Survivor: Cambodia

It’s Like Day One Again

The Recap

Sixteen days ago, twenty former players started their second chance to play the game they love…

Jeremy’s confessional: “I just need to go through this again. I’m back for some redemption.”

…And they all came with baggage from their past.

Stephen: ‘I feel exactly like I felt the last time: out of place in a tribe, a Fishbach out of water again.”

Some even have a history with each other. (The “Brains” trio is shown and Spencer’s Tribal Council comment about Kass having zero chance of winning the game is heard).

Spencer in confessional: “Kass and I have feuded and we’ve hated each other.”

And with redemption on the line,

Playing Hard

Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

(we see Kelley grabbing her Hidden Immunity Idol right under the “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” banner) it was clear that the game would be played hard and fast.

We then saw Savage taking a hard fall during a challenge, and after we had Kass’ confessional: “When the merge comes, all hell will break loose.”

The Bayon tribe agreed to stay strong.

Jeremy’s confessional: “We have the stronger group.

Get Down Tonight

Get Down Tonight

(Tasha is shown doing a dance.) We can really move on in this game. We just have to stay together and get each other’s back.”

But after a twist on the game, the former Bayons were forced to make new deals.

Kass, Ciera, Keith, Kelley and Joe are pictured to be an alliance to Final Five.

Joe’s interview: “I’m trying to pull in as many people as I can.”

Everyone was shocked when Terry left the game…but they were even more surprised by a second switch.

Kelley’s comment at the challenge was replayed: “I’m excited; I just want to win.”

The new Bayon proved to be the stronger tribe and they won the last immunity challenge.

At the new Ta Keo, Spencer was the odd man out.

Savage’s confessional: “Tonight, everyone is voting Spencer. I mean business.”

But Spencer and Kass put aside their past differences.

Kass in confessional: “I didn’t want to play with Spencer but can I use Spencer right now?”

At Tribal Council, Kass saved Spencer, blindsiding Woo and shocking Wiglesworth and Savage.

This season-long recap is not as straightforward as the last few that we heard. Since Jeff summarized the events of the last 16 days, it stands to reason that the winner’s story was part of it. We simply have to look at the players that were part of his narrative: Jeremy, Spencer, Joe, Kelley, Stephen, and Savage but the last two weren’t presented in a positive way so it seems safe to dismiss them. Tasha is a little less evident since we saw her dancing and Jeff talked about the history of Cagayan’s “Brains” tribe.We saw her winning the last challenge but since she wasn’t named and we didn’t hear from her, I think we can exclude her.   We certainly would have heard about her difficult days in Angkor if it was part of the winner’s story. That leaves us with only four contenders.

It’s really strange that Jeff said Kass saved Spencer when most of the work had been done by Ciera. Another oddity is that Kelley’s idol was shown but not Jeremy’s. Looking at the summary more closely, we see that Kelley and Spencer’s role really stood out.

  • Kelley was featured taking possession of the idol when Jeff talked about playing hard and fast. We saw that she was part of the Ta Keo Final Five and we heard her saying that she just wanted to win.
  • Spencer was part of the history in Cagayan; we were reminded of his precarious position in the new Ta Keo and we heard that his truce with Kass saved him.

Compared to those two, Jeremy and Joe’s stories were fairly superficial and showed us that they were in very good positions. Jeremy was part of the strong Bayon alliance and was moving on in this game while Joe has pulled in many players to his side. There has been an underdog theme built during the pre-merge and neither of the two strong guys fit in it.   That means we have two top contenders. Who will come out on top tonight?

It’s Like Day One Again

Ta Keo Day 17

The scene started in the morning, so we didn’t get to hear the immediate fall out of the vote.

Savage woke up, looking at the tribe’s torches under the pouring rain.

And when your fire is out...

And when your fire is out…

The camera lingered on the unlit torches suggesting that it was a sign that the winner isn’t in this tribe.

Kass was telling Abi that the great thing about second chance was the many layers of relationships.

