Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers: Episode 7

Survivor

I honestly don’t think there’s much I can say that would add to the conversation about this week’s Tribal Council. Instead, I’d rather just direct you to Zeke’s own written response (see here) and get to talking about my players to watch for the upcoming week. His write-up does the situation 150-200% more justice than I ever could. Suffice it to say that I give mad props to Zeke for how well he’s handled this whole thing and I think it’s of utmost importance that we remember Jeff Varner is still a person.

With that said, let’s move on to the players to watch next week.

Ozzy: With the preview spoiling that next week is a merge, it’s important to keep your eye on someone like Ozzy. He’s this season’s traditional merge boot and has a history of misplaying the social game at this point in a season. This next week should really tell us quite a bit about Ozzy’s winning potential. He should have a solid core alliance with Zeke, Sarah, and Andrea. Plus, I think he has a shot to pull in Brad and Troyzan (the two alpha-males might be smart to protect each other for at least a few weeks). However, everyone knows he is a major immunity threat going forward, which makes the next few boots very important for Ozzy. If he’s able to latch onto a tight majority alliance, he has a chance to make it to Final 6, at least.

Tai: My big question for Tai is what he’s going to do with his idols going into the merge. Does he show someone to potentially strengthen/build an alliance? Does he play one just to be safe, knowing he has one in his back pocket? It’s hard to say what the right move is for Tai, but I think those idols (or Troyzan’s) are going to play a part in the next episode, even if it’s just a red herring.

Sierra: Sierra seems to have Brad (and Troyzan, by association) firmly in her camp, but who else is a guaranteed number? Michaela might be on her side; however, I wonder if Aubry or Hali will jump given that they haven’t been shown to be super tight with Sierra and Brad’s alliance? Either way, Sierra appears to have an important part to play in this season’s narrative and I wonder what move she’ll be making at the merge.

Sarah: Is it just me or does it feel like Sarah’s game is finally starting to heat up? We’ve slowly been getting more of her perspective in confessionals and that either signifies that she’s about to get cut from the game or her arc is beginning to shape into something important for the end game. This week could be a make or break one for Sarah’s game. She needs to make some moves and now might be the time to do so.

Zeke: This one is pretty obvious. Anytime Zeke is on the screen will be must-watch after last week. How will he handle the fallout of Varner’s move? I’m assuming he’ll want to downplay it as much as possible, but will his tribemates let him? I sure hope so. Zeke is an exceptional game player and I expect him to quickly recover. If Zeke isn’t in the majority after the merge, I’ll be surprised.

That’s all for today. It’s almost merge time, people!

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers Episode 5

Survivor

Was J.T.’s exit a demonstration of excellent manipulation by Michaela, Sandra, and Varner? Or is it just further proof that maybe Stephen Fishbach did all of the strategy steering during J.T.’s run to the Tocantins million?

survivor-gamechangers-michaela-bradshaw-sipping-tea-tribal-council

Personally, I think it’s somewhere in between. I mean, I cannot fathom someone sitting at Tribal Council, listening to someone repeatedly talk about how they “know they’re going home”, and actually believe that there isn’t some secondary plan I need to be worrying about. It seemed like J.T. was sipping his own Kool-Aid just a biiiit too hard and truly believed that he had pulled this masterclass move.

Unfortunately for the cowboy, it was Michaela who was pulling a masterclass at Tribal Council. She (and her alliance) correctly assumed how J.T. would react if she basically acted like she was lying down at the final moment. Sure, she was still cocky; however, she also gave off the air of someone who had given up hope. It was perfect.

And J.T. bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. It’s hard to remember a more perfect blindside from the last several years of Survivor. This one had it all. Sandra stirring up the pot by eating all the sugar. J.T. keeping that idol at camp (not even in his pocket!). Heck, we had our first “coffee sip” moment at Tribal. Just incredible. What a magnificent play by Michaela, Sandra, and Varner. They played J.T. like an Alabama fiddle and set up a dangerous foursome moving forward.

Not only was the move memorable, but I believe it was second-level smart. Listen, Jeff Varner’s last season was the twist-heavy Cambodia that saw a number of tribal shuffles. If anyone was going to sniff out the upcoming switch, it’s Varner. If they weren’t switching, you’re basically guaranteeing that you go right back to Tribal when you vote off J.T., but with the shuffle, it doesn’t really matter if you eliminate a physical player. An excellent reading of both the player (J.T.) and the game.

WHO TO WATCH

Aubry: Aubry is a great Survivor player and maybe the best confessional from an excellent Kaoh Rong cast. So, to see her regulated to maybe one confessional per episode and a minor part in the current storyline is pretty sad. Plus, she just found herself on the wrong side of a blindside at the last Tribal and has lost almost every early game ally she had. Where does she go from here? Does she stick with Varner, Sandra, and Michaela if any of them stick with her after the switch or does she look to jump ship? Aubry is not in a very good place right now, but if anyone can bring her game back from the brink, I think it’s her.

Debbie: What happened to Debbie? She was even more delusional than usual last week in her tirade against Brad. Did she even watch the challenge she was complaining about? If I’m Brad Culpepper, I would have seriously considered throwing that immunity challenge just to get Debbie out of there and protect myself from the wrath that is surely coming if Debbie makes the merge. I really questioned Brad’s choice last week in getting out Malcolm and I think this one might have been worse. He’s tossing his friends out of the game almost as quickly as he’s making enemies. Not a good look for someone with #winnersedit potential. That said, I’m really interested to see what Debbie does next. Here’s hoping she and Brad stay on the same tribe.

Brad: If you’re scoring at home, Brad Culpepper is one of two physical alpha males left in the game (the other being Ozzy). Yes, Sierra, Michaela, and Sarah are solid physical competitors, but the two traditional merge boots left are Culpepper and Ozzy. And that’s largely because Brad has directly and indirectly sent three of the other alpha males home over the last few episodes. That leaves Brad with nearly no one to hide behind, meaning his game is going to become very, very difficult if he doesn’t try to team up with Ozzy and keep him in the game. If these two end up on the same tribe, they have to work together. And if they don’t….one them will go very soon.

Sandra: The last player I’m really keeping my eye on as we watch another tribe shuffle is Sandra. If you’re going to get Sandra pre-merge, this is the time to do it. You switch tribes and then you pick her off before she can wrangle numbers. This woman is too dang good at building alliances and if you don’t get her out now, you might never get another chance. If Sandra makes it through this week, I love her chances to make it to Day 39.

