Survivor Cambodia - Second Chance - Recap
Episode 2: Survivor MacGyver
By Jim Van Nest
October 2, 2015

Good riddance. Again.

Hello, good people, and thank you for giving me a Second Chance to recap Survivor Cambodia! Last week, 20 people that YOU chose got to come back for a second chance to play the game they love and that has haunted them for (in some cases) years. The Bayon tribe got basically NO screen time in the episode - except for the do-do edit for Stephen Fishbach and the branch. We spent most of our time at Ta Keo, where the tribe was splitting in a way we haven't seen before, Old School vs New School. Not necessarily old school players vs new school players, but old school Survivor mentality vs the new hotness. Old School was Terry, Jeff, Wigglesworth, Vytas and Woo. New School was Spencer, Shirin, Abi-Maria, Wentworth and Peih-Gee. When push came to shove, though, Varner refused to pull rocks at the first Tribal and went against his pre-game alliance and joined the new school "Beach people" in blindsiding creepy yoga-guy, Vytas.

While I agree that the montage of Vytas creeping was pretty damning, I'm not 100% sure he was THAT obnoxious the entire time out there. But in a game of inches, people will take whatever advantage they can get and next thing you know, it's "Bye bye, Vytas." It's always a risky move to clip one of your strong guys first, especially when there's a player like Abi out there who's already making waves. For the sake of this cast, I hope the Vytas vote works out for them, but I worry that all they've done is weakened their tribe while allowing the Abi-bomb to become even more destructive. Either way, with a title like "Survivor MacGyver," I can only assume we're going to have a lot of Amazing Joe this week, so maybe Ta Keo won't be as affected as I fear. There's only one way to find out...let's check out the show!

We begin this week at Ta Keo on Day 4. Wiglesworth is not happy about Varner flipping on her last night. She says that her alliance needs to get playing, because Shirin and Spencer are running the show and are way ahead of them. Meanwhile, Wentworth wants to take a look at her idol. They went straight from challenge to Tribal to bed, so she hasn't even seen it. Could she be hoping for a Tyler Perry idol or something? So she sneaks away to check it out. Nothing special about it, but she is thrilled nonetheless. She tells us that having this second chance, she plans to make the most of it. "Go big or go home," she tells us. I have to say, if you believe in things like this, Kelley Wentworth is most definitely getting an early season "winner's edit." Just sayin'.

We pick up action a little later with Varner and his new school "beach people" alliance discussing who should be next to go. Since this is a new season and all, I'll remind you that this includes Shirin, Spencer and Wentworth. They all agree it should be one of the other three (Terry, Woo, Wiglesworth). Varner tells them all that he hopes his flip to their side shows his loyalty. They all agree it does...and Spencer lays down the numbers. With Abi, they have five of nine in this tribe. That's locked down.

However... doesn't there always seem to be a "however" in Spencer's plans? However, Varner tells us that while he voted with them at first, his play to clip Vytas was to signal a big heads up to his alliance that they need to get in the game. He has eyes set on Spencer and Shirin and he figures the best way to get them is with a blindside from within. We cut to Jeff talking to Terry. He's telling him that the game is moving fast and they better keep up with it or risk looking like idiots out there. He tells Terry that there are threats in this game and it's time to take them out. "I want to vote out Spencer......or Shirin." He tells Terry he's in with that alliance and wants to go to the end with them. Terry tells us that he left Tribal feeling horrible but with Varner coming to him he's a little lifted. He goes on to confirm his greatest fear, that he was going to have to play a social game. They seal the talk with a hug as Varner starts looking around for a spyshack. #TeamTV!!

