‘Survivor: Philippines’ Finale Recap: Lisa’s Secret It Out, But Does She Win?


'Survivor: Philippines' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’ve got a whole ton of “Survivor” stuff going on.  We inducted three new members into the “Survivor” Hall of Fame; Amanda Kimmel, Rob Cesternino, and Ethan Zohn.  Tomorrow we’ll have an interview with the winner of “Survivor: Philippines.” And, we’ll have interviews with the rest of the final four as the week goes on. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Last Week: Malcolm, Skupin, and Lisa promised to take each other to the final three, Denise learned her neck was very tasty, and the person voted out of the game was named Abi.

Also: The top three in my pre-season rankings are still in the game. If Malcolm can pull this off my curse will be officially broken.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribe as it currently stands…

The Dangrayne Tribe (wearing black)

Denise – Sex Therapist, 41
Lisa – Former ‘Facts of Life’ Star, 49
Malcolm – Bartender, 25
Michael – Professional Speaker, Author, and Coach, 50

We kick this party off after Tribal Council and for some reason nobody is upset that Abi isn’t around anymore. In fact, Skup and Denise break into a celebration dance.

Malcolm is glad she’s gone, but isn’t thrilled that she threw him under the bus on the way out. He doesn’t like that everyone thinks he’s a slam dunk to win.

Fortunately for Malcolm, Skup doesn’t think he’s a slam dunk. He thinks his personal story of a returning player who survived 47 separate injuries is much more compelling.

Tree mail arrives and apparently there’s a reward challenge that offers an advantage if they can defeat “The Dragon.” Too bad Coach isn’t on this season, he has experience with that.

Reward Challenge Time: The players will race through a series of obstacles while gathering bags of puzzle pieces. Then, they’ll complete a dragon-shaped puzzle. The first person to complete the puzzle wins an advantage in the final immunity challenge.

Wow, that is worth playing for.

In the challenge, Malcolm, Skup, and Denise are pretty even in the beginning with Lisa trailing behind. Skup eventually breaks ahead and he’s the first one to the puzzle. Malcolm, Denise, and Lisa aren’t far behind him.

The puzzle is very similar to the super-hard tree puzzle from “Survivor: One World.”

Denise jumps out to a lead, but Malcolm manages to pass her and win the immunity advantage.

On one hand, “Hooray” for Malcolm. On the other hand, way to disprove Abi’s theory that he’s the mega threat.

After the challenge, Malcolm lets us know that he thinks he can defeat Denise, but her story is too close to his. Denise takes him aside and asks if he’s willing to have the vote go to a tie so she and Lisa have to do the fire-making tie breaker. Malcolm’s not willing to commit to this plan. This makes her nervous because Malcolm was so pro-active in all of their other plans.

Why wouldn’t Malcolm just make a deal? I think you need to keep her happy here in case you lose.

Denise approaches Lisa with a plan to join up with her and Skup. Lisa hugs on it, but she doesn’t shake hands or give her word. That’s like Jeff Kent’s weird three-fingered handshake. Celebrities have different honesty rules than we do.

Skup isn’t sure he wants to jump on board with this plan because he thinks he can beat Malcolm in a challenge or in front of a jury.

The fallen comrades walk is up next. I’m not placing an over/under for the word “competitor” because I’m always wrong.

Highlights from the walk include; Angie referring to herself as “well rounded,” Dawson’s Skinemax description of what she wants to do with Jeff Probst, and Jeff Kent being proud of not pissing off too many people.

Competitors Count: Dana and Dawson.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will use two handles to hold up blocks of wood. Balancing on the wood is a single marble. They’ll add more wood as they go. Last person to keep their ball a-balancin’ wins immunity.

Malcolm gets to read his advantage, which is a second chance in case he screws up.

Not much to describe here except for standin’, handle holdin’, and concentratin’.

Malcolm drops his ball in the second round, he gets a second chance.

When they reset, Malcolm continues to have serious trouble. He shakes like crazy and eventually loses it. Booo… Is this Ozzy in “South Pacific” all over again?

Denise is out next before the end of the second round. So…it doesn’t matter who wins now.

Skup and Lisa battle it out, going two more rounds. Lisa eventually loses control and drops her ball. Skupin wins immunity and a guaranteed shot in the final three if he lives that long.

The guy in me who started loving “Survivor” in 2000 and has been begging for Skupin to come back for years is giddy.

Back at camp, Malcolm is worried that Skupin and Lisa might come up with some crazy ideas. Keeping you is a crazy idea, Malcolm.

Denise is worried because Skup wants to go toe to toe with Malcolm. She tries to lay it out to him saying there’s honor in taking Malcolm to the end, but that won’t be followed by the honor of defeating Malcolm.

She then makes the argument that her and Malcolm have an alliance, but her and Skup have a friendship. Meh… Skup has 30 kids, he doesn’t need friends.

I’d also argue that Skup can’t beat Malcolm or Denise, but that ship has sailed back to Brazil.

That night at Tribal Council, Abi gives everyone the stink eye. Wait, it might’ve been the evil eye.

Malcolm doesn’t think he’s as tight with Denise as he used to be.

Denise thinks they were separated at birth and by the luck of the draw came back together.

Malcolm and Denise both admit that they’ve only had an agreement to the final four.

Lisa refers to her relationship with Skup as an open relationship. Meanwhile in Delaware, I throw up in my mouth a little.

Skup says Malcolm has favors for life for letting his son visit the camp.

Lisa disagrees, saying it’d have to be a million-dollar favor.

