Survivor: Cambodia

Episode 3 – Let’s Do the Twist!


Episode 2 Recap

Twenty returning players got another shot at a game they love.

We heard a repeat of Ciera’s opening confessional where she said that she wanted to be fearless from the start.

At Bayon, we see a bird taking flight.

Eagle or Vulture?

Eagle or Vulture?

Was it a vulture or an eagle?

We hear that their second chance couldn’t have started any better.

Jeremy and Stephen were smiling and relaxing. Keith called it “Island Paradise” while Joe returned with some fish.

Joe told us that he loves it out here.

At Ta Keo, Abi and Peih-Gee continued to fight, leaving Abi all alone.

We heard Terry say that it was just wrong to leave her out there.

At the immunity challenge, Ta Keo lost for the second time in a row.

Back at camp, we first saw Abi telling Shirin that she wasn’t with her anymore.

Shirin and Spencer found themselves on the outs.



The little monkey laughed out loud when he heard them!

We heard Spencer say that everything just collapsed in front of him.

At Tribal Council, Spencer promised to change his ways. In the end, Shirin was sent home.

If the editors are picking random confessionals from episode one to present the theme of “Second Chance” during the recaps, then we can’t put much weight on the two we’ve had so far…unless Ciera will emerge in the next episode the same way Tasha exploded on the scene this week.

We didn’t see a repeat of Spencer’s display of raw emotions and we didn’t hear anything about Varner’s maneuver to flip the game away from the new school players. All the credit went to Terry and Abi.

As for Bayon, I really think that it was a vulture that we saw lurking over their camp. That would be a terrible sign for the players who actually looked more like Club Med vacationers than Survivor players. Hearing them talk about island paradise isn’t going to impress those viewers who want to see true survivalists. I’m guessing that many would want to see them suffer a little more, even see them forced to vote out a few members.

Let’s Do the Twist!

Ta Keo Night 6

After the group assembled at the shelter, Spencer told everyone that he was grateful to be here.

Spencer in confessional: “I’m still not the strongest social player out here. Ostensibly, I’m completely on the outs so I have to change.”

You Don't Say!

You Don’t Say!

(This part of his confessional was presented in voice-over so during a break we heard Peih-Gee say: “Things can change overnight”. I’d say she was right.) “In this season, which is about change and about a second chance, the second iteration of you as a Survivor player and as a person, people who have been able to change ( Woo, Terry and Varner shown on screen) have been rewarded. So, if I can make the change that I know is within me happen, there is hope.”

Spencer’s confessional was perfectly in tune with our themes. Saying that it was a second iteration of you as a survivor and as a person, really underlined the “Rebirth” theme. He questions whether he will be able to make that change, and while he had a good start, we have to agree that many things depend on the answer.

Making an Early Case for Varner

Making an Early Case for Varner

Terry told the tribe that getting rid of one of the most strategic persons he ever met would be a feather in their cap for anyone of them who makes it to the actual finals.

The camera made it look as if he was talking directly to Varner when he said that. We always have to pay attention when someone mentions making it to the finals in such a random fashion. This could certainly have been left out just like Lindsey’s “The winner is on this mat” comment. Since Terry was facing Varner and it was Varner who made the biggest move to get rid of Shirin then it really would be a feather in his cap…if he makes it to the finals.

Terry’s confessional: “I have simply gone from the bottom to the top without any fear of getting voted out. The numbers are on our side and all of a sudden Terry Dietz has the social game. I’m kind of proud of myself. It worked out great and there’s still Spencer to vote out at the next tribal if we have to go. Boy! I’m on top of the world right now. Life is good.”

This won’t be the first overly confident confessional of the evening. The important part of this is that Terry thinks he has the social game, but we will soon see that he still has lessons to learn.

Challenge Beach

Jeff remarked that Tasha always has a smile.

It gave her quite a positive introduction for this episode.

When Ta Keo came in, Bayon reacted with much less surprise. Only Kass seemed worried.

Jeff asked Varner if Shirin’s elimination would help the tribe. He answered him with an emphatic yes.

Woo added that they had the team unity back and that the challenge would give them additional team spirit.

When Woo is wrong, he is completely wrong…and Woo is often wrong!

Jeff asked Kass how she felt.

She told him that she felt great, that she was on the “freakin’ love tribe.”

Seeing that everyone was happy, Jeff decided it was time to scare them with the first twist. There would be three tribes, one of which would have to start from scratch. They’d have to build a new camp and would have very little provisions.

Reacting to this news, Andrew told Jeff that he was scared because he didn’t know anybody over there.

