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After family visits, Survivor tribe decides whether to vote out the dial tone or the annoying ringtone

Survivor Philippines is down to three episodes, and it was time for family member visits and lots of crying, plus more Abinanigans with her nonexistent idol and the exit of a player who was the equivalent of an exit sign: there, but rarely noticed or worthy of attention.

In the end, Carter seems like a nice guy whose monotone brevity, unfortunate facial expression, and tendency to pick at his body gave the editors a lot to play with, which is to say he was mocked. Carter wasn’t exactly a Purple Kelly-level black hole, but he contributed little. Hearing Skupin talk at Tribal Council about the connection they had was almost laughable because there was no evidence of that on screen at all. Just listen to Carter’s exit words.

Carter was also the right person to get rid of, because as annoying as Abi is, she’s less of a threat, and apparently the jury might actually recognize Carter and vote for him. And as much as I dislike having disliked people at the end, it makes sense: better to fill the seats with people who can never win.

The family members’ few minutes on screen were slightly more interesting than usual because Lisa’s hot younger brother Justice did exactly what Malcolm (smartly) guessed he might: lit a fire under her game-playing ass after, ironically, reward challenge winner Malcolm chose him and Michael Skupin to spend the night at camp along with Malcolm’s short fuse brother, who was almost as much of a non-presence as Carter.

Lisa has been moping around for weeks talking about how she’s not made for the game, which is too bad since she’s been playing it pretty damn well. “I haven’t been able to step outside of who I am outside the game to play the game,” she said last night. But Justice made a compelling argument to Lisa for actually playing the game, including that Malcolm wasn’t mad the first time she tried to get rid of him.

Just when Lisa’s brother convinced her to deliver some justice to Malcolm and vote his ass off, Malcolm won immunity, and since he has an idol, which he has to play next week, he’s now safely in the final four. He’s probably screwed at that point unless he wins immunity, since that’s when their alliance was officially supposed to dissolve.

Because public displays of emotion make me uncomfortable, I instead focused on all the things that could make me giggle–and this was before the immunity challenge, which involved poles and Carter’s inability to make his firm enough.

Denise’s husband calling her a “tight, tiny little package”; Lisa calling her brother “beautiful” and her brother,who calls her “sister,” referring to their “brother/sister love.” Accident prone Michael Skupin’s son, accident prone Michael Skupin, who senior started touching and said, “Let me see you, let me see you” as if he’d previously been blind. I also tried to figure out what exactly Malcolm’s brother said that was censored from last week’s teaser because it was supposed to be shocking; something about calling Probst “colonel” and having watched him on TV as kids.

Abi’s fantastically happy mother, who was “very confused with everything” because she doesn’t speak English, as Abi told us, still knew how to play the game more than Abi: “Throw it harder, daughter!” she yelled during the challenge.

That was fun, and while there was a lot of emotion, there was also a lot of humor in this episode, especially thanks to the editors, who are doing some ridiculously strong work this season. For example, Lisa and Justice discuss voting out Malcolm, and they cut to Malcolm wearing a fishing mask and falling over in shallow water.

As an aside, the family members’ visits prompted what I think is the longest and most substantial display of religiosity this season. While Lisa, Skupin, and their kin did what others have done, asking God to help them win (“bless this plan”), they did couch it in some softer language (“if you want Malcolm to win or Denise or even Abi, we want your will to be done”) that still suggested all of this is pre-planned and God’s gonna play Survivor however the hell he wants.

Later, though, Lisa told the camera that “I don’t think God chooses side” and “I think he’s so much bigger than that.” So then why do it? Insurance policy? Is it like playing Powerball, where you’re probably not going to win but you might as well buy a ticket just in case?

Whether it was God deciding to screw with Lisa’s plan or, far more implausibly, the result of people’s individual actions, Malcolm pulled out a second challenge win and forced the alliance to pick between human dementor Abi and human dial tone Carter. As much as Abi might have hoped her fake idol had an actual impact, it seems pretty clear that no one believes her or cares, though I do hope she plays it next week, and that when Jeff Probst throws it in the fire, it doesn’t pop out and land on Michael Skupin.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.


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