This is the story of Janu Tornell, former stage dancer from the neon-lit clubs of Las Vegas. Episode 10 of "Survivor: Palau" picks up on this story to narrate two days in the life of Janu.
At this point, her cheeks had hollowed. So had her spirit. She thought she'd have been voted off days, or even weeks ago.
"Last night Coby was voted off, and I had no words," Janu said, making it clear she thought she'd been in the bull's eye position for castoff. "I felt betrayed, because I had no idea."
"Betrayal," is a euphemistic description of the rift between Janu and the rest of the team. Katie Gallagher, who is quickly becoming the island gossip queen, said more bluntly: "She's crazy; she is a crazy person."
Challenge I: Reward
Janu struggled through the reward challenge more heartily than she typically performs. He strong team of Firefighter Tom Westman and tough-Alpha male Gregg Carey competed against the young women and Ian Rosenberger to construct a tower of heavy metal scaffolding in the water. The reward: a Palauan feast at a tribal meeting house. Served: local beer (which elicited a giddy smile from Jenn), a meal (Steph sighs) and a dessert (Ian groans in anticipation).
The scaffolding wasn't easy to maneuver in the water, and as host Jeff Probst so kindly noted, each tribe was only as fast as their slowest member. Janu seemed to be the weak in one group, and Jeff repeatedly singled Katie out as the slowest member of other.
Despite dealing with the lagging, lanky Janu, the team comprised of Tom, Gregg, Caryn and Janu built their tower and won the meal. The elicitors of groans, sighs and smiles stayed behind.
"I'd never been in the presence of a real chief," Caryn said as the Palauan tribe leader placed a flower crown on her head and blessed her.
As they sat down to eat, the four left all tribal politics at the door.
But Janu's stomach couldn't handle the delicacies of the island. They weren't anything like the some castaways gagged on in an earlier episode. Corn, doughnuts, chicken … doesn't seem too hard to stomach. But the audience was subjected to watching her running out of the tribal leader's hut, ducking behind some brush, and vomiting it up. The leaders, and her fellow castaways, didn't seem too pleased at the bulimic behavior (and show of disrespect to the tribe).
Challenge II: Immunity
The tide rose, and the castaways were challenged to stay behind bars as long as possible, underwater. First one out would be banished to an isolated island with just water and a flint for the night. Last one remaining would win immunity.
But before the tide rose, before it was invading their breathing room, Jeff asked Janu how she'd feel about being alone for a night. "Which would be worse, that or staying in the cold water?" Janu visibly shivered. She went under and ducked out of the cage.
One by one, the others ran out of breathing space. Tom, Gregg and Ian seemed to pinch their faces more aptly between the bars of the cage than the women. Was it big noses or endurance that kept them up? Well, Tom won.
Just like last episode.
Janu looked almost delighted to be on a different island than her fellow castaways.
"This is a challenge for me, but I needed time away from that camp," Janu said. "I am the happiest I have been in these 26 days, because it's all about me and this little island!"
She did a twirly dance. "The moon, the stars, my little fire…it's all mine!"
Back on the island, the men had a chief meeting in their lodge. Their important tribal business was debating which woman they should vote off. Despite the obvious fact that Janu was a weak link, the men seemed threatened by Stephenie LaGrossa (remember the scrappy Superwoman who conquered all of Ulong tribe?), and not by Janu.
"It almost seems like no one wants to talk about it," Steph said. "I think it's me." And guilty looks on everyone else's face seemed to prove that suspicion.
Tribal council continued with that narrative of guilt.
Jeff pitted the narratives of Janu, the weak, against the strong-hearted Stephenie. He asked Janu why her tribesmembers should bother keeping her around. She couldn't answer.
"I'd be sick of myself, too," Janu said, admitting she'd lay down her torch out of indifference to whether she is voted off or stays. She said she'd gotten everything out of her Palau experience she could have asked for. (Need we remind her of the cool $1 million that's at stake here?)
But every other member seemed set on Gregg's master plan of kicking Stephenie out before she got ahead. And little Steph pulled out all the stops. Logical argument. Emotional diatribe. Tears. Puppy dog eyes.
But in the end, it seemed a bend of rules saved Superwoman.
Jeff let Janu sacrifice herself (only after allowing the women an emotional bonding moment) to save Steph. Janu snuffed her own torch and walked happily away.
"I begged them to please let me go home and they didn't take me on it," Janu said. "So I laid down my torch."
By Christine Lagorio