Survivor: Philippines –Reunion – The Kissing Bandit

Denise has won, she celebrates with her husband and daughter and the group settles into their ranked seating. However, it must be stated that before the votes are read, Probst leads the cast, crew and audience in a moment of silence for the Newtown children and teachers murdered last week. One moment just doesn’t feel like enough respect – but that was a nice gesture by the show.

Denise is given just a cursory bit of attention from Probst – probably because she isn’t a dude or a 25-year-old hottie. She talks about having to constantly scramble as she bounced to three tribes and faced Tribal Council each time. Her toughest move to make was her betrayal of Malcolm – and betrayal is somewhat harsh, as he was moving to betray her at the same time. Probst asks her about her clients – a fair question, as the therapist-client relationship is pretty intimate. Especially a sex therapist. But she said that it has done wonders for her relationships – including frank talks on body image, religion and other deep feelings. And that’s all the attention our Sole Survivor gets in the reunion until she is handed a check at the end.

Why? Well, we surely needed to have Lisa Whelchel preach about herself, her religion, books she read and quote the friggin’ Facts of Life theme. I remember all of the past third place finishers getting such attention in the reunions – remember when Albert went on and on about philosophy? Or we learned just what Mick thought about religion? Or how Sugar planned on bringing about world peace? Or Becky’s thoughts on the designated hitter? Sigh.

Penner isn’t even given much to say or do. He talks about his inaction which led to his ouster and how he didn’t realize the end game was upon them. At the Final 7, he didn’t realize the end game was there. Maybe I overestimated Penner’s Survivor skills. He also jokes that he thought he and Jeff Kent were good to go early on – he shook his hand with five fingers twice. Heh. Kent explained that he was using Penner to deflect attention from him, and that the big problem was really Denise refused to go along with their plans. Her loyalties to Malcolm trumped her Kalabaw loyalties.
After Lisa/Blair jokes about Kent’s anti-Obama comments, and how the mil is really 600K, Kent doubles down by saying more now. How’s that Romney working out for you Jeff? Millionaires for billionaires – a great, winning political strategy. Whatever, he talks about competitiveness. Blah blah, I’m an athlete, blah blah, Barry Bonds sucks, blah blah I’m going back into obscurity unless I get voted into the Hall of Fame, which is doubtful because every baseball writer hates me.

Probst called Skupin “Mr. Magoo” which is hysterical. We see a montage of his accidents and speculate that if the fire incident hadn’t happened in Season 2, we may have seen more. He also gives Skupin the shattered mask from the early swim challenge – the one where Skupin dove in the water incorrectly and broke his own tribe’s mask in his face.

And then a huge section with Lisa. Religion. Blair Warner. A dubious remark about how her religion is about acceptance – which I am sure is news to the entire gay community. I’m officially done with Lisa, even if somehow Survivor fans thought she deserved the Player of the Season 100K. She wouldn’t have even made my Top 5 – Malcolm, Denise, Penner, Skupin, Abi.

Russell talks about how the rain was non-stop for three weeks, exactly as it was in Samoa. So, it’s HIS fault!! Dana mentions how she barely remembers her illness – she was foggy and delusional. Malcolm’s section includes him admitting that he knew once he saw it was the Micronesia balance challenge that he was toast. He could have had 100 chances and still lost. He gives us an explanation on how swagger is what everyone needs to catch fish. I don’t know, it was getting late and I was getting really, really bored with this reunion.

Abinormal actually appeared to be, well, normal. She jokes that if you were watching the show you saw why she needed a learning experience. She was abrasive and passive aggressive and needs to calm down. Speaking of needing to calm down, RC…let it go. You lost. Pete turned Abi against you and how were not able to recover from it. That’s happened in every season of Survivor. Except this all happened months ago – time to move on. I loved your laugh, your serious skills in challenges and well, the leopard bikini, but you really, really, really need to reel it in.

Probst hysterically leads into an Angie question by commenting on her heart, but as he does he reflexively puffs out his chest. Awesome. Zane said his proverbial car ran out of gas – perhaps due to the nicotine withdrawal. Roxy is yelling very loudly for no reason. Katie gently gets on Probst’s case for his constant callouts to her about bad challenge play. And might I add, why do the Survivor women always have to wear such insane amounts of makeup during the reunions? Is the lighting that harsh? Do they have amateur makeup artists working these shows? These are good looking women who turn the corner the other way sometimes due to makeup. And while I’m at it – didn’t it look like Penner was wearing Joker-levels of makeup too? But I digress.