We come back from break and finally check in with the Bayon tribe. Joe is telling us about how much fun he's having out there. He says that he likes making things, and that this time, everyone is complaining about sleeping on the bamboo. So, he takes the fishing net and makes a series of hammocks for everyone. So this tribe is now just lying around in their hammocks eating a full bounty of fruits. And Joe is everyone's favorite guy. It really is amazing that these people are playing Survivor at the same time as the other tribe. It's like two different worlds out there. Stephen tells us that it's crazy being out there with Joe. He's "Survivor MacGyver," making hammocks and catching fish. Everyone is remarking at how great he is at island living, and Stephen tells us that he is the perfect guy to help your tribe through until the merge, then you slit his neck.

Back over at Ta Keo, Abi is telling us about getting votes at Tribal. She tells us that she is trying to be very different than last time. She would have blown her top on her previous season, but she's working so hard to be different. Then we cut to a conversation on the beach. It's Wiglesworth, Abi, Spencer and Peih-Gee and Spencer is asking Peih-Gee how they made the smoke stack for their fire on her season in China. As she starts to explain, Abi interrupts her to ask her what's going on. I love the response, "Um, we're building a fire chimney." She has no idea what this is about or what is coming.

Spencer tells us all about Abi and the drama she brings with her. He talks about how scary it is to be counting on this person in the game. As he tells us about how she's this huge strategic weight that he'll have to lug around, we cut to a scene of Abi going over to Woo, Terry and Varner for the sole purpose of interrupting what they're doing. Spencer tells us that she's there to start fights and that it's cancer for a tribe...and even worse for an alliance. I have to say, I agree with this. Why anyone would think it's a good idea to hitch their alliance to Abi-Maria makes no sense to me at all. She's a lit fuse just waiting to explode. And when she blows, she'll probably take your game with her.

We switch to Varner talking about Abi now, but he is WAY more entertained than Spencer. He says she's like a soap opera and there are little buttons you can push to get different reactions. As he's telling us this, she's butting into a conversation between Woo and Terry, asking what they're talking about. Terry, "Shit goes on that you don't have to hear, young lady." Varner considers her the perfect tool to help him win a million dollars. He is just very excited to be playing with her. And maybe from the right angle I can see that. For me, she is just too much for my television. If she were next to go, I'd still think it wasn't soon enough.

We jump back over to Bayon and I have to say, I'm a bit surprised to see that Joe hasn't made a sweet radio just like the Professor's. Alas, no such radio. We do, however, get a story from Andrew about meting his wife. And as he talks about her, he gets all choked up. It's actually quite touching and everyone is feeling it. Again, the difference between the two tribes is stunning. Jeremy feels it. Kimmi is swooning over the story. Even Kass is moved. She tells us that the people on her last season were horrible and that these people are just good people. She says that this was one of her failings the first time. The assumption that everyone was compartmentalizing this and treating it like a poker game. When they didn't, she wasn't able to correct. This time around, she's hoping to personalize it a little more.

As Kass talks, we watch Jeremy walk off from the shelter. He's obviously upset. He tells us that Val's pregnant at home and he just wants to be there to see it. He says he's not telling anybody, though. They already see him as a physical threat...he doesn't want the thought of "oh, his wife's having a baby, I can't take him to the end" to pop up in anyone's mind. Back under the shelter, someone asks where Jeremy is. Stephen then asks if they should be worried he's looking for an idol. I should note here that this was EXACTLY the same thing Kimmi said about Stephen last week.

Anyway, Savage doesn't like this at all. He lets us know that Fishbach only thinks about the game and the idol and that he has no emotion. Oddly enough, he didn't make the same comments toward Kimmi. Savage goes down to the beach to see how Jeremy is. Jeremy tells him that he just had a little cry, that he's homesick and all. Andrew lets him know that Stephen was asking about the idol. He then goes on to tell us that Stephen is missing some core things that mean so much to him and his tribe. "Morals, values, loyalty, dignity, courage." Really? Really, Andrew? So I suppose Kimmi is missing those things too? Since she suggested the same thing?

