Before I get to the analysis of this episode, I want to say that I was really happy to see the show change its formulaic approach to give us the good news about Terry and his son at the very end. I was grateful to see them dropping the routine to give us this update directly. Some things are more important and it was heart warming to hear Terry call his son the real Second Chance Survivor.
Ta Keo was thriving and had put together a strong five.
The camera was on Kelley when the Final Five was mentioned. She was also on camera when Joe confided that he is trying to pull in as many people as he can.
Angkor was barely getting by…but at the last immunity challenge, they finally won…sending Bayon to Tribal Council.
Back at camp, Wiglesworth and Spencer were on the outs…but Monica wanted to change things up. In reaction to Monica’s idea of a female alliance, we heard Kimmi confiding that Monica is a loose cannon and would flip.
Everything did change at Tribal Council when Monica was blindsided.
In the recap, Jeff didn’t mention Woo’s MVP performance. That had alerted us last week and now we know why. It’s not very good for the Bayon players that Ta Keo and Angkor were the only two tribes that Jeff described before it was time to tell us about going to Tribal Council. It’s as if nothing else mattered for that tribe.
Setting the Tenor for the Whole Season
Ta Keo Night 13
We didn’t go to Bayon to hear the aftermath of their Council, but it was understandable under the circumstances.
Probst was making his way to the Ta Keo shelter to deliver some bad news to Terry.
When the tribe got the update, we saw Kelley get up and hug Terry. He left after telling them to kick some ass. Keith said: “Let’s bring this home for Terry…Let’s bring it home for him.”
Kass gave the confessional: “I think you have to be a parent to understand how devastating it would be to get a phone call telling you that your child is sick and you need to get home…It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change. I feel for him. He’s a good dad. Hopefully, when he gets home, it’s all good.”
That put quite an abrupt end to the storyline where Kelley wanted to throw Terry under the bus. Knowing that it would end this way, we can wonder if the editors hurt Kelley’s image by showing her mean streak against such a good dad. I think the intent of that story line was twofold: It told his fans that Terry had very little chance of winning even if he had stayed in the game and it did present Kelley as a player ready to do everything possible to further her game. As for Kass, it was nice that her confessional was used to narrate this segment but that choice could have been simply because she found the words that production wanted to use. It prolonged her redemption arc in an episode where the devil in her was about to return.
For Terry, now that we know Danny is doing well, I want to recall that he downplayed the relative importance of the parent/child relationship in favor of the husband/wife bond during Panama, depriving Aras and Danielle of their visit with their moms in the process. It seems that this karmic fruit came back full circle to remind him that all family bonds are dearly important.
One last comment about this scene: Keith’s word sounded prophetic: The winner could very well be on this tribe and they will do Terry proud.
In a break from tradition, the tribe that had gone to Tribal Council wasn’t the last one walking into the challenge arena. The reactions to Monica’s elimination were overshadowed by the missing Ta Keo tribe.
Spencer’s expression told us what everyone thought when they saw the new Ta Keo tribe.
Savage’s reaction was to say that he’d run to the airport even if he loved this game: “It’s family. It’s bigger than all of this.”
A teary-eyed Wiglesworth said she’d do anything for her child. She felt terrible for Terry.
Ciera said she talked to her husband about what would make her come home.
Joe said that the tribe had the wind sucked out of their sail but that they wanted to do him proud.
Jeremy said that Bayon was a nice little family. Savage said that the Angkor 4 was unbelievably tight and he wanted to continue their little winning streak.
No such luck! Couldn’t they see this twist coming? They probably did, but they had to play along…
Andrew’s confessional: “The three most beautiful words in this game for me? Drop your buffs.”
Woo’s confessional: “So I noticed that Savage has Ta Keo. I was more than pleased because if I had to choose one person that I am closest too– hands down it has to be Savage.”
Watch out for what you wish.
Spencer’s confessional: “There have been two swaps now. There are so many past relationships; I cannot fathom how people could group together. It is a cluster… (expletive).
How about hanging on to their pre-game alliances?
Ta Keo v3.0 was formed by Kass, Ciera, Woo, Savage, Abi, Spencer and Wiglesworth.
Bayon v3.0 included Jeremy, Kimmi, Stephen, Joe, Kelley, Keith and Tasha.
Here’s some help for Spencer: Since Ta Keo still has Woo and Abi, the tribe will most likely fracture in between those two. As for Bayon, it looked like it was nicely hand-picked to include last week’s three conspirators on one side, exactly three members of Ta Keo’s Final 5 on the other and Tasha set up as the arbiter in case they went to Tribal Council. Chance is usually well structured in Survivor.