Andrew’s interview: “When Jeff said it was a swap, my heart stopped. I haven’t had the best of luck on Survivor in terms of swaps and twists. I’m having the same haunting fears that I had 12 years ago in Pearl Islands. I don’t want to swap.”

We saw Tasha’s censored reaction when she uncovered a yellow buff while we saw that Stephen was very happy to stay in Bayon.

Bayon, the luxury camp, would include Jeremy, Kelly, Spencer, Kimmi, Stephen and Monica which means 4 original Bayons.

Ta Keo, the tribe with the regular shelter, had Joe, Terry, Ciera, Kass, Keith and Kelley so they also have 4 old Bayons.

Angkor, the Have-Nots, was composed of Abi, Varner, Peih-Gee, Andrew, Tasha and Woo which meant 4 old Ta Keo.

The three tribes were divided evenly with three men and three women on each side and a very even age distribution. In fact, if production had selected only these 18 players, this could very well have been the way they would have divided them. Another “random” swap that gives me doubts about production’s honesty. Kelley remained in Ta Keo where she already found the idol. Another rather fortuitous result of this twist was that Peih-Gee and Abi remained together, keeping the drama alive.

Immediately, Spencer and Jeremy hugged, Terry gave a warm greeting to Ciera while we heard someone from Angkor say that they had a lot of work to do today.

Joe had a confessional: “It’s a dangerous game going into a mix-up but looking at the tribes as a whole, our girls are stronger, our guys are stronger; we are in a really, really good spot to take control of this game.”

Like Terry earlier, this was another very confident confessional, but Joe is a guy who always sees the glass full.

Andrew told Jeff that he felt overwhelmed: “If they go by tribal lines, I’m in serious trouble and we have a couple of days of unbelievably hard work ahead of us. It’s devastating.”

Spencer’s confessional: “I needed some way to get out of this situation where I was pinned on the bottom. Now, it’s like Survivor gods have looked on me and said: Spencer, you do deserve a second chance. Here’s where you were, where are you now?”

Survivor gods? Around here, we call him Burnett…

Angkor Day 7

The birds were flying all over the place and the music was very ominous, underlining the new tribe’s confusion.

They saw that they had flint and felt relieved.

Varner told everyone from his old tribe that Andrew was going to get on his nerves. Woo said they just had to stay with their four.   Everyone agreed, but he still begged them not to do anything crazy.

Who listens to Woo?  

Peih-Gee had a confessional here. She told us that it would be hard but that being in the majority was a luxury. She was sure that there were two people ahead of her before getting voted off.

This confident confessional would get immediate retribution, so how about the previous two? How long will we have to wait to see those Karmic fruits?

I Tawt I Taw a Puddy tat!

I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat!

Just then, we saw a leopard cat looking for its next meal; a baby bird was alone in its nest. The first ex-Ta Keo member was as easy to eliminate as catching that baby bird, but will the others be so easily dispatched? There was only ONE bird in the nest so maybe not.


Tasha was in the woods looking for her target, telling Andrew that they needed to find out if anyone was on the outs and then promise them they’d be safe at the merge. Andrew agreed.

Tasha: “I am in the minority on this new tribe, but if anyone can survive this, I can. What I learned the first time I played was that I was strong at heart. I’m going to win this game, and I’m going to play the cards that I am dealt.”

This is the type of confessional that forces us to take note. From a background character, Tasha stepped right up to take center stage; she took over the game for now, but will it last? So far, she hasn’t done a thing that she didn’t do in her first season.

Ta Keo Day 7

We heard cabana music; an “all fun in the sun with a bottle of rum” type of atmosphere was being created. The little monkey was once again seen and it was having fun looking down at the castaways. Instead of portraying a character, it seems that the little monkey is there to set the mood, to tell the audience what kind of scene we are about to witness. This one was going to be trouble-free…at least in the beginning!

Keith was happy to see Kelley; Terry told Joe that they’d be running the tables. Joe agreed, saying they shouldn’t lose anything.

Terry in confessional: “Looking at the tribe, we got three or four number one draft choices.” (Keith, Ciera and Joe pictured which makes me wonder what fantasy game we are playing. Joe and Kelley, I understand, but can Keith and Ciera really be considered first-draft picks?! ) “I couldn’t believe the luck. It was sick. I know that I am with Kelley so there’s two. We have a working relationship. We don’t have the numbers, but I don’t think we are going to need the numbers. A little bit of confidence in there because I don’t know if we are going to lose a challenge.”

