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Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Welchel’

While this week’s episode couldn’t possibly hope to live up to the craziness of last week, the surprise elimination at Tribal Council certainly let it hold its own. All in all, this is shaping up to be one of the most epic seasons of Survivor in quite awhile.

The fallout from the previous Tribal Council started immediately, with Abi immediately accusing Skupin of voting for her, and then seeming shocked when Penner revealed it was him instead. He said that he did it because he was pissed off at her, but it quickly dawned on him that he might have just royally screwed things up. If he had voted for Pete like everyone else on his side, Jeff Kent would still be there, Pete would be gone, and the balance of power would be on his side. Instead though, he was inexplicably out of the loop and left to scramble for his life once again.

I missed Penner’s previous season, but he is quickly revealing himself to be one of the best psychological players to ever play the game. He played fragile Lisa like a fiddle, commiserating with her about the pressures of child stardom, being a people-pleaser, and always wondering if she was good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough. It was brilliant really, the way that he told her that he knew she was worried about how she’d be perceived by the Survivor audience; although it’s still baffling to me, it’s clear that Lisa desperately does not want to be labelled a traitor or a liar or a backstabber. That seems to be the driving force behind her continued stubborn adherence to the  Abi-Pete-Artis alliance despite their persistent bullying. Hey, Lisa, if someone tells you every chance they get that you’re stupid, gullible, annoying, and guaranteed to get voted out before them, you are well within your rights to see if there are better options out there for you. Not only would I like her a hell of a lot more if she would flip and be instrumental in voting out she-devil Abi, I would have more respect for her because it would mean she finally stopped being a doormat loser.

All that psychological warplay happened before the reward challenge, in which the tribe was divided into 2 teams to complete an obstacle course. The teams were chosen thanks to a “schoolyard pick” (I really wish they’d show this happening one time – I think the goings-on could be quite illuminating) and the best part about this is that Abi wasn’t picked and as a result had no chance at any reward. Finally, some consequences to her “above-it-all” attitude and lack of participation in Immunity Challenges. I think Artis probably said it best when he noted that Abi seems to think she’s a genius at the game, when in fact, she’s totally clueless.

Anyway, the reward challenge was won by Penner’s team, thanks to an ingenious strategy where Penner dug up all 4 bags of balls from the mud so that all his other team members had to do was pick them up on their way by. I’m surprised no one thought of that one before. Anyway, their reward was to go to a village and give kids toys and enjoy a thank-you dinner made by the locals. I guess it was supposed to be heartwarming, but it’s really just emotional manipulation and it doesn’t add anything to the game. Plus, there’s something sort of icky about a bunch of white people who have been pretending to “survive” on the island going to dole out goodies to “natives.” I mean, they didn’t even wash the mud off of their clothes for heaven’s sake. I wonder what the kids really thought of these crazy westerners.

The immunity challenge was one of those probably-hard-in-real-life-but-really-boring-to-watch balance something games. Skupin won, apparently setting the table for an easy vote to eliminate Penner. On this season of Survivor, though there’s no such thing as a sure thing, and the scrambling around camp was in full force. Penner and the rest of the old Kabalaw decided their best move would be to vote for Artis, since Abi would never give the hidden immunity idol to him. She might give it to Pete, but not to him. At Tribal Council, Jeff was once again stunned by the obtuseness of Abi, as she admitted openly that she wasn’t sure she could trust Lisa’s loyalty. Penner couldn’t believe his luck, as Abi basically told Skupin and Lisa to vote against them.

In the end, Artis ended up with 5 votes to Penner’s 4, but it wasn’t Lisa who flipped, it was Skupin. I’ll say it again, I canNOT understand Lisa’s blind loyalty towards such terrible people, but with this vote, it seems like that won’t matter anymore. They should be able to pick off Abi or Pete next week (please God, let it be Abi) and then things will start to get interesting again. I think the reason that this season has been so great is because every 2 or 3 episodes, the status quo completely shifts – different people rise to power, different alliances form, and different concerns are brought forward. Whereas the previous few seasons have gotten stagnant in the middle as one dominant group steadfastly eliminated the weaker ones, in this season, even the dominant groups have severe weaknesses.

Next week: Lisa frets about how to “break up” with Abi. Hey Lisa, newsflash: you don’t have to break up with her, you just stop talking to her and stop voting for who she says. No breakup necessary, just stop being a puppet. I can’t wait!

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So you know how last week I went on a bit of a rant about how the result of Tribal Council felt like a big letdown because of the purposefully misleading/confusing editing? Well that was not the case this week at all. In fact, I think the castaways themselves ensured that there would be relatively little editing trickery that could be done, thanks to their mind-boggling honesty during Tribal Council.

