Survivor: Cambodia

Episodes 10 and 11 – A Game Changer

Previously on Survivor:

With eleven people still in the game, each had their own agenda:

  • Jeremy was finding idols
  • Ciera was using voting blocs to stay alive
  • Stephen was targeting big threats.

At the immunity challenge, Stephen gained an advantage and Joe continued to dominate.

Back at camp, Ciera, Wentworth and Abi were on the bottom and Stephen saw an opportunity to use them but he needed Jeremy and Spencer to turn on their allies.

Jeremy is heard saying that people will come back to camp blindsided.

At Tribal Council, the guys split… blindsiding Joe and his closest ally.

Two of the three players with agendas that Jeff named would be gone before the end of the night so was he telling us that it’s better not to have fixed agendas? It certainly helps if you want to be flexible and this game is all about adapting. It always has and it’s certainly vital this time around. However, Jeremy was singled out and that’s always good even if his agenda was more short-sighted than if Jeff said that he was working on making the end game. Jeff also used the expression “turn on their allies” which is much more negative than if he had said “…he needed Jeremy and Spencer to finalize the big move” or something along that line. Wentworth got a little mention as being the underdog which isn’t great but better than nothing which is what Tasha, Keith, and Kimmi received. Even worse for one of my favorites in this cast, Kelly Wiglesworth was reduced to being Joe’s closest ally.

Even if I have something different in mind than Stephen’s advantage, I would have titled these two episodes:

A Game Changer

Night 24

The rain had let up for a moment and we even saw the moon but thunder was rumbling in the distance as if it was part of the ominous musical theme.

Jeremy’s confessional: “So, at Tribal Council tonight, Stephen, Spencer and myself blindsided Kelly Wiglesworth. I still think we can jump back to our power group or whatever you want to call it and take out another one of the girls, maybe Ciera can go. Every vote is like a new game so if I can’t clean up they are going to come after me next. I know I had to come right back and talk to Tasha. I knew she was going to be upset.”

We heard Jeremy talking to Tasha, saying that they couldn’t tell her. In the middle of Tasha’s confessional transcribed below, Jeremy added that Tasha was still in the power with them. In the end, Tasha would tell the guys that she was glad to still be there and that she understood.

Tasha’s confessional: “So, they left me out of the vote, but in the voting bloc situation, it’s like once you have the numbers for your bloc, you don’t need anybody else. That is the game that we are playing. You get one opportunity to leave me out of the loop. That was their one opportunity. They don’t get any more chances.”

It’s interesting that Tasha would leave Jeremy out of the loop in the next vote but that he would still be the one surprising her.

Joe asked Jeremy what happened and all Jeremy could say was that Kelly was just too much; she was in everyone’s business. They told him who had cast their votes against Kelly.

Joe’s confessional: “Yeah…I’m pretty (bleeped) pissed right now and I’m trying to keep it together and not lose my (bleeped) cool. One of my biggest allies in the game went home so all the more reason for me to win the next immunity because people are coming for me.”

Production would see to it that Joe’s odds would be greatly improved.

Night 24 – Day 25

We returned to see that the rain had come back with a vengeance during the night. That’s what you get when you film in monsoon season. I think it’s unforgivable that production didn’t provide them with rain gear. It’s not as if it takes anything away from the survival aspect of the game because they had coats in Australia and, along with Africa and Guatemala, it remains one of the few truly great survivalist seasons. At least, by morning, they had full cups of rain water!

Ciera had the ironic confessional telling us that she felt good about her position in the game. She wanted to keep the momentum going, but she blamed the rain for impeding her scheming abilities.

Talking to everyone, Abi said: “…First it is thunder and then there comes lightning.”

Abi always has everything backwards!

Keith had a (great) confessional: “They are talking about food and the cold and all that, but I’m here to win a million dollars cut and dry. Shoot! I ain’t starving to death. I’ll make it baby. This is day twenty-five so let’s see: Thirty-five…heck yeah! I’m two weeks out. I’ll sit here for fifty days for a million dollars. When do you get a second chance for something crazy like this? Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! People ask me if Survivor is fun. I tell them: Hell no! Survivor ain’t fun. Going on a cruise is fun. Going fishing is fun. Going to play golf: Fun. This ain’t fun. Look at me: Golly!”

With Keith giving us winning quotes that sort of devalues their worth as hints to help us identify the winner! I wonder if he’ll get voted out on Day 35. Wouldn’t that be fun?!

Keith then started worrying about his feet which were grossly affected by all that rain (Imagine how they’d look after fifty days! Yuck!).

The Reward Challenge

Tasha told Jeff that they were exhausted.

The camera focused on a shivering Kelley just as the rain started pelting them even more.

The reward would allow the winners to attend a Cambodian circus as well as enjoy a warm place and some food.

Jeff told us that Fishbach won and made the winning basket when they first ran this challenge in Tocantins.

So what? The Purple team had Joe. Joe was allowed to play in every round. Purple won.

Here are a few play-by-play comments from Jeff and others.

  • Fishbach with a big take down of Joe. (It only applied to this challenge for Stephen and it made him look a lot like Ahab who died attached to Moby Dick).  Ahab
  • Joe is going to take down Wentworth.
  • Fishbach to Keith: “Kill him; kill him.”
  • Joe tosses Kimmi to the ground.
  • “It’s over,” yelled Jeff as Keith almost drowned Abi.
  • “Jeremy sprinting away from everybody. Joe takes him down.”
  • Jeremy with a long shot: No! Spencer has it in a breakaway; he scores.”
  • “Joe and Jeremy take each other down. Now, it’s the women battling for the ball as both guys are out of this challenge.”
  • Tasha gave a headbutt directly in Kelley’s face and then Abi tackled her. “Abi is not letting up on Wentworth.”
  • “Tasha is dragging Kimmi. There it is: She’s free.”

