There are always highs and lows in the game of Survivor, as is in life. But it’s pretty awesome when we get an episode that not only features players getting high (um, not like that) and getting low, but also shifting from side to side, left-to-right, and every which way. It was a topsy-turvy world this Wednesday night on “Survivor: Cambodia,” ending with a disjointed Tribal Council that truly had us wondering just what the heck the outcome was going to be. Here is what went down…and up…and sideways…during Episode 3:
Movin’ On Up. Returning from a Tribal Council that saw Shirin sent out of the game, Spencer realizes that his second chance was hanging on by a wee thread. As he did at Tribal, Spencer also promised his tribe back at camp that they would see a new him, a more social and caring him. Terry meanwhile, is feeling amazing and “on top of the world” as he says. He is in the majority alliance at Ta Keo but also is feeling great from a social standpoint as well, after warming up to Abi the previous day. But it’s amazing that these former players still haven’t caught on: Never – never! – go on Survivor and ever tell the camera that you feel happy, or that you feel safe. Those are all “famous last words,” and it never ends well for the comfortable in the game of Survivor. And with that in mind…
Drop Your Buffs. The two tribes are called in and Probst begins questioning how things are going. Kass tells him that her tribe is a “frickin’ love tribe,” and we’ve definitely never seen Kass more comfortable (there’s that word again) in the game. “Good to hear that both tribes are happy with the way things are going,” Probst says. “Which makes it a perfect opportunity to change things up.” Buffs – and jaws – soon dropped as he announced what was about to happen: Not only would there be a tribe shake-up, but they would be going from two tribes, to three tribes of six. To make things even worse, the new “third” tribe, called Angkor (and given the color yellow), would be sent to a new location on the beach, and would have to start from absolute scratch in building a shelter, building a fire and scavenging for food (they would receive a few simple supplies and flint). “Shut the front door,” was Ciera’s response to this news. Immediately, Savage became worried. He no like when the game introduces twists…as you may recall, Savage famously was the victim of what is regarded as the worst twist in the game’s history, the Outcast twist, where voted-out players returned to the game seeking vengeance. With that, they all randomly selected their tribes.
New Bayon. The new Bayon tribe consisted of four former Bayon members, Monica, Jeremy, Kimmy and Fishbach, who would be joined by Kelly (Wiglesworth) and Spencer. It was good news for Spencer and Fishbach, both of whom felt ostracized and on the outs of their former alliances. Fishbach, even though remaining on the same tribe, had the “alpha males” shipped elsewhere, and he felt more a part of things aside his “weaker” allies.
New Ta Keo. Former Bayon’s Kass, Keith, Ciera and Joe joined Kelley (Wentworth) and Terry. It looks like the “old Bayon” tribe really won out, since they now held the majority on two of the three newly formed tribes (assuming they would continue to vote along old tribal lines…)
New Angkor. Former Ta Keo members Jeff Varner, Abi, Peih-Gee and Woo would be with Savage and Tasha, the only old Bayon members now in a minority, confirming Savage’s worst fears. He called the tribe placement “devastating.”
Feeling It Out. Much of the middle part of the episode was spent showing the new tribe dynamics feeling each other out (not like that) and getting to know one another. Varner instantly targeted Savage, and Woo tells him, “Let’s be smart” and stay with their four-strong. It’s a shaky foursome by any stretch of the imagination, with Peih-Gee and Abi not really gelling as besties, and with Varner’s tendency to flip-flop. The general sense at the new Bayon and Ta Keo tribes was one of happiness: The majorities were happy to be in the majority, and even Terry – now in the minority of his new tribe – was not letting the tribe swap get him down. “We don’t have the numbers,” Terry said. “But I don’t think we are going to need the numbers,” referring to his new tribe’s strength. Kelley though, was hedging her bets a bit more, and even though we know she has found a hidden Idol, she begins spreading rumors that Terry did a lot of searching for the Idol back at her old camp, firmly throwing him under the bus in the eyes of her new tribe mates.
Spencer 2.0. True to his word to grow socially and even though on a new tribe, Spencer has a talk with Jeremy that he wouldn’t normally have. He discusses some personal things about his girlfriend and how he has a hard time expressing his feelings outside of the game as well as inside of it. Jeremy seems to really like Spencer, but his game-focus is classic Jeremy…he notes that although he likes the kid and he may be useful for a few votes, that he will eventually still need to go.
Bird Calls. There are all sorts of exotic birds in Cambodia, but Varner flashed a different sort of bird up into the sky, cursing the heavens and the crappy weather in what was one of the funniest moments of tonight’s episodes. He yelled some expletives, thew his fingers in the air, and gave us yet another “Varner moment.” There have been many of them in just three episodes thus far.
