‘Survivor: Philippines’ finale review: Is Lisa Whelchel (or someone else) the winner?

Lisa WhelchelAt the end of “Survivor,” there can only be one, and what a crazy conclusion to the season in the Philippines it was Sunday night. Did the right person win, or did we see the end result of a very bitter jury? Be sure to keep reading in order to find out.

Before we delve too deep into the jury craziness, let’s talk instead about the massive choke job by Malcolm in the final immunity challenge. Even though he had an advantage, he could just not balance metal balls for his life. (Take your mind out of the gutter!) For whatever reason, Skupin has the balancing ball trick down pat, and he won the second challenge of this variety all season. Hey, if Jeff Probst can make double entendres about these, so can we!

The move to get rid of Malcolm, despite his protests, was the right one. He was like a smarter, less cocky version of Ozzy who really thought with his head and did not tick anyone off. Had he made it to the end, he would have probably won in a landslide vote. While Denise was still the obvious favorite in our mind, it made things far more interesting.

Let’s turn to our favorite part of the entire episode: grading the jury member!

Artis – He asked no questions, and basically ripped everyone from being disloyal. It was a little too predictable for our taste. C-

Carter – No real questions here, except an obvious question about why he was voted off. Dull. D

Pete – This was a wonderful comment by Pete about how Lisa knew that he was going home, even though she claimed that she was voting with the alliance. A-

RC – She was actually far nicer than we expected her to be, and continued a surprising trend of everyone more or less ignoring Denise. B

Malcolm – A surprisingly bitter speech by Malcolm towards Denise, who he simply felt was just trying to be condescending towards everyone with her frequent nodding. A

Jeff – Another great speech here in that Jeff completely called Lisa out in that none of her “big moves” actually ended up working through most of the game. B+

Abi-Maria – This was a decent speech from Abi, though she focused a little too much about herself and not enough about the actual game. B-

Penner – This was quite possibly among our top five jury speeches ever. Penner revealed her secret to the world at the final tribal council that she was a “Facts of Life” star, and also made an elaborate metaphor about how two of the final three were “oxen” that were really just carried to the end by someone else. Great stuff. A+

Overall, we actually pegged Lisa as the person who came off the best here, though Skupin also did a very good job. Denise, our pick to win going into the final three, came across as somewhat condescending and unrelatable in pleading her case. During the voting, we thought that this may be the biggest jury epic fail since Stephen back in “Survivor: Tocantins” (though to Stephen’s credit, they had all decided in advance that JT was the greatest human being alive).

As for the vote, it was actually pretty cool to see everyone get a little bit of love for a change, and it shows just how great this season is. (Carter spelling Michael’s name wrong was hilarious.) Even in spite of what we thought was a weaker jury performance, though, Denise was still declared the winner! We’re happy for her, since she did play what was in many ways a somewhat-perfect physical and strategic game.

What did you think about the finale as a whole, and did the right person in your mind win? Be sure to share your thoughts below, and you can also read just how wrong we got this last episode over here. Stay tuned, as we are not only going to have the announcement of the next season soon, but we will have interviews with all the final four tomorrow (plus a ranking of the seasons and the winners, as we do every year).

Photo: CBS

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