Palau Episode 2: Love Is in the Air, Rats Are Everywhere

Previously, twenty Survivors show up on Palau only to have three leaving within the hour. So how is this season any different from previous seasons? Probably not much - I'll just have to wait and see, really - and with the usual tribes and familiar tribal conflicts (people are bossy, some people are bitchy, other people are whiny) cropping up, it's back to a familiar but still watchable season after the wretchedly dull Vanuatu snoozebore of a season.

Credits. I wonder what Wanda is singing right now in Loser Lodge.

Night, day three, the Camp of Horrors. They haven't lost anyone in the recent Tribal Council but they have lost their flint when their happy canoe tipped over while they were paddling to this new beach of theirs. Cut to Monroe the Immunity Idol who is grinning at the camera and then Tom, who is probably isn't grinning, saying that it is another day in paradise. Caryn explains to the camera how the Horrors won Monroe and the flint in the previous Reward-cum-Immunity Challenge only to drop the flint into the sea. That will teach them for holding on to the stupid monkey harder than they hold on to the flight. At the camp, Cobb is comparing aloud the loss of their flint to a car accident. Memo to these people: I don't care. Much love, me. Can we just get on with the show now?

Oh, and here are the rats. Rats are everywhere in the Horror tribe. Well, it is the Horror tribe, after all. The ladies scream and go eeeee and aaaaah and iiiiiiii. Jonu goes eeeee and aaaaah and iiiiiiii while trying to tell the camera and the Horror tribe that she isn't afraid of everything and she knows that this is just a case of mind over matter but oh no, the rats are "coming to town" so eeeee and aaaaah and iiiiiiii... How pathetic. Hello, I'm watching Survivor, right? Not Outback Jack?

For some reason, Gregg decides to tell everyone that he thinks this new beach is fabulous and he gives Tom the thumbs-up. Caryn - or is that Uncaryn? - doesn't agree and complains to the camera that "in the light of day" the whole moving to a new beach idea sucks and she doesn't think much of Tom for proposing the idea. She tells him off, saying that Willard called for a vote whether they should go to a new beach or stayed (not that this was shown in the previous episode or anything) but no, Tom the Know-It-All decided that everyone should go to the new beach instead. Still, she and Tom cool off a little when Tom agrees with her that they should all make decisions based on a common vote from now on. Poor Tom. Nobody on this show enjoys the "adventure" anymore.

Katie tells the camera that Caryn can't stop complaining about how the new camp is worse then their old one. She says that, unlike Caryn's version of the story to Tom, the majority of the Horrors wanted to move to this new camp. If this new camp isn't that great, they will all have to make the best of the situation. I admire her lucid sensibility even if I can't really remember what her name is until it flashes on the TV screen. And then a storm hits the Camp of Horrors, although whether this has anything to do with Caryn's non-stop whining is pure conjectures at this point. Everyone huddles together and tries to cover themselves with palm frond. Those poor dears' adventure aren't on a good start, oh dear. I don't think Tom will be getting plenty of love in the foreseeable future.

Day four, good morning, Ulong. Now I know why Jeff W picked Kim in the pick-your-tribe thing in the previous episode: they are right now snuggling together like dirty, smelly lovebirds, she in her tattered garments and he in his frayed grey boxer-briefs that leads me to suspect that he is actually a doll because he has no package at all. Stephenie tries to take a bath in the sea, although whether this has anything with her seeing the cozy twosome of Kim and Jeff W is purely speculation at this point. She crows about how getting rid of Jolanda has united the whole tribe. Jolanda is gone but the bitterness lives on, yeah! Meanwhile, Jeff W and Kim slowly wake up. Pixels helpfully blur the crotch of Jeff W because we don't want to be subjected to the sight of that man's morning wood. It's a small patch of pixels, by the way, which is not surprising considering how poor Jeff W has absolutely no package at all. I hope he's a grower instead of a shower. But it may be too late already, because I hear that steroids can do that to a man's thingie. But at least those steroids have given me some pleasant abs to feast my eyes on, so Jeff W's sacrifice is not entirely in vain.

