Guest Post: Survivor Ep 9 – “The Facts Of Life” by Blair Warner
JStar has sacrificed part of his christmas break to complete his recap on episode 9 of Survivor Philippines. There is no episode of Survivor on tonight (Christmas night).
Survivor 9: “The Facts of Life” by Blair Warner
Previously on Survivor: Loose Lips Sink Ships, Penner somehow pulled off a Houdini-like act and saved himself from definite extermination by winning his first ever individual immunity challenge. [Okay, let’s just overlooked how “convenient” the challenge was puzzle-based – playing directly into the strength of this season’s Puzzle King]. Back at camp, Gollum Jeff was hissing that the other veteran, Cotton Wool, had to be removed from the game lest he stole his precious win. Sick and tired of being seen as a strategic-lightweight, Blair embarked on a bold plan to blindside her ally Malcolm, which would have worked if she was aware of the depths of the bromance between Team Jacob and Malcolm. Confused and upset that his bosom buddy had a hidden immunity idol that was not shared with him, Team Jacob told Malcolm of Blair’s plan to blindside him. However Team Jacob did not want to see the back of his BFF and so he hatched an alternative plan to take out Gollum Jeff. But with ten minutes before everyone had to leave for Tribal Council, Toothpick Jeff got wind of the plan to oust him and he embarked on a last minute scramble to secure a majority-alliance vote to take out Team Jacob. Confused? So was everyone at Tribal Council. Blair was immediately outed for her scheming and a target was painted on her back by Bella-Latina for trying to backstab their ally, Malcolm. And to top off a chaotic Tribal Council, both Malcolm and Abi-Maria revealed that they had hidden immunity idols and that forced everyone else to openly strategise and target somebody else without naming that person outloud (in case the idol was played for that individual). Somehow throughout the confusion, Gollum Jeff was voted out and he cursed the day that Obama was elected to tax his and the other 1%’s earnings to be utilised on such unnecessary “discretionary purchases” like education, healthcare, and law enforcement. Gollum Jeff needs all the money he can get to afford the best medical advice and treatment for his injured knee that multi-millionaires can buy.
Night 22, and the Dangrayne tribe return to camp to digest the events of that crazy Tribal Council. Cotton Wool is ecstatic that Blair made her big move to save him and that resulted in Gollum Jeff being voted off tonight. However, Skupin clearly was not paying attention to anything Bella-Latina was blabbing about at Tribal Council when she told everyone that Skupin was on the outs of the original Tandang alliance. Whilst Cotton Wool ponders how voting for Gollum Jeff, instead of Pete (as he promised Kalabaw he would) somehow benefits his long term strategy, Abi-Maria decides to remind him why he is the fifth wheel in the Tandang five-person alliance. She confronts him about the vote he threw at her at Tribal Council but is actually left speechless for a change in this game when Penner intervenes and confesses that it was his vote. He explained that he was pissed off at being left out of conversation about a “Plan B” and decided to enact his “Plan F U” by throwing a vote at her direction so that Bella-Latina knows that she isn’t as safe as she likes to believe she is. Later, during a major debrief with Stoner Carter about what happened at Tribal Council, Penner is left to ponder the realisation that his throwaway vote to Bella-Latina may have been the reason behind Gollum Jeff’s demise.
“When the world never seems, to be living up to your dreams”
Elsewhere, Blair is confronted by Malcolm regarding her outing of his idol to everyone else. Because Blair is a hardcore Christian, she is a quivering mess when she is confronted by the Son of Matsing. She is fearful he is about to go all Old Testament and rain fire and brimstone on her. Much to her surprise, she is shown “grace and mercy” by Malcolm who tells her that he understands she was playing the game as hard as he was. He bears no ill will towards her. And this, my loyal readers, is the first of many teary confessionals from Blair regarding her struggles to reconcile the Facts of Survivor with her beliefs. It’s okay Blair. Many people before you have tried to play the Christian game only to be burnt at the stake at the end – [cough, cough, Coach and Crazy Brandon Hantz].
