The Palau Perspective is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring in the tribes. Who is wheeling? Who is dealing? And of course, who is reeling?
Balance of Power
Last week, Coby was sent packing because of his bad attitude; or was he? A good player would eliminate those that pose the greatest threat to them as early as possible. The man calling the shots and holding all the power in Koror was revealed this week; and it wasn’t Tom.
Gregg laid the cards out early this week when he explained that this is a game and not a contest. It’s not about keeping those that are deserve to win; it’s about keeping those that can help YOU win. Coby needed to go because Gregg had previously approached Coby about a plan to oust Tom. The longer Coby was around, the greater the risk to Gregg’s security in the tribe. Gregg’s no nonsense approach to the game is reminiscent of Rob Mariano, another cold hearted player that saw half the tribe as pawns and the other half as threats to his million.
Gregg has wisely laid back and let Tom be the alpha-male in the tribe and all the heat that comes along with it. Tom’s having a field day being the Koror chief and if it keeps him busy and ignorant of Gregg’s strategy, all the better. Gregg has also formed a close alliance with a female tribemate that works to his advantage. Somehow, he has managed to skate along and not appear on anyone’s radar as a threat. He took a look at the tribe and decided that he needed to keep Janu, someone who wasn’t an immunity threat or close to anyone else, rather than Stephenie, a wild card and someone that could very well work against him. Despite the Final 4 pledge to Stephenie, Tom & Ian were willing to go along with the plan to vote her out rather than rock the boat and deal with the wrath of Gregg. Whether they are aware of it or not, they are allowing themselves to be pawns in Gregg’s game.
A Patriarchal Society
While Gregg may be the mastermind, Tom is still the tribe’s figurehead and leader, for all intents and purposes. As Caryn noted many episodes ago, Tom is content to wait on the girls hand and foot and keep them happy, and almost encourages it. Is he just that chivalrous? I highly doubt it. Every alliance needs someone to do the work and someone to come along for the ride. You can’t have power if you don’t have the votes. Tom’s plan would seem to be to keep the women happy so they don’t vote against you.
The expectations of the men and women in the tribe were clear in the reward challenge. Split into two separate teams, Gregg and Tom did all the work in the beginning, while Janu and Caryn were to stay above water, reasons unbeknownst to me. Only after Janu was goaded by Jeff did she start to participate and ultimately prevail. Tom, nor Gregg, expected the women to help out, or concerned that they did not help out more. Meanwhile, Stephenie, who came from Ulong; a tribe where all the tribe members, regardless of gender, were expected to work, was frustrated by the lack of effort from Katie and Jenn.
The pampering of women on Koror has also benefited the men, since none of the women seem to have a hunger or drive to win that we have seen. Katie is content to coast along on Tom and Ian’s coattails while Jenn is protected by Gregg. Janu and Caryn are expendable and simply extra votes until it’s their turn to go. That leaves Stephenie, the only true immunity threat and the only woman that has shown any desire to make it to the end.
Gee, Thanks Jeff
For the first time, Jeff played an active part in the outcome of tribal council. Realizing it was her turn to go, Stephenie could not contain her frustration and anger when tribemate after tribemate tried to justify her inevitable boot by claiming she’s a threat. So when Janu explained she was ready and wanted to go home, it became too much for Stephenie to bear. Riding in on his white knight, Jeff grilled the tribe about voting out threats while keeping people around that didn’t want to be in the game. Jeff put the pressure on Janu until she was ready to crack, thereby saving Stephenie for another three days and putting a kink in the masterplan.
With that, let’s review where everyone stands:
The Power Players
Gregg – As discussed, Gregg is in a great position. Not only is he calling the shots in the strongest and largest alliance, he has a sub alliance with Jenn that so far, everyone has chosen to ignore. Much like Boston Rob, Gregg has the end in sight and is methodically picking off people one by one according to their value or risk to his own position in the game. Tom and Ian aren’t dumb though, and their alliance with Katie and Stephenie indicated that their final plans might not include Gregg.
Tom – With two immunity wins under his belt, he’s proven to be a huge immunity threat early on. Tom is the leader and as leader has commanded a lot of respect and loyalty. The women, including Stephenie, are all very fond of him and have so far been very willing to follow him into battle. However, no one wants to face someone so well liked and so respected in the final two, and Gregg has likely already thought of how he plans to execute the king.
Ian – Ian is a strong player, but his potential as an immunity threat has been dwarfed by the life force that is Tom. Ian and Tom’s close friendship amounts to a powerful two person alliance and two people are always dangerous.
Jennifer – Jenn’s main purpose at Koror has been to stay close to Gregg and help him when he needs it. Her vote gives Gregg too and that’s enough power to stay even with Ian and Tom. Jenn isn’t a threat, she’s happy to be taken care of by the men and her vote helps make up the majority.
Katie – Katie, likely the first Survivor to ever gain weight on Survivor is Ian & Tom’s trump card to Gregg’s alliance with Jenn. Simple mathematics dictate that 3 beats 2 and the way things are going, it’s very likely that it will come down to these 5 people. Katie’s main purpose is to lay around and gossip; she’s not even energetic enough to walk further away so people can’t overhear her. Her only value to the tribe is her vote.
Caryn – Caryn seems to have no bond with anyone and is on the outside of the core group. She’s seems to be a stronger threat than the rest of the original Koror women as is her desire to win. Caryn’s only chance at survival is to make a move and make a move fast, that will shake up the rest of Koror.
The Wild Card
Stephenie – Week after week, Stephenie faces getting the boot. Week after week she manages to survive. The men see her as a threat and of little value to them, as Ian and Tom made the decision to cut her from their alliance. The existing alliances don’t need her, her tribemates are afraid of her and all she’s got is herself. As Gregg is well aware, it would be a mistake to count Stephenie out, though, and she’s proven she’ll do what it takes to win.
From the previews, Stephenie plans to approach the women about forming an all women alliance. The chances of that plan succeeding are slim to none. Half of the women have a better offer on the table and everyone knows Stephenie could beat them with her eyes closed. However, if the women are stronger players than they’ve let on, an uprising could be on the horizon.