Hello, good people, and welcome back to the Season Preview of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance! Yesterday, I broke down the Pink Bayon Tribe; today I'm taking on the Ta Keo Tribe. Ta Keo will be wearing green buffs and consists of a couple icons of Survivor as well as a couple of "huh?" inclusions. Can't wait to really "dig deep" and really break this tribe down. Also, at the end of this column, I will do my season predictions - merge/jury, final tribal and winner. Since I did all the setup yesterday, let's get straight into breaking down the Ta Keo tribe, again in alphabetical order.
Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance - Season Preview
Ta Keo Tribe
By Jim Van Nest
September 22, 2015
Abi-Maria Gomes - Season 25: Philippines - And what a way to start our Preview of the Ta Keo tribe. The Brazilian firecracker is back and while she's talking a good game about recognizing her failures the first time around, I don't think I'm buying it. Abi-Maria was absolutely horrible on her first season. Aside from being delusional in her alliance with RC, she was an outright bully to everyone else on the island. Her antics also included name calling and yelling at Tribal Council. Since her season ended, through various social media outlets, Abi is such a sweetheart you can't even imagine the side of her you saw on Survivor. That being said, that side exists and I can't imagine she'll be able to keep it covered for long. The upside for Abi is that I don't think she'll come off as a threat. And if she takes the same turn this season, all of a sudden she becomes a goat that could be a good take to the end. So, what I'm saying is that I can see Abi-Maria going out anywhere from first to the final tribal. The only thing I feel confident in saying is that she cannot and will not win this game.
Jeff Varner - Season 2: Australian Outback - Next up is one of my favorites, Australia's Jeff Varner. A lot of people don't remember Jeff, and that's ok. It was a long time ago and there were many iconic Survivors on this season. The black widow, Jerri. The cowboy, Colby. Elizabeth (soon to be) Hasselbeck, Mike Skupin. There was a lot going on in that season. What people don't seem to remember is that prior to Skupin's fall in the fire, his tribe was on the verge of taking over the game. And leading the way was Jeff Varner. He was smart and savvy and very well-liked. In between Australia and Philippines, we forgot that Mike wasn't all that well-liked on his tribe until he caught a pig and then the next day he fell in the fire. So, Mike became a hero, he didn't start out as one. That was Varner. Mike's dive out of the game killed the Kucha tribe and Varner was the first person voted out after the merge. He's waited a LONG time to get back on this show and I don't think Jeff will waste it. I don't think he'll be seen as a threat on this tribe until it's too late. I see a deep run for Jeff Varner...maybe even a win.
Kelley Wentworth - Season 29: San Juan Del Sur - If Monica was the "Who?" player on the Bayon tribe, that title goes to Kelley Wentworth. Kelley played on the second Blood vs Water with her dad, Dale. Dale was a bit of a hothead and his temper ended up killing both of their games. Kelley is a huge fan of the show and knows the game very well. Unfortunately, we never got to see what she could do...until now. Kelley reminds me of Parvati when she came back for her second time. The reaction was, "Really? They're bringing HER back?" And we all know how it worked out for Parv. I actually think there's a very good chance Kelley could follow that exact blueprint. Don't let her bad first game fool you. She's a player. And if she gets a foothold in this tribe and gets up in the numbers, she could run it all the way to the end.
