Survivor Palau 4/21 recap: "Janu It Was Coming Sooner or Later"
Last week on Survivor: In a move that was probably meant to be less "merge" and more "mercy killing," lone Ulong survivor Stephenie was allowed to move in with the Kororians. There she was welcomed wildly by Coby, who is as subtle as he is straight. Coby's attempts to co-opt Stephenie into an alliance could have been spotted from an airplane, and helped paint a big fat target on his back. Steph’s arrival also upset the delicate balance of estrogen within the tribe. So Coby was voted out, and Stephenie is still surviving. Which brings us to....
Cattier Than A Vegas Show's Dressing Room
Koror, Day 25
Why is there a skeleton with a mop on its head on my screen? Har. Never mind, it’s
the Wicked Witch of the Janu. Janu was surprised by the vote against Coby and feels betrayed. Evidently Janu has absolutely no concept of how the alliances fall out in that tribe.
Meanwhile, Katie is down by the water ragging on the Mop on Sticks. She says Janu is mad – mad, I say! – and that last night at tribal council she looked like a wild, mad jack-in-the-box, ready to spring. I don’t like Katie or Janu, so I’m torn here as to who to make fun of, but I’m going to side with Katie – briefly – and admit that Janu, with her iggly-wiggly eyebrows, her dramatic expressions and her prominent bones, does look a bit like a mad hermit.
Unfortunately for Katie, Janu overheard her cattiness, and has no qualms about using her Vegas-showgirl catfight skills to confront her. Janu asks if this is junior high (I say no, because I doubt any of you are going to snap my bra strap) and asks why Katie can’t say these things to her face. A rhetorical question, I’m guessing.
Katie says fine – Janu looked creepy, and that Janu talks in circles and makes no sense. Janu says they’ll all turn on each other in the end anyway, which I think is a bit fatalistic. I mean, yes, they will. But that shouldn’t be the entirety of your strategy.
Gregg weighs in on the spat – from a distance, mind you; no one wants to interfere with crazy Janu -- saying that Janu is definitely a buzzkill, but that he wouldn’t vote her out just because he dislikes her. He says Stephenie is the bigger threat to his strategy, and that Survivor isn’t about who’s most deserving. If someone plays into his strategy, he says, “you deserve to be here so you can help me win a million dollars.” My experience with Survivor editing suggests he’ll end up helping someone else win that million.
Putting the “Puke” In Pupu Platter
You know, thank god we had Ulong to entertain us for the first few weeks. Because Koror is basically dull as dirt. The Janu/Katie catfight seems to have been the only interesting thing going, and we’re already at the reward challenge. The tribe will be split randomly into two teams, who will each build a scaffold tower in the water, climb it, retrieve a flag, and run back to the beach. The reward is a Palauian feast, complete with a local chief. Steph, Ian, Katie and Jen will compete against Gregg, Janu, Tom and Caryn. So, one team has two men? But then they’ve also got Janu. And the other one has Stephenie. So I guess the matchup is pretty even.
The teams race out into the water, dragging pieces of scaffolding that weigh 30 pounds apiece – as Jeff helpfully tells us. The bulk and weight of the piece doesn’t stop Janu and Caryn from letting Tom and Ian do all the work as they hang on to a little buoy to rest, though. I guess stringy muscles really are as useless as they look.
As the competition continues, the Tom team pulls ahead, and Katie slows her team down. Katie isn’t even running back to the beach. Why? I don’t know. And even though Janu is struggling, Steph’s team is falling further behind. In the end, Tom’s team wins it. Stephenie is just like a bad-luck charm. Like a bad-luck penny that never gets lost itself, but brings bad luck to others.
So anyway, Tom, Janu, Caryn and Gregg get to meet a Palau tribe. Tom says it’s “just another gift that I bring home,” which Caryn raves about being in the “presence of a real chief” for the first time.
Women in grass skirts and coconut bras dance for them – which is such a sacrifice. You men have no idea how a coconut bra can chafe – and they eat a banquet in a big hut. Janu calls it a “procession of epicurean delights.” However, the procession isn’t quite so delightful for our stick-figure, who eventually gorges herself so much that she has to go outside and puke. Or, you could view that as just her regular post-meal habit. You be the judge. (but note those bony bones. Girlfriend ain’t a regular at the all-you-can-eat buffet.)
They do bring back food for the other four, in a little doggie bag. But Janu and Caryn both decide to eat MORE of the food they brought back for their tribe-mates. What the hell is that about? I recognize that Janu left her dinner in the palm trees, but that doesn’t entitle her to partake of a gift she helped bring to others. And Caryn just has no excuse. You had your turn, ladies. Back off the crab croquettes.
Treemail arrives, giving the tribe a clue as to their immunity challenge. Stephenie says she needs immunity because she’s still the stranger in the group. And because she can kick anyone’s ass but Tom’s.
Koror troops off to the challenge, where Probst tells them that it will test their ability to remain calm and not panic. I’m hoping they’re going to be encircled by sharks, but sadly, I am wrong. They’re merely to be put under a steel grate in the water while the tide comes in, and when they can’t reach any more air, they’re out. Why should this panic them? It’s obviously easy for them to get away from that cage when they can’t breathe.
