Palau Episode 13: It Could All Backfire

Previously, Gregg, J Lyo, and Katie decided that it was they going all the way to the Final Three. Fair enough, but they did a few stupid things along the way to making this plan. Katie openly struck a deal with Gregg to spare the man during a Reward Challenge and then went after Ian instead, causing Ian, already showing signs of mental cracking, to decide that she would betray him even more drastically. So he, Caryn, and Tom decided to go after Gregg and at the last moment, told Katie to either vote with them or risk a tie and take a chance on the Purple Rock where Katie had one in three chances of getting eliminated. Katie folded like a pair of threes and Gregg was sent to Loser Lodge. Poor Katie. She, Gregg, and J Lyo forgot that they couldn't count on majority rule when it was down to three versus three. They needed someone to back them up. They needed... Stephenie. But they voted her out the week before, so oh no, how sad for them!

Credits. One week and then the season is over. Yes!

Night, day thirty-two. The Horrors have returned to camp from their booting of Gregg. J Lyo begins to boo-hoo-hoo, tears and all, to the camera as she talks about how shocked she is that Gregg was booted. That man had been a big part of her existence, she says, because he kept her comforted at night. Um, okay. At least she says that he is a big part, so I'm sure he's flattered. Back at camp, however, J Lyo manages to put on a decent calm facade as Tom tells her that booting Gregg is not personal and she nods. Tom is such a smooth operator sometimes, telling a woman not to take it personally when he kicks her huggy-wuggy buddy off the game. Ian tells the camera that he believes J Lyo to be a "smooth operator" because she isn't crying and wailing her heart out before the guys like he is so sure that she is heartbroken. Like Tom, Ian has a delightful way to dishing out compliments that feels suspiciously backhanded. Ian sums up what he perceives as the situation in the camp: Tom has some of Caryn's allegiance, he has some of Katie's, and he believes that if the two men can keep the women from turning on them somehow in the next day, the two men are "money".

Here we go, day thirty-three, and it's a fine day for plots. At the beach, Tom tells Caryn that he'd like to take her with him to the Final Two. She is simultaneously thrilled and uncertain because she asks him how he's going to do that. Gotta love a woman who leaves it to the big strong men to do everything on the show. Tom says that Ian shouldn't have problems with him taking Caryn to the Final Three instead of Katie because Katie "wavered" in her alliance with Tom and Ian. Ah, but back at camp, Ian, Katie, and J Lyo are also whispering intrigue. Katie wants to get rid of Caryn. Why Caryn? Why don't any of these idiots understand that taking Caryn to the Final Two will give that person a good chance of winning the million dollars? J Lyo asks whether they will get rid of Tom if he fails to win the Poo Poo Necklace. Ian says he isn't sure. J Lyo points out that Tom is his biggest competition so it makes sense that he should gun after Tom. Ian says that he doesn't want to break his word. Yeah, like he broke his word to Stephenie? Oops, that is a different kind of word breaking, I suppose. Ian says that he would get rid of Caryn as well. Hello? Hello? Tom! Get rid of Tom! This is not a contest to get rid of the nastiest people, this is a contest to get rid of any potential threat to a million dollar prize. Get rid of the Immunity hog. I give up. These people are in the running for the title of the dumbest players ever on this show.

Tom tells Caryn that she's better off with them instead of allying with the three women. She agrees. Why? Don't ask me. I guess she has this wonderful idea of Tom and Ian fighting to kiss her toes and call her beautiful. Back at camp, J Lyo is telling Ian that he must get rid of Tom and align with Katie and her because it is the sensible thing to do. He just sits there and doesn't want to commit to anything. Why? Because he is going crazy. Fruitcake. Cheeseholes are forming all over his brain, that sort of thing. Over to Tom, the always convincing and smooth-tongued dude is telling Caryn that if she sides with the women, she'd come in third. So? If she sides with men, she'd come in... yes, third also! Caryn isn't so completely stupid as to buy Tom's latest pathetic attempt at salesmanship. She tells the camera that she is "guardedly optimistic" about Tom's offer. She's still stupid though, not just completely.

