3. Palau (season 10) Rating: 8.5/10.
Yes. Palau changed my mind of The Mole being my favourite show or The Amazing Race being my favourite show. It took ten seasons and a couple hiatuses from their competitors, but Survivor finally converted me. There is a wide array of opinions when it comes to Palau, but you can place me as one of those who thought it was fantastic. It hasn’t been #1 for quite some time, but I’d be lying if I ranked it any lower. So what’s not to love about it? Well, I’ll get to that.
Things I dislike about Palau:
1) Jonathan and Wanda leaving before getting voted out. The most controversial thing to happen since the Outcasts. And according to the 39 Day Challenge, STILL the most controversial twist. At the time it was probably my least favourite twist too, but unfortunately Survivor has really outstunk that moment by dropping the ball with the extreme idol in EI and CI, final threes, and the inevitable lead-up to Survivor’s cancelation: Redemption Island.
Is it right for Survivor to eject two people right off the bat? No.
Do I think Jonathan and Wanda would get anywhere near the end? Absolutely not.
Wanda looked like she’d be useless in challenges. I think only Courtney had a weaker frame than Wanda, and Courtney is half of Wanda’s age. She would’ve been gone at the double TC, no doubt. Think about it: The survivors were annoyed to death by singing on the boat that two of them jumped off the boat well before shore just to avoid it. Stephenie and Jonathan had the right idea in mind. Then the other seventeen held off for a couple minutes, then they too all jumped off in a frenzy leaving Wanda to sulk on the boat.
And Jonathan? Watch the reunion. The only time Jonathan talks, Angie corrects him saying the reason why nobody picked him is because people thought he was rude and was being too jockish, and overall not sociable. So what does Jonathan do? He gets in a fight with Angie at the reunion! His response exhibits exactly what Angie’s explanation was. If Jonathan was picked, he’d have to be on Ulong. The tribe that eliminated people with personality issues before eliminating those with physical strength. If Jolanda was voted out on day 3 for being bossy and James was taken out before Ibrehem for his annoyingness, then I can only imagine what would’ve happened to somebody like Jonathan. On a tribe with perhaps the most short-sighted strategy compared to pre-merge Marquesas and Heroes vs. Villains, Jonathan would never stand a chance.
You could argue that if Jonathan lasted to day eight and Jeff was let go to his ankle injury, then maybe yes, Jonathan’s presence gives Ulong more of a chance at challenges for the rest of the pre-merge phase. In which case, I’ll simply say you could be right.
2) Steph. Once was more than enough. But twice? And a third time? The second most overrated Survivor of all-time. For the millionth time in this countdown, I don’t understand why she’s popular. Her strategic game is 100x better than her physical game, except it’s the reverse that everyone praises. For every challenge loss, it was always someone else’s fault. For this alone, that’s why Palau drops to #3.
3) Janu quits. If Janu doesn’t quit, Steph goes home one day earlier, and seeing a tribe of seven that had been together since day 1 would’ve been exciting to see. Four episodes with an excellent tribe would’ve been awesome to see.
4) First appearance of Exile Island. An ORG host invented the idea of Exile Island thanks to Palau. In his game, it lasted the entire second half of the game. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if producers found out about his twist considering everything he does is posted online, and Survivor could have adapted it for its modern use that we all have come to love/hate, and in recent years, have since forgotten.
5) A challenge goes twelve hours….and somebody quits. I wanted to see how long it could have really gone. Since then, a challenge hasn’t gone more than three hours, but for the most part, 90% of final challenges since then have ended within thirty minutes. Boooooooo.
6) Forced Double Tribal. This is the last time I get to whine about this on the countdown. Palau featured perhaps my least favourite format of the double tribal. Nobody on the winning tribe gets to win immunity. Only someone from the losing tribe gets one. The idea of Koror being up 9-1 at the conquer would have been even better to see rather than being forced to drop down to 8-1. Imagine if that challenge was for immunity and Ibrehem screws up like that! It would’ve made that loss perhaps the most infamous of all-time. Instead it’s a ‘who cares, one of us is going home anyway, and the opposing tribe will give me immunity to reward me for the most epic challenge fail in history’.
