Posts Tagged ‘Denise’

Survivor - Courtesy CBS

I’m not going to lie, my 3000-word Homeland post and the fact that it’s the last day before Christmas holidays means that I’ve had difficulty getting up the motivation to write about the Survivor finale, even though it was overall pretty good. I think it’s time to break out the bullet points. (If I call them holiday bullet points, does that make them any less lazy? No?)

  • Can the powers that be cut out the terribly boring trudge through the eliminated contestants and just make the finale 1 1/2 hours long instead of 2? Is there anybody who would actually miss it? Not only do I not remember half the people, nobody ever has anything interesting to say about them. “He was a good competitor.” “She was funny.” “I liked him/her, sorry they had to go.” Oh please, just put me out of my misery. This is what DVRs were made for. Start watching a half an hour late and then blaze right through that crap.
  • That was quite the elaborate reward challenge, wasn’t it? I liked the way the puzzle was set up. The reward of help in the immunity challenge seemed huge at the time, but I wonder if also getting a sandwich or something would have helped his hands be more steady.
  • Can’t believe how badly Malcolm performed during that immunity challenge. He seemed to have the weight of the game on his shoulders, but in the reunion, he said that his hands were just always shaky. Might want to get that checked out there, Malcolm.
  • Skupin skating into the final 3 with immunity definitely wasn’t expected, and it made him cocky. Not flattering.
  • Malcolm seemed truly heartbroken (on top of being pissed) to have been voted out just before the finals. I loved his futile vote for Denise. Poor guy. So close and yet so far.
  • Could this have been a more bland final 3? I went into the final tribal council not expecting much. Who could really get up much animosity towards these 3, I thought. Turns out, a lot of people.
  • All 3 final survivors had pretty weak arguments for why they deserved it more than the others – Denise’s was “I’ve been to every tribal council;” Lisa’s was “I started strategizing after my brother came!” and Skupin pretended that he was on the chopping block every time, even though he wasn’t. I wouldn’t have blamed the jury members if they’d left their votes blank.
  • In the end though, despite their anger towards her and her constant “appeasements,” the votes all went to Denise, except for RC, who apparently suffers from Abi-esque delusions of grandeur and claims to have pegged Lisa as a threat from day one and subsequently voted for her, and Carter who hilariously voted for “Skoopin.” I heard him say more words in a row in this episode than he had in the entire season, but I still didn’t get the sense that he had any idea where he was or what he was doing. Oh Carter, never change.
  • WTF were people thinking voting for Lisa as fan favourite? Poor Malcolm, denied again.
  • But don’t worry, next season is fans vs. favourites and Malcolm’s “I might be convinced to come back” was about as cryptic as Carter is the next Einstein. However, judging by his dejected demeanour, I don’t think Malcolm fared too well in the already-shot-season-26. Still, there’s always the chance that he could have a better poker face than I think.

So that’s it, torches out until next season. This year was that rare season where the gimmicks actually work so well that you almost forget there were gimmicks at all. But a returning player and a celebrity both made it to the end, and the 3 tribe experiment added so much drama that you know they’ll be pulling that one out again real soon. Hopefully they can continue their upward swing during the next 25 seasons!


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Survivor - Courtesy CBS

Really, all that needs to be said about this week’s episode is:


Of course, there is a bit more to it than that, but not much. Skupin won the reward challenge and opted to take (obviously) Malcolm and Lisa with him on a boat-and-pizza afternoon. While Skupin got drunk on sugar, Denise was stuck at camp looking for things with which to gouge out her ears to avoid having to listen to Abi talk for one more second. While on the boat, Malcolm apparently solidified his final three, telling Skupin and Lisa that he wanted to go to the end with them. This is probably a good move by Malcolm, but it seems like adding insult to injury to do so when Denise is suffering so badly alone with Abi.

At the immunity challenge, Malcolm stages an amazing “come from behind” victory by being the first to complete the maze even though he fell off the ladder and had to restart. Malcolm’s win seemingly cleared the path for an easy vote, but nothing is ever easy on Survivor, especially with Lisa playing. Abi starts telling her that she’s definitely on the bottom of the final four (probably not all that far off), and Lisa, as she is wont to do, immediately seizes on Abi’s idea of getting rid of Denise while she has the chance. She and Skupin chat it over and apparently decide to take this course of action. The threat to Denise is compounded when she goes to Malcolm and asks him to give her his hidden immunity idol, since it’s the last chance to use it and he doesn’t need it. For some reason (perhaps because he recognizes that Denise is his biggest threat), Malcolm refuses, saying he’s going to bring it home and give it to his mom to put on her mantle. Perhaps Malcolm was hoping that Lisa and Skupin would do his dirty work for him and he could get rid of Lisa without having to actually betray her.

