Fulcrum: the support or hinge on which a lever pivots. I know this because of volunteering for the Grade 2 Scientist in the School presentation on Simple Machines last year. Who knew that the knowledge I gained from rocking The Lever Station would come in handy for Survivor?
Returning to Gangrene after Tribal Council, Abi-Maria is (surprise!) miserable & accuses Skupin of voting for her. Penner proudly claims the Abi vote on account of being "P.O.'d". Well, there goes my theory. On his Abi-Maria vote, I had been thinking the only way it made sense was that Penner knew the votes would be split between Pete & Jeff. By voting for Abi, Penner could get rid of Kent, & in a Final 3, could say to him "Hey, I was loyal - I never voted for you." But it turns out Penner was just pissed.
In a weird reversal of sorts, Carter is explaining the math to Penner. Using his hands, but still.
Penner is disheartened to learn that his last-minute vote for Abi resulted in a member of his alliance going home. Remember, island Penner didn't realize the duplicitous nature of Kent, nor his overwhelming need to crush Penner. I'm sure that watching from home with all this new-found knowledge has made it clear that the Abi vote was guided by fate.
Lisa is shocked that Malcolm doesn't hate her after she betrayed his trust &, you know, played Survivor. Malcolm is all Cool beans, lady. You're playing, I'm playing...it's a game. I wonder if Pete feels the same way? I'm surprised we don't see much of a fallout from Malcolm's revelation of the idol. After discovering that he cannot add "Soul Searcher" to his list "Guys That I Have Been", Pete must have been devastated.
Penner knows he's in trouble now, & describes Yellow as 2 parents trying to play a Christian game with 3 bullies. He sets out to divide & conquer, & MAN, does he get to work!
You see, Penner has been hanging around therapist Denise & has picked up on some tricks. With those tricks up his sleeve along with an equal amount of parenting skills & impossibly blue eyes, he plays on her fear while appearing to genuinely care about Lisa's well-being. At least, he made me believe. Penner can see that Lisa is a bit fragile at the moment, & asks her how she's doing. How she's really doing.
"Why did you think people wouldn't like you this morning? Because you didn't do something that was pleasing to them? You didn't try to please them?" Lisa says she used & betrayed them. "Did you? You explained yourself beautifully last night. It was a big, bold set of moves...maybe unprecedented in the history of Survivor...but you really were trying to work for your alliance, weren't you? Then who the hell can argue with that? There's not a single person here who doesn't admire you, like you, & maybe even are coming to love you."
Time for my son's first observation of the episode: "The music & the beach make it seem like they're really in love."
|No, I did not enlarge this from a margin in my notebook...I just made it, I swear.|
Penner gets deep & suggests Lisa's past as a child star could be playing a part in her need to please: "I know exactly how one look from the wrong person saying You're gonna go out looking like that? Did you put on a couple of pounds?"
|She even looks good when crying. Stop it, Lisa Whelchel.|
She asks him how he knows this, & he gives a crinkly smile & says, "It's my business, too." Penner isn't done. He has the captive audience & the tears, now he needs the hug. "And you are, maybe only now, really getting to deal with how the toll, the cost of that extraordinary youth that you had, it did cost you something. You lost something." Lisa isn't stupid - she knows Penner is playing the game, but he really struck a nerve with her.
Therapy session is over & it's off to the Reward Challenge. Survivors will be split into 2 teams, & one by one, they will crawl through muddy water, scale a wall, dig for 4 bags of balls in a pit of mud & then slide through rice. When all 4 bags have been retrieved, the 12 balls within must be thrown into a tall & small basket. First team to finish wins a trip to a local village where they will hand out school supplies & toys to children, & enjoy a meal cooked by the village.
A schoolyard pick is used to create the teams, & wow, it's telling. The Yellow team is all Yellow: Skupin, Lisa, Artis & Pete. The Red team is Penner, Carter, Denise & Malcolm. One person wasn't picked, & that person is Abi, who probably wouldn't have even smiled at the kids anyway.
Penner seems like he's taking a long time to find his bag, but it turns out he's finding ALL the bags & putting them in the corners so his teammates don't have to get bogged down in the mud. So smart, & it ends up winning Red this challenge. But wait - not 1 challenge featuring balls goes by without a gem from Probst:
"Penner's already grabbed the balls & put them up there - easy for Carter."
Penner, Carter, Denise & Malcolm head to the village, where kids are recreating the Reward Challenge, minus the "maggot sprinkles" look the mud & rice gave the Survivors.
Everyone has a great time & giving is great & happiness is everywhere & then this, from Malcolm: "Right after I graduated, I taught elementary school in Micronesia for a year. Remembering all the good times I've had was a good reminder of how much I enjoy working with kids & how fulfilling that can be. God, why did I give this up? This means so much more to me than pouring drinks for, you know, girls in bars. It really made me reconsider what I've been doing with my life for the past year & it was a life-shaping experience."
|Thank goodness The Hair wasn't released, or ovaries would have exploded.|
Back at Gangrene, Pete is confident that his alliance is Tandang strong...all they have to do is keep Lisa & Skupin close & comfortable. Enter Abi-Maria, who quickly tells Lisa how gullible & naive she is. The crazy part is that I think Abi thinks she's being fair & nice.
