumbles or go with Ibrehem and Bobby Jon to send Jumbles packing. She isn't sure what she will do for the time being.

Night, Tribal Council. Probby doesn't invite discussion as much as he tells the Ulongites in his most unbecoming bitchy tone that the Ulong tribe is losing because the tribemembers' brains stop working when Probby mentions the word "immunity". He then rips Jumbles a new one for modeling his brand new unfastenable toga wrap during the Immunity Challenge and Ibrehem another new one for dawdling in the water while Stephenie and Bobby Jon were hard at work. Jumbles protests that contrary to Probby's insinuation that the Ulongites didn't give "100%" to the Challenge, it is not his "100%" into tying his skirt or Ibrehem's "100%" into testing the temperature of the shallow water that held the Ulong tribe back. So, is he saying that there are other factors at play that made the Tribe lose so dismally? Is he trying to blame Bobby Jon and Stephenie? Hmm. Probby asks Ibrehem about his dismal performance and Ibrehem answers weakly that he knows now what he can do. Probby points out that Jumbles was ragging on Ibrehem so harshly in the previous Tribal Council because Ibrehem failed the tribe, so Probby wants to know whether Jumbles holds himself to the same accountability today. Ouch. Jumbles of course says no. He now says that behavior at camp and "personality" should count too. It too bad that with his awfully obvious spins that he's not a politician. He's ugly enough to qualify as one. Bobby Jon and Stephenie insist that they are still with the tribe (read: each other).

And then, it's time to vote. Jumbles votes for Ibrehem, snarling that they don't get along. Oh yes, Jumbles is basing his vote on personality today. In contrast, Ibrehem apologizes to Jumbles when he votes for that man. Class 1, Redneck Hick 0. Probby counts the votes and it's a tie between Jumbles and Ibrehem. Now it's up to Stephenie and Bobby Jon to vote one more time to break the tie, and once more Stephenie changes her vote and sends Jumbles packing. Is there a point to her initial action of siding with Jumbles? She has just outed herself to Bobby Jon as a disloyal rat. She doesn't trust Bobby Jon, perhaps? Either way, it'll be interesting to see how all her gameplay - if she has any - plays out.

Jumbles gets his torch snuffed and tells the apologetic Stephenie that he "understands" before walking down the long and winding road to Loser Lodge. I hate to imagine that he understands Stephenie's bizarre gameplay when I don't. Anyway, Probby tells the remaning Ulongites bitchily that the tribe is now down to three, a first on the show according to him, and he hopes that they can make something out of their situation. And with that, he banishes them back to camp. The show is done and so is Ulong.

In his final words, Jumbles talks about he had this gut feeling that he wouldn't be voted out but he is cool with the tribe's decision and with his experiences on the show in general. Can I hope his redneck buddies drum him out of town on the account of that toga skirt?