Ultimately, Lisa flipped (or flopped) before tribal council or during Abi’s insanely annoying rant in which she continually called Skupin an idiot and a moron, Abi was finally sent home, and the final four that was agreed on weeks ago came to fruition. Now the real fun begins.

So: Will Malcolm complete his improbable run from worst tribe to sole Survivor? How many more times will Lisa flip-flop? Will either Lisa-Skupin or Malcolm-Denise break up, or will it come down to a 2-2 tie and a fire challenge to decide the final 3? Was Denise bitten by a vampire and how will she use her vampire skills to ensure herself a spot in the final 3?

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Survivor - Courtesy CBS

Let me just go on record as saying that I hate family visit episodes. The hysterical crying, the waxing poetic about how much their family members mean to them, all the talk about how it puts it all into perspective . . . ugh. I want to yell at them all to shut up. Maybe I have a heart made of ice, but I can’t help thinking how ridiculous these people are. It’s been a month since you saw each other and you’re going to be home in a week (not to mention, with the exception of Denise and her husband, I highly doubt that any of these people live with their loved ones still and, if that’s the case, I’d imagine they regularly go a month or more without seeing each other.) So just everybody calm down. Blah blah blah the stress of the game but seriously, you all look crazy. The family visit this time was made exponentially more annoying by the presence of Lisa and her angel of a younger brother, Justice. He didn’t even seem creeped out by her sobbing snotty tears into his t-shirt, so I’m left with the horrible realization that Lisa’s over-dramatic behaviour in the game isn’t quite as far removed from reality as I was hoping.

Anyway, the reward challenge starts up right away, and Malcolm and his goofy younger brother win a day together at camp. As was to be expected, Malcolm gets to choose other people to get to share in this joy and he chooses Lisa and Skupin (whose behaviour towards his namesake son – the “best human being I’ve ever known” – was second only to Lisa for its over-the-topness). I thought he made a mistake by not choosing Denise, but she didn’t seem to upset about it. And Lisa is a wildcard, so Malcolm rightly assumed that having her brother there would help her to avoid a complete meltdown.

What Malcolm didn’t necessarily count on is that Lisa’s brother would try and convince her to revive her earlier idea about blindsiding Malcolm. They bring the two Michael Skupins over to further discuss this idea, and then they form a surreal prayer circle to ask God to bless their blindside. Even though Lisa later said in a talking head that she doesn’t really think that God has the time to care about the outcome of a reality TV show, it’s pretty clear from their prayers and subsequent discussions that they think there’s a pretty good chance that he’s at least tuning in. They then have a surreal discussion about what Jesus would be like if he played Survivor, concluding he’d look like Malcolm and play like Carter, which is pretty weird if you ask me. Jesus could be a pretty harsh dude when he wanted to be.

Anywho, all these machinations turn out to be for naught when Malcolm wins immunity (Lisa/Skupin decide that God obviously has bigger plans with them in the final four). It was made especially sweeter by the fact that Malcolm didn’t even know he was in danger, and with his subsequent glee at realizing that he still has the hidden idol (which he’ll play next week) and is therefore guaranteed a spot in the final four. With Malcolm’s win, Lisa and Skupin abandon all thought of breaking up the decided-upon final four and discussion turns to whether they should get rid of Abi (who is still playing her fake “hidden immunity idol” for all its worth) or Carter. Although Carter makes a semi-coherent argument that if they get rid of him, they’d be going against their stated belief in keeping people around who actually deserve to be there, the four ultimately decide that Carter’s too much of a threat and vote him out. It probably wasn’t a bad move, really, since Carter almost won this immunity challenge and, as I’ve said before, had the potential to sneak in the back door of the final four by winning out. Still (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before) I HATE ABI and I WANT HER GONE, so I can’t totally get behind this move. At this rate, I’m worried that something really weird is going to happen and Abi’s going to be sitting at that final tribal council. While I know that she would have no chance at winning, I don’t think I could stomach the sight of Abi trying to explain why she’s deserving of the million.

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So, when I was watching it all unfold last night, I was pretty annoyed with the producers for essentially handing Abi immunity. Of course it’s possible that they’d planned ahead of time for the Survivor Auction to take place at this point in the game, and it’s not really under the producers’ control that the other survivors were too stupid to save their money for the inevitable “advantage in the immunity challenge” prize, but I do think it was awfully convenient that the advantage was skipping to the last round and that the last round was the only challenge so far that required absolutely zero skill. It made no sense that after two rounds of doing the rope maze thing, the final round was just untying knots. That reeked of last-minute producer interference and I hated it. In the end, it probably won’t affect the outcome of the game overall, but the thought of having to stare at Abi’s delusional face for another week is deeply unsettling.

