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This is the best season of Survivor since Heroes vs. Villains way back in the spring of 2010. There are various reasons why recent installments have sucked, including featuring yet another boring “Men vs. Women” season (with the predictable outcome of a female alliance and female winner), a celebrity leader season (Boston Rob vs. Russell Hantz, then Ozzie vs. Coach), and a few instances of stunt-casting (former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, for example). The most recent season, Philippines, which just aired its third episode last night, combines a few of these. There is both stunt casting (former major leaguer Jeff Kent, child star Lisa Welchel) and returning castaways (Russell Swan, Mike Skupin, and Jonathan Penner). Somehow, this season has managed to be fantastic despite obvious ratings stunts. Episode 3 helps further explore why that is.
When we last left off, Roxy has been eliminated from the floundering blue team Matsing, lead by Russell. Blue team is down in the dumps, having lost consecutive elimination challenges. Denise and Malcolm (who have a secret alliance) plot who to eliminate next should they lose a third challenge. Angie, they argue, is weak, but considerably loyal to Malcolm. Russell, on the other hand, is comparably stronger and has the experience they may need to make a final push. The ultimate decision is one they weigh heavily – they don’t actually know who they will choose. Malcolm and Denise are the two most powerful people in the game at this point. An alliance of two in a tribe of now four is a guaranteed extra three days on the island, after all.
Meanwhile, Tandang, or yellow, tribe is starting to show visible cracks. Though they haven’t been to tribal council, players like RC, Abi-Maria, and Pete are playing the game hard nonetheless. RC has an idol clue, sharing it with Abi early on. Unfortunately, Abi has turned out to be pretty much full-blown crazy. She’s the kind of person I hate on this show and don’t care for in real life – explosively angry at inopportune times, self-righteous, and paranoid. Abi, who is convinced that RC has a secret alliance with Skupin (news flash Abi – you are ALL allied with EACH OTHER), immediately takes Pete aside, who she then shares the immunity clue with. Abi finds the idol unfortunately, and Pete drags Lisa into their new alliance of three, hoping to eliminate Skupin or RC from the tribe, and thus doing to RC exactly what Abi didn’t want done to her. Oh, I can’t stand hypocrites on this show either.
Over on Kalabaw, Penner has found the idol, and his place in the game is now secure. Kalabaw, the red team, is the best and most competitive of the three, having won first place two out of three tries. Penner, who seemed to go to great lengths to not endear himself to the tribe, no makes a bold move – he forges an uneasy alliance with Jeff Kent. I like this bold move as I could see Penner and Kent doing some dangerous stuff on the island. And honestly, the longer Penner is around, the better the show’s going to be in the long run. Kalabaw uses their momentum in challenges to win yet again, winning additional fishing gear and a canoe for the tribe.
Matsing loses, which means Russell S. or Angie are history. Continuing their conversation from earlier, Denise and Malcolm solidify their alliance and make their decision. At tribal council, Russell argues he’s nearly given his life for this game (which is mostly true) and that Angie is not seasoned, strong, or capable of contributing to the tribe. Malcolm, obviously in a tough position, defends Angie while conceding that Russell is ultimately right. After the votes are counted, Angie is out – her argument that she’d give all for her team (laughable after three poor challenges in a row) isn’t enough to sway their minds. Russell is still on the hot seat, but he’s given another three days to get it together. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Next week on Survivor: Penner and Kent become fast friends and Malcom and Denise are given one last shot at winning an immunity challenge.
Prediction for next week’s boot: Mike Skupin (sad!) is blind-sided by Peter and Abi.
All photos courtesy of CBS.com.