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers Episode 3

Survivor

With my increasingly busy schedule, it’s become exceptionally difficult to find time to write about Survivor (or anything for that matter). However, there is something about this game that compels me to continue talking about it. After this past week’s thrilling tribal council, I decided it was time to get back to some Survivor strategy. Hopefully I can keep up with the season in this spot, but we’ve seen how that turned out in the past. Either way, let’s talk about what happened last week.

The first thing we have to talk about is obviously going to be that tribal council. Specifically, I want to focus on Brad Culpepper’s move. If you’re in Brad’s spot, you must be feeling good. Last week, you cut Caleb and essentially guaranteed that Tai is going to be loyal to you for quite awhile because he has no where else to go. That was an awesome move that proved Brad came to actually be a game changer this time around.

But I think Brad got too greedy this week. He seemed to pick up that Malcolm was the only person keeping JT afloat over Nuku tribe. Since it worked so well with Tai, he targeted Malcolm. After all, that would bring JT right into Culpepper’s arms and knock out another strong player. On the surface, it’s probably a great move. I think it’s going to be a big mistake.

Look at where JT is sitting now. If Nuku goes to tribal next week, he’s gone. Sure, he could find an idol and play it, but with the information we have, he’s out. If Brad cuts Sandra instead of Malcolm, JT and Malcolm could easily control where the next vote goes, dropping someone like Varner or Michaela. Then, when we hit the merge, and Brad scoops up two huge targets (read: meat shields) that will likely feel that he’s trustworthy because he knocked off Sandra instead of Malcolm.

Essentially, voting off Malcolm is (at least as far as we can see) the equivalent of a swing of four votes (you lose the two votes you would have and give them to the other side). That’s a rough place to be in. Now, I fully believe that Brad can come back from this. He’s shown this season that he learned a lot from his first time out and his duo with Sierra Dawn Thomas is extremely dangerous. However, Brad is the physical threat out of those two and without JT and Malcolm to protect him, he might be ousted earlier than he’d like.

That said, what a tribal council! I cannot remember the vote every being so up in the air and I certainly haven’t seen anyone running around discussing the vote quite like that. Plus, an incredible idol play by Tai and another big blunder from JT that has to be on par with his letter to Russell in Heroes vs. Villains. Can the season possibly top that moment? Well, before we find out, let’s take a look at some the Survivors I’m watching closely as we move through the next week.

survivor-gamechangers-jt-teary-eyed-after-malcolm-boot

JT : Obviously we have to keep our eye on JT. He’s in the worst position among anyone in the game. I cannot fathom a scenario where JT is not the next person voted out at Nuku if he doesn’t find the idol. Culpepper really screwed over his former ally. I think there might be a sliver of hope in the form of an alliance with Aubry and Varner against Sandra, but that’s probably just me trying to find a way to get JT to the merge than something that may actually happen.

Aubry/Jeff Varner: Sticking with the Nuku tribe, I really want to find out what’s going on with these two. We have heard from them in bits and pieces, but they have yet to feel important to the season’s ongoing narrative. That leads me to believe that neither has a big impact on the outcome of the season, but they are both so bright and such good narrators that it’s hard to see their talents being wasted in the early part of the season. Here’s hoping that changes next week because I believe this duo could do some real damage if they get together.

Cirie: The “Original Gangster” made it through what was always going to be one of the tougher parts of the game. Those first few votes, players tend to want to keep “strong” people around and Cirie is never going to be seen as a physical asset (though the girl can do her some puzzles). Plus, she had Ozzy gunning for her due to her past betrayal. Now that she’s through the early game rush, what can this strategic mastermind pull together? We’ve seen Jedi mindtrick her way into a great situation in the past and it feels like something is brewing. Very interested to see what she does from here.

Debbie:  Debbie has to be on the watch list this week after her volatile scene for next week’s preview. And if we didn’t know something big was coming for Debbie, the broad’s a gamer. You know she’s going to bring great TV until her very last in-game breath. I’m captivated by Debbie on most occasions, so going into an episode knowing she’s about to explode on someone is a real treat. Here’s hoping episode four delivers on what are sure to be sky-high expectations.

Survivor Second Chance – Week 4 Power Rankings

Survivor

Is there ever going to be a week of this show that isn’t completely insane? As a viewer, I’m not complaining, but it sure is making my power rankings look bad when the game is constantly flipping every two seconds. Oh well, at least I had the boot down for Angkor. Can I do it two weeks in a row? Doubt it.

17) Jeff Varner (-11)

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 8   Total: 14  

We armchair Survivor players are going to break apart Varner’s game and say that he played too hard and too fast and, while that’s probably a correct assumption, it takes away from how great it was to watch Varner play.

He was screwed by the tribe expansion and couldn’t dig himself out of the hole got in when he tried to talk to Wiglesworth following an immunity challenge. And even with his back against the wall and a tribe with zero reason to keep him, he almost talked himself out of elimination. That’s insane. Varner is an incredible player and if anyone deserves a Third Chance, it’s this guy.

16) Keith Nale (-6)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 5   Total: 14

Keith didn’t do anything this wrong except for be hard of hearing. And, to be fair, he’s 55 years old, so maybe he’s just an early candidate for hearing aids. Other than that lackluster performance by Grandpa Nale, Keith was barely seen in episode four.

15) Abi-Maria Gomes (-12)

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 10   Total: 15  

I don’t know how much longer I can survive Hurricane Abi. She is everything I can’t stand in a Survivor player. Completely ruled by her emotions and barely a blip on the challenge radar. Surely, she is not long for this island. I don’t care how high her #GOATstatus is, she is just too big of a liability for anyone.

12 (tie) Ciera Eastin (0), Kelly Wiglesworth (0), & Kelley Wentworth (+4)

Strategy: 5 Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15

Ciera sat out a challenge. Wiglesworth got thrown under the bus by Spencer. Wentworth was unfairly mean to Kass in her only confessional of the season. Moving on.

11) Terry Deitz (-2)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15  

Deitz’s score is a little misleading. It was an impressive feat to see a 50-year-old man out hustle a 30-something-year-old firefighter. Deitz just outworked Jeremy in the Hero Challenge to win a reward for Ta Keo and solidify his status as a challenge beast. But then he was ignored by Kass during the immunity challenge and spent most of wandering around like a lost puppy that is also blind. It was not a good look for Terry. Thus, I’ve evening out the two scores and giving Terry and even-keeled 15.

