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

Carter didn’t say much this whole season, but what he said here was pretty refreshing, complimenting Lisa and Skupin for being early and easy targets yet still making it to the end, while also asking Skupin about voting him out. Skupin handled this pretty well, going Todd Herzog style and killing Carter with kindness by saying he had to get rid of him or he would have won.

This was a bit confusing as Team Jacob went back and forth with Lisa on whether she had in fact betrayed Tandang because she knew Artis was going home and didn’t do anything to stop it. Lisa corrected him and said she had no idea, and then Pete just seemed confused.  Too bad he could not look into her soul and see that it was true.

RC complimented Lisa by saying she wanted her gone from the first second because she knew how dangerous she was, but this was really about RC complimenting RC for recognizing a threat when she saw one. She also busted out the famous RC cackle a few times for good measure. I actually think RC is a great character and should be brought back again at some point. Her intensity proved to be a liability here, but could serve her well under the right circumstances with the right people.

This is where things got interesting. We all had Malcolm pegged as an automatic Denise vote, but that was thrown into question when he said, “Lisa came out and gave her opening speech and she was swinging for the fences. I didn’t think she had it in her but it was exactly what I wanted to hear from her. And for the first time I actually considered writing your name down tonight.” Then it came time to address his alliance partner from day 1: “Denise, don’t nod. I’m telling you right now, don’t nod. Don’t nod. This appeasing everybody thing has to stop.”

Denise handled this probably the worst way possible, finishing her response to Malcolm with, “I was playing the game every step of the way, and I’m sitting here and you’re standing there.” Again, no need to apologize, but stop rubbing it in!!! I was actually shocked by this point at how poorly Denise was performing.

“I’m a little bitter too but I can handle it pretty well,” said Jeff Kent. Wanna bet? According to Kent, “There are three kinds of people. People that make things happen, people that watch things happen, and people that wonder what the hell just happened.” I’d like to add a fourth type of person to that list: People who chew on toothpicks and make no sense whatsoever while talking in riddles. Jeff asked Skupin to define which one of those people he was and then argued pretty unsuccessfully on whether Lisa was a floater or not. In baseball parlance, I’m going to score this outing as an Error for the former second baseman.

Abi just talked about how everyone was mean to her. On one hand, I want to blow her off. On the other, the woman is an expert on being mean, so I guess she knows what she’s talking about. Doesn’t mean I need to waste any more space recounting it though.

Oh, boy. I have such conflicted thoughts about Penner’s final words. Penner is a performer. He is a former actor and we know all actors looooove the spotlight. So I was a bit put off by what seemed to be more about Penner and his own performance than any of the three people up there vying for the million dollars. Someone clearly still wanted to be the star.

That said, in terms of providing dramatic television, it was a hell of a performance. He started in first on Denise: “You shared with me once that the one thing you were afraid of being seen as was a bitch. You can rest assured that you have now shown the world that side.” Ouch! He then moved on to Skupin: “You were able to avoid having your name written down even once. You may find that you have a perfect record even after tonight.” But he saved his biggest dig for the person he bonded with the closest out on the island, Lisa, informing the jury of her past. As stated at the top of this recap, oh those many pages ago, that felt like a low blow having nothing at all to do with the game that was dealt solely so his speech could be that much more dramatic. So in those terms, I didn’t like it. But in terms of providing the dramatic moment he so clearly craved, it certainly delivered. Whether you feel that revelation made Jonathan a hero or a villain, it was one of those hands over the mouth shocking moments that we’ll remember for a long time.

NEXT: Missed opportunities at the Reunion

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