Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Episode Recap
Episode 12 - Now's the Time to Start Scheming
By Jim Van Nest
May 9, 2016

Farewell, final villain.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Kaoh Rong. Can you believe we're already at Episode 12 of this season? That's crazy! We're down to six players right now and as we start tonight's episode, Kyle Jason is an island. Everyone is against him and he's watched his two allies leave the game over the last two episodes. With that in mind, I feel like he is the single safest person in the game tonight. We're at six now. If Kyle goes, then the alliance of five will remain and one way or another, there will be a 3-2 split in that alliance. Now is the time where Kyle's vote is the most useful to everyone else - which means he shouldn't be the target.

Previews suggest that Michele might be the target this week. She's gotten a quiet edit and interwebs have been all about her "winner's edit" for a while now. She actually wrote down her best friend's name last week, and the smarter players might be recognizing her as a threat. Also a threat is Tai, with his chicken, his idol and his advantage. Eventually, the group is gonna have to come for him, or they'll be trying to figure out how the hell they let him in the Final Tribal.

What will be really interesting tonight is that with a six person tribe and the possibility of a 3-3 vote split, whoever has Tai on their side could find themselves in a nice spot with that extra vote. Tai could totally leverage this advantage into a Final 3 deal with...well...any pair in the game. I just don't think Tai is a savvy enough player to figure that out. My bet is that either the idol or the advantage or both will never be played. Having watched Dan Foley completely botch the extra vote in Worlds Apart, my guess is the extra vote is a non-factor this season as well, which explains why they changed it up for Second Chance and gave Fishbach a vote stealer. No matter what happens, I still feel like five of these people could potentially win this game.

Before we get to the recap, I just want to point out some logistics. We have six people left. After tonight, there will be five. After next week's episode, there will be four. That means the two-hour finale on May 18th will feature only the final four. It's been a while since that's happened, right? I think this is totally setting up for a surprise Final 2 instead of a Final 3. This could REALLY open the game up for some people. I mean, if Kyle can get to the end and take Joe with him? That sets up my Kyle Jason winner and gives me three winner picks in a row. Just sayin'. Okay, let's get to the episode.

We begin after Tribal, and Kyle's feeling pretty good about how things went. He feels like he may have made some headway with people. He starts right off the bat with Cydney and Michele and suggests that he's a better bet to take to the end over Tai or Aubry. Michele actually agrees with him, but she doesn't want to go against her alliance. The next conversation we see is Tai telling Aubry and Joe that he has an extra vote, so that at the next Tribal, they have four votes. And then the following vote, he has an idol which guarantees them all a shot at the final four. At the mention of this, you can practically see the wheels turning in Aubry. That's a lot of power for one person to have and she doesn't look too thrilled about the idea. We head to the credits with Tai feeling super confident about where he stands right now.

We come back on Day 30, and Tai has found a super-sized grub in a tree trunk. He suggests they might have to eat one in the challenge. Mark decides he'd like that grub, and everyone enjoys Mark. Kyle tells us that the only thing he's sure will see Day 39 is Mark the chicken. He tells us also that he can't get anyone else to play with him and that he's totally alone. Joe finally gets some screen time as he talks to Kyle. He's pissed that everyone is just fine to sit where they are in the alliance and not try to better their position in the game. Joe just sees it as whining because things aren't going his way. We learn through this conversation that Kyle is playing the only card he has left, the lazy card. He's not doing anything around camp, just eating the food. He doesn't feel like he wants to help out the people that are gunning for him.

And with that, it's time for a Probst sighting!! For today's reward challenge, they'll be divided into two teams. They'll have to run out into the water to a huge maze. Then, using their own weight, they'll maneuver three balls through the maze. The first team to get all three balls to the center of the maze wins reward. The reward is a trip to a wildlife preserve in Cambodia with animal interactions and everything. Also, it features a picnic lunch.

The challenge starts off with Joe, Cydney and Aubry against Kyle, Tai and Michele. Kyle jumps out to a HUGE lead over Joe. In fact, Michele is almost through the obstacles before Joe gets to his spot to start Cydney. Kyle's team easily gets to the balls first and starts working the first ball around the maze. The other team finally catches up, but they have no teamwork and can hardly get the ball to move. The Kyle team lands the first ball and goes to get the second. They actually land the second ball before Joe and Co land their first ball. This is a butt kicking. A few seconds later, Tai, Kyle and Michele land the third ball and win reward. As they head to reward, Tai tells us that he's worried about what will happen back at camp while he's gone.

We come back from commercial to the losing team arriving at camp. Joe's embarrassed with his performance in the challenge. While he's telling us that, they're showing a scene in camp of Joe ordering the girls around. Cydney is trying to eat a little bit when Joe interrupts her and basically tells her to stop to go get some wood. She tells Aubry as they go that she won't be able to make it all the way with that. She is done being told what to do, especially when she's eating. As they get back to camp, Joe's even giving a bunch of attitude to Aubry, and she's pretty well done with it as well. He's way too worried about having a huge fire. Aubry's worried about Joe pissing off Cydney to the point of her blowing up the game.