10) Kimmi Kappenberg (+2)

Strategy: 5  Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16  

Kimmi didn’t do much this episode (which seems to be her M.O.); however, she was much more calm than Kass and Varner as the caller in the immunity challenge. That has to count for something.

9) Kass McQuillen (-1)

Strategy: 7 Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 6   Total: 16  

Kass gets bonus points for actually trying to be nice to people and mostly succeeding. However, I can’t watch how poorly she handled the pressure as her team’s caller in the immunity challenge and not dock her points. She got flustered early and screamed at her team until she was blue in the face. It didn’t seem like anyone except Joe responded and that’s not a great sign for her future.

8) Monica Padilla (+4)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17  

Monica got a confessional this week, which clearly makes her the breakout star of the #NothingGirls thus far. Plus, she’s smart to not trust Spencer and, though a girl’s alliance is cliché and boring, it’s probably her only real move if Bayon ends up at Tribal Council.

7) Stephen Fishbach (+4)

Strategy: 5 Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17  

I go back-and-forth on whether I love or hate Fishbach consistently downplaying any ability he has in a challenge. However, after being somewhat frustrated last week, I think I’ve come around on his strategy. Last week, he wasn’t putting together the puzzle himself, but he was being helpful by stealing strategy from Ta Keo. And this week he looked much helpful than he has in the past without being threatening.

That said, the Fishbach highlight of this episode was the confirmation that he and Jeremy are working together. Of course, Jeremy wants to be the JT to Fishbach’s Fishbach, so it’s not all roses for Stephen. However, he’s in a much better slot than when Savage was still on this tribe.

6) Woo Hwang (+11)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 7   Total: 18 

Woo will never be the strategic mastermind, especially not among this crew of Survivor vets. That said, he’s quietly shown that he’s grown a lot since Cagayan and is playing this game hard. His duel of pitches against Varner at Tribal Council was some of the best television of this season and I don’t think Cagayan Woo could’ve pulled that off. Woo appears to be in a good spot in the short-term. Of course, who knows how long that will last in a game this crazy.

5) Spencer Bledsoe (+2)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 8   Entertainment: 5   Total: 19  

For the most part, Spencer stayed under the radar in this episode. Sure, he’s throwing Wiglesworth under the bus at every chance he gets, but even that seems subdued for the Young Lad. In fact, his only real moment was his “win when it counts” exclamation at the end of the immunity challenge. It was a super cocky move, but Spencer was the key cog in that win, so he’s free to shout whatever he wants.

4) Andrew Savage (0)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 7   Total: 20  

Savage was very impressive in the Hero Challenge; putting the team on his back to get Angkor a much-needed reward win. But then, much like Deitz, he gassed out in the immunity challenge, failing to impress when it actually mattered. Is this a sign of things to come for Probst’s best friend? Or just a blip on the radar for the sexiest 50-year-old in Cambodia? I’m thinking closer to the latter, but only time will tell.

3) Tasha Fox (+2)

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 8   Total: 20

Tasha deserves quite a bit of credit for trying to appease Hurricane Abi when she didn’t have to. Abi-Maria could’ve voted for anyone and it would not have changed the fact that Varner was going home this week. Tasha did not have to spend her entire day talking Abi down from the ledge, but she did and that should serve her in the long term. Abi is so volatile that anyone who pisses her off is begging to be sent home. Therefore, keeping her happy (when, again, she didn’t need to) was Tasha’s priority number one. She pulled it off and her alliance is sitting pretty heading into week five.

2) Jeremy Collins (-1)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 7   Total: 20

Jeremy drops from the top spot mostly due to a very subpar Hero Challenge performance. Just looking at the three candidates, you’d assume this was Jeremy’s challenge to win. He’s going up against two 50-year-olds in a contest that calls for you to run through the water. Jeremy looks like he’s in incredible shape, but he was gassed early and failed to beat two guys that have more than 10 years on him.

That said, Jeremy redeemed himself by continuing to improve his position in Bayon by solidifying his spot with Stephen and turning in a solid performance at the immunity challenge. Because of that, he might just be in the best place out of anyone this point and I could easily see a Jeremy-Stephen-Spencer trio getting deep into this game.

1) Joe Anglim (+1)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 10   Entertainment: 5   Total: 21

Joe beasted yet another challenge by sprinting through the blindfolded immunity challenge while Deitz and the rest of his tribe were lost in the corner. That was an impressive display of Joe’s immense talent. He has all the skills it takes to win in this game and, unfortunately, everyone knows it.

Joe will get to around the Final 7 on pure talent alone. I just can’t see him getting much further. So, make sure to enjoy God’s gift to Survivor for now, because we’re probably four or five weeks from seeing his torch get snuffed.

Next Boot:

Angkor: Abi. Woo might seem like the easy out here and, if they think the merge is coming soon, they might go that way. That said, I think Tasha feels like she can control Woo more easily than Abi and is beginning to see that keeping Abi around is just asking for her name to be written down.

Bayon: Monica. Given what we’ve seen in the “Next Time on Survivor” clip, it looks like someone on Bayon has pissed Kimmi off, and that person happens to be a woman. I don’t see Wiglesworth as someone who’s going to try and shake things up at this point, so Monica would be her target. It looks like Monica’s girl-alliance won’t be lasting very long.

Ta Keo: Deitz. As I said last week, even if people want to get Kelley out, she’ll play her idol and send Deitz home. His only chance is to split the majority alliance and try to get them to gun for Keith or Ciera. If the tribe things the merge is a few more weeks away, I could see them trying to keep the tribe strong and get Ciera out, but that seems like a long-shot.

Survivor Second Chance Week 4 – Hurricane Abi Takes No Prisoners

Survivor

After how utterly demoralized the Angkor tribe was after the tribe expansion last week, it was tough to envision a scenario that saw them make any progress toward being a competitive tribe. Enter the Hero Challenge.

Savage stepped up to the plate to try and win some meat for Angkor in a contest against Jeremy from Bayon and Deitz from Ta Keo. It didn’t look great early, but Savage made a late game comeback and got a victory for his tribe.

It all seemed to be turning around for Angkor. God Savage had given his tribe almost as much meat as I eat on a good Saturday night and it looked like there might be some tribe loyalty being cultivated.

Well, not so fast. Angkor again struggled in the Immunity Challenge because, when Savage doesn’t get to do the challenge on his own, it means the tribe has to rely on Jeff Varner. That’s never a good thing.

