Survivor: Philippines - Episode 6
Down and Dirty
By Ben Willoughby
October 26, 2012

At least I didn't say anything about cookies.

Previously on Survivor, Matsing was dissolved, with Malcolm going to Tandang and the curse of Denise transferred to Kalabaw. Dana swiftly became the first Survivor medevac’d out of the medevac returnee season and Dawson was voted out after Kalabaw predictably lost the immunity challenge despite Probst’s best efforts to call out Katie for being as useful as a garbage bag full of leaves. But hey, at least he got that kiss.

According to Probst, Dawson’s ouster was all due to Jeff Kent, and “when Dawson messed with the bull, she got the horns.” Is this subtext? Is Probst the bull? Because I’ve got news for Dawson – Probst will dump you in a second for his man-crush, baseball MVP Jeff Kent.

Also, I didn’t notice last week but Malcolm spat on his Matsing buff before dropping it to the ground.

Kalabaw returns to camp, and they agree immediately to make it the only time they return to camp from Tribal Council. Sure. Katie speaks! Katie, whose chryon is “former Miss Delaware” like she doesn’t have a job now, interviews that “I’m looking like the weakest link, so I’ve just got to work my magic and see what happens.” Cue lighting strike!

Next morning, Jonathan and Carter go out fishing, leaving Katie and Denise for some girl talk about the hidden immunity idol and pretty much confirm to each other than Jonathan has it. Katie doesn’t trust any of the men and wants to be rid of Jonathan. According to her it is a no-brainer, but that’s because any decision would be Jonathan or her. Denise swings her head in a Minnesota Nice kind of way which means she’s listening, not agreeing.

After the credits, we drop in on Tandang. Michael is suggesting that they cook some rice, but it is running low. According to Pete, this is because Michael is eating it. He has even been helping himself to handfuls of dry rice to eat as a snack, because according to him it will cook in his body, thanks to it being close to 100 degrees in there. Sure Michael. Also, the colder the beer, the more weight you’ll lose!

Malcolm is surprised at how little rice there is left. “What have you been doing?” I think the answer is, winning immunity challenges. Michael’s raw rice fetish aside, Tandang hasn’t sent anyone home, so they have had six members all eating rice. Matsing probably had more rice than they could eat because they had so few people to eat it.

Pete goes on: “Mike makes horrible decisions. He’s the most useless player that’s ever been returned to Survivor and he needs to go home.” I wonder if Pete's interview would be any different if he were on Matsing?

Anyway, Michael wants to cook up a minuscule amount of rice, and Pete and Abi and Artis all say no because after so many days of forced company, they all hate him. Artis can’t believe that as a returning player, Michael does not know that it is important to keep your rice. “He’s eating us out of house and home.” Of course, Artis is forgetting that Michael only made it to Day 17 because he fell in a fire. It’s Day 15 now. “Mike has become expendable,” unnecessaries Artis.

Reward challenge! Probst sighting! Tandang gets a look at the new Dawson-free Kalabaw tribe, which thankfully means no more Dawson’s Creek jokes. Kalabaw will have to survive on more obscure references, like Get Carter or Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

This is the challenge hyped up in the previews, because in theory each tribe sends out a group of three to push a huge wicker ball into their goal, but in reality it’s an all-in no-holds-barred mud-wrestling challenge with shoving and pantsing and maybe an attempted drowning. The previews even promised that Artis would get upset about something. Come on, don’t let me down!

Probst continues that the first tribe to score three goals will win reward – a trip to a dry hut, where there will be sandwiches, soup, potato chips and brownies. From the gasps uttered by the castaways, Probst had them at “dry hut.”

Tandang has to sit out one man and one woman, and RC and Artis volunteer. The first match is Lisa, Pete and Michael against Jonathan, Carter and Denise. To Probst’s (and my) delight, “things get physical right off the bat” with Kalabaw gaining slowly, but things quickly descend into a slow grind. “Pete going hard after Carter!” is the commentary highlight.