Artis said he is not the angry black man he saw on TV. We’ll have to take his word for it. Carter was supposedly bubbly and talkative in his interviews. Again, we’ll have to take their word for it. Dawson did something that….WHOA she just rushed Probst!! This time, Dawson plants one right on the lips, and boy, she is really incredibly quick. That was incredibly funny. Probst feels obligated to mention his wife, which is not necessary. We all know that Dawson’s kiss didn’t put a magical love potion spell on him. And one hopes Mrs. Probst is not that insecure in her marriage that she found Dawson’s actions remotely threatening.

Next season will be called Survivor: Caramoan. It is also in the Philippines, but like many past repeat locations, it needed a new name. It is also going to be a Fans vs. Favorites season, a la Season 16. The 10 favorites’ names have leaked and I’ll mention them after the jump. If you don’t want to see them, we shall bid adieu now until February.

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And now for the spoiler…

Survivor: Philippines Finale – 25 Seasons, And A 24th Winner Is Named

Before I start – my mind has been just as distracted as everyone else’s in the last few days, and it has rendered my appreciation of reality TV muted. As the father of a six-year-old, my heart breaks every time I read a story or imagine the horrors felt by those beautiful children and their caregivers in their final moments, the lifelong wounds left on the minds of the boys and girls who walked away, and the untreatable tearing of the souls of the parents who have to come home to a room full of toys and no child. The whole nation hurts and it feels almost impossible to not hurt. As a dye in the wool Democrat, I couldn’t even watch my President deliver a beautiful speech last night because I knew I would be a bawling mess. I was stunned to see online the pathetic comments by some who wondered where their football was, or where Survivor was. Talk about priorities.

This is where my mind is and probably will be for a while. I can’t fathom the loss felt in Connecticut, only that I know if I was in their shoes, I would be ruined. But I am not. And you are not. And we need things like football games. We need things like Survivor to steer our minds away from evil acts and devastating loss and focus on who has won a million dollars by enduring 39 days on an island. We need to be distracted, because if we focus too much on those terrible moments in that school, well, it sure ain’t healthy. So, that said, I enjoyed three hours of Survivor last night and will now regale you with my pithy comments, sage insights and award-winning wit.**

**Never won an award

One thing is for sure after this finale…I was very wrong about the potential of a Final Two, but I was very right about a couple of other things. I thought up until that Reward Challenge that there would be a surprise twist Final Three. I really did. But once I saw a reward coming, I knew that the show had messed with the formula and would be spending two hours on one elimination and the jury vote. The rest was really just filler. To offset that, the Reward was going to not be food, or comfort, or the long-forgotten Car Curse Challenge (remember those?). It was an advantage in the final Elimination Challenge. I did not like that.

Personally, I am a purist with two challenges. The first post-merge challenge and the final challenge. To me, they should both be basic endurance challenges. I would prefer a classic Borneo hand-on-pole, or All-Stars hand-on-rock, or Palau balance on a buoy. I can live with the Tocantins ball challenge, or the Micronesia ball balance. This is good, because the Final Four here got to do the very challenge that ended Cirie’s chances for her likely win and earned Parvati the prize. However, thanks to his Reward win, Malcolm was going to have an advantage going into this challenge.

As it turns out, Malcolm suffers from shaky hands and really had no shot of winning this balance challenge. But that can’t be guaranteed. Someone, one day, is going to succeed thanks to the advantage if they keep this up, and I still think that this final ticket to the Finals should be a simple “how much do you want it” challenge. Not a “how much do you want it, but boy, it was lucky you won a different challenge” challenge.

So between this useless Reward, a seemingly-endless March of the Dead Survivors and a lot of camp filler, this episode dragged on and on and on – just as I suspected it would. Until the Jury vote, as this jury got its say. If you watched the Ponderosa videos, you knew this lot was going to be trouble. Usually Ponderosa is kind of fun for the jury – remember Coach/JT/Courtney starting a band? This group kind of just brooded. You knew it was going to be bitter, and everyone but Blair and Scoopin’ knew that they were not going to be well-liked.

You and I saw Blair and Scoopin’ huddling and doing strategizing and playing the game, but those scenes were not seen by the other Survivors. What did they see? Blair was crying every other minute and Scoopin’ wrecking his body every which way. How could they be considered a player like Boston Rob or Kim who manipulated events? Even if they really did in a lot of ways. Meanwhile, as every jury member saw coming, and which I (and many of you) correctly predicted, the third member of the Finals was going to win the money. Either Malcolm or Denise would win this game.