Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance Recap
Episode 7 - Play to Win
By Jim Van Nest
November 9, 2015

Good riddance. Again.

Hello, good people, and welcome to Merge Night on Survivor Second Chance! That's right, for the first time in Survivor history, they're merging the tribes with 13 people still in the game. If previews are to be believed, this will come as quite a shock to most of the players and it could be a game-saving twist for some, while spelling doom for others. Joey Amazing, for example, had to be waiting for the individual game, but he could be staring down the bullet of having to win seven, eight or even nine challenges. Hopefully, the bonds he's made will be stronger than Fishbach's urge to get rid of him. And what of Spencer? He bunked with the devil last week, but this week he'll be back with his mentor, Jeremy.

A lot of things are going to be up in the air, but let's refresh last week. Last week saw the departure of Terry Deitz for an emergency with his son, Danny. Last week also saw the three tribes merged into two, which was great news to the Angkor Four. Savage, especially was feeling on top of the world, as he could finally enact his plan to oust Spencer. He just made one little mistake - he suggested that they offer Ciera up as the decoy vote. And guess what? Ciera doesn't like to be made the decoy vote, and she quickly organized Abi, Spencer and her bestie Kass to target one of Savage's alliance. With Abi in the fold, the only possible option was Woo. With a huge decision to make at Tribal Council, Kass decided to side with her tightest alliance, Ciera, and actually votes WITH Spencer to oust Woo. With the table all set, let's see what kind of craziness tonight's early merge has to offer.

We begin at Ta Keo on Day 17, the morning after the Woo blindside. Savage is blown away by the liars on his tribe. He tries to tell Kass that she could have come to him, and she tells him that it was not personal. She says there were just too many red flags. After he gets over his little crybaby spell, Savage asks the tribe to please keep him in the game to the merge. Spencer asks him point blank, "Are you still going to be coming after me?" Savage shakes his hand and says, "I'll never write your name down again." Um, wow. I say wow, because coming from Savage, that means something. Spencer and Kass both suggest that maybe this was how it should have been on Cagayan. Spencer tells us that he likes his group right now even though he has to rely on Kass. But he thinks that his growth in this game is what is allowing this to happen. Time will tell, I guess.

We check in with Bayon, also on the morning of Day 17. Keith and Kimmi come back with Tree Mail that tells them to go to the beach and await visitors. They all agree that there's no way they can be merging this soon. Tasha tells us that if they do merge, she's worried about the Cagayan people finally being all together. We flip real quickly to Kass reading Tree Mail, telling them to grab everything they want to keep with them in the game and head over to Bayon beach. Ciera's really worried about merging right now, with Savage feeling hurt and left out. Kass reminds the group that over on the other tribe, someone will be on the bottom and they need to look for it. As the credits get ready to roll, through the rain, Savage is thrilled at the thought of a merge. He can't wait to get back to his "Bayon Brothers." I'm afraid he may not have any Bayon brothers to get back to. Again, I guess time will tell.

We come back from break to see Ta Keo walking up their new beach. As they approach the merge feast, there's the Bayon tribe on their way as well. Joe tells us that there's no way they could be merging this soon. And Keith reads the note left for them telling them that they are merged. They unwrap their new orange buffs and begin to feast! Wentworth is very excited to have made the merge and she is ready to play.

As everyone feasts, the conversation turns to what happened with Woo. I can't believe my ears as Kass basically gives away everything that happened on Ta Keo. She tells them that Woo, Savage and Wiglesworth voted for Spencer. Kimmi asks her if she wrote down Spencer's name and Kass tells her she did not. She tells the group that Spencer put his fate in her hands and she didn’t' abuse it. Of course, what she HAS done is just broken down the alliances of her former tribe. For a smart lady, I'm blown away that she's actually having this conversation.

Stephen tells us that he was just waiting for the feast to break up so he can get to setting up the play for the first vote. Savage is thrilled to be back at Bayon. He tells Jeremy about how fast they turned on him last night, and says the two of them need to be very careful with what they do next. They start trying to put together their seven for this vote. They have the two of them, Stephen, Wiglesworth, Kimmi and Tasha. Savage says that he's going to make the play to get Joe and if he can do that, they'll have their seven. Next up we see Wentworth and Kass putting their heads together. They figure they can keep their Ta Keo five together and add in Abi and Spencer to give them the seven. Kelley is worried that they may lose Joe and/or Spencer, so she makes the plan to secure both of them in her alliance as they are going to be power players in this game.

After the commercial, Savage decides to make his play for Joe. He has a sit down with him on the beach. Savage breaks it down for Joe with the list of names that we just discussed. Joe tells us that Savage is trustworthy and that he's really playing with his heart. His worry is that he had a deal with the Ta Keo five and he's not sure he wants to break that. He tells Savage that he wants to talk to people today to get an idea of which way they're leaning.

