As soon as Ulong lost its immunity challenge, Kim Mullen was toast.
She would have been voted off during the last episode of "Survivor: Palau," but her night in a hand-tied toga saved her. Jeff Wilson, the personal trainer she'd been snuggling with, requested his own vote-off last episode after rolling his ankle on a coconut. Jeff got his exile, but his sweetie still took two votes.
Thus time, the scrawny blonde academic got five.
"I wish it would have lasted quite a bit longer," Kim said. "I just hope the girls stick up for themselves, because Lord knows the guys on our team are nothing special."
Let's pause on that thought for a breakdown. The men of Ulong:
Bobby Jon Drinkard, Ibrahem Rahman and James Miller are between the ages of 27 and 33. They are two waiters and one steelworker (the scrawniest of the trio). Ibrahem barely talks, Bobby Jon is social and James is outspoken and inflammatory. They are all from Alabama.
Do we sense an Alabama alliance coming up?
Ulong, which is down to five members after losing four consecutive immunity battles, certainly needs some remedy to this sentiment of Bobby Jon's: "This team right now doesn't have a lot of the togetherness and the closeness that we thought we had."
Compared to the nine-member strong Koror tribe, Ulong didn't even prove mentally strong. For their first challenge, each team had to pick a representative.
While Koror talked out their decision by naming Ian their team leader, Ulong talked, and talked, but came to no conclusion.
Jeff Probst seemed appalled that the team hadn't picked a leader.
"Can we ask questions first?" they asked
"No! Give me someone," Probst roared.
The team turned to steelworker James, and was delighted with their decision when they saw the challenge: choose tools and build a bathroom, complete with shower and toilet.
Koror was also happy with their choice of Ian Rosenberger, the dolphin trainer.
"My dad owned a construction company, and I grew up on a farm, so it worked out well," Ian said.
And certainly it did. Koror cranked out an impressive two-room divided bathroom complete with adjustable-height shower nozzle and "watch yo' step" sign.
Over on Ulong, things didn't go so smoothly. The women complained about James being too fatherly and too commanding. James complained about Kim, and Kim complained about being hungry.
"You want the honest truth, I think I'm the smart one sitting in the middle with everyone else running around with their heads cut off," Kim said.
Nonetheless, the steelworker was cocky.
"I think we won. No doubt." James said.
But the reward, a Home Depot boat full of construction supplies and a crew to build a state-of-the-art shelter, didn't show up.
It motored up to Koror's island instead.
"A tarp would have been a huge reward. And now we get this!" Ian said.
It was described as the Taj Mahal of tree forts, complete with hammock, bamboo thatched roof and a lamp. Glorious.
What's more, the building crew also presented Koror with a housewarming present: A crate with two bottles of champagne in it. Tom Westman, the NYC firefighter, cracked one open and took a swig before the others even realized what their gift was.
For the immunity challenge, Koror handed over the small wooden immunity monkey idol. It would be a game of gladiator for one-on-one competition aboard a platform. While the men of Ulong suffered five out of the six losses for the team, the women, Stephenie LaGrossa and Angie Jakusz, proved themselves physically.
Kim, however, basically ran away from her challenger off the gladiator platform and into the water.
Steph pummeled Jenn Lyon, a nanny from California. Twice.
Ibrahim vs. Gregg: Ibrahim lost his bag and had to jump off.
Angie vs. Caryn: No struggle by Caryn was noticed. She landed in the water both times.
James the steelworker vs. Coby Archa, the hairstylist: Coby won easily. James seemed appalled.
The best battle was Steph v. Jenn part 2: The Ulong strongwoman had California-girl Jenn on the ground for most of the battle. Jeff Probst refereed, letting the audience in on every time Jenn scraped her knees or fell on her butt. She stuck it out, but only to get a harsh beating and eventually be toppled into the water.
After the tough-talking steelworker got pushed into the water for the second time, Ulong suffered its fourth-straight loss.
"Feels terrible getting my butt whooped by a homosexual," James said.
The women on the island certainly didn't seem impressed with his strength. Kim proposed getting rid of the men altogether.
But in tribal council, it came down to a battle of the sexes. Jeff pointed out that five of their six points came from beating the men in the challenge. He asked the women if they depended on the men, or if they could be self-sufficient on their own. While Kim said if she and Stephenie went out fishing on their own, Survivor would have to send out a search team, Angie and Steph said they could survive without guys.
Even after pitting the men against the women, five votes came in for Kim. She daintily waved goodbye, wishing her fellow team members luck.
To hear more of Kim's well-wishes (and rants about James and his two Alabama cohorts) tune in to Friday's CBS' The Early Show.
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