Jumbles declares to the camera that (I think) the tribe doesn't need a leader. So the Ulongites stand on the beach and look at each other as they wonder what they should do now. Angie looks at the sky for divine enlightenment. Then someone decides that they should "wake up first" and everyone nods with enthusiastic relief. I find it quite pathetic that these people are at loss as to what to do when they finally get what they want - a leaderless tribe. Maybe those Party Games For Dummies books do have an audience to pander to, after all! And here I am, wondering what kind of sorry people that need a book to come up with ideas to make a party fun when everyone knows that all you need to be fun is plenty of alcohol. Jumbles lies on a tree and insists that the tribe consists of Americans (and not people from Uranus like some nasty rumors suggest) so they will follow a democracy rather than a "Jolandocracy". The George W Bush jokes practically write themselves in the context of this scene, don't they?

Tree-mail for Ulong! Actually, it's more of a stump-mail this time but I'll stick to tree-mail for consistency's sake. Plus, I don't want to hurt Jeff W's feelings more than I already have. The mail, in classic bad poetry, tells the tribe to "keep on your toes" while they are running, stay out of water, and get plenty of food. That sounds like a bad Goldilocks and the Three Bears parody, really. Angie thinks that the mail suggests, to her, that they will have to fight the other Team, although she never elaborates whether she thinks that a mud fight will be involved, and adds that after receiving votes at the previous Tribal Council, she'd do her best to try and be an asset to Ulong. Because she is a Groaning Minnie, she just has to add that she is so sure that she will be eliminated. She keeps saying that, it's annoying.

Reward Challenge time. Jeff "That's Not A Beak, That's My Nose" Proboscis waits at a beach and watches as the two tribes file in to their respective mats. He points out to the Horrors that Jolanda is gone from Ulong. As if the Horrors care, really. Probby then pretends to not know anything about the Horrors' missing flint and proceeds to have Katie and Ian tell aloud the story of the canoe that tipped and the flint that flipped. Probby has a grin that suggests, in any other situation, that he has just gobbled up a whole banquet table of crap. Ian vows that the Horrors, or "the Bad News Bears" as he calls his tribe, will find the flint, just everyone wait and see.

Probby explains the rules of this Challenge. Basically, every member of a tribe has to swing across a rope and run along several balance bridges and beams until the other side where he or she then collects a flag and runs back with the flag. Meanwhile, the other tribe members will be swinging heavy bags of sand towards this person. Anyone who falls has to go back and wait for his or her turn to start again. On the Horror side, Willard sits out while Gregg and Tom will be in charge of swinging the bags. Jeff W and Ibrehem, men of steel abs but maybe not much else, will swing the bags for the Ulongites.

And what will the winning tribe get? Because this show won't be Survivor unless the show gives the tribe everything they need to survive, this time it's a whole bundle of fishing equipment! Oh, and despite what Probby said about the Ulongites having to find their own way to make fire, if the Ulongites win this time Probby will also give them a flint! Jumbles cries that Probby is definitely "the man". Yeah, what a man indeed.

Jumbles (Ulong) and Cobb (Horror) square off. Cobb is hit by the bags on his way back and falls down with a splash. Jumbles nearly makes it back when he too trips and falls. Oops. Bobby Jon (Ulong) and Ian (Horror) go next. When he is hit by a bag, Bobby Jon practically screams in rage, "Get that bag off me!" The bag is like, "Well, excuse me!" and whacks him hard. Ian gets the flag and slips on his way back - splash - and Bobby Jon soon follows - splash. Bobby Jon isn't too happy and he roars at the sky. Why, God, why? God has no answers. Life can be so cruel. Katie and Angie are next. Katie can't even complete the rope swing while Angie agilely stumbles and scampers like a rat - which may be a perfect representative of her gameplan so far - and her prayers actually work like a charm when she succeeds in getting Ulong their first flag.

Ashlee is next and she too gets a flag for Ulong while Katie is still struggling to clear the rope swing. Oops, Katie's knees collide hard with the wooden platform floor. That won't hurt as much as the rap on the knuckles that she will receive from her fellow Horrors, I'm sure. Stephenie gets another flag for Ulong. Katie swings one more time after Willard tells her to keep her knees pulled up until she's cleared the swing and she narrowly makes it across. Kim runs past her and gets another flag for Ulong. Katie is obviously too exhausted to go on. When Ian tells her to quit if she's too tired to go on, she dives down into the water in relief. Angie gets another flag for Ulong (earning her a "You rock!" cheer from her tribemates) while Jonu tries to catch up. It's now five flags for Ulong versus zero for Horror, by the way.