While Joe’s team won, he didn’t do much except keeping the other team’s best player busy. I wonder if the game will turn out like the last rounds of the challenge: Will the guys focus so much on Joe that they forget about the women? Or will they let Spencer go free on a breakaway?

We saw Kelley kneeling in the water while the purple team hopped on the boat.

Ciera had a confessional telling us that she was looking forward to her chance to talk to everyone.

The Reward

Spencer’s confessional: “Having been wet for two days straight, going on a reward has never been more worth it. Seeing the Cambodian culture that I had never experienced and being given the opportunity to form the bonds you need to make something happen, it might not be immunity but it feels as important as immunity.”

Note that this is the main group that will vote against Fishbach and Kimmi at the next Tribal Council. Keith and Kelley would be joining this voting bloc.

Ciera noticed a little boy standing near their hut and he made her think of her own kid. She gave us a touching confessional while we saw her crying. Then she asked the group why they needed Jeremy, Stephen and Kimmi. Spencer mentioned Stephen’s advantage so Ciera said he had to be totally blindsided.

Joe’s confessional: “Ciera pitched this idea that us five at the reward should all blindside Stephen. I wanted Stephen out for a while so it sounds like a good plan, but I can’t bank on them especially when I know that they want me out of this game.”

Back in camp, the rain was so dense that it almost looked like snow.

Jeremy told everyone that it sucked but they had to push through.

I wonder why is Jeremy the only one wearing a thick hoody? We know production has the final say on everyone’s wardrobe, so it’s unfair that the women have little more than their bathing suits and a wet shirt while Jeremy has something as warm as that.

Kimmi talked about her son who had been hospitalized for 49 days and that it was a thousand times worse than this.

Kimmi’s confessional: “My older son has this disease and when you put things into perspective: If he can do that then I can certainly endure these elements of Survivor because all my strength for being out here comes from my boys.”

I hope we get to see one of those boys during the family visit.

Keith decided to “borrow” Joe’s shirt. Jeremy pointed out that Keith had to battle two people while Joe was pushing two girls around. Stephen mentioned that Jeremy would be winning these challenge if Joe wasn’t there. That comment made Jeremy laugh.

Keith’s confessional (another very good one): “It wouldn’t bother me a bit if Joe were to go. He’s good at challenges; he’s winning everything out here. That’s got to stop either by me, Jeremy, Spencer or somebody. Give the rest of the pack a chance or something.”

Isn’t it amazing that they inserted this confessional just before Jeremy and Spencer would decide that they weren’t going to even try to stop Joe’s winning streak? It certainly makes them look bad. To stress the point, Kimmi said that everyone wanted Joe gone.

Kelley pointed out that Joe made his own bed and that it was time for him to go. Stephen, (borrowing a line from editing threads), said: “It’s time: He’s had his story.”

Kelley’s confessional: “Let’s get Joe out of this game! This is great because for so many days in this game, I just felt like on the bottom. I feel that these voting blocs have opened up a lot of doors for Ciera, Abi and myself.”

Stephen’s confessional told us that everybody was on the same page and that he had his fingers in every pot so he felt in a great position.

Oh, the irony! He even added that saying this usually is the kiss of death. His story wasn’t quite over yet, though. The “know-it-all” had to be caught off guard first.

Night 25

The tribe spent another night with a thunderstorm.

Stephen was in a lot of pain. In confessional, he told us about his suffering but he was determined to stay in the game.

This scene was probably meant for all those who have quit in the past, sending them the message that the “fortunate few” who have the privilege to play this game should be tough enough to handle the conditions. Somehow, I’d prefer to see a bit more care given to the players. Was it normal that Stephen had to walk around half-naked in these conditions? Is that “good TV”? Survivor should be tough but there are other ways to test their toughness.

Day 26

The rain was never going to stop and Stephen was not feeling any better. He was looking for a ray of hope, for the sun to come out even if it was only for 15 minutes. Instead, we saw a lightning bolt piercing the sky.

“I’m not quitting; I’m not quitting” he kept telling us.

It was hard to watch, imagining the pain he had to be enduring to talk like this.

Jeremy’s confessional: “Stephen does not look good. I feel bad for him… I’m hoping he’s okay because I need some loyalty around me and Stephen is an honest guy. I love Survivor, but it’s a tough game. Every day is tough. We’re freezing, the wind is cold and the shelter is horrible. It doesn’t hold up against the elements out here. You can never get warm, so we huddle up against each other. It sucks. We need something. If we could get warm and get dry one day, we will be all right.”

The Immunity Challenge with a Twist

Jeff started off by giving two rocks to everyone.

Kimmi in confessional: “When Jeff gave us the white and black rocks, our heads were all spinning. What could this be? He must have something up his sleeves.”

Once more the camera focused on Kelley’s reaction when Jeff took the immunity necklace from Joe. It will also happen during the second episode. Why? Will she regret not voting him out as soon as he loses it? Will she win it herself at a crucial moment? There seems to be something that keeps tying Kelley to the immunity necklace, but it’s difficult to determine what it is at this time.

When Jeff mentioned that they still had half a month to go, the camera went back to Kelley who had her face buried in her hands and we heard her say: “My god!” That seems to tell us that Kelley will be there for the duration.

Feeling her Pain Feeling Her Pain[/caption]


They were all surprised to hear that a construction crew was ready to work on their shelter…if five of them decided to give up their chance at immunity.

It would have been so much better to make that offer at the reward challenge instead. Ask them to give up one reward for another.