Andrew’s interview: “It was a very tough night for me. I go to Tribal; I thought it was a lock. They didn’t include me and they are incredible liars. I thought I could read people pretty well…” He shakes his head. “These folks are professionals.” To the group, Savage said that he would have liked it if they came to him. Kass said the vote wasn’t personal. It was just about red flags. Savage’s confessional continued: “I feel the most betrayed by Kass. I thought she was really strong with the Bayons but after last night, she became a Ta Keo. I’m not going to go down without a fight. (Bleep) them. Piece of (bleep).” He showed us a big smile. Talking again to Kass, Ciera, Spencer and Abi, Savage said he was a loyal guy and that he had their backs from day one and that he just wanted them to take him to the merge. We heard more of Andrew’s interview: “There’s a merge coming. If I have to bite my tongue, act like a wimpy little non-leader, under-the-radar kind of guy which is the antithesis of me, I’ll do it. I need to get to that merge.”

Spencer asked Andrew to give him his word that he wouldn’t go after him again. Andrew offered him his hand and said he wouldn’t write his name down again.

Hw long will this truce last?

How long will this truce last?

We know that Savage makes the merge, but his arrogance suggests that it won’t be as easy as he thinks. Spencer, on the other hand, showed us that he can make peace immediately. Compared to his feud with Kass which lasted a couple of years, he regained Savage’s trust immediately. Now Spencer will be able to write Savage’s name and eliminate him at some point.  Savage’s promise not to write his name again probably includes FTC just like when Alicia told Boston Rob that she would never write his name so Spencer won’t have his vote.  

Spencer’s interview: “Savage is feeling foolish and he’s feeling guilty because he got caught red-handed trying to blindside me, but I’m going to have to make peace because I am making relationships this time that have saved me.” To the tribe, Spencer said: “It took seventeen days, but I finally have a group.” Kass said they should have done this in Cagayan. Spencer continued his confessional: “Kass and I went against each other in Cagayan a lot but, this time, I actually have to rely on Kass. I truly have changed and progressed in this game and that’s why I’m here today.”

Given this confessional and the replay of Spencer’s Tribal Council comment in Cagayan, it would stand to reason that there is zero chance that Kass will vote for him in the end.

Bayon Day 17

Kimmi and Keith were carrying tree mail.

The producers had to find a way to give them airtime so they told them to get mail.

The message told them to go down to the end of their beach and wait for visitors. Kelley was surprised, doubting it could be a merge at 13.

Tasha in confessional: “I’m a fan of Survivor. This early? It couldn’t be a merge. It’s usually nine or ten people. If it is a merge situation, my “Brains” tribe from Cagayan would be back together with myself, Kass and Spencer. We have some good history to work together, but we have some bad history too so I’m really nervous. ”

Tasha didn’t seem to doubt that Kass and Spencer would both be there which is a bit surprising considering Andrew’s plan to eliminate Spencer.

Ta Keo Day 17

Kass read the message that would send the tribe to live on the other beach.

Ciera’s confessional: “Does this mean a merge? I am really nervous that with Savage who is really disappointed that we lied to him. It makes me nervous to take somebody like that to the merge.”

Kass told Ciera, Abi and Spencer that they had to stick together and that they would need to find a crack.

Under pouring rain, Andrew was jubilant: “Let this twist be something beautiful: A beautiful merge. My dream is to make the merge. I suffered. I am praying to the Survivor gods stronger than you can imagine that today is something good like a merge and I am back with my Bayon brothers. Please, please, please.”

His prayers were answered…for now!

The Reunion

Here comes Trouble

Here Comes Trouble

The Bayon tribe looked much more enthusiastic than Ta Keo. We saw Bayon welcoming loudly their counterparts, raising their arms to greet them. In comparison, the other tribe looked lethargic. It could be what happened because Ta Keo had a longer trek so they could have been really tired or the images could have been selected to make the tribes look very different. If the editors did choose to show them this way then that is another hint that the winner was in the happy tribe.

Joe’s confessional: “We head over the hill and all of a sudden, I look out and I see this little tribe of Ta Keo and I’m thinking… thirteen? There’s no way it could be a merge. It’s such a big number.” Reading the note, Keith let everyone put to rest memories of Thailand and Gabon, confirming it was a merge feast. After being shown exchanging the first high five with Savage,

Don't come Any Closer!

Don’t Come Any Closer!

(note that the hug that Tasha was about to share with Abi was cut out of the show at the last second) Joe’s confessional resumed: “We’re all excited but oh, oh! There are a lot of people here. Once you make the merge, you know, things are about to change. All new game, game on, it’s like day one again. It’s dangerous but it’s fun.”