Anyway, with Abi’s win came the inevitable focus on voting out Penner. Overcome with guilt, Lisa went to Penner and blabbed the whole plan, telling Penner that he is her heart connection in the game, but she just can’t not be a follower, so she’s voting him out. The more she cries and talks about how much bigger the game is than herself, the more I can’t help but see Lisa as the type of person who would easily get sucked into a cult. She might desperately not want to vote Penner out, but the mighty Malcolm and Denise have spoken, so she’ll do what they say. If their stay on the island was any longer, I have no doubt that she’d end up drinking some kool-aid.

Anyway, with Penner flabbergasted that his decision not to make empty promises basically sealed his fate, he scrambles and tries to convince Skupin to flip and vote with him, Carter, and Abi to take out Denise. He keeps scrambling at Tribal Council where this season’s trend of utter honesty continues as Penner tells everyone that there’s no way they’ll win if they’re sitting beside Denise or Malcolm, so the only move is to vote out Denise right now. The editors did what the could with Skupin’s hilarious facial expressions, but it was clear pretty quickly that neither Skupin nor Lisa would be able to think independently of Denise and Malcolm. Malcolm was even confident enough to not have to play his idol on Denise, even though Penner yelled out his vote as he was writing it down.

Here’s the thing with all of Penner’s scrambling – he’s absolutely right. I don’t think there’s any way that Denise or Malcolm doesn’t win and really, Malcolm probably has this in the bag. The final four might change – I still think Carter has a good chance of winning immunity to sneak into the final 3, but that’s about it. Abi might think she’s being super clever by telling people she has a hidden idol (in fact, I’m positive that she thinks she’s pretty much the best player to have ever played the game), but I don’t think anyone else is stupid enough to buy it. So, it should be Abi next week, then Carter/Lisa/Skupin. After Penner’s torch was snuffed, they cut to a shot of Malcolm and you could almost see the realization hit him – he’d gone from being on the worst tribe to winning the million dollars. He just has to ride it out for a few more days.

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After Skupin’s surprise flip last week, it was pretty much a certainty that this week would be decidedly less dramatic. Still, thanks to some skilful editing and some not-so-skilful players, even going into Tribal Council there was a 1% chance that someone other than Pete/Abi was going home. After a few seasons where there was clearly one dominant player who controlled everything from early on, it’s refreshing to have a season where there are so many people who see themselves as leaders and who, in fact, have acted as leaders at one point or another.

Post-Tribal, Abi decided to go passive-aggressive rather than apoplectic-aggressive. She shrugged off Lisa’s attempts at a cordial break-up conversation, and announced (seemingly at every opportunity) that she was no longer going to bother cooking. Her new strategy seems to be to just lay around, enjoy the next few days on the beach and piss everyone else off. In more recent seasons, this would have essentially punched her ticket to the final 3 (no jury votes!) but this season is different. This seasons’ players seem focused on only bringing people who deserve it to the final and that certainly doesn’t include Abi.

Since it’s obvious in the first act how the votes are going to go down at Tribal, the 6 non-Abi/Pete people take the opportunity to try and lock down a final 4. There are essentially 3 pairs – Malcolm/Denise, Lisa/Skupin, Penner/Carter. Malcolm and Denise approach Lisa and Skupin with a promise of a final 4, but Lisa says she trusts Penner more than Malcolm so they approach him. In a move that probably wasn’t very smart, Penner says he’d rather focus on getting Abi and Pete out before he makes any promises to anyone. In previous seasons (from what I understand), Penner was burned for making promises that he couldn’t keep, and he seems hellbent on avoiding that this time around by not making any premature promises. What Penner apparently didn’t anticipate is that his procrastinating sent Lisa and Skupin right into Malcolm and Denise’s arms, where they sealed their alliance with a supercool jungle handshake. Naturally, a lot can happen in the next few weeks to shake up that handshake, but things are looking pretty good for Malcolm and Denise in particular, thanks to Malcolm’s hidden immunity idol.

The Immunity Challenge was an impressively intricate rope maze that neither Abi nor Pete had any real shot of winning. Carter took home the Immunity necklace, and I’m starting to think that he’s going to sneak into the final 4 and maybe even a win. This was his second individual immunity, and as far as I can tell, he barely says anything (positive or negative) around camp. I wouldn’t put it past him to win out and force a breakup of that solid 4 alliance.

This time, though, Carter’s win just solidified the plan – 3 votes for Abi, 3 votes for Pete, whoever doesn’t play the idol goes home. Pete makes a last-ditch effort to convince someone – anyone – to flip and vote out Malcolm while they have a chance to blindside him, but he’s almost universally rebuffed in a hilarious montage. Penner in particular was hilarious, essentially telling Pete that he gets points for trying but that’s about it. It’s only once he gets to Skupin that there might be a sliver of hope. Instead of immediately rejecting him, Skupin listens, tells him he has some good points, and generally seems to be considering the move. Couple that with the fact that we’ve seen Skupin flip based on last minute decisions before, and the Tribal Council at least had some tension.

