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Poor Carter Williams. There really wasn’t much of a chance he was going to survive this one. When it comes down to it, final five is a pretty critical moment in Survivor. It’s the last shot to use an immunity idol and the last chance for an alliance to flex their muscles before chaos ensues. Up against Abi-Maria, Carter really didn’t have a shot. Why would the four-person alliance of Skupin/Lisa/Malcolm/Denise bring an immunity challenge threat like Carter to final five? His feats of physical strength, demonstrated in his multiple immunity challenge wins this season, would just be too much of a threat.
Tonight’s episode wasn’t especially thrilling because it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Carter would get eliminated, but it did have multiple moments of good television in general. Tonight featured the old “family member reunion,” a Survivor classic. Malcolm, along with his obnoxious 21 year old brother, wins the challenge, meaning we get to spend a good chunk of the episode with said obnoxious brother. In winning, Malcolm gets to pick two other castaway’s family members to go along as well, choosing Lisa’s younger brother Justice (sadly he is neither a comic book character nor a stripper, which is what you would expect someone named “Justice” to be) and Mike Skupin’s oldest son, also named Mike Skupin (and who also, like his father, is accident prone).
What’s interesting is that Lisa’s brother convinces her she needs to start playing the game harder, forgoing her usual honesty and loyalty for the ultimate Survivor prize. Lisa and Skupin then plot to over-throw Malcolm – eliminating him from the game at the next tribal council. I like this turn of events, and for a brief moment it seems like Malcolm is legitimately in danger. In the immunity challenge, Carter comes very close to winning the challenge, a multiple-leg endurance run with balancing, swimming, and building a stick-like contraption, but in the end Malcolm wins, securing his place in the game for the next two votes (he has an immunity idol, guaranteeing him a spot in the final four). Carter, to his credit, immediately realizes he is in danger. His bit of scrambling as well as his logical conclusion is sound, but the final four alliance group feels they have a better shot at competing against Abi-Maria. They’re right of course, but it means shedding a likeable guy and keeping around an odious presence.
Carter got an incredibly weird edit this season. His most comparable edit is that of Rick’s on Survivor: South Pacific. It seems like Carter went weeks on end without much to say, despite each and every castaway having nothing but nice things to say about him. He seemed a hard worker and funny guy, and yet we got to see very little of him over the course of twelve episodes. Even Jonathan Penner, via his Twitter feed, acknowledged this very much. Carter got a bid of a bad rap on the Survivor blogs I follow, with people labeling him a sycophant and mocking his facial expressions throughout the show. Carter, however, played an admirable (if quiet) game. His challenge credentials speak for themselves, he never lied to anyone, and other players have great things to say about him. He might not have played the best strategic game, but he wasn’t a bad guy either. I’ll miss Carter’s presence on Survivor. That being said, I’m super-interested to see who is going to wind up winning this thing in the end.