Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance Recap
Episode 1: Second Chance
By Jim Van Nest
September 23, 2015

Future Survivors take note: Creepy does not work as a strategy.

Hello, good people, and Happy Survivor Day! It's like Christmas in September, isn't it? Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance is ready to begin! Hopefully you've checked in with my season previews, so we can get right to the game. Twenty people America voted back onto Survivor are waiting to begin their second adventure of a lifetime. Every single one of them made mistakes along the way and lost the game. Tonight will begin the journey to ultimate redemption. Who has what it takes to tame their demons of the past and work their way to the million dollar prize and the title of Sole Survivor?

The show opens with Jeff's voiceover talking about how tough the game of Survivor is, with scenes of injury, sweat and tears. We focus on Woo and whether or not he made a million dollar mistake (he did). Flash into the beautiful scenery of Cambodia and we see all 20 players on the same truck headed into the jungle. We talk to Kelly Wiglesworth first, and she tells us that she lost by one vote. It's been bugging her for 15 years.

As the truck heads through a little market, we meet Andrew Savage. He tells us about his perfect life, except for Pearl Islands. He's been haunted by his exit and the Outcast Tribe for 12 years. Spencer tells us about how cocky he was last time around and that he's learned that he really needs to connect with people on a personal level.

The cast arrives at the Ankor Wat Temple as Kimmi tells us that getting to the end of this game has been a dream of hers and 14 years is a long time to wait to finish that chapter. Kelley Wentworth tells us that her dad was her downfall the first time around and that she's ready to come back and play the great game she knows she has. Ciera tells us that she's planning a different game this time...sorta. She says that for the first half of her season, she hardly played at all and then finished up strong. She wants to start off playing that strong game and see if it can take her to the end.

Next up is my hometown girl, Tasha Fox. She says that last time around, she was Nice Tasha. She says she was worried about her family and church members not liking the way she played the game. When she got home, her church people told her she needed to lie and backstab this time, she's gonna do what it takes and then pray for forgiveness.

Jeff Varner replays his jump out of a challenge for peanut butter back in Australia. He's grown up a lot and has had to replay that moment over in his head for 14 years. He is coming this time to play and to win. And he isn't jumping off a pole for nothing.

As the castaways climb into four different boats, last season's heart throb, Amazing Joe Anglim speaks. (I added the Amazing.) Joe says a big disappointment of his was not lasting to the family visit so his dad could come to the island. He feels he's in a better spot to win this game this time. Chaos Kass McQuillen tells us that the big thing for her is that she needs to change people's perception of her. She likes the chaos, and once she hits the merge, all hell's gonna break loose.

Next, we hear from Abi-Maria, who tells us about all the mistakes she made last time around. Basically, all her mistakes revolve around being a complete bi...not nice person for the duration of her season. She seems to think she can quell that this time around. I don't think it's possible. Jeremy tells us that he had focus issues last time around as he was thinking too much about his wife. He had a rough go of it sending her to Exile Island on the very first day and was never able to recover. He says even though she's not there this time, she is the motivation for him to win the million bucks and he plans on making that happen. As Jeremy finishes up, the boats finally meet up with a...

Probst sighting!!! Jeff gives a very stirring speech about the fan vote. We have some small talk between Jeff and a handful of players. They are feeling extra pressure this time around to not let their families down or all the people that voted for them. They've all been waiting for their second chance and it's going to start right now. First off, everyone gets buffs. It should be noted that as he calls out the Ta Keo tribe, Wiglesworth and Dietz get the last name treatment. When he calls out the Bayon tribe, Fishbach and Savage get the last name treatment. He then tells them that on the boat he's standing on are supplies that they will need for their camp. But there's a twist, 100 yards away is another boat with a huge bag of rice. The tribes will need to decide when they have enough gear and the first one to the rice gets it. Survivors ready...

And the game is afoot. It's really hard to gauge what's going on here, it's just mayhem. What I can tell is that the tribe rafts are filling up with gear and food (including chickens - oh dear, Kimmi.) Both tribes actually get ready to take off at the same time. Ta Keo is in the lead by a little but actually, Kelly Wiglesworth is actually in the lead. She's swimming ahead of the raft. Bayon is having a little trouble and Joe says, "Just get me close." And they do and Joe takes off. He's gaining on Kelly and looks like he'll easily overtake her. But Woo jumps off his Ta Keo raft and blows past Wiglesworth and Joe and claims the big bag of rice for Ta Keo. And with that, 39 days, 20 people, one Survivor. Cue the full credits.

