The Eyes— Surprise, Surprise

Well, the schedule is a little crazy for the next couple of weeks. As you all know, my column goes up on Thursdays, so usually, you get my predictions for the show that will air that night.

However, both last night’s episode and next week’s episode will be on Wednesday, so you’ll get my predictions for the following week a week in advance. Also, because of the schedule, you missed out on any predictions I had for episode 5, but that’s okay. We adapt and move on just like the players must.

So I just got finished watching episode 5 of Palau, and I am in shock. That was such an interesting episode with a lot of major moments and twists.

The stuff at the beginning (Ulong getting lost, Willard falling asleep on fire duty, etc.) was all just fluff to open the episode with, although it did provide a foundation that would later be used to help us understand why Willard left.

In any event, the action didn’t start until the Reward Challenge. Jeff informed them that they would be playing for Reward, but regardless of who won, each tribe would be attending Tribal Council that night. Woo-hoo! I LOVE episodes with double Tribal Councils!

But that wasn’t the biggest announcement of them all. The winners would get beef stew and root beer (nice enough), but the kicker was that they would get to eat it right in front of the other tribe while they sat in on their Tribal Council and gathered some vital information on the dynamics of their opponents.

Holy crap. Nothing this drastic has ever been done in Survivor before, and I love it. It’s such a huge motivator because a reward like that is so valuable. The stew? Nice, but an empty prize when you consider the other side of it.

So Koror wins (again) after Ibrehem completely blows the challenge for his tribe. So, Koror will vote first, and then they will sit in the Jury box, eat their stew, and watch Ulong’s Tribal Council.

So, Koror votes, no surprises, Willard is voted off. We had been prepared for that in the first few minutes of the episode, so no real suspense. It was interesting to finally see Koror vote, we’ll get to that a little later.

Now, this next part was pretty cruel. Jeff had Koror wait until Ulong was in Tribal Council and seated before they were allowed to uncover their stew. The end result was five very dejected and depressed individuals watching the dominating tribe party once again.

But, once again, the surprises are never over. Koror has another reason for being there. After the typical Q and A session, Jeff tells Koror that they will be voting to give a member of Ulong Immunity before they vote.

The vote is close, but in the end, it goes to Ibrehem. This was brilliant for the three Koror’s who thought to do it. It’s exactly what I would have done if I had been in their shoes.

It was clear that Ibrehem was going home. He completely screwed his tribe over; without his mistake, they very well may have won the whole thing. But then Koror comes along and grants him Immunity, which effectively does two things:

A) It forces the tribe to keep the person who screwed them in the challenge against their will
B) It throws the tribe into chaos because now they don’t know who to vote off

Brilliant. And their plan worked, because the shockers of the evening were not over yet: we saw our first tie vote since the purple rock fiasco in Marquesas.

Think about that. We’re in season 10, and in large part to the purple rock scheme, there has never been a tie vote since the finale of season 4.

However, no one was subjected to the purple rock because the revote had three people, so it would be one of the two in the tie to leave. Somewhat surprisingly, Angie leaves.

And thus wraps a very interesting episode of SURVIVOR: PALAU.

At this point, one thing is very clear to me: Ulong is doomed. There are only four of them left, and they started out with nine. They have exactly half of what Koror has. Even if a switch of some kind makes the tribes even next week at 6/6, or there’s a merge, these four will have a disadvantage in any tribe they go to (unless they all go together).

Now, out of the four, Stephenie without question has proven herself to be the strongest player. But she has a severe numbers game working against her. If anyone from Ulong wins, it would be a miracle.

This will be especially true if there is no twist at all next week. If the tribes stay the same, Ulong will be attending yet another Tribal Council. Recently, I talked about how the pattern would hold that causes a dominant tribe to face Tribal Council eventually, and I pointed out some obvious potential fractures within the Koror tribe.

However, at this point, that does not necessarily hold true anymore. The twists in this episode all negated that. How? They faced Tribal Council without having to lose a challenge to get there. Losing a challenge and a tribe member is a severe blow, and that’s exactly why Ulong is so low in morale right now. Even though someone from Koror finally went home, they still won the challenge, and Ulong lost.

That changes the equation, because it is the first time the dominant tribe faced their first Tribal Council without losing.

In addition, Ulong is completely shattered at this point. And I believe the events of this episode were, as the saying goes, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

They lose once again. They were forced by Koror to keep the one person they would have gladly kicked off after the RC, in addition to being forced into being watched by the enemy in the first place. And they had to sit there and watch as their enemies enjoyed their Reward.

They are still not getting along at camp, and now, as the previews indicate, Ibrehem is going to be ostracized back at camp because the other three all know that the only reason he is still around is because of Koror.

So, to sum up, their morale is low and the four of them are completely divided. They’re doomed; a twist might be able to save some of them, but they all have a definite uphill battle.

Koror, on the other hand, completely lucked out. Not that they didn’t earn it, because they have completely kicked butt in challenges. But they got information on the other tribe and got to demoralize them even further by rewarding Ibrehem with Immunity and forcing their vote into chaos.

The thing I liked best about this episode, however, was that we finally got to see inside some of Koror’s politics. It’s hard to see too deep into stuff like that without seeing how things go down at Tribal Council. And Gregg was very generous in his answer to Jeff by revealing some critical relationships within the Koror tribe. Before the vote and before Willard was ousted, the following pairs were pointed out as being close:

Tom/Ian
Willard/Caryn
Coby/Janu
Gregg/Jen

Katie was described as “sharing her love with everyone.”

We were also let in on the possibility of a new foursome alliance of Gregg, Jen, Coby, and Janu. So, if this alliance is now on, then the pecking order for Koror at this point would be Caryn next (even though she voted against Willard, it doesn’t change her relationship with him and the fact that she is clearly on the outside looking in), Katie, and Tom and Ian.

Now, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. There will probably be a switch or merge within the next couple of weeks, and even if there isn’t, this tribe is strong enough to force Ulong to another Tribal Council.

So that’s where it all seems to fit together in SURVIVOR: PALAU after episode 5. As far as predictions for next week go, I’m going to have to assume there is no twist just because that kind of thing is impossible to predict.

So, assuming everything stays status quo, Ulong will lose yet again, and IBREHEM’s new lease on life will expire.

“See” you next week!

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