He was right for this episode, but Terry must have been surprised to hear Kelley’s upcoming confessional…

We saw Joe going to the coop, grab a chicken and twist its neck, feathers flying everywhere. After the chicken was cooked, Kass and Ciera told each other that they were very lucky. “We scored,” said Kass. “I love Keith and I feel really good with Joe.” Ciera agreed. Kass added that Terry and Kelley were very strong.

Ciera in confessional: “I feel that I came out so good in the swap. I have Kass, me, Joe and Keith, all four of us from Bayon. Win or lose, as long as us four stick tight, we have numbers. We should be just fine.”

It seems that many players are feeling extremely confident. We should soon witness the hecatomb.

Kelley was talking to Joe in the shelter, looking over at Terry who was away, washing himself in the ocean. Joe asked if she liked Terry. Kelley answered that he was good but that they weren’t really working together.

Kelley’s confessional: “If our tribe loses, Dietz or myself will be on the chopping block. I have a feeling that the four are going to stick together.” In the middle of this confessional, we heard Ciera and Kass asking her if Terry had an idol. Kelley said that Terry and Spencer were the ones that were really looking for it, that Terry used to go out for hours. Ciera and Kass exchanged a knowing glance.  “The idol is still in my bag, but I am pushing Terry under the bus, just pushing him there. Go under that bus, Terry. Go, go!” She said the last while kicking the air in front of her as if it was Terry.

Kelley played the role of “Little Miss Innocent” in front of Ciera and Kass.   She came up with a nice plan, but it could very well backfire. If Ciera and Kass play it right, they will make Terry think he is the target, but they will throw their votes on Kelley to flush the idol. In a 4-2 situation, Terry would have to be dumb not to play an idol if he had one. If Kelley feels too confident about her tactic, she may be the one leaving with an idol in her pocket. The confessional’s placement made it look like Kelley was the smart player, however, the one making bonds while Terry’s social game was, once again, lacking. So, editing-wise, Kelley should survive if it ever comes down to a vote between her and Terry.   We’ve also seen that Kelley has learned to deliver more entertaining confessionals than in her first season.

Bayon Day 7

To introduce the scene in this camp, we heard relatively tense music and it included Oriental chants. The melody’s intensity suggests that there are real players in this camp.

Kelly and Spencer told the four original Bayon tribe members that this camp was nice. Jeremy welcomed them home.

Monica in confessional: “Here, at the new Bayon, we have Jeremy, Kimmi, Stephen and myself and we are in the majority as the original Bayon members. We also have Spencer and Wiglesworth which is great because they are in the minority.”

To confirm this, Stephen and Jeremy talked, agreeing that they were a solid group of four.

Stephen’s confessional: “I love this new tribe. It is so liberating not to be in Camp Macho anymore. I was on the bottom of our tribe, and then we swapped and for the first time ever, I know that I’m safe so I couldn’t be happier.”

Monica and Stephen are the newest members of “Team Optimism”.

We then saw Stephen trying to cut a coconut with the machete and failing just as miserably as he did with the branch in the first episode.



Adding that little image of Stephen fumbling with the machete told us that he shouldn’t be so confident. If he can’t cut down a branch or a coconut, he won’t be able to cut down his opponents.

Spencer’s confessional: “I’m someone who’s played very logically in the past, but I’ve failed when it comes to understanding the emotions of people and that’s been a huge flaw. So, I’m trying something new on this tribe. I’m trying to have feelings.” Spencer talked about his girlfriend to Jeremy, seeking his advice. “I’m trying to approach this game in a way that I can form bonds that will actually be helpful and that will carry me further. So, when I tell Jeremy about something really honest, which is my concerns about me and my girlfriend– when I ask him and I truly care about what he says– I want to get to know him because it’s something that I haven’t taken the time to do before and it might just make the difference in my game.”

The change from within is much more important for Spencer’s story than receiving a lucky break from the twist. It was a very touching scene and another example of the “Family” theme. Since Spencer introduced it as a way to improve his social game, I see it as an example of the “Ethical Conduct” theme, so central in the noble path leading to enlightenment. I thought it was quite surprising to see Spencer bonding with Jeremy instead of Stephen.

Jeremy’s confessional: “When Spencer joined up, he needed to talk to me and it was good to sit down and talk because I think he’s a stand-up guy, someone you can really connect with and trust. He’s funny and I’m digging the kid. He’s alright. I think we can definitely have a bond. I’m not sure exactly how long we’ll keep him, but we can use him for right now.”

