Survivor season finale recap: How to Survive a Bitter Jury

Jonathan Penner attempted to steal the show, but did his last second revelation about Lisa hand the game to Denise?
Ep. 14 | Aired Dec 16, 2012

FEARSOME FOURSOME Four walked into the final episode, but only Denise walked out a winner.

Image credit: CBS

There are some things you need to know about me before you can do your final reading of my final recap of the Survivor: Philippines season. So here they are. I once wore my sister’s white jacket and white pants to a 7 th grade dance because I thought it made me look like Crockett from Miami Vice. As a youth, I peed myself in the elevator of the Homestead resort in Virginia and still didn’t bother bathing for a good two days. At one time I thought Moonraker was, like, the best James Bond film EVER! And once, in college, I went on a protest march…and had no idea what I was even protesting! These are but a few on my youthful indiscretions. I submit them to you now out of fear that Jonathan Penner will see fit to do so himself. Even though they have no bearing on my job as a recapper. Why would he do such a thing? For the same reason he did it to Lisa Whelchel just moments before final voting took place in Survivor: Phi lippines. Because he is a former actor, and sometimes actors simply cannot not resist usurping the spotlight when placed on the grandest of stages, in this case the final speaker at the final Tribal Council of the season.

After dissing and dismissing Denise and Skupin, Penner took aim at Lisa, but not for anything she did in the game, but rather for something she did 30 years ago. “Lisa was a television star who spent nine years on the television program The Facts of Life,” he told the jury just moments before they went to vote for the winner. “From the age of 12 to the age of 21 she was America’s sweetheart. Still may be. You guys deserve to know that when you vote or don’t vote for her, that she has kept that all from you and I kept your secret safe until now.” In other words, he kept it a secret until the most dramatic moment possible to make the moment all about himself. Incidentally, I would have had no problem with Skupin — who was actually still in the game and trying to win — doing this. But to come from Penner, it just seemed petty and more about making a big splash for himself. And I say this as someone who loves Penner. I have always found him to be a total breath of fresh air and supremely entertaining. BUT YOU JUST MESSED WITH MY GIRL, JP! NOBODY MESSES WITH MY GIRL!

Did it cost Lisa the victory? Probably not. Denise never had to turn on anyone and therefore made no enemies with her moves (although she made one with Abi with her tongue). People’s minds were no doubt made up before they even stepped on the Tribal Council set, but it was still a low blow by Penner and had all the markings of BJS (Bitter Jury Syndrome). But enough about that. Congratulations to Denise! I said I would have no problem with any of the final four winning and that still holds true. Denise became the first person to attend every single Tribal Council, and the last one was the sweetest as she was rewarded with a million dollars for her efforts. So it was a record-breaking performance, and although she beat my episode 1 pick to win it all (Skupin) and my 1980s crush extraordinaire (Lisa), I have nothing but respect for her game and commend her on the victory. And I commend you if you can make it through all a zillion pages of this here recap, because there’s a lot to say and this is the last time we can say it until February, so let’s get right to it, folks, as we break down the Survivor: Philippines finale and reunion starting right now!

Recapping the Recap
You know how you know a season has been really great? When you get fired up watching the “Previously on…” Survivor season recap that starts off every finale. The recap that kicked off tonight’s finale reminded me of everything that made this season so damn good. Unlike last season’s One World recap which was a series of “Ugh, not that guy,” and “Ugh, not that girl,” this one actually had me clapping my hands together like some nervous sports fan psyching himself up before a big play. And why not? It’s the Super Bowl of Survivor!

NEXT: One of the worst Survivor twists ever

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