History has a funny way of repeating itself. And if anyone should be aware of that little nugget of truth, it’s the 19 contestants who still are vying to make right with their second chance in the game. But on Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Cambodia,” this came back to bite a few players right on the butt. Not quite in the same way that a bug bit Jeff Varner’s butt last week, but figuratively speaking. Here is what went down in Episode 2:
Kelly & Kelley. Here’s the last time this season I’ll point it out, but “Kelly” refers to old-schooler Kelly Wigglesworth. “Kelley” refers to new schooler and current Idol-possessor, Kelley Wentworth. The show opened with differing emotions from the both. Kelly began by calling last week’s Tribal Council “devastating” and added the obvious: “This is not how I wanted to start off my second chance.” Ah, but Kelly, as we would find out tonight, it’s not about how you start off your second chance, it’s about how you finish it. Sadly, this was the last we would really hear from Kelly during the ep. Kelley though, snuck off and finally was able to take a peek at her newly acquired Immunity Idol, snatched during the first Immunity Challenge. She feels its power and knows that its a big deal that she has it. “It’s go big or go home,” she tells us.
School is In Session. Last week, the major theme out of the starting gates was the whole “new school vs. old school” approaches to the game of Survivor. Spencer tells us, “There was a sense that the new school got the better of the old school,” referring to what went down with Vytas’s exit at the first Tribal Council. Jeff Varner played a huge part in his exit, the sole “old schooler” who decided to go all new school on Vytas by betraying him and voting him out, despite them having a pre-game alliance. But Varner did give an explanation for his actions. “My whole plan in voting out Vytas was to teach the old schoolers to play this game, and to set the stage to get our Shirin or Spencer.” It actually seems to make sense coming from him. So what type of game is Varner playing? Is he now considered a new schooler? An old schooler? Some new hybrid schooler? “You have to get off your ass and play this game,” Varner tells us. “This is not 2001.” Varner quickly gets Terry up to speed with what he did, and it does dawn on Terry that he needs to step things up. Apparently, it seems like Varner’s move was accepted quite favorably among both schools of thought.
Survivor MacGyver. So little drama is going on over at the Bayon tribe, that when we got a glimpse of them this week, it was mostly about how Joe is just being Joe…you know, being perfect. He has built his tribe some hammocks and just has jumped from one project to the next, all with his tribe’s comfort at the center of his efforts.
Fishbach Out of Water…Again. The only other big news out of Bayon this week was that we got to hear a really nice, heartfelt story from Andrew Savage, about how he met his wife and how deeply in love he is with her. The story was so powerful, it appeared to turn Kass into a human, full with emotions and tear ducts. All jokes aside, Kass has thus far shown some real growth and even admits to us that she actually likes a lot of the people on her tribe this season. Kass isn’t the only one affected, as Savage’s story hit a bit too close to home for Jeremy as well, who actually had to leave the camp for a few minutes to fight back his tears as his thoughts turned to his own wife, Val. Val, he reveals, is actually pregnant, but Jeremy does not want to let his emotions dictate his game. With everyone getting swept up in true emotions, leave it to Fishbach to center them back to the game at hand. He wonders aloud where Jeremy has run off to, and surmises that he is probably off searching for an Idol. This doesn’t go over well with Savage, and further confirms to him that Fishbach needs to go sooner rather than later.
Loose Lips. Back at the dramatic soap opera that is Ta Keo, it is clear that once again this season Abi is rubbing people the wrong way. There was the whole thing with her lost bracelet, and ever since then Abi and Peih-Gee seem to be at uneasy odds with one another. Tensions between them rose on Night 5 though, when Peih-Gee and Shirin decided to trash talk Abi just outside of camp. They did not do so very gracefully, and Abi was able to hear every word that was said. Shocked that not only Peih-Gee, but alliance-mate Shirin was talking about her, Abi of course decides to confront the two of them. A yelling match ensued, but that wasn’t the worst of it. After Abi had gone off by herself, she could once again overhear Peih-Gee talking to the others. All of the tribe – all of those that Abi thought had her back and were in her alliance – were now laughing at her with Peih-Gee. Totally defeated, Abi broke down and was crying to the camera, admitting that she felt all alone in the game. Making matters worse, she felt most betrayed by Shirin, who not only had her back, but was herself a victim during her original season, when she felt like others teamed up on her and isolated her.
Compassion Makes Your Game Grow Stronger. Terry Deitz, a Survivor hero through and through, does not like to see that his tribe is basically all laughing at Abi. Noticing that nobody else chooses to go and comfort Abi, Terry decides to. His compassion for Abi ended up changing the course of the game. Feeling “rescued” by Terry, Abi was not only comforted and felt a great deal of appreciation for Terry’s sympathy, but their two-hour talk on the beach eventually turned to strategy. Feeling betrayed and no longer attached to her former alliance, Abi and Terry discuss teaming up to vote out Spencer or Shirin. Ironically, Abi’s new alliance would include Peih-Gee, the very person that she seems to have the biggest beef with. But along with Varner and Woo, there is now a clear majority. Suddenly Abi’s loyalty was not just a novelty.