So how’d we get there? After last week’s Tribal, Penner realizes that he’s “dead man walking” and comes back to camp making all kinds of grandiose statements about how he’s not going to just roll over and how he’s going to fight to the end. I was never a huge Penner fan, but he’s growing on me. Perhaps it’s because my dislike of Abi, Pete, and Artis is also growing and so everyone who’s not them starts to look better and better in my eyes. Penner and Skupin have a chat about how the best move is to just sit and wait for the cracks to form. There’s also an awful lot of discussion (mostly coming from Jeff Kent, but other players as well) about how much they don’t want the returning players to win. But in the same breath, they also talk about how they know it’s smart to go to the end with one of the Terrible Three, because they won’t get any votes. I wonder why no one is considering the fact that if they take the returning players to the end they won’t get any votes either. I mean, everyone wants them gone right? So who better to keep stringing along? Plus, the returning players are at least somewhat decent human beings. I’m not sure how you can see keeping Crazypants Abi, Douchebag Pete, and Whiner Artis over Penner and Skupin. Penner might be annoying and Skupin seems to be fairly useless, but at least they’re not going to kill you in your sleep or poison your rice and beans (I wouldn’t be able to sleep with Abi anywhere near me).

Anyway, the Reward Challenge pits the good guys against the bad guys (essentially) and the good guys win! The winners got to go on a leisurely boat cruise down the river, and it was nice to see people actually enjoying each other’s company for a change. Sure, Penner tried to talk a bit of strategy by pointing out that they should get rid of Abi/Pete, but that was mixed in with good food and what looked like lots of laughs, so it doesn’t really count.

The Immunity Challenge is when things really started to get crazy. Penner knew that he needed to win to keep himself in the game for 3 more days, and he played like a man possessed. I loved how his place in the final came down to a dive across the line to beat Skupin (who, by all accounts at that point, was next on the chopping block). In the final round (a puzzle of course), Penner started off slow but came roaring from behind to claim the victory and send everyone else into a strategic tailspin.

The first to take the leap was Lisa, who started sharing her knowledge of Malcolm’s hidden immunity idol with anyone who would listen. Apparently, Ms.-I-really-am-famous-I-swear(-but-shh-don’t-tell) is playing for keeps. Pete seems to believe her but for whatever reason is reluctant to actually vote out Malcolm (who could resist his smile and his flowing locks?). Malcolm is understandably both pissed at Lisa and concerned for his own survival, but it doesn’t seem like he was ever really in jeopardy. It’s hard to tell though, because there was so much strategizing in the final few minutes that it really seemed like no one knew exactly which way to go. At one point, it seemed clear that Malcolm was going to go along with Pete to vote out Jeff Kent, but then right before they left for Tribal, Malcolm also seemed to agree with Jeff Kent that the smartest move was to vote out Pete. There really were a few people calling the shots and the others just went between them, agreeing to every plan but not really knowing for sure who they were going to vote for until they got to Tribal. Again, I don’t think this was editing; I think things really were that chaotic.

And they only got more chaotic at Tribal, as an increasingly bewildered Jeff Probst tried to make sense of it all. Malcolm openly declares that Lisa threw him under the bus and voluntarily takes out his hidden immunity idol to show everyone. When Jeff Probst sarcastically asks if anyone else has a hidden idol that they’d like to reveal Abi, for reasons that I’m sure make sense in her own little universe – pulls hers out of her bag. No one seems to know what the hell is going on and it just gets crazier from there. Strategies are discussed openly and the options are laid out. The tribe either has to vote with Penner/Jeff Kent and vote out Pete, or they can vote with the Terrible Three/Lisa (apparently?) and get out Jeff Kent. Jeff Probst declared it one of the most complicated and entertaining Tribal Councils EVER, and Survivor fans Penner and Jeff Kent seemed positively delighted to have been a part of it.

Unfortunately, Jeff Kent’s delight is short-lived as his torch is snuffed, thanks to some bewildering votes for Abi along with Pete (I still have no idea how that all played out, to be honest). Also, no one played their hidden immunity idols! The shocked/panicked look on Malcolm’s face made it seem like he knew that he screwed it up and probably cost himself the game. If he would’ve given his idol to Jeff Kent (since it was abundantly clear by that point that Malcolm was never going to get any votes), then he could’ve gotten rid of Pete (chopped off the head of the snake, so to speak), then easily gotten Abi and Artis out, and been left with the gang of misfits and returning players to take his pick from. Instead, now he’s on the wrong side of the alliance and, if Abi doesn’t murder him in his sleep, he’ll likely soon feel their wrath at Tribal Council. Of course, as this week proved, nothing is certain in Survivor, but it still seemed like an awfully dumb mistake on Malcolm’s part.

One final thing – this whole season, I’ve been struggling (you know, as far as one can struggle when the struggle concerns a reality TV show of no actual consequence to one’s daily life), anyway, I’ve been struggling to reconcile Jeff Kent the jerk baseball player who I hate with Jeff Kent the Survivor player who I actually kind of liked because of his jerkiness and the fact that he seemed to be playing a really good game and didn’t talk about being famous all the time (*cough* Lisa *cough*). The toothpick was starting to get obnoxious, but I was actually kind of bummed that he got kicked out. And then . . . Asshole Jeff Kent made his reappearance in the final comments. I loved it:

“You know what pisses me off? Is I think I 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 seven World Series loser. I played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world, but this just sucks.”

You stay classy, Jeff Kent! Can’t wait to see what gems he comes up with as a member of the jury.

