Survivor: The Fulcrum

Mean Girl

Bam! Wowza! Yeehaw! These are all incredibly cheesy words that can’t even begin to express my excitement over last night’s episode of Survivor. This season started out strong and just Keeps. Getting. Better.

If you’ve seen it, click on through for a full recap, and then head down to the comments and tell me what you thought of everything.

Miss Perfect

This episode was all about Lisa and Skupin in their positions as the swing votes, and I’ve got to say, I’m pretty disappointed in Lisa. I was so proud of her last week for attempting a big move, but then she returned to camp full of guilt, doubt and regret. Why? Lisa is a huge fan of this game and she obviously knows how it should be played. She is intelligent enough to play well. She’s letting her heart get in the way, but the people she’d be betraying aren’t even nice to her! In my book, anything goes on Survivor, including backstabbing your pals. But backstabbing the people who’ve been cruel to you for weeks? On Survivor, that should be easy for even the nicest of players.

It was funny to watch Penner realize that his anger-vote for Abi had screwed things up a little, but it wasn’t a bad thing that Kent went home and Penner’s vote would have only resulted in a tie. Now his mission was to pull Skupin and Lisa over to his alliance, and I think he did a stellar job.

The Facts of Survivor

Penner had a few heart-to-hearts with Lisa over the course of this episode. Early in the episode, they talked about her career as a child actor, her need to be liked, and how that’s affecting her game – and her life. It was a little too kumbaya for my small, black heart, but I knew that behind Penner’s kind words was strategy. He could be completely genuine in what he said, but his words were also strategic. He wanted Lisa to break away from her need to be seen in a good light and make the best move for the game.

Later, his speech about storytelling was brilliant. Just brilliant. He completely laid out how the season would be painted, which is impressive considering they were in the middle of filming. So often, you hear people say that they got a bad edit. It’s because in the moment, they think they’re doing the right thing or playing a good game. They don’t know what  the story of the season will be. But Penner knows, because he’s smart and he’s a writer. He knew what kind of character Lisa would be and he knew what kind of characters Pete and Abi would be. He knew the audience would root for Lisa to leave them in the dust. It was genius, and I was pretty sure he had her convinced. Alas, he didn’t.

Challenge Accepted

I’ve gotten way ahead of myself, so let’s talk about the challenges before moving on to Tribal Council. Both were really great this week, again.

In the Reward Challenge, two teams had to move through an obstacle course and then get twelve balls into the net. The teams picked themselves, and no one chose Abi. It gave me great joy to watch that selfish little brat have to sit out, with no chance of experiencing the reward. The teams felt a little uneven to me, but if it was a schoolyard pick then it was their own fault. The strongest four people in the competition right now are Malcolm, Pete, Denise and Carter – and three of them ended up on one tribe.

On top of a slight advantage in strength and speed, Penner’s intelligence helped give his tribe a huge lead. Digging up those bags of balls all in one shot allowed everyone to move through the course much quicker. Figuring out their were each buried in a corner was good, but not having to have each player check each corner until he/she found one was amazing.

Skupin’s team made a good comeback towards the end, but the red team had too huge a lead. Malcolm, Denise, Carter and Penner got to take part in the coolest reward yet – delivering toys to a nearby village and getting to take part in a big feast. The food looked amazing, and that would be a unique cultural experience you’d never forget.

Immunity Challenge

The Immunity Challenge looked really difficult, but Skupin won it by a mile. I wonder how long it would have taken had he not been participating. Balancing those balls in the indentations without dropping the ones already balanced looked really difficult. I was rooting for Penner to take it again, but I was glad to see Skupin win as well, since he’s my mom’s chance to finally win the Survivor office pool.

Swingin’ Doubles

And so it came down to the decisions Skupin and Lisa had to make, which I’ve mostly already discussed. Only one of them needed to flip, but Skupin didn’t want to make the move without Lisa. I still can’t believe how much Lisa agonized over the decision, and that she ultimately stayed true to those awful, awful people. Even this week, knowing that she needed her, Abi was incredibly rude to Lisa. Lisa had absolutely no reason to stay loyal to them. And yet…

Denise suggested everyone vote or Artis, because they were pretty sure Abi wouldn’t give him the Hidden Immunity Idol. In fact, those people felt to confident – so arrogant – that no one played the Idol. And it came back to bite them. Lisa did not flip, despite Abi publicly calling her out during Tribal Council. But Skupin did, and that was all it took. Artis was voted out. I was impressed with his exit speech, which was full of admiration rather than bitterness. He took it all in stride and was happy to have played. I kind of wish we’d been able to see Artis play with other people, maybe he would have come across as a nicer guy without the poison known as Abi-Maria around.

And before I go, I need to point out that even on the jury, sitting silently, I hated Jeff Kent. That guy is just an obnoxious dude. What was that glowering look he gave everyone? Move on, buddy! Go wipe your tears with hundred dollar bills!

OK, it looks like the balance of power has been restored to the side of good! Our pals Malcolm and Denise are in a fantastic spot now, one that seemed unimaginable back when their tribe was losing every single week. And the blue-eyed devil Penner has managed to live to see another day. I won’t be completely happy until Abi is gone, but this is certainly a start. Another edge-of-your-seat episode in the books! What did you guys think?

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About Jill

Pop culture junkie and TV aficionado. I write sharp and snarky TV recaps at www.couchtimewithjill.com
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6 Responses to Survivor: The Fulcrum

  1. Scott says:

    Once I saw the Penner vote surrounded by lovehearts I was convinced Lisa and Skupin had stayed with Tandang, so I was so shocked that I fangirl screamed when Penner survived.

