Most memorable moments from Survivor: Palau

Survivor winner Tom Westman - (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images)
Survivor winner Tom Westman - (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images) /

What were the most memorable moments from Survivor: Palau, the tenth season of the show?

Survivor: Palau was the tenth season in the show’s history and signified a few firsts in the show’s history. Let’s take a look at the best moments from season ten.

Eliminated Right Off the Bat

Survivor: Palau had 20 castaways, so naturally there were going to be some extra ways to try and remove contestants so that the show could continue on in the appropriate amount of time. This season started with all 20 contestants stranded together on one island unsure of what was to come.

They found out on Day 2 that the one man and one woman who won individual immunity were going to be the first two members of the opposing tribes in a schoolyard pick. The twist was that there would only be two tribes of nine people each, meaning right off the bat, the two people not selected to be a part of either tribe would be out of the game just like that.

It was an unfair twist and fortunately Survivor hasn’t attempted this again. They have done the schoolyard pick when it comes to building tribes and also have “voted” someone out of a tribe only for them to get a ride to camp instead, but nothing as severe as getting kicked out of the game for simply not being picked.

Ulong Tribe

Where do I even begin when it comes to discussing the train wreck that was the Ulong tribe? On paper, they were far and away the stronger team, having the majority of the ripped young guys and their women were far more athletic than that of the opposing Koror tribe.

Instead, Koror wiped the floor with the Ulong tribe, winning all but three challenges and winning EVERY single immunity challenge. While it was entertaining watching Koror flat out dominate, it was also hard to watch the Ulong tribe constantly get kicked when they were down.

Things got so bad for Ulong that it came down to Stephenie LaGrossa and Bobby Jon Drinkard as the final two members of the tribe. They lost the immunity challenge, because of course they did, and were forced to go head-to-head in a fire making challenge with Stephenie winning and having to be on a tribe by herself, which leads us to…

Tribe of One

For the first time in Survivor history, there was only one player on a tribe. That meant poor Stephenie had to spend the night by herself while worrying if she’d be able to keep the fire going. She had to forge for food by herself and survive on her own and mind you – Exile Island hadn’t been invented yet, so this was the first time this happened on the show.

Fortunately, Stephenie was saved by a merge where she simply joined the Koror tribe rather than becoming a new tribe. Let’s talk more about Stephenie, as she was the biggest part of this season.

The Stephenie Show

Survivor: Palau was all about Stephenie and for good reason. She was the first true kick butt female the show ever had and the fact that she was on the helpless Ulong tribe who couldn’t do anything right helped make her an instant fan favorite.

While Stephenie would return for future seasons and not be quite as popular in those seasons, there’s no debating that she was the biggest part of Survivor: Palau.

12 Hour Challenge?!

Back in the early seasons of Survivor, it was tradition for the final immunity challenge to be an endurance competition and that was a great indicator as to who wanted immunity the most. It could be argued that Survivor: Palau is the reason why the final challenge stopped always being an endurance competition every season.

The final immunity challenge in season ten was between Ian Rosenberger, Katie Gallagher, and Tom Westman and it consisted of them standing on a buoy in the water for as long as possible. The challenge ended up lasting for a whopping 11 hours and 55 minutes before Ian voluntarily stepped off if Tom agreed to take Katie to the end with him (which he did, of course).

These challenges were always entertaining, but with this challenge going on for HALF A DAY, Survivor probably thought it was best to move on from having these types of competitions, as it  threw off everything else.

Tom’s Dominant Game

When looking at different lists of the best Survivor winners ever, Tom Westman usually is in the top ten – if not top five – on most lists. That’s because the guy truly played a terrific game and 100% deserved to be the winner of Survivor: Palau.

The reason Koror kicked so much butt this season is because of Tom. He was a beast in challenges, a great provider, and almost always knew what was going on during the course of the season. No his tribe didn’t go to tribal council much pre-merge (just once and that wasn’t because they lost the challenge), but they didn’t have to because of Tom.

Tom also managed to convince Ian – his biggest competition at the end of the game – to step off the buoy and give him immunity. That allowed Tom to easily beat Katie in the final tribal council and be the show’s tenth winner and also one of the best winners the show has ever had.

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Survivor: Palau doesn’t hold up as well as it did in 2005, but there were a lot of memorable moments from season ten. Tom’s awesome game, Stephenie LaGrossa, and the train wreck that was the Ulong tribe were just a few of the memories fans remember most from this nostalgic season.