Palau Perspective (Episode 3) - Getting Ulong in the Tooth
This is something interesting I've noticed at the end of the third episode. Both Koror and Ulong have as their backbone a core comprised of three men: for Ulong it's Ibrehem/Bobby Jon/James and for Koror it's Tom/Gregg/Ian.
Ian, of all people. Ian, who looks like he weighs 70 lbs. if he wore concrete shoes. Ian, who looks like a stiff wind would blow him off the island if he weren't anchored in place.
I tip my hat to Ian. His perseverance during the search for the missing flint and now his endurance during the rope-a-dope immunity challenge have shown him to have the heart of a lion, even if that heart resides in the body of a newborn cub.
In contrast, both Ulong and Koror have a member who contributes nothing and does nothing except add strife. For Ulong, it's Kim; for Koror, it's Katie. Neither seems to realize that not only is she not pulling her weight but is also upsetting the camaraderie (such as it is at Ulong). That double-whammy (uselessness and strife) could prove to be a kiss of death the next time one of the teams goes to tribal council.
Caryn and Katie: Cat Scratch Fever!
While we're on the subject of Katie, let's look at the argument between her and Caryn. While Caryn has not exactly been a rainmaker for Koror, she is at least trying. From what we can tell, all Katie is trying to do is stand around and criticize the work of others. This is an exceedingly annoying trait in any situation, much less a powder-keg where everyone is already under considerable strain.
Katie strikes me as the sort of person that most people dislike on sight upon first meeting, even if they don't know why she's provoking that sort of reaction from them.
Having said that, Caryn seems to have forgotten one of the most important rules about conducting a dialogue with anyone: The one who loses her cool first loses the listener and loses her argument. Even if the shouter's points are valid, any listener, any opponent in a verbal contest, will shut out a speaker shouting at her.
While Caryn may love the opportunity to vote off Katie should Koror attend the next tribal council, she may realize it's more likely that a dead-weight like Willard or even herself would go.
Caryn needs to put up with Katie until the time is right, rally the others to her cause and vote off this useless, expendable harpy once and for all. Koror will be all the better for it.
Ulong: Zero for Three at Immunity
While Ulong continues to win reward, the tribe continues to be beaten--soundly--at the more important immunity challenges. In the physically demanding dust-up that was the reward challenge, Ulong won as the challenge played to their strengths: lightning-fast and short, frenetic encounters.
As for the reward? Big whoop-de-do. The tribe already possessed fishing equipment and as for the sewing kit, so what? Is skimpy clothing really the cause of their three losses at immunity? What are they going to do? Sew a few merit badges for laying around the beach to their new sarongs and ponchos?
Ulong continues to lose and continues to spiral into disarray because of three things: leadership, leadership, leadership. They're so obviously and sorely lacking in leadership that it's not even funny.
Of the six remaining Ulongers, three have the potential to be a leader: Bobby Jon, Stephenie and Ibrehem (in the order of likelihood).
I think no one steps up at Ulong because of what I think of as Apprentice "Project Manager" syndrome: If the tribe/corporation wins--hooray. Everyone goes home and eats a coconut or drinks a bottle of champagne aboard a helicopter, as the case may be. But if the team loses, the leader is front and center and takes a considerable amount of heat for that loss.
And with Ulong's track record, who wants that?
Ulong continues to boot the weakest out of a sense of desperation, almost as if hoping that the eviction of the weakest will result, finally, in some magical, fairy-tale sweet spot where they may finally pull together and win immunity challenges.
We Are Winning; Hear Us Koror
At the immunity challenge, Koror pulled off what appeared to be an upset, thanks in no small part to Tom's formidable skills as Koror leader. Re-examine the challenge that appeared to be so utterly physical (and therefore in Ulong's favor) and you will find that the challenge was more like 50 percent physical, 25 mental and 25 percent endurance.
Much respect due to Tom for his skillful leadership. Like a jockey, he seemed naturally to know when his team needed a rest and when they were ready to sprint.
Also, his timing was impeccable. He seemed to know when Ulong's team felt strong and compensated by defending his position, by just surviving the next circuit. And, at long last, he knew when his opponents were finished and pegged the right circuit to deliver the coup de grace.
With Tom's leadership and barring any major changes in tribal memberships, Koror can continue to lose reward challenges with shoddy rewards but still win the more important immunity challenges, ensuring Koror domination at this stage in the game.
The inevitable reality program male-versus-female eviction question may come up among Ulong now that their members have been whittled down to six--three men, three women, and the distinctions stand in such stark relief.
Stephenie may be the one who objects most to a break along male/female lines, even as Angie would feel uneasy but would be most realistic about it. Frankly, who cares what Kim thinks.
Just a gut reaction, but if Ulong's membership remained the same and the tribe went to council three more times, I think the voting order would be: Kim, Angie, Stephenie.
Rarely do you see someone like Tom in reality programming: the indispensable leader. This means, of course, that sooner or later, one or two of the weaker members of the tribe will start grumbling, will start to think about a jury, a jury that they have a snowball's chance in hell of facing, but one that is prominent in their minds, nevertheless.
The only way I could see an ouster of Big Tom would be for Katie to plant the seeds of doubt about the jury/final two in the minds of the weaker players, such as Janu, Willard and Caryn, and their place in it.
Theoretically, Katie/Caryn/Willard/Janu could upset the applecart by allying to vote off Tom. While it's possible, I see that as unlikely since I think even Willard and Janu recognize how valuable and necessary Tom is to their tribe.
Besides, when Ian finally goes through puberty in a week or two, nobody but Tom would be willing to teach Ian how to shave and also explain the birds and the bees.