Spencer’s confessional: “We have the dilemma between “I” and “we”. This decision could easily bite you in the ass whichever way you go.”

In confessional, Ciera said that surviving was more important than immunity.

Everyone chose the shelter except Joe and Keith. We heard Keith’s surprise: “Come on!” He told Jeff that he was a competitor; he knew Joe would be out there, but he wanted to win that necklace. When Joe said he considered giving up immunity, we saw Abi and Ciera’s reaction, mocking his words. Joe said he wasn’t as affected by the rain; he could suck it up.

My first impression was that this decision made Jeremy and Spencer look bad for not competing against Joe. We had just heard Keith say that those two had to help him win against Joe and now they decided to sit out instead; however, the editors went to great lengths to make this look like the unselfish decision. It almost looked bad on Keith and Joe that they thought of themselves instead of the group. Never mind that only five had to sit out, the narrative was more about the group. Still, Jeff used the word “surrender” when he talked about the group of eight so maybe Jeremy and Spencer aren’t without blame. Some will ask why I single those two guys and not the whole group, but I am using Keith’s own words. He specifically mentioned Jeremy and Spencer as the two other players that could beat Joe.

In confessional, Stephen told us that he’d go after Ciera since Joe was safe.

Day 26

Abi gave the confessional about the shelter: “…It was an amazing feeling. It was like I can endure another thirteen days, no problem.”

This confessional could be telling us that Abi will be there on day 39. Some will hate that idea, but what can I say?!

Spencer’s confessional: “This went from one of the lowest points of all of our lives to the most incredible shelter, but when you give up potentially your life in the game, it’s like you’re selling your soul to the devil. If Keith is safe, someone that sacrificed immunity for shelter and tea and coffee will enjoy none of those things and will be headed to the jury.”

Finally, someone isn’t afraid to say that Probst is the devil!

Talking with Jeremy and Kimmi, Stephen said Ciera had to be next because she was devious and was willing to make big moves. He thought he could work with Wentworth and Abi but not Ciera.

That’s interesting since we had seen Stephen working more with Ciera than the other two. What changed?

The group that had been on reward joined Keith and Kelley and talked about eliminating Stephen or “poopy pants” as Abi called him. Joe promised Ciera that he was voting against Stephen. Ciera said that she and Wentworth would vote against Kimmi as protection against the advantage.

Ciera was happy that her plan to blindside Stephen and get rid of the advantage was working.

Tasha talked alone with Spencer, saying that every move was going on Ciera’s résumé. She compared Ciera to the godfather, but that Wentworth and Abi would be up for grabs if they got rid of Ciera.

Tasha’s confessional: “The things that Ciera has done so successfully is she has basically unhinged several groups and my question is: Why hasn’t anyone taken Ciera out to free up her people which would be Wentworth and Abi?”

Joe’s confessional: “Ciera still sits there as an easy vote, but for me, I feel it’s in my best interest to get Stephen gone as quickly as possible. Now, it’s just a matter of convincing enough people to make the right move.”

Spencer, Joe and Tasha talked to Jeremy about voting Stephen. Jeremy was surprised, but he was told that was “the girls’ plan”. Jeremy told them that voting Stephen was a bad move.

Spencer, Tasha and Joe really should have followed Tasha’s own advice at the beginning of the episode. They had enough votes in their bloc, so why tell Jeremy? Maybe Tasha wanted to let Jeremy know so that he’d get Stephen to play his advantage. If she was playing both sides, she had better ways to go about it, though.

Joe’s confessional: “My head is in two places: I really want Ciera gone tonight and I really want Stephen gone tonight. I think Ciera…I know she’s a liar and I know she’s playing everybody while I think that Stephen is just a bigger threat in the fact that he has an advantage in the game which no one knows what it is.”

Well, look at that! Joe must be the new head of programming for SeeBS because he got the network to schedule two episodes so that Ciera and Stephen would be voted out that night!

Jeremy’s confessional: “Some people are saying that they want to vote Stephen out because of his advantage. I don’t feel like it’s a great idea right now. I have two idols, but I need Stephen. Stephen at least has my back. I want Stephen to stay. Stephen trusts me.”

The discussion between Spencer and Jeremy got heated, both arguing their cases.

I noticed that Jeremy’s expression of superiority reappeared when he talked to Spencer.   By shaking his head and looking at Spencer sideways, rolling his eyes, it was as if he was dismissing not only the argument but the person presenting it. The strange sound effect made it look even worse.

Spencer’s confessional: “So Jeremy is adamant: It’s got to be Ciera; it’s a mistake to get rid of Stephen. This is a really close decision, maybe the most important decision of the game but when both of us are 100 percent convinced that the other is wrong; me that Stephen must go and Jeremy that Ciera must go, something has to give; something has to break. I hope that Stephen is going home, but I have no idea what’s going to happen at Tribal Council.”

Isn’t it funny that both Ciera AND Stephen were voted out on the same night! Spencer was right: Something had to give and it was Jeremy’s idol. For Spencer, it was all good since he didn’t need Ciera. One as to wonder what Jeremy will do without Stephen.

Tribal Council

Kelley told Jeff that she wasn’t thinking of drowning herself during the reward challenge but that she was crouching in the water to stay warm. She added that it was the first time she cried in this game and that it was the lowest she ever felt in her life.

Jeff liked hearing that.

Once more, Jeff shows that he is a sadist!

Stephen said his lowest point came from his gastrointestinal distress.

The jury was surprised to hear the immunity challenge twist.

Ciera said she was willing to give up her spot for the team. She said she did it for the group.

Tasha said it was a question of being selfish or unselfish. She said she had to make the unselfish choice in order to be able to live with herself.

