Palau Episode 10: Exile Island

Previously, Stephenie joined the Horror tribe in what was technically a merge in all but name only, but the warm welcome she received wasn't entirely sincere. J Lyo was already gunning for her and by default, therefore, so would Gregg. Tom, Katie, and Ian claimed to be on her side but it was easy for them to say such since they had the advantage of numbers on their side. Cobb, however, eventually took the fall meant for the increasingly sick Janu and Stephenie when he allowed his dislike for the pretty boys and gals of Horror to show so much that they voted him out solely on dislike. This week, Stephenie remained in the game, but would she make it past this week?

Credits. I think we can really make it official, right, that Katie is the first Survivor to bloat up like a whale on the show while others keep losing the pounds? She'll probably blame her weight gain on an enema or something in post-show interviews, I'd bet.

Day twenty-five, morning. Eh, what happened to day twenty-four? Then again, why am I quibbling? The faster this increasingly boring season ends, the better. Janu is not a happy person. The camp is dirty and flies are everywhere, but Janu is more unhappy about how Animal Farm the Horror tribe has become. She is out of the loop when it comes to Cobb's boot so she expresses her unhappiness about this to the camera. She didn't even have a chance to say goodbye to Cobb because she was taken by surprise at the result of the last Tribal Council. She also feels betrayed by the others because they kept her out of the loop.

She'll be even more unhappy if she hears what that fat cow Katie has to say about her to J Lyo. In the water with J Lyo, Katie thinks she is so funny when she describes Janu as a jack-o-lantern. Both women are thrilled that they get to be petty and keep Janu in the tribe when Janu wanted to go home. Katie then tells the camera that Janu is "completely mad" and "scary". I think Janu is not mad as much as she is scared that Katie will eat her up.

Caryn tells the camera that Janu overhears Katie's petty and unkind descriptions of her and is understandably not thrilled at all by that. Janu tells Katie to tell her in her face next time anything that Katie finds disagreeable with her. Janu describes Katie as being very "junior high". Katie tells her that she finds Janu "being creepy" and adds "sorry" after that as if that will make her come off as any better. I don't understand these people who have the guts to mock people but think that they can half-heartedly apologize in order to come off like better people. Janu becomes furious and tells Katie off and Katie now slinks off into insincere apology mode. Janu cuts her off by telling her that Katie is just being Katie. And Katie is being Katie when she accuses Janu of being "even more scary" to the camera. Does it ever occur to her that Janu is being "even more scary" because Katie is being unpleasant to her? Back to the camera, Katie is still apologizing - which, as I know by now, is completely insincere, so whatever, really, fat cow - and Janu is dismissing her in a huff of indignance. Gregg then steps in to intervene because he, being the big wise male, doesn't want silly women to cause drama. Janu dismisses him too, saying that they will all turn on each other anyway so Gregg can stop pretending that everyone should be friends in the game.

Gregg now gives a confessional that manages to be simultaneously obnoxious and correct. He says that Janu is not fun to have around the camp but he has to keep her around because Janu is a pawn in his strategy while Stephenie has to go because some people believe that she "deserves" to win and he sees that as a threat to his chances at winning the show. Whoever helps him in this game, he says, deserves to stay in the game. That's right. But why do I have this feeling that he's saying all this because he, the professionally recruited contestant on this show, is threatened by Stephenie because she is stealing all the potential spotlight on the show from him? Hmmmph.

It's now time for the Reward Challenge so the Horrors can't move quickly to the beach for my liking. Jeff Proboscis explains that in this particular Challenge, the Horrors will be divided into two teams of four. Each team will carry one at a time four pieces of scaffolding to the sea and use them to build a tower. Or what is supposed to be a tower anyway. They must then climb the tower, collect the flag, and run back to the beach. The first team to reach Probby win a private fiesta with a local "high chief" for a meal. One team consists of Stephenie, Ian, Katie, and J Lyo, also known as "We Will Lose", while the other team has Gregg, Tom, Janu, and Caryn, also known as "We Will Win". Janu at first seems reluctant to get into the action but Probby's merciless ribbing eventually sees her throwing herself into helping Tom and Gregg with fervor. Caryn is... well, she's helping, I suppose. Ian and Stephenie try but J Lyo and Katie, the two useless creatures, are taking their time with the swimming and building, so ultimately We Will Win do just that.