Upon returning from the quick intro break, it is the next day at the Dangrayne tribe – (Day 23) – and given that all the hot chicks in bikinis have been voted out, the producers have no choice but to utilise the season’s greatest orator, Fat Penner, as the default Greek Chorus Narrator for the rest of this episode. Penner knows that unless he pulls another Houdini-like act at the next immunity challenge, he is gone. [I am reminded by his quote in Episode 5 when he indicated that being two people down at that stage of the game may be insurmountable odds for him to overcome. So unless something changes, Penner is indeed toast tonight.] Penner observers that the split at Tandang is between the bullying villains in the Axis of Evil (Team Jacob, Bella-Latina, Angry Bird Artis) and the Mammas and the Papas (Blair and Cotton Wool) who are desperately trying to play a “straight-up Christian game” as much as possible. He knows that his only chance to remain in this game is to somehow appeal to the hearts of these hardcore Christians for them to go against two-thousand years of animosity and vote with their conscience by siding with a Jew. [And if Penner somehow manages that feat, he will be appointed as a special envoy to negotiate peace in the Middle East after this season finishes screening in the US].
“There’s a time you gotta go and show, you’re growing now, you know about the facts of life; the facts of life”
Penner sees Blair gathering the laundry out on the beach and he approaches her. He asks her how she is feeling and she immediately dissolves into tears. Blair is upset that she betrayed people who liked and trusted her and that is not sitting well with her. [Seriously!? For someone who is a self-confessed fan of this show AND lobbied to be cast, did she not expect to do a bit of deceiving to win this game?] Penner tells her that he thought she argued her case to flush out Malcolm’s idol logically and articulately. He could see that she was trying to make a big move and protect her alliance by telling everyone to vote for “Plan B” after Malcolm revealed he would use his idol last night. He tells her that everyone knows she was just playing the game and that she should know that she isn’t hated by everyone else for doing so. She is respected and loved by everyone in this tribe.
By now, Blair is in tears so Penner presses deeper, skilfully trying to manipulate her vote as well as reassuring her. What we witness is a Masterclass in Dr Phil. [Denise, are you taking notes? You’re clearly not the only therapist on the island who knows how to reduce grownups to a quivering mess on television.] Because Penner is himself a former actor (who has appeared on Seinfeld and The Nanny), he can relate to the insecurities he is seeing in Lisa and the inner struggle she is going through. He tells her he knows what is like to be constantly judged by others. He knows that she has struggled in the past by people questioning her on her weight gain or whether she is good enough for any role or whether she is pretty enough. Penner tells Blair that he knows the pressure of being the breadwinner for the family; trying to do anything to please others just to secure a job. He can tell that only now on this island, away from all things she is familiar with, she is starting to deal with years of being a doormat in every facet of her life.
Although Lisa has been reduced to a blubbering mess, she has enough sense to realise that on some gameplay level, she is being manipulated by Penner to change her vote at the next Tribal Council. However, she admits in her confessional that he absolutely understood her. She has lived her entire life as a “pleaser” and has done things, both on and off stage, just so that she can please others and be liked and to get the love and attention she craved for. So for Lisa, the question for her is can she survive people not liking her and judging her negatively if she chooses to do things for herself rather than what other people want or expect her to do.
“The Return of Grindr: Part 1”
We come back from the commercial break and it is Reward Challenge time. Dimples greets the nine remaining contestants in his powder-blue cargo shirt and beige cargo shorts along with his latest Survivor cap fresh from the gift shop. After receiving positive feedback from the gay community after the infamous muddy ball reward challenge, Mark Burnett has heeded the calls for more Hot Tamale Train and today we will be witnessing the sequel to 50 Shades of Gay. Dividing the tribe into two teams, one member of each tribe will race through a muddy obstacle course, up a wooden A-frame that eventually slides down into more mud. From there, they have to race towards a specific muddy pit where four sacks are buried containing muddy balls that need to be retrieved. Once a bag is retrieved, the contestant is to crawl through a sandpit of rice before putting the sack of balls onto a wooden frame. When that is done, the next person will go out on the obstacle course. Once all four bags have been retrieved, the team will then have to remove the muddy balls from its muddy ball sack and shoot them through a netball-like ring. The first team to score all twelve muddy balls through the ring will win. The reward today will see the hot, sweaty, and muddy winners “give and receive” a special prize. [Despite this challenge not having even started, it has gotten so OTT inappropriately suggestive!] The winners will be whisked away to a local village where they will have a feast cooked for them by poor fishing villagers whilst they act like UNICEF ambassadors and hand out school supplies (written in English), toys, and sporting equipment to the local children. Everyone is beaming ear to ear so you know the editors are going to milk the manipulation big time when the gifts are given to the kids. Get your hankies ready.