After throwing the Ta Keo flag to the ground, Andrew shared a hug with his Bayon “bro”, Jeremy.   When the thirteen players raised their glasses for a toast, the camera was focused on Spencer.




Then Kass raised her glass to “the thirteen best losers ever” and Stephen agreed. Kass is the newest loser; can Stephen be far behind?



Kelley’s confessional: “I’m so excited. I am freaking out. I didn’t make the merge the last time which was my goal number one, so at least making the merge this time is like: Okay, I’ve hit one step of where I want to be but I want to push through and I want to get to the end. There’s one winner. One person gets the million dollars at the end of Survivor and I came here to play.”

This confessional is more than what we usually hear from a Journey player. It’s a lot like Parvati’s confessional about playing in stages during Micronesia. Placed immediately after the reunion, this confessional really stood out.

Kelley asked about Woo so Kass gave her the details of the vote. Kimmi was impressed to hear Kass say that she worked with Spencer. Kass added: “In a bizarre twist, Spencer left his fate in my hands and I did not abuse it.” Kelley said: ‘That’s crazy guys. Wow!” Spencer added: “Chaos Kass: My saviour.”

Kass in confessional told us that she thought Spencer would trust her now that she saved him.

Stephen in confessional: “I was just sitting there like primed. You know; I was ready to pounce because everyone knew that as soon as that feast broke up, it was going to be chaos. You got to hit the ground running in new-school Survivor. You need to make an alliance of seven right now to get the majority for this first vote.”

The players shown getting right down to business were Andrew, Jeremy, Kass and Kelley.

The two Bayon guys went over to the hammocks like in the good old days.

Andrew’s confessional: “I’m the happiest man alive right now. I’m back at my home, my original home: Bayon.”

Andrew told Jeremy that he was scared by how fast and how stealth they were. He added: “They could have six or seven of them coming after you and me and we would never know. It’s Bayon versus Ta Keo and we need our seven.”

Jeremy counted them out: “It’s you, me, Tasha…”

Andrew asked: “What about Fishbach?”

Jeremy answered: “He’s down with us and Kimmi is down with us. We could pull in Wiglesworth.”

Andrew replied: “We have Wiglesworth. That’s six.”

Andrew’s confessional: “Wiglesworth has told me that she has my back. She wasn’t in the original Bayon, but Wiglesworth is hugely loyal from what I can tell. We need seven. So, from a numbers standpoint, I have to do everything I can to go after Joe, just to reconfirm that he would like to be part of the Bayon.”

I wonder if Wiglesworth will betray the Bayon boys. It would help if we heard her talk once in a while but I feel she will play a big role somewhere down the road. What if the final three is Spencer, Kelley, and Kelly, three original Ta Keos? It looks unlikely right now but it would complete the underdog story.  

Andrew told Jeremy that what they would do in the next two days would lay the foundations for the next two weeks.

Just then, we saw a spider reaching an insect caught in its web. The image was clear: The foundations won’t be as solid as Andrew and Jeremy think. There will still be dangers lurking.

Kass and Kelley were doing their own count. Kass said that Abi was good because she knew she couldn’t win. (That’s something that makes me go Hmm…). She also said that Spencer was with them meaning they had seven. Kelley figured they were good.

Kelley’s confessional: “Right now, I am working with Kass, Ciera, Keith and hopefully we have Joe because, when I was back at the old Ta Keo camp, we had made a Final Five deal. Kass thinks we have Abi but then I have Spencer and Joe who are a little bit of a wild card. I do want to talk to them to see exactly where they are because I need to be sure if they are on board. It’s pretty clear right now that Spencer and Joe are going to be the power players who are in control of this game. This is it: It’s so important.”

It was Jeremy, Andrew, Kass and Kelley who hit the ground running. Both sides were confident they had the numbers, but Kelley wound up on the wrong side. Does this mean that Jeremy and Savage are on the winning side? It looks like it would be too easy for them. Jeremy’s role suffers from his close association with the arrogant Savage. The big guys won the first battle, but the war isn’t over. Kelley said that Joe and Spencer controlled this vote and she was right.   Despite their plans, Jeremy and Andrew weren’t really in control and their absence from the Tribal Council discussion underlined that.   Even if we didn’t hear Kelley’s reason to vote against Chaos Kass in the end, I think it’s important that we knew she was going to talk to Joe and Spencer. If this was like day one, the most important thing was to get to know everyone’s position and it seems like she aligned with them.