Jonu gets the first flag for Horror. Ashlee gets one more for Ulong. Jumbles and J Lyo also get flags for their tribes, so we're now down to seven for Ulong and two for Horror. Ian and Caryn stumble and fall. Cobb meditates but sometimes all this meditation thingie is best used for improving sexual drive and stamina and what-not because Cobb takes only two steps before he kisses the water. Bobby Jon gets a flag for Ulong and starts howling and pounding his chest the way a gorilla would. I have high hopes of him going crazy later this season. Janu gets a flag for Horror and Ian also tries but it's no use. Stephenie and Kim get the last two flags for Ulong and it's over for the Horrors. The Ulongites have won the Reward Challenge.

While Horror is so blue, everyone in Ulong is treating Angie like a hero. Angie soaks up the attention, so happy that she is now One Of Them and no doubt believing that all this goodwill will last. Poor, pathetic Angie, her life is like Mean Girls without the happy ending. Probby tells the Horrors to go look for their flint in the sea and send the two tribes away.

Back at Ulong, Jeff W is salivating at the idea of getting some fish and having some protein to eat. Hopefully, he will catch some anemones to stuff into his boxers too because dang it, the utter flatness of the crotch area is darned distracting. It's not natural, surely, for it to be that flat? Other people are overcompensating in their hugging and cheering and even smacking Angie's behind, with Ashlee saying that Angie apparently motivated the whole tribe and Bobby Jon announcing that Angie "dominated" the Challenge. Really? All I saw was that Angie got two flags out of the ten for the tribe. Bobby Jon announces that Angie "changed the whole morale" of the tribe. I suspect that the morale of the tribe must be smaller than Jeff W's penis. Still, like Angie announces to the camera, she needs this acknowledgement badly so it's nice that she is getting some or soon she will start crying tears of blood and pouring gasoline on everyone and everything before setting them all alight.

The Ulongites use the flint to make fire. The fire sends Jumbles into a paroxysm of bliss. Jeff W thinks that he's the man to catch fish for the tribe. "I'll explore and see what's all around us," he declares before catching a tiny, weenie fish that must have come close because he mistakes Jeff W's tiny weenie for a worm. He hopes that the fish is enough to give everyone "a couple of pinches of protein". That will do, if we are talking about a bunch of anorexics. Jeff W then catches a clam as well, although why he needs to wait until he gets a fishing spear to grab a clam, I have no idea. Proud of his Hemingwayian battle against nature, Jeff W smiles proudly and hopes aloud to the camera that the Horrors fail to find their flint.

The Horrors are out right now looking for the flint. Hunky Tom, who becomes hotter the more I see him on screen, says that they may have made a mistake to search for their missing flint at this time because the winds are strong and the tides are stronger. Ian and Tom are having a hard time keeping the canoe from being carried away by the waves. As Tom paddles hard to keep the canoe steady, Ian dives down to look for the crate that contains their flint. At the beach, Caryn and Cobb are... direction-givers, I guess, because they are pointing at the canoe and bitching that the guys aren't looking at the correct place. But Ian yells that he can see the crate at the ocean floor so Caryn and Cobb should have just shut up. As he dives, Ian explains to the camera that it is a twenty-five feet dive and the currents are such that he has a very hard time trying to even move the crate. He attaches a rope from the canoe to the crate and this allows Tom to paddle the canoe to where Ian is. Both men dive down and finally haul the crate out and up onto the canoe. It's like watching Hercules and David work together in a scene that will make both Jesus and Zeus proud. These two are my boyfriends of the season. The other Horrors celebrate by hugging the two men and Ian tells Tom dryly that this is the best moment of his life. It's a good day for the Horrors.

As the day stretches into the evening, the Ulongites are happily eating on that miniscule fish and the clam along with some seaweeds for dessert. Ashlee, however, announces that she is not hungry and retreats into the shelter. Her actions puzzle the Ulongites and Bobby Jon declares to the camera that Ashlee will get booted out if she doesn't get along with other people. How well does he get along with people, I wonder, because the more he speaks, the more he comes off like a crazy guy. I'm sure the wild eyes will come later.

