By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
Retired baseball player Jeff Kent, 44, is used to winning in the big leagues, but he struck out with the Tribal Council vote on Wednesday’s (11/7/12) episode of “Survivor: Philippines.”
I felt sorry for him — until he opened his mouth afterward and said: “I made $60 million in baseball, but I really wanted this million.” Ah greed will get you every time.
Pete Yurkowski, 24, Holmdel, N.J., was just one vote behind Jeff, so he needs to watch his back next week. Annoying, conniving Abi-Maria Gomes, 32, from Los Angeles, also drew a vote, so she needs to be on guard, as well.
Nothing was certain as the surviving 10 contestants spent Day 22 plotting and scheming by twos and fours to build voting blocs. And plan their personal paths to the million-dollar payoff while trying to maintain airs of benevolence, not malevolence.
As cracks formed and secrets leaked out, wide-eyed innocent Lisa Whelchel, 49, teen star of “The Facts of Life,” revealed her true colors. She’s in it to win it, no matter who she steps on.
Cedar Rapids castaway Denise Stapley stayed steadfast in her calm, intelligent, level-headed approach. She remains a fresh tropical breeze amid the gathering storms.
“It’s fascinating to watch the alliance implode,” said Stapley, 41, who makes her living as a mental health counselor and sex therapist.
Returning player Jonathan Penner, 50, who survived last week’s episode by playing his Hidden Immunity Idol, surprised everyone by winning the Day 22 Immunity Challenge. Physically fit but not considered the strongest or fastest in the group, he scaled the obstacle course and finished his puzzle first to stay on the show.
Jeff’s reaction? “Penner just bought himself another three days of dead man walking.” Karma bit him in the rear for that snark, as Jeff got the boot instead.
After the vote, host Jeff Probst declared: “I can’t think of a more complicated, entertaining Tribal Council,” and after the votes were tallied, added: “This may go down as one of the biggest blown opportunities in the history of the game.”
In Denise’s hometown, however, the highlight of the show came early on, when she and her teammates won the Day 20 Reward Challenge. The castaways divided themselves into two teams for a relay race that involved swimming, pulling and running. No sweat for triathlete Denise.
She and her group — Jeff, Malcolm, Jonathan and Lisa — left the others in the sand and enjoyed an afternoon jungle river cruise dining on a barbecued ribs picnic. A most welcome change from beans, rice and whatever native flora and fauna can be captured and cooked.
Watch her odyssey unfold at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS-TV.
BONUS Fast Fact from colleague and “Suvivor” devotee Sam Paxton:
According to a recent episode of “Survivor” podcast “The Tribe,” Denise recently joined a select group: players who managed to play with every single member of their season, even all the pre-merge boots from the tribal phase of the game. As a member of Matsing, her tribe lost four straight Immunity Challenges to start the season, but she survived with Malcolm until the two were divided among the two remaining tribes. Denise then went to Kalabaw, which was fully intact when she joined. She then made it safely through two more tribal councils (as well as the med-evac of other teammate) before the tribes merged, where she rejoined Malcolm and the Tandang tribe, still undefeated and six-strong at the time. That’s everyone.
By accomplishing this, Denise joined a trio of players who pulled off a similar feat in the fourth season, “Survivor: Marquesas” – a group that included the season’s winner, Vecepia Towery, as well as fan favorite “Boston Rob” Mariano, who would go on to be the show’s only four-time player, a two-time finalist and one-time Sole Survivor. That’s good company to be in.