With that, it's now time for another Idiots Pretending To Appreciate Culture moment. The winners are whisked to this area where there are dancers and staff decked out in full native regalia, the authenticity of this regalia being irrelevant because grass skirts are grass skirts in Palau or Amazon. Tom says that it is great to respect and be respected by people of foreign places. I'm sure the locals are wondering, "Eh, and who says we respect you, idiot?" Caryn says that it is so cool to receive a floral headgear and be blessed by the "high chief". These people are so easily awed by artifice. Gregg proves what an imbecile he is when he watches the natives dance and says to the camera that it is cool what "real life" in Palau is like. Yes, people in Palau live to dance for American tourists every day. And then they eat. Janu says to the camera that the feast is "epicurean" but the food causes her to sink into a case of "embolism". My, Janu sounds so smart when she speaks. Why doesn't she speak more? At that moment though, she has to throw up. Understandable, given her ill heath and what-not. Gregg however bitches to the camera that it is not fair that Janu gets to eat when she doesn't enjoy the food while others (read: his shag-bunny J Lyo) don't. Caryn can't believe that Janu is actually throwing. I can't believe she doesn't throw up on these spiteful creatures. To think, Horror is supposed to be the strong and likeable tribe! They are more Heathers and Mean Girls, actually!

Later, the four return to the camp where Caryn tells the camera that they have brought back food for the others but pretend that they don't at first just for fun. The We Will Lose foursome dig in happily and so do Janu and Caryn, as Tom explains to the camera how the two ladies bring back some food for themselves too. Katie of course complains that she finds it "interesting" that Caryn and Janu bring back food for themselves. That stupid fat cow is just bitter that she doesn't get to eat everything, I'd bet.

Morning, day twenty-six (I think). J Lyo, Tom, and Stephenie head over to collect their tree-mail and learn that they will all be dealing with cage, claustrophia, and drowning today. Ooh, maybe I'll love this season after all! Stephenie tells the camera that she needs to win this Immunity because she is perceived as a "threat" for being the strongest woman in the tribe. I have to hand it to these people: it is now okay that the strongest man stays (the useless wee women need someone to take care of them, after all) but strong women must go. Given Stephenie's track record at winning, though, I'm not holding my breath for her to wear that Poo Poo Necklace anytime soon.

Cut to the beach, where Probby retrieves the necklace from Tom and tells the Horrors that today the Immunity Challenge will test their resolve. There is a grated cage-like structure out there in the sea and the Horrors will get inside and stand there. As time goes by, the sea level will rise and slowly the Horrors will have to press their faces closer to the grated roof in order to keep breathing. The one to stay the longest in the cage will win the Poo Poo Necklace. The first person to drop out, Probby says, will have to stay at an island for an entire day by himself or herself (barring the cameraman, the lighting guy, et cetera, of course) with only a machete, a flint, and a can of water to keep this person company.

The Horrors are herded into the cage. Ian makes the obligatory "This man walks into a bar" joke and Katie follows with an unfunny punchline, "He's got a bar in one hand... and a bar in the other!" Offended by the way the Horrors are not taking this Challenge seriously, or maybe offended more by Katie's flop of a one-woman stand-up act, Probby reminds them of the dreaded exile punishment for the first person out. Poor Probby - the Horrors only laugh at him. Tom says that he is thinking of dropping out just to get away from the Horrors and the others laugh some more. Probby is not amused, the poor dear. He turns to J Lyo and asks her how she thinks she'd fare on Exile Island. She naturally says that she will find that hard. People come on to Survivor nowadays just to enjoy the easy life, after all. This show is the poor aspiring actor's Club Med. Janu says that she is feeling cold and she doesn't think that she can hold out for long. And she doesn't. Six minutes into the competition, she swims out of the cage, with the laughter of the other Horrors in her ears. Tsk, tsk, these Horrors. They really are a bunch of spiteful children.