We aren’t shown how the teams are chosen but it is selected down Tribal lines. The Yellow (Tandang) Team consists of Cotton Wool, Blair, Team Jacob, and Angry Bird Artis vs The Red (Kalabaw) Team of Penner, Denise, Team Edward, and Malcolm. After gaining a personal best by the last episode in competing in her third consecutive challenge, Bella-Latina was not chosen and Dimples takes GREAT delight in sending her to the bleachers to sulk in the knowledge that she will not get a chance to participate in the reward today. [In past seasons, the person not chosen could nominate a team that he/she thinks will win and if that team won, that person would share in the reward despite not doing anything. Given that Abi-Maria has sat out of so many challenges, it is only fair she learns that there are no free rides in this world].
And so it begins, the sequel to 50 Shades of Gay. It is one of those challenges where Dimples does not even need to say anything because the entire challenge itself is so suggestive. The male contestants have removed their shirts and are baring their naked torsos in anticipation of Mary Murphy’s piercing screams. The challenge begins and the returning contestants are leading out for their respective team. Cotton Wool and Penner crawl through the mud to reach the wooden A-Frame. Cotton Wool has a slight lead over Penner and after climbing to the top of the frame, he slides down, head-first, into the mud. [Yup, no doubt another injury.] Both men scramble towards the muddy pit to find a bag of balls. Cotton Wool found his first and proceeds to dive and crawl through the rice and place his ball sack on the wooden frame end point. At this stage, Penner had found his first bag of balls but he wants to be liked more on his Grindr profile so he proceeds to dig around and hunt for the remaining ball sacks. Blair is next out for the Yellow Team on the course whilst Penner is still searching for his remaining three ball sacks. He locates all of them and yells out to his team mates that he has placed the bags in the corners of the pit. A very clever strategy – (which was later revealed on Twitter as Stoner Carter’s idea during the strategising group huddle). By the time Penner has completed diving through the rice and reaching his wooden frame end point, Blair has already swallowed a mouthful of mud by sliding face-first down the wooden A-frame into the mud.
Team Edward is next out for the Red Team on the course and he flies through the mud and up the A-frame. Blair is really struggling as the mud is pulling her down like quicksand. However, she managed to quickly locate the hidden balls in the mud pit and proceeds to crawl through the rice with her sack of balls in hand. And here we see how Penner’s location of the remaining ball sacks have paid off as Carter just jumps into the pit and runs to one corner to retrieve his balls. He dives through the sandpit of rice and overtakes Blair and reaches his wooden frame end point before her. Denise is next on the course and she races through the mud and scampers up the A-Frame. By now, Blair finally gets through the rice and collapses onto the wooden frame end point sending Team Jacob next out on the course for the Yellow Team. Although Pete makes up some time, the Red Team’s excellent strategy pays off as Denise quickly grabs her sack of balls and dives through the rice. Malcolm is the last person to leave on the Red Team and he again proves what a major physical challenge threat he is as he dives, climbs, and flies through the obstacle course. He grabs the last remaining sack of muddy balls and easily dives through the rice to reach the wooden frame end point. Team Jacob is left to flounder in the mud, which only raises Mary Murphy’s scream to aeroplane-take-off decibel levels. Now that Dimples whipping girl of Katie was cruelly removed from the game by those who did not appreciate her red bikini, he takes this opportunity to bag out Team Jacob for his inability to locate his balls in the recesses of the filth he is in. Finally, Team Jacob locates his missing balls and dives through the rice and reaches Cotton Wool and Blair. Angry Bird Artis is the last person to set-off on the obstacle course for the Yellow Team but by this stage, the Red Team has removed all their balls from the sacks and has commenced shooting them into the netball-like goal. Because Denise is a sex therapist in real life, she is the most experienced in holding balls in her hands. She takes it upon herself to be the team’s terrier; retrieving all the fallen, muddy balls and placing them into the hands of the men so they can continue scoring.
In the background, one can spy Bella-Latina still sulking on the bleachers and not even paying any attention to what is happening in the challenge, given that she is not eligible for any reward. By the time Artis locates his sack of balls, the Red Team have scored three goals. By the time Artis somehow manages to crawl slower than Blair through the sandpit of rice, the Red Team have scored six goals. Dimples is yelling out that this is turning out to be a blowout, and it is. By the time the Yellow Team have removed all their balls from the muddy sacks, the Red Team have scored ten goals. Make that eleven as the Yellow Team commence to throw all their balls in the air, hoping one of them will score. And then the Red Team get the yips. No one can toss the last ball through the hole. Everyone tries but no one is successful. Before you know it, the Yellow Team have just scored six times pretty much courtesy of NBA Pete. Although the editing tries to make it look like the Red Team will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the “good guys” prevail when Malcolm finally scores the last goal for the Red Team. Naturally there is jubilation with the winning team. Dimples sends the former Tandang tribe back to camp with nothing by his disdain as the winning Red Team get to “give and receive” the reward with others at an off-location village.
