Archive | October, 2015

“I do not want to be the biggest guy out here”: Survivor Cambodia Second Chance October 28, 2015 recap

29 Oct

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

“She’s a snake in the grass”: Survivor Cambodia Second Chance October 21 2015 recap

21 Oct

Early on in this episode we see the trio of Kimmi, Kelly Wigglesworth, and Monica. You could be forgiven for not having noticed that any of the three are on this season at all! But we find that their group is not the Sisterhood of No Screen Time, but rather a crab-fishing society. We see conflict when Kimmi finds some humongous clams and Monica admonishes her for taking too many at once. It’s not clear whether her objection is for environmental reasons or because she worries that the tribe will run out of food later in the season.

The reward challenge is won by the tribe of Keith, Kelley, Terry, Joe, Kass, and Ciera. As soon as Terry goes for a swim the others declare that they are a solid five, i.e. Terry is the odd man out.

Meanwhile, the yellow tribe (Andrew, Tasha, Woo, Abi) came in second. As they relax, Woo tells a heartwarming story about his mother’s battle with a serious illness. But it turns out this falls into the incredibly broad category of “things that make Abi paranoid.” Did he use the story to bring others to his side? Abi voices her concerns to Tasha, and we viewers see it takes every bit of Tasha’s self-control to pretend to be sympathetic to Abi.

The immunity challenge involves launching balls with a slingshot of sorts, and Stephen’s ineptitude continues as he misses all of his tribe’s targets entirely to score a point for the other team! (In fairness, a couple of others come close to doing the same). The yellow tribe wins their first immunity, while Spencer’s group comes in last and we are once again treated to Spencer’s ever-recurring exasperated facial expression.

Spencer and Kelly Wigglesworth are the ones on the outs. Jeremy, Kimmi, Monica, and Stephen all seemingly agree that while they trust Kelly more, Spencer needs them more because he has fewer other allies. Later Monica floats the idea to Kimmi that Spencer should be the one to go to keep the women strong and pave the way for a potential women’s alliance. For some reason that isn’t clear, Kimmi is outraged by this and tells the others that Monica is a snake in the grass.

As we go to tribal council, all signs point to Monica being voted out, simply because Kelly is hardly seen in the episode. After some misdirection and to the surprise of Kelly, Monica is indeed voted out 3-2-1.

Alas, Monica Padilla is not a candidate to get into my list of greatest players in Survivor history. On the positive side, if I ever compile a ranking of the cutest butts in Survivor history I think she will be a shoo-in.

This was a fairly slow episode. It seems fair to assume that a merge might be coming up next week.

Favorites: Tasha, Spencer, Joe, Kelley Wentworth, Andrew, Jeremy, Terry

Not sure: Stephen, Kimmi, Kelly Wigglesworth, Keith, Kass, Ciera

No chance: Abi, Woo

“I’m yelling at someone else!” Survivor Cambodia Second Chance October 14 2015 recap

14 Oct

We begin with Jeff Varner assuring his tribemates that he’s loyal, and later assuring the camera that he hates doing this: “I’ve got to kiss their asses.”

Tasha tells Woo that Varner is the source of all the drama, and that Woo is not going anywhere. Abi-Maria overhears this and confronts Tasha about it, refusing to speak in private. Why is Tasha assuring Woo (who voted for Abi twice) that he’s going to stick around, Abi asks. In the understatement of the week, Andrew Savage tells the camera that Abi has “some paranoia.” Also, their tribe is struggling with the fact that they have no shelter and had to start a camp from scratch the prior week.

On another tribe, Jeremy is trying to bond with Stephen Fishbach and we find out that Jeremy thinks he can be Stephen’s new J.T., i.e. the person who goes with him all the way to the finals and then beats him.

The reward challenge involves slogging through some water to get a bag and then trying to launch the bag onto a platform by jumping on the other end of a seesaw. The twist is that each tribe has to pick one person to do the challenge from beginning to end. Savage, Jeremy, and Terry are chosen. A couple of rounds in, all three are clearly spent, and it’s obvious that running through the water is very strenuous. Savage guts it out to win.

We haven’t heard from Kass much, but now we see her working on some kind of bead necklace. Kelley Wentworth suspects Kass is constructing a fake immunity idol. When she tries to go closer to have a look, Kass shoos her away. But then we find out the secret: it’s a birthday present for Kelley! The kinder, gentler Kass is born.

As for Spencer, he and Kelly Wigglesworth are in the minority on their tribe and presumably on the chopping block, so he makes a point of telling everyone that Kelly is well-connected and tight with Terry and Woo. Monica sees through this lie, and decides that Spencer should be the first one to go if their tribe goes to tribal council.

