Welcome to your second Second Chance, Spencer! He wastes no time in thanking his tribemates (a little too effusively) when they return from tribal council. Terry gloats in a confessional that he is in control now. Never gloat, Terry, never gloat, because Survivor producers never want you to sit easy.
Terry’s gloating comes to naught as Probst announces a TRIBE SWAP!
The new Bayon tribe: Jeremy, Monica, Stephen, Kimmi (old Bayon), Wiglesworth, Spencer (old Ta Keo)
The new Ta Keo tribe: Keith, Kass, Joe, Ciera (old Bayon), Terry, Wentworth (old Ta Keo)
The spanking-new Angkor tribe: Woo, Jeff, Peih-Gee, Abi-Maria (old Ta Keo), Tasha, Andrew (old Bayon)
Does this mean Spencer gets a third Second Chance? Probst isn’t done — Angkor has to make camp because they’ll be in a new location.
Angkor’s instantly off to a rocky start as the ex-Ta Keo four target the remaining ex-Bayon tribemates. Peih-Gee calls her majority the only luxury she has in a tribe that has nothing. However, Tasha and Andrew approach Jeff and Abi-Maria separately, offering an alliance.
Over at Ta Keo, the ex-Bayon four look strong. Wentworth wastes no time in cosying up to them, which should help her chances — don’t forget she has that idol.
At Bayon, Stephen is stoked at not being in “Camp Macho” any more, and Spencer starts on his third Second Chance! He has a personal chat with Jeremy, and promptly reveals in a confessional that getting to know Jeremy better may help his game. Jeremy seems receptive, calling him a “stand-up guy”. Meanwhile, Jeremy finds a clue to the hidden immunity idol, which will be planted at the next immunity challenge.
Immunity challenge! Each tribe has to push a cart through an obstacle course, retrieving keys from towers to release chests which will be placed on the cart. Once they have all 3 chests, they have to disassemble the cart and slide the parts and chests through a barricade, themselves climbing over. Once they reassemble the cart, they’ll have to get the cart over the rest of the obstacles before reaching the puzzle, where two tribe members have to assemble the puzzle using the pieces in the chests. First two tribes will win immunity… Typing that all down was a challenge in itself.
Survivors ready, and go! Ta Keo takes a lead from the first chest onward. Bayon inches towards the third chest, where the hidden immunity idol is planted. Jeremy shrewdly takes over the chest-releasing duty and SWIPES THE IDOL CLEANLY along the way! Angkor is struggling to coordinate their efforts. Ta Keo wisely clear the obstacles from the last stretch before moving their cart over, while Bayon and Angkor try to power their cart over them instead. Ta Keo starts on their puzzle with a nice lead. It’s a fight between Bayon and Angkor now as Ta Keo keeps their advantage and wins immunity! Angkor huff and puff, but it’s too late to make up ground, as Bayon finish second to win immunity! Jeff tries to signal Wiglesworth, but gets caught red-handed by Tasha.
Back at Angkor, Jeff’s mistake makes him the target, and Andrew lobbies Woo and Peih-Gee to turn on Jeff. Abi-Maria calls Jeff unpredictable, and maintains her own unpredictability by turning on her alliance; she tells Woo and Peih-Gee that she’s on the bottom of their 4-strong alliance anyway, so she’s flipping. Peih-Gee’s had enough of Abi-Maria, and now it’s an open choice between which of the two feuding women to keep. Tasha, Andrew, and Jeff, all with good reason to fear the boot, are stunned at the swift reversal in their fortunes. This tribe’s going to implode, and I love it.
At tribal council, Jeff tries to explain his not-so-secret signalling as an emotional meltdown. Tasha is not convinced and says the tribe has to work as a family. I chuckled. Jeff declares twice that Andrew and Tasha have manoeuvred their way from the bottom of the tribe to the top, and Probst gets Peih-Gee and Abi-Maria to pitch their case to the tribe. Both of them say they are loyal and trustworthy.
It’s time to vote. Peih-Gee and Abi-Maria vote for each other. Duh.