Kelly Wigglesworth - Season 1: Borneo - Here she is, everyone. The OS - Original Survivor. It's been 15 years since Kelly Wigglesworth lost her million dollars to Rich Hatch. Kelly had an interesting arc on the very first season of Survivor. First of all, no one...absolutely no one came in with any kind of strategy, save Hatch. Second, Kelly kind of came full circle during that initial game. She jumped on board Rich's idea of an alliance and they absolutely destroyed the Pagong tribe (poor Greg, Colleen, Gervase and Gretchen). She then started to not feel good about the lying and deceit and started to make some other bonds. But she never acted on them, really. She dominated the physical (challenge) portion of the end game, winning four challenges in a row to get all the way to the very first Final Tribal Council. However, her turn to the "good side" went away over the last two votes where she dumped her bestest bud, Sue Hawk, and then America's sweetheart, Rudy Bosch, because she figured she'd have a better shot of winning against the hated Richard. She was wrong and has been left to stew on it for 15 long years. What has the layoff done to Kelly's Survivor skill? Will she be able to blend in and play the new Survivor or has the game passed her by? One thing's for sure, the Wigglesworth story is one of, if not THE most compelling story-lines in this game. Her fellow Season 1 castaway came back four seasons ago and placed third...so it's possible. I can't wait to find out what she has in store for us after 15 years.
Peih-Gee Law - Season 15: China - Peih-Gee is a person that I barely remember playing, yet is very well liked by a ton of Survivor fans. I always remember her name, not because of her time on the show, but because she is well liked or at least, a lot of fans have been clamoring for her return to the show for years. Well, you all got your wish. Peih-Gee is back. Peih-Gee was the last of her tribe remaining and finished all the way up at #5 on her season in China. Honestly, I don't remember much about her gameplay, but I think that's a good thing for her. With physical threats like Spencer and Terry on this tribe and strategic threats like Varner, Shirin and Vytas, Peih-Gee has the potential to just fade into the background and kind of skate all the way to the merge. If that happens and she can join up with some of the other under-the-radar types, she could have another deep run in her. She's one of the hardest for me to gauge as I don't have too much recollection about the China season, other than Todd absolutely dominated the Final Tribal like no one else. I'll go on record saying Peih-Gee will definitely be datable and could be a threat to go far.
Shirin Oskooi - Season 30: Worlds Apart - Ah, what to make of Shirin's second chance. If there's anyone in the cast that I could see being a first boot, a winner or any spot in between, Shirin is the one. With Worlds Apart fresh in everyone's mind when the filming of this season took place, I could see the tribe thinking, "You know what, we don't need that drama, get rid of her now." Or, I could see the Spencers and Vytases of the tribe thinking she would be a solid ally, thus taking her deep into the game. Her admission that she is, in fact, a multi-millionaire could also work against her as no one in the game wants to give a million bucks to someone who's already rich. She's very knowledgeable and ridiculously smart but she has to tone down her personality about 20 notches if she wants to have any shot at lasting in this game. I think she can do it, but I worry about how long it will last. Perhaps the recency of her season will help her remember everywhere she went wrong and she'll do what she can to fix it. I really don't see Shirin making a deep run; I'm thinking she'll go out of the game in the vicinity of the merge.
Spencer Bledsoe - Season 28: Cagayan - Ah, the Young Lad. Spencer is really hoping for a growth narrative this season. He says that absolutely nothing he tried was successful in his first season, which is pretty accurate, yet he finished fourth...just one immunity away from a potential win in Cagayan. I think Spencer's in for more of the same this time around. Not only is he wicked smart and a HUGE fan of the show, but he proved himself to be a legitimate challenge threat as well. Unless he can hook up with other threats right away, he could find himself on the receiving end of an early boot vote. If he could get in with someone like Shirin and maybe Peih-Gee or Woo, they could form an alliance that could last all the way to the end. I think if Ta Keo can win some challenges and stay out of Tribal, Spencer stands a better chance. Any early losses could be the end of Spencer's game before he's even able to get started. I think Spencer is amazing TV, so I'm very much rooting for him to make a deep run...I just worry about his all-around game painting a big target on his back.
Terry Dietz - Season 12: Panama - Exile Island - Another player the Survivor community has been waiting a looong time to see again, is Panama's challenge stud, Terry. Terry rode immunity wins all the way down to the final three of his season, but came up short in the challenge that could have gotten him to the end and a win. It's been nine years since Terry played the game, but he still looks like he could dominate the way he did back in the day. Terry didn't have much of a strategic or social game last time around, but he swears he's worked on that. Where someone like Joe will be targeted as a threat, I have a feeling that Terry actually won't be. I think people will look at him and think that age has caught up to him and that unbeatable air he had on Exile Island will be a thing of the past. He also has a connection to Vytas as Terry and Aras played on the same season - so there could be something brewing there. Overall, I think Terry makes the merge, but I'm not sure his physical game will be able to pull him to the end this time.