However, panic aside, there’s a twist. The first person to bail on the “ultimate test of fear” – baloney. You want an ultimate test of fear? Drop me in a pit of spiders. I will SHOW you panic. – will be abandoned overnight on a deserted beach. WITH, I might add, flint and fishing gear. In other words, they’ll have Stephenie’s former life.
They all swim under the bars, and surface. “So a man walks into a bar….” Ian says, in a lame attempt at humor. No one cares what the penguin was drinking, Ian. Just sit in your little cage and breathe.
Tom says he’s thinking of stepping out, just to get away for a night. Must be nice to feel that safe, huh, big guy? But before he has a chance, Janu steps up. She says she’s cold, she’s panicky, and she’s out. She lasted all of…. six minutes. The water didn’t even move.
Under Jeff’s questioning, Janu admits she’s never made fire before – how she got out of that duty in 25 days is beyond me. The others giggle and crack jokes, which seems to irk Jeff. He says they’re acting like they’re at open mike night when one of their own is facing the bleak, scary prospect of a night alone on a deserted island, with only a flint and a camera crew to keep her company.
Jeff says there’s obviously not much love lost between Janu and her team. Well, Jeff, even a crab can see she’s useless and bitchy. You want her? Take her.
The others bob under the steel bars for another 55 minutes, and then Caryn’s out. Katie, Jen and Steph follow, which makes me wonder if the men have some sort of genetic advantage here. Tom is making a snorkel out of his hand, and Ian’s thrusting his skinny face between the bars. But to no avail – Ian’s out, and Tom wins. Janu is trucked off in a speed boat to meet her doom.
Leggo My Gecko
We follow Janu first, and learn that there are geckos on her island and that she could save a lot of money on her car insurance. Heh. Ok, but seriously, are they some sort of vampire geckos? I mean, this is supposed to be a scary punishment. She thinks things would be ok if she had fire, but it takes her until past dark to manage it. By that time, she’s happy again, twirling on the beach and saying she needed to get away from Koror. Janu says she’s not getting along with anyone and she feels alone and it’s her against them. The fire makes her the happiest she’s been in 26 days, which is a sad statement, “because it’s all about me and this little island.”
Koror, Day 27
Post-immunity, Koror is obviously weighing their options. And it appears to be Steph and Janu on the scales, although you could replace Janu with a stick and get the same result. Gregg and Jen want Steph out, while Ian wants to chuck Janu. Tom is stuck in the middle of a divided alliance, and is torn.
Gregg says Stephenie is a bigger threat, as she’s able to, you know, do stuff. She has survived 11 tribal councils and they don’t need her surviving any more of them. Janu, Gregg says, is weak and can be picked off at a later, more opportune time. He does not want Stephenie to conquer Koror.
Tom says his heart isn’t in voting Stephenie off, but it sounds like he’ll do it anyway.
Janu, the 12-hour exile, returns. She says her time away was great and she didn’t want to come back. And she wonders why she has no friends.
Stephenie says that earlier, they’d all agreed it was Janu, yet now no one will talk to her. She has a feeling that it’s going to be her who goes home. She says as much to Ian, who looks uncomfortably off into the distance.
Jeff Probst: Mad With Power
This episode was really completely devoid of anything, wasn’t it? Because we’re already at tribal council. Coby, the first member of the jury, comes in, and Janu smiles at him in her skull-like way.
Jeff probes Janu about her night alone. She says she didn’t believe half of the tribe members who wished her luck. When she came home, she didn’t feel like she belonged. Caryn interjects that that’s all in Janu’s big, bushy-haired head.
Tom says the vote is all about gamesmanship, not about who they like. Stephenie hears that and knows she’s doomed. Especially when Gregg agrees with Tom, saying that Survivor “isn’t always about fairness.”
Jeff asks why, then, would they keep Katie, whose lazy ass is no thread? And why keep Janu? Unwisely, Janu decides to answer that one herself. “No reason. They can get rid of me,” she says. “If I was them, god, I’d be sick of myself already.”
Ian points out that no one’s tying her down with a palm leaf and keeping her bony ass here. Stephenie rolls her eyes, as Janu says it doesn’t matter.
“It kills me,” Steph says. “Someone who I feel like could care less if they’re even here. And me, I’d kill to be here.” Stephenie’s in tears, and says she knows she’s in the hot seat. She says it kills her that someone who wants to go home will stay, while she’ll get the boot because she’s shown too much heart.
Janu says she has received what she needed from the Survivor experience. I don’t know what that would be. Negative weight loss? Time to let her eyebrows grow in? Twenty-six days of being a withdrawn bitch?
Tom says Stephenie would fit right in in his firehouse, where heart is a good thing. But this is Survivor, and it’s different.
Note, by the way, that Jeff has been prodding all these admissions from people. Now he asks Janu what the difference is in asking to be voted off, and quitting outright? Instead of standing up to him and saying the difference is in the quitting, Janu plays right into his hands. She admits that there’s no difference and offers to lay down her torch – something she had no intention of doing when she came in to tribal council.
So, that’s what she does – lays down her torch, quits, and leaves. She’s now the second person on the jury, Stephenie’s still in the game, and Probst is a master manipulator. And Steph probably owes him half of her million if she wins.
There’s some talk of an all-girl alliance, which I wouldn’t trust for two seconds if I were Steph, and Stephenie says she’ll show them just how threatening she can be. I hope she’s alluding to having fangs, because that’s always fun.
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