Despite being treated this way, Lisa is still struggling with her desire to play a loyal game. Being loyal is one thing, but she probably didn't count on being stuck in a tribe with a 32 yr old who acts like she was plucked from a My Super Sweet 16 episode, perpetually irritable because Mommy gave her the brand new Lexus too early, RUINING HER LIFE. Seriously, Abi's 32.
Off to the Immunity Challenge, where they will balance a big paddle on a stand, & roll balls into 6 spots. It looks incredibly difficult, & the only 2 having any luck are Skupin & Pete.
What's that, you say? Another challenge featuring balls? Probst does not disappoint: "Pete losing 2 balls in that one." Skupin easily wins after Pete loses his balls & for the second week in a row, a returning player has Individual Immunity.
At Gangrene, Abi-Maria wishes she could vote out Mike, but he just won Immunity, & besides, they need him for numbers. If only there was another way to get rid of him...
Abi-Maria, upset that Operation: Death by Coconut didn't go as planned, is concerned that Skupin & Lisa will flip. Pete says "Nah". Abi is still worried, & Pete actually shushes her. Take care of the puppy, Pete. Take care of the puppy.
Denise, Carter & Malcolm decide Artis will be the safe vote because Abi-Maria will most likely keep the idol for herself, although there is a slim chance she would give it to Pete...but she would never give it to Artis because she's too selfish
|The happiest Abi has ever been.|
"So, I'm gonna ask you a question. I'm like a storyteller - that's what I do, you know. Survivor is a big story. What's the story that's gonna be told this season? Who are the good guys & who are the bad guys? Who are the underdogs? Who is the audience gonna be rooting for, consciously or not? What does the audience want to have happen? The audience is gonna watch you, & they're gonna say she's being loyal to the people that she's been loyal to all along, & that's a wonderful thing. But they are not gonna be happy that you are helping these 3 guys go further. And I'm not gonna try to influence you to come over to my side, but I hope that you & Skupin do the right thing & tell a better story...You could be the fulcrum character."
OK, look, we all know I'm a Penner fangirl, but this episode should validate it to any non-believers out there. Penner is a Survivor God. He appealed to Lisa's emotions earlier & now he's putting Survivor in her world. She wants people to like her? Forget the 8 other people here & think about the millions of viewers. BRILLIANT. Can we give this man an Emmy for writing on a Reality Program? FOR REALZ.
|Jonathan Penner: Winner of All the Things|
Time for my son's second observation: "His eyes are so blue, he looks like one of Loki's minions." HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS BEFORE?
Skupin wants to play this game with Lisa, & he wants to make sure she'll be with him if he makes a big move. Lisa, however, is still struggling. "If Tandang is no longer loyal to me, then am I being exactly what Abi accuses me of being? Gullible & naive? And I have to really think about that." For the love of Penner, how much thinking can one person do?
At Tribal, RC looks gorgeous again & Douchey McTool looks slightly more annoyed than he did when he was still in the game.
Lisa talks about how graceful Red was to her, & Probst comments to Abi-Maria, "The look on your face is so intense, it's like venom is ready to come out."
|This is her grace face.|
Artis declares Tandang to be one of the most powerful tribes in Survivor history. "It's playing out like it is supposed to play out." Denise suppresses a smile & says she thinks it might be a risk to think that way. Artis clarifies, "I totally understand that at any moment in this game I could be blindsided just like anybody else." Any moment, Artis?
Penner says they've all felt like fulcrum characters at some point, that they're all ready to tip the balance one way or another. I don't really think that's true. I think Penner has called everyone a fulcrum character.
Skupin is thrilled to have Immunity & says it's an unbelievable feeling, after 12 years of wanting to play the game again. Lisa is still struggling with playing the game & staying true to herself. "I don't know if I can learn it all in 39 days, but I do know that these 39 days are probably going to change me more than maybe 39 of my 49 years."
In Stupid Things Abi Does At Tribal Council news, she proclaims that she's not sure about Lisa. Penner couldn't have been happier than if Abi had actually slapped Lisa in the face as she was weighing her decision.
Nobody plays an idol, & with a very dramatic reading of the votes, Artis is voted out & Penner is saved, to much hooting & hollering in my family room.
|Is this the moment you understood? Was it all you had hoped for?|
So who was the fulcrum character? Lisa was shown voting last, making it appear as if she had cast the final Artis vote.
That's right, Lisa chose Abi-Maria over Jonathan Penner. It was Skupin who voted for Artis, but does that make Skupin the fulcrum? Penner described the fulcrum character at Tribal: ready to tip the balance one way or another. I think that makes it clear: the Fulcrum IS Penner. Yes, it was Skupin's vote that sent Artis home, but who actively applied the force to create the leverage needed to flip someone to the other side?
There are 2 weeks coming up when I won't be able to write my recaps. I make no promises, but next week *may* be the week I do my all-LEGO recap for Season 25. "Like" Winter Pays For Summer's Facebook page for confirmation & perhaps a preview! You can check out my previous LEGO Survivor recaps here, or in the photo album on the Facebook page.
Jeff only gets a 2-parter at Ponderosa, so take a few minutes to find out how much weight he ended up losing, & what the first thing he said to RC was (& also how highly he thinks of himself, if that wasn't clear before):