Now, it's time for tree-mail. The men take it. Maybe they are so scared of the women taking over that they don't even trust the women with tree-mails anymore. After they read aloud some nonsense involving paddles and creeks (no, that has nothing to do with spanking) to the others, the two men discuss about what they will do if they win the Reward Challenge. They agree that they must take one of the women with them so that the women won't sit around and plot. That's sensible. Ian wants the winner to take Katie. Tom wants the winner to take Caryn. Ian tells the camera that Katie will surely take Ian if she wins while Caryn will take Tom. Tom says that it is tougher than he expected to get to the Final Four but at least he and Ian have a plan that they intend to stick together. I notice that the show never reveals to me which of the women they eventually decide on for them to bring with them should when they win the Reward Challenge.

Reward Challenge time. Probby waits at the beach and then unveils the prize: the dreaded Car Reward! This season, it's a red Corvette convertible. The Horrors all act like they are excited instead of fleeing in terror because it is well-documented after nine seasons that the Curse of the Car is real. People who win that darned Car never win the season. Probby says, and the others agree, however, that the Corvette is "worth playing for". What, it costs two million dollars or something? Today's Challenge is car-related, in the sense that the Horrors have to each paddle out to sea and collect five bags. These bags each contain a mileage marker representing a city London, Manila, New York, Sydney, or Tokyo. The Horrors must arrange the milage markers at the correct places on a giant signboard. Yes, the Challenge is as lame as it seems. Probby tries to sweeten the deal of winning a Car and losing the season by throwing in a trip to some mansion for a barbecue and a night sleeping in comfortable beds. A convertible, some unhealthy barbecued meat, and a bed - all of which only costs a million dollars. How can anyone refuse?

Perhaps there are three people out there who are shocked to realize that Tom and Ian maintain a strong lead over the closest female competitor, J Lyo. Eventually Ian wins the Corvette and he kisses it because he is now officially demented. If that's not proof enough, Ian then tells Probby - before everyone - that he has promised to take Katie along with her if he wins, but he has also promised Tom that he will take him along if a car is offered as a prize. Hmm, since they didn't show this particular scene when the promise was made on TV, I don't know if Ian is making things up in his mind (he is, after all, crazy) but it doesn't matter, because even the great strategist Tom has a look of alarm on his face when he realizes what Ian has said before the women. That Ian holds a promise made to Tom more highly than a promise made to Katie. Ian can be justified in this because Katie reneged on her promise to him last week but it's clear from Katie's face that she is not happy. I don't think fair play is anywhere close to what she is thinking as she watches Tom and Ian hop in and head off to the mansion to play and eat. If J Lyo and Caryn are smart, they'll take advantage of Katie's mood. If Katie is smart, she'll take them up on whatever offer they make her.

A happy Ian, as he drives the convertible to the mansion, says that he has never owned a car before. How sweet of him. He has never been crazy either, that's for sure. They end up at this mansion where the view from the window is supposedly the best in Palau. They then eat and eat and eat. Ian tells Tom that he feels bad about not taking Katie along with him but he reminds Tom that Katie went back on her word previously. Tom can only nod and pretend that the situation is the same, instead of a completely different one where they allow three women to plot together and throw a mutiny, Pearl-Islands style, when the men get home. Tom diplomatically tells Ian that they have to work at getting Katie back with them when they get back to camp tomorrow. As he tells the camera, this is the only thing that they can do now to save their gameplay and he hopes that Ian is up to the task.

At camp, in what seems like the start of a situation similar to the one between Scoutmarm Lil, Darrah, and Big Sandra where all three women eventually put aside their differences to take out Burtman, the women lay down their cards and talk. Katie tells Caryn of her pact with Ian, throwing this hypocritical fit of righteousness where she acts as if Ian betraying her is comparable to her losing a best friend. It guess it must have been her evil twin sister that took out Ian's lamp during the Reward Challenge in the previous episode? It is one thing to plot and lie, but throwing hypocritical sulks and whinefests is ridiculous, and Katie, right now, is ridiculous. Caryn however tells a skeptical Katie that she has no deal with Tom. J Lyo smiles nastily and tells Katie that if Caryn has no alliance with Tom, that means Caryn is expendable. Caryn explains her situation of having no deal with Tom by saying that Tom wanted to take her to the Final Two but he didn't want to turn his back on his alliance with Ian and Katie. J Lyo seems surprised that Katie had a thing with Tom and Ian and confronts Katie about this. J Lyo can be quite slow that way sometimes. Katie confirms that she and the two men had a pact. J Lyo tells the camera that it is good that Katie told them everything. Back at camp, Katie says that the women will have to vote for whichever men that does not win the Poo Poo Necklace in the next Immunity Challenge. J Lyo and Caryn agree. But Caryn tells the camera that she has to think about which side to align to, the men or the women, before she does anything. Katie then tells the camera, channeling fat women deprived of carbohydrates in her demeanor, that the men should have never let angry women get together to plot. Or something.