Now that should really scare Kelly…and Stephen. The problem with keeping someone like Spencer is that he could reach a point where he’ll regain the advantage over someone like Jeremy. If he isn’t exactly sure when he should get rid of Spencer, he may miss the last opportunity.

Angkor Day 8

We heard more ominous sounds as we approached the Angkor camp. We also saw that it was raining…only on them it seemed!

Varner was cursing at the skies and the rain god, saying he hated this place.

(The rain god is also called Burnett…)

Tasha’s confessional: “The first time I played Survivor, I was on Luzon which is arguably one of the most horrible tribes in Survivor history. I’ve been here before; I know what it’s like not to have food. I know what it’s like not to have shelter. I know what it’s like to fight to stay in this game. So this? This is just round two for me.”

Well, there was Samburu in Africa, Mara’amu in Marquesas, Ulong in Palau, Ravu in Fiji, Matsing in the Philippines, but “Lose on” in Cagayan is right up there, yes. This confessional is very much like the one that Earl had right after the merger in Fiji. While Mookie, Alex, Cassandra and most of the others were very disappointed when they realized that their beautiful camp had been taken away, Earl simply said: “We had…nothing. I felt okay with that. I kind of laughed; I had a smirk on my face. I’ve already been trained, being at the old Ravu for 13 days. Hey! I’m just back home again.” The only small drawback from Tasha is that we keep hearing that she’s done this before so there’s nothing new, nothing learned, nothing changed. It goes against our main theme, so Tasha could very well be headed for an identical result as in her first season.

Once again, Peih-Gee and Abi found a way to fight; this time it was over Abi’s dry spot in the shelter. A calm Tasha noticed what was going on.

Tasha’s confessional: “Abi has a little bit of resentment against Peih-Gee for something. That works in my favor. There’s still time left in the day to strategize and converse, and I’m going to use every minute of it.”

When the sun came back out, we saw Tasha using that time to talk to Abi, telling that her old tribe was very harmonious and adding that Abi could join them. They only needed one more vote, she said.

Abi’s confessional: “My old members from Ta Keo want to do “Ta Keo Strong” but Peih-Gee and I had some issues back at Ta Keo and Tasha sort of whispered some sweet nothings in my ear. This is my second chance. I want to go to the end so I really, really don’t know what to do.”

Someone should tell Abi there’s a reason they are called “sweet NOTHINGS”! That’s what they are worth.

Varner was telling Tasha and Andrew that he only wanted to make the jury, that he had just missed it the last time.  For someone in the minority, Tasha sounded very confident when she told him he could be there.

I noted that Andrew had also just missed the jury, but he didn’t say anything. I think that means Andrew will go farther than the last time. For Varner, this better be just words that he told Tasha and Andrew to appease them because it gives me the impression that he will make it to jury but not farther.   Because of the bloated juries of the later years, it would be ironic since he could finish in 12th place instead of 10th but still make the jury this time!

Take That, Varmin

Take That, Varmint!

Since Andrew was seen chopping down with the machete while Varner said this, it could very well be that Andrew decides when Jeff leaves the game. It could also have a figurative meaning: Andrew will regret not using that machete to chop Varner out of the game when he had the chance.

Tasha reasoned that an old member of Ta Keo was going home if either of the two other tribes lost. When the merge comes, she said, “You are going to need us.”

Varner’s confessional: “Savage and Tasha want me to come and join them. They will get me to the jury. Isn’t that a lovely invitation? I want to say, you and you, you’re on the bottom. Those two, we can get rid of them like that. I don’t know if they are making deals, but they are running up and down the beach, talking to everybody. I need to make sure they are not taking away Abi-Maria and that they are not taking away Peih-Gee because there is a lot that could go wrong.”

As I suspected, Varner wasn’t buying the invitation to the jury because the sarcasm in his voice was clear when he said, “Isn’t that a lovely invitation?” However, taken on the first degree, it can be telling us that is all he’ll get. Not everyone understands sarcasm! Since Varner only mentioned Abi and Peih-Gee when he said that he didn’t want them to be taken away, it seems that he is a lot like the editors: Woo doesn’t matter for him either.

Bayon Day 9.

Led by an acoustic guitar, the music was quite smooth when we returned to this camp.

There was a scorpion in their food basket, so they had to get rid of it.

Don’t they know you have to eat the scorpion if you want to win? I know it’s quite a reach, but that’s what came to mind when I saw this scene!