In an effort to seem 20 years younger, Probst claims that Lisa is “old school” because she has grappled Denise to the ground, and then he points out that Jonathan is holding onto the wicker ball through Michael’s legs and pressing against his crotch area, which is “a very intimate way to play this game, but totally legal.” Michael gets his own back by sitting on Jonathan. And then everything gets into a total lock-down and they all just stay there for an hour.

Seriously, an hour elapses while these six people are still stuck in the mud. Jonathan is squashed under Michael all that time. I assume that they all tried making various moves instead of just lying there, but none of them were able to make any headway. Well thought out challenge, Survivor producers! Why not just call this match a tie and put in another group of three players from each tribe? Abi hasn’t even got mud on her yet! Just yesterday, Probst complained about how Abi doesn’t compete.

Jonathan asks Carter if he has one more move in him. Carter says he does, so he’s immediately yanked back and pinned by Pete. So much for that plan. Jonathan starts talking with Michael as one returnee to another about maybe reaching a deal. Jeff Kent does not seem on board, as his contribution is “you’re two-thirds of the way there.” Then Michael suggests a deal where Tandang will let Kalabaw win reward, and Kalabaw will give Tandang all their rice.

“Whoa!” says pretty much everyone on Tandang. “You can cancel that,” says Artis. Jonathan says he’d seriously consider it, but Carter points out correctly that “rice fuels us.” Probst asks Jonathan what they will do for food after this afternoon. “I’ve got a boat. Got a spear. Got a snorkel.”

Probst, who can see how boring this challenge is going to look on television, says that if they come up with an alternate plan and everyone agrees to it, he is open. Since everyone on Tandang is booing Michael, and Michael is protesting “Hey, we’re just talking,” can this really go anywhere?

Jonathan cheerleads the deal for Kalabaw. He doesn’t say it, but he knows that a merge – with a new bag of rice – has to be coming soon. He believes that he is awesome enough at catching fish to make up the difference for the whole tribe. He likes this idea because it makes him indispensable to his own tribe. So he’s for it. Carter is all “I don’t know, man.”

Lisa calls out for Artis to weigh in because it's his birthday, and Artis threatens that “You don’t want to know what I got to say about it.” Even though he isn’t competing – he wants to win the challenge. Some birthday

Probst explains the deal. Lisa says that she will vote with the majority. Carter says that if Jonathan thinks he can catch fish, then he’ll agree. Pete is agreeing to the deal, and Abi leaves it up to the three Tandangs who have been sitting out in the mud pit for an hour so she can blame them later.

Probst declares the challenge over and announces the deal – Kalabaw wins reward, Tandang gets Kalabaw’s rice. “They’re all just not seeing the big picture,” grumbles Artis to RC, who looks worried as usual. “I’m pretty sure this is unprecedented,” Probst says and I want to punch him in the face for his Survivor preview lies. Such an anti-climax. Why not end next challenge with an unprecedented debate?

This deal is trouble for Jonathan. What a bunch of dummies Kalabaw are for taking it. Of course, we know that Tandang is low on rice, even if Kalabaw doesn’t. But rice is your Survivor safety net. You make sure you have enough to last because if you don't have it, you have nothing. Trading the rice for reward is the move Rupert would have made.

Kalabaw is gambling that they won’t need rice for a few days because there will be a merge soon – but what if there isn’t? They are going to be hungry and weak and divided, and everyone who didn’t want to speak up when the deal was being made is going to disavow it as soon as they get back to camp and realize they are going to starve to death.

After the break, Kalabaw arrives at the reward, and Jonathan loudly talks up the great deal and the sandwiches and the enormous schools of fish they will all be eating when they get back to camp. We also get an interview with Carter, who says “Those... sandwiches... were... great…” So we know why they always go to Jonathan for interviews. Jeff Kent is more apprehensive about what will happen after a few days with no rice.

