Last week was a crazy episode for strategy and it will make the next few episodes if not the rest of the season more interesting.

Let’s start with Penner, who was turned on by Jeff Kent and Carter. Penner plays best when his back is against the wall and that is where he is now. The best thing about Penner is that he isn’t afraid to still work with people who turned on him as long as it serves him well and gets him further in the game. He showed this in his first season when he was one of the first castaways to ever use the mutiny and then later flipped back to work with Yul and Ozzy to improve his position.

If he wins Immunity this week I would hope he is smart and aims to have Jeff Kent voted out. Without Jeff being in the game Carter will be lost. Penner can easily try to pull him back in and then approach Malcolm, Denise, Skupin, and Lisa who are the more level headed players. I mean really Penner can approach those four and tell Carter to screw off.

Jeff Kent continues to ruin his own game by focussing too hard at trying to vote out returning players. I tried to find a silver lining in his play thus far and I just can’t. At this point it made no sense to target Penner. If he had held firm both Carter and Himself could have made the end easily. He could have tried getting rid of Penner in a few weeks and had Skupin and RC to work with. Not to mention trying to convince Denise to bring in Malcolm. Instead he is at the bottom of the other alliance and a focal point for Penner making a comeback. Regardless if Carter jumped to Penner will blame Jeff.

With all that said here are my rankings for the final 10 castaways:

10. Skupin

· I have a feeling that Penner will win immunity leaving Skupin as the focus of Jeff Kent’s vendetta for this week.

9. Penner

· He’ll squeeze out one emotional win but I think other players like Malcolm and Pete are too good for Penner to run the table with victories. The longer he stays the more dangerous he will be because at some point he will be an extra vote for someone else.

8. Jeff

· He’s got Penner chasing him and he’s at the bottom of the other alliance. He can change his postion if he can stop worrying too much about returning players.

7. Carter

· He’d be better off if Jeff Kent is voted out but he’s a follower in the strategic gameplay so he’ll likely become someone else’s puppet if Jeff is sent packing. He could reel off a few Immunity wins but I think he’ll have a harder time once we get the challenges where there are others worried about winning to stay alive.

6. Abi-Marie

· She’s currently in a good spot in the game but she is crazy and there is no way she wins if she goes to the end.

5. Artis

· I’m really not sure what to think of Artis. He’s done well in challenges and currently has a majority alliance but in Survivor that can switch at any time. He doesn’t seem to have built any lasting relationships with the people who will make up the jury to really be a threat of winning in the end.

4. Pete

· He would need the right combination of players with him to win it all (ie Artis and Abi-Marie). The thing that hurts him is out of the three he will be targeted first due to being stronger. I ranked him higher because he has shown he can have some good strategy by convincing Jeff and Carter to jump ship on Penner. At some I think he’d have to run the table in Immunity idols and I don’t think he outplays Malcolm later.

3. Lisa

· She’s in the middle of the pack now but she’ll be a valuable vote to whoever can get her on their side. Like Penner said she’s the player every season who plays under the radar and rides to the Final Three. The downside is that I don’t think anyone will award her a million dollars for being nice.

2. Denise

· She has the right alliance with Malcolm to make it to the end and she can pull out a few Immunity wins since she is both smart and strong. Along with that she will fly slightly under the radar because Malcolm will always be the bigger target out of the two.

1. 1. Malcolm

· He’s played the best game thus far. He was hurt by his first tribe losing so much but he has a way of making people like him. In that sense he reminds me of JT who won Survivor: Tocantins and Boston Rob in Survivor: Redemption Island. He’ll also do well at challenges which side get him to the end. He’s also played it smart by not sharing that he has an idol in his pocket and handled the fact that Lisa found it as best as he could have handled it.

I think it’ll be a great remainder of the season and if we are lucky these rankings will change every week because something exciting will happen. Look for my recap in the morning.

RECAP

We start at camp with Penner confronting Jeff and Carter about the vote. He’s upset that they jumped ship but they defend that they needed to make a move against him. The problem is that it comes across as lame and weak. Denise walks over and admits that she voted for Penner and that she had other things going on for her game.

Jeff now wants to make sure Penner goes next but also wants to play Tandang against each other to gain better position in the game. Penner is speaking with Skupin who is actually playing some strategy by saying he wants to work with Penner and exploit the cracks in Tandang. Considering he has spent most of the season taking care of self-conflicted wounds it’s nice to see him throw in some strategy. Penner has no alliances so ready to fight and take out others. He knows it could be win or go home.

