Survivor Insights 134: Philippines – Why Not Blinside Penner (Episode 6)

THE BAD: I couldn’t get it. It’s the perfect time to blindside Jonathan Penner but they didn’t do it. Or, is that only what I think?

Jeff Kent got other ideas. Along with Carter on his side, both men chose not to blindside Penner. They are sure Penner will have a target on his back when merge comes. Jonathan got the hidden idol and he’s a returnee; therefore, they assumed everyone won’t allow him to stay longer

Was this a great strategy? Yes.

Will this idea work? I don’t know.

Do I agree with it? No.

I don’t understand why they need to wait when it’s already the right moment. It looks to me both men gave Penner the chance to explore other opportunities.

THE GOOD: If there’s one good thing about saving Penner, that would be his loyalty. It seems he trusted Jeff when he approached him for an alliance in Episode 3. By not blindsiding him, Jeff successfully made Penner think he’s still 100% safe.

The biggest problem here is – a merge is coming and a lot of things are about to change!

The game will be about ME and for this, Jeff might find it harder to get rid of Penner. Even if he convinces Malcolm and other people from Tandang to orchestrate a blindside, I’m sure Penner will do everything in his power to survive.

Penner may not win the first individual immunity challenge but he can back-stab one of his own in exchange of his survival.

THE UNLUCKIEST: It wasn’t Katie who completely took the fall this episode, it was probably Jeff. He might either miscalculated not to make things happen or he has over analyzed the situation.

THE STANDOUT: The Immunity Challenge was a repeat of the eighteenth season. Back in that season, it was Tyson Apostol who helped his tribe win. He scored three consecutive points for Timbira at 2-4 down against Jalapao. This season, Malcolm equaled Tyson’s feat.

It’s wrong to say Kalabaw lost the challenge. The tribe was already there, only an inch closer to victory.

Malcolm simply won that challenge for Tandang. Since becoming a new Tandang, Malcolm officially became the tribe’s power. His level of athleticism was neither close to Michael, Pete nor Artis.

Michael was only a strategist and he’s more of a good leader than an athlete. As for Pete, he’s one of the fittest men this season but he’s more of “the brain” in challenges. He solves puzzles.

Jeff Kent is nineteen years older than Malcolm. Yet, in terms of strength, he’s the only one who can get even with the young fella from California.

Photo courtesy of: CBS

Survivor Insights 133: Survivor Philippines – Episode 5 Highlights

A lot of interesting scenes were going on in Survivor Philippines, episode five. It nearly felt like I was watching the entire episode for 90-minutes.

INTERESTING SCENE #1: Malcolm in the Middle

Matsing was down to two members and it’s kinda expected that the tribe will be dissolved. What’s so much interesting was Malcolm found the hidden immunity idol moments before the dispersal. With this idol in his pocket, Malcolm was now in a powerful position either he’ll be put at Tandang or Kalabaw. He’ll be protected by it and by his new alliance. As for Denise, I wasn’t worried about her at all. Whatever the situation, whether she has the idol protection or not, Denise would “dig in and dig deep” to escape the vote.

INTERESTING SCENE #2: The New Tandang, The New Kalabaw

Matsing was no more. Malcolm went to Tandang while Denise became a new member of Kalabaw. Was I happy with this? Yes! Malcolm was openly welcomed at Tandang. Everybody loved him. Pete immediately revealed everything to him even there’s no assurance that Malcolm was 100% with the deal. Pete felt confident in his confessional that Malcolm would trust him. He even said he got no problems taking Malcolm to the finals.

Strategy-wise, this was really an impulsive move for Pete. He’s an engineering graduate and he totally miscalculated the risks involved. Let’s say he got no problems with Malcolm, that’s only what he wanted to think. Malcolm never revealed to him anything. He didn’t say he’ll bring Pete in the finals.

RC handled things better than Pete. Reason #1: RC is a woman. She could flirt and make Malcolm believe he’s on her side. Reason #2: RC seems to have a superior analytical skills. With her background in investment banking, getting Malcolm’s trust and respect seems easy. She’s only chewing gum in no-money-involved situations.

