Archive | October, 2012

“I’m not the only actor on this island”: Survivor Philippines Episode 7

31 Oct

The tribes merge and both groups chow down on a large feast. However, Lisa Whelchel turns into a typical mother in no time: given the choice between filling up on food after subsisting on rice for days, or hanging up some wet clothes, she hangs up the clothes and stumbles upon Malcolm’s immunity idol. Malcolm, doing damage control, suddenly finds himself adding Lisa to his alliance with Denise, and soon realizes he’s allied himself with “the two people I’m not confident I can beat.” Lisa takes the final-three promise with a grain of salt, leading to her quote mentioned above.

While Malcolm’s secret is safe with Lisa, Malcolm doesn’t know Lisa’s secret (that she’s a celebrity). Penner has recognized her, however, and tells her so when they’re alone (who wouldn’t want to be alone with Blair from Facts of Life?) but seems in no rush to tell anyone else. He and Lisa have a nice long talk, obviously partly owing to the fact (which has never been mentioned on the show, I believe) that Penner is in the acting business as well.

Penner tells the camera that he could see Lisa in the final three, and I do think I put her on my “no-chance” list too soon. Not having any tribal councils early on let her stick around (Jeff Probst later says that this is the first time in Survivor history that one tribe has made it to the merge intact).

Penner also tries to bond with Skupin, but it doesn’t do much good as we soon find out.

Meanwhile, Jeff’s identity as a wealthy former baseball player seems to be something nobody has caught onto — we see Artis glaring at him, but Artis seems to glare at a lot of people.

Now we get to a really dumb move by Jeff. It soon becomes apparent that RC and Skupin are more than willing to break ranks with their yellow-tribe mates who have ostracized them. So in the new 11-person merged tribe he has a chance to add RC and Skupin to the alliance of himself, Carter, Penner, and Denise, making a 6-5 majority. What could possibly stand in the way of this? Oh, his strange obsession with not wanting a returning player, namely Penner, to win (which I would understand if all other things were equal, but they’re not). So Jeff goes along with the plan of splitting the vote between Penner and RC. At tribal council, Penner plays his idol, and he’s wise to do so as he would have had the most votes if he hadn’t, so RC with the second-most votes becomes the first member of the jury.

So instead of being part of a 6-man majority group with a 2-person lead in which he calls the shots, Jeff is now at best in a 5-5 group, but it’s really less because Penner now knows Jeff tried to get him out,  and Denise has more loyalty to Malcolm than anyone. So really he’s in a 3-person alliance rather than having a commanding position in a 6-person alliance. Foolish.

All in all this was the best episode of the season so far since there’s so much going on and several people with secrets. The show was so action-packed that they dispensed with showing the new tribe decide on the name “Dangrayne.” As far as I’m concerned they can continue dispensing with this for every future season.

Dumb move: After the merge Jeff agrees to vote out Penner, a member of his own alliance.

Contender rankings: 1. Malcolm, 2. Denise, 3. Carter, 4. Artis, 5.  Jeff, 6. Skupin, 7. Penner

No-chance list: Abi-Maria, Lisa, Pete

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: R.C. (Skupin)


Bonfire of the Insecurities: Survivor Philippines Episode 6

24 Oct

We’ve seen in previous seasons that players get very insecure about playing with returning players or celebrities, to the detriment of their own games. Exhibit A would have to be Marty from Nicaragua, who probably still mutters about Jimmy Johnson in his sleep after all these years. In tonight’s episode we saw Penner’s team fretting similarly about him. This really makes no sense — he’s one of their best players and therefore someone to keep around at least until the merge, and after the merge he would seem a candidate to take all the way to the finals, because the rest of the jury won’t want to see a returning player win either!

As it happened, after all the hand-wringing cooler heads prevailed and Katie was voted out instead. Oddly, nobody seemed to mention the name Denise, despite the fact that unlike Penner she has an obvious ally (namely Malcolm) to reunite with after the merge.

