After one of the most confounding Tribal Councils in the history of “Survivor”, our head is spinning around like Linda Blair in the “The Exorcist.”
Spared only by his Hidden Immunity Idol, Jonathan Penner returned from last week’s Tribal Council with a target so firmly on his back it might as well be a tattoo.
Could he possibly save himself? Let’s see how it all went down…
Tribal Council Postmortem
Although he really should have known better, Penner is devastated by his alliance’s betrayal and confronts Jeff Kent as soon as they return to camp. The anonymous MLB star doesn’t make excuses, insisting the “numbers weren’t there” and “everyone’s too wishy-washy.”
“They betrayed me — all bets are off,” gripes the vet. “I have no alliances, I have no allegiances…they are all ready to die.” (He sure made good on his word at Tribal Council, no?)
The 10 remaining Castaways compete in two teams for a barbecue feast aboard a jungle river cruise.
On the blue team are Skupin, Artis, Carter, Pete and Abi; the yellow team comprises Penner, Jeff, Malcolm, Lisa and Denise.
Lisa blows the yellow team’s early lead with her slow swimming, but then Denise the Amazing takes the lead again when Skupin struggles to release his buoy. Ultimately, though, it was former BFFs Penner and Jeff who overcome another deficit in the final stage, assembling a banner first to best Skupin and Pete.
The Haves vs. the Have-Nots
Back at camp, Pete loses his patience with Abi’s loose lips and paranoia, and tries to persuade her they should vote out Penner and keep Skupin around for a while — at least until after Jeff & Co. have gone home. Meanwhile, Penner pleads his case over ribs and cornbread and glows in the positivity of the other reward winners. Malcolm paints a more dramatic picture of Good vs. Evil, with themselves, Skupin and Carter waging a war against bad guys Abi, Pete and Artis. (Artis?! Can background scenery be “evil”?)
If anyone falls in the wicked camp, surely it’s Lisa, who’s suddenly become a “Survivor” strategist. We applaud the devout Christian for acknowledging that the competition “has different rules than real life,” but is it wise to make such bold solo moves? She obviously trusts Skupin, because the formerly nice Laundry Lady tells him about Malcolm’s Idol and suggests they blindside him. The majority, however, believe that Penner should be the next to go.
Immunity Challenge: Snake in the Grass
Only one Immunity Necklace will be awarded this week, and Penner knows if he’s not wearing it at Tribal Council, he’ll be joining R.C. on the jury. After racing through an obstacle course and untying three puzzle bags, only the first three finishers will move on to the next leg. Penner and Skupin are just inches apart, but Penner dives for the final spot with Pete and Jeff. He does it again in the next stage: Overcoming the other dudes’ early lead, Penner is the first to complete the snake puzzle — and wins his first-ever Individual Immunity.
“He’s just bought himself another three days of dead man walking,” grumbles Jeff — not realizing the magnitude of what he’d just lost.
Scramble at Camp
While Penner revels in his safety, the nine other Castaways are frantically weaving webs of deceit. Lisa shares the news about Malcolm’s Idol with Pete — who immediately confronts Malcolm, who apparently convinces Pete that Lisa is lying. When he admits he told Malcolm “they know” he has it, Lisa realizes her plan to blindside Malcoln is blown.
Meanwhile, another six-way alliance has formed between the two vets, Skupin and Penner, and Denise, Malcolm, Carter and Jeff. Although they all agree to vote out Pete, Carter worries Jeff when he reveals that the mustached man’s “name is in the mix.”
At R.C.’s entrance, Penner seems ready to join her on the jury bench, uttering a lechy “right on” while ogling the cleaned-up Castaway.
And so began what Jeff called one of the “most complicated and entertaining” Tribal Councils ever.
One by one, as if their water bottles had been filled with truth serum, the Castaways laid it all out.
Malcolm accused Lisa of throwing him under the bus, while she revealed her own scheme with Penner and Skupin. Abi was infuriated that Lisa would turn on Malcolm, their tribemate, and Lisa has to remind her that she was ready to vote out Skupin — their original Tandang tribemate.
Malcolm, deciding the jig is up, pulls out his Idol and announces he plans to use it. When Jeff asks if anyone else has an Idol, he receives a startling answer: Abi reveals her own Idol!
Jeff is speechless, so Penner takes this moment to directly address the group of six and discuss their plan.
“This is pretty fun, Jeff,” quips Jeff Kent, whose toothpick probably hasn’t seen this much action since the World Series.
The fun stopped after the vote: Skupin and Penner backed out of the Group of Six, so that Jeff received the majority of votes. Malcolm, who chose not to play his Immunity Idol, seemed just as shocked as the blindsided baseball star when Pete only received four votes.
(Penner had the last laugh, writing down Abi’s name, while Skupin turned on his own and voted for Jeff.)
After snuffing Jeff Kent’s torch, Probst chided the group: “That may go down as one of the biggest blown opportunities in the history of the game!”
The pro athlete’s humorous but heartfelt signoff is worth reprinting in its entirety:
“You know what pisses me off? I think I’ve made about $60 million playing baseball and I want this frickin’ million dollars in this game. And it’s not even a million bucks, it’s 600 grand by the time Obama takes it. I’m a Game 7 World Series loser. You know I played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world — but this just sucks. “