Demon Rum And Demon Tom
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NEW YORK, April 18, 2005
(CBS) Analysis of "Survivor: Palau" Episode Nine, by CBSNews.com's Ellen Crean.
The demonization of Tom has begun.
Suddenly, he's not being depicted as Apollo god of the sun. Who is he now? Well, definitely not Bacchus. In Episode 9, he got pretty drunk on island rum.
But all that comes later.
First, Ian gave us the prevailing point of view on Janu, the former Jungle Goddess, who has been reduced to reclining in the hammock all day long. Ian reports that she has become the tribe's "dysfunctional aunt who lives in the attic." Coby is dismissed as "the pouter of the tribe."
Meanwhile, Coby was busy rinsing Caryn's tresses in the surf (like he's back in Texas, doing hair!) and catting away about his arch-rivals: "Ian gets a piece of fruit and Tom gets a clam and everybody throws a party."
However, the first major development in this episode was Stephenie's arrival at Kamp Koror. Of course, before that happened, we got to see the brave little Survivor struggling to keep her spirits up and her belly full, all alone at the Ulong camp. She tried fishing and when that didn't work out, she struggled to provide herself with a single coconut. "It's a big one, at least," said stalwart Stephenie.
The most touching moment with Stephenie came, though, when she got the message that it was time for her to go over to Koror and become one of them. After reading the happy news through tears of joy, she hightailed it over to the other side as fast as she could, proclaiming, "It's the merge! I'm going to have friends!"
It's amazing to see how the addition of just one person to Koror changes the game. But there you are! Apparently, Stephenie was fondly remembered by some of the group, from the day three weeks earlier when they all landed on the island together. When she approached Kamp Koror, Ian called her "a sight for sore eyes."
Coby the Cat didn't waste any time, observing that "Katie shot up Stephenie's butt the second she got here." And then he went on to say that he couldn't wait to inform Stephenie of all the intra-tribe intrigue and to debunk her of the idea that Koror is "so tight and sweet and loving."
At least as far as Coby was concerned, everything seemed to be turning sour. When two Palau natives show up to teach the tribe how to fish in true island style, Coby objected when Tom, Ian and Gregg all got to go out on the fishing boat, while he stayed on shore to catch more bait.
While it's true that Coby volunteered to stay on shore to catch bait, it's clear that he had expected Ian to stay behind and help him.
Actually, Fireman Tom didn't come off looking much better than Coby when he
pompously told the camera, "Ian didn't belong back on the beach trying to catch bait at this point. He belongs out there, learning how to catch fish." Since when did Tom become the one who decided WHO belongs WHERE?
At that point in the program, it would have been entirely reasonable for a regular viewer of "Survivor" to conclude that Coby was going to be voted out at Tribal Council this time. He was getting a lot of camera time (never a good sign) and he appeared quite irritable.
So, anyway, the fishing guys came back with 13 fish and a lobster, and the two Palauan fishermen produced bottles of island rum to begin the evening's festivities. They showed the tribe how to pour the rum into coconuts to make mixed drinks, but Tom preferred to drink straight out of the bottle.
Well, of course, Tom was trashed. (Said Katie, "Tom, you're not driving tonight, OK?") And while it was kind of unsettling to see him actually falling down drunk, it appearred to signal to us that we would be seeing a more vulnerable Fireman Tom from then on -- at least in this episode, and that's actually interesting.
The next day, the two Palauan fishermen were barely on their way before Coby called Stephenie over and walked away with her, leaving Katie and Jenn with their mouths open in blank astonishment.
Coby proceeded to tell Stephenie as much as he knew about the various alliances and strategies, characterizing the main alliance as consisting of Tom, Ian, Katie, Gregg and Jenn. He also told her that Gregg and Jenn have a secret plan to get rid of Tom and Ian, and that Jenn is jealous of Stephenie.
As soon as Stephenie returned to Katie and Jenn, she did tell them what Coby had told her, but if she told them the part about Gregg 'n' Jenn's secret plan, they didn't show that on the air.
The best part about that portion of the show was Katie's reaction when Stephenie said that Coby told her that Jenn and Katie are jealous. Katie is not much of an actress when someone is looking her in the eye, because she gave the all-time over-the-top "isn't-that-ridiculous" performance, popping her eyes out and producing a laugh that was certainly meant to sound scornful. It really sounded fake and hollow.
It all smacks of junior high school, with the gossip and backstabbing and fake reactions. But that's part of this game's charm.
Then Stephenie had an audience with Principal Tom, who informed her that "Myself, Ian and Katie will look out for you...as far as we can... You've got friends in this tribe who will keep you alive."
But, in the end, you just knew that Stephenie was going to be way too smart to believe anyone, right? Her reaction to all the hullabaloo: "I've gotta figure some things out."
The immunity challenge this week was a familiar one: Everyone stood on a perch in the water. Whoever lasted the longest would win immunity. Coby and Janu lasted an hour, easily caving in when Jeff offered donuts to whoever would swim to shore. (Observed Katie, "Either they want to go home, or they don't think they're in danger of going home.")
An hour and a half later, four Survivors (Ian, Katie, Gregg 'n' Jenn) gave it up for chocolate chip cookies and milk. And just half an hour after that, Caryn and Stephenie took the plunge for a pizza.
So Tom ended up with immunity, and there was no break between the end of the contest and Tribal Council. Both Stephenie and Janu appeared fairly certain that they had targets on their backs, but in the end, it was Coby who was voted out.
If you're going to miss him, you are not alone. But the good news for Coby fans is that he is the first one on the jury, so we'll get to see how well he cleans up at the end of every episode from now on. Next: Janu confronts the popular girls outside the gym, someone wins a native performance and feast as a reward, and the loser in another contest has to live alone for a while. Is that the Memorial Stephenie Prize?