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God Chooses Sides

The Loved One Challenge doesn't always bring as much fresh perspective as it did in tonight's episode of Survivor: Philippines. It's usually a lot of raw emotion, and then the loved ones reinforcing the plans the castaways already had in place. The winner of this challenge is usually risking alienating the tribe members who aren't picked to share the experience. This time it was different. This time Malcolm chose people whose loved ones were perfectly willing to encourage the players to stab Malcolm himself in the back.

That was especially true of Lisa's brother Justice. Carter had already planted the seed, and Lisa had been considering turning on Malcolm, because no one believes he can be beaten if he lasts much longer. She was still torn between her desire to play the game the right way and her need to feel that she's keeping her word and staying loyal. Justice told her that he thought Malcolm would respect her if she were part of the plan to blindside him. Then they prayed over it, along with Skupin and his son, and it was nearly a done deal. The prayer also included a disclaimer: If God wanted Malcolm to win, so be it.

This season, it seems that whoever needs immunity the most wins it. The plan was to vote Malcolm out tonight, because he probably would not play his hidden Idol (since the next Tribal Council after this one would be his last chance to play it, and he felt safe with his alliance). So of course Malcolm won the Immunity Challenge. Apparently God had other plans, because the hidden Idol ensures that Malcolm will make the final four.

So now the question was over which non-ally they wanted out the most, Abi or Carter. The logical choice was Carter, because he's more likely to win the tough challenges coming up the rest of the way. The only reason to take out Abi would be that everyone is tired of the constant yammering and whining. So what does Abi do? She immediately picks another fight with Lisa and Denise. She also said she planned to play the nonexistent Fourth Idol at Tribal Council, so they would be wasting their vote if they cast it for her.

At Tribal, Malcolm made it clear they don't believe Abi has another hidden Idol, but they didn't vote her out anyway. They kept her because, as Lisa and Denise revealed, they don't think she can win, and that factor trumps the worthiness of a competitor like Carter. Carter was sent home by a 5-1 vote, and Abi has slithered into the Final Five.

And there's really no good reason to get rid of her now, for the same reason that they've kept her this long: They can all beat her if they face the jury against her. Juries use a lot of different criteria to make their decisions, but they almost never reward a person who is either likeable or has played a strong strategic game. Abi falls into neither category.

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