Wentworth targets Spencer. She breaks down her numbers with him and he says that he has two concerns, because he hasn't talked to these people. That's Keith and Joe. Kelley confirms that Keith is with them and she has his vote. She tells him that she should have Joe, but she wants to talk to him soon to make sure he doesn't start to bro-down with Savage and Jeremy. Spencer tells us that there are apparently two groups in play here and he and Joe are in the middle. Naturally, the play is to go talk to Joe. So he does. He lays it out to Joe that he doesn't really have any allies. Joe says that he hasn't had to go to Tribal, so he's not sure where he stands. They start breaking down the two groups. As the conversation ends, Joe breaks it down that there's a line and he's on one side or the other. Spencer tells him they have to watch each other's backs.

As the rain continues to fall, the whole tribe is stuck under the shelter. As they sit feeling restless, Stephen decides to recite a poem to everyone. As he speaks, the silent communication between everyone else is pretty humorous. Eye rolls and smiles are exchanged. Once he finishes the poem, he gets some applause and Kass tells us that she's worried about the bro-down going on at Bayon. She feels like she can pull in the numbers to go against Savage, Jeremy and Stephen.

As people start to go out of the shelter, Kass and Tasha are talking while they lay down. Kass tells Tasha that she could be in trouble because she's a challenge threat. Tasha tries to play it down, but there's really no way to do it. It's the truth. She tells us that she's not too thrilled with Kass right now and she's trying to give Kass mis-information. She tells us that Kass got her voted out last time and she will not let her vote her out again. Tasha tries her best to downplay the Bayon alliance, but I don't think Kass is buying it. Kass tells us that Tasha is still living in the past and she needs to think about their second chance. "Don't mess with my second chance. You just unleashed the beast." Kass tells her that she thinks the lines will be drawn today.

After the break, we get more Kass as she tells us that the Bayon people are set to run the show, unless someone upsets the apple cart. And God forbid it be Chaos Kass that does that. After not liking her even the slightest bit in Cagayan, I can't believe that I'm now actively rooting for her. What the hell has happened here? We join another conversation between Kass and Tasha on the beach where Kass calls Tasha out for lying to her in the shelter about Bayon being done. Tasha doesn't deny lying to Kass and actually suggests that there's no way she would tell her the truth.

What happens next is basically a replay of several different episodes from Cagayan. Kass decides to blow up Tasha’s game by calling her out in front of the rest of the tribe, telling everyone that Tasha said Bayon was done and that she wasn't with them anymore. As she did alone on the beach, Tasha reminds everyone that she would never tell Kass the truth based on their Cagayan history. Kimmi suggests that they're both coming in with baggage from last season and that a clean slate would be best for everyone. Obviously, that isn't going to happen. Kass has gone down the rabbit hole of Chaos Kass mode and there's no coming back from that. She'll either freak everyone out enough that someone will flip and help her vote out Tasha, or Kass' game will end right here, right now.

Where things really start to devolve is when Ciera joins in and tries to help stir the pot. She suggests - again, in front of everyone - that the reason Woo went home was because he and Savage were talking about getting rid of the strong Bayon members like Jeremy and Joe. Savage is appalled at the her nerve to come in and flat out lie like that. And I, as a viewer, was also appalled that she would make up such an unbelievable lie. No one on that island would ever believe that Savage was coming for Jeremy.

And where Kass may or may not have been making headway with her rant on Tasha, any hope she had of flipping anyone blew right up with Ciera's nonsense. Ciera is a good player, but her desire to make "the big move" gets the best of her sometimes and this is one of those times. Kass, like her or not, had a definite plan when she went up to the group and Ciera, unknowingly, just blew it up in their faces. Savage tells us that Ciera jumping in the fray just woke the sleeping bull and that there's a two-headed dragon tearing up camp right now and at the next Tribal, they're going to take one of those heads and lop it off. As he speaks, we're finally taken to a....

Probst sighting! Come on in, guys! Jeff asks Ciera how it's going with the new merged tribe. She says it's really chaotic right now and that there's not a clear vision of where the lines are drawn. There probably won't be until that first Tribal, either, so having that necklace will be pretty important. Today's challenge is a replay of a Cagayan challenge. Each person will have a stick with a round flat platform on the top. They'll have to balance a ball on this platform, while standing on an inclined balance beam. At 10 minute intervals, they will move down the narrowing beam and move their hands down the stick they're holding, making the balance much harder. Last person standing with their ball on their platform wins immunity and will be safe from the vote at Tribal Council.