Then Jonathan realizes that there are envelopes addressed to each of the castaways, so he bigs those up as well. They contain letters from home and everyone tears up. We go through the interview rounds, with Carter talking about how much it hit him, Denise saying that it gives her a different motivation to keep going and Jonathan saying that everything from the reward – the food and the letters - will keep them strong for the immunity challenge. Also, everyone read theirs at the table, while Jonathan snuck away to read his on his own.

Tandang arrives back at camp, and Artis is still annoyed. “It is brutal that Kalabaw is enjoying the reward that we should have,” he interviews. “We had a member of our tribe making decisions for our tribe who’s done nothing for our tribe,” Artis says in interview. And then he whines about RC encouraging Michael. I bet he'd complain this much if he was celebrating his birthday back home.

Pete says “here’s the rice you wanted to forfeit for,” so he’s already denying any responsibility, and Lisa interviews that this forfeit is worse than a loss, because it’s a giving up. So we have four out of the seven members of the tribe – who were all supposed to have agreed to the deal – complaining about it. This isn’t the tribe I thought this would happen to.

Anyway, the Tandang members look at the rice from Kalabaw and it’s about the same amount of rice that Tandang has anyway. So it’s two days of rice, “not a week like they thought.” They all grumble about that, too. But at least that’s two days of rice more than Kalabaw has. Tandang even grumbles when Malcolm tries to brightside things.

Tandang “never comes back from a challenge happy, and in Survivor you have to swallow your pride and do things you don’t normally do, but this is just nasty,” RC says about how everyone is complaining about Michael. In a moment away, RC tells Michael that Artis was cursing at him during the competition. Michael is clueless: “What? What did I do?” “Nothing,” lies RC.

Michael compares Artis to a little teenage girl, saying that he will whisper to everyone else but he won’t confront. That’s some wishful thinking by Michael, because I think Artis is not only willing to confront Michael – he’s also willing to rip out Michael’s skull and his spine and use it to flail at Michael’s quivering corpse. But that would land him in a Filipino jail where he’d have nothing to do but learn dance moves for YouTube.

Michael and RC both agree that Michael asked everyone and that everyone agreed – which is not true, as Artis never agreed and Abi disavowed everything after Pete said he was in and Lisa said “whatever the majority wants.”

RC interviews that “Artis, Pete and Abi are all nasty and angry and cruel,” but they have the upper hand so her plan is to let Abi blow up constantly and fly under the radar. Like Lisa last week, she seems to think that Abi’s explosiveness has to do with her fiery Brazilian-ness. Of course! Being Brazilian is the only explanation! Brazilians are all time-bombs waiting to explode!

Day 16 at Kalabaw, and Jonathan is preparing to go out fishing. Carter sees a stingray, and Jonathan trots out with his spear only to miss it, twice. “He’ll be back,” Jonathan says, like Homer Simpson after that fish made off with his Cheez-Doodle.

Carter recaps the rice-for-reward deal, which he says was a bad deal. He and Katie talk about how hungry they are and that if it becomes an out-starve game they will lose. We see Jonathan out fishing, and he successfully catches... the tiniest fish you have ever seen. They are half the size of his palm. They are smaller than Wanda, and Kevin Kline didn’t have to share Wanda with four people.

Katie continues to complain, while Jonathan continues to build up how great everything is because he knows his ass is in a sling now his grand bargain hasn’t panned out like he planned. He interviews about how deprivation doesn’t affect him the way it does the newbies, which is a fair point, but maybe you should have thought of that before deciding to trade away your rice? Anyway, he realizes that if they lose the immunity challenge, they are truly screwed.

Time for an immunity challenge! It is the tried and true “launch balls from slingshots for your tribemates to catch” one. Doesn’t matter what color – you catch a ball, you score a point for your tribe. First tribe to five wins.

Again, Tandang has to sit out two castaways, and it’s Michael and Abi. Probst cannot resist pointing out that Abi has competed in only two out of eight challenges, which is kind of impressive when you think about it. But again, if you were so keen for Abi to compete, Probst, you should have done something about it at the reward challenge.