Orkun Day 18

In the old days, we used to hear the players talking about the name to choose for the merge tribe. They used to take it seriously. Even Jeff took an interest in the name, asking them about it the first time they met. Then we had a few names like Dabu, Nobag, and Murlonio leading to our disinterest. Soon, Jeff wouldn’t even ask them about the new name. We would still hear the players talking about it, though, but now the editors finally realized that we don’t care. Who came up with that name? What does it mean to them? It doesn’t matter anymore.

Joe was doing some yoga on the beach when Andrew approached.

Andrew’s interview: “I was doing the numbers last night and it made me realize that it’s critical that I reconnect with Joe face to face and just confirm how strong our bond is because we need him. My pitch today is that we can do this: Just stick together; we’ve got the numbers. It’s really, really very simple.”

Andrew explained his plan: Jeremy, Tasha, Kimmi, Stephen and Wiglesworth would vote with the two of them. They would be able to figure it out once they get to day 30.

Joe’s confessional: “Savage is really playing this game with his heart and he’s really wearing it on his sleeve and I think that I can trust him, but I had a plan back with Ta Keo so I’m not limiting my options in this game.”

Kelley was doing some connections herself, asking “Spence” to talk to her. Both were overwhelmed by the number of players.

Kelley’s confessional: “I haven’t been with Spencer for a very long time so I wanted to check in with him to make sure that he would potentially want to work with me.” She told him that she trusted Kass, Ciera, Abi and him more than Tasha and Savage. Spencer said he wasn’t sure about Joe and Keith. Kelley reassured him that Keith was “100%’ absolutely.”

The editors have given Kelley the opportunity to expose her plans during every segment since the reunion and it certainly isn’t only narration. We are hearing what she plans on doing to advance in the game each step of the way. It’s certainly worrisome from a game point of view that she first threw her lot with Kass and Ciera, but we know she voted against them in the end. I would have liked an additional confessional exposing her change of plan, but that would have killed the suspense of this episode.    

Spencer’s confessional, part one: “Right now, there are two warring groups and apparently Joe and I are smack dab in the middle. Joe is a guy I wouldn’t mind sticking with, swinging with, and I could even make a move with him down the road.”

Sitting on the beach with Joe, Spencer said his alliance were only a day old. Joe said that it sucked adding that since he hadn’t gone to Tribal Council he hadn’t tested his alliances. Spencer said that there was a Bayon group headed by Jeremy, Tasha, and Stephen. The second part of Spencer’s confessional was inserted here.

Spencer’s confessional, part two: “Joe and I were talking through who is aligned with who so I tried to put things in “Joe language” and say: “All right Joe; it’s like a football play.” We have a line in the sand and we have this person and this person and this person.”

He drew a diagram in the sand like kids playing football. Spencer said that “there’s a five that you can count on here and I think there’s a five that you can count on here, so we are kind of in the middle.”

They agreed to watch each other’s backs.

Compared to Kelley who had three interviews during these key scenes, Joe only had a confessional right after the reunion while Spencer’s came at the very end when the lines had been drawn.

Three Players in the Middle

Three Players in the Middle

What is interesting is that with 5 players on each side it leaves us with THREE in the middle and Spencer did draw 3 circles in the middle representing himself, Joe and who else??? I would venture a guess that the unnamed 3rd person in Spencer’s plan was Kelley! After all, he had just talked to her and she directed him to Joe.


The next day, it was raining and it led to a funny image:

Too Close for Comfort

Too Close for Comfort

The tribe was huddled in the shelter so even if some hated each other, they had to stay together. Well, except Keith who slept in a hammock with no cares in the world.


Stephen had a poem to share with everyone. It was “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. He recited:

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil


And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things

Judging by the facial expressions, the reactions were mixed. While the intention was noble and the delivery was good, why would Stephen show off like this? It made him stand apart even more from the others. For some reason, it made me think of Coach who used to monopolize the attention like this. Granted, Coach was talking about his own grandeur but still…

had a confessional: “I feel that there is a “bro-down” going on in Bayon. They are all together and I think I have the most connections and I am the most likely to pull in the numbers we need to go against the Savage, Jeremy, Stephen clan going on over there.”

