Recap video and review of Survivor: Philippines – Episode 10 – Whiners Are Weiners
If Survivor: Philippines can be said to have a villain, it’s Abi-Maria Gomes, whose attitude is poison, and whose social skills are guilelessly devoid of subtlety. In past seasons, a player like this would be taken to the end as cannon fodder, yet I don’t feel like this is one of those seasons. “Whiners Are Weiners” goes a long way in illustrating the extent to which Abi is despised among her camp, and I can’t even really say it’s without cause. I’ve been as big a critic of Abi-Maria as anyone, and while I did feel somewhat bad for her at the “Everybody Pile on Abi” Fest at tribal council, it’s hard to be on her side when she’s so startlingly oblivious to how her behavior reflects upon her personal character. It’s one thing to gloat about going on an extravagant spa reward thanks to a victory you had nothing to do with (and, actually, nearly derailed), yet it’s another thing entirely to then declare that you’re not going to do any more cooking around camp, but hey, would you mind feeding me anyway? I have no idea what Abi-Maria is like outside of this game, but I hope, for her sake, she’s at least a little more self-aware. As it stands now, she comes across as a borderline sociopath with a distinct inability to comprehend why people view her so negatively. That’s one of the best qualities to have if you plan on making it to the final three as a seat filler, but it makes actually winning the game pretty much impossible.
While “Whiners Are Weiners” (say that five times fast) is more or less Abi’s episode, she doesn’t actually go home this week. That dubious honor belongs to Pete, the erstwhile strategist of the Tandang alliance, who found himself suddenly on the outs with Skupin’s flip last week. Skupin seems to realize the kind of potential his alliance with Lisa, Malcolm, and Denise has in taking him all the way to the end. Skupin strikes me as a potentially volatile player, as he always seems like he’s willing to give any strategy a hearing, even if it obviously isn’t in his best interest. For instance, when Pete is scrambling to find votes to get rid of Malcolm in a blindside, Skupin hears him out. He does this despite having made a final four deal with Lisa, Malcolm, and Denise only hours earlier, and even concedes that Pete has a point about the amount of power Malcolm wields in the game, between his hidden immunity idol, physical prowess, and social and strategic acumen. However, it’s clear that Skupin would be trading a potentially winning position to hitch his wagon to a toxic duo that’s disliked by the majority of the remaining players, and at least half of the jury. This move would earn him the scorn of the jury, and of his fellow players. Thus, if Skupin was to make a move against Malcolm, it would have to be from within the alliance he shares with him, to alleviate the damage of the move, and its repercussions on his own endgame. But that’s a question to tackle for later, as now isn’t the time to move on Malcolm. I’d argue the next tribal would be, provided Malcolm doesn’t win immunity, or get a sneaking suspicion that his idol needs to be played, both of which could easily happen.
Yet while Malcolm, and Denise, to an even larger extent, continue to impress me with their game-savvy, I felt Penner had a pretty lousy week. Though he handled Abi’s temper tantrums with cool detachment, his approach to Lisa’s offer of a final three deal with her and Skupin was uncharacteristically short-sighted. Lisa was having trouble deciding who she wanted in her final four alliance, and the choice was between which man, Penner or Malcolm, she trusted more. She told Skupin that she trusts Penner more, and asked for some time to talk to Penner and see if he’s game for being brought into the fold. It seemed like an easy bargain, yet Penner basically ends up telling Lisa that he wants to keep his options open and just play the game to final 6 first, as they’d agreed upon. I can understand Penner’s desire to not put the cart ahead of the horse (a sentiment echoes by Malcolm, who says he doesn’t want to think about jury management when his head could still be on the chopping block), but it seemed like he was passing up a truly solid deal, which means all the more by coming at this late stage in the game. I can’t imagine he’ll get a better deal than the one he just passed on. In a sense, Penner made Lisa’s decision for her, as his rejection sent her into the waiting arms of Malcolm and Denise, who forged the final four pact with she and Skupin. For his part, Skupin isn’t entirely sure whether he’ll go with Pete’s plan or stick with his final four alliance, come tribal.
At tribal, everyone piles on Abi for her attitude, and while Probst initially tries to help Abi by giving her an out (the “cultural differences” card), he eventually becomes as exasperated with her lack of self-awareness as everyone else in her tribe, basically asking her how she could possibly fail to see how disliked she is when her tribe is “laughing at” her. Abi breaks down in tears from all the scorn being heaped on her, and though Denise tries to explain to Abi, in her calm, therapist voice, why everyone seems to have a problem with her, Abi refuses to listen and simply decides that everyone has it in for her, for one reason or another. Denise, she of the infinite patience, finally gives up. The entire tribal council is a weird study in social politics, in that this moment should have been cathartic for the viewer, with Abi, who’s received a villain’s edit all season long, receiving the brunt end of the same passive-aggressive verbal abuse she’s been dishing out. But it’s actually fairly uncomfortable to watch, as Abi is genuinely hurting, and asks Denise to stop talking, that she doesn’t want to hear anymore. This might seem like a resistance to change or embrace that there are elements of her personality that are frequently off-putting, yet it instead reads, to me, like a young woman who honestly doesn’t know she has to change or invest in a “love me or hate me” attitude, since she doesn’t seem to realize that anything is wrong with how she acts. It’s troubling from a real world standpoint, but no so much when you consider the volatile personalities who tend to make it this deep into the game. And just like that, it’s time to vote.
After that verbal thrashing, Abi smartly decides to play her hidden immunity idol, leaving Pete to receive the majority of the votes when Skupin chooses to stick with his final four alliance instead of flipping for the second time in as many episodes. Pete is sent packing, and Abi is an island unto herself. As we near the final weeks of the game, Abi’s chances of winning seem farther and farther from reality. While there’s always the possibility that she could turn her game around, I really don’t see her being capable of doing any of the things she would need to do to stick around, such as going on a challenge streak (like Carter, who was part of the winning team for today’s reward challenge, and who won immunity in a knotted obstacle course). Her game is essentially doomed, and the only intrigue remaining is in how her craziness will effect the remaining players, whose strategies are in flux, even as they’re allegedly purported to be set in stone. “Whiners Are Weiners” never attains the water cooler intrigue of the previous two weeks, but it’s a genuinely solid entry into one of the strongest seasons of Survivor in years.