Paloma Soto-Castillo the third castaway voted off 'Survivor: Gabon'
By John Bracchitta, 10/03/2008
Paloma Soto-Castillo fell victim to her both tribemates' doubts and the strategy of one of her detractors, and a result, she became the third castaway eliminated from Survivor: Gabon during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
"So I got voted off. I'm the first person on my tribe to go. These past few days in Gabon have been amazing. It's definitely been an experience [unlike] anything I've ever done before," Paloma, a 24-year-old student from Downey, CA, said following her ouster. "Good luck to the whole Kota tribe. I hope you guys do awesome. But I definitely, [well] let's just put it this way: If Ace wins the $1 million I'll probably never watch Survivor again."
"Tribal Council was a no brainier. Gillian you 'gots' to go. We got rid of a major physical weak link," said Crystal Cox, a 29-year-old 2004 Olympic gold-medalist track athlete from Durham, NC.
The following morning, Randy Bailey -- a 49-year-old videographer from Eagle Rock, MO -- confronted the rest of his Fang tribe mates after discovering that half of the rice and asked if they would attempt to reduce their meals to two a day.
While most of the tribe members agreed to Randy's proposal, Danny "G.C." Brown, a 26-year-old maintenance supervisor from Portland, OR, challenged Randy and claimed that reason they were running out of rice was because other members had cooked too much when they first arrived at camp and he didn't want to suffer for other people's mistakes.
An argument between the two members ended with G.C. asking if Randy had decided to take on a leadership role for the tribe -- something Randy denied repeatedly -- and left the tribe uneasy with their next challenge looming.
"I don't think we've pulled together as a team. we have a much better chance if we were more unified and look at [all of] this as a team rather than fighting amongst each other," said Fang member Dan Kay, a 32-year-old lawyer from Walpole, MA.
At Kota's tribe, Charlie Herschel -- a 29-year-old lawyer from New York, NY -- outlined the alliances he felt had developed during the tribes first week in Gabon.
In addition to his own alliance with Marcus Lehman, a 28-year-old doctor from Atlanta, GA; Corinne Kaplan, a 29-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative from Los Angeles, CA; and Jacque Berg, a 25-year-old medical device sales representative from Santa Barbara, CA, Charlie said that he has noticed Paloma and Kelly Czarnecki, a 22-year-old retail salesperson from Buffalo Grove, IL had grown "really tight."
He also added that Ace Gordon, a 27-year-old fashion photographer and Cartier jewelry salesman from Naples, FL, and Jessica "Sugar" Kiper, a 29-year-old pin-up model and actress from Brooklyn, NY had grown very close as well.
When speaking of Robert "Bob" Crowley, a 57-year-old physics teacher from South Portland, ME , Charlie felt that his independence could be utilized by his alliance to impose their will on the tribe.
"I definitely think Bob is 'wooable' and could be used as [our fifth swing] vote," Charlie said. "There's always the concern that the other five might bond together, and I think the other five are so all over the place we'll be able to keep the four together."
Prior to receiving information on their upcoming challenge, Paloma took aside Kelly to reiterate her dislike for Ace, who she accused taking control of the tribe only for his own personal gain.
Both tribes then convened at a sand pit where they met with Survivor: Gabon host Jeff Probst who informed them that their challenge would consist of several rounds of competition in which one member from each tribe would be tasked with holding onto a wooden post in the sand while two members of the other tribe attempted to drag them off of the post and across a finish line for one point.
The first team to get two points would receive blankets, a hammock, pillows, a straw mat and the ability to send one member of losing tribe to Exile Island.
Kota easily won the first round by dragging Dan to the finish line while Fang's members failed to even get Ace off the pole. However, Fang responded in the second round as Crystal easily took Paloma -- whom Ace suggested hold the pole for the second round -- across the line.
With Dan and Ace on the poles once again for the final round, Fang members Crystal and Matty Whitmore, a 29-year-old personal trainer from Pacific Palisades, CA, eventually got the best of Ace and got him across the line to win their tribe's first challenge.
"We had to go out here and fight like warriors in order to get some comfort, but it was worth it," said an emotional Crystal after Fang's victory.
Fang also chose to send Sugar to Exile where she would be separated from her tribe but have an opportunity to find the hidden Immunity Idol.
After returning to Kota's camp, Ace reasoned with his other tribe mates that the challenge was not as much a loss as it was a "strategic withdrawal" to keep strong for the upcoming challenge.