The insects crawling around the carcass of a beetle told us she wouldn’t be successful.  

Tasha and Kass had a talk about the confusing situation.

Tasha in confessional: “I had a conversation with Kass and it felt like she was fishing for information, but I figure Kass is working with Ta Keo so I thought I’d give her a bogus story about my alliance. Kass was the reason for me going home the first time I played. I put my trust in Kass and what did she do? She flipped and this is second chance and there is no way I will allow Kass another opportunity to ruin my game.”

She told Kass that she didn’t think they were Bayon strong. She admitted that she was tight with Jeremy but she wasn’t close to Stephen. When Kass asked if Bayon was no more, Tasha answered: “I would say no.” She said she was going along with the group.

Kass in confessional: “I was trying to talk to Tasha and I was telling the truth but I don’t think I got the same sincerity. It was very clear: She doesn’t trust me; she never trusted me. She’s still hung up on Cagayan. This is our second chance; this is it. Don’t mess with my second chance.”

Orkun Day 19

It started with Kass’s confessional : “I know Tasha can be a firecracker and I’m definitely ready to rumble. It’s really the original Bayon that are going to run this show unless someone here is ready to upset the apple cart. God forbid that it’s Chaos Kass that actually does that.”

Kass and Tasha were sitting on the beach looking back at their conversation from the previous day, agreeing that it didn’t go well. Tasha denied saying that Bayon was no more, adding she wouldn’t tell Kass anything because she doesn’t trust her. Looking at her, Kass said: You didn’t learn from your last time.” Tasha said she did learn; she learned not to trust Kass. Kass drew a line in the sand between them, saying “game on.”

While Tasha was right about trusting Kass, it seems that she was still fixated on Cagayan. The phrase: “You didn’t learn from your last time” is a killer. At least, Tasha corrected Kass but with a very narrow angle. She doesn’t trust Kass but what about the eleven others?

In confessional, Kass said she would use what Tasha said against her in front of her “little allies.”

The two women addressed the group, trying to sway the tribe their way. Kass said she was going to vote against Tasha.

Ciera in confessional: “Tasha walks in with Kass and it created chaos around camp about how people are treating each other. I can use that to my advantage. There’s definitely a strong group of old Bayon so I wanted to plant a little bit of doubt and break them up. I will lie to them and see how that plays out.”

To the group, Ciera said that Savage and Woo made comments that they would go after Jeremy and Joe. Jeremy really didn’t look worried. Savage immediately said that it was a lie. While Ciera was talking, we saw that Kelley was listening and she didn’t seem too happy hearing these things.

Sucking Lemons

Sucking Lemons

While we never heard Kelley’s reason why she voted for Chaos Kass in the end, it seems obvious that she jumped ship after hearing this conversation. Her expression told us she couldn’t believe she was associated with anything so crazy. As a poster named CTGirl pointed out in the play-by-play of the episode, she looked like she was sucking lemons. From a game perspective, we quickly saw how this little ploy worked for Ciera: It killed her chances to gain votes. Spreading lies about other players should always be done in private, not in public where everyone can see the pathetic attempt for what it truly is. Paranoia eats alone so don’t serve it to a group.

Savage in confessional: “Tasha and Kass were going at it when suddenly Ciera was saying something about me. Dude, you just woke up a raging bull. You got a really nasty, rabid two-headed dragon right now that is wreaking havoc in our beautiful little tribe and we’re going to take one of the heads and just lop it off.”

The Immunity Challenge

Joe won.

Okay, there were some interesting comments:

As soon as the tribe arrived Ciera told Jeff that there was a lot of chaos in camp so it would be nice to have the necklace.

When Jeff revealed the necklace, the camera went to Joe who said it looked fancy and the next person in the center of our screen was Kelley.

Joe won the first so does this camera work suggest that Kelley wins one down the road?

Jeff said that this challenge first came down to a showdown between Spencer and Tasha and that she won immunity so it would be second chance opportunities for Kass and Spencer.