Probby asks Janu whether she quit so early because she panicked. She shakes her head. He asks her how good she is at starting a fire. She says that she's never tried to start a fire and she'll find out. The Horrors laugh when they hear this. What an easily amused bunch. I wish I know how to find laughter in life as easily as these people obviously do. I have to admit though, I wonder what Janu is doing on the show when she can't start a fire after twenty-five days. Then again, can J Lyo and Katie start a fire? Probby asks Katie whether the fat cow is glad that she isn't in Janu's shoes. "Well, hell, yeah!" that fat cow says and the Horrors in the cage laugh again. Probby correctly points out to Janu that her tribe don't care too much for her if they can make jokes at her expense. "You know what? I'm sitting here asking her if she knows how to make fire and you guys are making jokes like you're at open mic!" he tells the Horrors in the cage. The Horrors in the cage of course protest at this notion. I suspect that Katie isn't the only one who knows and loves making fun of other people behind their backs and then plays the self-righteous "I'm just being honest! Sorry if you can't accept that!" card when she's called to it.

Forty minutes pass. The water is rising and many of the Horrors are pressing their faces against the grated roof to breathe. Of course, it doesn't help that the cage is obviously placed in a manner that some people - particularly Janu and Stephenie - are standing in an area where the water level rises faster than other places - Tom's, for an obvious example. Probby talks nonsensically about "mind over matter" and other nonsense. Fifty-six minutes down. Caryn bails out. Katie bails out too. J Lyo and Stephenie are now completely underwater and it isn't long before they have to bail out as well. Eventually Gregg bails. It's down to Tom and Ian now. Tom is using his hands to create what Probby calls a "hand snorkel" to allow the man to breathe without getting water into his mouth. How smart of him. Ian is now submerged underwater. He valiantly tries to recover but he can't. Tom wins the Poo Poo Necklace again. How anticlimatic.

Janu takes her leave for Exile Island and the others pretend to wave goodbye. The others then head back to camp.

Once she reaches the island, Janu sets to think about what she should do. She should build a fire, obviously. She then proceeds to take hours trying to start a fire. I don't think she remembers that she has flint and steel to start the fire with. Oh well, at least she manages to start the fire only a four hours after dark instead of by Christmas night so she dances a happy jig and says that the fire is all hers. By the way, it's clear that she is wearing a thong. I have to admire anyone who wears a thong for twenty-five days without suffering any discomfort. Janu, cheered on by her success, says that maybe God wants her to stay in game. How nice that she will at least get some religious tranquility from this game, if nothing else, at the end of the day.

Morning, day twenty-seven. Tom explains that the men of Horror are gathering to discuss whom they should boot. Naturally, the men have to decide everything, so just as naturally, a woman will have to leave. Paradise is obviously a patriarchy where this particular utopia is concerned. Tom, Gregg, and Ian meet and Tom says that the "girls" want Janu to leave. Gregg says that the "girls" are just being "emotional" and Stephenie should leave, not Janu. Tom tells the camera that Stephenie has an alliance with him, Ian, and Katie but the three also have an alliance with Gregg and J Lyo and those two want Stephenie gone. Gregg says that Stephenie is a threat and her "story" should end there and then. His use of the word "story" again has me believing that Gregg views Stephenie more as a threat to his camera time than anything else. He must be annoyed that he's not getting much screen time in this show regardless of whether Stephenie is around or not. Tom tries to save Stephenie by asking the men rhetorically just how long do the tribe have to keep "rewarding" Janu. Gregg says that they can boot out Janu, but only after they have booted Stephenie. Gregg tells the camera that Stephenie is a threat because she managed to survive the decimation of her tribe and he suspects that she has the "iron will" to do the same in this tribe. Ian throws his lot with Gregg, it seems, because Tom tells the camera that everyone is in agreement to boot Stephenie and he has to go along with that decision even if he does not agree with it.

