Yay! Finally the wishes of several of us have been granted, because on Wednesday’s episode of “Survivor: Cambodia,” we finally got to see several of the Second Chancers actually start playing the game. Through tonight’s fifth episode of the season, the theme of “old school vs. new school” is still quite relevant, culminating in what had to be one of the bigger blindsides so far. Here is the full recap:
RIP Varner. Woo returns from a tense Tribal Council that saw Jeff Varner sent home, but the way that Savage talks about him back at camp would make you think he passed on to the next world. “He’s in a better place,” Savage says straight-faced. Literally, he is right, because anywhere in the world has to be better than the Angkor camp, but it was a funny moment nonetheless. Woo thanks the others for keeping him in the game, and feels good that he has now survived four Tribal Councils in 11 days. Abi ultimately decided Woo’s fate, but tells us, “If he writes my name down again, he’s dead to me.” Looks like Varner might not be the only one who might be headed to a “better place.”
Clamming It Up. Way back in Season 2 it was the chickens. Now Kimmi finds herself arguing over clams. This time, there was no finger-waiving by her adversary – Monica in this instance. As Monica, Kelly and Kimmi go out on their daily protein-gathering hunt out in the water, Monica is becoming overly concerned that Kimmi is snatching up too many clams from the ocean floor. Monica wants to save their supply and is thinking long-term in the game (uh-oh, never a smart thing to do in this game, and a classic case of Survivor foreshadowing), but Kimmi is just getting annoyed. She realizes that there are bigger fish to fry…or clams to bake, if you will. “If my biggest problem out there is Monica, then I’m doing OK,” Kimmi tells the camera. And what’s with all this screen time for Kimmi and Monica all of a sudden?
Reward Challenge. Roll out the barrel for this barrel roll and ball-rolling challenge, a challenge that first was ran during the Blood vs. Water season. The reward was in the form of comfort: Blankets, chairs with cushions, candles, pillows and a tarp, with refreshments waiting back at camp as well. For the second place winner, just a tarp. Third place? Probst’s got nuthin’ for ya. With Deitz and Kass sitting out for Bayon and Fishbach and Kelley sitting out for Ta Keo, the competition was on. Ta Keo won first place, followed by…Angkor? No crap! Good job guys! “Second place for us is first place,” says Woo, happy to get a tarp and some form of a mental and emotional win. For Bayon, it was just “head back to camp.”
One Ticket To Paradise. “I’m enjoying myself, this is great!” said no one ever in the history of Survivor, until Terry Deitz said it tonight. He is loving life, comparing his camp to a private paradise full of food, folks and fun. But while Terry is honeymooning by himself, the other five back at camp – Joe, Ciera, Kass, Keith and Kelley – talk strategy. Finally, we get a glimpse into the dynamics of Bayon! Those five talk about forming a tight five-person alliance, but keeping Terry happy as an unknowing sixth-wheel. Joe seems happy with the arrangement and happy with the way he’s played the game thus far, while Kelley likes that she seems to have successfully thrown Terry under the bus. Keith is also happy to be a part of a real alliance this season. Yes, all is hunky-dory at Bayon…for now.
Bro-mance. Another scene this week focused – yet again – on the recurring storyline of how Jeremy and Spencer seem to have a real friendship forming. They go out fishing on a boat (when the heck did they get a boat?) and Spencer is having an out-of-body experience playing the game he grew up watching. “I’m not enjoying Survivor by proxy anymore,” he says. “I’m living it.”
A Knee, Jerk, Reaction. Back at Angkor, Woo reveals a very moving part of his life: That his mom was in need of a heart transplant and actually got a new heart just around the time of Season 28. Her fight – and her second chance at life – is what is motivating him in this game (along with the fans that voted him there). As he tells this story to the others, it seemed to be a very non-strategic, outside-the-game dialogue, but of course, Abi was able to dramatize the situation. She becomes annoyed with Woo’s story, and thinks that he told it only to gain sympathy from the others. But she goes a step further, diminishing Woo’s mom’s heart transplant by comparing it to a past knee surgery she had. Really Abi? That’s low for even her. “It takes everything in me just to be around her,” Tasha tells us. She considers her options if Angkor ends up at Tribal yet again, and she isn’t beneath voting out Abi and keeping Woo.