Joe said he had no choice but to compete since he would have been voted out if he had chosen the white rock.

With a laugh, Keith said he wanted to “kill” the golden boy.

Spencer said that someone was going to second guess their decision for a long time.

Stephen said he had no idea what was going to happen.

Jeremy said that the game was crazy and that groups of two were walking off in different directions making him wonder what was happening.

Tasha told Jeff that there had been a lot of discussion regarding Fishbach’s advantage.

Stephen acknowledged that going for the advantage put a target on his bach.

Jeremy called it a bad advantage.

Stephen said they were only looking for a two-day benefit from the vote.

Ciera said that the vote will be exciting and she wanted to see if the people were going to vote as they said. She added: “It could be me that is blindsided and that would suck because that would mean that I chose the freaking wrong rock and that was a million dollar mistake potentially.”

Tasha said it was a million dollar shelter.

It was time to vote.

When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol we had a pause for a few seconds then we heard Jeremy say: “Yeah, Jeff…” In shock, everyone turned to Jeremy… and the image cut to commercial.

It would have been so much better if the break had happened a second BEFORE Jeremy said anything. We all knew he was going to play the idol for Stephen, so we had a whole commercial break to kill the momentum. It’s a bit like having an official’s review on the last play of a football game. When the referee finally says that the catch was good and it was a game-winning touchdown, all the excitement is gone.

So, Jeremy said: “Yeah, Jeff… My decision comes down to who I can trust more going forward. That’s for Fishbach.”

Stephen was more surprised than anyone else. He thanked Jeremy and then quickly saw five votes against him getting cancelled. “I’m with you all the way,” he told Jeremy.

In the end: Spencer, Joe, Keith, Tasha, Abi voted for Stephen.

Kelley and Ciera voted for Kimmi according to their split vote plan.

Jeremy, Stephen, Kimmi voted for Ciera who had to go get her torch.

“Well-played,” she said to Jeremy.

Jeremy turned to Spencer and said he would have done the same thing for him.

Jeff said it was fitting to see another Tribal Council end in a big move.

This move by Jeremy really changes the game; however, I don’t think it was a good idea. By the end of the night, the net result is that Jeremy still lost the person he trusted the most; he lost any trust he had gained with Spencer and his second idol wound up in Kelley’s possession. That was the price to pay to get Ciera out of the game. Jeremy won this battle, but the following events gave it all the appearance of a Pyrrhic victory. He couldn’t have foreseen the next vote, but he had to know that there would be negative repercussions. The thing, though, is that it gives him a much more interesting edit. For the first time, there is doubt on his path to the end. Let’s look at the second episode to see if that doubt is indicative of a victory or is foreshadowing his demise.

Episode 11

It seems fitting that in this Thanksgiving week, we would get a second serving of Survivor. That’s a lot of calories for one night. I feel stuffed, but I can’t say it wasn’t satisfying.

It started with Stephen’s confessional where he told us he had no idea that Jeremy even had an idol.

The two guys went to the beach where Stephen said he knew during Tribal Council that he was done. Jeremy said he had to do it.

Jeremy’s confessional: “I know that Stephen will have my back and I think Stephen wants to take me all the way to the end and I like that; I need that. When I make a big move like that, I know there’s going to be a huge target on me now after doing it, but this game is so crazy. I feel like everybody is still in it so I have some wiggle room to make the next move.”

The camera was on Kelley when Jeremy said the words “everybody is still in it,” making me believe she certainly is in it. The next move wasn’t going to be done by Jeremy.

Jeremy told Spencer that they were fine and that he shouldn’t be paranoid.

Spencer’s confessional: “It’s like a new game every time we get back from Tribal. It’s a new game of Survivor, a new tribe of Survivor. Jeremy pulled a fast one and I’m pretty sure I’m being lied to so maybe it makes sense to jump ship with whoever else is willing to jump ship and start something new.”

Jeremy was professing his loyalty while Spencer was saying that he was lying so Jeremy didn’t read Spencer correctly. He certainly didn’t repair the fracture. The long screeching note heard at the end of Spencer’s confessional indicated that the game was shifting away from Jeremy.

Day 27

It started with more rain and Stephen telling us that he was annoyed at himself for being so out of the loop. He added that he has always known what was going to happen at Tribal Council but that this time he didn’t know at all.

This was our favorite Know-it-all’s Karma. The game showed him that you can’t know it all.

The Reward Challenge

It had been a long time since a challenge had been held at night, but it gave this one a nice appeal. Going back to an old school challenge about local folklore was another nice touch. We didn’t have Rudy running around saying “I Dunno” every time, but Keith did his best to imitate the old fan favorite.

Some interesting comments and moments:

  • “Abi has not missed; she’s just slow (and we see her walking in the woods, taking her time!)
  • With her second gold disc, Kelley saw a clue to an idol. She gave a confessional that was heard during the challenge: “Oh, my gosh! Attached to the disc is a little piece of paper and it says: Idol Clue. So I picked the clue up, stuck it in my pants (actually she was wearing Ciera’s pants) and I kept going. Anyone could have come and picked that one answer and they could have the clue. How lucky am I?”
  • “Joe’s coming back. He’s been terrible in this challenge. Abi has her third; she hasn’t missed yet.”
  • When both Abi and Stephen got to the question about Jayavarman VII’s army, Fishbach pick up the lid of the middle urn, so Abi grabbed a disc and ran off. Stephen then took a disc from another urn and simply said: “Sorry, Abi.” (Now that is outwitting!)
  • looking for gold…Spencer is wrong and he opens up the door.
  • It is Spencer and Fishbach both with four. Spencer coming back, Fishbach right on his tail. It could come down to this. This is it! Fishbach has it!”