Stephen’s confessional: “Spencer and Wiglesworth, they are cozying up to us because they know it’s 4 to 2 right now so we have an unbeatable advantage. The idol is somewhere on this island and it could destroy everything. Not only is it a great tool for myself to have, but it’s a real symbol that bonds an alliance together.” We heard Stephen saying that he will help Jeremy look for it. “Wouldn’t be great if we found this idol for our alliance? It would make us so strong. I would be in a power position on a strong alliance with people I trust and people I like. So, one of us needs to find that idol.”

Stephen, Stephen, since when are you aligned with Jeremy, the alpha male of your tribe? This was a golden opportunity to reverse the numbers, but all he saw were the old tribal lines. He was also wrong about the idol: It’s rarely found by a group, but rather by an individual and it bonds an alliance together if and only if the person that finds it shares the information! Stephen is about to give more power to someone that wants him out. Of all the “Pride cometh before the fall” confessionals we heard in this episode, this was the most ominous.

With Monica and Kimmi joining forces with the guys, all four members of old Bayon went out looking for their idol.

Jeremy’s confessional: “I’m so frustrated looking for that thing…It could be anywhere, but it is my second chance and I feel like I have to work harder this time…There was this little tree full of leaves and I started digging in it. It just popped out!” He read the clue to the location of HIS idol. “Finally! Two seasons it takes me, but I finally find something, but is it an idol? No, it isn’t an idol. It’s a clue to an idol that I have to grab when 18 people are playing around me. I’m going to make it work; I’m going to get this thing. I’m going to bring this thing home.”

It would be ironic if Jeremy does in fact “bring this thing home” meaning he doesn’t play it when needed.

The Challenge Arena

Jeff pointed out that Spencer, Tasha, and Kass all failed miserably in their season’s version of “Draggin’ the Dragon”.

Jeremy left the keys to the other tribe members. He concentrated on the chest and had no trouble retrieving the idol.

The challenge showed that Joe was right: Ta Keo was the strongest and with him doing the puzzle, they easily won immunity.

With no rewards at stake, Joe could have taken his time, but he really makes it easy for everyone to target him as a huge threat.

Fighting for second place, Spencer and Monica struggled at first, but Tasha and Peih-Gee weren’t doing much better. Jeremy replaced Monica while Woo (!) took over for Tasha. Jeff said that Jeremy picked it up for Bayon.

Working together to win the second immunity idol, this could very well cement the bond between Jeremy and Spencer. Nothing builds team unity as much as victory.

Suddenly, Varner looked over at Kelly and mouthed some words to her.

(I couldn’t read his lips, but it seemed like it started with: “Let me…”)

Seeing this, Tasha quickly stepped in between the two and said: “We got a rat.”

After distributing the idols, Jeff said that there was no redemption for Tasha, but he asked her what happened at the end of the challenge.

Varner said he was only looking at “Wigles” when Tasha jumped in.

Tasha explained that they were trying to bond as a tribe so he was sending a good message.

Varner wanted to refute this by saying they were making deals with everyone. Andrew said he was wrong. Woo wondered why Varner didn’t make a deal with him.

Jeff sent Angkor back to camp by saying this could be the start of a great underdog story adding: “In order to be an underdog, you have to hit rock bottom and you are certainly heading towards that.”

Varner’s confessional: “Tasha called me a rat. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m in the middle of a big old mess and I have to figure a way out of it.”

This was not a good scene for Varner, but the editors gave him a chance to tell us that he recognized his fault. Now an underdog, he has time to repair the situation. A quest can’t be too easy and it had been a fairly smooth ride for Varner up to now. The editors knew that this scene would be coming up in episode 3, so they didn’t have to worry about featuring him so much early on. I’m guessing that most viewers have crossed him out of their list of contenders.

Angkor Day 8

We were on Day 9 during the previous scene, the one that showed Bayon looking for the idol! We’ve known for a long time that the editors present many scenes out of sequence, but they’ve never given us such a clear indication before.   Bayon could have started looking for the idol in earnest only because they will be going to Tribal Council next week and that scene should have been part of the next cycle. “One of us needs to find that idol,” said Stephen and he talked about it potentially destroying everything but that would happen only if they had a date with Probst. Jeremy could have found the clue to the idol already when Stephen talked about looking for the idol. If Stephen, Kimmi and Monica were determined to look for it, Jeremy wouldn’t have a choice: He’d have to spend time looking for it himself even if it was in his pocket.

It probably was just a typo though because the fourth immunity challenge shouldn’t be scheduled as early as Day 9. It still tells us that we can’t believe that everything is presented exactly as it happened on the island.

Getting back to day 8, the monkeys were playing in the water but a crocodile was watching. The message was clear: It only takes one predator to kill a group. Numbers don’t matter to a crocodile and they certainly didn’t in the mess that was Angkor at the time.