Morning, day thirty-four. Caryn confronts the men the moment their boat reach the beach, preventing them from running off to kiss Katie's behind. What follows is the most bizarre conversation that I have ever heard, thanks to Ian having become positively raving bloody insane.

"Is it you, me, Tom, or is it you, me, Katie?" Caryn snaps at the men. Nice way of trying to catch the men unaware, there. And fortunately for her...

"It's going to be you, me, Ka... er, you, me, and Tom!" Ian stammers. Oops.

Caryn points out that Katie has told her everything about the "you, me, Katie" thing and asks them why she should believe them and not Katie. Tom tries to say that Katie is no longer with the men because she isn't loyal but Caryn wants an answer from Ian. She asks Ian whether Katie and he are really close allies. Ian says that he and Katie are allies, yes. He then puts his foot completely into his mouth by adding, "I told Tom I was not going to make a decision until tonight. That's the deal." How nice that he is admitting to Caryn that he has a deal with Tom when Caryn never even asked. "So it could have been you. It could have been Katie." Wow, Ian. Wow.

Tom tries desperately to salvage matters by saying that Caryn would have been gone if Katie is loyal to the men, which she isn't. Ian undoes what Tom is trying to do by telling Caryn, "We're all playing the game, so... I can't give you an answer right now!" I'm surprised that Tom doesn't choke Ian into silence there and then. Caryn has heard enough. As the two men walk forlornly back to camp, Tom tells Ian that Ian has "given away her vote tonight". To the camera, Tom hopes that, for Ian's sake, Ian is really, really close to Katie.

Ian, looking completely whipped, begs Katie to let him talk to her. She refuses, saying that talking to him is the last thing in the world that she wants to do right now. She hangs out with the other two women, boasting about how she has taken Ian down a peg or two. Meanwhile, Ian tells Tom sadly that he has "classic girl troubles". To the camera, Ian compares the situation to "a horrible, horrible a bomb had exploded!" Yes, the bomb in his head, obviously. Finally Ian manages to approach Katie and persuade her to take a walk with him for "five minutes" so that he can tell her his side of the story. This is like watching a husband trying to convince the angry wife that he came home late because he really had to work late instead of hanging out with the boys at some strip joint. He then tells her that she shouldn't be angry with him because she did the same thing with him too in that You-Know-What with Gregg. She insists that those two situations are not comparable because she didn't win in that Challenge while he won this particular Challenge. She tells him that he will not dare make her feel guilty over what she did to him with Gregg. Ian complains that she is making him feel like he's having "girl troubles back home". Katie responds by saying that he has made her feel like she's lost her best friend. Why? Because he lied to her when he has promised never, ever to, that's why! And Ian starts crying because he is crazy and he genuinely stops believing that this is a game and not real life. I think my IQ is falling to single digit after listening to these two.