Several of the tribe members also met to discuss Paloma's possible status as the tribe's weak link after her performance at the challenge.
"Yea, I think her lack of -- motivation let's say -- just sort of sealed what we were already thinking already. [It] sort of crossed and dotted the T's on her contract of death, so whatever," Ace said with a smile.
After arriving at Exile, Sugar immediately began looking for the hidden Immunity Idol. After finding the sandy crater detailed in the riddle and map that served as her two initial clues, she proceeded to figure out three additional clues and found the Immunity Idol hanging in a tree near a brook inhabited by lizards.
"When Fang sent me to [Exile] I thought maybe they thought I was dumb and that I'd never find the [Immunity Idol]. No way," Sugar said excitedly before laughing. "I can't believe I found it and the lawyer didn't! How funny is that!"
Prior to leaving for the Immunity Challenge, Ace and Bob had a discussion regarding the weak links of the tribe. While Bob felt that Sugar and Paloma contributed the least, Ace stood up for Sugar and called her more trustworthy than Paloma.
Aware that Ace was pushing Paloma out to save Sugar, Bob spoke with Corrine, who informed him of her alliance and their majority vote if Bob came aboard for a vote.
After being given swimsuits before their Immunity Challenge, both tribes met by a lake with Jeff.
Prior to being informed of details regarding the challenge, Sugar returned in tears and was reunited with Kota.
The tribes were then introduced to the week's Immunity Challenge, which would require six of each tribe's members to launch themselves down a slide into water one at a time. Once in the lake, each tribe member would have to swim out and retrieve a colored number tile before swimming back and running back up the hill. Once a tribe had secured all six tiles, the remaining tribe member would use the tiles to solve a math puzzle, the answer of which would reveal a combo to a treasure chest. The first team to unlock the chest and use an axe enclosed in it to raise their team's flag would be granted immunity.
With Paloma and Sugar sitting out for Kota to even out the teams, Kota tribe member Bob and Fang tribe member Ken Hoang -- a 22-year-old professional video gamer from Westminster, CA -- were left to solve the puzzle once their other tribe mates had gathers the tiles.
After Kota jumped out to a sizable lead and retrieved all six tiles, Bob's failure to answer the math question on his first attempt opened the door for Fang to gain ground. While Ken failed his first attempt as well, he quickly rebounded by getting the question correct the second time, winning immunity for Fang and sending Kota to its first Tribal Council later that night.
Once back at camp, Kota's members held separate discussions about which tribemate should be eliminated from the competition.
After Sugar revealed to Ace that she had found the Immunity Idol, Ace excitedly told her of the possibilities the Idol had opened for them.
"This is ours," Ace told Sugar. "This just sets our game up so well until right to the end.'
He added that, used correctly, they could use the idol to first eliminate Paloma and then Kelly.
Meanwhile, looking to find a way to send Ace home, Paloma told Corinne that Ace formed alliance with everyone else and was trying saving Sugar by any means necessary.
Since she wasn't a fan of Ace either, Corinne informed Charlie of Paloma's comments and suggested it could make more sense to get rid of Ace and then worry about Paloma in a later round.
"Ace might be strong as an ox and I might be as weak as a mouse, but we're both 50/50," Paloma said prior to leaving for Tribal Council. "People want him out because he's strong. People might want me out because I'm weak."
However, when asked by Jeff how she planned to base her vote that night at Tribal Council, Corrine seemed to be more willing to tow the party line rather than lead a charge to oust Ace.
"The idea is that you want one opinion together so that you have as little dissension in the group as possible," she told Jeff.
Marcus -- still holding the Immunity Idol he'd won in the competition's initial challenge -- said that if Sugar had indeed found the Immunity Idol at Exile Island, she wasn't showing it in her interactions with her tribe mates.
Paloma refused to comment on Ace, saying she could "care less" if he had become a leader of the tribe.
After Kelly admitted to disliking Ace for being condescending at times, Ace admitted that he was worried he might be voted off, but added that it was only a natural reaction for anyone attending Tribal Council.
"You can never walk into Tribal Council without being scared," he said.
After each member submitted their vote, it was revealed that all of the tribe members voted for Paloma's ouster, except for Paloma and Kelly who voted for Ace.
"Well, the truth is you've lost back-to-back challenge and now your first tribe member," Jeff told the remaining Kota members after extinguishing Paloma's flame. "Fang clearly has the momentum. The question is can you get it back."
Survivor: Gabon's next episode will air Thursday, October 9 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.