Kass told Jeff that she was happy to have the rice and the chicken but she was apprehensive about Spencer.
This quick strike surprised Spencer and amused everyone else.
Spencer’s confessional: “Kass and I have feuded and, at times, we’ve hated each other, so how I can get along with my arch-nemesis is going to determine how this game goes for me.”
Kass made the first strike and Spencer had the first confessional to explain his point of view. In editing, that is usually a sign that he will come out on top. She provoked the conflict while we heard his apprehensions. That encourages the neutral viewers to take his side while the ones already rooting for him want him to succeed even more than before. As for Kass’ fans, at least some must have thought that she was opening the hostilities too quickly.
On the other side, Jeff went to Kelley, once more the only original Ta Keo surrounded by 6 original Bayon tribe members. With a smile, she told him that she realized her situation but that she knew some of these people from working together on the last tribe. She added: “I’m excited. I just want to win!”
Wouldn’t that make for a marvelous winning quote?
Stephen’s confessional: “The switched worked out perfectly for me, for right now. We have an obvious target with Wentworth, but I still have a sense of being at risk because there are a lot of big alpha guys here. That’s terrifying for me.”
The first half of this confessional from Stephen is very similar to the ones that Savage and Woo gave just before. Considering how this worked out for them, can we say it won’t work out for Stephen either? Of course, Bayon v3.0 won’t go to Tribal Council, but I think this group will reach a showdown sometime after the merger and Stephen looks like it will be its first casualty. Stephen goes deeper than the other two because he understands the tactics of this game. Hearing him return so quickly to this theme of alpha males is very telling. It made me think that Stephen won’t succeed. The idea of a female alliance already took a hit last week and we know that the strong players want to work together, so we should expect some of these strong players to make it to the end.
The Reward Challenge
They were in groups of 7 but Jeff said that the first tribe to three would win. Why not 4 so that it could actually go seven rounds? I’m guessing the challenge went much longer than 3 points but that it was edited down to those rounds only and Jeff’s words were added in post-production. It’s easier that way to make it look like it was a close match-up and it also enabled them to show the most interesting rounds.
In a repeat of the Hero’s challenge, Savage went against Jeremy, but by less than a second, he lost this time. Bayon took the early lead.
Next up, Kass went up against Fishbach and defeated him.
That showed us why he doesn’t want to mess with the athletes! Even Kass is better in challenges than our poor Stephen. It was already funny when he tried to run but when he started throwing? Hilarious!
Stephen apologized to his team and Jeremy told him he should have more confidence in himself.
It was then Abi versus Kimmi. Abi turned away thinking she had already lost when Kimmi’s ring bounced off the peg. Her tribe had to yell at her to get back in it and she won the round for Ta Keo.
We also think that the game is over for her but can Abi win this whole game? We turned our back on her just like she turned her back on the target but what if? Scary isn’t it? Much scarier than any Halloween costume you’ll be seeing this weekend! Of course, she’d have to win by default or something similar but stranger things have happened.
When Joe went up against Woo, Kelley told him to oil up and Tasha approved! Of course, Joe scored on his first toss.
The “sudden death” showdown featured Kelly versus Kelley. While she could have been flagged for pass interference, Kelly won the reward for her tribe.
Of course, I’m always noting who gets credit for the wins so I’d say that Kelly didn’t receive much credit from her team for winning but that could be because she didn’t actually win it so dramatically. What if Ta Keo won something like 7 to 2? If you only had to play 5 rounds, wouldn’t you sit Abi, Kimmi… or Stephen instead of say Keith, Tasha and Spencer?
Andrew’s confessional: “Looking at the complexion of my tribe, I couldn’t be happier. I got Abi and Woo. After what we went through in Angkor we are rock solid and if I can just regroup with my Bayon folks, Kass and Ciera that’s the most perfect equation you can imagine. I’m not going anywhere.”
By inserting this confessional here, the upcoming blindside becomes part of Andrew’s drama instead of being simply Woo’s final moments in the game. This structure had to make us think that Savage was going out the door, but he is still in the game and he knows that Kass and Ciera aren’t part of the equation anymore. How will he react? The merger gives him ammunition against the pair.
Spencer’s confessional: “Coming to the new Ta Keo tribe, I was thinking of the awesome meal I was about to eat, but in the back of my mind, kind of nagging at me, was how in the hell was this tribe going to work out for me.”