I was glad to see Penner stick around since he’s probably the most entertaining player in the game, and loves the game more than anyone else playing.

Once again the “next time” previews at the end of the prior show managed to mislead: they made it look like the “unprecedented event” had something to do with Penner injuring someone else’s crotch, when in fact the event was that stalemated challenge teams made a deal, exchanging the reward feast for all remaining rice that the Red tribe still had. Oddly, some in each tribe felt that they lost out on the deal. Yet as the deal was being discussed, Skupin and Penner as the main “negotiators” had politely solicited everyone’s opinion to make a democratic tribe decision. Predictably, a few on each tribe basically said “Sure, whatever” and then proceeded to trash the decision in private conversations later on.

Speaking of private conversations after the challenge, as R.C. was interviewed on the beach, she was inexplicably  wearing a sportcoat! How this came about was not explained.

Also not explained was where Skupin got his notion that rice is just as good when it’s uncooked. The fact that a billion Chinese have had many centuries to discover everything there is to discover about rice, and still cook it, tells me Skupin’s idea is dumb. However, I certainly don’t agree with Pete’s comment that Mike is “the most useless player that’s ever been returned to Survivor.” Hey Peter, ever heard of Eliza, Sugar, or Courtney?

As for how things stand in the Yellow tribe, which still hasn’t gone to a tribal council: Lisa has been an OK contributor in challenges, nobody has figured out her identity, and she has stayed out of the fray and let others blow up. I wonder if I was too quick to write her off as having no chance to win? I’m also starting to wonder if Malcolm has this game in the bag, and whether his tribemates realize that he’s got the inside track and will do something about it. At this point I’m having a hard time picturing anyone but Malcolm or Denise winning the season.

Memorable challenge: A game involving pushing a huge ball through the mud into a goal ends in an hour-long stalemate with everyone holding each other down.

Contender rankings: 1. Malcolm, 2. Denise, 3. Jeff, 4. R. C.,  5. Penner, 6. Carter, 7. Skupin, 8. Artis.

No-chance list: Abi-Maria, Lisa, Pete

G’day, medic: Survivor Philippines Episode Five

18 Oct

Last week’s “next time” preview showed Jeff Kent wincing and then the medic’s motorboat heading for the island, clearly hinting that Jeff was going to be evacuated because of a knee injury. Not so fast. As the red tribe sits in the rain we suddenly hear odd theme music that might have accompanied a pensive moment for David Carradine on the old Kung Fu show. As it turns out, that’s “Dana is sick” music, Dana being the short, spiky-haired blonde. Jeff Probst and the medic arrive, and just like in every previous season the medic is Australian. He tells Sheila, er, Dana, that her condition while extremely painful may not be critical and that he’d be willing to re-evaluate it in twelve hours. She’s clearly miserable and understandably doesn’t want to wait that long, so she says her goodbyes to her tribe, including Penner who became quite paternal when she got sick, giving her a little kiss on the head and cuddling her. Penner also tells Probst that he knows exactly how she feels, since he was evacuated from his season (Penner perhaps goes on a wee bit too long talking about himself with Dana lying right there).

So we lose a player we had grown to know and l0v… hold on a second, we didn’t know her because we had hardly seen her in the previous four hours of TV! And we had seen even far less of Katie, who says “I’m literally at a loss for words” and puts that to the lie by saying many, many words after that. I hadn’t noticed in her brief seconds of previous camera time that Katie is pretty darn cute, and indeed the on-screen graphic tells us she’s a former Miss Delaware. She’s so talkative all of a sudden because she has lost her strongest ally in Dana.

