Survivor recap: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Abi-Maria?

How can one person be both so mean and so bad at the game? Abi-Maria learns the hard way that being catty and clueless is a bad combination
Ep. 09 | Aired Nov 14, 2012

CRABBY ABI The Brazilian clearly is not winning hearts or votes with her treatment of others.

Image credit: CBS

The episode begins with the fallout and confusion over the previous Tribal Council vote. Abi thinks Mike voted for her, only to be informed by Penner that he had done it because he was pissed nobody had told him about the Plan B. Then Carter informs Penner of who had voted for whom. “So I’m the one who blew it by not voting for Pete?” says Penner about Jeff Kent being sent packing. “That sucks.” Whether Penner did this intentionally or it was due to the last second confusion about the plan is not entirely clear, although he points out that a vote for Pete would have just made it a tie anyway, meaning they would have brought out the colored rocks. (Speaking of which, I seriously considered going as a colored rock for Halloween and showing up at John Cochran’s door just to scare the living bejeezus out of the man.)

Meanwhile, Lisa is really struggling with what went down and whether she can continue to play without losing her moral compass. (My solution: Don’t carry a compass! Being lost is a hell of a lot more fun.) Malcolm — the only person whose trust she betrayed — tries to console her, but it may not be enough. “I love this game,” says Lisa. “But I think it’s too big for me.”

Penner sees the internal struggle that people like Lisa and Skupin are having, and like any great player, he wants to exploit it. He consoles a troubled Lisa by using phrases like “God’s honest truth,” while also expressing sympathies for the public struggles Lisa had to go through with things like her weight as she tried to please everyone as an actress. Penner ends by hugging Lisa while uttering what is perhaps the biggest lie this game has ever seen: “I didn’t mean to make you cry.” BS, man! That’s exactly what you meant to do! And good for you. That’s just solid strategy, right there. Didn’t mean to make you cry? Puh-leeze, you’re about to make me cry — with laughter!

Reward challenge time. Today’s contest involves the players essentially being tarred and feathered for our amusement as they have to crawl one by one through mud and then rice (which of course sticks to the mud) while collecting a bag of balls, the contents of which will be shot into a basket. First team to get all 12 balls into the basket wins. A schoolyard pick ‘em leads to Malcolm, Penner, Denise and Carter on the red team, and all of the original Tandang (except Abi, who was not picked) on the yellow team. Often the unpicked person gets to choose a team to root for and if that team wins, they get to go with them, but Abi is given no such choice. Its just as well, because the reward involves handing out toys and school supplies to a village of children, and knowing Abi, she would probably just give some kid a pencil and then berate said kid for betraying her trust by not giving it back.

The most interesting aspect of the challenge is a strategy employed by Penner and the red team. While Skupin (who is up first for yellow) finds his bag and moves on, Penner stays in the mud pit and locates all four of his team’s bags. He then places the other three bags in specific corners so that the people after him won’t have to search at all and can just pick them up and go. The strategy pays dividends, especially when Artis and Pete struggle to find theirs. The red squad takes a massive lead of 11-0, but then all of a sudden the entire team morphs into John Starks in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA finals, tossing up brick after brick while Patrick Ewing stands to the side with an exasperated look on his face.

NEXT: Penner says to do it for the fans!

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