For what it's worth, in Cagayan, Spencer came in a close second on this challenge, with Tasha winning the necklace. So, there you have it. When you're all set, let's begin. About seven seconds in, Stephen's ball drops and he is out. Nine minutes in and the man who is "good with balls," Keith, drops out of the challenge. Right behind Keith are Ciera and Kimmi and we've lost four people in the first round of this challenge. Everyone moves down the beam and hands down the pole and let's begin again.

Abi lasts about two seconds into round two and she drops out. Kass is next out, followed by Wiglesworth and Wentworth. Five people remain heading into the third round - Joe, Jeremy, Savage, Spencer and Tasha. The third round begins and Savage is out quickly. Shortly after Savage, Tasha drops out followed closely by Jeremy. We're down to Joe vs. Spencer. Spencer looking for redemption in this challenge against Joey Amazing. I think we all know how this will work out. Joe wins first individual immunity! As everyone heads back to camp and we head to commercial; Joe tells us that he and Spencer are looking to be the swing votes tonight and he's glad to have that necklace as it's going to be "one helluva Tribal."

We get back from commercial to everyone congratulating Joe on his big win. Andrew tells us how he really wanted to make a statement in this challenge to show that he could hang with the young guys. The desire to bro-down is strong in this one. He goes on to tell us that Kass and Ciera are such a disruptive force in camp right now, but if he gets to choose, he wants Ciera to go because of what she said about him earlier. It blows me away how even as second chancers, people can't look past shit like that and remember what's important here. Taking Ciera out is not important right now. Removing the real pot stirrer - Kass - is.

So we join Andrew at the watering hole with Wiglesworth, Stephen and Joe, and he tells them he thinks Ciera needs to go. Stephen and Kelly both feel it should be Kass first. He doesn't really care for it, but in his first decent strategic move, he shuts up and just rolls with it. Joe says that he might be in a position where he just has to stick with the numbers tonight. Next we catch up with Spencer, Jeremy and Keith and Kass seems to be the name there as well. Spencer tells us that he does not like the idea of voting out Kass, especially since she just saved him. He does, however, feel like the numbers are running away from him and he may not be able to save Kass even if he wanted to.

Spencer does throw something out here, and if he did it on purpose, it's pretty brilliant. He asks Jeremy if they should split the vote. Jeremy doesn't think Kass has an idol and wisely, Spencer backs off. But later, Jeremy tells us that he has to be careful of Kass possibly having an idol and that they'd probably be better off splitting the vote. The reason I say this is brilliant is that Spencer has now made himself part of a nine-person alliance that is targeting Kass. He threw out the idea of splitting the vote, which they're going to do now, which would make it a 5-4-4 split with 13 people. That really leaves Spencer in a perfect place to throw his vote on any of the three people mentioned and be that deciding vote. If that was his plan, it's brilliant. If not, well, he should pay attention, because he could be the ultimate decider tonight.

We join the alliance as they decide how to split the votes. They decide that it will be five votes on Kass, four on Ciera and they break down who's voting for whom. Hell, even Keith is down with this plan. The next thing we see is Kass telling her lonely four - Abi, Ciera and Wentworth - that the bro-down is happening and they're in trouble. Ciera suggests that they're probably going to split the vote to guard against an idol. So, all they need to do is swing one person (Spencer?) to their side and Tasha can be the person going home tonight. I'm surprised how quickly Abi gets on board with this plan, but, it's Abi and she's switched her alliance every episode - why should this one be any different, right?

So, Kass goes to take her shot with Spencer. She tells him that with the vote split on, all they have to do is have him cross to their side and take out Tasha. Spencer looks down with the plan until she says to vote for Tasha. He kinda stops looking so excited at this point, but does nod and commit himself to that plan. Honestly, if you really want to pull off a move like this, the way to handle it is, "Spencer, we need your vote. We want your vote. Tell me who you want to vote off." And then your alliance makes it happen. By giving him a name, you're taking the risk that he also wants to vote out that person. If he doesn't, you've lost him before you could even start. As they head to Tribal, Spencer acknowledges that he is in a unique position for him, to control who goes home. He considers Tasha a friend and he doesn't want to vote her out, but Kass and Ciera stuck their necks out to save him at the last vote.

Okay, so we're in the merge episode, right? We still have to begin Tribal Council with two players dipping their torches to get fire. Fire represents life and when your fire's gone, so are you. That's right - Joe and Keith are coming to Tribal for the first time. Wow.

Jeff starts with Ciera asking her to expound on her comments from the challenge. She says chaotic doesn't begin to explain what was going on out there. He goes to Kass next and asks her if there can be too much chaos, even for her. She tells him that she is not playing that kind of game and that it is other people who are up to her old tricks. He asks "Like who?" "Tasha." And there it is! THAT'S the Chaos Kass we all love. Blowing it up 30 seconds into Tribal.

