Surely Spencer is destined to win this game, right? It seems that every single week it comes down to him and someone else, and the other person is voted out. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The episode begins with a motorboat heading for a tribe’s beach and Jeff Probst getting out. Now, we’ve seen this happen before, but only when someone is writhing in pain and needs medical attention. This time everyone is asleep. Probst asks Terry to come with him out of earshot of the others, and reveals that Terry’s son is in the hospital and that both his wife and the doctor think it’s serious enough that Terry should be there with them. Terry’s immediate reaction is that the decision is no decision at all. He grabs his bag, says his goodbyes, and leaves the game.
What a bummer! Not only do I like the guy, I thought his process of adapting to the way the game has changed was one of the most interesting storylines, and since he was flying under the radar a bit I thought he actually had a shot to win the game.
The three tribes come together for a reward challenge, and everyone knows something’s amiss when the tribe that went to tribal council isn’t the last to walk in. Everyone gets the news about Terry. Probst asks each tribe how they’re doing and they each say they’re a tight group, a happy family, etc. So of course Probst says the tribes are being switched up again and we’re going from three tribes back to two, with the tribes again determined by random draw.
One tribe is Kass, Woo, Andrew, Ciera, Abi, Spencer, and Kelly Wigglesworth. This marks the first time in the game that Kass and Spencer, both “Brains” from Cagayan, have been on the same tribe, and Spencer goes so far as to call Kass his arch-nemesis. Now, I can’t say I understand the reason for this rivalry. Kass lasted longer in Cagayan than Spencer, but it’s not like she engineered his ouster other than by winning a critical immunity challenge that Spencer needed to win.
Anyway, the other tribe is Jeremy, Kimmi, Keith, Kelley Wentworth, Joe, Tasha, and Stephen. Probst immediately notices that all of those people were on the same tribe at the beginning, except for Kelley.
So now the players have to consider:
- Who their potential allies could be on this new tribe
- Relationships that were formed in the three tribes that were just broken up
- Relationships from the two original tribes
- Relationships that formed before the season
- … and of course, relationships from the players’ prior seasons. It’s very complicated!
For now, there’s a reward challenge with food at stake, and two entertaining moments: Stephen only has to slide, walk, and toss a ring, but still manages to look ridiculously inept at all three. Then there’s the face-off between Kimmi and Abi. Kimmi throws her ring and it looks like it’s going to be on target but then slips off… but Abi has already thrown down her ring in disgust and started to walk away! Her tribemates’ screams move her to pick it back up.
When everyone heads to camp with their new tribes, Andrew feels great. He still has his allies Abi and Woo (though not Tasha), and he hopes to reconnect with his former tribemates Kass and Ciera as well. But uh-oh: he is quoted as saying “I’m not going anywhere.” Such a confident assertion often means that person is about to be voted out. By the way, you would not want to have Savage as a coworker. The guy exaggerates everything. I could totally see him telling the boss that accomplishing some task was up there with the labors of Hercules when in fact all he did was write one email … and the boss giving him a raise!
Anyway, Andrew and his hoped-for group of five soon plan to get rid of Spencer, and Andrew briefs everyone to lie to Spencer and say they’re voting for Ciera. Now, if you’ve seen prior seasons you know that the person in Ciera’s position is always at best uncomfortable with it, and at worst it drives them to a different alliance to turn the tables. If you’re Ciera, you surely think: what if everyone is actually voting for me for real? Then I’m voted out without having even tried to defend myself.
Though actually in this case Ciera’s objection is more along the lines of: why is he pushing me as plausibly being on the outs, rather than Woo, who wasn’t part of the original group?
Andrew continues to put his plan in motion by having a talk with Spencer and pretending that he wants to ally with him, and the former fan falls for it.
On the other tribe, Joe tells Kelley he wants to keep her around, even if she’s the favorite to be ousted. And Joe shops the idea to Stephen of voting Kimmi out. Alarmed, Stephen tells Jeremy about the suggestion and says that Joe needs to go. But Jeremy is not in favor of that, explaining to the camera later that as long as Joe’s around Jeremy is merely a secondary threat, or as he puts it, “I do not want to be the biggest guy out here.”
Stephen is very frustrated that he can’t win anyone over to his Joe plan, so much so that he breaks down during his interview. He says “I’ve been kicking myself, you know, for so many years just for not getting rid of the golden boy last time.” (Meaning J.T. in Survivor: Tocantins). But a Joe ouster “would be the move that set the tone for the whole season.”
The immunity challenge is the tried and true “eat disgusting local delicacies” contest,which Probst tells everyone has been run 14 previous times. This is a great time in the season to use it, because sometimes after a reshuffle tribes are uneven in terms of athletic skill. This requires a different type of talent. Interesting moments here:
- The third group has to eat a pig’s snout.
- On one of the last rounds, Kimmi and Woo face off and have to eat a pig’s brain. Kimmi flat-out refuses, saying she hasn’t even eaten pork in years, and Woo polishes his off in seconds. This sequence would be disturbing to me if I were Kimmi’s ally!
- Ciera has a chance to seal the win going against Kelley to eat a scorpion, but for the second time Ciera can’t keep her food down.
- The final round is that old Survivor favorite, balut, i.e. a duck embryo. Kass faces Tasha but Kass can’t keep it down, and Tasha wins. Crazy that nobody seems to perceive Tasha as a threat in this game!
- And as everyone files out to head back to camp, Jeremy veers off to grab a bite of leftover balut! That’s how hungry these players are.
So now the Andrew/Ciera tribe has to vote someone out. Ciera, like several of the players, was alarmed by Terry’s exit earlier since it brought home the reality that this second chance to play the game could be the last, and could end at any time. Ciera gets together with Abi and Kass and asks who this Savage guy thinks he is to boldly nominate her as the fake target. She also says they would be foolish to keep Woo in this game over Spencer. Wait, if they’re so mad at Andrew, why are they targeting his ally Woo and not Andrew himself? Probably because that’s what gets irrational Abi on board, she’s still sore at Woo for voting for her twice.
Time for Kass to take a walk with her “nemesis,” Spencer. He finds it awkward but she has business to get to, namely to tell Spencer that Savage is planning to oust him. Spencer may seem like a master strategist, but he is absolutely shocked to find out Andrew is not his pal after all. Once he digests it, he’s certainly fine with voting for Woo.
But Kass indicates that she’s not sure what to do. She knows Savage, Woo, and Kelly will be voting for Spencer, and she knows Spencer, Ciera, and Abi will be voting for Woo. So Kass can decide who goes. Which direction will she take? Also, it’s her first tribal council of the year, are we going to see the kinder, gentler version of her, or will we see “Chaos Kass”?
She does indeed cast her lot with Spencer, so Woo is voted out. Savage looks incredibly hurt as the result is read, while Spencer does his usual I-dodged-a-bullet deep breath. Woo gamely gives a grin and says “blindside!” but as he brings his torch to be snuffed he casts a questioning look at Savage, who shrugs back indicating he has no idea what just happened.
I’m sorry to see Woo go. I didn’t think he had a chance to win, but he is very likable. Oddly, we hear his exit interview before we go to the commercial break, why is the show doing it differently than they always do?
After the ads and previews we find out why: we’re shown a smiling Terry, sitting on his front lawn with his son. Turns out the young man actually got a heart transplant, which was successful. A “second chance,” indeed.
Favorites: Tasha, Spencer, Joe, Kelley Wentworth, Jeremy, Andrew, Stephen, Ciera, Kass
No chance: Abi, Kimmi, Kelly Wigglesworth, Keith