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The penultimate episode of Survivor: Philippines centered around two clearly different groups tonight. In one corner, we had Skupin, Lisa, and Malcolm on a reward challenge for a significant portion of the episode. In other, Denise and Abi-Maria, left out of the reward, were forced to spend the afternoon on the beach together, where Denise, who has long suffered Abi’s irritating nature with maturity and calmness, lashes out to the camera, claiming Abi makes her want to gouge various parts of her body violently. I can’t imagine Denise will ever want to see Abi again after the season is over, and I don’t blame her one bit.
On the reward challenge trip (which was quite a doozy), Skupin, Lisa, and Malcolm solidify themselves into a final three alliance, leaving Denise looking in from the outside. Skupin feels like it is a good opportunity to advance in the game, and not wanting to end up like Penner (who is missed), Skupin agrees to the deal. Lisa agrees as well, though in a confessional she doesn’t seem quite as sure. Lisa has been irritating over the past few weeks as well. Though not as annoying as Abi-Maria, Lisa’s waffling, whining, crying, and constant need to seek validation for every move in her game is getting tiresome. Malcolm is also getting tiresome, and his need to be seen as the guy in charge is hurting his chances of winning, however subtly. If he turns on Denise, I can’t see him getting as many votes as the others (I call this the ‘Kim Effect’ wherein in Kim from Survivor: One World kept around her friends rather than foster jealousy and resentment by voting them out).
The immunity challenge was a bit of a snoozer unfortunately, with Malcolm making a come-from-behind victory look easy. The challenge itself seemed designed to level the playing field for Abi and Lisa, who aren’t as physical as the other three. Malcolm was still able to easily win the challenge despite going so slow that it looked like he was throwing it (which he might’ve been – he did have the immunity idol after all). The post-challenge squirming and scrambling seemed to imply that Skupin and Lisa might turn on Denise, their ally, and vote her out, but Denise never really seems in that much danger. A rather drama-free tribal council ensues, except for Abi-Maria berating a just-sitting-there Skupin, who handled the situation with grace, something Abi wouldn’t know about.
All season long I’ve been haunted by the dread specter of craziness known as Abi-Maria. Whether she was berating members of her own tribe/alliance (Skupin, RC), going into psychotic, paranoid rants, or being horrible at challenges, Abi-Maria grated on my nerves for over three months. Well, she finally got voted out, and I didn’t think it was sweet as it could have been. It was quite bitter-sweet for me, because she didn’t really get the downfall she deserved as a Survivor “villain” (though I’d argue she’s more a crazy person or an irritant than a villain – Richard Hatch is a villain, Jerri Manthey is a villain – Abi-Maria couldn’t carry their buffs). I felt like the moment needed a bit of comic relief to embarrass her into oblivion. Perhaps a Probst quip to knock her down one more peg before her exit would have been nice. But we didn’t get that. Abi-Maria left the game rather plainly, but at least she’s gone. I look forward to her jury speech on Sunday night.