By People Staff
October 03, 2008 12:00 AM
Monty Brinton/CBS(2)

After a series of losses to the Kota tribe, a still less-than-unified Fang team pulled together for a pair of reward and immunity wins, sending Sugar to Exile and Kota to tribal council for the first time. Predictably, Kota chose to kick off their weakest link in the challenges, 24-year-old student Paloma Soto-Castillo. But how did Kota get a date with host Jeff Probst? Here’s how the night unfolded on Survivor: Gabon:

Rice Rice Baby: A week in and Fang is still bickering. With their rice ration half gone, Randy proposes that they cut back to two meals a day. Most agree but GC says he shouldn’t have to limit his intake because others had wasted their food. Randy and GC spar but when GC asks if Randy wants to be the leader of the tribe, he refuses. At Kota, day-to-day life is fine, but it’s clear that are pairing off and forming alliances.

What a Drag: For three rounds, a member of each tribe hugs a pole while two opposing team members try to pry them off and drag them across a field. Kota wins the first round easily when GC and Matty, sent to pull Ace off the pole, seem to give up. Then, in the second round, Fang shows two advantages. First, Susie, a weightier woman than Paloma, is a tougher opponent to tackle for Kota than for Fang. Second, Crystal, pulling for Fang, is bigger and stronger than most guys. In fact, Crystal helps pull both Paloma off in the second round and then, teamed with Matty, she helps pull Ace off in the final round. With that, Fang wins their first reward, a set of blankets, pillows and a mat. They also send Sugar to Exile. The pin-up laughs and says she knew they would pick her, but adds, “I know they think I’m dumb but they haven’t talked to me yet.”

The Pin-Up Goes Up a Tree: Choosing clues over comfort, Sugar sets about to find the immunity idol. She struggles with bugs and nettles and admits, “I’m not a camper. I don’t like to be dirty.” Breaking down a little, she explains that by playing the game, she hopes to get over her father’s death seven months ago. Her focus seems to be solid; unlike attorney Dan on Fang, she solves the first clue, which leads to a crater. From there, she finds another clue and goes back across the lake, where she finds another clue up in a tree, telling her to look for burnt wood, where she finds yet another clue. “Oh, lordy,” she says, wading through a murky stream, where she may meet a lizard. But then, to her own surprise, success! Sugar finds the hidden immunity idol. Although she prides herself on her discovery, she breaks a bit of informal Survivor tradition when she doesn’t craft a fake idol a la Ozzy or Yau-Man.

Slip ‘N’ Slide: The tribes launch themselves down slippery slides to the water, where they swim out one at a time to collect six tiles. After retrieving all of them, another set of teammates solve a code that opens a box with a knife that will then chop down a cord to release the winning tribe’s flag.

Although Crystal gets off to a good start, the next series of swimmers and runners for Fang fall behind. By the time Marcus begins the course, it seems Kota is headed for a third victory. But the battle to solve the puzzle, a long math problem, proves closer than first anticipated with Bob the physics teacher on Kota squaring off against professional gamer Ken on the Fang team. Both men get it wrong on their first tries but during the second go-round, Ken solves it and wins it for an elated Fang. When Probst asks Fang if they will miss going to tribal council, Crystal says, “You need to get to know them a little bit better.”

Someone’s Going Home: Prior to tribal council, Sugar confides in Ace that she found the immunity idol and he quickly says, “This is ours,” and she doesn’t blink at his use of the royal “we.” Paloma thinks she is playing hard by talking fast and telling Corinne that Ace has an alliance with everyone and is trying to force her out. But it seems Corinne is merely curious that Paloma has taken so long to try and lobby for votes. Charlie says there is a short-term benefit to getting out the weakest but he says Ace is a big threat. Corinne talks about that, too, but says, “I dislike so many on this damn tribe that it’s a toss-up.”

At council, Paloma’s dislike of Ace becomes apparent, to the point where Probst says they could be brother and sister. Paloma replies, “Maybe a thousand years from now, when I’m dead.” Marcus, who won individual immunity on the first day, is exempt from the vote but it wouldn’t have mattered. The tribe mostly had it out for Paloma, who becomes the third person voted off Survivor: Gabon. — Cynthia Wang

Tell us: Should Kota have ousted dangerous Ace before weak Paloma? Is the momentum shifting over to Fang?Monty Brinton/CBS(2)