Cracks Forming. Tasha and Savage begin to see that there are some cracks that exist within the former Ta Keo tribe, specifically when they see some tension between Abi and Peih-Gee. They both approach Varner to see his willingness to flip on one of his allies, but he isn’t biting. “They will get me to jury,” Varner says sarcastically about Tasha and Savage. “Isn’t that a lovely invitation?”
A Second Idol Discovered. Fishbach rallies up his alliance (Jeremy, Monica and Kimmy) and tells them they need to find their tribe’s Idol and then share it. You know, a team unity kind of thing. As they look, Jeremy finds something stashed in a tree stump under some leaves. It is a clue to a hidden Idol, that is once again hidden WITHIN the upcoming Immunity Challenge. But of course this is Jeremy: He has absolutely no intention of sharing this clue or the Idol with his fellow tribe mates.
Immunity Challenge. It was the first challenge of the Brains vs. Brawns vs Beauty season, a challenge that Spencer, Tasha and Kass all participated in and lost. Now that all three are on opposing tribes, there would be redemption for two of them. The losing tribe? Tribal Council. It was a challenge where they had to get a large cart through an obstacle course, picking up keys and large chests along the way. The chests contained puzzle pieces that would need to be assembled in order to win the challenge. The Idol was hidden on one of the chests, and Jeremy managed to grab it without anyone else seeing him! As Terry predicted, his Ta Keo tribe dominated the game. It was much closer between second and third place, but Angkor ended up on the bottom. But the real drama came after the challenge…
Stealing Signs. After the challenge was over, Varner attempted to mouth something over to Kelly on the Bayon tribe. It’s unclear what was said. But Tasha picked up on it and immediately jumped in front of him to block him from seeing Kelly. She then yelled out, “Hey we got a rat!” Probst questions them, and Varner totally looks like he is suddenly in trouble, since his secret communications with an opposing tribe doesn’t really look all that good for him. “I’m in the middle of a big ole’ mess, and i got to figure out a way to get out of it,” Varner tells us. All signs pointed to Savage or Tasha getting booted, until Varner introduced a sign of his own.
Chaos Ensues. The “emotional breakdown” of Jeff Varner after the challenge was a golden opportunity for Tasha and Savage, with Savage likening it to supplying him with “ammunition on a silver platter.” I don’t think one eats ammunition (unless you bite the bullet perhaps?), but we all get his meaning. So the scramble to save themselves and expose the cracks on their tribe began. Savage pitches the idea to Peih-Gee and Woo that he is very physical and will be needed to win upcoming challenges. Peih-Gee and Woo ask to discuss things alone. Meanwhile, it seems Abi is still a complete rogue, and she tells Tasha that she would be on board to vote out Varner. In an epic case of a pot calling a kettle black, Abi says, “Once I saw how unpredictable Varner is, I think he needs to go next.” Ha! When Peih-Gee and Woo pull Abi in to discuss their options, Abi throws them a major curve ball. She tells them that she knows she is on the bottom of her alliance with them and that she has decided to vote along with Tasha and Savage to get rid of Varner. This takes Peih-Gee off-guard completely, and once she realizes Abi is no longer with her, she suddenly wants Abi out. Amidst all of this chaos and confusion, Savage tells Abi that she should vote out Peih-Gee! With the attention now off of Varner, Varner is just happy he isn’t the target and tells Abi that he will also vote to get rid of Peih-Gee. So even though Savage looked like a dead duck, and even after Varner had a major public meltdown, it would seem that neither of them were even remotely in danger heading into Tribal. So who would it be, Abi or Peih-Gee?
Tribal Council. Tribal was nothing new for Varner, Abi, Peih-Gee and Woo, but Savage and Tasha lit their torches for the first time. Talk was all about Varner’s “emotional meltdown that I don’t recall,” as he put it. But Varner also admitted to Probst that, “Savage and Tasha are in control of tonight’s vote.” How quickly the game flips!
The Vote. We see Peih-Gee vote for Abi and Abi vote for Peih-Gee, no surprises there. The votes were then read: Abi – PG – Abi – PG – PG – PG. With that, the “#blindside” graphic came on the screen and Peih-Gee was voted out of the game (only she and Woo voted for Abi). “Well played guys,” Peih-Gee said before turning and telling Woo “good luck.” Abi though, turned to Woo and said, “Second time you write my name.” Ouch.
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 3 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…The new Angkor tribe is in complete misery with hardly little shelter and dwindling food. As if things couldn’t get worse, an incredibly physical challenge – complete with some injuries – is right around the corner.
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.