The camera showed us the danger facing Spencer and its name was Kass. When he asked her about the mood on the camp during the last few days, she said it was smooth because “the four that came over were the less dramatic…” Spencer’s confessional continued: “When Kass and I have to do the seemingly impossible and interact, it was a little awkward– it was a little cagey. Genuinely, I didn’t know what to make of it, so I just tried to treat her like everyone else but that’s never worked for me in the past with Kass.”
While this was taking place, we had a shot of the group with Andrew neglecting to interact, looking away from everyone.
Andrew came out of his bubble to tell everyone how happy he was to be out of the hellhole.
Andrew in confessional: “What we went through in Angkor was so traumatizing that having that victory and the food was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. Honestly. It sounds silly but it was an absolutely beautiful moment…”
(It also gave us a rare helicopter shot.) “…As soon as I looked at those other six, the first thing I thought was: I got five. Two of my old Bayon and I got my Angkors. Spencer is this wonderful kid. Honestly, if I had a son, I’d like him to be like Spencer: big heart, super bright. I love the kid, but I will tell you this and it will sound very cold: Kass can’t stand Spencer and I’m going to use that to my advantage in the game.”
Kass’ relationships in the game are quite tortuous. She may hate Spencer, but it seems that Andrew is forgetting that she also has a score to settle with Woo! I wouldn’t have brought Woo in the five especially since Andrew only needed four.
When Spencer went out to clean dishes, Andrew was quick to get down to strategy, asking Kass what she thought they should do in case of a loss.
I always smile when some viewers say that the players shouldn’t leave a group, any group alone because they will talk behind your back. It’s as if those viewers don’t have any notion of the time that the players spend on the island. Sure, if the game was on only 44 minutes every seven days, you absolutely should stay with everyone else. But when it goes on 24 hours a day every day for 39 days, you can’t ALWAYS be together. Sooner or later, someone will leave the shelter and, every time, the others will talk.
Just as quickly, Kass turned the question back to Andrew, simply saying that she was tight with Ciera. He said: “Me, Woo and Abi: inseparable… Spencer’s got to go.”
Andrew fell in her trap! He just put a noose around his neck as well as Woo’s. “Inseparable” is a word you should absolutely NEVER use when talking about someone else because it automatically puts your interlocutor in an outsider’s position. Andrew would have been much smarter to say: “I want to be equally tight with YOU and Ciera and I can get Woo and Abi to vote with us for now.”
Kass in confessional: “I would love to get rid of Spencer again. I didn’t want Spencer on my tribe. I wanted to play Second Chance without the blood.”
Andrew then told the five that they should tell Spencer that Ciera was going.
Wait? What? Andrew compounded his mistake by telling them what they will tell Spencer instead of asking. Even if he meant Ciera no immediate harm, he was telling her that she would make a credible target– that he very well could have gone after her if Spencer wasn’t there. Anyway, who wants to be the pawn? Ciera was quick to answer that question.
Ciera’s interview: “Andrew says that we are going to send Spencer home and we are going to tell him that it’s going to be me to go home. Me? Hold the phone. It shows a huge sign of where his trust lies. He would rather throw me under the bus than Woo. Woo is not an original Bayon. Whenever you hear your name being brought up, it is never a good thing. I want to be a team player and there are certain times I am willing to take one for the team, but this isn’t one of those times.”
In front of the group, Ciera told Andrew that she trusted him.
Ciera played this part very well. Her next move will be more questionable.
Bayon Day 14
We approached Bayon by flying through clouds and Jeremy was first seen behind a cloud of smoke. Whenever I see that image, I am always reminded of the “fogs of war”. It was never truer than when Rupert observed the Villains approaching his camp. He was first seen through smoke from their campfire and he never really understood those Villains and why they kept Parvati. Will Jeremy likewise misread the people on his tribe?
Keith and Kimmi were arguing over by the fire. When Kimmi dropped the fish in the fire, Keith told her: “You’re done; you’re done.”
No one should be surprised to see Keith outlasting Kimmi after this!
Resting in the hammocks, Kelley was talking to Joe who told her she’d have to do some work. She said she knew she was in trouble. Joe added: “You are the easy vote. We need to find a way to keep you here. You’re stronger than Stephen and Kimmi. That’s the one biggest pitch, I think.”
Joe’s confessional: “After the tribe swap, strategically, I am in a good spot. I got an original alliance of Bayon and, over at the Ta Keo camp, myself, Kass, Ciera, Kelley and Keith all kind of made a pact. So I want to keep Kelley around so that I have numbers at the merge.”
