By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia
Once again, Cedar Rapids castaway Denise Stapley proved her mettle in games of strength and fortitude on tonight’s episode of “Survivor: Philippines.” (11/21/12)
Alas, despite her best efforts, her team lost the Day 26 Reward Challenge when Michael Skupin turned over the wrong drum in a race against the clock and his opponent, Denise held up her end of the deal, moving swiftly through her paces, winning a round for her team. Still, Michael’s error cost Jonathan, Denise, Lisa and Michael the chance to enjoy a spa day on another island.
Instead, Pete, Malcolm, Abi and Carter enjoyed an afternoon of pampering, with bubble baths, shampoos, massages, mani/pedis and a feast of shrimp skewers, calamari and cocktails.
And then Abi blew it. She came back to camp and just couldn’t keep her mouth shut, yammering on and on about what a fabulous time she had, feeling alternately like a princess, a queen and Cinderella. THEN she declared that she wasn’t going to cook ever again on the island. She still wanted to eat, but she was on kitchen strike.
She already had a target on her back. Now it’s even bigger and brighter, with a bull’s eye between her eyes. All the faux tears she shed at Tribal Council the next evening couldn’t undo the damage her boasting had done. Knowing this full and well, she played her Hidden Immunity Idol and survived another day on the million-dollar quest.
Is she crazy or crazy like a fox? Only time will tell on the reality TV endurance test, where mental acuity counts as much as physical acumen. Denise has both. Always level-headed, the mental health counselor and sex therapist knows how to keep her cool, maintain friendships and battle mightily in the games of speed and strength.
She made it to the finals of the Day 27 Immunity Challenge, leaving all but Carter and Michael in her wake, as they maneuvered buoys through a three-part rope obstacle course on land and water. Carter won, buying himself at least another day on the island.
As the remaining eight of 18 contestants plotted their alliances, Denise told the cameras and the viewers at home that she cannot wait for the chance to write Abi’s name on the ballot in the Tribal Council vote, then tell her buh-bye, saying: “Whiners are wieners. You need to go home.” She won’t get that chance before next week’s episode.
The tribe spoke, sending Pete home (well, really, to the jury box, which I’m guessing is still a pretty important position to hold).
Last week, the computer ate my story before I could tell you how well Denise had done. So, I’ll fill in a few blanks.
Denise was on the Day 23 Reward Challenge winning team, where they successfully crawled through muddy water to dig up bags of balls, carry them through a rice pit and shoot them into a basket. Their reward was most rewarding: taking toys and school supplies to children on a neighboring island, where the inhabitants thanked them by whipping up a tropical seafood feast.
Shes didn’t even come close, however, on the Immunity Challenge of landing balls on the little holes on the business end of a long-handled paddle. Sounds easier than it was. Michael and Pete were the only ones to conquer this game, and since Michael did it first, he won immunity at the Day 24 Tribal Council.
Artis, one of Abi’s cohorts, got the boot last week.
So after tonight, we’re down to seven: Abi, Carter, Denise, Jonathan, Lisa, Malcolm and Michael. Who will inch closer to the big payoff?
“Survivor” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS-TV.