Lisa and Denise are slinging the balls (behave!) to the pairs of Jonathan and Michael, Jeff Kent and Pete, Katie and RC and Carter and Malcolm. On the first sling, Jonathan makes the only catch and Kalabaw is actually leading, but next sling both Pete and RC make catches. Carter is “struggling early”, Probst points out. I wonder if he’ll yammer on about it for the rest of the challenge?

On the next sling, Jeff Kent catches Lisa’s ball, and then “Jeff goes high and scores for Kalabaw.” After taking time to call Katie out for not having her hand on the pole, it’s back to “Jeff with another catch for Kalabaw.” Kalabaw is up 4-2 and look like they cannot possibly lose. And all thanks to Probst’s man-crush. It must be weird having a man-crush on someone with the same name as you. Meanwhile, Katie is “completely ineffective in this challenge.”

Michael suggests to Lisa that she should aim at Malcolm because Carter is having trouble out there, and suddenly it is 4-3 Kalabaw. Then Malcolm catches another one ahead of Carter, so it’s tied at 4-4 and Probst proclaims that “[Malcolm] is eating Carter’s lunch!”

Kalabaw take a minute to switch Carter away from Malcolm and put Jeff Kent in, and it’s time for the final slings. “Malcolm has been on fire!” For immunity! Jonathan cannot make the catch from Denise, while “Malcolm scores even on Jeff!” Probst screams mid-orgasm. RC jumps on Malcolm as part of her flirtation strategy.

Tandang! Win! Immunity! See you at Tribal Council, Kalabaw. Probst even points out that Abi, having not competed, has no right to hold the chicken idol, and that it should be Malcolm’s honor. And with that, Malcolm is cemented as Probst’s new man-crush and Jeff Kent is consigned to the back alleys of Probst’s heart to hang out with Colby Donaldson and Ozzy. Probst is fickle that way. Denise? Still cursed.

Millipede! Kalabaw is back at camp and moaning about their immunity loss. Carter is complaining that Tandang had a better strategy going – the better strategy being “aim the ball for the guy going against Carter.” Jeff Kent interviews that Carter was out-muscled and out-maneuvered by Malcolm. True, but they should have come up with a strategy to deal with that. They had three match-points. Just sling the ball in the right place for someone to catch it.

Jeff Kent interviews about his alliance with Jonathan, but he says he is still on the fence right now. Jeff Kent and Carter agree they want to keep Denise, and that Katie is worthless. Then Jeff Kent plays the “we can’t let a veteran win” card. Carter says he wants Katie gone, but would vote for Jonathan.

In interview, Carter – another Carter interview? So Kalabaw must be running out of people not named Jonathan Penner – says that he would rather keep Jonathan around because after the merge all eyes will be on the returnee and none on him or Jeff Kent. But Jeff Kent is still talking about blind-siding Jonathan. He’s even come up with a name for it – the “Penner Punch!” All of a sudden, I’m nostalgic for Dawson and her creek.

A little later, Carter, Jeff Kent and Jonathan sit down to talk strategy, and Carter asks Jonathan, “what do you want to do, Katie or Penner?” Like the guy I steal my jokes from said, “Carter is the definition of duh.” Jeff Kent winces, but Jonathan doesn’t let on if he thinks something is up. He has to know, though. Instead, he makes the case for Katie to be out next.

Katie then turns up and Jonathan says “Denise, right? Denise? You cool with that?” before immediately taking off to go fishing. Katie picks up on how “shady” that was, and Jeff Kent refers to Jonathan as being “out there. Way out there.”

Katie talks some more with Jeff Kent about how she wants Jonathan out. He is a wild card, and she trusts Denise – the cursed one – more. In interview, she says and Jeff Kent been talking since Day 1 about getting rid of Jonathan – except for those six days or so Jeff Kent was aligned with him. Back at camp, Jeff Kent asks Katie is ready to vote for Jonathan. Katie is “so down” with that.