Janu returns later that morning in a boat. Apparently she doesn't have to exactly an entire day in Exile Island as much as she just has to stay for a few hours. Those Horrors ask her how her experience has been and Janu tells them that she manages to start her own fire. She also says in subtle snideness that she enjoys having some time alone to think. To the camera, she says that she is aware now of how insincere her tribemates are. They were nasty to her but now they are so nice to her. Hmmm. Meanwhile, Stephenie gets uneasy when her talk with J Lyo about Janu has her realizing that J Lyo doesn't look her in the eye when they talk. She approaches Ian about whether the tribe is still booting Janu tonight and he puts on a really bad poker face as he says, "I think it is! I think it is!" The problem with people who don't want to lie on this game, if you ask me, if how bad they are at trying to fob off evasive non-answers on their victims. Stephenie is not fooled one bit. She is now convinced that she is on the chopping block. Naturally, she's nervous. She tells the camera that nobody wants to talk to her, which only confirms her paranoia. Good going, Horrors, in putting people on the Jury who are guaranteed to hate your guts!

Night, Tribal Council. Once the Horrors have seated themselves, Probby invites the cleaned-up Cobb to walk in as the first member of the Jury. Janu smiles at Cobb. I wonder whether she will smile as brightly if she knows the things Cobb had been saying about her to the camera in the previous episode. Probably not. Poor Janu. Everyone talks about her behind her back to the TV camera. Probby and Janu discuss her supposedly amazing accomplishment of starting a fire. He asks her whether she believes that the tribe was sincere in wishing her luck when she departed for Exile Island. She says that they are probably half sincere and half playing the game. She uses her fingers to do imaginary parenthesis when she says "game". Oh Janu. The "game" is a game.

Probby notices that Caryn has a sour face - okay, more sour than usual - and asks her about this. Caryn says that she is offended by Janu calling her insincere because she's not that way at all, oh no. But she says that if Janu wants to see her actions in that light, Caryn can't do anything about that. Except to put on a sour face, of course. Tom says that people are voting on who they perceived as a threat and not who they like or don't like. Naturally, he is not referring to himself as a potential bootee when he is saying this. Stephenie looks dismayed at the way things are going and I can't blame her. She just doesn't have the numbers on her side, the poor gal. Gregg, the genius, must believe that he is being very subtle when he says, "You definitely want someone in the game who's not going to really try than you would someone who's going to give five million percent. And some plans have been established, and some people may be threats within those plans, and unfortunately, you know, Survivor isn't always about fairness and who deserves what!" Stephenie, hearing this, buries her face in her hands, although I suspect that this is due to Gregg stupidly telling her what she suspects rather than Gregg's horrific inability to keep his mouth shut about his strategy. Katie happily says that she is not a threat to anyone, which is precisely the things that other tribemembers to prick up their ears to and boot her out, because these non-threats always end up at or near the top once the strong contestants have finished eliminating each other. But will they listen? Of course not. Cobb makes a face at her claim. I think I have the same expression on my face. What is the world coming to when I find myself in complete agreement with Cobb?

Probby now turns back to Janu and asks her why the Horrors should keep her in the tribe. She tells him that the Horrors have no reason to. She explains that she is just trying to be honest because she would vote herself out if she can because she knows that her "really rocky road" presence in the tribe didn't endear herself to anyone. Probby remarks that Janu seems to really want to go home. She says that it doesn't matter to her whether she stays or goes because she has already gotten what she wants from her experience on the show. Huh? What does she want? To start a fire?