“Do They Know it’s Christmas Time?”
Almost thirty years ago, Bob Geldof (he of the one-hit wonder from the Boomtown Rats) brought the plight of starving children to the masses and every Christmas since, we have been assaulted on the radio with that damn song from Band Aid. Whilst we are digging into our Christmas dinner, let us be reminded of any residual guilt in watching Survivor and seeing poor villagers welcome muddy foreigners (dressed only in bathers) with open arms and generous hospitality. We see Denise commence dispensing the hula hoops to one girl and then Denise is led away by the rest of the children by hand. [Behind her, that poor child who was given the hula hoop is torn into shreds by the other ravenous children wanting a piece of that shiny, plastic toy].
Penner is moved at how friendly and welcoming all the villagers are – not realising that they probably can’t believe that these foreigners had the gall to arrive in their village without having a bath or a shower first. We see Penner try to explain that his name of Jonathan is a “normal” name back where he comes from. The kids promptly christen him “Normal” as they excitedly whisper that the stories are true about how fat foreigners are. Penner engages in a local version of piñata whilst we also see Carter engaging in a non-speaking game with some other kids. Malcolm tries to put on his smooth charm by finding out the marital status of some of the girls in the village. We hear Malcolm explain more about the year he spent in Micronesia teaching elementary school kids and how today’s experience has made him realise that he is wasting his life back in California by pouring beers and picking up hot chicks at the bar. We get a glimpse of Denise being kidnapped by the local women and forced to help cook today’s feast for everyone.
The feast of fish, prawns, crabs, sucking pig, and many exotic fruits and vegetables is brought out. Penner does his best to avoid the friendly overtures from the locals in sampling the suckling pig for lunch. Thankfully the locals apparently had local beer on ice handy as we see them brought out to our foursome so they can begin to strategise about their next move in a drunken stupor. As the producers bring in the military to restrain the children (lest they interrupt this important strategy chin wag), everyone chats about how Penner is the next target. However as Keanu Reeves Carter sleepily points out, the key at this important juncture of the game is to get Cotton Wool and Blair on board as they would shape which alliance moves forward and which gets picked off. Denise advises that everyone has to be gentle with Blair and Cotton Wool lest they seek their answers in the game through non-stop praying sessions. Malcolm confirms that Cotton Wool was treated poorly by the others from what he saw when he joined Tandang. Denise (like everyone else watching) cannot understand why Skupin would want to stay with people who don’t like him so that he doesn’t appear to look like a traitor. She believes he would get more credit with flipping than staying with people who don’t like him due to some sense of misguided loyalty.
Back at Dangrayne, Team Jacob and Artis are lamenting about the loss at the Reward Challenge. Being the brains behind the Axis of Evil, Pete knows that in order for his alliance to move forward, it is important for him to keep Tandang as a tight alliance of five. Although he wants to see Cotton Wool voted out soon, he is prepared to suck some pride and work with both him and Blair to rebuild and solidify that trust to take the original Tandang members to the final five. He suspects (correctly) that there is stronger loyalty from Cotton Wool and Blair towards the original Tandang members so Pete’s task is to make them not feel so much on the outs. Unfortunately for Team Jacob, he did not factor the variable of Hurricane Abi into his strategy.