Andrew’s confessional: “This morning, I thought guaranteed I’m going home but Varner’s meltdown after the challenge painted a huge target on his back. Everyone on this tribe looked at him and thought: He can’t be trusted. I was like a little kid inside, I was giddy. I couldn’t believe he handed me ammunition on a silver platter.”

Suck it up, you wuss

Suck it up, you wuss.

Out by the water well, Andrew told Peih-Gee and Woo that they needed him for the physical challenges while Varner wasn’t pulling his weight and was sleeping all day. He wanted them to vote Jeff.

We heard a gong just then, an imitation of the sound of thunder.   This was a pivotal moment in the game.

Woo and Peih-Gee couldn’t give him an answer. Woo had to ask for some time to talk alone with Peih-Gee.

In episode one, Varner was quick to tell us: “No matter who drags me in the jungle, my answer is going to be yes.” Peih-Gee and Woo’s hesitation cost them dearly. You could tell that Peih-Gee wasn’t thrilled by the idea that they would still be in the majority with Abi even if they eliminated Jeff.

Peih-Gee’s confessional: “Does it make sense to join Tasha and Savage? Are they going to be loyal to us? I want to believe so, but you have to take what desperate people say with a grain of salt.”

Varner was then shown resting in the shelter.

The only good thing about that is that he didn’t look like a desperate person.

Abi said she thought Varner needs to suck it up and forget about them. They both wanted to vote against Varner.

Abi’s confessional: “After I saw how unpredictable Varner is, I think that he needs to go next, but Woo did vote for me and Peih-Gee is sketchy too. I don’t know how much I can trust her.”

You really have accomplished something when you are called unpredictable by Abi! Can Varner recover from this? His chances have to be put in serious doubt. He certainly is at rock bottom.

Peih-Gee, Woo, and Abi took time to talk about the situation, but no one wanted to say what they were thinking. Finally, Peih-Gee said they were thinking of voting against Jeff. Abi told them that they had to make up their mind, that she wasn’t going to vote against Tasha and Andrew because she wasn’t on the bottom with them like she was with Peih-Gee and Woo.

Peih-Gee told us that she wanted to vote out Abi because of her animosity. She said the same thing to Tasha and Andrew, but he objected that Abi was “stronger than Jeff”.

Really? If Andrew thinks that Varner is weaker than Abi then he isn’t perceived as a threat, but it could be a sign that Varner is getting too weak to stay in the game.    

Andrew’s confessional: “I’m looking at Tasha; she is looking at me– stunned. It’s so easy to create suspicion or misdirection between Peih-Gee and Abi.” We saw the famous snake when Andrew told Abi that Peih-Gee was gunning for her and that he couldn’t talk her out of it. “I can’t believe how quickly everything changed on this tribe.”

We then saw Abi telling a catatonic Jeff that they were going after Peih-Gee.

Varner in confessional: “I came back to this camp thinking that I was done, but if I can take this cloud that is over me and sling it over somebody else, I’m going to do it.”

Tasha told Woo and Peih-Gee that they were voting against Abi.

Tasha’s confessional: “Options are opening up: Peih-Gee will be voting Abi and Abi will be voting Peih-Gee. The thing about Abi is that you don’t know what you are going to get– and Peih-Gee, she is indecisive so it’s a tough decision, but it feels fantastic to have the tables turned. Savage and I were down four to two. All hope seemed lost, but here we are making the decisions on who will go home tonight.”

Tribal Council

We saw the Angkor Wat temple once again when the players made their way to the council.

Savage discussed the switch and how it was too much at first.

Peih-Gee said that the minority is in trouble after a swap.

Varner explained that he was sending a signal to someone on the other tribe that he cared about and that Tasha jumped out of nowhere and called him a rat. He said he wasn’t being a rat. He blamed it on lack of sleep and food and that he didn’t remember it. He described it as an emotional meltdown.

Andrew looked skeptical.

Tasha said that her momma always told her to keep the family business at home. “Whatever issues we have, we should have kept it amongst the family.” She said that their family was right there, not on the other tribes. Her first thought was to take him out now so that they wouldn’t have to worry about loyalty later on.

Varner said that people can recover from all kinds of things and that it would be great if he could escape from there without a single vote. “Wouldn’t that be crazy?” he remarked.

He would soon get his wish.

Varner also told Jeff that he didn’t know what would happen but that he heard Abi’s name being thrown around as well and Peih-Gee’s and his. He added: “Savage and Tasha have found their way from the bottom of the heap to the top.”