Katie, sensing weakness on Ian's part, moves in for the kill. She tells Ian that Ian and Tom are the closest thing she has ever had for family (how sweet, I'm sure her family members will be touched to hear that) so she is hurt that Ian thinks he can take her for granted and play with Tom instead. She is so hurt! Betrayed! Ian, trying to make sense of this, stammers, "Over dinner?" No, Katie points out as professional tears start to fall down her rounded cheeks, this isn't about just dinner. It's about Bigger Things! I can tell that Ian has never dealt with actual girl problems before, not counting the time when his mother made him take out the garbage or clean his bedroom, because he then vows to quit Survivor if that is what it takes for him to make Katie happy. He says that he is a "scatterbrain" and he is so sorry because "sometimes friends make huge mistakes". Aww, poor Ian. The boundaries between real life and the game have definitely blurred for this man. Katie says that she will never want him to do that. Ian is crying openly now and hopes that she will forgive him and they can be friends "for the rest of his life". "If you don't want it, that's fine, and I'll stay away. But the bottom line is like, I'm off my rocker in so many different ways and I'm sorry," he says tearfully to Katie. She kicks at the sand but relents enough to accept his hug and his kiss on her forehead. He promises one more time not to be stupid again and they make their way back to camp.

I still can't decide whether that scene is the stupidest thing I've ever seen on this show in all ten seasons of Survivor or it's actually one of the most romantic, in a totally bizarre way, scenes ever.

I don't know what happened in day thirty-five, because the show now skips straight to day thirty-six. Maybe Katie and Ian get married in a traditional Palau ceremony? Anyway, on day thirty-six, morning, Tom and Caryn take their morning walk where they try to figure out what the deal is between Katie and Ian. Tom is puzzled over Katie's behavior and wonders whether Katie is really angry over the Reward Challenge or Katie is just trying to find an excuse to break away from the alliance with Tom and Ian. Caryn says that Katie is just being a "good actress". As good as Caryn claims to be herself? Tom asks Caryn about whether Katie brought up the possibility of a "women's alliance". Caryn, for once, is smart enough to say that she can't remember whether Katie said anything about that. They collect tree-mail and as they walk back to camp, Tom asks Caryn whether the women are going after him or Ian. Caryn says that the women have not made a decision yet, which is true because they are waiting to see which of the two men wins the Poo Poo Necklace. Tom says that he and Ian need Immunity very badly and are, therefore, "desperate". Caryn gloats to the camera that the women are taking control of things in Palau.

The poetry, as read by Tom, hints that the upcoming Immunity Challenge will involve memory and agility. Oh no, brainpower is involved! Not brainpower! With that dispensed with, Tom now approaches Katie and pretty much threatens her that her game depends on Tom and Ian as much as the men's game depends on her and if she betrays one of them now, the man left standing will kick her out so she will never make Final Three. Also, Katie will never get Tom's vote. Katie whines to the camera that Tom is trying to bully her. I may feel for her if she hasn't proven again and again that she can be bullied and, in fact, sometimes that's the only effective way to get her to do something that's against her best interests. Katie tells Tom that she doesn't know who to trust and he reasonably tells her that she doesn't have to trust anyone to play the game. To the camera, Katie continues to call Tom "mean" and "cold" and complains about how he "sucks today". Her whiny spoiled five-year old girl act is too tedious for words. Does she actually imagine her cloying and affected girlishness is in any way likeable? Ugh. Tom tells Katie that she has to make her own decision and she tells him that she hasn't decided yet. With that, their conversation is done.

Tom tells Ian later that Katie is "wavering" and she is just trying to find an excuse to wiggle out of an alliance that, he claims correctly, has carried her this far and he wants Ian to tell her that there would be consequences to pay if she betrays them now. Ian looks upset that he actually has to be, you know, not nice to other people and tells the camera that Tom is starting to "strong-arm" people around. He agrees to what Tom is telling him to do, but he tells the camera that maybe he should take out Tom. After all, as he says, "It's Survivor not Parcheesi."

Immunity Challenge time. The Horrors and Probby gather around an interconnecting network of platforms and a rope bridge by the sea, where he explains that each Horror must make their way across their respective bridge and platform network to a post at the other end where they have to memorize the pattern of colored tiles in a grid. They must then make their way back to their platform and arrange their colored tiles in the same pattern as the one they have seen. Each Horror has his or her own pattern so there is no use peeking at the person around you here. Probby then gives the go signal.

Wow, it's shocking, I know, but Caryn and Katie are so slow that they knock themselves out of the Race faster than I can yawn. J Lyo can't catch up with Tom and Ian and after a few tries, Tom is the first to get his tiles arranged in the correct manner. Tom wins - yawn - the Poo Poo Necklace! He's now in the Final Four.

