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

The things is, Mike actually thought he could beat Malcolm. He thought he had just as good a “story” because he won more tribe challenges than Malcolm and just as many individual ones. And let’s be clear, I’m not bagging on Skupin’s game. He performed very well at challenges and did a great job of realizing when he was on the bottom of one alliance and then changing the game by flipping to another one. Skupin played really, really well, and like everyone in the final four, deserves major props. But you have to be able to read how people feel about you and how they feel about the people you would be competing against for the money, and Mike was way off in his assessment here. (Apparnetly, so were all of us, because we thought Malcolm was a shoo-in over Denise, but jury members at the Reunion said Denise would have even beaten Malcolm in the finals.)

Lisa, of course, wanted no part of Malcolm in the finals. “Handing the title of sole survivor to Malcolm on a platter would just be stupid,” she said. “Everybody who signed up to play this game came to win, and I did to.” Sure enough, when they got to Tribal Council, it became pretty clear that Malcolm was going home. All you Simpsons fans may remember the classic “I choo-choo-choose you” episode of the show where Lisa goes on a date with Ralph Wiggum to a Krusty the Clown TV special, and Bart freeze-frames the precise moment on the air when you can see Lisa breaking Ralph’s heart. That’s how I felt about Malcolm after Probst asked, “Lisa, is there a reason to take Malcolm to the end?” and she replied “There is not a reason for me to take him to the end.” BAM! Lights out. Show’s over. Please tip your waitress on the way out. You could see all the life drain from Malcolm’s body at that exact moment. Brutal.

So Malcolm walked up to get his torch snuffed, but not without a not-so-subtle message of “Congratulations, Denise,” insinuating the game was hers to lose. Malcolm was casting gold for this show — an attractive young dude who was smart, social, physical, and a great storyteller to help narrate the action. He’s also a huge fan of the game and I love it when people who love this show do well on it. He’s one of the big reasons this season was so enjoyable, and while I am sure being that close will haunt him for a long time, he should be stoked for how well he did. Well played, Freberg. Your next Milwaukee’s Best is on me! (P.S. Good luck finding a place that still serves Milwaukee’s Best.)

The Final Tribal Council, finally
The time in between the two final Tribal Councils is always just people talking about their “journey” and stuff like “emotions” and “feelings” while sipping mimosas and staring pensively out at the ocean. I have no use for it, so let’s get straight to the final Tribal Council.

Truthfully, I didn’t think the opening statements were that strong. I liked Denise saying she would make no apologies, but there is a difference between not apologizing and being braggy, and saying, “I’ve outwit many of you, I outplayed many of you, and ultimately, I outlast all of you,” is just laying it on a little thick. Lisa went on and on about all the things she did wrong and how “not pretty” her game was. She emphasized how the switch flipped for her when her brother came on the loved ones visit. That was no good because to me that was like saying “I only really played the last 9 days or so,” so I’m not sure why she decided to hammer that point home. Skupin spoke of being a huge target as a returning player, and there is something to that, but we’ve also seen all the success returning players have had, so there are clearly advantages to that as well. Here are quick summations of what each of the jury members said:

“Normally this is the point in the game where you would be congratulated for making it where you are,’ said Artis. “Unfortunately, I cannot do that.” Why not? Artis went on to say that they should have stuck with their alliances and that karma is a bitch. But Denise never betrayed any alliance, and Lisa didn’t vote against him either, so I’m not sure why Artis was such a bitter Betty with those two.

NEXT: The jury shows off its bitter beer face

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