Since Abi-Maria made her Axis of Evil alliance after the blow up with RC over the hidden immunity idol clue, her entire strategy so far is to rub it into people’s faces that she is in the controlling majority and if you dare try to talk back, she will shout you down. RC learnt the hard way and poor Blair is about to learn that same lesson. Bella-Latina tells Team Jacob that if Penner doesn’t win immunity at the next challenge, he must be voted out. Everyone there (sans Skupin as he is probably somewhere down the beach being treated for yet another injury) agrees with this however Bella-Latina wants to make a point about how pissed off she is at Blair’s attempt to make a big move in the game during the scramble for votes at and during the last Tribal Council. She turns around and tells Blair that she is basically crap at playing the “double agent” and that she sucks big time at playing both sides because she is naïve and gullible. Artis is shocked and is trying to calm the situation down but Abi just keeps on running her mouth. He confesses that he thinks Bella-Latina needs to stop running her mouth about and putting other people down as it might affect the bigger picture. [Everyone else watching at home is equally shocked that Artis has been afforded a rare confessional where he chooses NOT to angrily bag out Skupin]. Lisa pleads to Abi if she can get her point across about why she wanted to oust Malcolm’s idol but is shut down by Bella-Latina who is intent on making her feel stupid for daring to play a strategic game. So Abi-Maria rams it down Blair’s throat (because apparently she is stupid and needs to be shouted at as a teaching tool) that the five Tandang members need to stay strong and vote out Penner as no doubt the former Kalabaw tribe and Malcolm will target either herself or Team Jacob. By voting Penner off, it will further all of their interests in the game and they can easily pick everyone else off one-by-one.
“Suddenly you’re finding out the facts of life is all about you.”
In Blair’s confessional you can see how she takes a different route to Bella-Latina to reach the same conclusion in agreeing to vote off Penner. Blair, like Team Jacob, is disappointed not to win the challenge but was looking forward to having the original Tandang members solidify their loyalty to one another for a final-five alliance. But Blair feels she is caught in a major bind now after making such a grandstand at the last Tribal Council where she preached about loyalty to Tandang in sticking together and keeping Cotton Wool around. She is sorely tempted to switch over to Kalabaw because of how terribly Bella-Latina has been treating her today but she knows by flipping, she will look like a major hypocrite and will only serve to make enemies for her on the jury. Blair is at a loss at what to do and she must have spent the next 24 hours fretting over her dilemma of betraying people in this game for a million dollars because there was clearly nothing worth showing on Day 24 for the viewers to see.
“The Return of Grindr: Part 2”
Day 25 and we head straight into today’s Immunity Challenge. Dimples shocks everyone by greeting them in a non-cargo black shirt that is buttoned all the way to the top! Dawson will NOT be happy when seeing this at home. To continue to tap within the lucrative “pink dollar” demographic, today’s immunity challenge will consist of more sexually suggestive overtures. The challenge today will have the contestants holding onto an oversized paddle on a stand. Each contestant will then attempt to roll black balls down the paddle and balance them on one of six spots on the end of the paddle. The first person balancing all of his/her six black balls on the end of the paddle will win. [Being a sex therapist in real life, Denise knows a thing or two about balancing black balls in her hand. She is super happy with this challenge. She knows that her only real competition is Artis due to her belief of his expertise in also being able to balance black balls in his hand.]
Challenge starts and it is immediately clear that Denise’s confidence was completely misplaced. She sucked at balancing her balls. In fact, everyone sucks at this challenge. You would think a group consisting of two hardcore Christians, a sex therapist, and young male Gen-Y’ers would know how to balance balls in one’s hand? Either they all universally suck or this is one poorly thought out challenge. Eventually, Cotton Wool manages to prove that his entire time on this island has not been to provide comic relief in injuring himself. He manages to balance one of his balls on his paddle. He is closely followed by Team Jacob. No one else has managed to land one of his/her balls on the paddle so it quickly becomes a two-horse race. Cotton Wool manages to take a lead of four balls to two but is reeled in by hot-shot Pete. Skupin manages to stick his fifth ball which completely freaks out a very inadequate Pete who promptly loses grip of two of his balls from his paddle. Thankfully, this boring challenge ends quickly with Cotton Wool sticking his last ball in the spot and he wins his first ever individual immunity idol. He is naturally over the moon with this turn of events (along with Angry Bird Artis as it means the tribe can finally get rid of that evil fat hobbit Penner once and for all).
Returning back to the Dangrayne beach and Penner knows he is dead meat. He is a dead man walking. He needs to scramble. Bella-Latina notes that she would personally like to keep Penner around longer as he is fun to have around at camp but she knows he is dangerous. Cotton Wool, on the other hand, she could barely care less about but knows she needs his vote in this game for her alliance to remain strong. However, that doesn’t mean she is going to let Cotton Wool off without feeling the wrath of her vindictiveness. We see this hilarious scene where Cotton Wool is lying down next to Malcolm chatting whilst Abi is trying to break open a coconut with her machete against a tree. The coconut comes flying off the machete and smashes on top of Cotton Wool’s head. Skupin’s streak of remaining injury free for more than two consecutive episodes comes to a screeching halt.