One could say that this confessional is as troubling as Woo, Andrew and Stephen’s but I think it is important that it was removed from the immediate flurry of the swap. This gives the impression that Joe took the time to stand back, analyze the situation properly and come up with a good plan. We all know that his confessional could have actually been recorded BEFORE the other three or at the same time but the timing of the presentation is the determining factor. The other three spoke immediately as if without even thinking. Look what happened to Woo and Andrew already!
When Joe talked to Kelley, we saw her face through the hammock which could symbolize that she is well protected in Joe’s care.
On the other hand, when Joe mentioned Keith’s name we saw him laughing out loud. It was as if he was laughing at Joe’s pact. Will Keith stick to the pact. Does Keith know what a pact is?
Kelley’s confessional: “I know I’m the easy vote, like I am not oblivious to it, but I do have an immunity idol and if Joe wants to protect me, I’m going to hide behind him as long as I can. I mean, Joe, thank you.”
When she said that, we saw Joe talking to Stephen and it made me wonder if, like Stephen with JT, Kelley could wind up hiding behind Joe for too long. I think this pair should last to the end but I’m not certain who will profit more. Kelley’s story has fit the themes very well as far as I read them but I could be wrong. Can Joe win even if he doesn’t change much? If they all want to hide behind him then the jury will only see him.
Tasha, Joe, and Stephen were talking about their first vote. Tasha said that they should stick with the original 6 Bayon. Joe said that Kimmi could be their first target because of the challenges.
Stephen’s confessional: “The old Bayon is all saying let’s stick together. Joe is saying no, let’s keep Wentworth and target Kimmi. He is already trying to get our core alliance to turn on each other. So Joe is actually flipping on the Bayon alliance. This is Survivor; you got to take action.”
Stephen revealed Joe’s plan to Jeremy. The fireman didn’t like that. Stephen told Jeremy that he didn’t trust Joe and that he would be happy to lose him. Jeremy didn’t want to do Joe first, though.
When we heard this exchange we saw Stephen through the hammocks netting. Contrary to Kelley who was being protected by the net, this image gave the impression that Stephen was being trapped by it. The reason for the different symbolic interpretation is simple: Joe was talking positively about Kelley at the time while Jeremy was thinking that Stephen was bugging.
Jeremy’s confessional: “Stephen is definitely digging his heels and he wants Joe out, but I need a shield. I need Joe around as long as possible. I do not want to be the biggest guy out here.”
Stephen’s confessional resumed: “At the reward challenge, Jeremy was telling me that I should have confidence; that I should believe in myself. You know what? I am putting everything into winning Survivor. That doesn’t manifest itself in challenges. I know that I am not good in those. I’m good at other things. In terms of the strategic moves, this is what, to me, this game is about. It’s about the social strategy. It’s about building alliances and maintaining alliances and targeting the right person at the right time.”
(Kelley was shown sitting behind Joe when Stephen said this, a possible indication that Kelley should be Stephen’s first target.) Stephen then pitched the same plan to Tasha. He asked her if it was a mistake to move so soon against Joe. She said that it would be. Stephen continued his soliloquy: “If I can’t get my alliance to make the move with me; I have failed. You don’t get a lot of shots taking out your major competition and what actually works me up… (He begins to choke up here). I can’t believe this…is the idea that I would be missing this…Oh! my god! It’s so silly. I would miss my second chance. I put so much into it the last time but I still came up short. I’m putting so much into it this time…and the idea that I would come up short because I couldn’t get my crew to take the shot that we needed to take. I’ve been kicking myself for so many years for not getting rid of the golden boy the last time. To just wait for the game to come to you and then let it pass you by. That would be a real loss for me: to not take control of the game when we had the chance. It would be such a great move. This would be THE move that set the tenor for the whole season.”
This confessional is set up as the cornerstone of Stephen’s story. It connects with his original comments about taking charge of his tribe. He hasn’t flamed yet, but he’s still seeing it as a failure if he doesn’t get his way immediately. He should realize that there isn’t a real urgency, that there is still plenty of time to act, but it’s very possible that he will pay for missing his opportunity. WE could be hearing this sense of urgency because Joe will indeed outlast Stephen. As for this episode, Stephen fell in the same trap as Monica, thinking his best move would also correspond to Jeremy’s best move.
The Immunity Challenge
Jeff told us that they had the gross food eating challenge 14 times over the years.
1st round – Two Crispy Tarantulas: Woo and Spencer beat Tasha and Kimmi.
2nd Round – Two Giant Water Beetles: Jeremy and Keith won over Savage and Ciera. (It would have been huge redemption for Ciera according to Jeff).
