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

However they eventually do get the final twelfth ball in and win, so let’s go broaden some horizons, people! Penner arrives in the local village and proceeds to inadvertently tell everyone his name is “Normal” — which, in his case, could not be further from the truth. Normal bashes at a piñata and calls it “the happiest community I’ve ever walked into,” while Malcolm harkens back to his time teaching elementary school in Micronesia. “God, why did I give this up?” he asks. “This means so much more to me than pouring drinks for, you know, girls in bars.” Sure, Malcolm, but I’m guessing it is what the girls do for you after you pour them drinks in bars that you’re rather keen on. FREE SHOTS ON THE HOUSE!

Meanwhile, to entertain themselves back at camp, the Tandang members have decided to stage an off-off-off-off Broadway show titled Let’s Be Mean To Lisa For No Reason Whatsoever. The play begins with Pete alone on center stage, a single spotlight illuminating his presence as he explains how Lisa got “obliterated at Tribal Council.” Oh, you mean after she told you that Malcolm had a hidden immunity idol and should be blindsided but you refused to believe her and screwed the whole thing up? That obliteration? The next act features a two-woman scene where Abi goes out of her way to inform Lisa of all her shortcomings. “You are just gullible,” says Abi.  “You are just naïve.” You mean so naïve as to idiotically pull out a hidden immunity idol at Tribal Council and then not realize when someone else is trying to save your self-proclaimed big Brazilian booty? Oh, no, wait. That was YOU! Annnnnnnnnd…scene.

Off to the Immunity Challenge we go, where the contestants are balancing an oversized paddle on a stand while trying to roll six balls down a paddle onto six spots. First one to do so wins. The contest quickly turns into a two-man duel between Skupin and Pete. Both of them get four on the paddle, but then Pete’s start to roll off. That’s good news for Skupin, but bad news for Probst, who misses a golden opportunity to add to his legendary list of sexually-explicit-when-taken-completely-out-of-context-quotes (“Pete’s balls are dropping!”). So Skupin wins, and while that would appear to seal Penner’s fate, before we go to commercial we hear this from Artis: “At tonight’s Tribal Council, unless something goes wrong, we can get Penner out and we can actually for the first time in a long time, come back to camp, take a deep breath and we can relax for a while.” ALERT! ALERT! My Survivor sense is tingling. I should note that this is different from last week’s “tingly in my dingly” feeling. A tingly Survivor sense is when a seemingly innocuous quote is inserted as clear overconfidence foreshadowing for a future event. In this case, it looks like someone from Tandang is about to get blindsided. And sure enough, after trying to kill Skupin by sending a flying coconut towards his face, Abi tells us that, “It feels real nice right now.” Okay, now someone from Tandang is definitely getting the boot.

Denise, Malcolm and Carter have a pow-wow where they decide to target Artis, because no way Abi will ever give him her idol. But can they get Lisa or Skupin on board? It is at this point when Jonathan Penner does a truly remarkable thing. He attempts to convince Lisa that she should base her gameplay and moves solely by the answer to the following question: “What does the audience want to have happen?” Think about that for a second. He’s not saying, “Do what is best for you to get you farther and in a position to win.” Instead, he’s trying to appeal to the actress in her who wants nothing more than to please and be loved by an audience. AND THIS IS COMING JUST OFF HIS EMOTIONAL PEP TALK THE PREVIOUS DAY WHERE HE TOLD HER ABOUT THE IMMENSE COST SHE PAID BY TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYONE AS AN ACTRESS AND HOW SHE HAD TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT THAT!!! Remember, he’s sorry he made her cry! Unbelievable. Jonathan Penner, you truly are an evil genius.

NEXT: Why Skupin’s move makes sense — socially and strategically

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