Thoughts After Episodes 10 and 11:
- The majority “alliance” was left reeling after Jeremy, Stephen, and Spencer turned on everyone they had been voting with to blindside Kelly Wiglesworth. It was a calculated risk for these guys who were buying into the idea that they were playing in a game controlled by voting blocs, not alliances. The three of them had to quickly rejoin with their allies Tasha and Kimmi to explain their decision. It’s interesting to watch this sort of evolution in the game, because the explanations for voting are so different than what they usually are. In talking to Tasha, they explained that they couldn’t tell her because they already got the numbers they needed and couldn’t worry about the change of decisions getting out to more people, and Tasha seemed to be very understanding. It appears as if that’s the game for this group of Survivors; worry about the game vote-to-vote, and don’t form alliances or burn bridges because things can shift dramatically and you don’t want to be caught on your heels. I think this kind of mentality is what’s making this an unbelievably good season of Survivor, and it was this type of thinking that made for a great two episodes this week.
- The rain was a big part of the story this week. Over the couple of days that these episodes were taped, a big storm hit Cambodia, and left the Survivors in a cloud of non-stop, torrential rain. It really became a problem for a lot of the players, who were left cold and trapped in the shelter, huddling for warmth and dryness, and not being able to strategize. Ciera was someone who felt very restricted by the rain storm, since her position on the bottom of the game necessitated that she be able to have one-on-one conversations with people. Then there was Stephen, who had been stricken by what he called severe gastrointestinal distress and forced out in the rain non-stop by his illness. For him, the torrential rain became a nuisance and a spirit breaker. Luckily for them, the producers felt a fair amount of sympathy for their plight, and offered a big olive branch to them. At the immunity challenge, Jeff Probst handed them all a white rock and a black rock, and told them that they would have the chance to get the build team to construct them a better shelter. Of course getting a professionally built shelter was going to come at a price, and Jeff let them know that at least half of them would have to voluntarily give up their chance at immunity in order to get this reward. The rocks came into play in order to make the decision secret, adding a bit of intrigue to it for everyone because they wouldn’t be able to see or discuss what they were all going to do. In the end, eight of the ten contestants in the game forfeited their chance at immunity, and their new shelter was built, with only Joe and Keith abstaining. The two of them took on the immunity challenge heads up, and to no one’s shock, Joe won again. It’s ridiculous how good he is at all of the physical aspects of the game; he’s truly becoming an iconic Survivor player. Cool Joe was going to live to see another episode, which is something we could all be thankful for on the night before Thanksgiving!
- The deliberations for the first vote became some of the most contentious strategy decisions we’d seen this season. The Joe-Spencer friendship seemed to come to the foreground again, as the two of them decided to target Fishbach in order to get his mystery advantage removed from the game completely. I’ve had it in the back of my mind for a while that the combination of Joe, Kelley, and Spencer could cause a lot of disruptions in the order of this game, and this week that seemed to be coming true. The three of them seemed to make the decision along with Tasha, who seemed eager to work with Spencer once again. Spencer and Tasha brought the idea to Jeremy, letting him know that they would be rock solid as long as they get him out of the game. This really didn’t sit right with Jeremy, who trusted Stephen and counted on him to be his sidekick all the way ‘til the end. Spencer and Jeremy went back and forth in a relatively spirited debate about who they had to get rid of in the game. Jeremy was adamant (and rightly so) that Ciera would create chaos in the game, and should be perceived as the biggest threat, while Spencer stayed zeroed in on Fishbach’s advantage, refusing to budge on the subject. This was really the first sign we’ve seen of discord between Spencer and Jeremy we had seen, and it seemed a bit foreshadowing of the splintering that was about to come as this large voting bloc was inevitably going to break down into smaller factions. The vote had gone against Jeremy’s wishes, but as Tribal Council commenced, Jeremy decided he was going to take matters into his own hands. With a second idol in his pocket, Jeremy stood up before the votes were read, and stated that loyalty and trust were everything in the game, before playing the idol for Fishbach. It was a true Godfather move by Jeremy, and it undercut the plans of Spencer and Joe completely, as Ciera was voted out with three votes, in a moment that oddly mimicked Savage’s vote out just days before. Ciera was ousted from the game, and I was quite satisfied with the result. She was instrumental in taking down my favorite player, and as a biased fan, I was happy she too got idoled out. Of course, the ramifications of the vote were huge, considering that Jeremy had undermined Joe for a second straight Tribal Council, killing whatever was left of the old Bayon alliance for days of old. Now the Jeremy vs. Joe showdown would truly be on!