That surprised Probst, so Varner added that the decision was up to the two of them.

Abi said she thought she was going home. She saw all the conversations and she was that naïve.

Peih-Gee said she wanted to be with people that are solid and that her word was good.

Probst liked that pitch, so he asked for Abi’s.

She said that her pitch was very similar and that she was a committed person.

With a smile, Varner told Probst once again that he had no idea what was about to happen and he repeated that Savage and Tasha were in control of the vote.

Peih-Gee and Woo voted for Abi, but the other four voted against the former member of the China cast.

Before leaving, Peih-Gee said that they played well, and she wished good luck to Woo.

Abi turned to Woo and noted, with a smile, that it was the second time that he wrote her name.

Woo looked dumbfounded.

Probst’s final words: “One of the keys to lasting in this game is that you have to be able to adapt on a dime in any situation. If you don’t, you’re gone.”

The Story

Some players are twisting the game to their advantage, some were twisted by the game, and some have no concerns while others haven’t joined the dance yet. We heard more talk about the “Family” theme and every time it was to explain the ethical conduct that was needed to play this game. We also heard many players saying that they felt good and thought they were safe. That shows a lack of humility which is fundamental in Survivor and in the path to enlightenment.

The tribes were presented in very different ways: confusion at Angkor, fun in Ta Keo, and intensity in Bayon. Each tribe contains some serious players and it felt like the end game can’t be dominated by any of these three tribes. We have probably not seen the end game alliance yet. Even if the players have an idea because of pre-game deals, they probably haven’t had a chance to get together yet to iron out all the details. It should make for a very fluid narrative even if the outcome is contrived.


These players are dancing their way right out of the game

Terry: He may think that he has found a social game, but he was out alone in the ocean when the “game” part of “social game” was being played by Kelley. He feels confident that Bayon won’t go to Tribal Council but, if they do, Terry is already under the proverbial bus. Terry is a player that needs numbers and his are dwindling faster than in Panama.

Stephen: He really should know better than to think the idol will help his alliance. It is Jeremy’s idol, not Bayon’s. One could even ask what alliance since Stephen was clearly not one of Jeremy’s allies before the swap. We’ve seen him twice fumbling with a machete so that must have symbolic value: Stephen is out of his element.

Joe: He certainly knows how to take care of his tribe. He feeds them, he makes fire, he builds a great shelter, and he wins the immunity challenges. What more could you ask in a tribe mate? Add his inability to scheme and you do have the ideal ally. Joe will get voted out when he isn’t needed anymore and that should be as soon as he fixes the tribe’s shelter after the merger.

These players have still not made their way on the dance floor.

Keith: Has anyone spotted him in the last 2 weeks? Should his family worry about his whereabouts? Maybe some of the people that voted to get him back in the game are starting to agree with me that he doesn’t belong there. Of course, the other players are thinking the same thing, meaning he won’t belong there, but he will be there for quite a while.

Kimmi: She looked for an idol. She didn’t find one. I’d like to see more of her, but maybe she is too mellow now.

Kass: It seems that Survivor: Second Chance will redeem Kass’ character. This season is showing that she can be nice. She can be a nice lady when she isn’t under the stress of the game, but the others still don’t have a reason to give her a chance to hang around.

Ciera and Monica: They both like their new tribes. Good for them.

These players got twisted around by the game.

Kelly: After getting the initial confessional in the first two episodes, Kelly disappeared from our screens this week. That means her role was only to serve as Ta Keo’s narrator and since she isn’t in Ta Keo anymore, she has no role. When I saw that episode three was titled “We got a Rat”, I really worried that someone would be throwing that insult at her once again. She certainly didn’t deserve it in Borneo, so I hoped it wouldn’t happen again. The problem is that Varner’s “meltdown” could be more damaging for Kelly. With Spencer already bonding with Jeremy, she could find herself in an untenable situation. Having to defend her loyalty won’t help.

Woo: He finds himself once more out of the loop. They went and did something crazy, Woo! Poor guy.

Varner: Most will think that this episode killed his chances. He was shown resting in the shelter when he should have been scrambling, he was called a rat, he is perceived as being weaker than Abi, and he doesn’t pull his weight around camp. He simply can’t win with that edit… However, the first two episodes showed that he has a plan. According to Terry, he already has a feather in his cap if he makes it to the finals. He recognized that he made a mistake by telling us in confessional and by his comments during Tribal Council. Those last comments removed the leadership role he had acquired and put it squarely on those two. If Abi and Woo were smart, they’d consider removing one of those two the next time they go to Tribal Council. It would explain why there was only one baby bird in the nest!