As you can probably guess, Angkor lost, yet again, sending them right back to tribal council. But before we got there, we needed to see some scrambling.

The duo of Savage and Tasha quickly made it clear that they would play this vote logically and get out the one person who is a huge liability and challenges and has proven to be a schemer. Woo knew that it was between him and Varner, so he was voting for Jeff, meaning that, no matter how Abi voted, it was going to be, at worst, a 3-2 split with Varner going home.

But that’s logical and Abi-Maria doesn’t know what that word means. She was insistent that Woo needed to go home because Jeff was loyal to her and Woo had written her name down twice.

Now, both of these things are true, but Abi had to know she was behind the numbers and that, regardless of how she voted, Jeff was going home. What’s the point of fighting with your tribemates over a vote that can be decided without you? The only thing you’re doing is putting a target on your back as someone who isn’t willing to work with people.

Tasha said it perfectly when she commented that Abi is a classic “contrarian” and that “if you say something is blue, Abi will say it’s yellow”. That’s not playing Survivor well. That’s taking what the majority alliance is telling you, seeing that they’re willing to protect you because you’re #GOATstatus, and then spitting in their face.

Abi is terrible at Survivor, but she’s great at being compelling television. I’m very interested to see what is revealed in Varner’s exit interviews because he seemed to have some excellent arguments for the tribe to keep him. It appeared that he almost turned Savage and I wonder if Abi’s constant arguing with Tasha hurt his case.

Either way, Varner gets the unlucky boot. He might have been hurt the most by the tribe swap, even though his old Ta Keo tribemates had the numbers advantage in Angkor. In the end, Varner just played too hard, too fast. That said, I think he also played himself into a third season, if he wants it. He’s just too fun to watch for Probst and the casting crew to not do everything it takes to bring him back for one more rodeo.

Other Highlights:

#KuddlesKass is taking the most advantage of her second chance. She’s actually changing how people view her and giving herself a real opportunity to go far in this game. Like many, I assumed Kass would be out in the first three or four episodes at best. She’s proving me wrong by building friendship bracelets, of all things. It is confirmed, she in no longer “a little turd”.

In the edit, Jeremy looks incredibly well positioned right now. He’s bonding with Spencer over the women in their lives, he’s talking strategy with Stephen and trying to become the “new JT”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Monica or Kimmi have a solid relationship given how well he worked with the women of his tribe in his original season. Of course, that means Jeremy is probably in for a downfall soon. The #WinnersEdit is too strong, too early for me to have hope in my personal favorite. So, enjoy it now Jeremy fans. He might not be long for this island.

Monica Padilla is in this game people! Was this her first confessional? It’s certainly the first I remember. Of course, it was just the typical “girl power”-esque confessional that every girl ever gives, but it was a moment! Is this the start of her ascension to the top of the Cambodia mountain? Does Cambodia have mountains? Probably not to the latter and Google says yes, Cambodia does have mountains.

What a great immunity challenge. It had hilarity, it had heart, it even had a tribe completely gassed and giving out. The best moments were Deitz constantly being lost, Joey Amazing just dominating the blindfolded portion of the challenge, the countless number of people getting hurt (Abi screaming, “AYYYE” was probably the best of these moments), and Kass screaming at people like an overcaffeinated drill sergeant.

That’s all for this week. Will next week finally bring the downfall of #AbiTime? Or will Angkor finally get their act together? Only time will tell, but here’s hoping that the lens gets shifted someone else, just this once.

Survivor Second Chance – Week Three Power Rankings

Survivor

This past week has been absolutely insane at my workplace, so, instead of posting my usual two articles, I’m just posting a very truncated version of my power rankings. Hopefully next week will be a return to my more in-depth analysis.

18) Peih-Gee Law

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 6   Total: 12

Peih-Geesus shoulda stuck with Varner as the out. Going after Hurricane Gomes was just too much for the fragile Angokor alliance to handle. Sucks to have a top tier player out so early.

17) Woo Hwang

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 14

Can Woo buy a break? He sure can’t find one on his own. At least the #WooFace continues to be hilarious. Better luck next time, buddy.

16) Kelley Wentworth

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 15

Kelley takes a tumble this week because I think she’s misplaying her new tribe. She and Deitz are on the wrong side of the numbers and she’s overplaying it right now. She’s trying way too hard to get the target on Deitz and it might cost her the hidden idol. Hopefully Ta Keo continues to dominate challenges.

12 (tie) Ciera Eastin, Kelly Wiglesworth, Monica Padilla, & Kimmi Kappenberg

Strategy: 5 Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15

In a shining moment of the #NothingGirls, Monica actually had a confessional this week. Of course, she did nothing in it, which seems appropriate.

11) Stephen Fishbach

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 6   Total: 15

Fishbach should probably participate in a challenge at some point. I get the idea behind trying not to look like a threat, but, at this point, you’re just hurting your tribe and putting yourself in a position to go to Tribal Council.

10) Keith Nale

Strategy: 5  Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16

Keith can pull a wagon pretty hard. Good job Keith.

9) Terry Deitz

Strategy: 6 Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 17

Deitz, unlike Wentworth, is slow-playing his new tribe. This is the smarter move on the surface, but Wentworth has the idol and that could screw Deitz over.

8) Kass McQuillen

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 5   Total: 17

Kass did a great job in the challenge. Helping Joey Amazing dominate the puzzle and get Ta Keo the first of what could be a string of victories.

7) Spencer Bledsoe

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 7   Total: 19

Spencer proves he has feelings by talking about a story where he shows no feelings. #Logic. But seriously, it’s a good move to open up to Jeremy who is the power player on that tribe. The Young Lad looks to be in a good spot right now.

6) Jeff Varner

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 9   Total: 20

Does Varner even show up to challenges? Also, how much longer can his gameplay keep him in the game? He’s overplaying everything, but somehow staying in, so you have to give him props. That said, I can’t see him lasting too much longer.

5) Tasha Fox

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 8   Total: 20

Tasha did an excellent job of flipping the numbers away from her and Savage. It was her gameplay that ultimately saved them, but I thought she performed relatively poorly in the challenge. That said, her “we got a rat” moment was the highlight of the episode.

4) Andrew Savage

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 7   Total: 21

Savage mostly just sat around and let Tasha make moves. Because of that, he’s now in a pretty good place and shouldn’t be the first out the next time Angkor goes to Tribal Council.

