At this point in the challenge, Amanda makes a significant move, which is that she places her second-to-last dish, a bowl, upside down, which seems to instantly make it more stable. Denise and Courtney do not follow suit. Because it's a bigger bowl on top of a smaller bowl, Amanda's arrangement essentially exploits the size of the dishes, while Courtney and Denise's arrangements fight it. Courtney's dishes wobble. Amanda remains perfectly still. Jeff tries to fill, prattling about "this is it," and "there are no more challenges," and so forth. Jeff is not a person who should attempt to fill, seriously. Courtney looks desperate, then says she doesn't feel well, then lets her dishes drop. So now, it's Denise and Amanda. Denise doesn't look happy about this development at all. For some reason, Jeff Probst has never seemed any more ridiculous than he does at this moment, droning on in a desperate attempt to build suspense about a contest about which nobody cares, because these people are boring and also it's dishes and also what happened to challenges that took eight hours? That was awesome. Ian and Tom too much man for you, Burnett?
Amanda looks like she could do this all day. Denise looks like she's thirty seconds from total organ failure. So, of course, Denise chooses this moment to attempt to extract concessions. "All right, Amanda, what do you think?" she asks. "What do you mean?" asks Amanda. "Make a deal?" Denise asks desperately, Jon-Dalton-style. "You don't want to give up easily, do you?" Amanda asks gently, because it's nicer than "What are you thinking you can offer in this 'deal,' other than your willingness to drop out now instead of sixty seconds from now?" "Come on, I won't write your name down, you don't write my name down," Denise says. "I'm not giving up, Denise," Amanda says simply. Jeff cautions them not to lose their concentration, then tells them they have to put another bowl on. "Oh, crap," Denise mutters. "You sure, Amanda?" Denise asks, and it's...kind of hilarious, given that it's so obvious that she's just asking, "Before I lose on my own, are you certain you don't want to give me something in return for my losing intentionally?" "Come on, let's battle this out, Denise, you're not a quitter," Amanda says. It's amusing how it never occurs to Amanda that the proposal here is that she would quit; it's obvious that Denise is going to quit, and equally obvious that Denise will lose anyway, so the deal, she is toast. The time to deal is when both people legitimately believe they might lose the challenge and legitimately believe they might be voted out at F4, so the 75 percent chance you perhaps have that someone will keep to a deal is better than your 50 percent chance of winning immunity.
Amanda and Denise place their last bowls, sticking with their opposite-facing arrangements. There is waiting. There is sweating. And then, Denise's dishes fall off their perch and crash to the ground. Amanda hugs Denise, saying, "You think I was going to let you quit on me? Come on." Amanda happily skips over to Jeff, who puts the necklace around her neck. He tells Denise, Todd, and Courtney that one of them will not be seeing the final tribal council. Dun! "If there was ever a time to pull out all the stops to try to make a deal," he begins, and in my living room, I finish: "It was two weeks ago." But Jeff says "This. Is. It." instead. Back to camp with everyone.