Malcolm brings up that Denise has had to attend every Tribal Council. That stat amazes me.

Probst asks for a reason why Lisa should take Malcolm to the end, she can’t come up with one. Uh oh…

Voting Time: Denise votes for Malcolm, Malcolm votes for Denise, and the rest aren’t shown.

JPro does some tallying. We’ve got one vote for Malcolm, one vote for Denise, one vote for Malcolm, and the fifteenth person to leave “Survivor: Philippines” and the eighth member of the jury is Malcolm. On his way out, Malcolm congratulates Denise.

ARGH!!! So close…so close…

Also, the former lead actor of the ‘80s sitcom smash “The Facts of Life” is in the final three of “Survivor.” So weird…

Back at camp, the mood is somber for a trio who’s on their way to the final three. Denise doesn’t feel too bad though, because Malcolm’s a fan and that’s the way the game is played.

Skup’s a little weirded out that Malcolm congratulated Denise, because they’d been aligned since day one and she stabbed him in the back. C’mon Skup, you have to know that Malcolm’s the type that will reward smart gameplay.

The next morning the gang is treated to the final-three feast. Lisa quips “It’s not tree mail, it’s tree meal!” If she can turn phrases like that in front of the jury, she can’t lose!

Skup says he knew he could’ve made it to the end of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” 23 seasons ago. I don’t know about that. Colby Donaldson might not have accepted him as a mother figure.

That night at Tribal, Denise says she isn’t going to apologize for making it to the end. She’s very proud of being able to survive the demise of three different tribes and that she outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed everyone on the jury. Well done.

Lisa thinks they all got to the final three different ways and that her strategy wasn’t pretty. She thinks she ran wild, fell down, dusted herself off, then got up and tried again. Well, that’s something. She admits that she hadn’t been playing the game to the best of her ability until her brother gave her a wake-up call. She takes credit for throwing the punch that knocked out the heavyweight champion.

Skup points out how hard it is for returning players to play the game. He thinks the recent successes of Boston Rob and Coach put an automatic target on his back.

Fun Fact: A returning player has made it to the finals every time they’ve had newbies face returnees.

Overall, the opening statements were good. But I’m giving that round to Denise. We’ll see who does well in the evening gown competition…

Artis goes first, he won’t congratulate anyone for making it that far because he thinks they’re all holier than thou. Artis admits to making alliances, but he held true to them. Wha-huh?

Carter is impressed that Lisa and Skup made it so far even though they were early targets. He asks Skupin when he knew Carter was going home. Skup compliments Carter for playing a good game, but says that they knew they couldn’t beat him. Notice that he never answered the actual question.

Pete thinks Lisa has been hiding behind never voting for Artis and Pete, but Lisa knew they were going home. Then, he asks Denise why her game was the best. Denise says she had to scramble several times because she kept hopping tribes.

RC admits that she wanted Lisa out first. She compliments her for making it to the end. She then asks if Skup knew she was going home. He says that he thought Penner’s number was up when she was voted out.

Malcolm is impressed that Lisa swang for the fences with her opening statement. He then tells Denise to stop nodding. He thinks it’s her way of appeasing everyone. He asks why she deserves to win over Lisa and Skup. She says she listened and observed and played the game. He calls her out for not answering the question. She responds that she doesn’t think they played a strategic came.

Jeff Kent bats lower in the order than he’s used to. He admits to being bitter. He asks Skupin if he’s someone who made things happen, someone who watched things happen, or someone who wondered, “What the hell happened?” Skup thinks he made things happen. Skupin thinks his head was on the chopping block the whole game, but Lisa and Denise had been safe for a while.

Kent then asks Lisa about how she floated during the middle of the game. Lisa doesn’t think she floated, she thinks she made the move to get rid of Malcolm earlier when he had the idol. Kent thinks she did float by because her plans never worked. He’s got a point.

Abi is upset because she was called the most unlikable person in the game. She wants to know why Lisa deserves her vote. Lisa says she was true to her alliance until it fell apart. Skup thinks he deserves her vote because he followed the Outwit, Outplay, Outlast values. Abi thinks he disrespected her.

Finally, Abi calls Denise out for thinking she was unlikable. Wha-huh? Denise apologizes if she was hurt and that she should have come up with another way to express herself.

Penner gets to go last. Penner admits that everyone is upset that they’re not in the final three but the final three deserves his congratulations. Penner thinks that Denise was being too appeasing. He says that Denise was worried about looking like a bitch, and now she has shown the world that side of her.


Penner doesn’t think Skupin’s name came up as much as he thinks it did. Penner then points out that he has been voted for more than anyone ever except for “Redemption Island” secret agent Phillip Sheppard. Wow, and we thought Cochran knew his stats.

For his finishing move, Penner tells everyone that Lisa was the star of “The Facts of Life.” Lisa responds by asking Penner if he told everyone what he did as a teenager.

Note: If anything, I’d respect Lisa more for keeping that secret for 39 days.

OK, nobody hit it out of the park, but I think Denise did what she needed to do to win.

Voting Time: RC votes for Lisa, Penner votes for Denise, Carter votes for “Skoopin,” and the rest of the votes will wait for Probst to get to LA.

We’ve got one vote for Lisa, one vote for Denise, one vote for Skup, three votes for Denise,  and the winner of “Survivor: Philippines” is…Denise.

Verdict: My second pick won, that has to count for something, right?

Anywho, I was fine with anyone in the final four winning and this is easily the best season since “Heroes vs. Villains.” So, high fives in “Survivor” town. Be sure to check back Monday afternoon for my interview with Denise!

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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