Tribal Madness

Last night's Survivor was amazing.  I've been rooting for Jonathan Penner from the start.  I just like the guy.  He's smart, and unlike so many people who get on the show, he's not playing for his ego-- he's playing to win.  He's there to take home the prize, not to make friends or get befuddled by new relationships.  I would love to see a season filled with nothing but people like him.  No models.  No ingenues.  Just strategic, calculating players.

Jonathan's back was up against the wall last night.  He needed a miracle to keep from going home, and he knew it.  The immunity challenge was a nail-biter from start to finish.  Only three people would qualify to move on from the initial stage, and Jeff and Pete made it in handily.  Jonathan got off to a mediocre start and always seemed to be lagging behind, but somehow he got his last bag free and literally dove over the line just ahead of Mike in a very dramatic finish.  In the final stage he once again had a poor start, looking completely lost amidst a sea of puzzle pieces while Pete and Jeff kept putting blocks into place.  It was thrilling to see Jonathan come from behind and nab his first individual immunity in three outings at the game, when he needed it most.

His win turned the game upside down.  With the convenient sacrificial lamb no longer on the table, everyone scrambled.  We had absolutely no idea who anyone was voting for going into tribal council.  And then things got crazier.  I'm loving Lisa Welchel in this game.  Everyone likes her, everyone views her as the innocent church lady.  But she's working it.  And she's doing it differently than I've ever seen it done before.  When she comes to tribal council, she lays everything on the table.  She spells out her entire strategy and line of thinking in front of everyone, just as sweetly as can be.  I think the only reason it hasn't backfired on her yet is because she's so weak at physical challenges, but I think after this tribal council nobody's thinking of her as naive anymore.

I understand why Malcolm revealed his idol.  The rumor mill was swirling, and he didn't know that he'd convinced Pete he didn't have it.  He felt that coming clean about it would save him for tonight, and maybe he could leverage the idol more effectively by revealing that he had it.  But there was no reason at all for Abby to show her idol.  As far as we know, nobody suspected she had it (other than her ally Pete).  Revealing it only put a target on her back.

I liked Jeff, but he only has himself to blame for going home.  He was fixated on getting the returning players out before him.  It was a completely irrational obsession.  He was Ahab to their Moby Dick.  Had he stayed with his original alliance he'd have been one of the top dogs, and he could have gotten rid of the competition later.  Other people wanted the returning players out-- they were meat shields for Jeff.  Instead he threw everything away to become the low man on the other totem pole, and they turned on him.  His last words only made me happy to see him go.

The aftermath from this tribal council should be fascinating to watch next week!



(loved the whole episode)

This episode was awesome! Jason has only been watching the last few season since we started with Heroes vs. Villains. He agreed that this was one of the best tribals ever because it was just so crazy.

I agree completely too that Lisa Welchel is amazing to watch. She went from a complete outsider about to get voted out to a scheming mastermind!!! I wonder what her ex-husband thinks watching her in this completely free environment. It's been fascinating too to hear her talk about her experiences with people based on her past acting and to be free to just be herself on this island because only Penner knows who she is.

This season has been pretty great. I'm hoping Penner sticks around! He certainly injects a lot of fun into the episodes. I love his voice, but it may just be because he sounds like Alan Alda.

My wife thinks he sounds like Alda too.

Jeff Probst made a comment at the end of tribal about this being a huge missed opportunity, and apparently he meant that Penner failed to capitalize on the chaos and put together a voting coalition to turn the tide. It looked like he really tried, though. Then again, I don't understand why he voted for Abi. In a tribal council full of uncertainty, that vote makes no sense to me.

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