Time for the happy music as the winning team arrives at their reward. They start with the picnic and are loving life. As they eat, an elephant walks up to where they are. They learn a little about Lucky the elephant and the preserve itself. Kyle is choked up over this because his autistic daughter loves animals. He knows that she's going to love this part of the show. Tai tells us that he is actually warming up to Kyle on this reward. He now thinks that Michele should be the next to go. Michele, on the other hand, just doesn't trust Kyle at all and feels like he has to be the one to go next.

And straight from break, we head to a Probst sighting! Today's immunity challenge will have the players using a rope to balance a wobbly table. They'll race back and forth getting blocks, one at a time. They have to stack the blocks on the table to spell out "Immunity." The hard part is not letting the table and blocks all. This should be an interesting challenge.

As they all take off, Cydney is quick to fall behind in this challenge, to the point that she's pretty much out of it by the third letter. Out to a surprising lead after five letters is Joe! And as soon as I say that, Joe drops all of his tiles, leaving Michele in the lead. No wait, Michele drops. Then Aubry, then Tai. At this point, Kyle is in the lead with six. Hold on a sec, Jason drops everything. And now, Cydney is in the lead! As Cydney places her fifth tile, we learn that Joe can't spell immunity backwards as he keeps bringing the wrong tile. Aubry and Michele have basically caught up with Cydney when Michele and Tai drop out. Then Aubry drops out again.

At this point, Cydney places her seventh block and heads back for the last one. Kyle also places his seventh and they are now neck and neck, but Cydney is playing SO slow that Kyle overtakes her to grab the last block. They both place their eighth block. First one back without dumping wins. Just a few feet from the win, Kyle drops all and Cydney finishes it off. Slow and steady literally won the race tonight for Cydney. Amazing!

We come back from break to the usual congratulations to Cydney in the challenge. Tai has decided that Michele is the bigger threat than Kyle, and he wants to get the group on board with him. Joe would rather get rid of Kyle, and no one else gets to speak before Michele comes down to the water. Tai tells us that he plans on using both of his votes on Michele. Finally, Aubry tells him she's with him. Next up, Tai goes to Kyle and tells him to vote Michele. He's been suckered by Tai before, so he's not sure what to do.

Cydney and Joe talk about how they really want Kyle to go and that they need to stop worrying about Tai's agenda. Cydney does not like this at all. So she goes to Michele and tells her that Tai's plan is to get rid of Michele. Next up, Cydney goes to Aubry and tells her that she doesn't appreciate that Tai is trying to dictate to the rest how to vote. Aubry tells us that she actually agrees with Tai, but not the way he's gone about this. She knows that Cydney has no plans to go with Tai and that she's torn between what she thinks is the best thing to do and what will piss off her biggest ally, Cydney. And with that, we head to Tribal.

Kyle agrees with Jeff that the challenge today was a microcosm of the game itself, while Cydney and Michele try to blow up Tai's plan a little bit. Cydney feels like Tai is trying to dictate what their group is going to do. Tai talks about not getting a chance to talk to Cydney and Aubry seems confused. Michele just goes ahead and opens it up that Tai is coming after her and that he thinks he's in such a good place because of his idol and advantage. Michele is now jumping all over Tai about flipping on his alliance while she's stayed strong with everyone. Tai basically says that Michele is at the bottom and he doesn't even know why she's in the alliance. Aubry mentions that Cydney and Michele now do not trust Tai at all. After all this, Jeff finally calls on Kyle. He says that he's definitely excited about what could happen tonight. There could be a split and he gets three more days, or he could still go home and now he knows who will be following him. And with that, it's time to vote.

We see Michele's vote for Jason. We see Tai's vote for Michele, saying she has to go first. And that is all we see. As Jeff goes to tally the votes, Tai stops him to use his advantage. He explains that the advantage is that he can cast an extra vote so he goes up to do that. He votes for Michele again saying that she has to go home. Jeff goes to tally the votes. And it goes a little something like this: Jason. Michele. Michele. Jason. Joe. Jason. Eleventh person voted out and sixth member of the jury, my winner pick, Kyle Jason. And just like that, the axis of evil is gone and Tai has made himself public enemy #1. Of course, in his case, he has an idol that he can only use at the next Tribal, so he'll be guaranteed a spot in the final four.

The question here is whether this was a good move for Aubry, Cydney and Michele. I think it was great for Cydney and Aubry, as they stand to have the best shot of winning the game. It was stupid on the part of Tai and Michele. Michele is on the bottom and just secured her spot as the next to go because of Tai's idol. Tai made himself an enemy of everyone left in the game, which means without an immunity necklace, he's next to go. That leaves us with an Aubry, Cydney and Joe final three. If this goes the way I think and we have a final two...that means whoever wins the final immunity challenge will win the game, with Joe making the improbable run to the finals. Are you kidding me??

Next time on Survivor: Tai's big plan to get rid of Michele backfired. Aubry turned on him, so what's a little guy with an idol to do? How about make an alliance with Michele? Um, seriously? That's crazy. So crazy, it just might work. One thing's for sure. In a season where nothing is predictable, the last two episodes should follow suit. Look for Ben to come back with his Power Rankings and then join me for the Episode 13 recap. 'Til then, take care!