‘Survivor: Philippines’ review: Blame it on Abi

Abi-Maria GomesThe only thing more entertaining than a game-changing move on “Survivor” is when it happens thanks partially in part to someone else being completely awful all of the time … and thus, we have what we can best refer to as comeuppance. Somehow, this season in the Philippines is living up to being the best show since “Heroes vs. Villains” and “Nicaragua,” and one of the primary reasons why is that the alliances are constantly shifting. For the first time in literally three seasons, we are not going to see a five-person alliance simply come down and start to mow away the competition one by one.

Before we get into the analysis, let’s talk basics: Artis Silvester was surprisingly voted out of this game five votes to four, and it was done thanks largely to a combination of two different factors:

1. Jonathan Penner proving once again how far he has come as a gameplayer. During his first time around in “Cook Islands,” he was often too brash and opinionated for his own good. Now, he’s like a well-oiled machine. The scene between he and Lisa Whelchel was beautiful at the start of the episode, as he really broke her down on a human level to explain how important it was for her to abandon the notion of what people think, as this is something she has concerned herself with all her life. He’s taking advantage of the fact that he knows who she really is, and the connection he is forming as a result is a beautiful thing.

2. Abi-Maria, meanwhile, probably ruined her chances at getting both her and Pete to the end by harassing Lisa after they lost the reward challenge (which was a lovely little trip to meet some native people), calling her “naive” and basically treating her like the dirt their camp was set up on. Does this girl ever learn? People have to like you to want to work with you, and while it is a good strategy to take someone unlikable to the end, you have to get rid of their allies first.

The clear winner in this hour was Penner, mostly in that he has now moved from the bottom of the totem pole to the top. He didn’t win immunity, yet he still stayed in the game.  However, the issue here still is this: Lisa and Skupin could easily go back to the dark side knowing that they could beat Abi or Pete in the end, and may try to orchestrate another blindside using their idol. This is what makes this season so interesting – with the exception of Abi and Carter, really everyone left in the game is constantly trying to think of how to get ahead. This is why we wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Penner right back on the chopping block soon.

The only criticism for the episode? You knew Artis was going the moment that he gave his post-immunity confessional about being confident Tandang had this all sorted out. Thankfully, there was a great challenge, quite possibly the most memorable conversation since Coach’s speech convincing Cochran to flip, and all sorts of reminders as to why this show has lasted 25 seasons.

Do you think Lisa would have stuck with Abi-Maria were it not for her antics? Be sure to share your thoughts in our poll below! In addition to that, you can also hear what Jeff Probst has to say about his own future on the show here.

Photo: CBS

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