Survivor: Philippines - Episode 3
This Isn’t A We Game
By Ben Willoughby
October 4, 2012

There will be cookies back at Ponderosa.

Previously on Survivor, Jonathan found the hidden immunity idol at Kalabaw and no one cared. Also, we didn’t find out anything about anyone else at Kalabaw, except Jeff Kent’s leg. At Tandang, Lisa was looking sad, and according to Probst, was “looking like the first to go”, while RC found a clue to the immunity idol and shared it with Abi, who informed her “I’m your friend, but if you [redacted] with me, you’re dead”. And Matsing continued to both suck and blow at the same time, losing their second immunity challenge and Roxy. Also, Angie likes cookies!

Matsing arrives back from Tribal Council. “That was fun”, says Malcolm, which is what he said after the last Tribal Council. Let’s see if he says it next episode. They talk about how Roxy “did what she had to do.” Angie, who is still processing what happened, says that “it was all unnecessary” and that “Roxy kind of exploded… it came out of out of nowhere,” so she obviously missed all of the last episode, which probably featured a good 20 minutes of Roxy complaining about Angie and Malcolm snuggling. “Peanut butter cups!” says Angie. Russell, for his part, says that Roxy was absolutely right at Tribal – the Malcolm-Angie alliance is real, and that if Denise ends up hitching her wagon to the young Matsings, he’s dead. Not the type of dead that Russell nearly experienced that one time, but you know what he means.

At Tandang, that Wall Street go-getter RC wants to go looking for the hidden immunity idol. Abi, who has twisted her knee twice as many times as Jeff Kent so far, is more interested in sunning herself on the beach. “I need to get myself to a hundred percent… My instincts are amazing,” she claims “so I’ll stay here and sit on the beach.” This may sound as foolhardy a statement as any since the first episode of the first season of Survivor, when Richard Hatch spent most of his time sitting in a tree. We’ll see if this works out as well for Abi.

RC insists to Abi that she’s not a liability, and Abi – who doesn’t want RC to go looking for the idol – uses whatever passive-aggressive response comes to mind. The conversation ends up getting quite heated, with RC frustrated that Abi doesn’t want to do anything, which seems to be exactly how Abi wants it. Sample of the conversation: “Stop fighting.” “I’m not fighting. Don’t waste my time.” RC claims to be 100% with Abi, but Abi is letting the paranoia get to her. We later see RC bond some more with Michael, about Abi snapping at her, and how every time RC tries to clear the air, Abi gets angry.

Later at Tandang, Abi is telling Pete about the clue to the hidden immunity idol, and how she wants to find it before RC. For all Abi’s talk about her amazing instincts, they are dead wrong about RC being untrustworthy. They should be telling her that RC is a giant sucker. RC has talked a lot about how she will succeed at Survivor because she is successful in the back-stabby Wall Street environment, but as we will see a little later, working Wall Street and hailing taxi cabs in the rain has barely prepared her for Survivor.

Later still, we see Pete telling Lisa that everyone wants to get rid of her first but he’s not on board with that. Instead, he wants to get rid of Michael because “he’ll be a huge problem at the end.” In interview, Lisa says she would prefer to get rid of RC, but she decides to lay low. “Tell me what to do. I’ll follow your lead,” she says to Pete. “All I need from you is when I tell you to vote for somebody, to vote.” Poor Michael’s heart is breaking and he doesn’t know why. “Mike, RC, and we’ll take it from there,” says Pete. At least Lisa looks happier today.

At Kalabaw, Jonathan is loudly telling everyone about his ass when Dana notices the bull pattern on top of the rice container – which you’ll recall is the hidden immunity idol - is gone. Jeff Kent goes into the jungle where he fills in Dawson and Carter. Carter in his dopey red pants suggests that it might be the idol. They all agree that Jonathan probably has it, and Carter thinks this means Jonathan should go first because he’d never be expecting it. Right, the guy who has played before, twice, and is on a tribe with five tight-knit people and him won’t be expecting it. Carter’s about as good at scheming as Anthony Michael Hall in The Dark Knight. In interview, Jeff Kent gives Jonathan props for having found it, and he can’t believe it was right there all that time.