We come back from break with Ta Keo as they hit the beach. Woo is super stoked to be there, just like when he got his first black belt. Um, how many does he have? Anyway, he says that he doesn’t want to let down the people that voted for him, so he's out to win it. There’s lots of unloading and hugging as everyone "meets" each other. It’s almost as if they haven't been talking strategy and alliances for the last few weeks!

Right away a small group of workers emerges. Wiglesworth tells us that she, Terry, Spencer and Woo are doing the bulk of the work. Terry tells us that his social game has been haunting him since he last played, so he's planning to work on that. So let's see his first conversation. It’s between Terry and the Young Lad himself. Terry and Spencer carve out the first alliance, mainly based on Terry's kids telling him that he needs to hook up with Spencer. Spencer thanks them for that and tells us that he plans on having many conversations this time around in an attempt to make the connections he wasn't able to make last time.

Almost on cue, Abi-Maria seems to have lost her bag and inside it is a magic bracelet or something. I say it's magic because it has made everything on the island come to a halt while we look for it. She tells us that she's all about controlling her temper this time around but you can already see it starting to happen as she looks for this phantom bracelet and bag. Seriously, she can't go home soon enough for me.

Over at Bayon. Ciera tells us how peaceful her camp is right now and how well everyone is working. We join Kass and Tasha reminiscing about weaving palm fronds in Cagayan as they begin the same task here. Keith tells us that he didn't know how to play last time and he still ended up fourth. He says that he doesn't feel the need to totally change his game, just make a few tweaks. As he tells us this, we see Jeremy, Joe and Keith making the shelter. Jeremy takes Keith aside to make sure that everything is cool between them from their previous season. Keith says that it is, and an alliance is born. Jeremy then pulls in Tasha and Savage.

His #1 target, though, is Joe. He wants Joe on his side. I'd never really noticed before that Joe is absolutely huge. I didn't notice it last season, but Jeremy is a big guy and Joe towers over him. So what they've done here is set up an alpha alliance. It's really about the only thing that will be able to keep Joe in the game. Joe tells us that he's pretty excited about the setup they have going right now.

And then there's Stephen. He tells us he's in a bad spot. Cue the do-do music as we get several shots of Stephen fighting a losing battle with some wood. The construction thing isn't really his game. Weaving the palm fronds isn't really his game either. Ultimately, he's in trouble. He's contributing nothing to the tribe right now, and he's already on the radar of the alphas. For his sake, he needs to find some way to fit in with these folks and fast - or his dream of outlasting Cesternino's All-Stars finish is in serious jeopardy.

We come back from break to the Ta Keo tribe as they continue to set up camp. Vytas is making the rounds as he tells us about how he lived through being the only man on an all-female tribe last time around. He's worried about being seen as a manipulator, so he's out there trying to make friends with everyone. Well, only the ladies.

Shirin tells us that Vytas comes off as "smarmy." And she is dead on. He's actually creeping me out. Anyway, let's join Shirin as she does her Shirin thing. She's talking a mile a minute to Varner and Spencer about everything that's going on. She actually has some really good information but she is talking so fast that no one could actually keep up with her. Varner tells us that he is blown away by how fast she's going and that right now, he'll just get on the train and see where it takes him. He tells us that when he played the first time, the first few days was all about shelter, fire, water and food and figuring out how to survive. The game didn't start getting played until all of that was done. Now, the game is on immediately and it's something he's going to have to get used to.

I have an announcement. Our long Survivor nightmare is over - Abi has found her bracelet. Somehow it ended up in Peih Gee's bag. Or at least, in a bag that has a tag with Peih-Gee's name on it. She is just blown away at how that could happen, but she's gonna give Peih-Gee the benefit of the doubt and just keep it to herself - except for all the other people in the tribe that she'll tell. And with each one, Abi again reiterates that she's giving her the benefit of the doubt. So what Abi's really saying is, "Look, see how I'm not getting pissed off and losing my mind right now? I really have changed." In actuality, she has learned nothing. She has not even remotely changed, and it's only a matter of time before the same hateful person that terrorized the Philippines shows up to do the same in Cambodia. Please, if the Survivor Gods care about me at all, please let her go home tonight. Finally, Peih-Gee talks to Abi about it and says that she inadvertently grabbed a bag she thought was empty, but it must have been Abi's. Thankfully, though, Abi is going to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ugh - kill me now.