Probst gets the votes. Abi-Maria; Peih-Gee; Abi-Maria; Peih-Gee. 2 votes apiece, 2 votes left… Peih-Gee; Peih-Gee.
Well, Jeff definitely flipped. Angkor’s a wreck of a tribe, Andrew and Tasha suddenly look in total control, and Woo’s looking more isolated than ever. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week!
Day 4 at Ta Keo. Turns out Jeff flipped to send Vytas home. Jeff huddles with Shirin, Spencer and Wentworth; having Abi-Maria gives them a majority of 5. All seems well, but Jeff claims that he flipped to show the old-school players a message, and later tells Terry he wants to get one of Shirin or Spencer out soon because, as he said earlier, they are “playing too hard”. Uh, says you.
Meanwhile, Abi-Maria is trying to remain calm and drama-free, which means she absolutely does not. Spencer is understandably nervous at having her as part of his wafer-thin majority alliance. He calls her a drama queen, but Jeff goes one better, calling her a Brazillian soap opera “that we can just turn on and watch whenever we want to, and there are buttons to push to get to various levels of entertainment.” The night before the challenge, Peih-Gee and Shirin bitch about Abi-Maria which Abi-Maria overhears and uses to start an argument with Peih-Gee. Peih-Gee goes back to the shelter while Abi-Maria stews alone on the beach. Abi-Maria feels betrayed that Shirin didn’t back her up, especially because Shirin had experienced the same situation before. Terry goes out to console her, discussing strategy eventually, and tells her he has her back. The next morning, Jeff sets up a Jeff-Terry-Abi-Maria-Woo-Wiglesworth alliance to boot either Spencer or Shirin.
Over at Bayon, it’s anything but strategy as Joe decides to make a hammock out of fishing nets in his evolution towards becoming an island god. Everybody’s talking about Joe’s impressive adaptation to island life, but Stephen is unmoved and predicts he will be gone just after the merge.
Andrew shares the story of how he met his wife, which moves all of his tribemates. Kass declares later that she used to play Survivor like poker, but she will be real this time like her tribemates. Boo, I want Chaos Kass! Jeremy also gets emotional because he had to leave his pregnant wife (Val, who featured on “Blood vs Water” with him) to play this season, and goes on a solo walk to clear his head. Andrew notices it and joins Jeremy at the beach where they bond over their shared experiences. Andrew tells Jeremy how Stephen wondered if Jeremy was looking for the hidden immunity idol, which Andrew says shows how Stephen is playing the game 24/7 and how he lacks “morals, values, loyalty, dignity, courage.”
Reward/immunity challenge! Bayon look amazed that Ta Keo voted Vytas out. The challenge combines A-frame-scaling and crate-pulling with a final puzzle, and a tool kit is up for reward too. Ciera sits out for Bayon, and Probst remembers just before the challenge starts to take back the immunity idol and declare immunity back up for grabs. He certainly took a second chance there. The challenge starts, and both tribes are even through the A-frames, now each pulling a crate over an uneven track. Bayon finish that and starts work on their puzzle first. Kimmy and Kass get off to a great start for their puzzle while Ta Keo are yelling en masse at Spencer and Peih-Gee. Shirin takes over for Peih-Gee and instantly panicks. Joe and Jeremy take over for Bayon and are sniffing around the right combination, but no es cierto. Both tribes look to be almost done, but who has it first? Ta-Keo thinks they have it… NO! Bayon too… and Bayon win immunity and reward!
After the challenge, Spencer thinks he and Shirin have control of the game, but Jeff is working diligently to turn everybody against the two. Jeff declares “it’s over” for one of them. The only doubt I have about this prophecy is that we’ve seen the show misdirecting us all the time about who is truly going home. Shirin tries to shore up the alliance with Abi-Maria, but Abi-Maria admonishes her for her betrayal last night and drops out of the alliance with the biggest and most villainous smile ever. I love this moustache-twirling side of Abi-Maria. Shirin and Spencer get desperate and pull Woo aside to ask for his vote, but Woo, incredulous, points out that Shirin had never talked to him before today and now has the audacity to want his vote. Spencer tears up and confesses that he can only screw over Shirin if he is to remain in the game.