Stephen dropped after just a few seconds. Keith, Ciera, and Kimmi didn’t make it to round 2.   Abi was out one second into the 2nd round. Kass, Kelly and Kelley soon followed.

Five players made it to round 3. Savage was the first out and he was followed by Tasha and Jeremy. It was down to Joe and Spencer leading Jeff to comment on Spencer’s second chance to win this challenge. He came up short. Joe showed good sportsmanship by not celebrating but by congratulating Spencer instead.

It took a while before Jeff called Joe over to give him the necklace so maybe there was a challenge from one of the players and Jeff had to go to a booth review!! Maybe all the scoring plays are automatically reviewed these days. We couldn’t have another “liaison” now could we?!

Joe in confessional: “Big decision tonight. I’ve been put in a spot where myself and Spencer are big swing votes and all I know is that I am glad that I have the necklace because it’s going to be one hell of a tribal.”

It has to be noted that Joe only mentioned himself and Spencer as swing votes, leaving Spencer unnamed third party out of this.

Orkun Day 19

Savage in confessional: “First immunity challenge; I wanted to win. I wanted to make a statement. You have all these young studs; I just wanted to show that I can hang with them. But Ciera and Kass didn’t win immunity. The ring leader was Kass with Ciera right behind her. They are coming up with lies that are almost believable and that’s what so dangerous about them but, from my perspective, I would rather have Ciera go. I will never forget what Ciera did and, in my mind, she’s done. For this vote, I’d rather have Ciera go. She is dangerous. For me, she is public enemy number one and she has to go.”

At the water well, Savage pushed the idea to go after Ciera first. Stephen, Joe, and Wiglesworth were much more inclined to vote against Kass which seemed to pain Andrew.

There was some interesting camera work around that well, the view lingering for a long time on the cover of the well and its decoration. Could that be an idol similar to the one we had in China? Is anything written under it?! As for Savage, I wonder if he will suffer because the others didn’t go for Ciera like he wanted. She certainly is going to go after him now and the vote may turn in a different direction the next time.

Joe in confessional: “At this point, the majority wants Kass and sometimes it’s best to go with the majority because Kass is almost a little ruthless and a little bit haphazard and that scares me.”

Jeremy and Spencer sat down to talk. Jeremy said he was thinking Kass and he repeated it when Keith joined them.

Spencer in confessional: “I’ve been conflicted about which way to go but I feel the numbers going where they are going and not stopping to wait for me. Kass was the only person on the last vote that was willing to vote with me and even though I want to save her, I’m not sure I can.”

Jeremy’s confessional: “It looks like everybody is voting Kass, but Kass could have an idol, do you know what I mean? It’s always good to split votes.”

Really Jeremy? While a safe tactic at times, it’s not exactly foolproof. Splitting the vote always opens the door for a minority to win the vote by gaining just one member. This was Jeremy’s only confessional in this key episode and it didn’t really paint him as a smart player.

The tribe agreed to put five votes on Kass and four on Ciera.

Keith on confessional: “I hate to say it but if they want Kass gone, I’m down for it. She stirs up a lot of bickering and at this point I just as soon let her go.”

Back at the shelter, Kass, Ciera, Abi and Kelley were observing the group.

Kass gave a confessional where she said that she should have anticipated this. Realizing they would split the votes, Kass wanted to find five people to go after Tasha.

Kelley was in the huddle with Kass, Ciera and Abi, talking about reeling in Spencer to vote out Tasha.

Ciera’s confessional: “Being second time players, we understand that they could be splitting the votes and after the huge blow out fight this afternoon, there’s a good chance that it could be me going home tonight. Ideally, I would love it if Kass could get Spencer so that we could make a move before it’s too late.”

Kass told Spencer that Ciera, Abi, Wentworth and her were voting Tasha and that they could get her out if the others split their votes and Spencer joined Kass’ group. Spencer agreed with Kass.

Spencer in confessional: “There will be a split vote tonight between Kass, Ciera and Tasha. My decision tonight is going to determine who goes home. I always saw Tasha as a friend but Kass and Ciera actually had my back and saved me. My luck has truly turned around. I have never been in this position before to influence the game.”

Tribal Council

Joe and Keith had to get their torches for the first time.