The next day, we begin with a view of a raft drifting way, way out in the ocean. This doesn’t make much sense until we cross to see who else but Matsing realizing that they did not drag their raft above the tide line last night. In a conversation just between the two of them, Malcolm advises Denise that there was no cuddling with Angie last night, and they reaffirm their alliance. They like being in the middle, and then Denise refers to Malcolm as Malcolm in the Middle. She tries to sing the theme song, which unfortunately she doesn’t know, so she has to settle for singing “Malcolm in the Middle” like it’s an ad jingle. They agree that it is either Angie or Russell out next, and while Denise really wants Angie to go over Russell, she and Malcolm “agree” that it is too early to decide right now. They do their alliance finger waggle a little too openly for a secret alliance signal.

Probst sighting! It’s immunity challenge time, so he takes back the chicken idols and explains the challenge. Tribe members will take turns diving for puzzle wheels attached to a rope in the ocean. The first puzzle wheel is about two feet underwater, the eighth is… somewhat deeper. Once they have all eight wheels, they will use them to solve a word puzzle – spelling out “treasure”. First prize is a massive fishing kit with lines, bait, a net and even a canoe with paddles back at camp. Second place gets a less desirable fishing kit and third place gets Tribal Council. Matsing is down to only four members, so Katie and Dawson sit out for Kalabaw and Abi and Lisa do the same for Tandang. Abi tells everyone about her twice-twisted knee.

It’s not even 30 seconds into the challenge when Matsing falls behind, with Angie having difficulty getting her puzzle wheel off the rope. Artis and Dana both make it back, sending Pete and Jeff Kent out before Angie even gets hers released. Matsing’s poor performance continues, with Jonathan and Michael coming back with their third wheels as Russell can’t quite get up on the pontoon. Meanwhile, we learn that Michael somehow managed to shatter his mask while diving, so he is bleeding all over his face.

RC goes out, throwing the mask away because Michael gave it to her for some reason. It’s now I remember that she swum the English channel, because she goes out once more, and then for a third time. By the time she decides she has had enough, Tandang and Kalabaw are tied on six, and Matsing is stuck on five. Denise and Malcolm both got their wheels back quickly enough, and when she’s asked whether she can do it, the editors make very sure to subtitle Angie saying “I can’t do it. Cupcakes!” Then Russell thinks he can do it, finds out he can’t and then – again - has difficulty climbing the ladder to get back onto the pontoon. It is left to Denise and Malcolm to get the rest of Matsing’s puzzle wheels and while they are very quick about it, they are last to get their puzzle wheels assembled. Michael? Still bleeding.

Nevertheless, the editing suggests things are still pretty close at the puzzle stage, until Kalabaw and then Tandang get it solved. Jonathan, trying to cultivate something with people on other tribes because everyone on Kalabaw hates him, says “good job you guys,” and Artis does this thumb thing back at him. A nice thumb thing. Matsing – who did look pretty close – is going to Tribal Council for a third straight time.

In interview, Angie talks about how Russell struggled in the challenge, and then gave up the second time he went out. Unlike Angie, who struggled in the challenge and then gave up before going out for a second wheel. I really hope she’s rehearsing her argument for why Russell should be voted off, because if she really believes what she’s saying, that’s something. Also, “milkshakes!”

Kalabaw returns to check out their canoe. In interview, Jonathan talks about how he wants Jeff Kent on his side, but Jeff Kent is wary. In a moment aside, Jonathan tells Jeff Kent that he has the idol, and that “if we are separated, I’d hope that we can come together at the other end.” Jeff Kent says that he will ride on Jonathan’s boat for a while, and in interview, says he hopes to forge a better relationship with him. There’s no loyalty, Jeff Kent insists to Jonathan, as all they have done so far is talk. They end their tentative feeling out with a handshake, but Jeff Kent made sure to only give Jonathan a four-fingered handshake, and not a “manly shake” with all five fingers. If it’s not a manly handshake, it doesn’t count.

