Well, it had to happen eventually. With so many likable, skilled players left in the game, there was bound to come a time when two of my favorites would be on the chopping block before Tribal Council. A good player has been eliminated, but we can take comfort in that by reminding ourselves what a freakin’ awesome season this has been. So many twists and turns! Click through for a full recap.
So Penner is out. He fought long and hard, that guy. He should have been out weeks ago, but he kept working that blue-eyed magic to stay in the game. And while I don’t think his elimination was the best play for all involved (more on that later), it’s in large part his own fault. We all said it last week: Penner made a mistake when he turned down a final four alliance with Lisa and Skupin. He dilly-dallied, he didn’t commit, and they went elsewhere. That, unfortunately, sealed his fate.
Going once, going twice!
The Reward this week wasn’t so much a challenge, and, frankly, it was a downright walk in the park. The food auction is a classic Survivor element, but isn’t there usually a blind bid item that is totally disgusting? Worms or something? Every single item this time was worth bidding on. How dull.
When Abi and Malcolm went to get the Reward Challenge tree mail, she seemed to think the envelopes of cash might be letters from home. She broke down in tears, and Malcolm comforted her. While I do think he had some genuine sympathy for her, that kindness had to also be partly strategic. Abi is a jury vote, and if Malcolm makes it to the end I’m quite sure she’d vote for him.
Some people threw down a lot of cash right away at the challenge, and no one was smart enough to hang on to their dough to make sure Abi wouldn’t be able to buy an advantage in the game. Dumb and selfish. Denise blew $500 on the first item – pancakes, bacon and orange juice. Skupin gave up his wad of cash for wine and cheese. Malcolm bought some donuts, Penner a mystery item that ended up being delicious-looking fried chicken. Then things got interesting. Carter dropped $200 on a blind item. It was a baked potato, but he could give it up for rice and beans for the tribe. It was a decision easy enough that even Carter made the right choice. It wasn’t just rice and beans, it was an opportunity to make nice with the jury. Later, Carter bid on another mystery item that ended up being meat to share with the whole tribe in under 60 seconds. Lisa spent her money on a giant sandwich. And when Abi was the only one left with the full $500, she dropped the whole thing on an advantage in the game. No one could stop her. Pathetic.
Friends With Benefits
Abi might be rude, she might be delusional, but she is not the worst at this game. She’s not good, but she’s not the worst. Even though I can’t stand her, I had to commend her for at least trying to stay in the game. She took full advantage of her purchased note from the auction to try and make the others think it was a Hidden Immunity Idol clue. She tried to tell Malcolm she’d found it, to get him to align with her.
Now, if the rules of Survivor have remained the same, Abi couldn’t have a new HII clue because Malcolm’s Idol is still in play. And Malcolm didn’t seem to believe Abi, but he humored her. Not because he likes her – he compared Abi to a crazy ex-girlfriend who just won’t leave you alone. He entertained her proposals because it behooves him to be her only friend. She’s a jury vote. Malcolm is a smart player.
Abi continued on her charade at the Immunity Challenge by pretending her note had two parts. But really, it was just a simple advantage – she could skip ahead to the final stage of the Immuntiy Challenge, which was a series of three rope obstacle courses. Unfortunately, that took all the excitement out of the first two legs of the challenge. What mattered was whether Abi won, not who she was competing against.
There was a weird trivia element to the challenge that didn’t seem to add much to what happened. At the start of each leg, players would have to answer one trivia question. If you were wrong, you had to carry 5% of your body weight in a sack through the challenge. They didn’t even bother to show us what the second trivia question was, and overall it just seemed kind of lame.
Denise blew through the first challenge, followed by Carter, Skupin, Malcolm and, eventually, Penner. Only Lisa was eliminated. In the next round, Penner miraculously made it through first, and she was joined by Carter. They faced off against Abi in the final round. It was unfortunate for Denise, because she was right behind Carter. Had Abi not won that advantage, she would have made the final leg of the challenge and might have won. But it was everyone’s stupidity that allowed Abi to secure that prize.
The final leg of the Immuntiy Challenge was a real disappointment, especially considering how high the stakes were. Untie a series of knots, basically? Weak. So naturally, Abi won the challenge. I had a feeling, based on how the show was edited, that she would. But the fact that she won such a pathetic challenge really took all the excitement out of the upset.
With Abi safe for Tribal Council, the focus shifted to Penner. He’s still considered a huge strategic threat in the game, even though I think his chances of winning were a bit slim. I still think the two biggest threats are Malcolm and Denise and, while we’re at it, Carter wins or comes close to winning everything. Carter gave up his reward to feed the tribe. Carter doesn’t say much and might be a more likable candidate for a million bucks when sitting next to a veteran player. If Abi couldn’t be voted out, I was sure everyone would try to blindside one of those two guys.
But it all comes back to Penner’s mistake last week. Lisa was so upset about voting for her pal that she actually went and told him what was going on. Penner was angry, but I think he also recognized that he did make a mistake. He was defensive, but not committing to final four when it was offered to him was a strategic error, and I think he knows it.
Lisa wouldn’t go back on the promise she gave Denise and Malcolm, so Penner had to try and plead his case to Skupin.
Sigh. I had such high hopes for Lisa, but she’s too unwilling to get her hands dirty in this game. She has skated along, staying true to all her promises, and letting Skupin be the bad guy. I think that makes her more of a snake in some ways than if she’d been the one lying and backstabbing. If I were Skupin, I would not want to sit next to her at the end.
I felt the choice was pretty clear for Skupin. He could align with Denise, Malcolm and Lisa – three people who would likely beat him in the end. Or he could align with Penner, Abi and Carter – three people he could potentially beat. His best options would be to take either Abi, who is horrible, or Penner, who is a fellow veteran player, to the finals.
I was sorry to see that either Penner or Denise would be going home because they’ve both been great players this season, but it made for a good Tribal Council. Malcolm had another chance to show how well-spoken he is – the guy is a good player and definitely a threat at the end. Lisa and Probst shared a very awkward moment – Lisa went through a divorce right before leaving to film the show, and I think without a doubt it influenced her game play. But good for her for not spilling her guts at Tribal Council. Penner pleaded his case one last time, and I really did think Skupin would vote out Denise instead. But unfortunately, ol’ blue eyes was voted out of the game.
First of all, the exit. It was amazing – saying “I’m not hugging anyone else”, the “Keep your sunny sides up…and suck iiiiiiittttttt!” and the whistling? Hilarious. I love that guy. Second of all, “Denies”? Was that a play on words that I missed?
OK guys, time for y’all to hit the comments and tell me what you thought. I believe Skupin made the wrong decision, but Penner still has no one to blame but himself for this ousting. If he’d committed to a final four with Lisa, everything would have gone differently.