Survivor was on fire yet again this week, with episode two of Cambodia bringing just as much drama and intrigue as the premiere did last week. This week we saw power players rise, alliances fall apart, and we really got a feel for who’s there to play and who’s going to do what to win a million dollars. I’m really loving this season so far, it’s everything I expected, knowing this cast, and then some, and it’s only going to get better next week when the show throw’s everybody a curveball by changing things up in a new way. I’ll touch on this episode, the players, and talk about what could be ahead for this season in this blog, so without any further ado, here are my thoughts on episode two:
- The grand differences between the two tribes continued to be a storyline, with Bayon being a tribe united and Ta Keo being a tribe divided. From Bayon this week, we saw a lot of family bonding and storytelling. One of the most prominent scenes from them was when they were all huddled together in the shelter sharing stories, and Savage reminisced on meeting his wife. It was a very touching story, leaving very few dry eyes at camp. We saw Chaos Kass talk about her new tribe and how they’ve taught her to appreciate the humanity of the game, something she thinks will help her get along better in this game. We also saw Jeremy break off from his tribe after the story, and while I initially thought it may have been out of disinterest in the storytelling, he actually had to get away because he was getting emotional thinking about his own wife. He revealed in confessional that his wife was pregnant, but he wasn’t planning on telling anyone because that would make him a threat for votes in the end, which seems like a story to watch going forward. The only real moment of drama was when Stephen Fishbach insinuated Jeremy going away might signal that he’s looking for the idol. Savage quickly shut down Fishbach in a confessional, demeaning his morals and reasserting his intentions to target Stephen first. It wasn’t a great look for my winner pick Savage, he seems to be playing the same game that got him targeted the first time, and his inflexibility at working outside of his alliance may prove to be problematic for him at the merge or even at a tribe swap. As for Stephen, it’s clear that nerves are a factor in his early game. He feels the pressure of being a “Survivor expert” so to speak, writing and podcasting the show for many years. I think the new twist of smaller tribes is probably going to help him a lot, because if Bayon stayed together any longer, or had lost one of the first two immunity challenges, he might have been gone very early. Now, as for Ta Keo, tribe bonding was more of an anomaly for them, and drama was the nor around camp. Abi-Maria continued to be a nuisance around camp, instigating fights and bugging everyone. One night Peih-Gee had enough of her, and begun to complain to Shirin about her antics. Abi overheard and a fight ensued between the two as everyone else stepped back and watched. Peih-Gee eventually camp back to the majority new school alliance of Spencer, Kelley, and Shirin and had a laugh or two about the craziness that was happening. It turned out to be a bad strategic moment for them, as Abi ended up being left alone feeling like an outsider while everyone else bonded over making fun of her. Terry was the only one willing to console Abi, and the two created a bond that got her e-thinking her alliances. Ta Keo was a mess of drama this episode, but the winds of change were howling around all that drama, and exciting shifts in the game were about to come out of their drama.
- The show continued to highlight challenges used by members of the cast in previous season, with a reward/immunity challenge that Monica had previously competed in on Survivor: Samoa. The contestants had to climb up and down a series of steep ramps with rope that they would use to hoist a heavy wooden caret filled with puzzle pieces through a jagged wooden frame ramp. At the end, the teams would have puzzle-makers put together a puzzle with long thin pieces that would produce a picture. The ramp obstacles proved to be brutal for the contestants, as a lot of them had some very awkward falls throughout that section, but everyone continued to push through to pull the wooden crates. Bayon surged into the lead with their extra muscle (hey Ta Keo, still think voting off a strong, young guy was smart?) and got to their puzzle first. It seemed like a very challenging puzzle for everyone to figure out, with each piece having just a small portion of the picture on it. Ta Keo quickly caught up, and even finished their puzzle first, only to be informed by Probst that they’re configuration was wrong. I have to admit, their puzzle looked reasonable to me on the small shot we got of it on screen, but apparently it wasn’t the correct solution, and this opened the door for Bayon to finish up, and win their second straight immunity. It was a tough loss for Ta Keo, who really looked to have come from behind and pulled it off, but luck has so far not been on their side. At least they got to deliberate at camp this time, so I suppose all was not so bad for them. Still, being down 10-8 in numbers early on was not so great for their tribe morale, and without a switch who knows what would have become of their tribe.