The facts that Stephen WAS looking for the idol and Jeremy WASN'T looking are irrelevant here. I watched the pre-season hype and Savage had it in for Fishbach before they even got there. And you know what, that's fine. Stephen is a far superior SHOULD have it out for him. But this seems awfully personal to me. It's one thing to say that you wish he would speak to people on a personal level and stop thinking game all the time. But no morals? No dignity? No values? You don't know the first thing about this guy. With that, we'll go to break.

We come back from break to Ta Keo at night. Peih-Gee and Shirin are talking about frustration with Abi-Maria. Typical little stuff, nothing earth-shattering. Problem is, they were talking within earshot of Abi. Not one to just let something like that go, Abi has to confront them. Philippines Abi-Maria is about to make an appearance. She jumps in to tell them she heard everything they said, and she seems to have a real beef with Peih-Gee.

But let me tell you something. Peih-Gee ain't no RC and she ain't no Lisa Whelchel. Peih-Gee will and does get right back in her face. She reminds Abi how she went to everyone in camp saying that Peih-Gee stole her bracelet. She just fires right back at her. And when Abi does that Abi-thing where she just sighs heavily and gives a whatever type response, Peih-Gee calls her on that too. Basically, Abi picked the one person in the tribe who isn't gonna take any of her shit. It should be noted that in the middle of this, Shirin gets out of Dodge. Peih-Gee tells us she was embarrassed to get caught like that but everyone is fed up with Abi at this point. Peih-Gee comes back to the group and Shirin asks if she's okay. And I love this about Peih-Gee, "That felt good." Again, Abi-Maria may have finally met her match here.

As the tribe has a laugh under the shelter, Abi is on the beach in tears. And naturally, she's mad at Shirin because she says Shirin didn't have her back. Ahhh, we've reached the point in the season where Abi picks fights with people all over the place, becomes a genuine pain in the ass to everyone around her, THEN someone snaps back at her and she becomes the victim of the "mean girls" in camp. Not to sound harsh or dismiss her feelings here, but eventually, if you keep poking the beehive, your ass is gonna get stung.

But have no fear. There is someone watching. And out of nowhere, Terry comes to the rescue. He tells us that all eight of them are in the shelter and the rest are all laughing at her while she is on the beach. He says that simply isn't the way a human being should be treated, so he heads out to the beach. To his credit, Terry sees a damsel in distress and heads out to save her. Very chivalrous and very much in his character. But it's Abi-Maria. Again, I hate to sound this way, but she brings this shit on herself. She wants to play with the big dogs, she best get off the porch.

Anyway, as they talk, a new alliance forms. Terry tells us that since Jeff lit the fire under his ass, he's trying to step up his social game and he may have just made a huge connection. To finish this portion of the Abi-Maria Show, we get up bright and early and with a sweet sepia camera filter, we see a fun exchange between Abi and Varner. He asks her about her conversation with Terry and then tells her he's thinking about aligning with him. Whoa, she too is thinking about aligning with Terry. He tells her that Terry is such a nice man and that he, Varner, doesn't want Abi to go anywhere. He thinks she's fabulous and her little moments really turn him on.

Of course, she is loving this. The attention was what she craved and the attention is what she is getting. So Hurricane Abi has been downgraded back to a tropical storm. Jeff tells her that he is looking to get rid of Spencer or Shirin and that he has Terry, Wiglesworth and Woo and that gives them five. We head to break as Abi tells us that her former alliance will rue the day they didn't help her when she needed it. And suddenly, this season is taking a downward turn.

And we're back from break to a Probst Sighting! I have to say, I'm loving the wide shots of these massive challenges. They put a ton of time into creating these things, I'm sure. Just huge. Okay, moving on. Bayon gets a look at the new Ta Keo tribe minus Vytas. Shock runs over the Bayon tribe. It's as if life has been so perfect for them, they forgot a cutthroat game for a million bucks was going on around them.