3rd Round – Pig Snout: Fishbach and Wentworth finished before Kass and Abi.
4th Round – Fried Frog: Wiglesworth defeated Joe, surprising everyone.
5th Round – Pig Brain: Kimmi wished Woo “bon appétit”! (That’s the Kimmi we remember!)
6th Round – Fried Scorpion: Jeff said it would be an amazing Second Chance story if Ciera could win it for her tribe but Wentworth beat her. Ciera, once again, came up short. She told Jeff that she felt bad for letting them down but she was proud of herself for going as far as she got.
7th Round – Baluts (Spencer and Stephen were both repulsed): Tasha easily defeated Kass.
Now either Ta Keo threw this challenge, or more likely, there were many rounds that weren’t shown. Why would Ta Keo return Ciera and Kass to the table for the last two rounds instead of Savage and Spencer?
Tasha grabbed the immunity idol while Jeremy grabbed the remaining balut as take out!
Ciera was either annoyed by seeing Jeremy showing off or she was disgusted to see anyone eating that for fun.
Kass in confessional: “Tribal Council tonight and I would love to get rid of Spencer again, and if he was the first person whose name I wrote down, I would be more than happy to write a sad face on his card and send him on his way: Spencer Bledsoe, zero percent chance of winning this game.”
Kass had just told Jeff and the viewers that she was sorry to have let her tribe down so this animosity was rather poorly placed. We know she doesn’t like Spencer, but the method is as unsavory as that balut.
Ta Keo Day 16
Woo had a confessional where he said they were all going to vote against Spencer. He was happy to finally be in tune with this game!
Poor Woo. Very few players have been out of the loop as often as he in his two tries.
Savage was the first to lie to Spencer, telling him that Ciera was their target.
Spencer’s confessional: “I am kind of on the outs as far as being in the know, but I’ve wanted to play with Savage this whole time. I think he’s a really good guy, someone that I can trust.”
Well, that tells us that Spencer isn’t the greatest when it comes to reading people.
Savage’s confessional: “It’s unbelievably hard for me to put up Spencer like this. He’s a great kid but nothing is getting in the way of my second chance. Tonight, everyone is voting Spencer; he’s voting Ciera. This is going to be one of the most unexpected, devastating blindsides in the history of Survivor. I mean business. This is my second chance; I’m not getting a third chance. This is it.”
I’m not sure but I think there will be less fanfare during Savage’s last few days on his retirement tour, then there was during Jeter’s last trip around the league! This vote must have been devastating for him, probably even more than for Woo who must have been able to forget as soon as he grabbed some food on the buffet in Loser Lodge. His reaction should be very interesting especially since he will soon rejoin Tasha.
With the little monkey looking down on them, Kass and Abi listened to Ciera’s plan. She wasn’t a comfortable pawn. Kass agreed that Andrew’s suggestion was weird.
Ciera’s confessional: “I definitely had a wakeup call when Terry went home. It’s my second chance; it could be my last chance and I want to go full on so I can go home to my family and say that I gave it my all.”
Kass said she wanted to get rid of Spencer, but Ciera said it would be dumb to keep Woo over Spencer.
Ciera told us she didn’t trust Andrew, yet she went after Woo instead. If this hadn’t been right before the merger then it wouldn’t have been so bad, but like Stephen said, you have to take action. Andrew will become much more dangerous than Woo could ever be. He’ll be reconnecting with Tasha who probably has her own entourage by now. This brings me to an interesting observation: Wasn’t it strange to see Abi-Maria standing there and not say a word? They were talking about someone that she wanted to eliminate very badly, but she stayed quiet. Is she learning? There was this huge story centered on Abi’s feud with Woo and, on the day he finally leaves, she doesn’t even have to make a scene. I have to guess that Ciera and Kass had to go after Woo instead of Savage only to secure Abi’s key vote. She would have balked at the idea of booting Andrew so soon but not Woo. Could her silence be a hint of good things to come for her? Having made it to the merger, Abi has crossed her danger zone and no one left hates her. Could Abi…? I don’t even want to write the end of that question.
Kass’ confessional: “So Ciera wants to get rid of Woo. I didn’t want to play with Spencer. I was glad not to be on a tribe with him all this time and when everyone said that we should do Spencer first, it was almost being served up to me, but then you have to step back. Is there a better use for Spencer right now?”
The two went for a walk on the beach.
The cloud formation told us that this won’t be the safest road for Kass. She is heading for stormy weathers.
Spencer said: “I really like Savage.”
Kass countered: “Interestingly, Savage said: Why don’t we go for Spencer? We’ll tell him it’s Ciera.”