Elsewhere a rebellion is afoot. Abi-Maria and Pete know that Penner is going to go home tonight unless either Cotton Wool or Blair flip. Team Jacob is trying to calm her down and not let her blow up and give Skupin and/or Lisa another reason to flip. Over amongst the rebellion forces, we spy Denise having a strategy meeting with Malcolm and Keanu Reeves about the vote tonight. Denise states that if Abi-Maria was to play her idol, she would most likely give it to Team Jacob. So tonight, they will vote for Artis to break up the Axis of Evil as they suspect Bella-Latina will never protect him with her hidden immunity idol. However, they all know that tonight’s result rests entirely on Lisa’s and Michael’s vote.
“It takes a lot to get it right, but you’re learning the facts of life.”
Dr Phil Penner is sitting in shallow waters with Blair and he proceeds to attempt to manipulate her once again over her dilemma about perceptions. Penner is a writer in real life (an Academy award nominated writer) and he loves nothing more than telling a story and getting the maximum entertainment value out of it. That’s what makes him such an entertaining character on television. Penner knows that like all actors, they always want to be seen as the characters that people can cheer for and relate to. Penner asks Lisa to put herself in the position of the viewer when judging how they will be seen. He says that some people will be viewed as good guys/underdogs (Denise/Malcolm/Penner) whilst there will be others characterised as villains (Axis of Evil Trio). He tells her that people will indeed see her as wonderful for wanting to be loyal to those she promised to be. However, the audience will want her to be the “fulcrum character” and will cheer if she chooses to switch her allegiance to the good guys/underdogs. [Although we, the audience, are being manipulated by the same sleight of editing trickery, there is no denying Penner’s logic. We all want him to stay longer and for Lisa to do the right thing tonight with her vote]. However, it is obvious to the audience that Lisa’s struggle with her inner demons is characteristic of how she has viewed her entire life within the prism of other people’s views on her and how she ought to behave. If she votes with Tandang tonight, is she doing so because she has this pathological need to please others ahead of what she truly wants?
Penner knows he has to plant seeds within both Blair and Cotton Wool to survive tonight’s vote. We later see him chatting with Skupin and Malcolm. Penner recycles his shtick to Skupin, telling him that he “is the fulcrum vote.” He tells him that if Cotton Wool wants to make a big move in the game, tonight is it. He can guarantee himself a Final 5 spot. Denise, Keanu Reeves, Malcolm, and Penner will all be voting for Artis tonight. We hear Cotton Wool confess that if he was to make a big move tonight, he needs to ensure that Blair is also both aware and on the same page as they have had a secret Day 1 alliance with one another. [This does explain why Blair was so adamant in trying to save Skupin during the last episode by telling everyone to keep Tandang strong and flush out Malcolm’s idol.]
Blair and Cotton Wool are swimming together in the ocean before having to leave to go to Tribal Council tonight. It is clear that Blair is considering being Penner’s fulcrum character but she knows that if she flips, her whole spiel about “remaining loyal to Tandang” will hurt her and she knows her game play will be characterised as “wishy-washy.” Skupin points out that they have a choice tonight of staying with a group they could go further with or staying with a group they would rather play the game with. If Blair is concerned about loyalty, she shouldn’t discount the fact that she and Cotton Wool have remained loyal to one another from Day 1. However, should they continue remaining loyal to those who are not loyal to them? As Blair points out in her confessional, if she continues remaining loyal to Tandang and it turns out that the Axis of Evil have no intentions of remaining loyal to her, will she be the “naïve and gullible” person that Bella-Latina accuses her of being? Blair’s inner demon struggle remains as we head into a commercial break knowing that tonight’s Tribal Council vote will be extremely pivotal for the two alliances vying for dominance in the game.
Tribal Council time and Dimples is in a serious mood as he has brought out his blue cargo shirt with the white-details along the stitching. And he is wearing cargo pants tonight with his thongs – (his thinking woman’s crumpet attire)! RC struts in tonight in yet another flattering short dress and heels combination (drawing more scowls from Bella-Latina) and she is followed by a sedated looking Gollum Jeff rocking his 70s porn moustache look. As per the rules of every Tribal Council, Chatty Carter will not be asked any question lest he puts viewers to sleep with his voice.