It won’t be easy for Varner to recover from this episode, but Probst already opened the door to an underdog story with his comments after the challenge. I still like his chances with one worry: He could be getting sick and that could be why he was shown cursing the rain and why he needs to rest so much. Because of his early role, Varner doesn’t make the end game if and only if he has to be removed from the game.

These players twisted the game.

Abi: Varner said that Tasha and Andrew controlled the vote but, in reality, it was Abi that got what she wanted. It was her conflict with Peih-Gee that opened the door to the ex-Bayon members, but it was her determination that changed their vote. Peih-Gee and Woo were much too indecisive, Varner wasn’t a threat, but Abi showed that she can be an asset. How will she handle her new found power? She didn’t do a good job the first time so we doubt she can do much better this time.

Jeremy: There seems to be no one against him. While the twist put him in a good position, he solidified it immensely by first taking Spencer under his wing, then by listening to Stephen’s idea about the idol, and then by finding it for himself (if it did happen in that order!) Right now, Jeremy is in the rare position of having no predators looking for him. His intention of making a bigger effort also has to be recognized. Not many people were high on Jeremy after the first two episodes, but I think he is proving that he has indeed improved his game. It could carry him far.

Andrew: It was interesting that they showed Andrew’s bad luck with twists to underline this situation. He wasn’t the only one that got a bad deal with the new tribal arrangements, but he was one of the few that we heard talking about it. For most of the episode, we heard people saying they love their new surroundings. None of the other members of the new minorities were given the opportunity to tell us how they felt. We heard from them only after they had found some kind of foothold in their new tribe. For Andrew, it was different: We heard his anguish then saw his recovery. While he mostly followed Tasha, it was more because he was “assigned” to Peih-Gee and Woo while she dealt more with Abi. Andrew was with her every step of the way, and it was even more important for him to twist the game immediately because he was the first target.

Tasha: The star of this episode and probably the top contender for most viewers, Tasha played it brilliantly. She found a rat and quickly put the target on him, but she didn’t stop there. She found a crack and used it to her advantage. Maybe it would have been wiser to keep both women and go after Varner, their first choice because now she faces the risk that Abi, Woo, and Varner could vote together once again. But she evaluated that risk correctly and knows that Abi will want Woo gone next. As long as she has Abi she will be safe. Tasha has also given us two winning quotes, so she has to be high in any list of contenders

The problem is that this vote was a lot like Garrett’s elimination in Cagayan: There also, the situation looked bleak when Garrett, Spencer, and Kass first teamed up, but Tasha quickly reversed that situation. She even told us that she has gone through this once before. She is playing the same game as she did before, so doesn’t it make us crazy to expect a different result?! Until we really see something new from Tasha, I will have to say that her karma is to finish 6th once again. Sixth isn’t bad, but it’s not worth a million dollars.

Spencer: Spencer needed that twist to get out of a bad situation in the old Ta Keo, but the new Bayon could have been just as bad. His new found social game and the challenge win enabled him to bond with Jeremy and that could very well mean that he has moved ahead of Kelly in the tribe’s pecking order.   Considering Jeremy’s plan to surround himself with strong guys, Spencer may even have moved ahead of Stephen, Kimmi, and Monica and find himself in the position of Jeremy’s right-hand man for a while. A smart player like Spencer could do ravages given that position. Slowly but surely, Spencer’s story is aligning itself with the themes of this season. He is using this second iteration of himself as a player and as a person, his own rebirth, as a way to make improvements both in his game and in real life as his talk to Jeremy about his girlfriend showed. Spencer himself isn’t a chess piece anymore but a real person. That is big.

Kelley: Since Ta Keo didn’t go to Tribal Council, there was no need for Kelley to remind us about her idol or even to throw Terry under the bus so quickly. Her talk with Kass and Ciera and her subsequent confessional showed us that she is a very good player and an entertaining commentator as well. It showed us that she handled this swap much better than her first.

She is playing big, so she will probably not be going home soon. She has to be worried about a couple of things though:   At this rate, she won’t have many original allies left, so she has to make strong new bonds and she can’t be seen as being too close to Joe. That is what put targets on Hali and Jenn so quickly in Worlds Apart. Joe and Kelley look like they would make a nice couple, so she has to fight that perception. Kelley would be much better to align with the women of Ta Keo for now and then adapt to the new situation when the new twist arrives. Her momentum has carried her to the top of the list of contenders.

Become a patron of RHAP