We go to tribal council. Spencer says that people forget how Survivor is rough until they return to play it; Shirin feels like she is at the bottom of the tribe again. Spencer promises everybody that he will get to know people and bond with them instead of just talking strategy if he survives this vote. Probst notes how Shirin and Spencer’s shared plight is similar to their previous seasons and asks Shirin about how her second chance is turning out. Shirin says if she survives this vote, this will be her third chance.
It’s time to vote. Shirin votes for Spencer. Spencer votes for Shirin.
Probst reads the votes. Spencer. Shirin. Shareen. (What?) Shirin. Spencer. Spencer. Spencer. Shirin.
Now, the last vote: Shirin.
Another tremendous episode, and a huge shift in tribe dynamics in Ta Keo. Jeff has now orchestrated both Vytas and Shirin’s exits, and surely people will notice his control over the game. Spencer gets a third chance, and the preview shows a tribe reshuffle (to three tribes), so who knows what the hell will happen?
This should be eventful. The introduction spends mere seconds on the sights of Cambodia before segueing to the contestants. No Jeff Probst monologue? That’s a shame.
The two tribes are put on motorboats and meet with Probst in the middle of a lake for a quick chat. Kelly Wiglesworth thinks about her one-vote loss in “Borneo” all the time. Joe is dreamy about playing with the great players of Survivor.
Spontaneous challenge! Probst tells these fresh-faced old hands: grab all the supplies you need from a boat some distance away from where you are, and there’s a large bag of rice in a second boat further away for the first tribe that arrives there.
Ta Keo get what they need and release their raft to head for the rice, followed by Bayon. Wiglesworth swims ahead while Bayon are getting bogged down, literally – their raft is barely afloat! Now Joe tries to catch up with Wiglesworth. Woo jumps in, reaches the rice and takes it for Ta Keo.
After the opening credits… Ta Keo arrive and immediately get to building shelter. Wiglesworth thinks that the hard workers are Terry, herself, Woo, Vytas, and Spencer and they will be rewarded for that in time to come. Terry goes to interact with Spencer. Abi-Maria cannot find her bracelet. She’s promised to control her emotions, but already she’s finding that difficult.
Over at Bayon, Kass and Tasha reconnect while weaving palm fronds. Jeremy wants Keith, Tasha, Andrew and Joe for an alliance. Joe calls himself, Andrew and Jeremy the alpha males who are going to cooperate, leaving Stephen out of the ‘manly man” club. He’s not in any alliance as of yet, so he’s looking a little shaky.
Back to Ta Keo; Vytas puts the moves on Abi-Maria, Peih-Gee, and Kelly Wentworth. However, Shirin thinks he’s smarmy and a threat. She talks strategy with Jeff and Spencer, and the former confesses he didn’t play like this the last time. He goes on to muse, “Is this the way you play Survivor now?” He’s on a mid-life quest at the age of 49… Is this a narrative of someone who will go far into the game?
Abi-Maria finds her bracelet in Peih-Gee’s bag and goes to insinuate her theft to her tribemates. Peih-Gee explains herself to Abi-Maria, and all Abi-Maria says is “I gave you the benefit of the doubt.” Seriously?
At Bayon, the men (minus Stephen) huddle to make fire, and Joe finally gets it going. Andrew professes his admiration for Joe. Cool the bromance, dude. Stephen’s looking for an idol – he’s at risk, and he knows it.
The next morning at Ta Keo, Jeff and Peih-Gee go swimming and divide the tribe into the old-schoolers, who insist on hard work, and the new-schoolers, who just want to strategise. Jeff also calls them the “shelter people” and the “beach people”, which is hilarious. Vytas and Abi-Maria come up as potential first-boots.
Day 3 at Ta Keo; Wentworth looks around for the hidden immunity idol and finds it! Or not, because it’s just a clue to where the idol will be… at the upcoming immunity challenge! Will she dare to retrieve it in plain sight?