The episode began with Malcolm (who finally fins the immunity idol) and Denise wondering what would happen to their two-person tribe. The answer was that they were dispersed among the other two tribes by random draw, with Denise joining the Reds and Malcolm the Yellows. Since Dana, Katie, and Dawson (the black girl who knows Jeff Kent’s identity) had formed a women’s alliance, they hoped Denise would join her fellow ladies for a majority within that tribe, while the two tribes as a whole would compete with even numbers. Instead, Dana’s evacuation meant Red was suddenly down one, and Katie’s girl alliance was either even with the boys or down one depending on what Denise chose to do.

We don’t see much of the Yellow tribe at all this episode, other than Malcolm being recruited by everyone in the game. Oh, and also RC talking about where she stands as the camera shows scenes of her voluptuous body doing various things. RC has been a disappointment so far, as she put all her eggs in the basket of an alliance with Abi Maria, and when that burned out in no time she didn’t seem to have a backup plan.

The reward challenge (which took place before Dana’s exit) involved one-on-one matchups of players balancing an idol on a plate and trying to knock the other person’s off. It wasn’t particularly entertaining but it was the first challenge in quite a while where every single player participated.

Later came the immunity challenge. Before it starts we see a HUGE bug fly right at RC, and then we hear that Yellow gets to sit one person out (thanks to Dana’s exit) and that person is Abi-Maria. Even Jeff Probst, who allows tribes to keep sitting the same person out in consecutive episodes, is annoyed that Abi is sitting out yet another one … before the reward challenge in this same episode she had only participated in one challenge.

A close challenge comes down to the wire with Katie and Dawson both bogging the tribe down, and by now the producers know that if they need a reaction shot, they should always cut to Denise, who can grit her teeth with the best of them.

Back at camp, Dawson works baseball references into her conversations just to torment Jeff Kent, and we get the idea that Dawson is just a wee bit psycho. At tribal council Dawson is voted out … while Katie was worse in the last challenge Dawson is deemed more generally useless. And now Katie would appear to be in an alliance of one. Will Dawson stand up and say “I might be going, but you should know that Jeff is the fabulously wealthy baseball player, Mr. Jeff Kent”? No, but instead we are headed for a…

Classic tribal council moment: While having her torch snuffed, Dawson gives Jeff Probst a long, longing look, and then hugs him and kisses him on the cheek as she walks out. In her “confessional” at the end of the episode she doesn’t comment on this but does say what she wants Jeff Kent to give her for her silence if she wins, including a motorcycle and a sidecar.

Contenders: 1. Malcolm, 2. Denise, 3. Skupin, 4. Jeff, 5. Penner, 6. Artis, 7. Carter, 8. R.C.

No-chance list: Abi-Maria, Lisa, Pete, Katie

Self-Awareness Time: Survivor Philippines Episode 4

10 Oct

Malcolm comments early in the episode that Russell lacks self-awareness, and while Russell isn’t in earshot when those words are spoken, he seems determined to spend the whole episode proving them to be accurate. It’s clear early on that his one chance (if his Blue tribe goes to tribal council again) would be to find the immunity idol. He doesn’t, though Malcolm and Denise wonder briefly whether he has, and Malcolm resolves “might as well just blindside him.” It seems a ridiculous statement given that it’s a three-person tribe with two clearly allied against Russell … how can there be a surprise in that scenario? But sure enough when all is said and done Russell is voted out and claims he was “completely blindsided.” Forget the “self,” maybe he just lacked awareness, period!

Blue is back at tribal council as the result of a challenge whose final stage involves swinging a sort of tether ball at some pots. The Yellow team wins clearly and Red noses out Blue for third (more through luck than anything else, it seemed). Since it was a three-person tribe against two groups of six, the latter two groups each had to sit three people out, and the same girls who have sat out every other uneven-numbers challenge sat out this one too! That’s something they should pass a rule against, I think.

So the Blue tribe, by virtue of losing every time, is getting most of the camera time this season, and could be said to be ruining a season that might be really interesting if the three tribes were even.