Ian, not Probby, it should be noted, is the first to bring up the issue of Janu quitting. So all that speculation about Probby making Janu quit just to spare Stephenie isn't as accurate as it seems at first. Ian says that only Janu has the power to remove herself if that is what she really wants to do. By this point, Stephenie looks like she'd be literally sick and Probby turns to her to ask her what she thinks about Janu's calm acceptance of her potential boot. Stephenie actually cries as she says that she has nothing against Janu personally but she gets frustrated and irritated when someone sits here and talks so calmly about wanting to go while Stephenie has been fighting so hard for so long to stay in the game. I understand how she is feeling, I really do, but Stephenie, wow. Way to go in proving Gregg right in front of the tribe! Stephenie says that she will happily vote out anyone who doesn't want to be there because these people, in her opinion, do not deserve to stay on in the game. She tells Probby that it frustrates her that she will be booted because the tribe would rather keep someone who doesn't want to be there over someone who wants so badly to be there. By this point, Stephenie is burning bridges left and right. I wonder whether she knows what she is doing, telling people how determined she is to trash their butts and win the million dollars.

Probby asks Tom whether he feels any problem about booting someone who wants to be in the game and keeping someone who doesn't. Tom accurately points out that while Stephenie will fit in right at home with his firemen buddies, Survivor isn't real life. At this point, I am thinking that this must be a first of sorts in the history of this show: a Tribal Council where the tribe pretty much declares who they want to vote out without knowing how they get to that point of discussion. I know how, of course, Gregg, but I wonder whether they do, heh.

Back to Janu, Probby asks her what she hopes will be the ideal outcome of tonight's Tribal Council. I am certain that defiance kicks in when Stephenie opened her mouth earlier because Janu says that she'd want to see herself being voted out and Stephenie kept in. Probby asks her whether she sees any difference in laying down her torch and asking to be voted out. Jeff W must be wondering why Probby never gives him this special treatment back in the third episode. Janu says that there is no difference and she will gladly lay down her torch. And she does, saying, "I would be willing to lay down my torch so that Stephenie can have a chance to stay in the game." Too late, Stephenie realizes just how much she has burned her bridges and says in a desperate attempt to reclaim at least two or three of those bridges, "Not just for me! If she wants to lay down her torch and she wants to quit this game, she can do it. But not on my account!" Janu nods agreeably and rephrases her statement, not that the gesture means anything, saying that she's laying down her forch on her own behalf.

Rain falls - from a hose held by a guy perched precariously on the roof, no doubt - as Probby talks about how Janu has experienced her "final epiphany" and asks her to bring her torch over to him. He lays down her torch in slow-motion as Cobb makes a dramatic "Aieeee!" face. Stephenie manages to exchange a smile with Cobb, although that smile may very much be one that says, "I'll be joining you next week, buddy!" instead of a shared gloat like many people believe. Probby tells Janu that she still has to serve in the Jury despite her quitting and then allows her to take the long and winding road to Loser Lodge. He then tells Stephenie that she has escaped the boot once more (so much for Probby wanting Stephenie to stay in the game because if he does, he wouldn't have reminded the others of Stephenie's record when it comes to surviving Tribal Councils!) and sends the remaining Horrors home.

In her final words, Janu says that she wanted to leave but the Horrors wouldn't allow her, so she has to leave on her own. She describes this move as a "power play" of sorts, when it's more akin to a petty middle finger at the tribe who clearly mock her but who have no qualms about using her to advance themselves further into the game. She adds that her experience on Palau is "most unforgettable" and no one can take that away from her. While generally I won't want to see more Survivors quitting the show, in this case I can see and understand where Janu is coming from when she quits. She knows she's not going to win, she's too tired or sick to fend for herself, so why allow those people who don't like her to keep using her? Maybe she will regret her decision once she has freshened up and have a nice long hot bath in Loser Lodge, but as a spur of the moment action, Janu's quitting makes a lot of sense to me. As she says in her final words, no one can take away the good memories she has on Palau, and she removes herself while giving the others her middle finger before they succeed in making her feel even worse than they already have.