Spencer was shocked.
Spencer’s interview: “If what Kass is saying is true, that Savage is considering me as a target, I’m left trying to figure out where to run.” After she told him about the plan to blindside Woo, Spencer added: “I guess I’m bunking with the devil tonight. I might have to play with Kass.”
War-like drums accompanied Spencer on his walk back to camp.
While he was walking back to camp, Kass played the comedy to Woo, saying she was finally getting her revenge on Spencer Bledsoe.
If I had been in Woo’s place, I would have asked myself: “Didn’t she already get her revenge on Spencer during Cagayan’s Final 4? Wouldn’t she be out for revenge against me since I voted her out?” In a sense, it’s weird that Kass’ feelings about Woo were never mentioned.
Kass’ confessional: “There are two ideas floating out there: Savage, Wiglesworth and Woo think that Spencer is going home and Spencer, Abi and Ciera believe Woo is going home. I have the opportunity to write down Spencer and say goodbye. As I sit here right now, I could still do that if I wanted to because of how the votes are. It’s my first tribal of my second chance. Which Kass is coming? Is it “Calm Kass” or is it “Chaos Kass”? The little angel and the devil are each on my shoulders. Spencer! Woo! Calm! Chaos! It’s there! What is going to happen? I don’t even know.”
Andrew said he had been working on his social game, trying to identify the players that were loyal.
Spencer said he was seeing people as people.
Woo said he was ready to be more cut-throat.
Kass talked about all her connections and troubles.
Savage said that he never saw “Chaos Kass” in the original Bayon. She had been loyal and loving.
The rattlesnake sound effect was heard, underlining that mistake.
Ciera told Jeff that navigating people is her strength. She mentioned Andrew’s bond with Woo and how it affected the battle between her gut, her heart, and her mind.
Andrew said that hearing his name mentioned didn’t affect him because he didn’t have any doubts about this vote.
I’d say he was tempting, even daring Chaos Kass!
Ciera said that this was the scariest part of Tribal Council because they all had plans. She added: “Somebody’s plan is not going to work out.”
Spencer said that they all had confidence but that the snuffer would take care of that.
It took only 1 vote against Woo to shake Andrew’s confidence. Those votes would soon pile on and Woo was eliminated 4-3.
Spencer said thank you to the people on his left.
The camera made it look as if it was addressed to Abi even if Ciera was also sitting on Spencer’s left.
When Woo turned around after setting his torch in front of Jeff, he smiled and said: “Blindside!” Savage could only raise his arms palm up to plead his ignorance.
After putting the snuffer back to rest, Jeff said: “This season, the game is being played at a very high level which means you are going to have to continue to adapt your game if you want to make it to the end.”
While Ciera and Kass made the big move that Stephen was hoping to make, we have to wonder if the tenor of the game that was set will favor them. There was a big undercurrent of “Missed Opportunities” in this episode which could come back to haunt the players that were making the decisions. Stephen wasn’t able to make his big move against Joe. Kass and Andrew didn’t get rid of Spencer. Ciera didn’t strike at Andrew, the player that she didn’t trust. Kelley survived her supposedly arduous situation in Bayon. It’s very likely that one of these missed opportunities will have a comeback win. Besides Spencer, who obviously wanted this result, the only other player who got what she truly wanted was Abi-Maria and hasn’t she already been setting the tenor of the whole season?
Making a Case for the Remaining Characters
Kimmi: It’s not easy to make a case for Kimmi because it’s difficult to assess the only move she’s made in the game. Many think her move against Monica was a spur of the moment decision, made only for the good of the tribe. We could say that she wanted to solidify her alliance with Jeremy and Stephen but was she ever really in their plans? I think that the relative invisibility of Bayon early on didn’t help us understand Kimmi’s move. She called Monica a loose cannon and feared that she would flip on her so it’s probable that Kimmi heard Monica throwing out a new plan every day. But even if eliminating Monica was Kimmi’s best move, we don’t have any long-term storylines for her. She doesn’t appear to be in the long-term plans of her allies and she doesn’t tell us about her own plans. The best thing for her case was that the move was presented positively; Probst even called it a great example of new-school tactic. Nothing could be better for Kimmi’s chances.
Kelly: The image we had at the very end of Tribal Council probably told us all we need to know about Kelly.
