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No Compassion

It's hard to write about Survivor: Philippines without peppering the first paragraph with spoilers, but I want to give anyone who hasn't seen the latest episode a chance to bail out now and come back later, if they so choose. Things keep changing for two reasons: One of the players will do something incredibly stupid, or one of them will pull a brilliant move that improves their chances. Sometimes the same person can do both in the same episode. (That's not too much of a spoiler, is it?)

In the shifting sands of the Philippines, it's no longer an absolutely certainty that the highly vilified Abi can't win this season. That's still an unlikely outcome, but the members of the final seven are quickly playing themselves out of contention. Penner made the first awkward move when he declined a final four offer from Lisa, sending her scurrying to the other camp (a move she later regretted, with much painful lamentation on her part).

One of Abi's problems is that she can't let things go. She demanded an apology from Penner for the beating she took at the last Tribal Council, but instead he offered her an explanation. He said that her bluntness didn't come across well, and she said she was sorry if she was too honest. She thinks she will have learned something from this experience, but obviously she has yet to learn how to be gracious.

One thing Abi did right this time was saving her Survivor Auction money for the advantage she sensed was coming. Not only did she win the advantage, but she tried to double her winnings by claiming that it gave her directions to a fourth hidden Immunity Idol and telling Malcolm she had it. She overplayed her hand a bit, because when it came time for the Immunity Challenge she had to read the note that sent her through to the final round. She tried to backtrack by claiming that was only part of the what the note said, but I doubt the other players would have bought that.

Just to be sure, of course, she destroyed the note after reading it. No, that's not suspicious at all.

As it turned out, it didn't matter, because she won immunity, which sent the other six in the direction of Plan B. One Plan B was the final four of alliance of Malcolm, Denise, Lisa and Skupin voting out Penner. This aroused the angst and guilt that always lies just below the surface with Lisa. She felt bound to tell Penner that his unwillingness to make promises had cost him her vote. She didn't want to vote him out, of course, but she had given her word.

That led Penner to his own Plan B, which was to tell Abi and Carter to vote out Denise, and then to work on Lisa and/or Skupin to get them on board. His argument, which he made to them both before and during Tribal, was that if they continued to vote with Malcolm and Denise, they couldn't win. That's probably true, because I don't believe Malcolm and Denise will ever turn on each other, whereas anyone else could probably be persuaded to vote against an ally. And it's getting to the point in the game where an alliance of two is powerful.

Yes, Lisa is probably trusting the wrong people, but there are no right people to trust any more. Every other alliance either has been fractured or can be. Carter voted with Abi, but he was ready to vote her out. On the other hand, he has shown an ability to win challenges, and there's no percentage in keeping him around. If he makes himself a target, and if Lisa continues to self-destruct, that could leave a final four of Malcolm and Denise against Abi and Skupin.

That's a balance of power that heavily favors the last remaining members of the Tandang tribe in the competition, if not the vote. After all, Tandang was decimated so early in the game that none of its members survived long enough to make the jury. They were the tightest group, while they lasted, but that does Malcolm and Denise no good now.

In the end, the alliance held and Penner was voted out 4-3 over Denise. Maybe now that the deed is done, Lisa can stop complaining about how bad she is at the game, how it's bigger than she is. After all, Penner was the one she complained to. But I don't know that I'd want to be Skupin between now and the next vote. All of the hand-wringing is likely to be directed his way now.

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