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Survivor‘s back! And this time, they brought back people who had to leave because of injury! AND there’s “secret celebrities” Lisa Welchel from The Facts of Life and SF Giant and notorious jerk, Jeff Kent. 5 “special” people, 13 regulars, 1 SURVIVOR.

Actually, this was a pretty fun premiere episode. There looks to be quite a few interesting castaways, very few jerks, and an awful lot of strategizing. Michael (he of the burned hands on Survivor Australia) commented that the instant alliances were new to him, and it’s true that somewhere along the line (perhaps in my 5-10 seasons of hiatus from watching the show), everyone decided that the only way to win was to make an alliance with the first person you set eyes on and stick with that until the end, come hell or high water. I’ve never been a fan of that strategy, mainly because it makes for boring television, but it’s going to take a miracle for any of the new players to divert from this apparently tried-and-true formula. Because, here’s the thing about Survivor – after 25 seasons, every single person who plays thinks that they are an expert. The three “returning” players think they have an edge, and some of the new players might play lip service to their supposed “advantage”, but what does this edge really amount to? They want to keep Russell around because he can fish and build a fire? Don’t need to have played Survivor to know how to do that. Plus, all of the returning players have obviously had so much smoke blown up their collective asses that they all honestly believe that they’re Survivor “legends” (as Michael put it). What’s refreshing is that, unlike in earlier seasons where they brought back people like Boston Rob, none of the new players seem all that starstruck. In fact, the plan across the board seems to be to keep them around as long as they’re useful and then cut them loose as soon as possible. I like it.

The other two “celebrities” both decide to keep their identities a secret, correctly deducing from earlier seasons that people don’t like it when millionaires win Survivor. I agree with Jeff Kent (never thought I’d say that) when he said that it shouldn’t be about who needs the money, but who earned it, but he’s at least realistic enough to know that that argument is unlikely to fly on the island. Of the two, Jeff is also definitely playing the best game. He’s secretive while interacting with the group. I laughed when he hurt his knee in the first 5 minutes but said it would be okay because he’s “played hurt his entire career,” but he did seem to do a good job of covering it up. While Jeff isn’t paranoid about being discovered (and really, why would he be? Unless there’s a die-hard Giants fan on the team, he hasn’t played for 5 years and he pretty much looks like an average joe), Lisa is sabotaging herself by expecting to be caught at every moment. It’s true, Michael recognized her, but no one else did. Probably no one else had even heard of The Facts of Life. I barely had, and it’s only because I know George Clooney got his start there. I’ve never actually seen an episode. Look around you, Lisa, these people weren’t even born during your heyday, so just chill out. Join the team, engage in conversation, and quit acting like you’ve got a deep dark secret to hide. I think Michael’s advice about just telling people was apt, but she’d have none of it. If the yellow tribe loses, she’ll be the first to go.

And yes, much like I haven’t learned many of the players’ names, I also haven’t yet bothered to learn the names of the tribes. Luckily, this is rendered moot since the producers helpfully got everyone to dress in colour-coded outfits so I don’t even need to see a buff to figure out who’s on which tribe. I wasn’t sure how the three-tribe thing was going to work out, but so far I really like it. With small tribes of 6 people each, you get a better feel for the dynamic and (almost) everyone got a decent amount of face time. There’s usually a couple of people who make it to the merge without me having any recollection of ever seeing them before, but I don’t think that will happen this time.

The only problem with 3 tribes is that the immunity challenges are a lot less dramatic. Watching people try to not lose just isn’t as exciting as watching people try to win. This is a minor complaint though, as I expect they’ll have to merge into two tribes within the next few weeks, once one tribe gets down to about 4 people. Russell Swan’s blue tribe lost, thanks in large part to his “I’m not a leader but let me tell you what to do” idiocy in which he refused to listen to people’s strengths and had runners doing puzzles and whatnot. He absolutely deserved to go home, and probably would have, if Zane didn’t think he was Russell Hantz 2.0.

I really liked Zane at first. He seemed wacky (dare I say it – zany?) but clever, and you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth next. Sure, it wasn’t that smart to run around making alliances with everyone and then tell everyone that you’ve made alliances with everyone, but he was convinced at the absolute brilliance of his gameplay. Plus, the other castaways didn’t seem to mind all that much, looking at him as kind of a harmless little puppy. But then, after the challenge, Zane pulled out some reverse-psychology type crap in which he said that he should really be the one to go, since he can’t run for shit (later revealing it’s because he quit smoking the day that they got dropped off on the island). He reasoned that if he tells people to vote him out, they won’t vote him out, and then he’ll know for sure that he’s running the game. I’m sure it made sense in his nicotine-starved brains, but everyone else on the team just took the easy out and sent him packing. Can’t say I really blame them, but I don’t know how much longer I could handle Russell’s abrasive brand of non-leadership. We’ll see if they regret their decision.

Other things to look forward to: Michael’s definitely going to cut his hand off or something right? I laughed out loud at that montage of him hurting himself over and over, and it’s clear that the fall into the fire was not an isolated incident of bad luck. Someone needs to just take the machete away already before he maims someone else too.

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