3) Abi-Maria Gomes

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 10   Total: 21

Abi sucks at everything that’s not making good TV. That said, she somehow got the numbers to go after Peih-Gee, who is a rational human being. As opposed to Abi, whom is a grenade waiting to explode. At this point, she has to be the most likely goat of the season and might just be the safest person on the Angkor tribe. Survivor, everyone.

2) Joe Anglim

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 10   Entertainment: 6   Total: 21

Don’t stop being you, Joe.

1) Jeremy Collins

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 10   Entertainment: 7   Total: 24

That idol grab though.

Next Boot:

Angkor: Varner. Woo seems like the easy boot, but I think Savage and Tasha will flip to get out the schemer and keep the Woo. I don’t think Savage or Tasha will go because I can’t see Abi and Woo working together after her comments at the end of tribal last week. And Abi won’t go because #GOATstatus.

Ta Keo: Deitz. People will want to vote for Kelley Wentworth, but she’ll play her idol and force out Deitz. That’s too bad because Deitz is a much more interesting player than Keith.

Bayon: One of the girls. Wiglesworth is the obvious option and probably the most likely. However, my mind would not be blown if Monica or Kimmi went home. All three are basically dead weight (though Wiglesworth does sort of contribute in challenges) and, outside of challenging Abi for the goat throne, none have anything to offer viewers.

Survivor Second Chance – Week Two Power Rankings

Survivor

The second week of my power rankings brings quite a bit of shakeup, following Shirin’s boot. That obviously hurt her quite a bit, but also dropped Spencer down quite a few spots. On the positive side, Deitz and Abi both saw big gains and would be positioned solidly if not for the upcoming split that takes us from two tribes to three.

Because of that, it’s hard to see how well these rankings hold up after next week. It seems likely that we’re going to see some massive shakeups. Therefore, I’m going to include a “most-likely” eliminated category at the end of this post. Anyways, on to the rankings!

19) Shrin Oskooi

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 6   Total: 12

Shirin found herself on the outs this week after failing to come to Abi-Maria’s side after Peih-Gee and Abi had a fight. Shirin came into the season wanting to play with “logical”, “strategic” players and assumed that, on a season of second chances, everyone else would play the same as she did. Unfortunately, that’s not Survivor and Shirin’s failings in building relationships was her downfall. Plus, she didn’t help herself by screwing up the puzzle during the immunity challenge.

17(tie) Kimmi Kappenberg and Kass McQuillen

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 5   Total: 14

Neither Kappenberg nor Kass did much this week besides listen to Savage talk about his spread of Playboy magazines. Oh, and how much he misses his wife, but I couldn’t focus on his story after he began by basically saying, “so my supermodel wife came in and my office was covered in Playboys”. What woman comes into a grown man’s office and decides, “This is something I want” in that moment? Very strange. Anyways, I’m docking Kapp and Kass a point because they had a lead heading into the immunity puzzle and gave it away, only for Joey Amazing to steal the show and win it for Bayon anyways.

16) Stephen Fishbach

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 14

Fishbach continues to be solid confessional; however, I’m starting to seriously question his “Know-It-All” status. Your tribe has already branded you an Idol hunter and a schemer and instead of laying low and praying to the island gods, you keep bringing up the Idol. I get Fishbach, I do. You’re thinking that if more people are seen as looking for clues then the target slides off your back a little. However, you’re failing massively to read the social clues and actually assess the situation. It was obvious Jeremy was torn up because he misses his wife and trying to throw shade in front of Savage (someone who already wants you out, by the way) was the last thing you should be doing. Fishbach is playing pretty sloppily so far, but I think the split will help him quite a bit.

12 (tie) Ciera Eastin, Kelly Wiglesworth, Monica Padilla, & Tasha Fox

Strategy: 5 Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15

Wiglesworth and Tasha join Ciera and Monica in the ranks of women who aren’t doing anything of note this week. Ciera, at the very least, had the moment where it was decided that she brings so little to her tribe athletically that she should sit out of the challenge. These people are barely playing right now, which means they’ll be super important post-merge…probably.

11) Keith Nale

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16

Much like the logjam of ladies at the twelve spot, Keith was almost invisible this week. I’m giving him a point in the “Challenge” category because he was deemed stronger than Fishbach in the Immunity challenge, so there’s that.

10) Spencer Bledsoe

Strategy: 4  Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 7 Total: 17

Spencer took an eight-point plunge this week, but, unlike Shirin, he’s still in the game, so he’ll take it. I actually think, regardless of the tribe split, Spencer’s in a good spot. He lost his biggest ally, which forces him to take a much more subdued approach to pre-merge game and play humbly. I think that helps the young lad in the short-term and sets him up for a solid run after the merge. That said, I think the split is going to take this a different way and allow Spencer to continue to try and dominate this season’s strategy. We’ll see if he’s successful or not.

9) Peih-Gee Law

Strategy: 6 Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

Peih-Gee gets some points here for continuing to be around, which continues to set off Abi and make for good TV. Plus, PG has found herself on the right side of the numbers twice in a row after the tribe has flipped. I think she and Jeff Varner have a shot at being a power couple that might just dominate the game.

8) Woo Hwang

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 7  Total: 17

Woo impressed this week when he shut down Spencer and Shirin’s deal. I think Cagayan Woo takes that deal and gets burned. Woo’s shown some growth and him being straight up in his refusal to Spencer and Shirin was one of the best moments of the night.

7) Terry Deitz

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

Terry the Challenge Beast has feelings? What? Deitz played counselor for Abi-Maria and that’s basically the reason Shirin went home. It wasn’t the biggest move in Survivor, but it’s small moves like this that win Survivor. Deitz is growing as a player before our eyes and it’s been a great experience so far.

6) Abi-Maria Gomes

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 9   Total: 18

I don’t think Abi has a strategy outside of “piss people off”. Even before she flipped, her single move was to be annoying. Thus, I can’t give her any points for strategy, because she doesn’t have one. That said, only one person on this season has been more entertaining and he seems to plan on bringing Abi to the end, so, in spite of everything she does, Abi is in a great spot.

5) Andrew Savage

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 7   Total: 19

Savage’s love of Playboy aside, I was impressed by his determination and will in the Immunity challenge this week. Savage struggled a bit getting over the A-frames, even falling off at one point. But then he dug deep and ripped his hands to shreds to get his team a lead in the box-pulling portion of the challenge. That showed me how bad he wants this. I don’t know if he’s strategic enough to get it, but, even at his advanced age, he’s a massive physical threat.

