Survivor was very interesting this week, as everyone on the cast had to deal with the dreaded tribe swap that was teased after last week’s episode. Going from two tribes to three turned the game upside down, and forced a great many players to change their games completely to keep up with new dynamics. As we’ve often seen before on Survivor in a three tribe setup, two tribes thrived and one faltered with limited resources and interpersonal conflicts, leading to a very fun afternoon of scrambling before Tribal Council. Cambodia’s story has changed a little bit going forward, and I have to admit that this swap wasn’t as great in practice as it looked on paper, but the results so far have been fairly entertaining. I have plenty of thoughts on who won and lost the tribe swap lottery, how the tribes look going forward, and how the losing tribe did when it came time to vote someone off, so without any further ado, I’m gonna jump into my thoughts on episode 3:
- You know Survivor is nerding out over their own twists when they feature a tribe swap and make it the only story for the entire first half of the episode. Presumably the cast went into that morning thinking they were going into a reward challenge, but instead Jeff got them together to announce they were dividing the cast into three tribes of six, with one new tribe, Angkor, getting shipped to a new beach with minimal supplies and no food. It was quite a bit for them all to process, since they all assumed they were just going to a challenge, and many of their reactions were priceless, especially Ciera, who was heard saying “Shut the front door.” Yes Ciera, everything was about to change, and the divisions would really make it hard for anyone to hide in the game, in essence forcing the cast to work just a little bit harder to go further. I admire the thought from the producers, going from two to three tribes was such a good idea, but I have to wonder how on Earth the divisions got so uniform. Bayon and Ta Keo both had splits of four original Bayon and two original Ta Keo while the newly formed Angkor tribe had the same split, only favoring Ta Keo. Couple these splits with the obviously controlled gender splits, and it was sort of a lackluster swap, lacking in randomness to an extent. After recently watching seasons like Vanuatu, Guatemala, and Panama that had very random, non-neat swaps, it was disappointing to see this cast get divided in such a cookie cutter way, but regardless, that wasn’t anything I spent time dwelling on. The great thing about the cast post-swap was the emergence of a third tribe, Angkor, that would have to go to a brand new beach, with no food or supplies waiting for them. It was an awful break for those who pulled the wrong buff, as Varner, Woo, Peih-Gee, Abi, Tasha, and Savage did. It was an even tougher break for Savage, who felt like he was dealt another horrifying blow of luck on Survivor, getting down on the numbers here just as he did on Pearl Islands after the horrendous outcasts twist. Tasha and Savage were left to fight an uphill battle against the numbers, and while the other tribes had numbers disadvantages as well, Angkor’s situation was shown to be the most desperate of everyone’s. So, long story short, I thought the tribe swap was OK, not as great as I built up hope of it being, but its results proved pretty great as the show went on.
- The immunity challenge this episode was an homage to Survivor: Cagayan, with a repeat obstacle course from that season. Jeff was quick and eager to point out that this was a challenge that Spencer, Tasha, and Kass all lost in Cagayan, and given that all three of them were on different tribes, that one of them is doomed to fail again. I think Probst is getting a bit too giddy with this whole second chance, failures of the past theme in challenges, but I can understand why the show is harkening on it. The challenge was relatively routine, just as expected Ta Keo, with all their muscle, pulled ahead and sealed an easy victory. Bayon stayed in second throughout, even with Jeremy taking a second to sneakily grab the hidden immunity idol he found a clue for, and stayed out of the doghouse for one more round. The beleaguered Angkor tribe were the losers, to no one’s shock considering their tribal disadvantages, and were going to face a Tribal Council, where Tasha and savage seemingly were the ones who were bound to go. However, peculiar things happened just as they were convening Tribal Council, as Jeff Varner began to initiate conversations across tribes, mainly with Kelly Wiglesworth. Tasha saw this, and immediately jumped up to block the conversations, proclaiming “We’ve got a rat.” It was a very dramatic moment, and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see too much of the interactions on TV, but the resulting conversations with Probst were telling. Tasha and savage argued that his cross-talking was counter-productive to the tribe’s best interests, Varner argued that the two of them had been scrambling and sneaky, and Woo seemed to doubt Jeff’s place in their alliance. It was a bizarre scene for sure, but as far as I’m concerned bizarre is good on Survivor, and the whole mess through the whole idea of old tribal alliance lines on Angkor to oblivion. After Varner’s episode, it was anyone’s guess what would truly go down at tribal council now, making for a fun second half of the episode.