Going back to her comment at the challenge, Ciera said the situation was chaotic. It was crazy beyond words.

Kass said she wasn’t playing the chaos game this time. This comment surprised Tasha who didn’t know where to turn. Kass even told Jeff that Tasha was at the center of the chaos.

Tasha didn’t even want to play that game.

Joe smiled and Keith enjoyed the catfight.

Ciera tried to help Kass, but Tasha put her in her place.

Ciera said she was worried about guilt by association.

Joe said that it was the first vote after the merge and that some people were afraid to jump to one side or the other so that the easiest vote was between Kass, Ciera, and Tasha.

Ciera tried to give a lesson to everyone about going for the jugular and not settling for 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th. She even said that they weren’t playing the right game. She felt that they were scared to play. She wanted to win and it wasn’t fun to play with people who don’t want to win.

Besides Abi, her pedantic approach didn’t impress anyone. The way it was presented, the time the editors gave her to express her point of view gives it importance. The edit is still presenting Ciera as a smart player even when she isn’t.

Spencer explained that the best play was different for different people and the play could look very different the next day.

Jeff said that this was different than having a tight 5 or a tight 6, that it meant tonight’s vote was only tonight’s vote.

Fishbach made the comment that it was so strange. He asked: “What typical merge has three small women as the presumptive boots? Things are changing in the history of Survivor strategy. I think we are seeing an evolution in the way the entire game is played.”

Spencer said he wouldn’t be surprised by any change.

Ciera disagreed, sticking to her numbers game.

It was time to vote.

Ciera voted for Savage.

Abi and Kass voted for Tasha.

Kelly, Jeremy, Joe and Spencer voted for Ciera.

Kelley, Keith, Kimmi, Savage, Tasha and Stephen voted for Kass.

When Kass got up to get her torch, Ciera told her she was sorry.

Jeff sent them back to camp saying the rest of the season should be a wild ride.

The Story

Kass’s elimination at the merge was probably the event that inspired the editors to use Karma as a theme for this season. It really was perfect symmetry: Chaos Kass had come to life in Survivor at the Cagayan merge so it was her Karma to see her game end at this merge. She really made a terrible mistake last week when she showed her hand one round too early. At least that’s the way it was presented. It’s very possible that Kass never stood a chance and that Tasha would have used the first opportunity to eliminate her. Bayon simply didn’t go to Tribal Council when they were both on it in its first version.

This brings us to the following: Was this vote an evolution in the game as Stephen suggested or was it simply the result of the early merge combined with the annihilation of the Ta Keo challenge threats?  The three remaining big guys were aligned from day one so they weren’t going to target each other right away. This vote, as evidenced by Keith and Joe having to grab new torches, was a typical first tribal boot: Eliminate the irritating player that doesn’t fit.

The start of Act II quickly put aside the Ta Keo Final Five alliance, the Bayon alliance of “Bros” taking over instead. However, we saw that Spencer and Joe controlled this vote so the geometry of the group is still fluctuating. Savage may want to group to stick together, but his beautiful tribe’s days are counted.

The Characters

Kimmi, Keith, Kelly: There isn’t much to say about these three players. They are simply going along for now, trusted allies that vote with the group. The only difference among the three is that Kelly isn’t an original Bayon, but she is accepted as such. It makes me wonder if that will prove fatal to the Bayon boys.

Abi: Her silence last week held some promise, but there had to be a follow-up this week to explain her change. Instead, we got more silence and that told us that Abi isn’t going to be a factor down the road. Tasha was supposed to be Abi’s closest ally, but she voted against her without even an explanation. The editors even cut the footage a second before the hug they were about to share at the reunion. Abi’s role has been reduced to nothing.

Savage: Things are going well right now for the “happiest man alive”.   Savage would like to show these young studs that he can compete, but he should worry about the tacticians instead. By his own words, this game is being played above his head and he can’t read the others very well. He was unable to convince his allies of the need to get rid of Ciera and I expect he will suffer because of it. A group will soon use her vote to get rid of him. This merge smiled on Andrew, but the rest of the game should be much less friendly.

Stephen: Even if he is in the game, it looks like Stephen is more like a commentator than a competitor. He told us that the players were about to pounce after the feast, but we never saw him getting into the act. At Tribal Council, he talked about the evolution of the game as if he had already returned to his weekly podcast. Stephen is waiting to make his move, but it could turn against him.