For the second time, Stephen barely inched out Spencer but those were little victories. Spencer would get a much more important one later. I noticed that Jeff didn’t mention Kimmi’s name once during the whole challenge. I’m not sure I liked the idea that one player could simply follow another and pick the same disc. Maybe the urns should have been in small, private huts but it gave us a funny moment between Abi and Stephen. It’s rare that a confessional is inserted in the middle of a challenge, but I think the person finding the clue would have gotten the confessional no matter who it was. Maybe some posters will say that Kelley admitting that she was lucky would not have been presented if she was the winner, but I saw it as a reminder that luck plays a big part of any winner’s story. There’s nothing wrong in showing a bit of honesty.

Stephen picked Tasha because he had a lot of damage control to do within his alliance.

The camera clearly showed Jeremy shaking his head in disappointment for not being Stephen’s first pick. Luckily for him, Jeff gave Stephen a second pick.

Spencer in confessional: “Stephen, the Survivor Know-It-All, makes a very questionable decision. He takes Tasha and Jeremy with him on reward. I think it’s become really clear that they are tighter with each other than I will be with them and I need to do something about it.”

The game has changed. Before the end of the night Spencer will have done something about it but will he continue on the same course and go after Jeremy and Tasha next?

Night 27

Kelley’s confessional: “The reward challenge was very fun; it was crazy. I did not win but…Bingo! I got an idol clue. I don’t care that I lost reward because having an idol clue is huge in this game. (The note told her that the idol was attached under their new shelter) I can’t see under the shelter at night. I can dig my hand under there, but I don’t know where it is exactly. I think tomorrow will be a good opportunity because three people will be on reward. That’s three less bodies I have to keep an eye on and worry about.”

It was a nice sunny day for a reward that took Stephen, Tasha and Jeremy to a nice resort along the beach.

In confessional, Stephen said that Jeremy showed that there was still trust in this game. He noted that Tasha, one of his first allies in the game wrote his name.

In the spirit of openness, he told them about his advantage, mentioning that it was even better than Dan’s advantage.

He still got the same result as Dan, though, so it truly is a “badvantage”!

Tasha and Jeremy were both saying that Joe had to go.

It didn’t seem important to let us hear confessionals from Jeremy and Tasha. We’ve become used to the latter being kept quiet, but Jeremy? Not giving him a confessional gives the impression that he thought Stephen’s advantage was going to work just fine. He certainly must have said something about being singled out in front of everyone and that he’d have to do more damage control but it didn’t make it in the episode.   Including a confessional during a reward is usually part of a winner’s edit.

Day 28

Abi took a dig at Kimmi, asking her how Stephen’s choices affected her. Kimmi was being diplomatic when she explained why Jeremy had been picked but Keith interjected and said that she had to be blind if she didn’t see that those three were tight.

Joe’s confessional: “In a season where there are “no alliances” and there are these voting blocs and the game is constantly shifting, Stephen kind of threw himself out there and didn’t even realize it because he chose to take Jeremy and then he chose Tash. Fishbach and Kimmi, they’ve been together for quite a while so I know now that there’s a really strong connection there that I am now really worried about.”

It took a while but Joe has finally figured out Stephen and Jeremy’s game. They can’t outwit him anymore…or so it seems! Kimmi would have been well-advised to fake anger at the selection. That could have given her options or could have allowed her to infiltrate the other side and get some valuable information. Stephen must have talked to her after returning to camp so it would have been smart to suggest the idea.

As soon as Kimmi left the shelter, the group of five started talking. Spencer took the lead, telling them they need to lock down a plan and an alternative in case their primary targets wins immunity. He said: “I think it makes sense to get rid of Fishbach because he has an advantage.” Abi was worried that she would be leaving if Stephen used his advantage.

Abi’s confessional: “I’m trying really hard to trust the ones close to me but Joe is very sketchy and Spencer too. They think they can play everyone and I don’t know if they are trying to play me and the plan that we’ve put in together so I don’t know if I am going to go with the plan.”

Joe said that they should go Stephen and then Tash. Spencer agreed: “If Stephen wins immunity, the plan is Tasha.”

What about Jeremy? Doesn’t he even get mentioned? Maybe his name was mentioned but we weren’t meant to hear it. I find it hard to believe they would ignore such an obvious triple threat. Unless they are really that dumb or Jeremy is wearing Teflon.

Kelley’s confessional: “So, I’m sitting there and I’m like great! We have a plan; we’re good but my goal today is to snatch the hidden immunity idol out from underneath the shelter. In order for that to happen, I need everybody to be out of camp. Luckily for me, the sun is out; Joe and Spencer go off to go fishing. Keith and Kimmi are going to get some snails and some crabs so that just leaves Miss Abi-Maria.” At that moment, we had an image of Abi near the shelter and there’s a bunch of flies all over the picture. It was like Abi was one of those flies that never leaves you alone. Kelley’s confessional resumed: “Homegirl will not leave the shelter. Abi is like an annoying little sister, a little pest. Any other time of the day, she will be off like in the water, walking down to the rocks but for some odd reason today, she is making coffee and I don’t know what she’s doing. My wheels are spinning. How do I get her out of here before the others come back? I’m just like pretending to be sleeping, hoping that she’ll leave and like all of a sudden: A ray of light. Abi goes: “I think I’m going to go lay in the hammock.” I’m like: YES! YES! OK, this is my chance…” The music is quite stressful and we follow Kelley in real time as she crawls under the shelter. “I waddle over under the shelter, stick my hand under, get in and this is really, really scary.” Wind instruments add to the intensity of the melody and the camera shows us that Abi is no longer in the hammock. We also see Joe heading back from the ocean. Kelley, struggling to untie the idol, continued her confessional: “I’m trying to get the immunity idol under the shelter and, all of a sudden, everyone comes back in. I am freaking out. A: Because that was the most stressful thing I’ve done in this game besides getting that first immunity idol. And B: I have an immunity idol! This is so exciting! Number two! So I am ready to shake up this game a little bit.”