Night falls. Ooh, the man with no penis is cuddling with his girlfriend Kim again. For some reason, the line from Aqua's Barbie Girl - "You can touch, you can play, if you say I'm always yours, oh-woah, oh-woah!" keeps playing in my head. Angie muses over the possibility that Kim is playing Jeff W. Oh, I'm sure she is and he's a happier man for it.

Day five. Morning, Camp Ulong. They receive tree-mail that asks them to learn what seems like the Morse code. Because this is the idiot tribe, they decide to split up the code so that everyone only needs to memorize three or four Morse codes. This is assuming that they can work together in the Immunity Challenge and not person by person. I will laugh when it turns out that each member should have memorized the entire code. Bobby Jon is confident that with their morale boost from their Reward Challenge victory, they will clean the floor with the Horrors' behinds in the Immunity Challenge. Which means that they won't, as the show's editing is so predictable this way.

Probby is at another beach, or perhaps it's the same beach of the previous Reward Challenge, I don't know, waiting for the tribes to step onto their respective mats. I wonder, do the show people clean those mats after each Challenge? Probby collects Monroe from the Horrors and explains this week's Immunity Challenge. Out in the waters, for each tribe, there is a foot locker located at the bottom of the sea. The locker is weighted down by a barrel, the rope around the locker going through the hole in the center of the barrel. So what each tribe member will have to do is to dive down about ten feet to the barrel and pull the rope until he or she reaches a mark on the rope telling the person that the foot locker has been lifted ten feet higher towards them. There are fifty feet of rope to pull. Once the foot locker is pulled up, the tribe can collect eight pieces of puzzle from it and use the Morse code that they have learned to piece together the puzzle pieces and translate the code into a word. The first tribe to do this wins Monroe.

Katie sits out for the Horrors.

What happens is a pleasant bluish haze of muscular male bodies, hard thighs kicking around... yummy. But Tom? He's hot. He's dead meat the moment the tribe merges but he single-handedly pulls ten feet of rope on one try while the other muscular young men (especially those in Ulong) may have the chiseled muscles but not the strength or stamina to go along with their physique. That's the difference between Tom and his strong if not too-chiseled body versus Ibrehem and Jeff W and their perfect but uselessly ornamental physique, although to give these gym bunnies credit, they do try hard. In fact, everyone tries hard, except for Kim who seems to be trying her best to stay out of the water. This is noteworthy because it will come to play later in the show.

Because of Tom, the Horrors soon have the puzzle pieces out. They assemble the pieces, translate the word (it's "immunity" - how creative) and Monroe is sleeping once more tonight in the Camp of Horrors. The Ulongites will have the honor of Probby's company in Tribal Council.

Ashlee tells the camera as the Ulongites paddle back to camp that they are all so disappointed by their loss. I'm glad she cleared that up, I'm starting to think that they are happy to lose, those slackers. It begins to rain and she starts worrying about the fire they have back at the camp. Sure enough, the rain has nearly put out the fire when the Ulongites reach their camp but they manage to salvage some burning coals and rush these coals to a cave. Angie, Stephenie, and Jumbles end up staying cozy in the cave while the others return to the shelter. Maybe these three are going to keep watch for predators like Wanda trying to steal the coals. Angie hopes that she can have an alliance with Ashlee. Soon those three are talking about booting Kim because they think that she wasn't pulling her weight in the recent Immunity Challenge. Jumbles is confident that Kim is a "goner".

Jumbles, in the classic case of an idiot who destroys his own case, approaches Jeff W and tells Jeff W that Kim must go because Kim is a "sociological and psychological" threat. Yeah, that's so funny, Jumbles is such a joker. Jeff W naturally is stunned that the woman he is cuddling with has to go and claims to the camera that he is irritated that Jumbles would even dare to suggest such a thing. Jeff W thinks that Ashlee should go because... er, I try to decipher his nonsensical rambling to Jumbles about "frame of mind" but I strongly suspect that Jeff W just wants to keep the woman he is cuddling up to at night. He even says that Ashlee is "breaking down". Why? Because she actually took part in the Immunity Challenge? He calls Ashlee the "weakest link". How like Jeff W to think that the world revolves around his puny little penis.