Just before Tribal Council, Carter is “so confused right now, dude.” Jeff Kent lays it out that Katie and Jonathan will vote for each other, and it comes down to the two of them. They reassure Jonathan unconvincingly that it’s still Katie and Jonathan is a lot better at pretending to be confident about it. When he’s gone, “Which way do you want to swing?” asks Jeff Kent. Kalabaw gather their torches and begin the long trudge to Tribal Council.

There’s a snake at Tribal Council. If Tandang ever makes it to Tribal Council, Artis is going to grab one of those snakes and bite its head off.

Probst kicks things off with a “who tonight truly feels they are in trouble” question, and Denise and Katie both raise their hands. But why? Denise’s explanation is “last one hired, first one fired” but she is focused on proving she has value to the tribe, while Katie says that she’s the “other girl” and she’s not awesome in challenges. It’s a shame she didn’t add “as you’ve pointed out so many times.” But she hopes they know she is “loyal and with them.”

Probst then asks Jonathan if he is worried about being blindsided, and if he is, why didn’t he raise his hand? Like he is disrespecting the sanctity of Tribal Council! Jonathan's answer is he doesn’t want to volunteer one way or the other whether he thinks he’s vulnerable – he wants to give an impression of confidence.

Probst asks Jeff Kent if tonight’s vote is more difficult, and the answer is that Kalabaw is a close group, so each vote hurts and will hurt deeper, and that every vote will be a blindside. Probst asks Jonathan about that last part, and Jonathan says that Kalabaw is a “drama-free zone,” and that if someone is let go, it isn’t personal and it’s done to help the tribe move forward. Plus, if it happened to him, he’d “appreciate the game play.”

“Is there any game you’ve played similar to Survivor?” is Probst’s next question to Jeff Kent. What does Probst think Jeff Kent is going to say? “Yes, sitting around for hours is a lot like my favorite sport at which I made millions of dollars, baseball?” After 25 seasons, you’d think Probst would be better at mind games.

Jeff Kent’s response is “No. This game sucks.” Probst asks him what that means, and then provides the answer for him – that Survivor is “complicated.” “You have to survive the elements, cuddle with people, take on friends and then blindside them because you’re too guilty to tell him that I really don’t want you here anymore.” Whoever has been cuddling with Jeff Kent should be worried about now.

Katie, what will your vote be based on? Loyalty and sticking with her word. Jonathan says that no one wants to betray or be betrayed, and if it’s him, more power to the tribe for not giving him a chance. He goes on to threaten that a vote against him might “ricochet,” so he’s clearly not afraid to play the immunity idol card.

And with that, it’s time to vote. Katie is up, and Jeff Kent is looking pained. We see Katie’s and Jonathan’s reciprocal votes. Katie says that her “cuddle-bear” is not to be trusted. Jonathan says “I need to keep this tribe as strong as possible.” That’s big talk, coming from someone who traded all of their rice for some magic beans.

Before Probst “tallies” the votes, does anyone have the hidden immunity idol? Jeff Kent makes a heavy swallow while Jonathan makes some cagey gestures like he is about to play it, but there will be no idol flushing tonight.

The votes are for Katie, Jonathan (“Oh, ho ho,” chortles Jonathan), Katie, Katie, that’s enough, Katie you are the seventh person voted out of Survivor: Philippines. Somehow, Katie manages to approach Probst for her torch snuffing without being hypnotized by his raw sexual magnetism. Poor Probst. At least he still has Abi to pick on.

Probst’s final words of advice for Kalabaw are “if you four are strong and united, anything can happen.” That’s encouraging.

Next time on Survivor, Probst slips in a Facts of Life reference as Malcolm sucks up that Lisa reminds him of his mama. And a twist in the game forces everyone to scramble for some reason. “And something finally happens at Tandang?” Probst does not say. Anyway, after last week’s shemozzle, I am reminded once again to not believe the “Next times...”

In post-boot interview, Katie talks about being blind-sided, and that while she thought going in that she was an “athlete,” Survivor was so hard and “nothing like you think it is on TV.” So, exactly like on TV. Also, athlete? Ask Crystal from Gabon how that worked out. Still, Katie says it’s awesome that she can say she was on Survivor, which is true.