Today's challenge is a race. They'll race across three A-frames carrying coils of rope. Once over the A-frames, they'll use the rope to pull a heavy crate over an up and down course. At the end of the course, two people will open the crate and put together a puzzle from the pieces inside. They'll be playing for immunity and a sweet Survivor tool kit, with all the tools needed to improve their shelter. Oh, by the way, there will also be materials back at camp to use those tools on. Really? Why not just build them huts to start and be done with it?

Anyway, let's get to the challenge. The A-frames get taller as they go, and we hear some awful skin on wood skidding on the way down. Those sounds will definitely leave marks. The teams are neck and neck as they get to the crate. Everything stays pretty even until Ta Keo's crate seems to just get stuck. Meanwhile, Bayon's crate smoothly gets to the end. Kass and Kimmi are working the puzzle for Bayon. Finally, Ta Keo gets there and Wentworth and Peih-Gee take the puzzle for Ta Keo. Spencer tags in for Ta Keo and they start making progress on their puzzle. Joe takes over for Kimmi and Jeremy comes in for Kass. Shirin replaces Peih-Gee and both puzzles start to take shape.

Spencer and Shirin are really making a move now and look to be taking the lead. And with that, they finish. Jeff comes over and says, "That is not right." And right after that, Joe finishes up and they ARE right. Bayon wins immunity and Ta Keo heads back to Tribal Council. As it turns out, the puzzle features two figures, and Ta Keo had theirs backwards. As we head to break, Varner finds it poetic that Spencer and Shirin had their fate in their own hands, and now one of them is going home.

As expected, we're back at Ta Keo and everyone is bummed. Spencer, however, is thrilled that he and Shirin are in control of the game. This is such a different feeling from last time, when he couldn't find anyone to play with. Wow, the Young Lad has so much to learn.

Down in the water, Varner is talking to Peih-Gee and Wiglesworth. He tells us that Spencer is one of the smartest people he's ever met and that Shirin is playing the game very hard. They are two heads of the same snake. He asks the girls which of the two they would want to vote for. Peih-Gee tells us she would rather get rid of Abi than anyone, but she's going to flow where ever the numbers are - which leaves her with Shirin and Spencer and she doesn't want to be on the wrong side of the vote.

Next for Varner is Kelley Wentworth. Jeff tells her all about how Abi and Dietz are tight. He asks her if she's on board with this. Kelley tells him she is on board and he won't see her talking to Shirin at all. She tells us she doesn't really like this turn of events, but she has to stay where the numbers are and that everything changed in 24 hours.

Shirin and Abi are walking on the beach, and Shirin is telling us all about how solid she feels with her alliance. She has Spencer, Varner and Wentworth (oops), but she wants to check on Abi. So they get some time, and Shirin asks her how she's doing. And I absolutely loathe the tone in Abi's voice. She says, "I feel good." And each word is sorta drawn out. It's her condescending way of talking to someone when she feels like she has the upper hand and wants to slam them down. All in all, I really can't stand Abi-Maria as a Survivor player and every time she speaks, I get annoyed. But hell, let's center MORE of the show on her.

Anyway, Shirin apologizes to Abi for not standing up for her last night. And here comes the lecture. Shirin didn't come for her, Terry did and she gave her word and blah, blah, blah. She tells us about how if you mess with her, you're dead. I mean, this a new season? Or are they just running clips from Philippines now? Forget it, I'm done with her. Nutshell - she tells Shirin that she and Spencer are screwed - everyone wants them out. Moving on...

Just what I needed. After the obnoxious exchange, a sweet shot of the cutest little baby monkey. He was in Episode 1 as well, and he is now my favorite character on the show. Less Abi-Maria, more baby monkey! So Shirin tells Spencer that they're pretty well screwed, and Spencer tells us that his plan is to now do what he can to make it three more days. So, they go to Woo, who is giving us an amazing Alec Christy face (don't know what I mean, search Alec Christy Tribal Council).

