I'm just going to come right out and admit it: I have absolutely no freaking clue what happened on Survivor last night. Well, I know who won the challenges, who has immunity idols, who everyone thinks is evil, how many pairs of jeans Blair has (one), how many times I fell in love with Malcolm as he inadvertently flexed his abs at the camera (a trillion), and I know who went home but I am still not quite sure why he did. Yeah, last night's episode was absolutely nuts and it was awesome. This is why we watch Survivor people, and it's always at its best when anything can happen and everyone's in so much jeopardy that it's like 7 PM and Alex Trebek just said hi.
Everything started when Penner returned to camp after narrowly avoiding eviction with his hidden immunity idol. Now, if I was Jonathan Penner, the conversation would have gone like this: "What the flaming F)*@*()!$@ you guys? Aren't you supposed to be on my F)(%&!_#* team? Do you really thing these other F%&!*)($ people are going to keep you around and take you to the end? No. I was. I F*(%&@!*#& was and I came up with a whole plan and we had the F*$&!) numbers and all you had to do was vote with me, but noooooooooooo. FO!*%&$)! Jeff is so insecure in his manhood that he had to F&(*!&@%# get rid of me at the first chance he could get. Well, F*$ you, Jeff. F$%()@&*% you deep in your F!$*(& face." But that is not what Penner did. "No, what you did makes total sense, I get it. I understand you were right," he says. Everyone knows he was pissed, but he contains it. I give him credit for this, because screaming wasn't going to do anything but piss people off and give them another reason to kick him off, but I bet it would have felt really good.
Quickly everyone is off to the reward challenge, where they are divide into two teams and then swim out to get some puzzle pieces and then come back and put the puzzle together. Yes, it was basically every Survivor challenge in the history of Survivor. There was some digging though, so I got to see my man lover Malcolm getting down and dirty. Really dirty. I mean, it probably took him days to get all of that sand out of his crack. Oh, Malcolm, here, let me help you scrub down your back. Doesn't that feel good? Yeah, I bet it does. Wanna know what they're playing for? A cruise on a boat while they eat a bunch of BBQ food and corn bread and apple pie and other American cliches. Remember when the challenges were always like "Go off into the native village and eat what they eat," and we got to learn a bit about indiginous cultures and it was really interesting in an It's a Small World After All kinda way? Yeah, they don't do that any more. Now it's like, "Here is a Happy Meal from the Manila McDonald's. Chew on that, you fat American jerks."
Challenge, challenge, challenge; boring, boring, boring, and Penner, Blair, Denise, Malcolm (swoooooon), and Jeff go off on the Colonial Food River Tour Brought to You By Three Hour Tours, Crash Free Since That Gilligan Incident. Basically the only thing we learn on this is that Jeff looks like an ugly hog when he eats. Oh, that and that the "evil people" are Abi, Pete, and Artis and everyone is all afraid of them and think that they're mean and awful. Penner wants to exploit this because he knows that they all want to vote for him and send him home.
But this gives our beautiful Jesus-loving, gay-hating Blair an idea. She is no longer just along for the ride in this game, she wants to win, so Blair is thinking way past The Facts of Life and to the finish line. How does she get the $1 smackeroonies? By selling bread at Mrs. Garrett's bakery? No! By bringing people to the end who are awful. She tells Skupin that they need to get together with Abi, Pete, and Artis (a silent but vengeful god) and they need to get rid of Malcolm because he has the hidden immunity idol. Well, that is after they vote out Penner this week, which is an inevitability at this point. That is, well, that is a pretty good plan. I'm so glad Blair has finally come to life and is thinking about the end.
At the immunity challenge everyone has to jump over hurdles, limbo under sticks, unknot a bunch of bags containing puzzle pieces, and then cross the finish line. The first three over the line go on to the next stage, where they have to put their puzzle together. Somehow Penner gets himself across the finish line right before Skupin and goes up against Jeff and Pete for the immunity necklace.
Now is the part of the recap where I bitch about Jeff Probst. Jeff Probst loves Jonathan Penner more than itchy prostitutes love Vagisil. He just has a giant man-boner for this guy (which is why he's one of a handful to be brought back three times) and he will do anything to keep him in this game. At the beginning of the puzzle doing he said, "This could be a million dollar puzzle for one of you." Basically it was him saying, "Pssst, Penner. I love you. Do you want to get married? Well, if you don't want to get kicked off, you better win this freaking challenge because you're toast." Now, I'm not saying the challenge is rigged, but Penner won. He came back from behind twice and won the damn challenge. A man who has never once in his three times on the show won a challenge suddenly wins in the clutch. Yes, this makes for good television, but there was something about it that I just didn't buy. Was Probst telepathically giving him the answers to the puzzle or something?
Penner wins and absolute chaos ensues. I'm not even sure how to break it down. Everyone is scrambling and there are all these alliances old and new and it's sort of like watching a game of Musical Chairs except everyone is already sitting in the sand and CBS couldn't get the rights to any music, so it's just "Non-Musical No-Chairs" and someone is going home at the end.
