The Pete(r) Principle: Survivor Philippines Episode 10

21 Nov

Laurence Peter’s business bestseller The Peter Principle held that in a hierarchy, an employee rises to his level of incompetence. For Pete on Survivor, that level proved to be the final eight. Pete did bring athletic ability and a Russell Hantz-ian tendency toward mischief to the table, but was doomed by a couple of things, foremost among them being aligned with Abi. Also Pete overrated his own greatness (which is perhaps also Russell-like).

Surprisingly this was not a clip show but an all-new episode… I could have sworn they previously did clip shows Thanksgiving week even after the show moved from Thursday to Wednesday, but if I had “sworn”  it would have been about as binding as Malcolm swearing “on his family” to go to the final four with Denise, Lisa, and Skupin, as he did in this episode.

The show began with Penner and Skupin lying almost as close together as Malcolm and Angie lay in the first couple of episodes! What the heck? But apparently this was just so they could murmur without being overheard. By the way Skupin was looking positively Malkovich-ian. As opposed to Machiavellian… it remains to be seen if he’s that as well.

After daybreak we see Lisa and Abi chatting, and Abi says “It’s clear that you’re already aligned with them,” though that’s not the way Lisa actually voted at the last tribal council! Abi’s go-to-hell attitude here may well have been the last straw for Lisa. Abi tells her allies to go to hell on a fairly regular basis, which is why she doesn’t have many of them.

Cut to the reward challenge, and as we see the players stroll in, I had to think, my gosh, all of them have really well-defined abs! I think the secret to great abs has been found: just spend 26 days eating nothing but a cup of rice and some pieces of coconut every day! Who knew it was that simple?

The reward challenge involved flipping over discs that looked like huge hockey pucks, and the proper strategy was not at all clear at the start. It certainly wasn’t clear to Abi, who flipped an unflipped disc from the other team to accidentally give her opponent the victory in that round, and shortly thereafter Skupin on the other team did the same thing! So the youngster team of Abi, Pete, Malcolm, and Carter got the reward, a trip to a spa with lots of food to eat.

Abi and Pete didn’t use the opportunity to strategize, but upon returning Abi took every opportunity to tell everyone how full her stomach was and how delicious every single piece of food was. Comically, the producers lingered on the pained expressions of Skupin, Penner, Denise, and Lisa as they listened to all of this. Finally Penner mustered a diplomatic “Yeah, the rewards are cool.”

Time to start making alliances for the end, at least in Malcolm’s book, and he proposes to Lisa that the two of them and their pals Denise and Skupin go all the way to the end. Skupin and Lisa confer, and Mike asks “Who do you trust more, Penner or Malcolm?” Lisa replies: “Oddly enough, Penner.” So we then see Lisa telling Skupin and Penner that she wants to go all the way with them (in the game, for any dirty minds out there). Pretty smart on Lisa’s part: she would be in pret-ty good shape in the finals with two returning players, particularly with returning-player-haters Jeff and Artis already on the jury.

One problem: Penner says it’s too early and “I’m not that interested in committing anything to anybody.” This is actually quite extraordinary, as you seldom see a proposed alliance turned down on this show. Penner’s thinking is obviously a) he’s not in immediate danger this week, and b) those two couldn’t say later that he backstabbed them if he never said yes to a pact in the first place.

Skupin seems to have just as many doubts, but takes the opposite approach: when Malcolm proposes the alliance of four I mentioned above, he commits to it even though he doesn’t really buy it, because he’s scared he’d be on the outs if he didn’t. So is anyone in this four-person alliance serious? Any of the other three would be fools to take Lisa to the finals. I guess the only person I semi-believe to be serious is Denise, based on a speech later at tribal council when she says she wouldn’t want to go to the finals with people everybody hates.

A plan is hatched to split votes 3-3 for Abi and Pete so it wouldn’t matter if Abi played the idol. Pete rightly tells everyone this would be the perfect time to blindside Malcolm, but the problem is that anyone who went along with that at this point would essentially find himself on the bottom of a 3-person alliance with Pete and Abi, so there are no takers. At tribal council, Abi gets some insults thrown her way in a reversal of roles, and is in tears. Even Denise can’t hold back her critiques any longer. Oddly enough, when Abi says something to the effect of “you know the effect of your words, you’re a psychologist,” Denise seems mortally offended by the “psychologist” part and clarifies that she’s a therapist. Do therapists not have psychology degrees? I had no idea.

An interesting sidelight of Pete being voted out is that I doubt he and Artis will feel any loyalty to Abi if she makes the final three, so two of the four jury votes would seem to be up for grabs.

Contender rankings: 1. Denise, 2. Malcolm, 3. Carter, 4. Skupin, 5. Penner

No-chance list: Abi-Maria, Lisa

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: R.C. (Skupin), Jeff (Carter), Artis (?), Pete (?)

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