The way this search was presented added some excitement to the scene. There’s no way of knowing how close she came of being discovered but it certainly looked like she could get caught red-handed. Such montage usually helps connect a character to the audience. While some may have wished to see her getting caught, most viewers were probably relieved seeing her succeed. It created a favorable momentum for her but will it last?

The Immunity Challenge

Jeff pointed out that Keith and Jeremy had already done this challenge. They both lost and it was the night that Jeremy was voted out. Jeremy didn’t appreciate the reminder.

Spencer was the last one to get his blocks down while Joe, Kimmi and Wentworth were off to quick starts.

Jeff noted that Fishbach was having a hard time trying to work with his feet that look prehistoric. We soon saw that Spencer had made up a lot of time, so much so that it came down to him, Kelley who was momentarily in the lead, Keith and Joe. Jeff noted that Joe would join an elite group of players who have won five individual immunities in one season. (Can you name them?!) That’s when Joe had a setback, losing two blocks on the top row and a few on the second level. (Actually, he had more than one setback because we first saw him with only two blocks on the top shelf but then we saw him picking up some blocks while he had three blocks on the 3rd level) Joe tried to catch up but, after some difficulties, Spencer placed his flag in the center hole. Joe was gracious in defeat, joining everyone in saying: “Good job, Spence.”

Will they all be saying that during the reunion?

Joe’s confessional: “Today, I did not win immunity. I’ve been safe for 29 days and now, all of a sudden, I don’t have that necklace and that power and that safety. I’m vulnerable to going home and for the first time; I’m really nervous.”

This spot is often the “kiss-of-death confessional” but it really only applies to the overconfident players. Joe’s confessional was placed here for his nervous fans but it told us that he should be safe.

Day 29

In confessional, Stephen told us that Joe has never been up for elimination. He said he had been trying to take out Joe since day one and that he finally had his shot.

Now, this was the typical kiss-of-death confessional. It was just moved over by one spot.

The group agreed to split the votes between Joe and Abi.

Kelley’s confessional: “The Four: Kimmi, Stephen, Jeremy and Tasha are going to target Joe, but it’s not going to happen because I have five people which includes Joe. The plan is to blindside Stephen Fishbach.”

In the middle of her confessional, we saw Kelley talking to Keith, telling him not to write Joe’s name, that it was “Fish” instead.

So, after all these twists and turns, Kelley does have Keith! I wonder if the little scene we saw during the merge episode where Kelley told Spence that she had Keith 100 percent could have actually be taken from this time frame. It made many viewers say that Kelley didn’t read Keith properly but it really helped her underdog story. If it was used out of sequence then the manipulation is even greater. Keith hadn’t been with her at the merger so the viewers had to wonder if he’d stick to the plan this time. Also it’s interesting that while Spencer was the architect behind this move, it was Kelley that we heard saying that SHE had five people working with her. It gives her a big part of the credit.

Spencer and Kelley then talked to Joe. They both reassured him, saying that he was fine.

Joe’s confessional: “Tonight is a really big test. I am really relying on my social game, what I have tried to develop in this game that I really didn’t develop and have in the last game. I’m hoping that people are sticking true with blindsiding Stephen and I guess only time will tell. Tribal is only a couple of hours away and I’m hoping for the best.”

Out by the ocean, Stephen was telling Abi that the vote would be against Joe. She said that it sounded awesome.

Stephen told us that Joe would be voting for Abi while she would be voting for him. With Jeremy present, he lied to Joe about Abi being the main target.

Abi’s confessional: “Joe is very shady. He is having a little powwow with Jeremy and Fishbach so I’m like what the heck is going on here?”

Again, I wonder why Abi did not say that Jeremy was equally shady. As far as she was concerned, Jeremy was voting against Joe so she should have also been worried about his participation in the powwow.  

Abi told Kelley that she would have to decide her vote at Tribal Council.

Kelley’s confessional: “Oh, God! Abi is freaking out right now.”

Kelley told Abi that she didn’t think Joe was playing them and that they had to go with the plan.

With Abi’s stern expression framed on our screen, it seemed like the action had been suspended. We heard a drum beating, almost like a heart. It really underlined the intensity of the moment. It could mean that there was more than just the outcome of this episode at stake. Was this the moment that decides the whole season? It would tie in nicely with Abi’s early edit: Her decisions decided the fate of many players and maybe she just gave the victory to Kelley.

Abi just walked away, saying she had decisions to make.

Kelley’s confessional resumed: “If I feel anything weird tonight and people do not stick with the Fishbach plan, the idol is coming out.”

It seems that this was inserted only so that people would feel nervous about Kelley wasting her idol.

It was Spencer’s turn to reassure the drama queen. She felt certain that she was going home. She said it really didn’t matter to her.

I’m guessing this was Abi’s way of preparing her press tour. She could point to this and say she wasn’t blindsided if she had been voted out.  Spin is starting early this time but Abi certainly has an ego that needs protection.

Spencer’s confessional: “Abi is on the warpath and I’m scared that Abi is going to react and vote for Joe and this entire plan is going to go down the tubes. There are nine people left and we have five and I need everyone to stick to this plan.”

In confessional, Abi said she had the option between Joe and Spencer.

Jeremy and Stephen were also nervous. Jeremy thought that Joe had an idol so they were going to split the vote between Joe and Abi.

