One thing that occurred to us as we re-watched this episode: Why was Abi obviously stalling during the immunity challenge? Did she just give up (after explicitly declaring she didn't want to before the challenge started)? Was she pulling some tricky reverse-reverse-psychology move, in acting like she wanted to people to vote for her, as part of a master plan to pretend she had a hidden idol?
Those options, while plausible, both seem a bit off. Instead, our favorite theory is as follows: Abi - unlike Carter, obviously - has figured out that one way to get camera time is to incur the wrath of Jeff Probst during challenges. Which, in the larger, meta-game of generating enough attention during your first Survivor appearance to set yourself up for being invited for a return appearance, borders on genius.
All you people claiming Abi-Maria is not self-aware are scraping your arms on bark up the wrong tree. She's so spectacularly self-aware that she's aware that she's tricked you into believing she's not self-aware, and that the resulting spectacle will grab the attention of the producers, thereby making the audience more aware of her. So there. And she didn't even have to resort to the recent go-to attention-getter for Survivor contestants: public displays of religiosity. Although crossing herself after voting out Carter was a good back-up plan.
Denise could clearly use some of Abi-Maria's producer-baiting skills. Pretty much every other person left had an inordinate amount of attention paid to their end-game (or at least "surviving past this episode") plans this week. Even if Carter's seemed to consist of not having one. But again, with Denise: crickets. Why does this keep happening?
Denise has consistently been one of the most level-headed, well-prepared, and game-aware contestants this season. She's performed well in challenges. She's been to every Tribal Council, and has handled Probst's interrogations with ease. She's currently in what looks like a solid Final Four alliance. She survived the Fall of Matsing. She's basically a standout in every aspect of the game, except for the parts that end up being shown on TV.
It's fair to expect that she'd have to give up some screen time to her more-famous tribemates, like Jeff Kent, or Penner. But why, in the third-to-last episode, is she still being shoved aside to make room for an extended detour into Lisa's Amazing, Life-Changing Plan That Didn't Actually Happen? Why?
Obviously, Malcolm dominated the challenges this week (albeit with some brotherly assitance, plus finishing barely ahead of Carter in both cases). And in finally grabbing the immunity necklace for himself, managed to actually remove a target that (sadly) he was apparently unaware existed. But throughout the episode, he seemed to be making a number of strategic errors, or just giving up on strategy entirely. And that's what most wins him this week's Beasty.
First, perhaps he can be forgiven for this, since his knucklehead brother was partially responsible, but Malcolm ought to be enough of a fan to know that No Good Can Come From Winning Individual Reward Challenges. Especially individual RCs in which you have to pick one or two other contestants to join you in reward. Unless you're Kim Spradlin, of course. It's always better to receive, than to be forced to give. And what happened with the two nice, trustworthy alliance-mates he chose to share time with their loved ones? They promptly started plotting to blindside him. See?
But perhaps most alarming was his post-IC decision to take a mental vacation from Survivor, since he had immunity at this week's Tribal Council, and his hidden idol to get him through next week's. He's clearly aware that there's at least one more vote coming after that, and if he were actually playing the Heidik game he promised, the two people he was considering voting off could well have been the most useful to him going forward. (Or so we thought last week, anyway.) Now his best option is winning immunity again at final four (and, possibly, three). Good thing he's now a Beasty at that.
Where to start? The strategy in this late-season period has been virtually indistinguishable from a farce. There are moves (or at least attempted moves) being discussed, but then everything falls apart, and once again, we're left with a progression from opening sequence to snuffing that was fairly predictable heading in.
The immunity necklace has apparently shut off blood flow to Malcolm's head, rendering him incapable of any thought beyond the present. Carter's busy "not thinking about that right now," and respecting Malcolm and Skupin too much to bother making a case for staying. As mentioned above, Denise is probably plotting something, but editing has not deigned to allow us to see what that is. Skupin is continuing to go with the flow, and Lisa has finally come up with a move that she's willing to play... only to have it shot... well, you know. Meanwhile, Abi is coming up with fairy tale after fairy tale about imaginary hidden idols. Stories so transparently fanciful that nobody else can even be bothered to respond with "Oh really? You have one now? Well, go ahead and show us, then."
So let's examine the obvious: Lisa's brother, Justice, was the source of Lisa's plan in the first place. Furthermore, he seems to have none of Lisa's qualms about playing, well, Survivor. So... (as mentioned on twitter) is it too much to ask for SEG to just swap Lisa out for Justice for the rest of the game? In a blouse and a wig, maybe? In return, we promise to overlook his two-handed throwing technique. Thanks in advance, etc.
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