Vytas Baskauskas - Season 27: Blood vs Water - And we've come to reformed bad boy and yoga enthusiast, Vytas. Vytas came into Blood vs Water with his brother, Panama winner Aras, and he had a chip on his shoulder. Aras was the golden boy to Vytas' bad boy. He's overcome drugs and prison and put himself in a good place in life, but he still had something to prove to his brother and to himself. He did that and more the first time through, and now he's back to prove to himself that he has what it takes to bring another million into the Baskauskas family. I think Vytas has a great chance to go far in this game. People gravitate toward him and they genuinely like him. I think a lot of that stems from the fact that Vytas takes an interest in every person he talks to. He makes legit connections with people. That helps him get farther in the game, but could cause problems for him when he eventually has to burn those folks. He also has an amazing ability to lie right to your face and be completely believable. If Vytas can figure out how to cut people and still have them vote for him, he could come out of this season with a million bucks in his pocket. I have pretty high expectations for Vytas this season.
Yung "Woo" Hwang - Season 28: Cagayan - Rounding out the Ta Keo tribe is Cagayan runner up, Woo Hwang. Woo was Tony's #2 pretty much from the start of the game all the way to the final tribal. The sad part is that Woo won the final immunity and decided to go with integrity over a desire to win. He took Tony to the finals and lost handily, instead of taking the ultimate goat, Chaos Kass, where he would have been guaranteed a win. Personally, I applaud Woo for his choice. He felt that Kass didn't deserve to plead her case for a million dollars, so he saw to it that she sat on the jury instead. It's been labeled as one of the stupidest moves in Survivor history and I disagree. I mean, sure, he gave away $900,000. We all know that. But he did it for a noble reason. And for me, that's never stupid. Flash forward to now, and Woo has a huge chip on his shoulder. I worry that he's let that chip fester and he'll overplay in an effort to make up for his "stupid" decision. Woo is one of the very few people on this cast that I think should play the exact same game he played the first time. If he does that, he'll make it to the end again. I just don't think he will. I think he'll try to be a Tony and it will mean an early demise for Ninja Stealth Mode. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear for Woo that I'm not.
And that'll do it for the preview of the Ta Keo tribe. As I did with Bayon, I'll give you my quick review of who I think will not be datable (out before the merge). In this tribe, I think Spencer and Woo from Cagayan will have a hard time making the merge as well as Peih-Gee and Abi-Maria. I hope I'm wrong on some of these. The three people on this tribe that I could see making a deep run in the game would be Varner, Kelley Wentworth and Vytas.
With that in mind, here are my picks for the Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance Final 4: Jeff Varner, Kelley Wentworth, Jeremy Collins and Tasha Fox. I see Tasha winning a Final 4 immunity, which will sadly end the dream of Jeff Varner. Which leaves Jeremy, Kelley and Tasha to duke it out in the Final Tribal, and I just have a feeling that Jeremy will have the best resume of the three and that will get him the win in a narrow vote that sees all three finalists getting votes. Now, I have to remind everyone that I did, in fact, pick Mike Holloway as the winner in my pre-season picks for Worlds Apart - so Jeremy, it's as good as locked up. Congratulations, my man...surround and drown those dummies!!!
Thanks so much for hanging out with me while I break these tribes down...and be sure to keep an eye out for my recaps all season long, starting with the Premiere of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance this Wednesday, September 22, 2015 on CBS starting at 8pm, 7pm Central! 'Til next time, kids, take care!!
I wanna know what you think Survivor fans. How do my predictions look? Hit me up on the Tweet box: @vannestjc