After the commercial Lisa says she wants to stay with Tandang but open to jumping with Jeff and Carter to get further if that is what will work with her. Jeff talks about taking out Pete, Abi, and Artis after Penner and Skupin. It amazes me that he is so dedicated to getting rid of returning players. This will eventually ruin his game.

We now go to the Reward challenge. The tribe is split into two teams. One of a time castaways swim out to clip a rope to a fish trap and swim down to unclip the trap. They must then be pulled back to shore. Once four traps are returned one player digs out a key and unlocks puzzle pieces and then two tribe members solve the puzzle for the win. The reward is a feast including BBQ ribs, corn bread, and Apple pie on a river cruise through the jungle.

The teams are Skupin, Pete, Artis, Abi, and Carter on the Blue team and Jeff, Malcolm, Denise, Lisa, and Penner on the Yellow team. Jeff takes an early lead against Abi and Penner increases that lead. They then send out Lisa who loses that entire lead to Carter. Blue is extending that lead but Skupin has trouble unclipping the trap and Denise catches up and passes him. Artis finds keys first and Malcolm shortly follows. It’s close until Penner and Jeff blows out Pete and Skupin on the puzzle for the win.

Artis wanted reward but is really there for million. Abi talks a little strategy with Carter until Pete pulls her aside and lays out a plan to use Skupin to take out Penner, jeff, Carter, and Malcolm. Abi shows her paranoia but frustrates Pete. Luckily for viewers who like watching crazy people Pete knows he need Abi because she will be easy to win against in the end.

At the reward everyone feels sorry for Skupin and Carter being stuck with Evil Three. Penner throws out the Evil three as targets and essentially lays what Pete named as his plan to take out Penner, Skupin, Jeff, and Malcolm. Lisa knows that it makes more sense to go to end with Artis, Pete, and Abi because they are unliked then others. Lisa shares with Skupin that Malcolm has a hidden idol and wants to blindside Malcolm after Penner is voted out.

With that said we go to the Immunity Challenge where anyone who knows Surviror knows Penner will win since everyone wants him to lose. I was actually surprised that Penner had never won an individual immunity in his earlier seasons.

Everyone has to untie puzzle pieces and race over and under obstacles to a finish line. First three move on to solve puzzle. Winner wins immunity.

Pete finished the first part and is joined in the final by Jeff and Penner who seems to drive to beat Skupin but on the other camera angle he was well ahead. In the puzzle Pete takes an early lead but Penner stays focused and takes his time to work out the puzzle for the win. Again it’s amazingly his first individual immunity win.

We head back to camp were the instant reaction is to vote out Skupin since he was next after Penner. Lisa fearing she would lose her closest friend since the start tells Pete that Malcolm has a hidden idol.

Pete then confronts Malcolm who tells him that Lisa ratted him out. Malcolm lies about having the idol and for some strange reason Pete seems to believe him. Malcolm then throws out Jeff’s name for elimination but when Jeff figures this out they make a plan to get six votes to take out Pete.

Since we have no real clue what is going on Malcolm wisely brings the idol with him. The last minute scrabbling was crazy but at this point I’m pretty sure it’ll be Jeff or Pete

At tribal we start with talk of Skupin feeling pressure because everyone was focusing on returning players and Penner won immunity. But since so much craziness was going on it’s clear that he has nothing to worry about.

Malcolm calls out Lisa for throwing him under the bus and Lisa fully admits that she told people Malcom has the idol. Probst breaks it up into Tandang/Kalabaw/and Malcolm as the swing vote so Lisa ruined the game for them since Malcolm is now likely to vote the other way. Abi is mad that Lisa throw Malcolm under the bus because she considered Malcolm part of Tandang but when she lists off their alliance she doesn’t include Malcolm’s name. She tries to play it as a mistake but no one seems to be buying it.

Malcolm plays all his cards by showing everyone his idol and saying he will be playing it since he has no clue what will happen. When Jeff asks if anyone else has an idol Abi amazingly shares that she has a hidden idol for no reason at all. I love and hate her because on one hand she’s kind of a bitch but on the other hand she’s crazy and great for TV.