Dimples starts off by asking Blair what the fall-out was for her after the last crazy Tribal Council. She admits that there was fall-out but it was all internal – (which draws snickers and surprised looks on the jury members). She explains that she thought she would be ostracised but instead was surprised to see the grace shown towards her by everyone who recognised she was trying to clumsily make a big move in the context of a game. Dimples presses Blair further to give herself more rope and she obliges by admitting that she received more grace from the people she was going up against rather than from those she was trying to protect in her Tandang alliance. She says that this may be indicative of maturity on the part of the Kalabaw tribe where there are also bigger Survivor fans there who can appreciate her gameplay.
Bella-Latina looks like she is about to explode and Dimples picks up on that scowl of hers. He asks her what she is feeling and honestly, it must have taken Bella-Latina all of her strength not to pick up a coconut and smash it in Blair’s face. Abi-Maria states that she thinks she showed grace towards Lisa’s gameplay but is not happy that Lisa did not think so. Knowing that he has further opportunities to bait Bella-Latina further, Dimples moves on to Artis and ask him on his thoughts on tonight’s vote. Artis states that because Tandang has the numbers, his alliance will be picking the carcass of Kalabaw tonight as per the rules of Pagonging written all the way back on Season 1 by Richard Hatch. But Denise wants to bait Artis (along with sending a message to both Lisa and Michael). She says that it would be foolish to remain comfortable in this game as big moves are always being made. [Denise just let the cat out of the bag and no matter how unlikeable the Axis of Evil are, they aren’t stupid]. Artis immediately chimes in that he is aware he may be blindsided anytime in this game and that he doesn’t want people to think he is 100% comfortable in this game. Although Team Jacob will not be shown answering any questions tonight, the look on his face indicates that he knows something is up tonight and he is worried. Penner just confirms his worst thoughts when he casually mentions that tonight everyone will find out whether the votes have been tipped towards his favour or not. [By this stage, the Axis of Evil are glaring at both Blair and Cotton Wool as they know these two may be showing signs of wavering.]
Dimples goes back to questioning people about Blair’s attempted big move at the last Tribal Council. Observant people would have noticed Skupin stating that he loved Lisa’s big move as it was for the benefit of the whole of Tandang tribe “at that time.” Blair admits that she is struggling playing this game as she cannot divorce her emotions from her gameplay. She is finding playing this game a huge life changing experience and she is learning more about herself in 39 days than she has in 39 years. This confuses both Penner and Team Jacob as it is not clear from this answer which way Blair will actually vote tonight. Both Penner and Denise admit that they know Penner is in trouble tonight and that although the core Tandang alliance do not believe there has been a shift, they are both hopeful that the game will be flipped tonight. Upon hearing this, Bella-Latina states that she now is worried about the numbers tonight. When Dimples questions her further about who exactly she is worried about, Bella-Latina has no hesitation in telling everyone that she has concerns about Blair. [Just before anyone votes, Bella-Latina cannot stop mouthing off. She gift-wraps a wavering Lisa a final reason to change her vote tonight and side with Kalabaw]. Blair exasperatedly explains that she is tired of having her loyalty questioned constantly by Bella-Latina – (which draws knowing laughter from RC at the jury bleachers as she knows what is like to be at the receiving end of an unfounded accusation from Bella-Latina). Blair states that maybe now is a good time to hear the doubts from people in her alliance who question her loyalty as it will give her food for thought prior to voting. [This is just music to Penner’s ears. Even Abi-Maria knows her mouth may have just blown it for her Tandang alliance].
As Dimples pointed out, for the third straight Tribal Council, a lot of people will be entering the voting booth tonight not exactly confident with the outcome of tonight’s vote. It is time to vote and we see Team Jacob vote for Penner not because he is a returning player, but because he is a great player who is dangerous. We also get to see Denise vote for Artis because she knows “the selfish mess that is Abi will never give him the idol.” (Ouch!). And to cap off the fact that RC is loving telegraphing her feelings about people whilst as a jury member, we see her pull a face as Abi-Maria walks past her on the way to the voting booth. RC now joins such illustrious expressive jury members such as Courtney (Heroes vs Villains) and Eliza (Fans vs Favourites). No other votes are shown. Dimples calls for anyone to play the hidden immunity idol. Everyone looks towards Bella-Latina and Malcolm but no idol is played. Smirks all round on both Denise’s and Artis’s face. Someone’s confident smirk is about to be wiped away shortly.