- At camp that afternoon, the world really started to cave in around Shirin and Spencer, which I have to admit was exciting to see. They both play such an arrogant game of Survivor, and while they keep things interesting, watching them get their comeuppance was nice. The Jeff Varner show went into full effect early on when he explained his Vytas vote to Terry, letting him know that the game was moving fast and that steadfast alliances were not going to win someone the title this year. He let Terry know that Spencer and Shirin had to go before they could get a chance to mix things up too much, and the power alliance started to shift back to old school. Once Abi got disenfranchised and picked up by Terry, it truly was all over for the power players Spencer and Shirin. Peih-Gee followed Varner’s plan and Kelley had to stay with the numbers, especially given the fact that she had the idol in her pocket for long-term protection. Once Shirin and Spencer knew they were out-numbered 7-2, the smiles on their faces quickly faded away, and turned to expressions of panic. Both of them were practically in tears during confessionals trying to reason through how their games sank so fast, and got so out of their grasps. Shirin tried to make a last ditch effort with Woo, but he shut her down in such an amazing moment of karmic justice, letting them both know that their lack of respect for him made it easy for him to say no to them. The only thing left for either of them to do at tribal council was make their case to stay over the other, and while everyone made it a personal decision, Spencer squeaked on by while Shirin was eliminated in a 6-4 vote. Probst said it best at Tribal Council addressing Shirin, she made a big deal about not being supported by others against bullying on her season, but her downfall in essence was not doing the same. I don’t care if the situations are totally different, the parallel there takes away any excuse she has for getting turned against, she should have done things differently because she knows what being on the outs feels like, and she deserved to get voted out for being arrogant and smarmy. I’ll go as far as saying I’ll enjoy the show more without her there, I like Spencer more as a player anyway!
Survivor: Cambodia has been so fun so far, and it’s only going to get crazier now that they’re throwing in a new tribal alignment. In years past Survivor has started with three tribes and swapped to two, but never before have they added a tribe in time, going from two to three like has been revealed for next week. This will literally change every dynamic in the game, and may heavily change peoples’ places in the game and in alliances. I think we’re bound to see much more old-school vs. new school thinking, and we’re probably going to see a lot more from some of the players who have yet to get much screen time, like Ciera, Tasha, Monica, etc. This show is great and it’s only going to get better, I cannot wait for the next episode again, and that’s a great testament to the cast! So until Wednesday, I’ll sign off and leave you all with some final thoughts on episode two:
- My player of the week honors go to Jeff Varner for sure, the dude was on a war path, and it truly was “delicious” to watch. He’s making allies left and right, changing alliances to take out whoever he sees as a threat to him in the end, plus his confessionals are some of the most hilarious moments of any episode…My favorite of the moment of the week definitely had to be Woo turning down Shirin’s alliance pleading. I love Woo, he has an old-school mentality that I have a decent amount of respect for, and seeing him tell Shirin and Spencer that he wouldn’t vote with them because they haven’t taken any time to get to know him was enjoyable. And that doesn’t even take into account Spencer’s jury speech in Cagayan, I’m just so glad Woo got to get some vengeance for that…It’s interesting to note that a brand new way of thinking about Survivor has emerged this season, and I’m starting to think it may affect seasons to come. The concept of new school vs. old school play has been a big talking point so far, and when tribe numbers dwindle down to six next week, I think the older players like Terry, Jeff, Kelly and Andrew will have to rely on waving this flag to garner votes, or they may find themselves being voted out for being threats. I’d personally love to see an old school player win this season because I really do enjoy that style of play, so I’m hoping for more emphasis on new vs. old. I think we may see people divide along these lines in future seasons too, those who want to talk and strategize vs. those who want to keep a strong core and ride ‘til the end. There’s distinct advantages to either way of playing, depending on the people you’re stuck with, and it may be a card players will choose to play in order to be divisive. Survivor strategy may be evolving right in front of our eyes, how exciting is that!