Idiot moron machete shark headbutt: Survivor entertains its way to a predictable outcome

Survivor Philippines‘ penultimate episode was completely predictable, somewhat frustrating, and thoroughly entertaining.

There was a lot of comedy: Penner giving the finger to (presumably) Abi at Tribal Council. Abi suggesting using the machete on the three people who won reward. Skupin being headbutted by a whale shark (of course) and being injured by the fire (of course). Denise’s mysterious bite that looked suspiciously like it was caused by a vampire, not to minimize her very real pain. . And guess what? None of it was scripted by producers! Amazing how that can work.

First, to the bad: I’m frustrated because Lisa has been making a compelling argument for keeping Abi, which is the best strategic move, however obnoxious Abi may be. Meanwhile, Malcolm made a compelling reason for getting rid of Denise, who of course should make the exact same argument about Malcolm. That conversation, on a boat during the reward, was probably about final four, rather than this vote, but the editors used it to mislead us. Fine.

But I want to know why Lisa is bailing from her brother’s advice. Is her heart winning? That’s fine, but I want to know, especially since, as Malcolm said, Lisa’s strategic thinking “makes her dangerous going forward.”

Ultimately, Abi went home, despite her fake immunity idol and brilliant strategy of calling Skupin an “idiot” and, twice, “a moron” during Tribal Council. (On second thought, if he was an idiot moron, calling him those things may have been effective. OH NO I AM STARTING TO THINK LIKE ABI.) So, the inevitable and predictable happened despite the editors’ best attempts to convince us otherwise.

At the reward challenge, announcing that the winner would take two people with him or her on the reward, Jeff Probst said it was a “huge opportunity to make a strategic move in this game. What he meant was, This is a huge desperate attempt to try to get them to make a strategic move other than the one they made several episodes ago, forming a solid foursome with no opportunity of penetration, even with lots of reward challenge lube.

Probst tried so hard, though: Later, at the immunity challenge, which was a nice mix of the physical and mental, and featured a ridiculous come-from-behind win by Malcolm, Probst’s response to Denise’s suffering was, “Abi, for you, possible opening.” Yes, he really said that.

After winning reward, Skupin selected Malcolm and Lisa, and should have just argued to Denise that she was the only one among them who was trained to be able to listen to Abi for so long. Even still, she drove Denise to the point of saying, “If I could just have needles that would go right into my eardrums…”

Meanwhile on the boat, Michael Skupin got crazy drunk. On sugar. After 30 years of not drinking soda, he fell off the wagon and started feeding Blair Warner a cookie on a flipper, easily the weirdest thing I’ve seen all week, at least until Michael Skupin danced his way out of Tribal Council, apparently still high on sugar–or the smoke from Abi’s torch being finally snuffed. Alas, we will hear from her again, soon, on Sunday’s finale.

I cannot wait to see how this turns out now that the four have to turn on each other and the jury has to pick one of them.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.