Well, we all knew that it would take a pretty wild episode to beat the insanity and confusion of last week’s incredible Tribal Council. And this episode isn’t it. Sure Abi once again displays her trademark lack of gamesmanship and petty mindedness, but it’ll be a while before we see another episode like the last!
We begin with Lisa desperately trying to smooth over Abi’s anger at Lisa’s big move and attempt to save Mike Skupin and show loyalty to Tandang. Despite Lisa outing Malcolm’s hidden immunity idol. Abi has nothing but contempt for Lisa. But Malcolm understands. Abi assumes that Skupin voted for her, but Jonathan Penner says that it was he that voted for her. Penner says he was “p.o.’d” when the vote went to a Plan B that no one told him about.
When Carter explains who voted for whom, Penner realizes that throwing his vote to Abi messed up a vote that could have potentially knocked Peter out of the game. But he was peeved not to be in the loop, and is still a ‘dead man walking.’
This week, the focus is on breaking up the Tandang alliance of Abi, Pete, Artis, Lisa and Skupin. Penner knows that only Skupin and Lisa are playing a grown up game, and he hopes to appeal to them to join with him. He has a long talk with Lisa, correctly understanding her mixed emotions about the game and about how her childhood fame and internal struggles as a working actor have shaped her feelings. He sees her need to please the other players. (Penner is also an actor, producer and writer.) Lisa is astonished at his grasp of the underlying reasons for her uncertainty.
Lisa feels that the game is upsetting her ‘moral compass,’ and that the game may be beyond her capabilities. Penner reassures her, saying that her bold move may have been unprecedented in Survivor history, but that it was a good move. He ends by saying that he never meant to make her cry, cleverly drawing her to his side, emotionally.
The Reward Challenge is another mud bath. Jeff Probst explains that the players must slide under a mud barrier, climb over an A frame, and then dig into a mud pit for a bag of balls. They will then dive into a trough filled with rice before climbing out and opening their bag of balls, which are to be tossed into a tall structure, until 12 balls have fallen within. The winning team wins an assortment of school supplies and toys, which they will deliver to a nearby village. The grateful villagers will serve the winners a feast. So it’s a win-win situation, a reward in the truest sense. Survivors ready?
The tribe is divided up into two teams through a schoolyard pick. Abi, not surprisingly, is picked by neither team, so she sits out the challenge, ineligible for reward. Skupin, Artis, Lisa and Peter are on one team, while Penner, Denise, Malcolm and Carter are on the other. Both Skupin and Penner are the first to slither through the mud bath, and clamber over the A frame.