INTERESTING #3: Dana Quits

A season of medevac is incomplete without the drama of having someone leaving the island. For this season, it was Dana’s turn to go. Deep inside, Dana wanted to continue. She wanted to fight for another day. She’s even in a safe position with women alliance. However, her physical health collapsed, the pain was too much and it won’t be any help should she chose to stay. Things will simply get complicated, right?

INTERESTING #4: The Immunity Challenge

Denise didn’t disappoint in Kalabaw. She’s still a big asset in challenges. Truth is – it’s shocking to see she’s stronger than Carter. Denise untied the knot seconds before Carter did. Also, Denise got no problems in running. Katie was way younger than her but Denise performed like she’s only 20 years old while Katie was half older than her. Denise was quick and she could handle things just right. In the puzzle, it was a tight race between Jonathan (for Kalabaw) versus Pete (for Tandang). I could sense Jonathan-Dawson lost this part not because they were way behind – but primarily because there’s a teamwork between Pete and Lisa. The two controlled the nerves effectively.

INTERESTING #5: BYE-bye Dawson

Personally, Dawson should have stayed than Katie. She was voted-out primarily because of Jeff Kent. Jeff felt she’s a complete threat to his game, that’s why; he convinced Jonathan and Carter to outvote her. Jeff already got Denise – who’ll stay loyal to him for the time being. Also, there’s also no point of saving Dawson. Jonathan hated her during the Immunity Challenge.

Episode Rating: 7 of 10 stars! I appreciate the production effort though the two challenges were not as exciting as I wanted it.

Photos courtesy of: CBS

Survivor Insights 132: Philippines – Absolutely Nuts! (Episode 4)

THE GOOD: Matsing lost for the fourth time in a row, therefore, it’s time to say goodbye to Russel. Is this a right decision? Yes. Is this a bad decision? Absolutely not. Malcolm and Denise could stay longer in the competition without worrying about Russel. Should there will be merge in Episode 6, they can easily snake around to find the right numbers for their survival. It’s mainly up to them whether they go with Kalabaw or Tandang.

Moreover, it’s “absolutely nuts” to have three returnees in the upcoming merge. It’s not bad considering this is only a game. I might be wrong but either Russel, Michael or Jonathan had their time. They had their moment. This season gave another chance for the medevacs to return but it’s not entirely made for them. It’s made for a new castaway to win.

I don’t want this season to end up like seasons 22 and 23, in which Boston Rob and Coach were given a free pass to the last three.

THE BAD: Things were in bad shape in Kalabaw. I don’t have a clue why it’s men vs. women. This is not One World and each of them has a choice to stir things around. It’s not like the boys should be with boys and girls should be with girls. This isn’t what the social aspect of the game is about. Whether they like it or not, they’re still playing a we-game. They’re still a tribe, they still need to trust each other and they’re still competing as a tribe.

Should these six make the merge, I can tell that none of them can benefit from this gender division. This division will be their biggest weakness. Why?

It’s because this gender-alliance will only benefit Malcolm and Denise. Either these two Matsing choose to go with Jonathan-Carter-Jeff or Dawson-Dana-Katie, they’ll immediately have the numbers for a spot in the last five.

I don’t know if you’ll agree with what I’m seeing here but this is how I analyze the various angles.

THE STAND-OUT: Who else can it be but Pete and Abi-Maria? Because of them, the Tandang camp was in chaos. Because of them, RC was instantly scared of her life.

I don’t dislike RC. It’s just that I want to see a dramatic shake-up in camp. I seem to get tired of we-want-to-win drama in Matsing and things also got too serious with the-men-against-the-women-thing in Kalabaw.

Tandang added some spice in the episode – and there you have it, Pete and Abi-Maria made an Emmy-award winning scene against RC. Personally, this was insanely funny to watch!

This was like a game of chess and RC was left with no squares to run.

But to get fair with her, RC handled things well. She didn’t behave like a loose canon who would simply burst the denial out. She remained calm and bravely choose to read the clue in front of the tribe.

  • Did the tribe buy her excuse? No.
  • Will she have a target on her back? Yes.
  • Can she survive the vote? It depends. It’s unclear who she’s really with.

THE UNLUCKIEST: Russel was eliminated. Didn’t that mean he was also the unluckiest? No.

As I look the deep angles of the situation, I seem to realize that it was Kalabaw who went south. I’m not sure if “going south” is considered “the unluckiest” but I see them heading that way.What was a tribe of triumph will face the inevitable end.