First vote is for Artis (Denise’s vote) and he is surprised to see that he is the target tonight. Next vote is for Penner (with “sorry” written on it). Next vote is for Artis. Next one is for Penner (Team Jacob’s vote). Next vote is Penner. Penner again and Malcolm, RC, and Gollum Jeff are resigned to the fact that Penner is about to be voted off as clearly Blair and Cotton Wool have decided to remain Tandang strong. Or have they? Dimples slowly picks up the next parchment and reveals the seventh vote to belong to…..Artis. Eighth vote is for….Artis and by now everyone is really unsure as to whose name will be on the final parchment. Both Penner and Artis take deep breaths and close their eyes. And the next person voted off Survivor to become the third member of the jury is……Artis (with what looks like an illustration of a steaming pile of poop drawn next to his name). Penner is immensely relieved. RC gives her best Eliza impression with her shocked expression from the jury bleachers. Bella-Latina, Team Jacob, and Blair are equally shocked as well with the final vote. For the sixth consecutive vote, there has been a blindside at Tribal Council. As Artis goes to retrieve his torch, Bella-Latina looks over to Skupin and he refuses to give her any eye-contact, staring off in the distance. She then turns to look at Blair, who meets her angry gaze right on and eyeballs her back. Bella-Latina then turns to look as Artis gets his torch snuffed out, with her face close to exploding into a ball of razor blades. As Artis leaves, you cannot wipe the look of absolute joy off RC’s face who grins like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. Penner and Denise are also delighted at the turn of the events. Conversely, the look on Pete’s face indicates that he knows he is in serious trouble now. When the votes are revealed to the audience at home, we see that Lisa did vote to remain loyal to her alliance but it was Skupin that turned (and drew that picture of the steaming pile of poop next to Artis’s name). Judging by Blair’s expression at Tribal Council when the votes were revealed, she was definitely not aware that her ally, Cotton Wool, was planning to betray Tandang.
So what to make of Artis in his Final Words? Are we going to see him throw a tantrum like Gollum Jeff did in the previous episode? To everyone’s shock, Artis is actually calm during his Final Words speech – (must have been given a chill pill to swallow by the medics before fronting the camera). He congratulates Penner for pulling the necessary votes to save himself in the game. He bears no ill will to anyone because he recognises it is a game. [Where the hell was this Artis during the entire game? Why are we getting Gracious Artis now when the editing has only concentrated on Angry Black Man Artis?] During the Ponderosa clip, all we see is Happy and Nice Artis who actually has a personality AND bright-yellow bumble-bee clothing. Why the hell didn’t he wear those clothes during his time on the game? Everyone else was forced to wear at least one item of clothing that was yellow.
We learn more about Artis at Ponderosa than the 25 days he spent in the game. Apparently Artis is a cancer survivor. Who knew? All we saw was an angry man who despised Cotton Wool, which incidentally exit interviews confirm that Artis still has not patched things up with Cotton Wool although he won’t say what the reasons were for their falling out. Best part about the Ponderosa clip was Artis’s arrival at Ponderosa. Only Jeff is waiting to greet him. Artis walks towards RC and waves at her and she gets up, picks up her plate of food, and walks to the other side of the room. As Artis is being checked out by the non-qualified medics (where he is told he lost almost 20 pounds), RC admits she is pissed that Skupin finally turned with his vote to save Penner when he wouldn’t do it for either RC or Jeff. And for the rest of the Ponderosa clip, we see that Gollum Jeff is still miserable being stuck at Ponderosa with RC’s annoying laugh. It is also interesting to note that RC makes a point of letting Artis knows she dislikes him intensely as she refuses to acknowledge his presence at all, even going out of her way to sit at different breakfast tables. [They must have eventually patched things up as they now follow one another on Twitter but still, there is some karmic pleasure in seeing RC get even towards those she perceived to have bullied and ostracised her during the game].
So who will be voted out next? Well everyone knows the result since I am an episode behind with these recaps. Still, there’s no denying that this was yet another Tribal Council where Bella-Latina put her foot in it but this time, it has now come to bite her back on her booty. Will the Axis of Evil find a way to escape the likely fate that will befall them? Is anyone else looking forward to the showdown between Abi-Maria and RC back at Ponderosa? Will Cotton Wool make a concerted effort to remain injury free for the rest of his time on the show? How many times will Blair break down and cry during the next episode? After eating the villagers out of house and home, will the inhabitants of the poor fishing village now be eligible for UN food drops? Find out all this and more on the next exciting adventure of Survivor, now with 50% more black balls.