While this was incredible inter-personal relations on a reality show where such skills are vital, it was actually their second heart-to-heart which I found fascinating in a different way. It was the moment Survivor went meta. Penner sits with her and starts with this line, “I’m like a storyteller.” He asks her what story would she like this season to tell. Who will the audience be rooting for, and who they would root against. Will they see her as being loyal to the people they want to win, or enabling an alliance they don’t like. He wants her to help tell a better story. After picking away at her actress insecurities, he follows up by playing to her performer instincts. Brilliant.
But in the end, was it Penner’s schmoozing which saved the day? Well, it sure took the ball to the Red Zone, but Abinormal may have done the most damage to lead to the touchdown. While in camp as the defeated Reward group, Abinormal chose this moment to be unbelievably condescending to a woman 17 years her senior. Wait, Abinormal is 32 years old? First, she looks 10 years younger, so that’s good for her. Unfortunately, she acts 20 years younger. This is bad. For some reason, Abinormal does not realize that she should be kissing Blair’s ass right now. Her trio needs Blair and Scoopin’ right now for the majority. At F5, they could turn on them, but for now, you deal with it. This is Survivor 101 – you keep people around sometimes because you have to. What she is doing is pushing away a needed ally.
It gets worse. As previously stated, Lisa and Scoopin’ have been loyal to Tandang. However, during Tribal Council, Blair correctly states that she got more grace from the other side after the last TC than she got from her team. Abinormal bitchfaces that she thinks she showed grace. I don’t think that word means what she thinks it means. She then verbalizes how she doesn’t trust Blair. Penner says “amazing” out loud.
Incredibly, this treatment STILL didn’t sway Blair. As the votes were read, PBP/Abinormal/Artis votes for Penner are there, as is a fourth one. I instantly believed that was it because Scoopin’/Blair were a team. However, the fifth and deciding vote came down for Artis sending him to Ponderosa. That vote did not come from Blair – it came from Scoopin’. He and Blair did not coordinate votes here, or Abinormal’s final treatment for her teammate was just too much for Scoopin’ and he flipped right there on the spot. Either way, awesome.
And the correct move too. If they stayed, Blair and Scoopin’ would have been in the F5 as the likely Pagonging of Carter, Malcolm and Denise began, but they would be out at 4 and 5 barring an immunity win. Sure, if that happened, they would win a F3 vote against the others, but banking on an immunity win is very risky – especially with PBP still around. Now, they could come up with a viable scenario where they could cobble together a F3 alliance of their own – with Penner/Carter, with Malcolm/Denise. There are tons of options.
For the first time, in a long time, I can honestly say I have no idea who is going to make the finals this season. None. I know that if I had my way, we’d head into the season finale with a F5 of Penner, Malcolm, Denise, Blair and Scoopin’. But I don’t often get my way.
Also this week, we had two challenges. The Reward Challenge was an obstacle course involving sliding through mud, climbing a barrier, sliding down its back end, digging a bag of balls out of mud, and repeating three more times. Finally, tossing the balls into a tall, skinny basket. The teams were schoolyard picked and came out with Tandang vs. non-Tandang, with Abinormal not selected. She will not compete, nor win the reward – delivering cheap toys and supplies to a local village where they will be served a feast.
Penner and Scoopin’ are the first to hit the course, with Scoopin’ ahead. However, Penner does a brilliant thing which, if I recall, Ozzy did in Fans vs. Favorites. He spends extra time in the mud pit digging out all four bags. He leaves the other three in the corners for his teammates. In the second leg, Carter catches up to Blair who is stuck in the mud. By the time Denise and PBP hit the mud pit in the third leg, the Penner strategy takes hold and Denise/Malcolm blow out PBP/Artis. Their team sinks 10 out of 12 balls before the other side even begins to shoot. They make it interesting by all of a sudden being overcome by the Washington Wizards on the last ball, but they win.
Elimination Challenge – Not much to say here except I was disappointed with the lack of ball jokes from Probst. The Survivors all balance a giant paddle with about six depressions in the round part. They roll a ball to the end and have to get the ball to settle in the depression. Then another. Then another. Until all six have found their spots. No one could do this well except Scoopin’ and PBP. And while neck and neck, PBP lost control of his balls. Perhaps he should see a doctor. (See, that’s how it’s done) Thus giving Scoopin’ his first ever immunity win and he managed to do it without injuring himself.
Tribal Council – What’s left that hasn’t been said? It was all about loyalty. And blatant foreshadowing should you pick up on it – I did, but got thrown off course by that fourth Penner vote. Artis had a confessional talking about being able to relax soon, and then bragged at TC about Tandang being one of the best tribes ever. Koror hears you, Artis, and laughs in your general direction. Denise & Malcolm develop the correct strategy of going after Artis since Abinormal would never think to give him the idol, but she could give it to PBP. Call it the Edgardo Strategy. And we should have all seen it coming.
So Artis goes – and I think he may a victim of unfortunate editing. He seems like a nice guy – his outgoing statements were classy – but he just seemed angry on the show. Maybe it was just the horrible attitude of Abinormal and arrogance of PBP which was contagious.