Wow. The beginnings of this season of Survivor have not been boring by any means, but when the merge hit this week things got Crazy, with an intended Capital C. Nothing played out how I expected and, all in all, I’m quite disappointed in the results.
It should have been simple. The Kalabaw alliance of Penner, Kent, Carter and Denise would bring in Tandang outsiders Skupin and RC. They could rely on Malcolm for inside information and eventually bring him in as well. If they wanted to, then Kent, Carter, Denise and Malcolm could vote out the veteran players and compete for RC’s swing vote. It would have been beautiful. But it wasn’t to be.
Instead, Jeff Kent had a chip on his shoulder. He wants to outlast Penner, and that’s the only thing that matters to him right now. That’s a short-sighted game. He wasn’t thinking about the end game, and now I think he’s on the bottom of an alliance with people he doesn’t know and can’t trust. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
OK, let’s rewind. The merge happened! This meant Malcolm and Denise would be reunited, and all the problems Tandang has been having would come to a head. But first, everyone had to set up a new camp – both tribes had only had ten minutes to collect up their stuff and exit their previous beaches.
Malcolm was lucky because in that ten minutes he was able to run into the woods and dig up his Hidden Immunity Idol. But that luck only lasted so long, because at the new tribe sweet, innocent Lisa went through everyone’s stuff and hung up their clothes to air out. I’d love to think that was a strategy, but we all know better. She found Malcolm’s Idol, he asked her about it, and she said “I didn’t mean to!” and promised not to tell anyone. Least vicious Survivor encounter ever.
Speaking of Lisa, Penner also knew about her past on The Facts of Life. That means he and Skupin were the only ones to sniff that out. What, do they keep the DVDs in Ponderosa or something? I know they’re in the right age bracket, but it’s funny that only the returning players were aware of her acting career. I guess they both watch more 80s sitcoms than they do baseball.
Even before Tribal Council, we had an idea of the two ways things could shake out. Skupin and RC were eager to jump ship and join forces with Kalabaw, but Jeff Kent was already speaking to Tandang about getting rid of Penner. I’ve never liked Jeff Kent, I find him smarmy. That move was very premature, I think. He didn’t take the time to get a read on the Tandang alliance and determine if there’s a place for him in it. He doesn’t know what these people are like. Abi-Maria is crazy, does he really want to get involved with that? He should have gotten to know them all better and then decided if he wanted to work with RC/Denise/Malcolm or with Abi/Pete/Artis. That’s what the decision was, but he let his dislike of returning players cloud his vision.
This week there were two Immunity Necklaces up for grabs – one for the men and one for the women. The challenge was a strength competition, as everyone had to hold 25% of their weight for as long as possible. Before the challenge even started I called that Denise would win, because she is both tiny and strong.
Out right away were Skupin and Pete. It was no surprise to be when Penner dropped next – he gained a lot of weight to come on the show and was probably holding the most of everyone. Then down went Lisa, Malcolm, RC and Abi – just like that, Denise had won her first individual immunity. Yay! She’s a tough lady who never got to win a tribal immunity, so I’m glad she could prove her worth in the first individual competition. She looked like she could’ve held on a lot longer if she’d had to.
Artis fell out next, so the last necklace came down to Kent and Carter. Kent tried to make some kind of vague “I’ll owe you one” pact with Carter, but it didn’t go anywhere. Carter is a lean guy, so he probably wasn’t holding as much weight as the other men. He wouldn’t have trouble winning and Kent knew that, so he dropped out.
There was a lot of back and forth going on before Tribal Council, and lots of unpredictability – good for the show, but bad when you don’t agree with the decisions.
It was all coming down to
Kent and Carter Kent, who would bring the brainless log of wood that is Carter along with him, wherever he went. His options were:
a) Stick with his original alliance and bring in Skupin and RC to vote out Pete, a strong competitor and one half of a power alliance
b) Jump ship and join Kalabaw in splitting the vote between Penner and RC, ensuring that either a man who looks like he ate the Jonathan Penner from Survivor: Cook Islands or a girl who will struggle to get votes in the finals because her whole tribe hates her will go home
I actually think Penner is very handsome, I’m just being snarky to illustrate why I don’t think it was important for Jeff Kent to vote out Penner this week. Like I’ve said already, I think Jeff Kent’s decision has put him at the bottom of a new alliance. Abi and Pete are tight. Artis seems to be very close with them as well. So Kent will get, at best, maybe fourth? But Lisa is still a factor, and Malcolm and Denise, and Carter. So his number could be much lower, like seventh. I think he had a better shot with the veterans.
I’m disappointed that Penner is in this situation. He was very smart to play his idol, and not just because it did end up saving his butt. He was able to sense that he was at least getting a few votes at Tribal Council. Even if things had gone his way, it would have been the right move to play it. Better safe than sorry. But now he is 100% on the outs, and he doesn’t have the protection of the Hidden Immunity Idol. I really hope he wins that necklace next week.
In the end, only two people voted for Pete – Penner and RC. I understand why Denise and Skupin went along with the majority, but I wish they hadn’t. Skupin, Denise and Malcolm voted for Penner. If they’d voted for Pete instead, he’d be out right now. It’s too difficult to say, I think, if that would have been a better strategy for them…but I would have preferred it as a viewer. RC seems like she would have been a great player if she’d just ended up on a tribe that liked her, it’s too bad she was out so soon.
I’m disappointed, but this was a great episode that has set the course for an unpredictable season. What do you guys think?