Sweet merciful Probst, they now switch us over to Bayon where Joe is being, well, Amazing again. He's working on starting a fire. Kass comes over to the fire makers and offers her glasses. They don't really need them, but she's gotten herself into the conversation. She tells us that it's really sinking in that this is a second chance and probably the last chance. Everyone out there is trying to change things up. She doesn't have any plans like that. She just wants to win.

As they work on the fire, talk turns to Stephen and where he went. Kimmi tells everyone that he's looking for an idol. Cue the do do music again....poor Stephen. Anyway, he is looking for an idol but he's not having any luck at all. He tells us that he needs something to help him in the game but he really hopes he doesn't get branded as someone who's looking for an idol. Well, Stephen...too late.

Back at camp, Joe finally gets the fire started. And one Andrew Savage is very impressed. They had a rough go of the fire in Pearl Islands, so to see someone make fire with bamboo and coconut husks is pretty impressive to him. For Amazing Joe, it's just another day on Survivor. Anyway, Andrew definitely sees this as a sign of great things to come.

The next morning over at Ta Keo, Vytas and Wiglesworth are meditating to start the day. Varner tells us that the game is so fast, he can't keep up. He's in the water with Peih-Gee and they discuss how there seems to be two groups. There are the shelter people - the old-school people - and the new school beach people. They feel like they don't really fit in with either group. They discuss that either Vytas or Abi is how it's looking for the first vote.

We come back from break to the Ta Keo tribe and Kelley Wentworth is telling us that she needs to take more risks. She decides that she's going to head out to find an idol. She is in the jungle getting fronds and coconuts, but she's really looking for the idol. After a lengthy search, she finally finds something, shoves it in her pants and heads back to camp. She has an idol and is totally pumped.

Kelley finally opens the package, and it's only a clue to the idol. The clue isn't really a clue so much as a map of exactly where the idol is hidden. But this time, it's hidden at the immunity challenge. So, she knows exactly where it is, but will essentially have to grab it in front of her entire tribe (and the other tribe for that matter). I LOVE this twist. This is going to force people to actually earn their idols, not just find them all willy-nilly in the jungle. Will she have the guts to go for it? Will she have the opportunity? Will she sacrifice the challenge in order to get it? I love all the questions and potential problems this one little tweak can make.

Back over at Bayon on Day 3, tree mail has arrived with the tribe flag. The note tells them that they will be doing the first challenge that was ever run on Survivor. Kimmi is so excited to be back and getting things like Tree Mail is such a rush for her. Andrew addresses the group and tells them that they are a family. They're all going to get gassed at some point, and it's everyone's job to pick their tribemates up. He sees great things for this tribe. Almost as great as what Keith's seeing, which is Joe leading a bunch of people in some yoga class. He tells us that he doesn't do any of that nonsense; he just gets up and goes to work like the rest of 'Merica. Tasha tells us that they all did some #joega. She says she was trying to focus, but all she could see was Joe's body and she was losing focus. As we cut away, Kimmi seems to be enjoying the view of Joe's body as well.

And from fun and whimsical #joega at Bayon, we go over to Ta Keo where Vytas is showing some yoga moves to Shirin. And all he's really doing is being effing creepy. He's freaking out Shirin, he's grossing out Wentworth, Spencer's chuckling at him and Abi wants nothing to do with him. Vytas tells us that he wants to vote Abi out and he's worried that she's coming after him. Terry, Vytas and Wiglesworth discuss that Abi should be the vote. With Spencer on board, they have four; they'll just need two more to take her out.