Right as Jeff is saying it’s time to vote Penner takes the time to ask the six to vote out one of Tandang. Lisa then says that she wants to prove that she is faithful and says they should use plan B. Pete looks like he is going to puke as this is all happening since he knows they are focusing on him. Jeff Kent then points out that pretty much everyone has been targeted this far.

As they vote the only vote that is shown is Lisa’s for Jeff. With all the talk of Malcolm playing the idol he wisely chooses to hold on to it. After the vote Jeff is out and I’m actually not sure what happened as I was expecting Pete to be voted out. Jeff says it may go down as one of the biggest blown opportunities ever. It’s not often that I feel blindsided by the result but I was blindsided.

I’m not sure what Penner was doing voting for Abi, Especially since he brought the idea to vote together as an alliance of six. Skupin also choose to stay with Tandang and vote out Jeff Kent. The upside to this is I can write Jeff in my recaps and not get confused between the player and the host. If MJ lets me recap season 26 I am hoping the producers do not cast a Jeff.

Next Week’s preview shows Lisa feeling bullied by the Evil Three forcing her to considering flipping to the other side. I think she needs to pick a side and stick to it but at least she’s playing the game now. See you guys next week.

 
  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JC5VIWKY7SZ67OVWR2ISVCWYKY Brian

    The last 15 minutes tonight were awesome.  I’ve never seen a bigger scramble and change of voting strategies multiple times in the last minute.

  • http://twitter.com/toastyred Sara Traynor

    Wow! That was an aweome episode! I’m usually decent at predicting things and was convinced Pete was going! My jaw literally dropped when it was Jeff.  I’m guessing Penner knew Mike would stick with Tandang so switched to avoid a tie.  I am loving this season!

  • seashellz51

     Now that was an exciting Tribal Council! I was totally confused…lol.. I cant believe the two still have their immunity idols…lol… This has been a great season.

  • MargieIdol

    Has anyone else noticed that Penner’s voice sounds exactly like Alan Alda’s? It’s freaking me out.

  • mmmtx

    I think this is a great season because there are lots of likable people to watch and root for and lots of strategic play happening.  Did anyone else notice that Penner, Lisa, Denise, Malcolm and maybe Pete are getting a lot of screen time? Hope this means that they are the final five since I think it’s easy to make a case for any one of them being the winner.

  • Montavilla

    Has anyone else noticed that Penner’s voice sounds exactly like Alan Alda’s? It’s freaking me out.

    Yes, I think I noticed that way back in his first season.  It is a bit freaky, because Alan Alda is so charismatic, but he often plays characters that not to be trusted. :)

  • Montavilla

    Great episode!  When the immunity challenge was starting, I asked, “what time is it?”  I knew that if Penner lost, there’d have to be a lot of footage showing him scrambling because it would be so damn entertaining.  Since it was just the usual amount of time left, I was fairly confident that he’d win. 

    But what a crazy tribal council!  That’s going to go into the top ten for sure!

  • thetrixrabbit

    Lisa sure is coming on strong. I love when Malcom called her out at the council and she straight up said yes, without the least bit of guilt and defined her strategy all cool, calm and collected. She royally pissed some people off, but I think she gained some newfound respect as a player and really can make the case of proving her loyalty to the original four. 

  • Valentin432

    I didn’t get it, but I guess the editing was made in such a way we couldn’t grasp what was really going on.

    How did Penner ended up voting for Abi and why Skupin who has been on the outs of Tendang for forever has voted twice with them with no indication during the episode that he was in an alliance with them?

    This sets up a very interesting end of the season. Normally at this stage we know more or less who is with who and have to wait until there are 5 or 6 left to see some action, but with the immunity idols and some players who are up for grabs, I’m excited for next week.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Mitchell/515077335 Eric Mitchell

     Both Penner and Skupins votes made no sense to me. I was thinking that maybe Penner wanted revenge on Jeff and swapped votes since he knew Skupin was sticking with Tandang.

  • http://twitter.com/dy7764 dy

    Malcolm, Denise and Lisa are my favorites and they are all getting what I consider to be a good edit, so I look forward to them staying for awhile! Penner is also a favorite but I suspect his luck will run out. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JC5VIWKY7SZ67OVWR2ISVCWYKY Brian

    I think what happened was that Penner and Skupin decided they wanted Jeff gone, but then they will flip back the other way and join Carter/Malcolm/Denise and pick off the other four…they are strategic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Mitchell/515077335 Eric Mitchell

     Do you mean Penner decided and Skupin followed?