Later that day, Tom tells the camera that he was just "lucky" to win this particular Immunity Challenge (remember, as he's admitted, thinking is not his strongest point). If the women kick out Ian, he will have to keep winning the rest of the Immunity Challenges then! Hmm, call me gullible, but I think he will do just that.

Meanwhile, Ian and Katie are having a private moment. I would love to say that Ian is playing her beautifully in order to stay in the game but unfortunately, I suspect that Ian is actually being serious. Cuckoo-land beckons and Ian answers. Ian tells Katie that he handled the Reward Challenge stupidly because it strained their "friendship and game". Katie tells him that what he did only made her realize whom he was really loyal to, which is why she won't make a decision as to what she will do yet. How nice of her. Does it ever occur to her to tell J Lyo and Caryn that there is a chance that she isn't going to stick with their plan? Of course not. "This is the clincher! This is our test," Ian declares fervently to Katie. I really hope he is not talking about a test of their special love or something because I will really become sick in the stomach if that's the case. Katie laughs because Ian is so whipped, he's sweet in her eyes again.

Caryn watches those two all this while and speculates that Katie will either boot Ian or one of the remaining two women in the tribe. She doesn't know what Katie will do but she hopes that Katie will be "genuine".

Night, Tribal Council. After the Horrors take their seat and the Jury members file in, J Lyo and Gregg have this look that says, "Honey, I'm wearing your unwashed swim trunks just for you!" Probby then brings out the Reward Challenge which leads to painful hand wringing from Ian and nonsensical pontifications from Katie. I'm suffered through recapping their scenes around camp so I hope you'll understand if I have to pass on this conversation.

Probby asks Caryn how she feels about the whole Ian and Katie affair. Caryn brings up Ian being part of the alliance to boot Gregg in last week's episode (which I'm sure everyone including Gregg will have figured out by now) as evidence of Ian having deals with many people in this tribe. Probby puts on a fake stunned expression, as if people have never double-dealed on this show before. Cobb in the Jury, on the other hand, puts on an even more exaggerated expression of shock. He must be a performing monkey in a past life. Ian weakly defends himself by saying that he never wanted to vote out Katie, to which Caryn spats, "Baloney!" Tom points out that Caryn is the one who reported to him that Katie and Gregg wanted Tom gone in the previous episode. J Lyo must be annnoyed that Tom doesn't see fit to include her in the We Want Tom Gone alliance. Caryn gasps and acts as if Tom has lied when he actually hasn't lied completely. Tom just prettifies history to make him look good, such as when he next says that he and Ian realize that Gregg must go only after Caryn alerts them of the plot against Tom. Actually, it was a plot against Caryn but never mind. That is too stupid to be believed if it isn't unfortunately so very true that Tom and Ian were never in trouble during the whole Gregg, Katie, and J Lyo Have A Plot saga.

Caryn also brings up the fact that Ian steamrollered Katie with the Plot Against Gregg only ten minutes or so before the last Tribal Council. Ian defends himself by saying that it didn't matter when he told Katie. Katie insists that it mattered. "You're telling me what's happening, rather than me saying, 'Okay, let me think on that, maybe I might want to go with Jenn and Gregg!'" she tells him in ridiculous self-righteous fury. But she tells Probby that she hasn't decided on who she should vote for, which is a nice way of making Caryn and J Lyo mad at her when they end up in the Jury. I mean, it is one thing to plot, but it is another thing to lure people into an alliance that she has no intention of honoring towards the end. That isn't sneaky, that's bloody stupid. That's actively hacking away and burning one's bridges with other members of the tribe.

And that's precisely what she does when she casts her vote for Caryn with Tom and Ian, leaving J Lyo to the wolves and Caryn unceremoniously dumped to Loser Lodge. Caryn doesn't look happy at all. Okay, she looks even more sourfaced than usual. After she is gone, Probby tells the others that he can't wait to see how the remaining four will play the game.

Caryn in her final words says that she is executed for being the messenger of bad news, blah blah blah. Yes, yes, that's too bad for her, but she can bug off and nurse her bitterness over a glass of vodka at the Loser Lodge while the finale rolls in and - mercifully - the end of this perplexingly dissatisfying season.