The challenge is an old Survivor standby: everyone is blindfolded except for one person on each tribe who has to yell out what to do to the rest of the team. I think this may have been used in every single Survivor season (one source says it has been used in 18 of the 31 seasons). And why not? At a minimum, there’s always some entertaining confusion and a few wince-inducing collisions. I don’t recall the blocks the players have to pick up being quite so heavy and bulky before — you need two people to lift one unless you are Joe who manages to do it alone. The best moment is when someone on Kass’s tribe asks why she isn’t giving them any direction and she yells, “I’m yelling at someone else!”

Spencer’s tribe wins the challenge. That still leaves two tribes to fight it out for the final spot, but Savage’s tribe is too spent to do anything but stand there and watch Terry’s tribe take second place.

Who will be voted off Savage’s tribe? Tasha says it should be Jeff Varner. And she wants to keep Woo because he will help them much more in challenges. But Varner has saved Abi from elimination twice. Woo gives Abi a sales pitch but she reminds him that he voted for her twice. Tasha and Savage are worried that Varner the salesman will sweet-talk Abi. Sure enough as soon as he sees her he says “I miss my Abi time.” By the way, the idea that Abi could join Woo and Varner to vote out Tasha or Savage is never brought up.

At tribal council, Varner is in full-on salesman mode, but surprisingly so is Woo and neither of them wants to give up with making their pitches. In fact when Jeff Probst says it’s time to vote, Woo even makes one last pitch to Abi before doing so.

Jeff Varner is voted out four votes to one. It is a shame to lose a colorful character, luckily there are still plenty left.

Favorites: Tasha, Spencer, Joe, Kelley Wentworth, Andrew, Terry

Not sure: Monica, Jeremy, Stephen, Kimmi, Kelly Wigglesworth, Keith, Kass, Ciera

No chance: Abi, Woo

“We Got A Rat”: Survivor Cambodia Second Chance October 7 2015 recap

7 Oct

As promised last episode, the tribes are mixed up in this episode, with the new twist being that (for the first time ever?) two tribes become three. The new tribes are:

Monica, Jeremy, Stephen, Kimmi, Spencer, and Kelly Wigglesworth.

Spencer and Jeremy bond, or at least try to. Meanwhile Stephen, who was in big trouble on his own tribe, is glad he’s not in “camp macho” anymore. Monica only says a sentence or two, but that’s still the most we’ve heard from her all season. Everyone seems eager to look for an idol and Jeremy finds one … or rather, he finds the clue to an idol that’s hidden in the next challenge.

Keith, Kass, Joe, Ciera, Terry, and Kelley Wentworth.

Terry loves this as a challenge team: “We’ve got three or four number one draft choices.” Meanwhile Kelley tells someone that Terry was off looking for an idol for hours (when of course it is Kelley who has one).

Woo, Andrew, Varner, Peih-Gee, Abi, and Tasha.

Woo immediately tells Varner: “Let’s get these guys out of here,” meaning Andrew and Tasha who are the only two who are newcomers to the group.

The challenge is, we’re told, a repeat of one from the Cagayan season. Jeff Probst is not shy about pointing out that the Brains tribe (including Spencer, Tasha, and Kass) lost that challenge, and since each is now on a different tribe, two out of three can redeem themselves.Well, Joe and Kass’s tribe comes in first while Andrew and Varner’s tribe comes in last. Also, Jeremy grabs the immunity idol, though this was made way too easy for him and this lacks the drama we saw when Kelley was in the same situation.

Right after the challenge, we see Varner mouthing something to Kelly Wigglesworth who is now on another tribe. Tasha tries to block his view and yells, “We got a rat!” Varner’s defense doesn’t make it better: he says that he had a deal with Andrew but Andrew turned around and made a deal with Peih-Gee. A hurt Woo says “Why didn’t you make a deal with me?”

So suddenly a clear choice (Woo, Peih-Gee, Abi and Varner band together to vote out newcomers Andrew and Tasha) becomes anything but. In fact, somehow Andrew and Tasha are suddenly in control! Plus you would be hard-pressed to find three worse strategists than Woo, Abi, and Peih-Gee. Abi tells the other two that she is going to vote with Andrew and not with them. So Peih-Gee wants Abi gone … which Andrew uses to firmly convince Abi that they should all vote Peih-Gee out! Which they do, and once again Woo is confused by what just happened.

A pretty weak episode, but perhaps it’s the setup to something better. And it’s probably time that I started doing weekly rankings for this season.

Favorites: Tasha, Spencer, Joe, Kelley Wentworth, Andrew

Not sure: Monica, Jeremy, Stephen, Kimmi, Kelly Wigglesworth, Keith, Kass, Ciera, Terry, Jeff

No chance: Abi, Woo