Ah, it’s good to be back. Wednesday night’s premiere episode of “Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance” was the sort of start that gave me goosebumps, had me gripping the edge of my seat and reinforced to me that Survivor is the greatest Reality TV show on the planet.
Don’t read this if you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode, as spoilers are to follow. Get caught up on Episode 1 here.
I didn’t realize that I had missed some of these players as much as I did. Jeff Varner? What a hoot and a dude deserving to be on TV. Keith? Sorry I was mad you made the show over Shane Powers, but you’re a much-needed added element of entertainment. Kass? Love that you’re back. Savage? You’ve been a guy who has always been at the top of my list of players I’d like to see play again.
There weren’t too many players that seemed to be total duds thus far, but all-in-all it was a strong beginning to a season that initially shows a lot of promise. Sure Peih-Gee and Abi can’t win, but they’ve already created some drama, the sort of drama that normally fuels the show over its first few episodes. I’m not a huge fan of “non-strategic” Survivor game play, but I had to admit that I loved watching Abi create drama out of seemingly thin air. She just can’t help herself, and Lord knows there are more than enough “gamers” on the cast this season. But for me, it was seeing these familiar faces – each brimming with hopes of redemption and/or reinvention – that had me extremely giddy about the outlook of this season.
What I did realize however, is that every single week this season, we will suffer a gut-wrenching loss of someone that we either love to love or love to hate. When Ta Keo Tribe went to Tribal Council, I realized that the honeymoon had ended and that these players were here for business. I personally didn’t want to see any of them go home. But in voting out Vytas, it just goes to remind us that although all 20 of these players have set out to “right the ship,” following their previous outings, that 19 of them are going to blow it. It’s a harsh reminder, but true: All but one’s second chance at Survivor will end in failure.
Some subtle things I noticed that might be important? How about Jeremy’s instant alliance? Pooling together with Keith, Joe, Savage and Tasha makes for a strong alliance. All of these players have the make-up of “hero”-type players who could be quite loyal to one another. An alliance where alpha males come together is not all that common and rarely works, but if they can pull it off they really could be a formidable group. And just because Fishbach is on the outside of this alliance, I think it’s a bit too early to count him out. But his reputation – more than maybe anyone this season other than Kass – paints him as a giant target and someone that many will be leery to align with.
Kelley Wentworth was maybe the most satisfying player to come out of the Premiere. She was always viewed more as a “potential” player, meaning that she seemed like she could be really good on the show, but didn’t really get the air-time or the chance her last go-around. Maybe she was right when she said her biggest weakness last time out was playing with her dad, because Kelley provided some of tonight’s best moments, from not being able to conceal her disgusted look around Vytas, to finding the Idol clue, to her nervous back-and-forth glances towards the hidden Immunity Idol during the challenge. She is one to watch, and it was a pleasant surprise to see her hold her own amongst what many would consider to be more “all-star” caliber players.
We did not see a whole lot from Monica, or Ciera, or Kimmy, although all three seemed to be getting along well in their respective tribes. In a 90-minute episode, I had hoped to spend more time with all of the cast members, but their near-absence in Episode 1 is probably a good sign for their longevity in the game.
All I know is that nobody better mess with Wiglesworth. Seeing her back in the game was the absolute highlight of the night for me, and a bit of a surreal experience to watch this original Survivor legend, now in HD, grace my screen. As she was taken aback to hear other contestants mention they “grew up watching her” on the show, it is a stark juxtaposition to realize just how much the game has evolved from her original days in Borneo. Every time I saw her on screen, it seemed like something was out of sorts…a sight for sore eyes, but one that made me anxious for her, and the other old-schoolers out there. These are big fish from the early days of Survivor, who have been thrown smack dab in with the sharks. And it’s sink or swim time, baby.
But feeling nervous and overwhelmed with anxiety while watching Survivor is part of the fun…and something I don’t feel every episode, usually never upon a premiere. Let’s hope that they can keep that spirit alive as they work their way through this season of second chances.
What do you think? Who impressed, and who disappointed? Any predictions to win? Please post your comments below!
Please check back (or subscribe at the top of this article), because you will not want to miss my exclusive one-on-one exit interview with Vytas tomorrow (up by Thursday afternoon). So join me tomorrow and be back next week for another Episode Preview on Wednesday morning followed by another full Episode Recap and Analysis Wednesday night! And lastly, please look for my podcast with Gordon Holmes early next week!
Be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites as well, SurvivorFever.net.