- We got a great treat in the second episode as Survivor brought back an old classic for the reward challenge. It was the Folklore challenge, where Jeff reads a story about the local culture and the contestants would have to answer questions at different spots about the story. If they got the question right they would get a metal medallion to hang on an apparatus. The first person to get all the correct answers would be declared the winner. I love this challenge a lot, it really harkens back to a different age of Survivor where the cultures and climate were a big impact on the game, two things we’ve seen come back to prominence this season. I also really loved that they did this challenge at night because you almost never see that on Survivor. It was a chaotic challenge by design, but one of the most interesting parts of the challenge was the idol clue that was randomly put in a clue bag. Continuing on her lucky streak in the game, Kelley Wentworth managed to get the idol clue at the challenge, setting herself to once again get an upper hand in the game. As the challenge continued, it came down to the two Survivor nerds in the pack, Fishbach and Spencer. By a matter of seconds, Fishbach inched out Spencer for reward, in a situation oddly similar to the advantage swim where Fishbach also beat out Spencer narrowly. Spencer was even more miffed when Stephen took two allies of his, Jeremy and Tasha, on reward, and chose to keep his sights on Fishbach for the next vote after the slight. It was strange to see Spencer in a semi-vindictive light, but I guess the intensity of the game was starting to pick up, and he was picking up his game pace alongside. The immunity challenge was the most shocking thing ever because…get this…Joe didn’t win! Yeah, you read that right, the challenge beast Joe Cool was beaten in a challenge where they had to use their feet to build a block tower and place a flag in the middle. Both this challenge and the folklore one were very well placed by the producers to shake up the game in case someone like Joe were to go on an immunity run, and it worked. Spencer was able to get his flag up before Joe, who fell behind a little, and Joe’s run of being immune for all votes ended at a historic 29 days. Joe’s amazing run was over, and it seemed like it was about time to bid him a fond farewell now that he was finally at jeopardy. But, this is Survivor: Second Chance, and nothing has really gone according to plan so far, and this vote wasn’t an exception.
- Fishbach started savoring the idea of finally taking out Joe right when Spencer won immunity, and he got with Jeremy and Tasha at camp to come up with the plan. As a sign of good will, Fishbach revealed his vote steal advantage to them at reward, and as Tribal Council approached he decided he was going to use it to force a 3-3-3 split in case Joe had an idol. He clued Spencer into the plan thinking he was a number he could count on, and the vote splitting idea was commenced. The four of Tasha, Stephen, Jeremy, and Kimmi were going to split between Joe and Abi, who had become a bit of a loose cannon strategically once again. They had counted on Spencer being with them as a fifth, and the sixth vote would come when Stephen would steal Joe’s vote. Of course, Spencer had other plans with his subtle side alliance of Joe and Kelley, and they brought in Keith to vote for Stephen. At Tribal Council the vote steal went down, much to the shock of Joe, Kelley, and Keith, and Stephen split his votes accordingly, making a point to say that with Joe’s vote he would be casting a vote for Joe. But, in the end, Stephen’s advantage play was for naught, as the numbers were still against him, and he was voted out in a 4-3-2 decision. It was really a shocking moment for me when I was watching, I thought Spencer would go along with the plan this time, at least in order to save face, but he betrayed his friend and ally instead. It was quite a moment to say the least, not only because it took out a guy who had made the show very interesting, but because it was another Joe vs. Jeremy showdown, with Joe (and Spencer) coming out victorious this time. Now the game’s gonna be crazy because Jeremy’s on the bottom with an idol no one knows about, Kelley will keep a target on her back with an idol in her pocket, Joe will remain a threat, and Tasha may be the one that everything hinges upon. This has been such a great game of Survivor and I’m very, very excited to see how this is going to end up.
Final Thoughts After The Episode:
- My player of the week honors got to Spencer for this double episode. I really haven’t seen a lot of things coming from a mile away this season, but I did predict that Spencer would casually weather the storm into a position of power right beneath everyone’s radar. His game has been brilliant, even though it took a slightly cutthroat turn this week. He has rode the Bayon wave despite not being from that tribe originally, and he has played the best social game of anyone, staying friendly with everyone, which has allowed him to freely move in and out of voting blocs with such ease and stealth. The guy is playing such a top notch game and it really is getting easy to picture him taking this to the house…My favorite moment of the episode had to be when Fishbach duped Abi into taking the wrong answer tile in the Folklore challenge. It was just like Abi to get a little exuberant in that moment, and it was so incredibly rewarding to see her get duped like that. It was a sly move by the young wizard Fishbach (as Coach liked to call him back in Tocantins)…It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the challenge next week as the cast get their family visits. If the preview is accurate, it looks like someone is going to get injured. I wonder if it’ll be a Survivor or a family member. While I hope no one’s injured too badly, I most certainly hope none of these players get taken out due to an injury. This season’s been too great to have something like that effect the end game, it would be a great injustice…I’m also keeping my eyes on the idols alive in this game because I think this game will come down to who can use their idol first to make a major move. Either Jeremy or Kelley will be able to set themselves up for Final tribal if they play that idol against the other correctly, it’s just going to be a matter of who can sniff out the others’ moves first…With Joe being such a target in the game by winning these immunities, it makes me wonder something. Is this jury going to reward Joe’s game play over Jeremy, Spencer, or Kelley? He may be a viewer favorite, and he’s played a really strong game, but I can imagine him getting beaten by anyone of these three going forward. For Joe to win this game, he’s not only going to have to go on another great immunity run, but he’s going to have to eliminate his stronger competition, because this jury is going to be hard to please in many respects. Joe is a target, but he’s also an underdog, and he’s going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to take this game all the way. I wish him the best of luck though, he’s great for the show.