We see more of Jeff and Penner’s “four-finger handshake” alliance, and while Jeff never really commits himself to anything, it seems the two men have formed a trio with Carter, who gets his first real screen time of the season. Bases on brief glimpses I thought Carter was a lesbian woman, but he’s a guy, though a guy of few words, or at least few the producers want to share with us. Meanwhile, the three girls in the tribe have nothing better to do, so they form their own alliance. I speak of the short and skinny maybe-real lesbian, the black girl who knows Jeff’s true identity but has apparently kept it to herself, and a brunette. Has the brunette seriously been on all three previous one-hour shows, or did she sneak in later like Rosie Ruiz at the Boston Marathon?

Everyone’s sitting in the shelter when suddenly someone notices the clue to the hidden immunity idol near RC’s bag, the same clue that RC and Abi-Maria found previously and hid. RC and Abi blame each other, and while RC tries to mend the fence, Abi won’t even talk to her. We viewers find out that Pete (who knew where the clue was hidden thanks to Abi) took it from its hiding place and slyly planted it while no one was looking.

Pete thinks he has this game all figured out, and his gameplay seems lifted directly from the Russell Hantz playbook. However, I’m not impressed. At all. In fact I promptly put Pete on my no-chance-to-win-the-game list. Yes, mind games and dirty tricks were a Hantz trademark, but so was making lots of alliances, and Pete’s one alliance seems to be with Abi-Maria who is not a rock of reliability. I can’t see RC, Skupin, Lisa, or even the little-seen Artis joining up with Pete too readily. Meanwhile, RC is going to have to work to stick around.

Contenders: 1. Denise, 2. Malcolm, 3. Jeff,  4. Skupin, 5. Penner, 6. R.C.

No-chance list: Abi-Maria, Lisa, Pete

Four-Finger Handshake: Survivor Philippines Episode 3

5 Oct

In this episode Jeff the ex-ballplayer explained that a handshake doesn’t count if you don’t clasp your index finger along with the others. That’s the kind of handshake he gave Penner after the two formed the uneasiest of maybe-alliances.

This was one of the few moments we saw from the red and yellow tribes, as the blue tribe lost yet another immunity challenge and saw Angie (the young blonde with the hugely fake boobs) voted out.

On the yellow tribe, Abi-Maria did her best to ruin her alliance with R.C. for reasons unknown, allying herself with Peter. He in turn showed that he’s playing the game, but I’ll stop short of calling him a contender.

Early contenders: 1. Denise, 2. Malcolm, 3. R. C.,  4. Jeff,  5. Skupin, 6. Penner, 7. Russell

No-chance list: Abi-Maria, Lisa.

“Don’t Get Booty-Blinded”: Survivor Philippines Episode 2

4 Oct

“Ain’t got no skills at all? Just show de boobs, somebody’ll fall for it.”

That’s Roxy talking about Angie (and Malcolm). Roxy didn’t show much in the first episode except a talent for scowling, but she proves  to be a great character. She’s intelligent and quick with a quip. She’s also a bit different… when the rain ends she says a heartfelt prayer followed by chanting … what exactly? One tribemate called it speaking in tongues, I thought perhaps she was reciting the lyrics to the old disco hit “Soul Makossa.”

Alas, Roxy was voted out after her tribe lost its second immunity challenge in a row. So now two of the three tribes have six players while the third has just four. Call me crazy but I think three of the four still have a shot to get to the end in this game: Malcolm, Russell, and sex therapist Denise.

Meanwhile, I have two additions to my no-chance list. Lisa (aka Blair) doesn’t have enough of a social game to win it all. Nor does Abi-Maria, who ruins her solid alliance with a strong player in R.C. by getting extremely paranoid… in episode two! Not long after the two girls say they trust each other all the way, Abi lets R.C. know “You are my friend but if you (bleep) me you’re done.”

Early contenders (in no particular order): R.C., Mike Skupin, Jeff, Russell, Malcolm, Denise, Penner.

No-chance list: Angie, Abi-Maria, Lisa.