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After all the upheaval from last week, I was expecting a relatively quiet episode. Generally speaking, on Survivor, a great episode is almost assuredly followed by a complete let-down. It’s hard to stay super compelling for two merged-tribe votes in a row, I suppose. After Jeff Kent’s surprise exit last week, as well as Abi-Maria’s nonsensical immunity idol show-off and Malcolm’s near-blindside vote-out, there was almost no way that this week’s episode, appropriately titled Little Miss Perfect, could be just as good in comparison. Little Miss Perfect, however, did a fantastic job of keeping the stakes high and the hearts beating quickly. I can’t imagine a more perfect two episodes in a row of Survivor. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been this invested.
At the start of the episode, Jonathan reveals his vote for Abi last week was merely a hate-vote. He had no idea who was going home, and was pretty sore at Abi for her general behavior and idiocy. She ended up hilariously (and wrongly) accusing Skupin, who had been nothing but loyal to his group as far as voting had been concerned. This was a great episode for people who either love or hate Abi. If you love her, you got to see some more of her gloriously horrible attitude and narcissistic, paranoid freak-outs that can be incredibly entertaining. If you loathe her, you got to see her get not picked to participate in the reward challenge, as well as getting to watch a bevy of entertaining spiteful facial expressions from her towards Lisa.
This was also a great episode for Lisa, who has really played a strong game after a bit of nervousness/jitters in the first few episodes. Lisa bonds directly with Penner, as he dissects everything that has gone wrong for her, hoping to establish trust and garner her goodwill. Penner knows he needs either Lisa or Skupin’s vote to survive the next tribal council, and his gamesmanship shows. Lisa gets a ton of good screen time, appearing ultra-sympathetic and resolving to continue to play the game hard. I have to be honest, though. I wouldn’t mind Lisa getting voted out. Her flip-flopping and constant sobs can be draining. Despite the fact that I generally like her a lot and I’m glad she’s more than a stunt-casting, I definitely root harder for other players (Penner, Malcolm, Denise) at this point.
After a most excellent reward challenge (where the winners got to visit a local village and partake in a feast), the immunity challenge seems somewhat anti-climactic. The winner must get six small bocce-style balls to balance on what appears to be a giant ping-pong paddle simultaneously. Skupin easily wins the challenge, and Penner definitely feels the heat. Fortunately for Penner, Skupin and Lisa can’t help but notice just how awful Pete, Artis, and Abi are as human beings. They might be great final three goat material, but who wants to spend any more time in their presence than necessary?
A heated tribal council follows, with Lisa once again speaking from the heart, laying her cards on the table and essentially sticking with her alliance. After a tense vote, it’s revealed that Artis (surprise, surprise) is voted out, with Skupin having changed his mind at the last minute and sparing Jonathan Penner once again from the chopping block. The editing was fairly masterful in the episode, with several nods towards Skupin flipping. I never thought it’d happen however – I was fairly genuinely surprised to see sour-faced Artis voted out at this point. Pete and Abi can do nothing but look on in horror as the tides change throughout the merged tribe. Suddenly, Penner, Malcolm, and Denise are in a pretty good place. It’ll be interesting to see if Skupin and Lisa join them for good next week.