4) Kelley Wentworth

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 19

Kelley did not actually do much this week and that’s what gets her so high on the list. It would’ve been easy to see her trying to keep her alliance with Shirin and Spencer strong and hurt her own game in the process. However, she immediately flipped with the numbers and voted out her alliance. Staying with the numbers this early is key and, while it would’ve been great TV to see her use the Idol on Shirin and blindside someone like Varner, this move puts in her in a great long-term position.

3) Jeremy Collins

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 6   Total: 22

Jeremy and the Alpha Males stayed strong this week and they continued to successfully put the target squarely on Fishbach’s shoulders. Jeremy also played a big part in Bayon winning immunity for the second straight week. He and Joe were constantly shown helping weaker teammates over the A frames and the Alpha Males absolutely destroyed the box pulling portion of the challenge. A solid week for Jeremy, all around.

2) Jeff Varner

Strategy: 9   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 10   Total: 22

Varner is the best character on your television sets right now. Like Spencer said last week, “Jeff Varner is a crazy man”. Last week, he flipped on his pre-show alliance to vote out one of the few strong males on his tribe. This week, he somehow convinced them he would come back over and vote out one of the two major threats who had already successfully put together a majority alliance. Okay, good luck with that one Varner. No way it happens, but props for trying. Wait, what? Abi-Maria is another a fight? That’s not that surprising, but hold on. Is that Deitz comforting her instead of Shirin. That’s weird. Oh, now Abi’s flipped and Varner has her locked down? Okay, but I don’t think Peih-Gee would vote with Abi and Kelley seems locked with….wait. PG doesn’t care and will flip and Kelley is just going to follow the numbers? Jeff Varner you are insane, but it sure does work for you. Godspeed, you crazy animal.

1) Joe Anglim

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 10   Entertainment: 8   Total: 24

Is there anything Joe can’t do? He turns fishing nets into hammocks. He willed his do-nothing girls over the A-frames at the Immunity challenges. He beat Shirin and Spencer at puzzle solving. He builds his own fishery, for goodness sake! He is just better than you or I at everything in Survivor. And for all that work, he’s gone the second the merge ends. Thanks for playing Joe! Maybe you’ll get your Redemption Island season later on as a thank you victory from CBS.

Next Boot:

Before I get into who I think is on the chopping block next week, let’s take a look at the spoiled split tribes. I’m not sure if these are completely confirmed, but potential spoilers for the rest of this post.

Angkor : Abi, Varner, PG, Savage, Woo, Tasha

Bayon : Jeremy, Kelly, Spencer, Stephen, Kimmi, Monica

Ta Keo : Ciera, Joe, Kass, Keith, Kelley, Terry

So, looking at these tribes there are some pretty obvious first boots among the new tribes. For Angkor, I think Savage is in a super bad position. Varner and PG are a mighty dynamic duo and they’ve secured Abi and Woo’s votes this past week. Varner is going to view Savage as a mega-threat to his immediate game and this tribe looks to be the weakest physically, so I would not be surprised to see them at Tribal this next week.

The new Bayon is very interesting. On one hand, I can see Spencer and Stephen forming a duo and going after Jeremy. On the other, I get the feeling that Jeremy will continue forward with his “surround and drown” strategy by teaming up with the women to come after Fishbach. While I’d love to see Spencer and Fishbach make a power couple, I think one of those two is the likely first boots from new Bayon.

New Ta Keo looks the most wide-open of the three new tribes. Joe and Kass seem to be in a somewhat stable alliance and I think they could easily bring in Ciera for numbers. Terry and Keith may bond over their age and old-school approach. Which makes Kelley the wildcard. My gut says the first out here will either be Terry or Kass, but who knows with this group.

Thus, in no particular order, I’m guessing Savage, Fishbach or Terry will be the next person out of the game. Will I be correct? We’ll find out next week.

Survivor Second Chance Week 2 – From the Driver’s Seat to Roadkill

Survivor

Following last week’s premiere, I had Shirin placed pretty high in my Power Rankings and felt that she had a great opportunity to make it through the merge with her core alliance of Spencer, Abi, and Kelley. Boy, was I wrong.

Shirin and Spencer, for all their skills at strategizing, overlooked the importance of making real, emotional connections with people. For Spencer, that’s not surprising, but Shirin seemed like someone who could forge relationships if given the chance.

And it looked good at the start. Shirin had brought Abi-Maria in and seemed to have her locked down after helping save her last week. She also looked strong with Kelley, who has the hidden immunity idol and looks like a major player in this game. She even convinced Jeff Varner to jump to her side to get out Vytas!

But from the start of Week two’s episode, it was clear that Varner was only with Shirin and Spencer’s side for one week. He correctly identified them as two major threats to his game and immediately started working on Terry and Wiglesworth to get S&S out (one week after seemingly turning on the Old Schoolers, by the way).

Even without Varner, Shirin and Spencer seemed to be in a decent spot because they had Abi and Shirin looked to be making in-roads with Peih-Gee. Then it all quickly went down the toilet.

If you’ve seen the episode, you know that Peih-Gee and Shirin were talking smack about Abi, who just happened to overhear. From there, Abi was mostly restrained, but still obviously angry with the two women who were, ostensibly, in her alliance. That was bad enough, but then, with Abi sitting in the dark on her own, Shirin, Spencer, and the gang started making fun of her even more. Interestingly, Terry was the only person willing to go out and comfort Abi.

That right there was your episode. Abi is so emotional, that the second Shirin literally left her in the dark, she was going to latch on to whoever came to her aid. With Abi now on the side of the “Old-Schoolers”, it was very easy and smart for Kelley and Peih-Gee to follow the numbers and vote off either Spencer or Shirin.

Shirin was the right choice out of the two. She doesn’t help at all in challenges and she’s proven to be better at cultivating personal relationships. The tribe needs Spencer for challenges (though, it looks like we’re getting a tribe split next week) and, while he’s an outstanding strategic player, he still struggles to connect with people. Shirin is more dangerous in the short-term and Varner had to get her out ASAP.

Other Highlights:

Jeff Varner is just dominating this game (and the confessionals) thus far. He might be playing the game just a little too hard, but for now, he’s running his tribe. Personally, I wouldn’t love having to play with someone who flips alliances so easily. That said, he’s great TV. Can he keep up the maniac pace or will the constant gameplay come back to bite him? I can’t wait to find out.

