Survival Of The Snittiest
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NEW YORK, April 24, 2005
(CBS) Analysis of "Survivor: Palau" Episode Ten, by CBSNews.com's Ellen Crean.
Watching Episode Ten was more like watching a nature show on cable than it was like watching "Survivor."
One nature show in particular comes to mind. It was about a family of eaglets that picked on one of their siblings until the poor thing nearly wasted away and died. (The lesson there was survival of the fittest.)
On "Survivor," of course, we're dealing not with a nest of adorable little baby birds, but a cabal composed of some pretty sneaky human beings, beginning with Katie, and proceeding to Gregg and down through, yes, even Ian the Dolphin Boy. And the poor little outcast eaglet? Janu the Former Jungle Goddess.
Katie kicked things off by reporting to the camera that, "Janu is completely mad," and then making fun of Janu behind Janu's back, she thought. But Janu happened to overhear her and called her on it: "What are we? Junior high?"
Yes, Janu! That is exactly what Koror is! And Katie is that "popular girl" who hardly anyone remembers fondly, so you'd better run while you have the chance.
Even when Janu said the words, "I am very hurt," that was not enough to churn up any remorse in the heart of Popular Katie. All it got Janu was a snotty "I'm sorry," followed by a statement along the lines of: "And if that's not good enough for you, too bad!"
Oh yes, and then there was Gregg, The Guy Who Doesn't Get It, telling the camera that Janu had become a "buzzkill."
Janu actually appeared to be physically ill and unpopular because she was drawing a different experience from the game than anyone else. At that point, she certainly knew that she was not playing the game to win, so it would have made sense for her to behave differently from the others.
It's always dangerous to be different, but it's especially so when someone like Katie is around to helpfully point out to everyone (behind her back) that Janu's smile is weird and she looks like a jack-o'-lantern.
Anyway, the reward challenge called for the Survivors to break into two teams of four members each and build a scaffold in the water in order to reach a flag, which was then to be brought to shore.
Just look for the team that had Fireman Tom and you could pretty much predict the winners (Tom, Caryn, Gregg and Janu), all of whom were sent to an island feast, bedecked with flowers and plied with local beer and corn and chicken and barbecued ribs.
Janu (the "buzzkill") got sick mid-feast and vomited in the bushes, causing Gregg to complain that she had taken away from his enjoyment of the meal.
The winners were nice enough to bring some of the food back to Kamp Koror, to share with the losers. But in Katie's world, apparently, no deed goes unpunished and she complained that Janu "stuck her hand in there and ate our dessert." As a footnote, she mentioned that Caryn did the same thing, but because Caryn is not Janu, it seems the deed was not as egregious.
(It should occur to the most casual observer that Caryn had better watch her step, because now that Janu is out of the picture, Katie is going to be looking for another eaglet to pick on. And since Stephenie is not about to take garbage from anyone and Jenn is Gregg's girlfriend, it seems that Caryn would be the next logical choice for Picked-On Eaglet. We'll see.)
The immunity challenge this time was pretty hideous. The Survivors had to stay under metal bars in the water as the tide came in, gradually covering their faces and forcing them to either hold their breath under water or bob up to the surface and give up immunity. It was a situation designed to invite a panic attack.
On top of that, the penalty for being the first person to "bail" was a night alone on different beach. Fireman Tom wisecracked: "I'm thinking of stepping out just to get away from this crowd." But that was no joke to Janu, who gave up six minutes into the challenge.
In the face of Janu's misery, the response of the other Korors was to make more jokes and laugh, which prompted Jeff Probst to remark that it appeared there was "no love lost" between Janu and her tribe mates. When the others protested, Jeff pointed out that, since they were all carrying on like it was "open-mike night," what else was he to think?
Mercifully, that seemed to sink in, because everyone clammed up and concentrated on the challenge after that.
A contest involving breathing control and stamina. Guess who won?
So Fireman Tom donned the immunity necklace, Janu got taken away in a speedboat, and everyone began to get ready for Tribal Council. But first, we got to see Janu on her own, triumphantly producing a fire after trying for nearly three hours, then dancing on the beach in the dark, rhapsodizing, "Right now, I'm probably the happiest that I have been in these 26 days. ...The moon, the stars, the water and my fire. It's all mine!"
Meanwhile, back at Kamp Koror, Stephenie was smelling a rat, and not the kind that is native to Palau. To the viewers, it was made clear that Gregg 'n' Jenn want Stephenie out, and it was also made clear that Tom and Ian were prepared to go along with that, even though "the women" (read "Katie") seemed to want to get rid of Janu The Odd Eaglet.
Tom, especially, seemed reluctant to oust Stephenie, telling the camera, "It's not where my heart is, but anything can happen."
You said it, Mr. Fireman! But chances are good that not even Tom foresaw the strange happenings at that night's Tribal Council, and we are not talking about Coby's appearance as Juror No. 1.
First of all, Janu was quite candid when Jeff asked her how she did when she was exiled. "I did great," came her answer, and furthermore, she said she did not feel like she belonged at Kamp Koror when she returned the next day. She also told Jeff she did not care whether she stayed in the game or not.
This was followed by a heart-wrenching interrogation of Stephenie, who seemed to intuit that she was the next to go. She had been saying all day that she had a feeling that it was her neck that was on the chopping block and not Janu's. Stephenie basically said it was killing her to hear Janu say she did not care whether she stayed or went when she, Stephenie, wanted so much to stay in the game.
"I guess I showed too much heart, too much will," Stephenie concluded, weeping openly, and she didn't even know just how on-target she was in that statement.
At that point, it took only a little prodding from Jeff to get Janu to say that she wanted out of the game and to voluntarily lay down her torch. In doing so, she bought Stephenie at least three more days in the game, and had the chance to actually thank Jeff for snuffing out her torch.
Next week: Stephenie tries to organize a rebellion against Tom, and the immunity challenge involves using a heavy firehouse to extinguish flames in a burning building. Just kidding about the immunity challenge, but quite serious about Stephenie's rebellion. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/24/earlyshow/series/survivor/main690427_page2.shtml