I was so happy to see her back but she has been exasperatingly quiet. She is right back to where she was after the first Tribal Council; completely out of the loop. On the other hand, we heard Jeff at the gross food challenge say that she was using a completely different strategy than the one used by Joe. Joe is all flash and that makes him a huge target. Kelly, with her meditation routine, will remain calm when everyone around her becomes anxious. We have heard that she is a hard worker and that she is good in challenges and that there was nothing to differentiate her from Spencer. Probst’s comment sounded like something that a jury would have to debate. If she makes it to the end, it will be with Spencer. If she does, then a few challenge wins could earn her the victory that came so close on that very first season.
Keith: He is in the Final Five that was announced and he is having fun just rolling with it. Being from Louisiana, he should know how to let the good times roll! This season is being played on such a high level that the votes may create a lot of animosity on the jury. Up to now, however, all the booted players have accepted their elimination graciously. We should expect that it will continue this way and that the jury will reward a good tactician which doesn’t favor Keith.
Abi: She has gotten rid of everyone that was against her and she didn’t wait for episode 6 to set the tenor for the whole season. There are very few remaining Ta Keo members so there’s very little reason to consider her as a ticking time bomb anymore. We didn’t hear a confessional from Abi when the vote turned against Woo so that could be telling us that she has finally found a way to fix her mistakes. For the very first time, she got her way without making it personal, without creating a scene. In fact, Abi may have gone along with the two other ladies only because their move spared Andrew. I know it sounds strange, but Abi could make it to the end. It would explain all the debate that surrounded her early on– some wanting her gone immediately; others wanting to keep her to the end. If she makes it, it could turn out exactly like it did for her during the reward challenge: Someone will open the door and she could win by default. (I have to give you something to scare you on Halloween!)
Stephen: He is showing us his passion for the game and he is using some proven tactics to make it to the end. He is in a solid alliance with most of the members of Bayon and he knows that he needs to take action when someone threatens his game. The problem is that we were shown the emotional Stephen instead of the clinical one. He hasn’t taken control of the game yet and we heard Jeremy say that he was bugging. He missed an opportunity to get rid of Joe before the merger, so we have to think he will regret it. If he is to make it to the end, he will have to find new allies but Jeremy and Tasha have so many connections that it will be hard for him to find a group to lead.
Andrew: He made some grave tactical mistakes in this episode, particularly by announcing that he was part of an inseparable trio. That should have made him the immediate target but, for some reason, he was spared. Now that he has made it to the merger, he should be able to regroup with some solid allies. He loved it when Probst told them to drop their buffs so imagine his pleasure when he reads the news that they are getting new buffs once more! Kass showed her hand too soon, so he now has proof that she isn’t loyal. He won’t make the same mistake twice. His game depends on reconnecting with Jeremy, Joe and Tasha. Since all these strong players have made it to the merge, they should form a dangerous alliance. If he navigates his way to the end, his difficult days on Angkor would make for a solid case to present to the jury.
Ciera: She hadn’t been featured a lot before going to her first Tribal Council, but she still had some visibility, including a repetition of her introduction confessional at the start of episode 2 and the camera angle that presented her as the toast of Cambodia! When she got to Tribal Council, she didn’t waste time. She did exactly what she promised she would do: She made a big move. Even more than that, she told her interviewer that she was inspired by Terry’s family crisis to move into action. Knowing that he had this confessional in the can, any editor would be inclined to keep her quiet before then to drive the point home. The problem from my point of view is that she didn’t go after Andrew. That could come back to haunt her; however, because of Kass’ reputation, she probably won’t be the first to come under fire. If the tide turns against the two conspirators, it could give her some time to adapt and find her next big move. It seems that she will have to continue making those big moves if she wants to make it to the end. Will she be able to get rid of her opponents while retaining their votes? That is her dual challenge and she doesn’t have many players on her side. For example, despite his gratitude, Spencer is more likely to go back to Jeremy’s side than to stay with Kass’ ally.
Kass: The nice lady took out the claws! Her story keeps growing and it could be more than a simple redemption arc. In an episode where she narrated Terry’s family emergency and how it affected everyone, she decided to put an old rivalry aside to flip the game on Andrew. She has become a much more sympathetic character without losing any of her scheming abilities. This time, the move wasn’t done out of spite but it could have been done more for show than by calculated design. Andrew’s confidence during Tribal Council could have influenced her to cross a line that she didn’t want to transgress so soon. How could she resist?! The move against Andrew’s ally would have been sufficient if it had come well before the merge, but now she may regret not going after the head of the snake. Andrew’s story of these events will certainly interest Tasha, one of Woo’s friends, Jeremy and Joe who should unite against her. If Kass can survive this onslaught then she could become the favorite to win the whole thing. But can she? It’s funny that the merger, which created Chaos Kass in the first place, could be the very thing that cuts her game short this time. It would be her Karmic fruit.