Ciera: From the players’ point of view, it looked like Ciera was in over her head when she tried to flip the game. Very few were actually buying her salad. However, she was saying what Jeff wanted to hear during Tribal Council so we have to give her words more importance than they deserve. According to her, those that went along with the Bayon boys weren’t playing to win and that certainly doesn’t bode well for Spencer who may have made the crucial mistake of turning his back on the two that had just saved him.

Tasha: If the only thing she learned from her first season was not to trust Kass then Tasha is in for a rude awakening. Despite the hardship she endured in Angkor, the season’s recap focused on her happy days in Bayon. It seems that it was Tasha’s mission to get rid of Kass so good for her, but there’s still a long road ahead and she just ran out of story material.

Joe: A merge at thirteen isn’t ideal for a player like Joe. It means too many opportunities to go to Tribal Council without the necklace. It was good that he had options at the merge, but it would have been better if he hadn’t been forced to choose sides immediately. Joe can’t rest on this one move. He will need to change the dynamics and not let Andrew and Jeremy decide on everything if he is to make it to the end. The problem is that most everyone else will also want him gone.

Jeremy: He had a very strong pre-merge and the recap nicely highlighted his game up to this point but then he didn’t get a strong merge episode. His position in the tribe meant that Andrew and Spencer had to talk to him but both times it was their confessionals that we heard. Jeremy’s only confessional was to present the idea of splitting the votes, an idea that almost backfired. His close association with the very arrogant and happy Savage is not a good sign. His position at the top of the Bayon alliance isn’t either considering the underdog and karma themes of this season. Jeremy’s biggest hope is that he isn’t on anyone’s radar. Ciera tried to paint him as a target, but no one has told us that they are considering eliminating him yet. His tactic of using shields is working…for now.

Spencer: He has played a very big role up to now and he may very well have all the ingredients to be this season’s winner. He didn’t seize his second chance during the challenge as Jeff pointed out but that isn’t very troubling. We’ve seen big changes in Spencer and they were never more evident than when he shook Andrew’s hand at the beginning of the episode. Spencer does have allies for once and he also has options. The problem is that the edit indicated that he made a mistake by eliminating Kass. The confessional he gave just before Tribal Council put the decision in his hands and that is what matters here even if his vote wouldn’t have made a difference in the end. According to Ciera, it was as if he wasn’t playing to win. His reply to her challenge didn’t have the same impact. He was right to say that the best play will be different at the next Tribal Council, but Ciera demanded immediate action. He will probably pay for sending Kass to the jury. We already know that Andrew will never write his name again!

Kelley: If this was only about analyzing the edit then Kelley would be an easy pick for Sole Survivor. The recap included her comment about wanting to win even if there was no need for it. She was shown playing hard and fast when she grabbed the idol during a challenge when the same image could have been used to advance Jeremy’s story and she gave us confessionals at every step of the way after the merge. The only problem is that her game didn’t match her edit. She was on the wrong side and we didn’t hear her at the very end of the episode to explain why she changed her vote. We have no idea if the others, Spencer and Joe, in particular, knew what she was doing. If they think she was the one that voted against Savage, for example, they will not trust her. On the other hand, by not telling us why Kelley voted along with the group then she wasn’t really part of the group of players that Ciera said weren’t there to win.

I will assume that she talked to Spencer and Joe after the blow up created by Ciera and Kass and that the three agreed to go with the Bayon Boys for now, waiting for the right moment to make the big move and that it will carry her to the end. After all, big moves offer much more chances of success at final 9 than at final 13!

If we look at the original tribes, we had hints that the winner was in the original Ta Keo when Terry said that eliminating a very strategic player like Shririn would be a feather in the cap for anyone making it to the finals. We had another hint that the winner was in the new Ta Keo when Keith said that they had to make Terry proud. Finally, the merge presented the new Bayon tribe as the more enthusiastic one, the one that looked more fun. If those hints point to the winner than the only player who was in all three tribes is Kelley.

This was the merge episode, but we had so many players making it that I don’t feel confident enough to make an official pick. There are still big questions to answer but if the trend is maintained then Kelley will be our Sole Survivor.

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