"Survivor: Cambodia (Second Chance)" Episode 13: Playing the 'We'

Toby Blackwell / 12-13-2015

This amazing season is winding down, SURVIVOR Buffs, but the remaining contestants are playing as hard as ever -- harder even, considering how long they've been out there.  In this penultimate episode, it's clear that, far too often, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and certain behaviors and patterns continue to reemerge -- which is not always a good thing. Returning from Tribal Council, everyone gloats about the eviction of Challenge Stud Joe - everyone that is, except Keith, who found himself out of the loop on the last vote, and Tasha, who is the person Keith actually voted for. She declares that Keith now has a target on his back, and he realizes he has some work to do on his social game, which, truth be told, hasn't improved much from his first season. It's an ironic fault coming from someone who is so personable in general.

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Jeremy and Spencer, on the other hand, have both made huge improvements in the social aspects of their gameplay. In another of what seem to be fairly regular "coffee talks"/beach walks/strategy sessions/office hours, Jeremy holds court, this time with Spencer, and they discuss their concerns now that Joe is gone. They realize that they need to make sure Tasha and Kimmi are still allied with them, and not forming some sort of female alliance. 4 is the magic number to have on your side now.

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The Reward Challenge has only been played once before, when it was won by Keith during his season. Each contestant is tied to a rope that he must untangle from around an obstacle before carrying all of the rope's slack over a bridge and to a carnival game, throwing sandbags to knock a pyramid of blocks completely off of a table and then winning a goldfish  Reward. The competition requires speed, agility, and good aim, but, more importantly, good rope management. And Keith's experience with how much rope is enough to untangle and how best to handle the slack pays off, as he wins the challenge handily. Asked to pick a partner for the Reward, which is an overnight visit to the beautiful Cambodian temples from the beginning of the season, Keith picks Wentworth, because she picked him for the Loved Ones Visit a few days ago. Asked to choose another person, Keith falters, then chooses Spencer. When Probst asks why, Keith yammers some DUCK DYNASTY-sounding nonsense that, after much review, I can only translate as: "I felt bad that Spencer is in this new relationship with that nice girl, and didn't get to see her more than 5 minutes." Unfortunately, while coming up with the verbal diarrhea that spews forth, Keith blatantly forgets Tasha's name. Funny, he sure seemed to have no problem remembering it at the last Tribal Council. Tasha is not pleased, needless to say. In true Tasha fashion, though, she doesn't tell everybody that, but turns Probst's query about her reaction to some passive aggressive bluster about putting on a game face, blah blah blah. It's the beginning of me noticing that Tasha might need a little nap because she's starting to get a bit ornery. Hmmm...

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The Reward is consists of a great meal in a beautiful setting, as well as blessings from monks, a beautiful traditional Cambodian dance performance, and the sketchiest glances from fish-out-water Keith, who marvels at where he is and wonders what to call the women in the performance. [I'll go out on a limb and say "dancers." Just a thought.] Most importantly, Keith, Wentworth and Spencer solidify themselves as an alliance, planning to include CrazyAbi. This, of course, really highlights how dumb Keith's picks are: Tasha, Jeremy and Kimmi are already a tight alliance, so bringing one of them would interrupt any at-camp scheming and maybe reveal cracks in the group and/or get Keith some good will with the should he need it. The three Reward-goers are kind of already sort of an alliance by virtue of not being as tight as Tasha-Jeremy-Kimmi. I mean, it's nice to bring your friends, but sometimes more advantageous to not. If not one of those power players, then bring CrazyAbi. She's a child who needs to be managed and who gravitates toward whoever is offering treats at the time, so taking her on the Reward would have helped keep her allegiance. But now, this Temple Alliance has to rely on a ticking time bomb to ensure their success, and they have no control over the countdown timer.

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No, the timebomb in question is back at camp, where, declaring herself a "villain," CrazyAbi is enjoying watching Jeremy, Tasha and Kimmi dealing with some uneasiness within their alliance. Kimmi and Tasha believe Keith has to go next, because he'll keep winning challenges. This group is hilariously so focused on who is winning Challenges that they don't realize a bunch of things. Keith has been kicking ass at Challenges this whole time, but they just look at the current best Challenge person at any moment. If they really looked at who else also consistently does well, they would then look at themselves and realize that most of them are nowhere near winning any of Challenges. Remove one Challenge Beast, and another is right there, and the same people are still coming in last and second to last. Also, nobody in invincible in all the challenges. There are no Colby Donaldsons out there, good at mental and physical and endurance challenges. So all of this time and mental energy wasted taking out the best Challenge people lets mediocre performers weasel through. Also, failure at Challenges doesn't mean you're not dangerous to have around in the game overall. Look at Fishbach.

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Anyway, when Jeremy resists the idea of getting rid of Keith, Tasha gets pissed, interviewing testily that he needs to let her make some decisions. She's realizing that she doesn't have much to tell a Final Tribal jury about what she's done since saving her own butt on the Angkor Tribe. Here she is starting to get a little riled up when things aren't happening exactly the way she wants. As a result, she interviews that if she needs to, she'll find others who will work with her, because "fox is sailing" - a phrase that sounds like something a person would say while talking in their sleep, because it's not a thing in real life.