Jeremy: While we had hints that Jeremy could be lost in the fogs of war, it could have been used only to show the confusion caused by Stephen’s plan. Luckily, Jeremy didn’t have to make the trek to Tribal Council and decide which way to go. Now that he has made the merge, Joe becomes much more valuable to him than Stephen. As long as Joe is around, Jeremy is safe. His idol would give him another cycle of safety after that. He has to like his chances if Joe makes it to Final 6 or 7. That will probably only happen if Stephen leaves earlier. Jeremy does have options but Bayon’s fracture will force him to choose sides early on. If he makes it to the end then we have to remember his early quotes about being more focus and doing this for his family. None of the feuds are directed at him so he can make a calm, rational decision. The main problem is that he could hide behind Joe for too long or that Kelley, who is also hiding behind Joe, may push Jeremy under the bus before too long. He may also forget that Spencer is still around. He missed an opportunity to get rid of the more dangerous player when he eliminated Monica. There are some pitfalls on his road to the end, enough to shake him out of that hammock.
Joe: With everyone lining up to hide behind him, Joe has very few predators lurking in the bushes. Stephen is a major hurdle but we saw that Stephen was trapped, unable to move into action because Jeremy and Tasha have other plans for Joe. If all his allies hide behind him, the jury will only see Joe. He won’t have to oil up to attract their attention. Can Joe pull it off? Kass and Ciera’s big move could attract some immediate retribution at the merge but that would still leave him far from the end and it would force him to find a new Final Five. Could he decide to go with them instead? The five won’t have the numbers for a while so it could be dangerous. They’d have to include people like Abi and Spencer to gain the numbers against Bayon’s other faction. Stephen thought that the tenor for the season would be set by eliminating Joe but I think it will be set by watching how Joe aligns at the merger. He was part of the group that have to make Terry proud so I doubt that they all get voted out but can they stick to the pact?
Tasha: She had a very quiet episode but she was still very visible during the immunity challenge, winning the key round. Her contribution in camp was to tell Stephen that his plan to move against Joe would be a mistake. She will be in a great position at the merge because she will reunite with Andrew and will have Jeremy and Joe also on her side. She appears to have gained everyone’s trust which is vital if she plans on backstabbing everyone. Her main problem is that we’ve been shown that Tasha has a soft spot for Joe. She does like to see him working out. Could this attraction distract her from the goal? Now that the mirage of Bayon’s love tribe has been exposed, their fracture in full display, it will be very interesting to see what Tasha decides to do. She has some very interesting cards to play at the merger.
Spencer: Even if Ciera and Kass stirred into action, the episode was still mostly about Spencer’s plight. His five confessionals added a lot of substance to his character as did his interventions during Tribal Council. He may have been blind to Andrew’s scheme and that could be an indication that he still is lacking in social awareness but he escaped that close call. Mostly, he got Kass to pass on a great opportunity to get rid of him. Despite his gratitude at the end of Tribal Council, I don’t think Spencer would hesitate to get his revenge. After all, despite all the talk we heard about Kass wanting revenge on Spencer, he is the one that was done wrong. She flipped on their alliance in Cagayan and she won the challenge that eliminated him. It’s a good thing that we heard him mostly talking about finding a way to “bunk with the devil” rather than wanting to go after her. It could be a case of good things coming to those who wait. With all the dangers he has faced already, Spencer would have an easy case to present to the jury. It would be fun to see him facing the jury with Kelly Wiglesworth. What would differentiate them then?
Kelley: This marked the 4th episode in a row where Kelley didn’t go to Tribal Council yet her story continued to grow. This is very important to note for someone who wasn’t a star at the beginning of the season. If Kelley was going to go out with a whimper, she would have been ignored. She could still be receiving the “last Ta Keo member standing” edit but it feels more than that because there is very little importance attached to the original tribes this season. With all the swaps, it simply isn’t the same as Lis Lis being the last Kucha standing. Kelley is now closely tied to Joe and should profit from his connections after the merger. There seemed to be a connection between Kelley and Tasha during the challenges. Something that is natural between teammates could translate into bonds in camp. Like Joe, Kelley will have to decide if she sticks with Kass and Ciera or goes with Jeremy, Andrew and Tasha. The merge episode should tell us a lot but it comes so early that many intersections will have to be crossed before we get to the end. While I like the chances of many players much more than usual, I feel that Kelley is in the best position because of her consistent edit. Let’s see if she can match it with an equally good game.