Immunity Challenge. Once again a throwback challenge, the tribes had to climb through an obstacle course, and then lug a large trunk via rope, finally ending with a fairly challenging puzzle. In addition to Immunity, the winning tribe would also get a Survivor tool kit, with – duh – tools, but also some materials they would find back at camp that would improve their shelter. At one point, Probst realizes he forgot to grab the Immunity Idol back from Bayon, and he cracks a joke about having a “second chance” to grab the Idol correctly. A close challenge until the end, Ta Keo screws up their puzzle, giving Bayon their second straight win. As their massive amount of screen time throughout the episode had dictated, the Ta Keo tribe was headed back to Tribal Council.
Two-Headed Snake. Spencer and Shirin are feeling super-confident…uh-oh. Varner calls them “two heads on one snake” and plans on cutting one of them off. He sets his plan in motion. He already has Terry, Peih-Gee, Kelly, Woo and Abi – that’s six – but he makes a smart assessment by including everyone who is not Spencer or Shirin in on the plan. That only leaves Kelley, who is on board (what other options does she have?) and who decides to “go with the flow,” but who tells us in an interview that she would have much rather played the game with Shirin and Spencer. Could this “go with the flow” decision end up biting Kelley?
Honest Abi. Shirin doesn’t realize that her game has blown up until she tries pulling Abi aside to apologize for not having her back the night before. But that ship has already sailed. Alone with Abi, Shirin asks her, “Are we still in this together?” Abi – think of her what you will – but if there is one thing she is, it’s brutally honest. I mean, she can’t hold back from telling the truth. Upon hearing that question, she pauses and then laughs. “That’s just not my style,” she tells Shirin. In that moment, Shirin knows she has lost Abi, and that her game is in a world of trouble.
Woo Too? Shirin immediately breaks the news to Spencer that they are suddenly – shockingly – in the minority and facing elimination. They scramble and decide to try to approach Woo, virtually begging him and offering him deals left and right. But Woo – rightly so – is offended by this…they haven’t spoken one word to him yet in this game, and this is when they decide to approach him? “Absolutely not,” Woo tells them plainly. Spencer is feeling the heat, and he breaks down into tears during an interview, knowing that either him or Shirin is about to go home. “I feel like there is no move I can make other than screwing over the one person I wanted to play with.”
Tribal Council. Jeff Probst is great at what he does, not nearly getting enough credit for how easy he makes his job appear. But his insight at tonight’s Tribal was pretty awesome. Talk of course was all about Shirin and Spencer, but Probst pointed out how similar things were to the first time they both played. Mike had come to Shirin’s “rescue” at one point in the game, much like Terry came to Abi’s “rescue.” Spencer pretty much gave the same exact plea to the rest of his tribe as he did during his original season, telling them that if they allowed him to stay in the game, he would work on building real relationships instead of being so strategic-minded. Both of them seem to be making the same miscalculations, the same mistakes, as they did before. “Change is hard,” Shirin admits, adding that if she got to stay in the game it would be like getting a “third chance.” Would three be a charm for Shirin?
The Vote. Having no other option, Shirin votes for Spencer and Spencer votes for Shirin. The votes were then read: Spencer – Shirin – Shirin – Shirin – Spencer – Spencer – Spencer – Shirin…and Shirin. In a 5-4 vote, Shirin became the second person voted out of the game (it looks like the tribe split their votes on the chance one of them produced a hidden Idol). “Give ’em hell,” Shirin tells Spencer on her way out. After she leaves, Spencer tells his tribe, “I meant every word I said. Thank you guys.” Probst left them with a strong sentiment: “This season offers a second chance to change what didn’t work the first time, but if you don’t change, history is destined to repeat itself.” As it did.
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 2 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…Wait, drop your buffs??? This early in the game? Yes, in an apparent effort to keep these wily veterans on their toes, Probst announces to them that there is going to be a tribe shake-up, and not just any old tribe swap: In fact, they are are going to go from two tribes, to three tribes. Game on!
Podcast!! In case you missed it, I just hosted a podcast with Survivor Hall of Fame curator and XfinityTV.com’s Survivor guru, Gordon Holmes, who was actually out in Cambodia for the first few days of filming. He filled me in on some great behind-the-scenes stuff, so please check it out if you are a fan of the game (which I know you are!).
And be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one, second-chance interview with Shirin, and be sure to follow me, @tomsantilli.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.