Meanwhile on Tandang, Artis is disappointed that they didn’t win. He has taken umbrage that Michael dived in face-first and smashed the mask – apparently after telling Artis not to dive in with the mask, which Artis did anyway without any problems. So Artis is gunning for Michael, based on a perceived personal slight, rather than any strategic grounds. Good to know.

We cut to a snake, so something’s about to happen. The Tandangs agree to go hunting for clams, which is Abi’s cue to get Pete and go looking around the camp for the hidden immunity idol. For Abi’s part, this seems to involve turning over lobster pots and poking things with sticks. However, thinking about the “right under your nose” clue, she eventually realizes it is the symbol on top of the rice container. “Oh my God, I found it!” she exclaims, taking it to Pete. Pete, in interview, thinks he can get Lisa and Artis to vote with him, get rid of Michael and neutralize RC. We don’t see whether Abi has thought that far ahead. “The whole time, I knew it”, she lies. “I’m so happy that I found it. I found it.” she says as they bury it.

There’s dramatic music as we cross to Matsing. Malcolm is bemoaning the “goon squad” that is Matsing. “The girl who could not get a float out from two feet under the water and Russell, built like an ox, who can’t climb a three-foot ladder out of the ocean. This is the group of goons I get stuck with...” and then he trails off, lost for words. “Thank God for Denise,” he says.

Denise and Malcolm go off to complain about the other members of the tribe, which is fair enough because they rocked their part of the challenge, but Angie interrupts saying “Just for the record, I never said ‘I can’t do this,’” totally ignoring the part where she exactly did. Word for word. She goes on insisting that she never said “can’t.” In interview, Denise says that it would be a ridiculous choice to keep Angie. “I know it’s a tough decision,” Angie lies. “Oreos!”

Russell is off on his own, contemplating. Russell says that his weakness showed up today and that diving ten feet down is not his thing. He interviews that it’s hard to see a clear path forward, and “if they want to make a bold move and get rid of a strong player, I could be gone.” Strong player? Keep telling yourself that, Russell. Do you know what Russell is not doing? He’s not looking for the idol. Or even thinking about where it might be. Like you should when you know there’s a good chance that you’re going home and you have a clue that pretty much tells you where it is. A strong player would be looking for the idol. “What is it about this game that fights me so much?” Russell asks himself.

Malcolm and Angie have a further conversation, where Angie argues that she would have gone and she would have been slow, but she would have done it. She’d have rather had someone do it that was fast, so the team could get ahead. Malcolm looks like he wants to get out of this conversation, so he says “Totally. He quit, you wouldn’t quit.” “He did quit,” Angie realizes. Malcolm interviews that it’s a toss-up for him. Russell is stronger, but they have not spoken strategy since Day 1; meanwhile, Angie would do whatever he wants her to. Angie continues, arguing that while she sucks, he is older than she is. So, he sucks more? And she feels bad about doing this because Russell wants so dearly to make the merge, but... Malcolm agrees that “Russell isn’t doing anything... I mean, he’s great around camp.” The sad thing is, Angie won’t see it coming.

Back with Russell, he talks about the people who went before him and the challenges they faced, which were much worse than any game show, and still persevered. He plans to draw strength that, because “to not continue to fight would be to spit in the face of all those people who endured so much more than he will ever endure, in his life, and definitely in this damn game.” Awesome! It’s been a full three seasons since we had a castaway commune with their ancestors.

At Tribal Council, I was all prepared for Probst to mock Matsing, but he starts by giving the inspirational message that it will be okay for the three who are not voted out tonight. He asks Denise what she sacrificed to come on Survivor, and it’s time with her daughter, her husband and her practice. Malcolm says that he has been watching Survivor since he was 12, and now he’s finally on the show he’s worried that his friends and family are going to associate him with this tribe of losers. As if Malcolm’s friends and family think Malcolm is as awesome as Malcolm thinks he is. It’s heartbreaking, he says, before calling out Angie and Russell as the ones who had problems with today’s challenge.