7) Four people eliminated without an immunity challenge. Considering it’s fourteen episodes, if you’re going to do that why not just start out with sixteen people? I have a feeling the alternative would have been a final three though -_-. But still, there could’ve been back-to-back immunities squeezed into one episode when Ulong was down to only three people. Not like there’s a heck of a whole lot to show when the losing tribe is the smallest one ever since Maraamu.
8) Tom’s win is a slight foregone conclusion. A battle against Ian would have been better. Like Katie ever had a chance against Tom at the end. Or even Ian vs. Katie. Just something that doesn’t end in Survivor’s fourth landslide in five seasons.
Things I enjoyed about Palau:
1) The location. It’s perfect. The prototype of the Survivor environment. Besides Africa, this is the best place they’ve ever been. Unlike now where they’re on the ocean, but they’re not allowed to go into the water. Maybe Burnett and co. developed Peter Benchley-created fears and forbid anyone to go in the water.
2) I loved the idea of the first two people to the beach win immunity and are tribe captains. Fairest creation of tribes in Survivor history. If I ever host another Survivor ORG or an outdoor Survivor game, this is how I will ALWAYS open up the game. Winners are immune from first TC, and take turns picking people to join their tribe. That means no production interference, and you get a little gift for winning the opening challenge. I hate it’s been five seasons since Survivor hasn’t picked the tribes.
3) Great challenge catalogue. No shuffleboard. Coconut chop is used as reward instead of immunity. The best three endurance challenges ever used in a single season of Survivor. A few multi-day reward challenges like build your own shelter and S.O.S. return but in reward forms as well so subjectivity doesn’t enter immunity. Morse code was pretty neat too along with the impenetrable knot attempt where the work you did prior to the challenge would pay off. Every single challenge seems so fun to do that I wouldn’t mind seeing them all again in a season of Survivor, considering most of these challenges were brand new. Katie unable to get across a rope swing, Bobby Jon being Bobby Jon in the water and having a Farfaru-like moment with the balut makes for a fun time.
4) Production’s shameless shot of doing Tom “Captain America” Westman with his ripped muscles drinking the Scope as if it’s Popeye advertising spinach. Makes me crack up every time.
5) Koror was one of my favourite tribes as of the end of the first episode. Nothing better than seeing the favourites dominate.
6) Ulong wasn’t one of my favourite tribes ever. Satisfying to see them pummelled round after round after round after round after round after round.
7) Jeff losing his voice for a couple episodes in the middle of the game. Sweet justice for challenges being over-saturated with commentary.
8) Jeff making fun of Ulong’s performances after their third or fourth immunity loss.
9) Koror and Ulong’s trash talking of the opposing members at their camps was great. Particularly mocking Tom, James, and Bobby Jon.
10) James talking about anyone. Including Jeff.
11) The four episode storyline of Kim Mullens that results in a quick fall.
12) “We all get fish together.”
“So who goes in the water?”
“Bobby Jon and a couple others.”
“And what does everyone else do?”
“We sit on the boat.”
13) Steph being voted out.
14) The last three episodes are freakin’ fantastic.
15) Gregg’s blindside is textbook. Ian’s strongarming his best friend in Katie to get majority to take out Gregg who seemed to have his house in order.
16) “Ulong took food, water, a few books on how to create a shelter, three DVDs of Dexter, a discman that doesn’t have any batteries…but did not take fire, a DVD player, or batteries! Interesting strategy.”