Tasha brings out the claws and lets Kass know she is gonna call her on her stuff. Kass explains about Tasha saying the Bayon alliance was no more, Tasha cuts her off, talking about her lies. And then Ciera jumps in to say that while she may enjoy the chaos, a lot of what Kass is saying is the truth. Jeff asks Joe about the three people in the middle of all this and what it means. Joe says that the first vote after the merge and people are scared to officially pick a side. So the easiest thing would be to go with one of those three right there.

Jeff asks Ciera how that feels to be pointed out as an easy vote. She doesn't like it and goes off on some diatribe about playing to win and everyone should be doing what's best for them. And it totally made no sense, to me, with the narrative of Tribal so far. But then, I didn't expect a random Fishbach poetry reading in the middle of the merge episode, either. Jeff suggests to Spencer that he's probably thinking, "I am playing." He says that he is playing but that what is playing to him might not be to someone else. And that tomorrow, it might be totally different. Jeff asks Stephen if that's a big comment to be throwing out there. He says that it's odd to see three smaller women as the potential boots on the merge episode of Survivor. He feels that there's a change to strategy right now, an Evolution of Strategy (you might say).

Jeff suggests to Spencer that maybe you don't need an alliance right now, just voting blocks. Spencer says that the speed with which this game is moving, nothing will be expected. Jeff asks Ciera about whether trust is needed. She says of course trust is needed. You want to be one, two, three or four. You don't want to be six, seven, eight or nine. And someone in this Tribal is six, seven, eight and nine in their group. And when you realize that's where you're at, that's when it's time to make a move and play the game. She appears to be saying all this to Spencer, but it's hard to say for sure. What isn't hard to say, though, is that it is time to vote.

As I watch everyone step up to vote, I can't help but notice that in a 13 person Tribal Council, only six people got to speak. After the first few episodes, what is up with Purple Abi? And Purple Wiglesworth? They hardly ever speak anymore. Anyway, we see Tasha voting for "KAS." I have to wonder if that's some sort of shot that I don't understand. I mean, they played over 30 days together once and they've been together for another 17 or so here. She knows how to spell Kass's name. We see Jeremy vote for Ciera. And see? He spells it correctly. He didn't know her before this game and despite the many spellings of Ciera, he knows how to spell it. Something was up with Tasha's vote. Maybe I have too much empty space in my brain to focus on things like that. Moving on.

We also see Kass's vote for Tasha. And with that, Jeff'll go tally the votes. First vote, Kass. Ciera. Tasha. Kass. Ciera. Tasha. So we have a three-way tie with two votes a piece. What's interesting here are the odd looks we see from Savage and Tasha. I don't get it. You have an alliance of nine against a minority of four. The minority alliance picked Tasha to vote against. You should be expecting four votes for her tonight. Why does this surprise you? Anyway, I digress. Kass. Ciera. Savage?? Um, what? Why would someone vote for Savage right now? I'll say this, though. The look on his face is not one of happiness. Someone's gonna have some 'splainin' to do later.

Next votes, Kass. Ciera. It's now four votes Kass, four votes Ciera, two votes Tasha, one vote Savage. Two votes left. The last two votes are the same. Seventh person voted out and the first member of our jury, Kass. Wha? First member of the jury? Wow! This jury will be huge. The final episode is gonna have to be about four hours! Anyway, Chaos Kass bows out and when we see the votes, we see that Wentworth voted for Kass, Ciera was the vote for Savage, and Spencer went with the numbers and cast his vote for Ciera. Only Abi stuck with Kass in voting for Tasha.

I'm not sure what to say about Kass other than I think she knew her back was against the wall and she went back to the only well she knew how to tap. She went for causing confusion and tension in the main alliance. Unfortunately, these people have seen her play and her attempts gained no traction and like Joe said, she was the easy boot tonight. One would assume that either Ciera or Abi will be the easy vote next week, but in this crazy-ass season, let's not write that in ink, eh?

Next time on Survivor: sounds like everyone is worried about big moves. Savage says he knows one is coming. Stephen says that it's time to take out someone who's a real threat to win this game. As they flash on the possible threats to win the game we see Stephen, Spencer, Savage, Joe, Jeremy, Tasha and Kelley Wentworth. I'm sure he knows he's a target, as Joe says, "People will only be loyal for so long." Hopefully, he'll be around after the dust settles to see if he can rival Mike Holloway in challenge wins. Until next week, be sure to come back and check out Ben's Power Rankings and then check out the recap of Episode 8, right here.

Hit me up on the Facebook or the Tweetbox: @vannestjc I love talking Survivor and I'd like to know what y'all think! Take care!