Jeff then brings out a beer, which apparently isn't being auctioned -- it's just going to the first person to say $40. Which Ian immediately does, so it's his beer. He opens it and takes a big glug. "Oh, man, that's good, Tom," he says, turning back to his buddy. That beer looks really good. Hang on, I'll be right back.
Okay. Now, it is go time. Jeff opens up a metal box and brings out envelopes. Here are everyone's letters from home. It's clear from the beginning that Tom is going to go just as high as it takes, and it turns out that it takes a bid of $220, at which point everybody else drops out. Sold to Tom for $220, and he goes up to get his envelope. Jeff asks him if he's going to read it now or later, and Tom chuckles, "I know I'm going to peek." Tom opens his letter and immediately sees a drawing that's a tracing of a hand from one of his kids. Katie cries as Tom holds it up. Everybody else cries, too. Who doesn't love crude representations of limbs? Jeff then says that anybody else who wants their letters can get them for the same price Tom paid, $220. Katie agrees to take hers, as do Gregg, and Steph, and Caryn. They all head up and collect their letters from Jeff. As soon as Steph peeks into her envelope, she starts to cry, noting that she has letters from her whole family and her boyfriend. Aw! And then the auction is over, and it's time to head back to camp. Full of sugar, grease, alcohol, and now sap, the castaways depart.
Back at Koror -- Day 28, you'll remember -- it's time for the letters to be opened and read. Steph settles in on a blanket to read her letters from her brothers, her sister-in-law, her nieces and nephews, her parents, and her boyfriend. Score! She apparently wound up with a total of twelve letters. As we watch her read her letter from someone named Linda (shout-out!), in which you can make out "I love you, I miss you, take care of yourself -- oh yeah, say hi to Jeff from me and Brianna" (hee), Steph explains that her family is really great and really positive. She says that they inspire her to try hard at everything, so this is exactly what she needs in order to pump her up for everything she has to face from here on out. She says that the women have talked about an alliance, but that she doesn't really know if that's going to work out or not. I love it that one of her letters has teeny little dense print, because that's how letters from me are, as you know if you've ever gotten one -- full of love and lots and lots and lots of words. "I will read these letters and I will think of these people, and I will go in there like wildfire, and I will win this. I know it." Aw. And? Not.