Immunity Challenge. The slingshot challenge ran last season, in which Joe’s tribe lost, where you must climb up to a slingshot and then launch balls to hit a series of targets. Everyone must shoot at least once and every hit target means you have to switch out. Jeremy and Monica sit out for Bayon while Ciera and Kelley sit out for Ta Keo. Desperate to compete in this game, Woo and Savage dominate and Angkor finally gets of the schneid, winning their first Tribal Immunity. Bayon was a hot mess for a while, with the bumbling Stephen Fishbach actually hitting one of Angkor’s targets for them. They eventually made a match out of it, but in the end it was Bayon who came up short. That meant the tribe of Monica, Kimmi, Kelly Wiglesworth, Spencer, Jeremy and Fishbach were headed to Tribal, the first for all but Spencer and Kelly.
Where’s Wiggles? The new Bayon tribe consists of four “old Bayon,” with Spencer and Kelly on the outside. Everybody is convinced that the choice is clear: It will either be Kelly or Spencer who goes home. Wiglesworth seems to be in the biggest trouble, since Spencer has seemed to make some bonds with Jeremy and Fishbach, and due to the fact that she is not shown one time – not once! – during this entire “scramble” segment of the show. Don’t you think if her life was in danger they would show her trying to save it? Either she is not doing anything worthy of TV entertainment this season, or they are purposely limiting her screen-time. Not sure. But Spencer realizes that he can’t play the game too hard, and that he actually needs to relax and be confident in his newly-formed relationships.
Snake In the Grass. It’s amazing what small moments can turn into such game-changing ones. That’s exactly what happened next. With pretty much everyone on board to vote out Kelly, Monica floats the idea of voting our Spencer to Kimmi. Monica, you may remember, had issues with Spencer from last week, thinking him to be a bit shady. She pitches an “all-girl” alliance with her, Kimmi and Kelly, noting that if they vote of Kelly they’d be dwindling the female numbers at Bayon. She is quickly shot down by Kimmi and immediately drops it. But the damage had been done. Kimmi immediately goes and tells Jeremy and Fishback what she said, and she rallies the troops to potentially think about voting Monica out of the game instead of either Spencer or Kelly. She calls her a “snake in the grass” and clearly not someone who can be trusted when she is throwing out other potential alliances, and not their current one. Jeremy and Fishbach seem to really consider this new information, although Fishbach is a bit nervous: What message would it send to the other tribes if they voted out one of their own first?
Tribal Council. Talk is about trust, and how this first vote will really show a lot. Monica is confident the vote will be along old Tribal lines. Kelly is banking on her work-ethic and her “actions” that will hopefully carry her through. They discuss how her way of thinking is quite old school, while the other target, Spencer is the epitome of a new school player. Fishbach gives us this nugget: “You have to build real bonds to build real alliances.” And with that, they were ready to vote.
The Vote. Monica votes for Kelly, as does Spencer. Kelly votes for Spencer. If a blindside was in place, Spencer and Kelly were kept out of the loop. The votes were then read: Kelly – Spencer – Kelly – Monica – Monica – Monica! With the first Monica vote, Monica’s jaw dropped to the floor while Spencer gave his normal look of incredulity that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him at Tribal. It was a legit, hard-core blindside ladies and gentleman, with Monica being the first original Bayon member sent from the game in a 3-2-1 vote. Monica says nothing but gives them all an ice-cold stare on her way out, and Probst points out that they are all clearly playing a new school-style game, if this vote was any indication. In her final words, Monica calls her second chance a “bit of a disappointment.” I’ll say.
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 5 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…Fishbach and Jeremy seem to be strategizing, with Fishbach having proposed something for Jeremy to think about, as Probst’s voice-over says “Big moves are all about timing.” But the biggest shock in the preview came next, when we see a distraught Kass and a nighttime visit to the Bayon camp by Jeff Probst and a full medical staff. Uh-oh. A medical evacuation seems imminent. “It’s worse than anything you can imagine,” Kass says. Oh man.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one, second-chance interview with Monica Padilla, and be sure to follow me, @tomsantilli.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.