Stephen revealed that he was going to use his advantage to split the votes between Joe and Abi.

How dumb of Stephen to split his own votes. When you have two votes, you pile them on. Instead, it was almost as if he cancelled himself out.

Jeremy and Stephen told the plan to Spencer. Stephen also revealed his advantage.

Spencer’s confessional: “I got enough trust going with them that Stephen revealed to me what his advantage was and I was able to see that it would destroy everything. Even though I’ve done everything right to put what I want to happen into place, it could all go to crap. Stephen has an advantage. Abi is the most unreliable person here. We also have the potential for an idol and a reason to blindside Joe. Our plan that we hammered out is to take out Stephen but if I go that route I run a big risk and it scares me to death.”

This confessional reminded me a lot of Todd’s confessional in China where his tribe couldn’t send Zhan Hu to Tribal Council and let James use his idol against Jaime. If Spence is Todd, does that make Kelley the new Amanda? Kelley has more ascendancy on the season than Amanda ever did but would she beat Spencer in a showdown?

Tribal Council

Joe told Jeff that he was hoping that the trust he built with people would take him further in the game.

Abi said that it depended on which alliance was more loyal to her.

Jeff asked Tasha about the lack of trust in this game.

She answered that, as they get closer to day 39, the voting blocs may not be the most effective method. She said she wanted to find that core two or three or four people that she could lock it in.

Final NINE is such a good time to bring up the idea of a Core THREE or FOUR!!

Kelley said: “You know what Jeff, there are definitely alliances. You know, at the reward challenge, Stephen chose Tasha because he said he needed to mend the fences with an alliance member.”

She had a “Let’s cut the crap” tone when she said that. No one could argue against her even if Stephen tried to explain himself.

Stephen recognized that the advantage put a big target on him. He added that splitting votes makes it easy for another faction to vote against him.

Spencer mentioned all the elements contributing to the complexity of the situation: idols, split votes, mystery advantage. He said it left them in a limbo of “what ifs”.

Abi said that all the names being thrown out gave her a headache.

Fishbach said that the odds of a blindside were only 33 percent.

Tasha said a shift had occurred and that voting blocs had gotten them this far but that now you needed people that you could trust.

It was time to vote, but before Jeremy could get up Stephen told Jeff he would play his advantage. He then said he’d be stealing Joe’s vote and casting it himself.

Keith wanted to make sure he understood so Jeff clarified the situation.

Joe said that it sucked, but it was the game so it was all good.

Kimmi, Tasha and Stephen voted for Abi.

Jeremy and Stephen (using Joe’s vote and taking a moment to savor what he thought was a sweet victory) voted for Joe.

Spencer, Kelley, Keith and Abi voted for Fishbach.

Stephen was amazed by the blindside, telling everyone that it was awesome.

Jeremy and Tasha looked troubled while Kimmi looked shocked.

Abi thanked Kelley who replied: “Girl, I told you.”

Saying that the game was unpredictable, Jeff sent them back to camp.


The Story

With Ciera and Stephen joining the jury, it was the two players that were always talking about making big moves that left. We see that it’s better to stay quiet and make the move when the time is right instead of announcing it. The players that aren’t always talking about big moves but aren’t simply coasting either have been rewarded. Those are the players using the middle path. What is interesting is that the original tribes are starting to even out. With two original Bayon tribe members leaving we are down to 3 original Ta Keo members: Kelley, Abi and Spencer, and Five Bayons: Jeremy, Tasha, Kimmi, Joe and Keith and the last two of those Bayon players were in Ta Keo for a while. Jeff and some players can act like Dr. Sean and say that there aren’t any alliances but I’m with Kelley and I point to those tribes to explain the “voting blocs”.

The theme of Karma certainly came into play with these two eliminations: Ciera was famous for voting out her mom but also for forcing a tie that needed to be broken with colored rocks. While she didn’t pick the wrong colored rock back then, she told us that she regretted making the choice this time. We could almost adapt the old saying: Live by the rock, die by the rock. Also, she wanted the players to make big moves and she certainly got more than she expected when Jeremy played his idol on Stephen.

As for Stephen, he is Survivor’s Know-It-All so it was karma to see him get voted out after being shown that he doesn’t, in fact, know it all. His story was much more like Moby Dick than Macbeth. He had just started making me think that he would better Joe, but his “white whale” lived on even if he finally had him in his sights. In the end, Stephen didn’t want to be King Duncan but that’s exactly the role he was playing. Finally, it has to be noted that both Stephen and Dan were voted out on the night they used their “advantage”. It’s cursed and it will always be so if everyone else knows which player has it. Production really needs to work on this twist if they want to use it again. I’d scrap it, but they never listen to me.

The Characters

The Followers

Kimmi:   It’s hard to be left out of the loop in two consecutive votes but that’s exactly what happened to Kimmi in this double portion of Survivor. I don’t imagine that she can recover but voting her out seems like a wasted trip to Tribal Council. She never really had a story and she missed an opportunity to gain information when her allies went on reward. Kimmi wasn’t even mentioned during the “Folklore” challenge but can we blame Jeff for forgetting her? Like him, we never mentioned her as a contender.

Tasha: She got back in with Jeremy after he left her out of the loop but she didn’t notice that this reconnection put her on everyone’s radar. She was even Spencer and Joe’s alternative in case Stephen won immunity. Tasha was a big character during her first season so she would have been given a very nice role if she was about to win this one. Instead, she has been relegated to the secondary roles ever since she got out of Angkor. I can’t say she will be leaving soon but she won’t be the Sole Survivor.