Can I get Joey Amazing to come decorate my house? Did HGTV just get their next big show? Joey Amazing, Survivor Decorator. My girlfriend makes me watch enough HGTV that I know for a fact that show would sell.

Abi is going to be someone’s goat this year. She just cannot stop being annoying and catty. If she doesn’t make the merge, I’ll be very surprised. She’s a great shield and a valuable vote for a smart player like Varner. Shirin really crapped the bed by letting her get away from her alliance.

How hilarious is it that, when Jeremy has to take a moment after hearing Savage’s heartfelt story about his wife, Fishbach immediately tries to throw shade by saying Jeremy is looking for the Idol? He thinks has to do it because so many people have accused him of doing that exact same thing. On the surface that maybe seems like a smart move; however, he needs to consider who his tribe is. Savage (the de facto leader of Bayon) values personal connections and challenge strength and wants to get out schemers. Why would you not downplay your strategically mind to try and slip under the radar? Fishbach needs a tribe swap, and he needs it now.

Woo is certainly not a great strategic mind; however, I feel that last season, he’s much more likely to take Shirin and Spencer’s transparent deal. He seems to have grown a lot in his knowledge of the game from his time on Cagayan. Of course, others might see him continuing to play up the “honorable” strategy he had with Tony. That said, I think it shows some real Woo growth that he shut down Shirin and Spencer almost immediately.

A lot of people are drawing parallels between Abi in this season and Shirin in her original season. I just don’t see it past the surface level. Abi instigated a fight and was actively arguing with Peih-Gee. Shirin mostly sat there and took the verbal abuse Will was giving her. Not only that, but Shirin owned up to her mistakes while Will felt that he was completely justified. That seems like the big difference between the two situations. Shirin actually treated Abi like a person, Will did not.

Survivor Second Chance Power Rankings – Week 1

Survivor

With the first week of Survivor out of the way, I wanted to take some time to begin creating a weekly power ranking of each player. To do this, I’m going to judge players on three different criteria: Strategy, Challenge, and Entertainment.

Strategy speaks to how much control a contestant seems to have over the game. Are they on the right side of a vote? Did they orchestrate someone’s exit? Did they, as Vytas Baskauskas said in the premiere, “make a mistake”? This is how this category will be judged.

Challenge looks at how someone performed in that week’s challenge. Most people are going to get “5” in this category, because there’s usually only a few people that stand out week to week. That said, it’s unlikely Joe ever goes below a “9”. Joey Amazing cannot be stopped.

Finally, Entertainment is the most subjective of the three categories (and, let’s be honest, they’re all pretty subjective) and examines how watchable someone is. Do they instigate fights? Are they hilarious in confessionals? Is Woo being confused? You get the picture.

From there, I’ll take a total score and break ties as I see fit. As mentioned, this list will be incredibly subjective, so feel free to put your debates in the comments below.

20) Vytas Baskauskas

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 3   Total: 10

Vytas was actually a pretty good threat to win this game. He flashed big potential in his first season and that’s what made him the first boot. Vytas gets a very low strategy score because, obviously, he got voted out, but also because he trusted Terry Deitz and Kelly Wiglesworth just a little too much on Jeff Varner. Vytas seemed to have some doubts about Varner, but didn’t act them. That turned out to be a massive mistake. Entertainment takes a hit because no one was buying Vytoga.

19) Kelly Wiglesworth

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 4   Total: 10

Wiglesworth was a mess in the challenge and got absolutely torched by Joe Anglim. That was a bad sign for her because this challenge was supposed to give her a chance at some redemption from Borneo. It just wasn’t in the cards and then, at Tribal, she discovered that her pre-show alliance with Varner wasn’t even going to last a week as he flipped on her and Deitz. Wiglesworth is in a bad position heading into Week 2.

18) Terry Deitz

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 4   Total: 12

Deitz didn’t really do anything of note in Week 1. He did his job in the challenge and seemed to establish a solid foundation back at the shelter with most people. But when Tribal hit, Deitz’s game flew off the rails a little bit. Deitz and Varner were supposedly in a pretty tight pre-show alliance, but Varner flipped at the first chance and it would not be surprising to see Deitz blow up back at the shelter. Can he compose himself and turn his situation? Deitz is a player to watch next week.

17) Keith Nale

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 5   Total: 13

I considered bumping Keith’s strategy rating by a few points because he was able to bury the hatchet with Jeremy and enter into a sub-alliance with his fellow fireman. Then I started thinking about it and realized that that move had much more to do with Jeremy than Keith. Thus, Keith gets a middling score, with two points docked from the challenge because he dropped the torch in the water. You have Joe, Jeremy, Savage, and even Fishbach and you’re giving the torch to Keith? Why did Bayon think that was a good idea?

16) Abi-Maria Gomes

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 14

Abi-Maria has to lose points on Strategy because she legitimately seemed like she had no idea that she was going to be saved this week. That tells me that the vote wasn’t about keeping her near as much as it was about getting out Vytas. So, she’s technically on the right side of the vote, but just barely. That said, her near-explosion over bracelet-gate was one of the better parts of the episode. Here’s hoping she drops a real A(bi)-bomb sometime soon.

15) Woo Hwang

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 15

As usual, Woo had no idea what was going on at Tribal this week. In typical Woo fashion, he was confused about who to vote for and completely blindsided by the actual vote. Woo was able to save himself in these rankings by beating out Joey Amazing to win his tribe some extra rice, but Woo really needs to get his mental game together.

12 (tie) Ciera Eastin, Kimmi Kappenberg, & Monica Padilla

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15

Are these people playing? Sure, Bayon got immunity so no one had to scramble, but are they legitimately doing anything? Come on, Ciera! I have such high hopes for you. Moving on.

11) Kass McQuillen

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16

Kass didn’t do much this week, but that’s actually perfect for her game right now. So many people targeted her going into the season due to her penchant for drumming up chaos and no one would’ve been surprised to see her get the first boot. Kass found a way to get past that and honestly looks like she might be making the merge. She’s playing like she’s completely changed her game (though her confessionals reveal that they definitely haven’t) and people actually seem to believe it! If she keeps this up, Chaos Kass could be dangerous once again.

10) Andrew Savage

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

Savage is one of three alpha males on Bayon and that had potential to be disastrous considering he’s also the oldest. Fortunately, the Bayon Boys decided it would be better to get together and run their tribe. That’s great news for Savage who is so infatuated with Joey Amazing that he could barely contain himself. However, something tells me that Savage might be the first alpha male Bayon cuts off in a week or two. Call it a hunch.