    I’m expecting (and hoping) Lisa will follow Skupin away from Abi and Pete, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how things go with the new power group. I’m especially excited to see if another switch up will happen at 7. This season has been so good!

  2. colin says:

    okay, on its way to being the best season ever.
    who knew, right?

    Penner is someone I’ve never liked, and when he returned, I was a little annoyed. But he’s brilliant. And he’s won me over for a few episodes now.

    Great play and its fascinating to watch.

    Artis was graceful in his exit, made for such a change from Jeff. urgh

    Lisa goes from seemingly sucking to whoa there Nelly to being spineless in three episodes … but, when she said “i love the game but i think the game is bigger than me” I thought for the first time that she may have a shot at winning… she gets a lotta screentime, especially in the beginning, and the votes always swing around her, and when she said that, I could see Survivor using that clip at the reunion show…

    random thought, i know.

    hoping for Malcolm/Denise or even Penner to win :) But then i think, almost everyone is. If Lisa did, it would make a great ‘story’…. so there’s that.

  3. Artis does seem really nice, maybe that’s why they didn’t show him much because they didn’t want to portray him that way since he was in the “mean three”. Most of his “meanness” was just about being upset about losing challenges kind of reminds me of James Clement’s “I just wanna win y’all.”
    I was never a Jeff Kent fan but I hate him more after reading his interviews. Such a douche bag! Russell Swan may have been bitter too but he at least left people’s names out of his interviews.

  4. Davide Maistrello says:

    You know, I’m really happy to see that other people have had the same thought as me watching Artis’ exit interview. When I started watching the show I thought he was a strange character, but kind of nice overall, but then he disappointed me by aligning with Abi and Pete. He spoke so rarely that the only thing I remember of his play is the video where he tosses out the name “Dangrayne” for the merged tribe. He received a really “mean” kind of edit, I guess it was because he constantly was with the evil alliance, but I’m sure he’s way nicer than them in RL. I could bet that the way he came across would have been better had he not come in contact with Abi-Maria.
    Plus, he was so nice when he admitted that he had been outplayed by his rivals. I read somewhere he’d auditioned for Survivor like a dozen times, so he surely is a great fan of the show and will vote for the right person when the time comes. I’m so relieved that he managed to come across as a nice person in the end, because the way that he was presented is not what I would have expected from a 53-years old who survived stage four cancer.

    Lisa is a big question mark for me at this point. I was stunned when I saw the vote for Penner surrounded by hearts, because I instantly knew it was her vote. Why she went back and forth for three days saying that she did not want to betray the people she’d started to play with (even if they kept treating her badly as selfish Abi-Maria did) then voted for the guy who more than the others was kind to her, knowing that he was in such a bad position?

    I have a theory, which surely will reveal itself to be false but I can’t think of another. In my opinion, in spite of what the edit was trying to make us believe, she is still fiercely playing to win. She valued all the options and thought that she would have a better shot at winning if she came to the Final Three (or Two) alongside Abi/Pete/Artis than with the good guys, which is probably true . And if Skupin hadn’t flipped, she now would be in a very good position.

    So much is happening in this game that I really don’t know what to make of this. At this stage I fully support Skupin and Penner, who are such good guys, but I would be extremely happy even if Malcolm, Denise, Lisa or Pete managed to win the whole thing. Carter…well, I started following him on Twitter, and I’ve got to say that he really IS as stupid as he’s coming across from the show. Abi-Maria is THE EVIL and should be the next to go. Normally I have kind of a soft spot for villains, but she’s so bad, selfish, arrogant and presumptious. I am so so looking forward to her elimination! And I have to agree on your remarks on Jeff Kent, he’s so obnoxious. I just wish he’d been in the “evil three” instead of Artis, he would have fit so well with Pete and Abi. :)

  5. Aaron Sirois says:

    Anyone in with me on the theory that Abi intentionally hit Mike with the coconut? Seems too perfect to be an accident.

    And I was so excited that Penner stayed, that I forgot to look at the votes! I didn’t realize it was Skupin who had flipped. I think he may have gotten mixed signals from tribal or something, since he was so determined to stick with Lisa.

    I too was a bit surprised at Artis’ exit interview. Just a good reminder that the edit is everything, and that we shouldn’t necessarily judge these people by what we see on the show. (Except Colton from One World. He’s the devil.)

    Still have no idea who is going to win this thing. It would be interesting if Lisa and Skupin made the permanent jump and those six went on to play together. Because despite appearances, I don’t think there’s a strong four there. They’re banding together out of necessity. I think that the final four that comes out of that six could be any combination.

    Can’t believe there are two idols still out there. You have to figure that they’ll come into play very soon.

  6. Katelyn says:

    I am absolutely loving this season! I think if Jeff Probst ever retires, I want Penner to take over for him. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my three favourite seasons have had him playing.

    I still think that Penner knew exactly what he was doing when he voted for Abi last week though. Without Jeff Kent, he has a shot of swinging people over. Carter is now back on his side, along with Malcolm and Denise.

    Malcom has also become one of my favourite survivors ever. He just seems like a genuinely sweet guy. I really hope that the final three is Malcom Denise and Penner.

    I don’t get all the love for Lisa around the internet though. She seems like she is a very nice person, but I don’t really like her in the game. Maybe it’s because she seems afraid of backstabbing, and that’s what I like to see in this game.

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