'Survivor: Philippines' 2012 – The Biggest Blown Opportunity In The History Of The Game?

November 8th, 2012 12:23pm EST

Survivor: Philippines Last week, the tribes merged to form a new tribe, Dangrayne. Jonathan Penner knew he was in trouble. He played his hidden immunity idol, saving him from the vote, but leaving him in danger of the next. RC, with no alliance but Mike Skupin, was voted off.

This week, Penner’s normally relaxed personality is gone, as he struggles to find a place within the new tribe. The people he trusted – Denise, Jeff Kent, Carter – admit they voted for him, to further their own game. He is furious, and vows that he will win immunity at the next challenge. Jeff Kent is still determined to get rid of Penner. Skupin, sure he’ll be gone right after Penner, tells Penner they need to watch carefully for the next person who screws up.

Lisa sees clearly that both Penner and Skupin are ‘walking dead men.’ Everyone is fixated on getting rid of the two returning players. She feels that her alliance with Malcolm, Jeff, Denise and Carter is strong enough to flush out the unpopular players, Peter, Artis and Abi.

Jeff thinks Lisa is “so soft, so naïve, so nice,” that the two of them might be able to pull a “flip scenario.”

So the fragmented tribe enters the Reward Challenge, thoroughly divided. And are split into two teams for a water race, where they will swim out to buoys, release a bag of puzzle pieces, and then solve a flag puzzle to win reward – a river cruise through the jungle while dining on BBQ’ed ribs, potato salad, corn bread, apple pie, and lemonade and ice tea.

The race is close, but the team of Lisa, Malcolm, Penner, Denise and Jeff wins. Denise does a little wiggle dance of happiness.

Back at camp, Artis confides that the diet of beans and rice may not be the best, but he’s prepared to live on it for the rest of the game. Abi and Peter plot who they’ll get rid of next, but Pete worries that Abi’s big mouth and immaturity will get them in trouble. But Abi would be great to have in the final three, since no one would want her to win the game.

The group enjoying the BBQ lunch are happy not only for the food, but that the people they consider negative were left behind. Penner finds Abi, Pete and Artis tyrannical bullies. He wants to target Pete next.

Lisa has a revelation – she doesn’t just want to stay in the game, she wants to win. Although she would prefer to get to the final four with three other good players, she knows she has to be with players that will get less jury votes than her. “The same rules don’t apply in Survivor, as they do in real life.” It would make more sense for her and Skupin to go to the end with Abi, Artis or Pete, as they’ve made so many enemies in the tribe.

Lisa tells Skupin that Malcolm has a hidden immunity idol, and that they need to get rid of him right after Penner. If she and Skupin pull in Pete, Abi and Artis, they will be five against four. Skupin realizes that Lisa has got a plan that works for him. The only flaw will be if Penner wins the Immunity Challenge.

And Penner is determined to win immunity. And immunity is back up for grabs.

Probst greets the players, and tells them they will race over and under a series of obstacles, collecting bags of puzzle pieces as they go. The first three to cross the line will go on to the final round, where they will use those pieces to solve a snake puzzle. For the winner – guaranteed immunity.

Survivors ready? The race is on, and everyone works their hardest. It’s neck and neck as they vie for the finish line. Pete and Jeff are the first two to cross, with Skupin and Penner close behind. Penner throws himself at the line, and beats Skupin. In the puzzle solving round, Penner is way behind until suddenly finding his stride, and its nail biting time – but Penner wins by seconds. Penner wins immunity!

Penner is the only one overjoyed by his first ever win. Everyone else is furious that their well-laid plans have just turned to dust.

Logically, that would move Skupin up the ranks as the next to go. But Lisa throws a monkey wrench into the order by telling Pete that Malcolm has a hidden idol, and needs to be blindsided. Pete likes Malcolm, so he asks Malcolm if he does have the idol. Malcolm lies, saying he doesn’t, and Pete believes the lie. They now think that Jeff Kent should be blindsided. But Jeff thinks this would be a good time to vote out Pete. And Malcolm and Denise like the idea of losing Pete. Wait – I’m confused.

Pete now thinks that being a mastermind is harder than it looks, and Carter throws another spoke in the wheel when Jeff tells him Pete’s being voted out, by saying, “wait. I thought it was you being voted out.” Malcolm digs up his hidden idol just in case. Strangely, Lisa’s name is not even mentioned. Everyone is confused and frightened as they head for Tribal Council.

It only gets crazier at Tribal. Probst introduces RC as the first member of the Jury, and then gets straight into questioning how the tribe feels about returning players. Is Skupin on the chopping block? Skupin says he was worried, but things have changed at the camp. Malcolm admits he put his faith in “a little Texas girl and she threw me under the bus pretty hard today.” Probst is impressed that Lisa took charge. Lisa admits her whole plan, and how she schemed to get Malcolm voted out.

Probst points out that both the previous tribes have stayed together, but Malcolm is a pivotal player, with allegiances to both. Abi is incensed that Malcolm could be on either team; she admits that Skupin and RC were always on the outside, with she, Lisa, Pete and Artis as the dream team. When she doesn’t mention Malcolm, he’s hurt.

Lisa explains the game of Survivor to Abi, and that her plot was intended to make the old Tandang tribe stronger. “If someone has a hidden immunity idol, you try to flush it out or try to blindside them because they are a huge threat in the game.”

Malcolm’s had enough, so he decides to not only admit to having the idol, but to show it to the group, and tell them he’ll be playing it that evening. Probst half-jokingly asks “Anybody else want to reveal they have an idol and get it out?” Abi takes the bait, and displays her own idol. Everyone but Pete can’t believe her move.

Where can it go from here, but straight into awesome, as Penner publicly asks his group of six to vote against Pete, while Lisa tries to convince her old Tandang group to vote against Malcolm. Everyone’s head swings back and forth as though watching a tennis match. Probst admits he’s never seen a more complicated and entertaining Tribal Council. And it’s time for a vote ….

Neither Malcolm nor Abi actually play their idols. As Probst reads out the names, Jeff Kent and Pete are neck and neck, with one lone vote (from Penner) thrown to Abi. But the tribe has spoken, and it’s Jeff Kent’s time to leave the tribe.

“That vote may go down as one of the biggest blown opportunities in the history of this game,” says Jeff Probst, before sending the confused and disoriented group home.

Jeff Kent’s exit interview: “You know what pisses me off, is that I think I’ve made about $60 million playing baseball and I want this frickin’ million dollars and this game. And it’s not even a million bucks! It’s $600,000 by the time Obama takes it! I’m a Game 7 World Series loser. You know, I’ve played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world, but this just sucks!”

Next time on, Survivor: “How can we stay loyal to someone who’s not loyal to us?” asks Skupin. After being bullied by her alliance, Lisa turns to Penner, and could flip everything upside down. “Maybe it makes sense to go with the other alliance.”

Related: Survivor: Philippines, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Reality, TV Networks, CBS

© 2012

Photo Credits: CBS Broadcasting Inc.

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