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Survivor Recap: Not Enough Hugs To Go Around

No offense, Jonathan, but if I saw this hat, I might vote for you, too.

On the surface, Lisa and Abi seem to be pretty much opposites. Lisa is a middle-aged mom divorcee, extremely religious, and oozing kindness and goodness. Abi is a young, naive brat oozing cockiness and a perpetual sense of annoyance and rage.

But below the surface, the two women are two ends of the same spectrum. Both are carrying this bizarre sense of self-importance - for good and bad - and are completely oblivious to their own actions and how they are perceived. Abi, on the one hand, treats everyone with disdain hidden under the guise of "brutal honesty." She's bullied RC, Mike, Lisa and probably others I'm forgetting about, for no reason other than she's a princess who gets off on being Miss Popular. But when she loses her power and her sidekicks, and the brutal honesty gun is pointed at her, she can't take it. Even without power, she tries to get people to bow before her in apologies and penance for rationally telling her that she's crazytown bananapants.

Lisa, conversely, wants to do good and be good, which is commendable. But her definitions of "good" on Survivor are a little spotty. Any lie, any hint of dishonesty is like she's breaking a commandment. And while it's been awhile since I watched Charlton Heston on Easter, I'm almost positive that "Thou shalt not deceive reality show contestants en route to a $1 million prize" is not one of them. And newsflash, Lisa: if you know that you shouldn't be telling someone something, sandwiching the information between repeats of "I'm so bad at playing Survivor!" does not make it better. We know you're bad at playing Survivor. Don't worry.

But onto the recap. After Abi suffered through a whole Tribal Council of people stabbing her repeatedly with spears and machetes...or just, you know, talked about how she might want to not rub everyone's face in her Reward Challenge winnings...she opened up to Mike about her experience. Denise and Jonathan can't even listen to her complaints without giggling so they escape to the forest, where Denise admits (to the camera) that after Abi, Jonathan is probably the next person to go.

The next morning, Abi tries a different approach to garner sympathy: crying on the shoulder of the guy with a soft spot for pretty girls. Malcolm is as much a good-hearted soul as Lisa - he just also happens to have a big dollop of common sense to go along with it - and he feels for the crying girl. But only for so long. There are envelopes of money in front of them and that can only mean one thing: Survivor Auction!

For the great unwashed among us, the Survivor Auction gives each contestant $500 to bid on various items. No sharing money and no sharing rewards among contestants, and since the auction can end at any time, people are encouraged to buy anything they want ASAP.

Denise takes that to heart by spending all her money on the first item: a plate of pancakes, bacon and OJ with all the accoutrement. You can't argue with her stated reasoning (protein and carbs and fats, oh my!) or her unstated reasoning (BACON). Taking her cue, Mike blows all his money on the next plate before Jeff can even explain what it is and promptly buys himself wine and cheese. Which would be great if Mike actually drank alcohol. But hey, cheese is great, right?

After Malcolm gets some iced coffee and donuts, everything is a mystery. Jonathan buys a plate of fried chicken. Lisa gets a giant sub. Carter winds up with a baked potato with all the fixin's (BACON). But what he really winds up buying is his tribemates' love when he trades it in for rice and beans for the rest of their time out there. He further solidifies his status as Mayor Awesome of Survivorland when he spends the rest of his money on a plate of veal shanks for everyone to share. He's like the Oprah of Survivor Auction - And YOU get a veal shank! And YOU get a veal shank! And YOU get a veal shank!

Throughout the game, Abi sat in the back pouting...or maybe thinking...or possibly just staring in to the abyss. It's hard to tell with her. Anyway, she actually wound up doing exactly what she SHOULD be doing and that's spending everything she's got on an advantage, which she does. What that advantage is can only be one of two things: a clue to a hidden immunity idol or an advantage in the next immunity challenge. It winds up the latter, but wanting to look like she's being strategic, she fashions a fake immunity idol and acts purposely shady, hoping to convince Malcolm that she has something up her sleeve.

This is the part where Malcolm likens Abi to a girlfriend you keep trying to break up with but who won't take the hint and leave you alone. For someone so young, that Malcolm sure is wise and nobody seems all that concerned that Abi has any sort of idol or will win immunity even if she does get an advantage in the next challenge.

The Immunity Challenge is another one in stages, where the contestants have to get themselves through three obstacle courses while being tethered to a rope. The twist is that before each leg, they had to answer a trivia question; a wrong answer had them lugging 5% of their bodyweight through the course. This would have been more interesting if we actually got to hear the questions; instead, we know that they were things that stumped both smart-seeing Denise and dopey-seeming Carter with equal abandon.

Anyway, Abi's advantage gave her a free pass to the final leg, where she took on Jonathan and Carter and a bag of 10% Carter. Now, I'm just going to come right out and say this: this challenge is extremely fishy. The first two legs were physically difficult, with people flinging their bodies through wooden posts and around knots of rope. The final leg involved untying some shoelaces while climbing a ladder. A challenge so simple even Abi could win it. And hey, look at that! The walking highlight reel just got a victory in what seems like her first-even challenge she actually competed in! TAKE THAT, BEST LAID PLANS!

Back at camp, Malcolm's not so worried. Abi will still be a pesky but harmless gnat tomorrow while Jonathan is dangerous today. Lisa is a little more torn, and we knew this would happen because the day ends in "y." Mainly, she's upset that her attempts at making an alliance with Jonathan a few days ago fell through and now she's stuck voting for her personal life coach. Malcolm, Mike and Denise try to ease her mind, but they must not have the magic touch because five seconds later, she's spilling the beans to Jonathan.

And here is my beef with Lisa. If you're going to be loyal to your alliance (i.e. Mike, Denise, and Malcolm), then you don't tell Jonathan anything. If you're going to be loyal to your buddy Jonathan, then you don't align with Mike, Denise and Malcolm (or you at least shut up about it). What you DON'T do is try to be the good guy to everybody. You don't tell poor Jonathan that you're voting for him because you have to but that he should work his magic. Um, thanks?

To his credit, Jonathan gives it the old college try, telling Carter and Abi to vote for Denise and trying to sway his best option in Mike. But alas, Tribal Council comes just a bit too early and he still finds himself pleading his case in front of everybody. Malcolm bursts his bubble with some annoying logic (like, why didn't you align with these people days ago, when they asked, instead of whine about it now?)

If you're going to get voted out of Survivor, you might as well do it in style, like Jonathan Penner. First, when he's voting and supposed to explain quietly to the camera why he's chosen this person, he instead just yells, "DENISE!" at the top of his lungs. Then, after he hugs Carter good-bye and Abi rises for an incredibly needy hug, too, he remarks, "Nah, I'm not going to be hugging anybody else." Finally, on his way out, he takes about 10 minutes of whistling and dancing down the path before Jeff can officially dismiss everybody. Immature? I guess, but after watching Abi stick her tongue out at a passing Denise, it's not even the most immature thing I've seen in the last 30 seconds. I just have a soft spot for Penner, what can I say? And I'm sorry to admit that I'm kind of happy we get to watch Abi for at least one more week.

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