- At the Angkor camp, scrambling was the name of the game, with Andrew and Tasha setting their sights on Abi to bring her into the fold. This seemed to work great for them, since Abi wanted nothing to do with Peih-Gee after many ridiculous altercations over the first week or so in the game, and they all agreed that Jeff would be a safe target due to his outburst. Peih-Gee and Woo conference together and agreed that Tasha’s plan to get rid of Jeff was the best idea going forward, considering they’d still have the numbers without him, if Abi would simply stick with them. Of course, little did they know at that point that Abi had no plans on sticking with them, and when approached with the idea of voting together, Abi pulled an Abi and told those two she had no intentions of working with them regardless of how he vote went, sending Peih-Gee off on a silent tailspin, which would lead her to changing her voting target from Jeff to Abi. It was totally understandable for Peih-Gee to want to target Abi after she went psycho for the umpteenth time on her, but tactically it blew up in her face. Tasha and Savage, wanting to appease Abi, decided that taking out Peih-Gee, who they deemed as wishy-washy after switching her voting plans, was the best course of action, and another blindside came at Tribal Council with Peih-Gee being voted out in a 4-2 decision, leaving Woo utterly stunned for the second time in three tribals, and Abi furious at Woo for voting for her a second time. Every minute of Angkor’s existence up to that point had been crazy, dramatic, and unpredictable, and the vote at Tribal Council was no different. I’m kind of sad to see a calm, rational player like Peih-Gee get voted out, while a gadfly like Abi is left to wreak havoc on the game, but at least we’ll be ensured much more craziness going forward with this tribe. The future doesn’t look good for them, or good for three of my favorites Savage, Woo, and Varner, but only time will tell what will become of Angkor. Who knows, maybe Abi will even out and they’ll coalesce as a tribe (yeah…I somehow doubt that).
Well, this episode of Survivor certainly was entertaining and dramatic, even though most of the attention was centered on one truly dysfunctional squad anchored by one truly unhinged Survivor. Besides Jeremy’s successful idol grab, and Joe being cool, calm, and collected on camera (per the usual), we saw very little of Bayon or Ta Keo, leading me to wonder if anything truly big will happen at either camp going forward. Given the disadvantages the Angkor tribe have in terms of supplies, and having Abi at camp with them, I imagine they could easily lose out for the next couple of votes. I guess we’ll just have to see, I’ll be rooting for them to pull through, but they are crazy dysfunctional. Anyway, solid episode this week, and it’s setting up some interest things go forward that I’m really kind of excited to see play out. Before I sign off, I’ll leave you all with my final thoughts on episode three:
- It’s a tough call as to who my player of the week is, but I’d have to say Jeremy and Tasha both get the honors from me. Jeremy getting the Bayon idol is a big deal, and the confidence that should give him going forward will make him a very exciting figure to watch. I’m kicking myself for not picking him as the winner; he’s got a great chance! As for Tasha, she has to be given some serious props for pulling in Abi-Maria, and helping her and Savage go from the bottom to the top of the tribe. I think she was instrumental in changing the course of this whole game with her game-play this week, so she definitely gets a co-honor this week at the very least…Woo really needs to get his act together on this season. This is his third straight tribal council, and he’s been blindsided by the votes twice already. He’s one of my favorites on this cast, but he seriously needs to wake up and start playing the game, because right now he could be in some trouble. Here’s hoping he pulls things around…It’s worth noting that two original Hunahpu members from San Juan Del Sur have hidden immunity idols in this game right now. For a season that was kind of lackluster, it’s awesome to see Kelley and Jeremy get to shine playing against seasoned veterans. I’m really very curious what’s going to happen when they get together (assuming neither of them get blindsided) after the merge. Will they work together, and if so will they share their idols with each other? Such an alliance could change all of the dynamics of the season completely, so I’m going to keep my eye on those twos’ games going forward.