This recap, as well as the finale, are the collaborative efforts of Mantenna and myself, onetvslave. Many thanks to all the writers who contributed this season!
When the furor subsides, the Survivors are seated, and we are treated to a compilation of footage of Tom dominating at challenge after challenge, catching the shark, motivating his team, and being the all-around superstar. Jeff congratulates Tom and mentions that it was a season of domination with Koror winning eleven of fourteen challenges (a Survivor record) and Tom winning five of seven individual immunities (also a record). Like him or hate him, one cannot reasonably argue that Tom’s win was undeserved.
Tom said his wife and friends encouraged him to be himself, that it would be a winning strategy. He explains that he had contemplated trying to downplay his strength and hide behind his grey hair, but that it didn’t turn out that way.
Jeff points out that the Tom/Ian/Katie alliance survived the whole game, which is rare. Jeff asks Gregg to explain why there was so much animosity towards Katie from the jury. Gregg says that from his vantage point outside the game, it was easy to think of Katie and Tom as characters rather than as the real people with whom he had built relationships. He felt that within the game, the players had to be accountable for their actions and earn the vote. He feels horribly about his comments to Katie and apologizes for them. Even if they were true.
Katie admits she knew Tom was incredible competition and that is why she tried to get him out of the game. She claims she was not surprised that Janu voted against her, and Janu confirms that she she had already made up her mind to vote for Tom. It is obvious that there is no love lost between these two, but they seem to be taking it with humor.
Jeff questions Gregg and Tom about their game play strategy. They both answer that they spent a lot of time thinking about what moves the others were likely to make and adjusted their play accordingly. Both men believed that the other would stay true to the five-person alliance, and Tom says he would have, had he not been informed by Ian that Gregg wanted to oust him at the next opportunity.
Caryn was in a good position in the final five with no alliance, says Jeff. How did she end up going home? Caryn is unsure if she knows exactly what happened, but she believes that her reluctance to divulge information about her new girls’ alliance to Tom and Ian cost her the game. Yeah, as if shooting off at the mouth at the tribal council had nothing to do with it.
Jeff questions Ian about his decision to step down in the final immunity challenge, ensuring that he not be in the final two, when he had been offered a chance to ensure a place in the final two and a chance at the million dollars. Ian explains that during the eleven hours he stood on the buoy, he had nothing to think about except the way he had played the game—much like a Vision Quest. He realized that he was not sticking true to his morals the way he had intended. He wasn’t ready to sacrifice his integrity for a million dollars.
Coby had some life-changing moments due to his experience with Survivor. He admits that he came to Survivor to get rid of some demons. He wasn’t popular in school and wanted to be so on Survivor. He jokes that he wanted to be the prom queen. He had never been part of a team before, and the way the teams were chosen at the beginning was traumatic to him, but he ended up being on one of the most dominating teams in the history of Survivor. He had a turning point during the game when he was able to put it all behind him.
Jeff recalls the physical showdown between Coby, “the gay hairdresser,” and James, “the self-proclaimed redneck.” Ah yes, good times. Jeff says that James must have caught a lot of grief from the other guys at work after being beat by Coby. James says he thought he could “whoop his tail,” but was shocked to see how tough he was. Since being home, James no longer takes his family for granted.
Janu is next, and Jeff runs down the highlights of her stay in Palau. The Survivor experience was more than she had bargained for. She says that when she was sent to stay the night by herself, everything came full circle. What was supposed to be exile turned out to be a very important moment for her, and she realized her appreciation for family and friends and life in general. And hair care products. Jeff asks her to clarify if she was coerced into quitting at tribal council. She says no. When he asks if anyone else at tribal council would say that he did, Coby is the only one to raise his hand. Jeff ignores him and says no, he didn’t. (Hmm, been taking some heat for that, Jeff?) He adds that if someone comes to tribal council wanting to quit, he’ll sniff it out.