Also, its’s yoga day! At Bayon, a topless Joe leads the women for some morning yoga, or as a dazzled Tasha calls it, “Joe-ga”. Keith excuses himself, preferring his own morning routine of having a cup of coffee and going to work like “99.9% of all Americans”. At Ta Keo, Vytas shows Shirin some yoga moves in front of their bemused tribemates, who are tired of his flirting. Wentworth wants Vytas gone, but Vytas, Terry and Wiglesworth want Abi-Maria to go instead.
The immunity challenge is a call-back to the first ever Survivor challenge, involving rafts, torch-lighting and out-of-reach keys. Probst calls it a “quest for fire”, and to fan the flames, puts up a fire-making kit as an additional reward. Both tribes start out even, but Ta Keo takes the lead when Keith makes a mistake at the torch-lighting for Bayon. Wentworth reaches the hidden immunity idol… and doesn’t take it. Bayon catches up, and Wiglesworth tries to reach the key with her pole… but doesn’t, while WENTWORTH SWIPES THE HIDDEN IMMUNITY IDOL AT THAT MOMENT! Joe retrieves the key, Bayon moves ahead, Spencer takes over but fails and Bayon takes the win!
Probst gathers Ta Keo and asks Wiglesworth about her failure to get the key in another Unnecessary Awkward Probst Moment. But wait, twist! Ta Keo will hold tribal council immediately. Cut to the tribe walking into tribal council. Woo repeats the old-school-versus-new-school observation. Abi-Maria says her second chance is about growth, learning from her mistakes and controlling her emotions; her tribemates react with amusement and incredulity. Vytas says that everybody has talked enough to have an idea of who to vote for, and Woo follows up by declaring he does not know who to go for. Same old Woo. Abi-Maria says she feels nervous and would be heart-broken if she gets voted out. Probst tries to probe into her (lack of) social skills in what could be another UAPM, but thankfully nothing comes out from it… and we go to the vote.
Woo votes Abi-Maria; Abi-Maria votes Vytas; Vytas votes Abi-Maria; Wentworth votes Vytas.
Probst reads the votes: Vytas. Abi-Maria. Vytas. Abi-Maria. Vytas. Abi-Maria. Vytas. Abi-Maria.
2 votes left. Vytas. Vytas.
Woo looks stunned, and Terry and Wiglesworth look glum. See you, Vytas.
Hello, and welcome to Ponder-osa! I’ll cover every episode of this season of Survivor, updating this page after each episode airs weekly. These recaps will be short, and I’ll mix in my thoughts and notes along with the recap.
This season promises to be a very entertaining one, as Survivor welcomes back a full cast of returning players from previous seasons. Before you read on, a disclaimer: I have not watched all 30 seasons of Survivor so far (glory be to whoever has done so), and as such am not familiar with all of the returning players. It shouldn’t be a problem, as I daresay I’ll pick up on their personalities much alike any brand-new player.
Here are the two tribes:
- Abi-Maria Gomes, 35, previously appeared on “Philippines”
- Jeff Varner, 49, “The Australian Outback”
- Kelly Wentworth, 29, “San Juan del Sur”
- Kelly Wiglesworth, 37, “Borneo”
- Peih-Gee Law, 37, “China”
- Shirin Oskooi, 32, “Worlds Apart”
- Spencer Bledsoe, 22, “Cagayan”
- Terry Deitz, 55, “Panama”
- Vytas Baskauskas, 35, “Blood vs Water”
- Woo Huang, 31, “Cagayan”
- Andrew Savage, 51, “Pearl Islands”
- Ciera Eastin, 26, “Blood vs Water”
- Jeremy Collins, 37, “San Juan del Sur”
- Joe Anglim, 26, “Worlds Apart”
- Kass McQuillen, 43, “Cagayan”
- Keith Nale, 54, “San Juan del Sur”
- Kimmi Kappenberg, 42, “The Australian Outback”
- Monica Padilla, 30, “Samoa”
- Stephen Fishbach, 36, “Tocantins”
- Tasha Fox, 39, “Cagayan”