Shirin takes the lead on this conversation, which makes no sense considering Spencer and Woo's 37-38 day history together on Cagayan. But anyway, she's trying to sway him to vote with them. He tells us and them that they haven't talked to him at all on this island and now they're coming to him looking for a vote? Woo's response, "Absolutely not." And why the hell would he? He's part of the core of the old school alliance. What good could possibly be served in him flipping right now? At this point, they need to stop trying to save their duo and start trying to save themselves.

Spencer tells us that he came out here again to have a different experience than last time and yet, it feels exactly the same. All of his plans shatter and he's left on the bottom fighting for his life. For the first time in two seasons, we see a crack in the Young Lad as he breaks down a little talking about how he finally has someone he can play with and he's going to have to vote her out.

Tribal Council starts with Jeff asking Varner about the vibe of the tribe. He says they're all pretty well exhausted. It was a tough challenge and everyone is feeling it. Spencer agrees and suggests that they all suffer from some sort of amnesia about this game where they forget about how hard it is. He moves to Shirin talking about how everyone remembers the game as awesome, but when they come back...not so much. She tells him that she doesn't remember the game as awesome. Shirin had a rough time on her season, and she's starting to have one this time. She says there was some fighting and people lost faith in her and now she's on the bottom.

Wentworth confirms that there was an issue between Peih-Gee and Abi, and that's what Shirin is talking about. So now it's time for Abi to explain it. Yadda, yadda, I'm a victim and Terry saved me, yadda, yadda. Jeff points out that this sounds a lot like last season when Mike came and rescued Shirin. Yeah, Jeff - Abi getting called out on her bullshit by Peih-Gee is JUST like Shirin being told that no one loves her and she has no soul. It's practically the same thing. To her credit, Shirin simply acknowledges that she should have gone and talked to Abi and that the game changes very quickly.

Terry talks about making a connection with Abi on the beach and that it went well and he doesn't feel like he's on the bottom anymore. Back to Spencer. He says that he and Shirin are definitely on the bottom and when asked why, he says that a lot of it is trying to talk too much strategy and not getting to know these people on a personal level. As he says this, Varner is nodding. And then, just like in Cagayan when Spencer was trying to save himself over J'Tia - he gives a stump speech to everyone on the tribe letting them know that if he lives through this vote, he'll work on those relationships and start to get to know everyone. It's actually kinda goofy, but the dude has nothing left up his sleeve. He totally should have borrowed Tony's bag of tricks, because he is sans trick right now. And with that, it's time to vote.

As they vote, I have to say that I'm actually surprised that with two people on the block, there wasn't some talk about splitting the vote. Did Wentworth tell someone she has the idol? With a 7-2 numbers advantage, putting all your votes on one of these two seems awfully risky. Anyway, to the votes - all we see is Shirin's vote for Spencer and Spencer's vote for Shirin. The rest remain anonymous. And Jeff goes to tally the votes. First vote: Spencer. Second vote: Shirin. Third and fourth votes: Shirin. Fifth and Sixth votes: Spencer. Ah...they DID split the vote. Very nice. Another Spencer, another Shirin and we're tied at 4-4 with one vote left.

The second person voted out of Survivor Cambodia - Shirin. Before Jeff gives his weekly pep talk to the tribe, Spencer does thank the tribe for keeping him, saying he meant every word he said. Jeff reminds them that this season is about second chances and changing and if you don't change, history will repeat itself. Head back to camp. Good night.

Next time on Survivor, maybe things are looking up for players like Stephen and Spencer - drop your effing buffs! "We are switching tribes - from two tribes to three tribes." Boom!! This is gonna be huge. Here is where a little luck comes into the game - depending on how the tribes split up, the weak can become strong and the strong can find their torch snuffed at the end of the episode. I'm curious about logistics though...a new tribe means a new camp. That will really suck for the people that get put on the new tribe, to have to start from scratch again? And who gets to keep camp Shangri-La with the hammocks and everything? Love this idea and I can't wait to see how it plays out. Until next week, kiddies, take care!

Love the column, hate the column, think I was too hard on Abi, not hard enough? Let me know @vannestjc on the Twitter.