Abi: She had ended the second chance of many players early on. She was the kingmaker in the early days of Ta Keo and Angkor so it was interesting that she returned to that role in this episode. She chose to crown Kelley and Spencer as the new queen and king but will it last? It was Spencer that first said it was dangerous to count on Abi so will she prove him right and screw him before long? One thing is certain: An episode where Abi is the deciding factor has built-in suspense! Give her a camera and a mike and the wheels start spinning.

Joe: His social game was better than many expected. Did the castaways miss their only chance of getting rid of the golden boy? There was a minor theme of missed opportunities during the pre-merge but now the players are much more focused. Spencer showed that Joe wasn’t unbeatable and there are still five elimination rounds left so Joe will only make it to the end if his alliance allows him to reach it. Despite a nice edit, it doesn’t have the substance of a winner’s story. We all felt that Joe would make it to the family visit and now we see that he will. Since it was his stated goal at the very beginning, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him voted out soon if not next. By the way, the answer to the question above is Colby, Tom, Terry, Ozzy and Mike but I’m sure you knew it. Joe can still catch them unless someone knocks him out with a statue!

Keith: He had two great confessionals in the first episode and he even gave us a winning quote. The viewers that share Keith’s point of view will say he was right to compete against Joe since eliminating him was the group’s goal at the time. None of the others said that he made a selfish choice, but there was so much chatter about doing the right thing for the group that it obscures the editing trail. Will Keith be rewarded with the million-dollar check? Now that would be a surprise ending to this unpredictable season but let’s not go overboard! Keith is still mostly a free agent so I’m not sure if Kelley can keep him in check in the long run. Now that Keith wants Joe eliminated and that Abi finds him sketchy, maybe Kelley and Spencer would be wise to trim their own numbers before going after Jeremy.

The Players – One of these three characters is playing the part of the season’s winner. They are very hard to separate which makes it fun for those of us who aren’t spoiled.

Jeremy: While the first episode put some much needed doubt on Jeremy’s path to victory, the second showed that he had completely misread the situation. He thought he could go back to his power group, but he lost a key ally in Spencer. Tasha and Kimmi may have been ready to take him back, but Spence wasn’t fooled. Like we suspected, Jeremy kept Spencer too long and now he’s starting to pay for that early mistake. Jeremy was the one that said you’d have to be dumb to go against the Bayon alliance, but he was the one that effectively destroyed it. We could even say that there are now 5 ex-Ta Keo members and only 3 true Bayon players. Quite a reversal of fortunes, isn’t it? Still, Jeremy has an idol, Joe is still a huge threat and Keith is a free agent so there is room for Jeremy to regain power. While we heard Ciera say that he would win the game if he was allowed to make it to the end, Mr. Teflon hasn’t been directly put on the chopping block yet at least in what we have been allowed to hear. Is it to hide his upcoming downfall or are the editors trying to present us with a new Earl, someone that will win the game with a near perfect social game? Will Ciera’s prophecy come true? The Macbeth angle didn’t last very long and maybe it only applied to Stephen but who knows?

Spencer: Going just by the number of confessionals, Spence’s role has been as important as Cochran in Caramoan. He has been the most consistent narrator even if his confessionals weren’t limited to strict narration. Now, he is starting to remind me of Todd in China, coming up with a daring plan that worked despite Stephen’s advantage and Jeremy’s numbers. The episode started with Spencer and Jeremy battling over Ciera and Stephen and while Jeremy won the first round, Spencer quickly recovered and got his revenge in the second hour. More than anyone else, Spencer has changed his game and he is using his second chance very effectively. But Spencer was always an editor’s favorite so we shouldn’t be surprised to see him coming across so nicely on our screens. Will he make it to the end? He was surprised when Kelley played her idol and there are two idols still in play so maybe he will be surprised once more and that time he may not appreciate the move as much. For one thing, Jeremy could very well use his idol on Spencer if the new Ta Keo “voting bloc” stays together and goes after him.  If the Moby Dick theme has more longevity than Macbeth, however, then maybe Spence is our Ishmael.

Kelley: I have been seeing hints that she will be our winner for a while now and the visibility that the cameras give her whenever they need to show a reaction shot only contributes to that feeling. Despite being a very minor character during her first season, she has received a very consistent edit and she is rarely if ever forgotten in the scenes in which she participates. Her confessionals aren’t only about the idols that she has found either, but those scenes have really stood out. Compared to Jeremy who found his clue and the second idol without any drama, they made a whole production about Kelley’s idol. It almost looked like an action movie: We even had “villains” who were preventing her from completing the mission and threatening to discover her secret. She pulled it off nicely and I have a feeling that there are many more viewers rooting for her now than there were before the merge. The image of her when Jeff mentioned that they still had half a month to go convinced me that she will be there when the last episode starts. That doesn’t mean she will win, though, and the players that have finished just out of the Final Three (or Final Two before Survivor jumped that shark) have often received big roles, Yau Man, Cirie, Jerri, Holly and Malcolm come to mind, but we’ve also had Sundra, Denise in China, Brett, Ashley, Christina and Eddy, so we can’t reach a conclusion on that evidence. Of course, talking about the last person to join the jury reminds me of Erinn in Tocantins and I was certainly wrong about her. The many reminders of JT that we’ve had this season don’t help! Everything was pointing to JT’s win in Tocantins, so it was normal to look for a surprise winner and Erinn stood out as the one that could prove that Coach was wrong when he talked about looking for a strong warrior. This season, the battle between Stephen and Joe and the even more important conflict that is developing between Jeremy and Spencer should have been enough to keep the viewers interested so why invest so much in the farmer’s daughter?

Like you see, I still have more questions than answers but I still think that Kelley will be our Sole Survivor.

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