We come back from break to a Probst Sighting! As the Survivors come in to the challenge, Wentworth tells us that all she can think about is the hidden idol. Jeff tells us that the challenge we're doing today will see the tribes swimming out to a raft where they will light a torch that they will use to light several small fires on the way back to the beach. Once back, one person will be in charge of using sticks and ropes to make a long pole. They will use that pole to retrieve a key that they will use to unlock their cage door and allow them to light the big fire. First tribe to light their fire wins immunity and reward. The reward is a huge fire-making kit. As the tribes head out, Ta Keo has a slight lead. Keith gets the torch for Bayon and Spencer for Ta Keo. Around the third fire, Keith accidentally drops his torch in the water, losing his fire. Spencer and Ta Keo are able to take a huge lead in the challenge, setting Wiglesworth up to be the hero with the sticks and ropes.

The drama in the challenge is that Wentworth was not able to grab the idol as she went past it, but while she stands waiting for Wiglesworth to finish the pole, she keeps glancing back at the idol. She wants to make a move for it, but just doesn't want to get caught. Meanwhile, Joe is making a pole for Bayon and he's getting to work quickly. As Joe catches up, Wentworth is getting more and antsier about the idol. Wiglesworth gives it a try, but her pole isn't long enough. Joe gives it a try and we get this gem from Jeff, "Does he have enough pole, and it is strong enough to get there? It's long enough, but is it strong enough?" Really? REALLY? "Is his pole strong enough to get it off?" SERIOUSLY???? While Jeff is worried about Joe's pole, Wentworth sees he chance and gets the idol with no one seeing her do it. At this point, it's just a formality, Joey Amazing gets the key, Keith lights the fire and Bayon wins Immunity!

As Bayon heads back to camp with their reward, Jeff talks to Ta Keo a bit, and Wiglesworth is feeling responsible for their demise. Jeff has nothing for them except a date at Tribal Council, which, by the way, will be right now. No time for discussion, strategy, nothing. They're headed to Tribal immediately.

So we get to Tribal and everyone dips their torch in to get fire. Jeff starts with Spencer and asks him what Second Chance means. He says that if you go home tonight, you're letting down a whole lot of people who wanted to see you get that second chance. Woo says that you can see two styles of game play at work now. There’s the old school style of getting camp ready and new school of strategizing.

Terry agrees and says that he was blown away at how fast it happened. Peih-Gee says this is all about learning from mistakes from the last time. Abi says this is about growth for her and that there were chances for her to be a firecracker, but she didn't. Vytas says there is some pressure to beat Terry, since Aras also beat Terry so long ago. Varner says that he feel pretty confident that people know what they're doing tonight, even though they didn't have time to go back to camp. Vytas agrees.

Woo has no idea who he's voting tonight. Abi seems to think that means there’s an all-male voting bloc, something Vytas is quick to shoot down. She says it would be heartbreaking if she were to go home tonight. She also seems sure Woo is voting for her tonight. Wiglesworth is picking up on cues from the group and thinks she knows where the vote is going. Varner talks a little more about playing really hard and being balls to the wall and all this. Ultimately, it's between Abi and Vytas tonight...let's see how it plays out. It is...time to vote.

The first vote we see is Woo's vote for Abi. The next vote we see is Abi's vote for Vytas. We also see Vytas' vote for Abi. The final vote we see is Wentworth's for Vytas. All right, it's 2-2 as far as we know. Jeff's gonna go tally the votes. First vote: Vytas. Second vote: Abi-Maria. Vytas, Abi, Vytas, Abi, Vytas, Abi. We're tied 4-4. Ninth vote: Vytas. Tenth vote and the first person voted out of Survivor Second Chance: Vytas. And, deservedly so. While I'd have rather seen Abi go, Vytas was really bringing the creepy this time around, and who in their right mind could trust any of that nonsense? Jeff tells the tribe flint will be waiting for them back at camp and he sends them back.

Next time on Survivor: Abi's good streak lasts exactly one episode. Varner looks to be ready to make some moves. He doesn't like anyone and is ready to start getting rid of some people. For what it's worth, the Vytas votes tonight came from Varner, Spencer, Shirin, Wentworth, Abi and Peih-Gee. That left Vytas, Terry, Wiglesworth and Woo voting for Abi. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the tribe responds to the vote tonight, since they were not able to line things up. Will that tribal split remain, or will they have time to regroup and make a plan moving forward? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, kids...thanks for hanging out with me tonight and until next week, Take care!

Let me know what you think, hit me up on Twitter: @vannestjc