Jeff Probst took it upon himself to take what might be his last opportunity to go after Abi. Her cluelessness at both challenges (during the reward challenge: “Abi, are you clear on what’s happening here?” “No, not really”) and her cluelessness about general social interactions were at the forefront. She was apparently completely unaware that people hated her and thought of her as annoying. When Jeff tried to give her an out by suggesting maybe her problems with the other tribe members were because of cultural differences, Abi says she doesn’t think so because she has lots of American friends who like her fiestiness. It’s a ridiculous excuse in any case, because I feel like we’d hear about it a lot more if Brazil was filled with 200 million assholes. No, Abi’s bitchiness is just due to her inherent Abi-ness.

Despite the seemingly meaningful looks between Pete and Skupin during Tribal, the vote went down exactly how it was laid out in the first act. Abi played her immunity idol, and Pete was sent home. Next week, it’ll be Abi for sure, since there’s no way she’ll even come close to winning an immunity challenge. After that, the next real phase of the game begins.

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After last week’s bore, Survivor was back with a vengeance this week. Sure, the ending was the same (Matsing lost, yet again), but the journey was so much more enjoyable.

First of all, things are finally getting interesting at the other tribes. Some guy named Pete (who I swear last week was called Peter) has decided to “create a little chaos” by taking the hidden idol clue that Abi showed him and putting it in RC’s things where everyone could find it. Now Abi thinks RC is a liar, RC thinks Abi is even crazier than usual, and Pete is sitting happy in the middle. Even if there’s no immediate consequences, it was at least fun to watch and bodes well for the imminent post-Matsing future.

Meanwhile, at the red tribe, Jeff Kent, Penner, and some guy named Carter (who must have been dropped off on the island yesterday because he sure as hell hasn’t been on screen at all before then) have decided to form an alliance. The girls sensed this, and the girl with short blond hair, the girl who knows who Jeff Kent is, and the other one (who may or may not be named Dawson) formed their own counter-alliance. Once again, there are no immediate consequences but the game play is definitely ramping up on the other beaches. I only question the likelihood that any of these early strategizing sessions will matter, as I anticipate a full-on reorganization of the tribes once Matsing is decimated beyond repair. Jeff Kent and Penner might be solid now, but there’s a good chance they’ll end up on opposite tribes, so I’m not going to put too much stock into their (five-fingered!) handshakes. Yet.

Still, though, most of the time was spent with Matsing. Their desperation was palpable as they entered the immunity challenge, and, with Malcolm heading out first, they actually enjoyed a lead. This challenge was all about brute force, so the other tribes were at a definite advantage in being allowed to sit their three girls. Denise held her own, but Russell once again slowed everyone down. The shots of him collapsed feebly with his hand on the mat while Malcolm struggled like hell to break those rice pots was telling. As Jeff put it, he acts as though he’s Superman, but really, he’s just a man, and a man who’s bad at challenges to boot. The immunity challenge itself was one of the most entertaining ones in a long time. I loved the way it was shot, I loved the way Jeff kept yelling more and more frantically, I loved that it came down to a final shot between Jeff Kent and Malcolm, and I loved that Jeff Kent’s ball missed it on the way by and broke it on the way back. They didn’t show it, but I can picture an aside on the cutting room floor where Jeff Kent attributed his ability to win the challenge to competing for so many years in the pressure of the MLB. The whole thing was just thrilling and, for a second or two there, I actually thought Matsing might avoid tribal council for the first time.

Alas, it was not to be. The subsequent discussions around camp took on a really interesting dynamic. After the first few seasons when there was a final two instead of a final three, I can’t think of another time when three people had to sit around and decide who was going to go home. As Malcolm noted, every discussion between two people involved a promise to vote the other one out. At tribal council, Jeff forced all of them to make their case for why they should stay, but the tone was more joking than defeated. At this point, I guess you pretty much have to laugh to keep from weeping. Malcolm and Denise finally made the right decision and sent a bewildered Russell home.

The producers this week surprised me by not instituting a merge/reshuffling of tribes, and I hope this continues next week. I’d love to see what Malcolm and Denise accomplish without the deadweight Russell. I don’t know how a tribe of 2 would work, or how they’d figure out challenges (I don’t think they could sit 4 people from the other tribes, so they just might have to do target practice challenges where everyone rotates but it’s ultimately one-on-one-on-one), but it’s nice to know that, after 25 seasons, Survivor still has the ability to surprise.

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