Oh man. Before this season even began, I had Malcolm and Denise pegged as two of my favorite contestants on what was looking like a great season of Survivor. And while this season has been fantastic so far, and Malcolm and Denise are great, who would have guessed that it would come to this?
This episode was a bit of a bore in that it was pretty easy to predict what would happen – especially once we saw the Immunity Challenge. But even before that, my first notes of the night were “Swann is screwed if Matsing loses” and “His only hope is the Hidden Immunity Idol.” Last week, Malcolm said Russell hadn’t spoken a word of strategy with him since the game began. That was a huge mistake, and I think Russell was an idiot to have thought he had any chance to stay in the game once the tribe lost for a fourth consecutive time. He just hadn’t put the effort into forming the bonds needed to stay in the game.
The Case of the Misplaced Clue
You’ve got to hand it to Peter, he’s smart. He’s a sneaky bastard, but he’s smart. When RC’s bag spilled over in the Tandang tent, he slipped the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol in there and unleashed Hurricane Abi-Maria. Even though Abi had given the clue to Peter and found the actual Idol herself, she ripped into RC for betraying her. Peter had successfully undermined what little was left of that alliance, and suddenly RC found herself on the outside of the alliance she thought she had formed.
RC needs to scramble, fast, to find new bonds. I’d be buddying up to Skupin like he was my long lost daddy if I were her, and trying to pull Lisa and Artis in as well. I’d accuse Abi and Peter of being one of those dangerous Survivor couples that everyone fears. Luckily for RC, her tribe didn’t have to go to Tribal Council this week, but she better get with it. Her saving grace will be if Malcolm or Denise joins the tribe next week, or if the tribes are completely shuffled into two new tribes. She needs that.
Battle of the Sexes 2.0
A quick Wikipedia search tells me that Survivor: One World aired on TV from February 15 to May 13 this year, while Survivor: Philippinnes was filmed from March 18 to April 25. Why does that matter? Because I was curious how much of that super successful all-lady alliance this crew had seen, since that’s what’s shaking out with the Kalabaw tribe. Based on those dates, they wouldn’t have seen much.
Jeff Kent decided that he’d had enough of the young people on his tribe and wanted to align with Penner after all, so they teamed up. But it turns out that when Jeff said “young people” he really meant “women”, because he immediately brought Carter, a baby, into the fold. While they hashed out their plans in the ocean like it was their own personal locker room, Dana, Dawson and Katie sat together on a log discussing the fact that those boys were over there talking about them. So there you have it – three guys vs. three girls. If they end up getting one of the former Matsing tribe members, it’ll be really interesting to see each side fight over that swing vote. And I don’t think it’ll necessarily be determined by gender. Denise might be inclined to go with Jeff Kent and Penner because of their similar ages, and Malcolm might be inclined to go with the younger ladies because of, well, boobs. That will be very interesting to watch.
Balls to the Wall
The Immunity Challenge this week was super exciting, thanks in large part to that sweeping shot we got after the commercial break. The teams would have to carry bowls of rice through a large obstacle course, and then one person would use a small wrecking ball to smash the six bowls.
Kalabaw and Tandang each had to sit out half their tribe, and they both benched all the women. RUDE! But seriously, how lame was that? Whatever happened to the rule where one person can’t sit out twice in a row? Has Lisa had to do anything yet? Geez Louise.
The challenge was a nail-biter. Malcolm started out just killing it, while Carter rather sucked and Artis strolled through like he had all the time in the world. Denise is just a machine, but then Russell slowed things down for Matsing. Tandang managed to get through the course first, with Matsing right behind them. (Russell was basically dead, with only one hand on the mat.) Artis was like the wrecking ball whisperer for his tribe, and brought them to a pretty easy win. It came down to Malcolm vs. Jeff, and Kalabaw managed to come back from behind and take the win. I felt so bad for Malcolm, because he almost had it. In Tribal Council he took all the blame, but I think it’s worth noting that at this point, pressure and exhaustion has to be getting to this tribe.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Swann.
OK, let’s talk about what happened after the challenge. But, seriously…what the hell happened after that challenge? Russell Swann, who was laying on the ground like a dead rat, smashed a rice bowl in anger and then started to yell at God. Like, he had a very loud, very long, very public conversation with the man upstairs. It was more uncomfortable than that time Clint Eastwood spoke to a chair.
What is it with this guy? Why does he think he’s perfect? I mean, he should win because he’s a man crafted by God or some nonsense? OK, but if that’s the belief you prescribe to, then isn’t *everyone* here formed by God? So shouldn’t they all be “excellent”? Someone has to lose. Or was only Russell Swann personally handcrafted by God, and the rest of those losers came from a basic mold? I don’t know. Probst tried to explain the basic fundamentals of what a competition is to Russell, but I’m not sure he understood.
(I’ve been waiting all season to use that as a sub-header.) I never doubted that Malcolm and Denise would remain true to one another, so the goings-on at Matsing camp were pretty low stakes. They had to mislead Russell since they thought he might have the Idol, but as viewers we knew that he didn’t.
Malcolm tried to convince Russell to vote for Denise because they should keep the tribe strong. That was kind of a joke, considering Denise outperformed Russell in the challenges, but of course Russell would never admit that. Tribal Council conversations implied that Denise’s likability had also been discussed. I had to laugh when Russell joked that someone might say to her at Final Tribal Council “Can I write you my own check along with the check that you get from Survivor?” Denise tried to convince Russell to vote Malcolm because he’ll be a threat if he ends up on an opposing tribe, and once they get to individual immunity. But really, they were just trying to make Russell think he was in a position of power – that worked – so he wouldn’t play the Idol – which he didn’t have.
Even though the cases made were good (Denise is likable, Malcolm is a physical threat), I think the tight alliance those two have is very valuable, and they know that. If they get split onto opposing tribes and can make it to the merge, there’s a good chance they’ll still be able to trust one another. It made sense for them to keep that bond alive, and neither of them had a reason to need Russell around.
Russell ended up voting for Malcolm, which I think is a great indication of what an amazing player Denise is. She got Russell to pour his heart out about his childhood experiences – Boom! THERAPIED! I think Denise is a really interesting player, and I like Malcolm too. I hope they manage to stick around for a long time.
So, our first returning player has been voted out and Matsing continues to be obliterated. It’s making for an interesting start to the game. What do you guys think?