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Well, if nothing else, Tasha needs to sit down. And she does so, right next to the fire. When CrazyAbi comes over to boil rice, Tasha asks her for privacy so she can talk to Jeremy. Now, I can't stand CrazyAbi, but, if she's cooking rice, and the rice needs to be on the fire, and the fire can't be moved, and Tasha wants to have some private conversation, isn't it incumbent upon Tasha to move? It's a little entitled and kind of messed up of Tasha to ask for that. It's also a rather clumsy strategic move to announce that you're having a private conversation when it would be so easy just to go off and have it elsewhere besides the center of camp. So, this situation begins with some out-of-character missteps from Tasha, which could again be attributed to it being Day 33 and she being hungry and tired.

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CrazyAbi agrees to give them space, but then points out that they should be treating her better because they need her if they want to have a strong 4-some. So her objection isn't because of the logical reason of the fire location, it's because she's being left out of a conversation. And what she says isn't completely wrong based on the current arrangement they have to all 4 vote out Keith, but she also doesn't have to be in every conversation everybody has, and there's no need for this to be an awkward confrontation. CrazyAbi needs to learn to pick her battles. She has so many of them that it's not like there's a scarcity. Fight about something important. So, Tasha and Jeremy decide to talk privately later, and, when they do, they decide that they can no longer deal with CrazyAbi's volatility and that she's going to have to go. Jeremy is all for this because it evens up male-female numbers - and because CrazyAbi's behavior reminds him of the women back home who drive him to drink. Tasha just doesn't trust CrazyAbi, but also doesn't totally trust Spencer. I tell you, Grumpy needs a nap. Frighteningly, Tasha then completely proves my point during the Immunity Challenge.

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This Challenge is a race to and over bobbing boats and platforms in the water, followed by a short swim to a buoy which has a key on it that needs to be detached and returned to shore via the same system of unstable floating objects. The key unlocks puzzle pieces, of course, but only 5 of them. Probst then goes a little too far with the Second Chance metaphor by declaring the 5-piece puzzle itself to be the Second Chance, since it wasn't chosen when teams had options during Episode 1 of last season. Really, Probst? Nobody is clamoring to hear about a Second Chance every single event. Let it go. We get it.

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The race is pretty much entirely between Spencer and Jeremy, and would be a runaway victory for Spencer if he didn't keep misjudging leaps between platforms, resulting in huge crashes that would not be out of place in that new Will Smith movie CONCUSSION. Everyone else lags behind these two, most notably Tasha, who slowly walks across the obstacles before belly flopping into the water. By the time Jeremy, then Spencer are back at the beach, it's clear one of them will win, because the puzzle only has 5 pieces. Tasha, meanwhile, is just hanging on her buoy, bobbing in the water, nowhere near grabbing a key and returning. Spencer finishes the puzzle faster than anyone ever has, according to Probst, who declares Spencer the winner at the same time they all realize that Tasha is calling for help. The Safety Department pulls her out of the water and, for the second episode in a row, the Medical Department is called on camera during the Immunity Challenge because one of the contestants has pushed themselves past their limit.

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This incident really rattles the contestants, especially Kimmi, who gets reassurance from CrazyAbi that Tasha is being looked after by professionals and will be fine. And, like Joe before her, Tasha ends up fine. She was just exhausted and overwhelmed in the water. Unfortunately, no amount of professional help can help CrazyAbi at this point, and she is voted out at Tribal Council, even though she is still delusionally trying to figure out who "to bring with [her]" to Final Tribal. She ends up voting for Keith, which indicates that she was planning to vote with Tasha's group. Unfortunately, even as tough as Tasha is and as hard as she's pushing herself, apparently there is only so much crazy that she and the others can stand. In a game where people are giving more than 100%, if you're taking away any of that energy by being a distraction - and a non-competitive or useful one at that - you've got to go.

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During Tribal Council discussions, Probst notes that the word "we" is starting to be used a lot, indicating stronger alliance bonds and peope taking sides. Tasha, during her arguments to sway Spencer to stay on her side, establishes some of that by saying that having Keith, Wentworth or CrazyAbi at the Final Tribal would be a travesty and an affront to the fans, etc., thereby separating the "worthy" from the "unworthy." Now, I don't really get that. Crazy Abi, yes, duh. But Keith and Wentworth are playing this game just as hard as Tasha is, and are, in fact, making more game-changing moves than she is, winning challenges, finding Hidden Idols and causing big blindsides. Tasha may have orchestrated a blindside this time, but CrazyAbi was no threat to win the game anyway, and it's seems a bit foolish to blindly discount those who aren't part of your "we," especially when they are such strong players. This kind of foolish understimation of people is not like Tasha, from what I can tell. Tasha survived the Immunity Challenge and Tribal Council this time, but, she was already unravelling previously, and who knows what further damage has been done to her spirit and gameplay.

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The next episode is the last, which means 6 contestants begin the final episode, which I don't remember ever happening before. There's also one final, dramatic twist, it seems - a final FOUR maybe? And with two Hidden Immunity Idols still unplayed, at least two Immunity Challenges to run, and 6 more days of competition in the most competitive season of SURVIVOR to date, these Final 6 must continute to operate at the highest levels in order to win. Let's hope Tasha gets that nap. What did you think, SURVIVOR Buffs? Leave your comments below. And check out my latest video blog....TOBY'S TRIBAL #3 takes a look at some of the funniest ways the people communicate on SURVIVOR...enjoy it! (And share it!)

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