9) Peih-Gee Law

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

Peih-Gee had a very good start to her Survivor experience. She’s on the right side of the vote and seemingly was a key player in bringing Varner over from the “Old School” side. That’s a subtle, but potentially game-changing move because now there’s so much focus on Varner being a player the Old School wants to target. I can’t rate her too high because she wasn’t splashy, but I thought Peih-Gee played a sneaky good game this week.

8) Stephen Fishbach

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 9   Total: 18

Fishbach did not have a good week, regardless of what his score might tell you. He truly was a “Fishbach out of water”, finding himself on a tribe full of macho, manly men. Fishbach’s strategy seemed to be, “look super weak and also go for the Idol ASAP”. I can’t say I can get behind that. That said, no one’s edit made me laugh half as much as Fishbach’s, so he gets something of a pass this week.

7) Tasha Fox

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 7   Total: 18

Tasha had a pretty average week to start us off, but does find herself as the only female member of the Macho Man alliance. Outside of that, her only notable addition to the program was talking about Joe’s body, which at this point I’m surprised that’s not just the whole show.

6) Jeremy Collins

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 18

Jeremy impressed strategically this week. He went out and got the alpha males (plus Tasha) on board with an early game alliance, getting himself Joe as the meatiest of meat shields in the process. Then he buried the hatchet with Keith and brought him in as a sub-alliance which Jeremy probably only uses to get information. Things are looked very solid for the firefighter early on.

5) Shirin Oskooi

Strategy: 9   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 20

It’s hard to say exactly who was behind the Vytas vote, but it was definitely someone in the Shirin, Kelley, and Spencer trio. Shirin and Kelley obviously wanted Vytas out and Spencer is smart enough to know this was an opportunity to get a big threat out. I’m giving Shirin the most credit out of the three, but they all made a great move in week one.

4) Jeff Varner

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 10   Total: 23

Varner said he was coming ready to play and he was not joking around. He turned on his pre-gram alliance with Deitz and Wiglesworth and helped get out a huge target in the process. Of course, that potentially puts a huge target on his back and could come back to bite him in big way if he can’t probably scramble. For week one, Varner was must-watch TV, I just don’t know how long we’ll get to watch him.

3) Joe Anglim

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 7   Total: 23

As we’ve come to expect, Joey Amazing killed it this week’s challenge. After Keith failed hard in lighting torches during the first part of the challenge, Joe put the team on the back and came back on Wiglesworth to save Bayon from Tribal. Joe also joined the Macho Man alliance and potentially some protection in the early game. Joe is still the biggest threat of the season and I can’t see him getting too far past the merge, but for now, it sure is great to have him back on our screens.

2) Spencer Bledsoe

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 8   Entertainment: 7   Total: 23

Spencer continues to impress as a strategic threat. He was, at least partially, behind getting the tribe to flip on Vytas and he secured himself a solid six early in the game with people that should protect him for the next few weeks. Plus, Spencer is showing some real growth socially by actually talking to people! He really struggled to make connections in his first season, but looks to have flipped that around completely. Spencer looks like an early frontrunner and he didn’t have to be flashy to get there.

1) Kelley Wentworth

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 9   Total: 23

There was not a better moment on the premiere than seeing Wentworth struggle with the decision to go after the Idol during the first Immunity Challenge. That was incredible TV and all praise Dalton Ross for coming up with the idea. Wentworth was also waaaay more interesting in her first week on Second Chance than she was in four or five episodes of her original season. She has a week one Idol and on the right side of her tribe. It’s hard to look much better.

Survivor Second Chance – Get Strapped In

Survivor

Survivor got started with a bang this week, as the first Tribal Council of the season took place immediately following the Immunity Challenge. With no time to scramble, it was sure to be an exciting finish to the show’s premiere episode.

It certainly sounded like Abi-Marie was going to be the first person out; however, a small blindside occurred, sending Vytas packing. It was a relatively big move this early in the game and probably the right one.

Let’s be honest, Abi is someone you can send home at any point. She’s never getting deeply entrenched in any alliance and, even if she does, she’s so polarizing that you’re going to be able to round up the votes to get her out. Thus, a vote for Abi would have been wasting a golden opportunity to make a big, early game move.

If I were a betting man, I’d put Vytas’ blood on Shirin and Spencer’s hands. A lot of people are high on Jeff’s game right now, but I feel like he’s still in his scrambling phase. Shirin and Spencer already have that part of the game figured out and neither seemed too pleased to see Vytas’ junk swinging in their faces while he was “teaching” yoga. Further, Spencer knew that, without time for anyone to drum up some votes or learn anyone’s plan, this was a great chance to get out a threat. Spencer is one of the stronger strategic players in this game, and last night has his name written all over it.

If Ta Keo find themselves back at Tribal next week, then things get interesting. Abi is still the easy option, but I would be surprised to see the New Schoolers make such a passive move. They probably need to keep Deitz and Woo around for tribe immunity challenges, so the next target could be Wigglesworth. She seems like she really wants to “prove herself”, but is not a challenge threat, making her a real liability in this game.

All in all, a very exciting Tribal Council and a great way to start the season.

Other Highlights:

Seeing Kelley’s pained face while trying to decide if she wanted to go for the Hidden Idol or not was one better shots of the night. What a great way to twist an old standby for this new season.

Joe couldn’t even make it through one challenge without showing off what makes him the Survivor “Golden Boy”. At this point, he just has to own it. There’s no convincing anyone (certainly not Savage’s daughters) that he isn’t God’s gift to Cambodia.

As a huge Jeremy fan, I’m a little concerned that he’s playing too hard, too fast, but that could just be me coming out of three months of Big Brother. Survivor is a much quicker game and this strategy could (hopefully will) pay off. I liked seeing him bury the hatchet with Keith because that’s someone Jeremy can easily control going forward. And the power couple of Joe and Jeremy surely has young girls the world over drooling.

Fishbach playing up his “I can’t do anything” persona was pretty hilarious to watch. I don’t know if it’s going to get him very far, but he does have three alpha males and Keith on his team, so maybe he’ll be able to sneak through to the merge and do some damage.

And, in what was the unlikeliest event of the night for me, Kass wasn’t immediately hated! Maybe she’s just getting a nice edit or maybe she’s actually succeeding in lying low for the time being. I still fully expect her to be gone before the merge, but she impressed me in week 1. We’ll see if it continues.