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Survivor: Philippines – Premiere – The Strangest Game of Chess. Ever.

Tandang – The tribe consists of Skupin, Blair, Artis, Abi-Maria, RC and Pete. Quick review of the tribe – Hand Burning Guy, Blair Warner, Weird Cancer Survivor, Shakira Wannabe, Busty Banker, and Generic Pretty Boy. I will say that I was floored at how much RC resembles a high school friend of mine. She doesn’t agree with me – but I stand by my instincts. And, seriously, it is a complement to both of them. I’d have nicknamed RC after her, except it is rather hard to nickname someone who already has a nickname. She and Abi bond instantly as giggling hot women tend to do. RC wants to ally with Skupin and Pretty Boy, and Abi is all in with that. Neither seem to into Blair – and no one recognizes her other than Skupin. That’s a generation thing. My generation (I’m with Skupin) watched The Facts of Life as kids, and later on Nick at Nite. RC watched Friends.

Skupin wisely figures out that it is best to go with the flow of the tribe. This group is moving fast, and he needs to be part of it. He also didn’t want to take Blair out of the equation – doing a little Boy Skupin wish fulfillment in the process. However, she doesn’t want to reveal her secret, but in the process is putting herself on the outs with the tribe. Later, she is hesitant to shed clothes in the water, a la Cochran, which was another chance to bond with the younger ladies. No lies here – Blair is in trouble.

Meanwhile, despite his alliance set up Skupin is also in trouble. This is because the man is a walking accident. He is every HMO’s dream. He has stock in Neosporin. He hurts himself so much, Social Services has been called to investigate him. But seriously, on Day 2 the man who has returned to the game because of past injury managed to cut himself four times. As Pretty Boy said aptly, “We’ll see what happens when we have a fire.” Burn. Um, literally.
RC and Skupin are the budding season stars in this group, in my opinion.

Kalabaw – This tribe consists of Penner, Kent, Dawson, (That’s three last name nicknames!), Katie, Carter and Dana. Quick review of this group – Alan Alda in a Hat, Obnoxious Pro Athlete, Woman Who Lives Near Me, Other Hot Pageant Chick, Guy Who Said Nothing This Week, and Dana The Tattooed Lady. This tribe doesn’t have a lot of juicy moments this week, but we have two big social dynamics working. Everybody has ganged up on Penner, and Dawson knows baseball.

Penner is such an acquired taste, it is not too surprising to see the tribe gang up against him. He doesn’t have Boston Rob or Coach’s charisma, but he has their polarizing egos. And this tribe has chosen to treat him like Hantz in Redemption Island – get rid of the veteran ASAP. He is wise to notice this and to be searching for the idol. It may be one of those rare times (see Tom in Heroes vs. Villains) where an early play of the idol is warranted. He pulled the full Hantz and checked all of the obvious places, but then remembered the three things waiting for them at camp – the knife, the pot and an ornate rice container. He wisely checked the rice and found the clue – the idol is close by in camp. What he doesn’t know yet – it is in the rice container itself.

Kent hurt his knee – there is no doubt about that. The question is now if he can gut it out for 39 days. I have a bad feeling for him. He was ok during the challenge this week, but if he really did hurt his MCL, he’s in trouble. Meanwhile, his attempts to morph into an anonymous Texas rancher and motorcycle dealer has hit a snag. Dawson’s got some baseball knowledge thanks to her ex – and she knows exactly who he is. She is wisely keeping this to herself – no reason to get him to target her. Use this as a weapon later if she needs this.
I wish I saw Penner emerging as a star this year, but I have a bad feeling about this. More likely Dawson and Kent will be the top dogs – if Kent doesn’t have to be taken out because of the knee.

Matsing – The tribe consists of Swan, Malcolm, Denise, Angie, Roxy and Zane. Or to sum them up – Formerly Good Russell, Evil Genius, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Busty McGorgeous, Seminary Student, and Insane in the Brain. This is an INTERESTING tribe. It has it all – eye candy, a crazy leader, evil geniuses, drama, good play, bad play, and that’s WITHOUT crazy man Zane there.

Swan comes in with the right idea – don’t be a leader. Let some other guy do it and then “watch the dummy crash and burn.” Mr. Swan – perhaps you’d like this mirror for a moment. Because, you’re the big dummy. He can’t help himself and instantly starts falling into leadership mode. And it rubs the group the wrong way. The funny thing is – they SHOULD listen to him at this point. He knows what he is doing – Galu was a great tribe until he left. But Swan basically just put the target squarely on his back should they fail. And just wait for that one…

However, right away, they don’t fail. It seems that Malcolm is a natural at the surviving thing. He and Swan make fire without flint, and without the use of Yau-Man’s glasses. Zane stats that within 45 minutes they had fire. Malcolm is quite happy to let Russell be the front man, while he works it behind the scenes with the young ladies and Dr. Ruth.

Meanwhile, Zane is working his country charm on everyone. I mean it – we see him set up alliances with all of the women the same way Hantz did in Samoa. Then he goes the guys and says the three of them make the best alliance, and oh by the way, I have ones with all the girls too. Malcolm instantly goes to Dr. Ruth with that info – and smartly adds that Zane came to him last. Well, don’t that make him feel special. I didn’t give Denise much thought in my preview – I had her as an early boot – but I may have misjudged her. Her analytical abilities are spot on – and that could serve her awfully well in Survivor.

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