The tribe was in a tight competition against Matsing during the Immunity Challenge and luckily, Kalabaw escaped Tribal Council. Thanks to Jeff Kent and to his superb swinging skills!

EPISODE RATING: 9 of 10 stars!

Photos courtesy of: CBS

Survivor Insights 131: Philippines – Strength vs. Loyalty (Episode 3)


This Tribal Council reminds me of what happened in the sixth episode of South Pacific. It was when Upolu let go of Mikayla (strength) and Coach decided to keep Edna (loyalty).

Unfortunately, for the Matsing tribe – did the two-way alliance between Malcolm and Denise benefit for choosing strength?

Strategic-wise and for the time being, the answer is yes. Letting go of Angie was the right thing to do. It seems an easy decision for the tribe.

But here’s the thing: There are two sides, even three, in any situation and believe it or not, when I was listening with Rob Cesternino’s podcast, he was reading what I have in my mind, or … it can be the other way round.

Here’s how we see things –

As the editing went, it’s quite disappointing that Malcolm and Denise might have completely erased the option of being loyal with Angie. Perhaps, both felt like a walking mess after losing three in a row. What may be in their minds is TO WIN.

Okay, that’s understandable and I get it. Winning is everything  – though this was only one side of the story.

The other angle was – Angie is viewed as the weakling and it’s obvious that her time is up. Keeping Russel may still be an asset. He got the brawn to help the tribe win.

Yet, here’s the truth – Russel is a returnee.

It was the perfect moment to get rid of him. By any means that he’ll make the merge – there’s a huge chance that he’ll jumpshift. It’s his second chance and there’s no stopping now. Russel will do everything to stay.

If Rob Cesternino can see Russel with the two other returnees (Jonathan and Michael), this is what I have in mind too.

These returnees don’t care about loyalty. They only care about winning. They’re going to zig, zag, backstab and kiss-ass to get there, right?


Abi-Maria found the hidden immunity idol in Tandang and what’s nice about this is –  she’s with Pete, not RC!

Between RC and Pete, I noticed Abi-Maria felt more comfortable being with a man. With Pete at her side, both can take their game into the next level. In the previous episode, I saw an Abi-Maria who became more paranoid with RC. As for Pete, it seems he can make things work for both of them. Pete got the numbers too after talking with Lisa to get rid of Mike.

Just like that, Lisa was playing the Sandra Tell-Me-What-You-Want-To-Do thing.

I’m not saying they can win. It’s still early to say. Anything can still happen. It’s just that the power that’s supposed to be a triangle alliance in Matsing (Denise-Malcolm-Angie) was handed over at Tandang (Abi-Pete-Lisa). In a tribe of six, the trio could be 51% powerful should they control every situation at the right timing.

Who knows? You’ll see them in the last three.


If you’ll rank who the power players in this episode, Jeff Kent should be in the Top 3. That four-finger-handshake negotiation with Jonathan was genius. It looks to me both men have agreed on something so important but it looks like Jeff only did it to get Jonathan’s trust.

Both men are smart and they are not stupid to realize SURVIVOR is a “me” game. Jonathan played the game twice and Jeff regularly compared the game to playing baseball. Either you played the game in the past or you played a sport for many years, there’s no big difference. As a professional retired athlete and a writer outside the game, I can sense both men have the proficiency to recreate a strategy board when something goes wrong.

You see, the editing was limited. The airtime for Kalabaw was not even close to enough. I don’t know if this is the right thing to say but it felt like there were plenty of intriguing moments in Kalabaw apart from the negotiation-thing and Jeff-Carter-Dawson meeting.

This tribe consists of physically and mentally competitive people. I have not seen all of them in confessionals and you know what, it’s not necessary. This tribe was unbeatable in any type of challenges.

EPISODE RATING: 9 of 10 stars

I hated it when Angie was existing the Tribal Council. Angie is clearly one of the cutest and sweetest faces I’ve seen in the show. She’s not someone I’m expecting her to be yet I still chose her as one of my bets. Existing the game so early, Angie also showed a lot of her ups and downs in three episodes. The camera loves her and most especially, she can’t deny how she craved for cookies. This moment was simply one-of-a-kind!

Photos courtesy of: CBS