Will Lisa finally stand up to her alliance bullies and turn the game?
Lisa Whelchel became a star on "The Facts of Life," but what will be her role on "The Facts of Survivor"? Is she just a supporting character who is used on the way to another person's victory?
Or, as Penner poses to her, can she rise above her people-pleasing background and take control of this game's story?
For weeks, Lisa's been picked on -- by her own tribe and by some viewers -- for being too soft, too nice, too much of a doormat.
It seems like everybody is against her ... apparently even mosquitoes! On her Twitter page, Lisa revealed that she was diagnosed with West Nile virus.
"Dr. just called with blood test results ... I have West Nile. Ugh. I'm fine, just tired. Takes a year to recover."
The flulike symptoms appear three to 14 days after the initial mosquito bite, so it's unlikely that Lisa contracted the virus during her stay in the Philippines.
West Nile virus is a rare condition, though nearly 5,000 people in the United States have been affected by it this year. Texas, where Lisa lives, has been one of the hardest-hit areas.
First her divorce, now a virus that takes a year to recover from? Poor Lisa seems to be taking hits from all sides.
Back on the island, as much as she wants to stay loyal to Tandang, Lisa also truly likes Jonathan Penner and doesn't want to vote him out.
The issue comes up during tribal council when Abi once again questions Lisa's loyalty. Does the too-nice mom finally stand up for herself and make another huge move?
Sadly, no. Instead, it is Skupin who takes control and votes with Penner, Carter, Malcolm, and Denise to vote Artis out.
Artis looks shocked, Penner is relieved, and RC on the jury can't contain her glee. Lisa just seems accepting.
Abi's expression? Murder.
New day, same old bullies
Everyone gets back to the beach after the last, head-spinning tribal council, where Lisa made her big move to save Skupin.
Abi immediately starts haranguing him about voting for her, but Penner steps up to claim that action.
Meanwhile, Malcolm forgives Lisa for outing his immunity idol. "You were playing the game. I was playing the game," Malcolm says, to which Lisa responds with tears (of course) and gratitude.
Penner assesses his situation, which is dire. There are five Tandangs left, and only four in his alliance -- him, Carter, Malcolm, and Denise. If they can't exploit the cracks in Tandang, he's a goner.
The reward challenge is a muddy one: an obstacle course where they have to dig up balls in a mud pit and then shoot the balls into a tall cone. They split into two teams, schoolyard-style, along alliance lines, and Penner's team wins, thanks to his strategy of digging up all the ball bags at once.
The reward is an amazing one: They get to go to a village bearing school supplies and toys. In exchange, they'll get a grand feast.
It's the kind of thing "Survivor" hasn't done enough of in the past but one that we hope will become a regular occurrence. The players relish the opportunity, calling it a "life-shaping experience."
Doing good doesn't prevent strategizing, though, and Penner knows they have to get Lisa and Skupin on their side.
Back at camp, Abi and Pete start strategizing, and the former starts giving Lisa grief about her actions at the last tribal council. "You just didn't know what to do," Abi says in a very patronizing voice, and calls Lisa gullible and naive.
But even with the continued bullying, Lisa feels torn. She worries about how it will look if she flips to the other side, especially after talking a big loyalty game to save Skupin last week.
The immunity challenge is a balancing act, as the players try to get six balls to rest on a big paddle board.
Surprisingly, Skupin wins (it's not even a contest), which sends Penner further into scramble mode.
He hits up Lisa again, giving her a spiel about how he's a storyteller and how he sees her as the "fulcrum character" in this season's story of "Survivor." He asks what she thinks the viewers want to see: Lisa helping the bad guys to succeed or joining up with the good guys.
Penner also makes his plea to Skupin, who seems less conflicted about his loyalty to Tandang. But Skupin won't go against Lisa. "I want to play this game with Lisa, but I got to make sure if I'm going to make a bold move, she's firmly on the side that I'm choosing."
At tribal council, Jeff grills Lisa on the fallout from her big move last week. She notes that the other side reacted with grace; her own alliance ... maybe not so much. Abi again puts on her sour face and insists that she acts with grace toward Lisa (ha!).
As Jeff probes how solid the Tandang alliance is, Abi again sticks her foot in her mouth, admitting that she's not certain about Lisa.
Lisa is flabbergasted. "Actions speak louder than words, and my actions have only been loyal to Tandang. Maybe I need to hear these words and actions and think about a decision," she muses.
But in the end, those are just words. Lisa's actions remain loyal, and she votes with the rest of Tandang for Penner.
Instead, it's her main ally, Skupin, who is the fulcrum in the story. He flips and makes Artis the 10th person voted out of the game.
"Once again, this game just turned," Jeff notes.
And once again, it's because of Lisa's unshakable, possibly ruinous loyalty to Tandang.
What do you think of Lisa's actions? Should she have flipped with Skupin?
See what's happening next week on "Survivor":
"Survivor: Philippines" airs Wednesdays at 8 PM on CBS.
- Sports & Recreation
- Lisa Whelchel
- Jonathan Penner