17) Ian’s downfall. I just mentioned this in the 39 Day Challenge as my favourite storyline ever. I look forward to it every time I watch Palau. Ian has the game in his hands. He stays loyal to both Tom and Katie, and chances are he’ll easily win majority in both scenarios because we know everyone doesn’t like Katie, and some jurors were bothered by Tom.
a) Strongarming and bullying Katie ten minutes before Tribal.
b) The storyline carrying over to episode 13 where he has promised to take Katie on the day 34 car reward that they made since Family Matters was cancelled. Tom tells him to honour that promise prior to the challenge so that him and Ian don’t get overthrown.
c) Ian comes up with a lie about how him and Tom formed a gentleman’s agreement. Tom gets to go to a luxurious mansion for a day in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and still isn’t happy about it.
d) Knowing Katie feels betrayed, Tom instructs Ian that they go to their closest ally Caryn. Ian makes one of the worst alliance speeches I’ve heard in the history of Survivor. Erik Reichenbach’s rationalizing of giving up immunity on day 36 is more bearable to listen to.
e) Ian lies about his answers at the day 36 Tribal, claiming that he trusted Katie and told her about voting Gregg well ahead of time. . .When Katie is RIGHT THERE AT TRIBAL COUNCIL KNOWING THAT IT WASN’T TRUE AND ANNOUNCES FOR EVERYONE THAT IT WAS TEN MINUTES BEFORE TRIBAL!
f) Ian, knowing he has a final three with Tom and Katie, makes an additional deal with Jenn that if Tom doesn’t win immunity, they will all vote Tom. Sure enough, Tom wins immunity as right before Tribal Ian’s deal is exposed.
g) Ian messes up the wording of his agreement with Tom IN FRONT OF TOM! Katie inserts herself into the confrontation too and Ian can no longer handle it for the fifth or sixth time and is flustered. Miraculously, Katie helps him out and Ian just has to stay in an endurance challenge and win this whole game.
h) Ian’s emotions are so out of whack that he gives up immunity after spending TWELVE HOURS BALANCING ON A TINY BUOY WHERE HE INSISTS HE FINISHES IN THIRD PLACE AND RECEIVES 25 GRAND LESS THAN SECOND AND OVER 900 GRAND LESS THAN WINNING THE CHALLENGE IN THE FIRST PLACE BY TAKING KATIE TO THE END.
18) James the Oracle. (registered trademark of Mario Lanza’s Funny 115.)
19) The final immunity challenge is the best challenge besides Hand Hard on Idol.
20) One of the most likeable Final Fours in Survivor history. Tom, Ian, Jenn, and Katie — that’s a group I’m willing to see in every season. Even Caryn and Gregg to add as the top six makes it splendid.
21) Tom’s victory by dominating in every aspect of the game is one of the most respected wins in Survivor history.
22) They didn’t do a tribe shuffle. It’s always a plus when they keep the tribes the same.
23) One of the better reunion shows.
24) An overall satisfying outcome to how things turned out during the season
25) The first time viewers were made aware of the Survivor conquer rule. It prevented ORGs from thinking there could be a tribe of zero. It also makes sense in case people want to delay a merge so it can be 10-1 with a 9-person jury or 8-1 with a traditional 7-person jury. No longer having to worry about the royally screwed 10th place position or the dreaded 12th place being a jury member to signal there will be a final three at the end.
26) A Final Two at the end.
27) An ORG host creating the idea of the modern-day Exile Island format a full year before the producers did thanks to Janu’s temporary Exile Island trip. As an ORG twist, it ain’t that bad.
28) A season I can enjoy again and again…whenever I don’t mind seeing Steph.
29) Angie’s redemption and being recognized as a strong player at the episode two reward. She broke into the group of jocks.
30) Every reward in the season presented great political decisions and/or great conflict in the individual stage. Whether it be Survivor fisherman Joe who would appear again three years later where Coby wanted to be taught how to fish, Janu being clueless about her actions at the reward, Gregg making fatal choices on day 31, and Tom being pissed about being at one of the most luxurious mansions ever made.
31) Bobby Jon, didn’t your mother teach you not to open your mouth while you chew your balut?