Alright, so Blair goes to Pete and is like, "We need to get rid of Malcolm. He has the hidden immunity idol and he's a threat." Pete, like everyone else, doesn't want to listen to Blair. He goes to Malcolm and asks about the idol and Malcolm lies to his face and says he doesn't have it and that Blair is lying. Everyone believes Pete and Malcolm that Blair is lying.
Now that they can't oust Penner, the plan turns to kicking out Skupin, but somehow Blair (or maybe someone else, I don't know, I'm dizzier than a kid playing Pinata at this point) says they should save Skupin because they might need his vote later on. Instead, they should get rid of Jeff. See, Jeff, this is why you should have stuck with your original crew and drafted Skupin and RC. The last one an alliance is the first one out!
But then Malcolm starts worrying about his place in the tribe because everyone is talking about his idol and he gets a crew of six together to kick out Pete, which is a brilliant strategy because Pete is mean and a physical threat and without him Abi and Artis won't know what to do with themselves except stare at the ocean and get irrationally mad at things. As they're picking up their torches, Malcolmn gets Denise, Jeff, Carter, Penner, and Skupin into a new makeshift alliance.
This is usually my favorite part of any season, where the tribes crumble and some shifting occurs and everything gets frantic and unpredictable. If a player can wind up on top after this initial shuffle, usually she's good until only her alliance is left and then it's really every woman for herself. That is if the alliance that is made can calcify into something strong. This time, it was so intense that it didn't even end at camp, it continued on into tribal council. And any alliance seem so slip-shod that we're going to have to go through more Jerrymandering again next week (yes!).
I'm just going to say it: I usually think tribal council is boring. Everyone has already made up their minds who they're voting for and everyone just gives vague answers to Probst's leading questions. But last night. Oof! That was a hum-diggity-dinger.
We start with Blair, who is now like a serious power player, and she just comes right out and says, "We were going to vote out Penner, but then we were going to vote out Skupin, but he's too good an ally so now I want to kick out Malcolm because he's a threat and has a hidden immunity idol." "Does he have one?" Probst asks. "Well, I know there's been some gossip about it, so...yup," and he shows off the idol, which is the balliest move I have ever seen at tribal council. OK, give me a minute, I need to save the thought of Malcolm's balls. Then Probst asks, "Anyone else got one?" "Yup, I do," Abi says, holding hers up. So, all of that is out in the open now. That is good because Malcolm has an advantage now that everyone knows they have to vote him out twice to get rid of him. But it's also bad because he lied to just about everyone when he said he didn't have it.
Now there seem to be two different plans at tribal. Penner says, "I have six people and if they do the right thing, then this should all work." He means the Malcolm Six (which is usually used to refer to his abs, but not tonight) who want to kick out Pete. Then Blair says, "Well, I have an alliance too and they should stick to Plan B and everything will work out fine." She's talking about her, Skupin, Abi, Artis, and Pete kicking out Jeff. So, we have no clue what is going to happen. Who exactly are these alliances? Why Jeff? Does Penner think his six can really hold? Where the hell did Jeff get get a toothpick in the middle of the jungle to chew on? After all this drama about people wanting to kick him out and saying he was for sure going to play his idol, why didn't Malcolm play it? Are his balls really that big? Mmmmmm. Balls. I mean – So many questions!
Probst reads the votes and Jeff gets sent home. Say what? This was one of those nights where I had to watch the credits to see how everyone voted. Here's how it broke down. Artis, Skupin, Pete, Abi, and Lisa all voted for Jeff. Yes, Lisa's evil alliance actually worked. Malcolm only got four of the six votes needed with the old Team Lesbian (Jeff, Denise, and Carter) at his side. And Penner? Well, he voted for Abi. Why the hell did Penner vote for Abi, especially after his impassioned plea for the six to kick out Pete? Was he playing a double agent? Did he know that there was going to be a tie and, rather than vote Jeff off directly and injure himself with his old alliance, did he throw his vote away so that the other five could get blood on their hands? Was this his way to betray Jeff as Jeff betrayed him the week before? That's sort of what I'm thinking, but I really have no idea. I have no idea how we got to where we got, but I'm happy we did.
First of all, this is what Jeff gets for voting out Katie when he could have gotten Penner, but he was afraid to make a bold movie. Secondly, I'm glad that Penner outlasted him, proving his irrational fear of losing to Penner was well-founded all along. Third, what a jerk he was when he got kicked out. "I might have made $16 million dollars playing baseball, but I really want this million. And it's not even a million, it's only $600,000 after Obama takes his share." Oh my god, there are so many detestable things in this statement. Jeff Kent was a baseball player well known for his teammates hating him, but you never really saw that on the show. He seemed like a nice, even-keeled guy and a good, fit competitor. But what was he all along? A rich asshole fat cat conservative who doesn't want the government taking any of his money. (He also hates gays as much as Blair does.) So, good, Jeff, I'm glad you're going home. I may hate that Abi and hate (myself for being attracted to) Pete, but I hate you the most. And not for anything you did in the game, but what you said after it. I'm still not sure why you're gone, but I'm really glad you are.
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[Photo Credit: CBS]