Speaking of quitters, Jeff turns our attention to Jeff of Ulong, who essentially quit by convincing his tribe to vote him out due to a hurt ankle. Jeff defends his decision and Probst asks Bobby Jon if a hurt ankle could have made him quit the game. Bobby Jon says no, he would have to be decapitated to quit the game. Nonetheless, he believes Jeff was really hurt and doesn’t blame him for choosing to leave.
Ashlee and Kim are seated alongside Jeff, and Probst basically tells them they were pretty useless in the game. We also hear from the two who never had a chance to show how worthless they are, Jonathan and Wanda. Jonathan credits his dive into the water as the reason he was not picked, but Angie states that while Jonathan seems like a nice person, he didn’t make the effort to get along with many people in the first few days. Wanda says she was devastated to be kicked off so early, but she was happy to sing another song as she rode away from shore. She has prepared another song for the reunion, lest there be any doubt why she was shipped out. Let’s just say that it is just as delightful and brilliant as her others. Yikes.
We see footage of Stephenie in all her glory working and fighting her way to become the last standing member of the Ulong tribe. Jeff asks Stephenie if she knew she had it in her to survive alone by herself in a tribe of one. She says she knew she’d do okay in the challenges, but she never imagined how hard it would be with so little food and the continuous losses. When Jeff tells Stephenie that she is one of the most popular women to ever play Survivor, the audience bursts into applause and Stephenie grins widely. She says the response has been amazing and that she is very grateful to have so much support.
Bobby Jon says he has no sour grapes for having lost the way he did, even though he was not officially voted off. Losing is still losing, but he’ll take it like a man. Very classy. Jeff adds that Bobby Jon was one of the hardest workers out there, and Bobby Job credits his family and hometown for his work ethic. When asked about the reward challenge at Jellyfish Lake, Bobby Jon replies that it was a great experience and very peaceful.
Jolanda says her downfall was that she ended up on a team of young adults who didn’t want to listen or accept any leadership. Well, if they still wanted to be nagged by their mothers. . . . She says she was the same way in her youth, and claims that she could see that Ulong would not survive after she left. Angie agrees with Jolanda that the team members were very bad at listening and underestimated Koror. Ibrehem says he decide to hold back a little after seeing how quickly Jolanda was eliminated for being in the leadership position. Still the strong, silent type, I see.
As the show goes to a commercial, Jeff noted that Survivor Palau was a season of firsts with a number of record-breaking events.
• First time 20 Survivors
• First time 2 never played
• First tribe to never win immunity
• First tribe of one
• First time no merge
• Most ties at tribal council
• Longest challenge in Survivor history
• First tribal council held at a challenge
For an update on the Survivor couples we turn to Jenn and Gregg and Jeff and Kim. Hmm, maybe they should call this “Survior: After the Torch.” Jenn says that she and Gregg had a good bond and alliance on the show and they continue to be good friends. Kim says she actually moved to California and that she and Jeff have become great friends. Notice no mention of the “L” word.
The first we see of Willard (remember him?) is when Jeff reveals that Willard is actually an attorney. He kept this a secret from the others on the island, with the exception of Caryn, the other attorney. He chose to reveal his former profession of a mail carrier, knowing that everywhere you go, you find people that don’t care for lawyers, but everyone likes their mailman. (Tell that to Fido, or Kevin Spacey!) He didn’t want his profession to be held against him. Everyone bought his story, but he jokes that he and Caryn could smell each other out, like sharks.
Jeff turns to Coby and says that he went through something else with Survivor that no one else knows about. Coby shares that being on Survivor helped him with some of his guilt about being a gay man in society and not being able to have his own family. When he returned home, he began to look into adoption. Oddly enough, his cousin became pregnant and could not keep her child. He has since adopted his cousin’s baby and holds up a photo of his little girl. Janu throws her arms around him and everyone claps and cheers. He then adds that he has named his child Janu. She looks shocked and begins to cry as she buries her face in his shoulder. They hug and cry as he passes the photo around. Aww.
And with that, another season of Survivor comes to an end. Thanks for watching (and reading!) and we’ll see you in the fall for Survivor Guatemala: The Maya Empire.
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