Malcolm reiterates that Angie and Russell had problems on the challenge today, and basically says that he and Denise should have done the challenge alone. Angie says that she is worried about going home tonight, but follows Malcolm’s lead, saying that it was better to let Denise do the swimming. She wants the rest of her tribe to know that she wouldn’t give up, like Russell did. “I’m a fighter,” she says. Russell, for his part, says that he “made a strategic decision to stop what he was doing, knowing it was just doing to end in failure.” Good call, Russell.

And Russell is correct here. If Russell gave up, then by the same logic Angie also gave up. If Russell’s decision to not continue with the challenge was “strategic,” then so was Angie’s. There’s no Russell gave up, while Angie didn’t. The only difference between the two is that Russell wasted a lot more time on the challenge than Angie did.

Russell goes on, claiming that Angie could not hold a candle to what Russell can offer Matsing – “life experience, intellectual capability, physical capability”. Angie says that she may be only 20-years-old, but she can still fight more than Russell. And she’s about to learn just how wrong she is. Russell is dismissive, going on about how he “was willing to die for this game. Are you willing to die, little girl?” “Yes,” Angie says meekly. Immediately, Russell hits back that Angie had no strength to pull the ring off in the challenge and that this “revisionist history” might work on Probst - points for Russell for implying that Probst is a gullible fool - but “when you came back, you were done, you had given up.” Angie starts to cry, saying that “I feel this small right now” while making the appropriate gesture, and “it is hard to compete with Russell. Brownies!” I guess Russell had a bit more fight in him than Angie expected.

Malcolm backs her up by pointing out that the little girls on the other tribes have not been tested like Angie has, as they have had the option to sit out their challenges due to Matsing’s constant losing. “She’s in a tougher situation than any other young girl in this game right now.” This is obviously said to make Angie feel better, because you only have to compare Angie’s performance at the challenge to Dana and RC to realize it’s not true. Not to mention Denise, who isn’t a “young girl”, but Survivor challenges aren’t exactly kind to older women either. Jeff changes the topic from strength to loyalty. Denise says that you need loyalty come a merge, and Malcolm agrees that loyalty is “paramount, but you also have to get to the point where you can win the game.” And it’s time to vote.

Russell votes for Angie. He apologizes for making her cry, but he has to play hard or go home. I feel bad for Angie, but when you call someone out for quitting and declare that you would fight harder than them, you can’t complain when they come back and slap you down. Angie votes for Russell, saying “I never give up” and writing a moral victory in her mind.

When Probst “tallies” the votes, it’s Angie, Russell, Angie with a peace sign and Angie. The tribe has spoken. “Good luck, guys, kick some ass,” she says with a beauty queen wave. Probst’s final words are, “hopefully what remains is the right combination of people to turn this tribe around.” And if it isn’t, they’ll just have to dump Russell.

I think Denise and Malcolm made the right choice. Certainly Denise did, as Angie doesn’t have any loyalty to her. For all her talk of being a fighter and not giving up, Angie didn’t show much fight at all when challenged about it. It’s like she thinks people will believe whatever she says, no matter how dim, and that should sail her through the votes. While Russell may be a millstone, with his horrible leadership and mediocre challenger performance, he can at least contribute physically in challenges. Just don’t give him any power to make decisions.

Next week on Survivor, Jonathan and Jeff Kent solidify their alliance, so there goes any chance we had of getting to know any other Kalabaws. I didn’t see how many fingers were used in the handshake, though. The fate of Matsing comes down to “one defining moment” that is implied to be at the immunity challenge. And presumably at Tandang, Michael bleeds some more.

In her interview, Angie says that it sucks to be voted out this early, but she urges Matsing to go strong and that she is their biggest cheerleader. And Angie appreciates life so much more now. And “marshmallows!”