Stephenie and Bobby Jon have a private chat where Bobby Jon voices his belief that Ashlee should go. Why? He says that it's all due to his "gut instinct". Gut? Is that anything to do with Ashlee not wanting to eat? Stephenie tries to tell him that it is better to break up the Kim-Jeff W cuddle-wuddle twosome because that is an alliance that could potentially be dangerous. I don't know. I doubt Jeff W is going to the new Robfather anytime soon. Bobby Jon doesn't seem convinced though. Stephenie sums up for the camera that while she, Jumbles, Angie, and Ashlee are all for booting Kim, the trio of Kim, Jeff W, and Ibrehem are gunning for Ashlee. If Bobby Jon throws his vote with this trio, they may end up with a tie at Tribal Council.

Now Kim and Stephenie take a walk, where Kim wants to know whether she's on the chopping block. Stephenie admits that that is the case. Kim wants to know who is the person behind this splendid, er, ghastly idea. Stephenie says that it is the "consensus" of the tribe that Kim gets booted. Indignant, Kim tells the camera that if people want her respect, they better come and tell her upfront that they are voting for her. So there! She repeats this bizarre philosophy of hers to Jumbles in a later pow-wow with the man. Jumbles promises to tell her before the Tribal Council if he is voting for her. Somehow, the fact that he winks at her back, clicks his tongue, and pretends to shoot her with his fingers have me believing that he probably won't.

Stephenie warns Ashlee that Ashlee is also in the hot seat this week. She also points out that if the four people gunning for Ashlee - Jeff W, Kim, Ibrehem, and Bobby Jon - have their way this week, Jumbles, Angie, and Stephenie would be picked off one by one in the subsequent Tribal Councils. Angie, on the other hand, predicts that there will be a tie at Tribal Council.

Night, Tribal Council. Probby kicks off the show by boosting Angie's stock with a few well-placed questions about Angie's worth to the tribe, although if you ask me, Angie's stock is well on the way of being overinflated. Angie is happy though. Good luck, Angie, when they turn on you and boot your sorry ass! If there is any doubt as to how insipid Kim is, all doubt is obliterated when she opens her mouth. Her take on tribe relationships? "We all depend on each other so much!" Even Angie rolls her eyes at that one. Her take on her relationship with Jeff W? "It's hot in here all of a sudden!" She knows that her boyfriend has no penis, right? When Stephenie and Jumbles sound less than pleased when they talk about how they too have noticed the flirtation (and cuddling) between Jeff W and Kim, Jeff W insists that it's all due to the practicality of having someone to cuddle up to when the night is cold. No way, dude! Probby points out that the other tribe mates may perceive Jeff W's relationship with Kim as a threat because it is an alliance of two. Jeff W insists that "everyone" knows that there is no alliance between her and Kim. How the other Ulongites manage to keep a straight face at this, I will never know. Kim giggles and insists that her relationship with Jeff W doesn't change "anything", although what this "anything" is, I have no idea and I don't think she has either.

After some more pointless chit-chat, it's time to vote. There is a surprise twist here that the episode never bothers to show me. But from Survivor Insider, here's the thing: Stephenie, Angie, and Jumbles cast votes for Ashlee. This is because apparently Ashlee asks them to let her leave because she doesn't want to remain on the island anymore. The other surprise is that Ibrehem, widely though to vote for Ashlee, votes for Kim because he feels that he owes Ashlee loyalty for her picking him to be on the Ulong tribe. Will Stephenie, Jumbles, and Angie lobby harder to keep Ashlee if they know that Ibrehem is on their side? I don't know. To sum up, here are the votes. For Ashlee: Stephenie, Jumbles, Jeff W, Bobby Jon, Angie, and Kim. For Jeff W: Ashlee (strictly for laughs on her part). For Kim: Ibrehem.

Sure enough, in her final words, Ashlee says that she is ready to leave and she is sure that her tribemates know that. They cut off the best part of her speech though, when she says that she should've used the cold as an excuse to cuddle up with Ibrehem. That lady may be a quitter, but her taste in men is pretty good.