“My Wheels Are Spinning”
by Ian Walker
One of the more compelling story threads in the highly anticipated Second Chance season of Survivor was the saga of Stephen Fishbach. As somebody who had spent his time since his first season building his reputation as an expert writer and podcaster about the show, the fans that voted Stephen in expected him to be the Survivor Know It All. What most fans didn’t expect was the troubled past Stephen had brought with him.
Everybody had personal demons from the first time they played. But the level to which Stephen was scarred by his failure to close the deal in Survivor: Tocantins, beautifully brought to life by an emotionally raw and honest confessional in an earlier episode, was palpable and set him up to right the wrongs of his past.
How did The Wizard almost get struck down? A few rounds earlier Stephen had been bold enough to drop out of an immunity challenge to grab a mystery advantage, which in turn put a big target on his back. Then, using the “newfound” strategy of voting blocs, he took out subtle social threat Kelly Wiglesworth, destabilizing the structure of the game and leaving himself with the task of picking up the pieces faster than anybody else.
Unfortunately, due to one of the worst Survivor storms ever and #gastrointestinaldistress, Stephen couldn’t move fast enough and left himself vulnerable to a counter attack. It looked like Stephen’s torch was about to be snuffed, but then, in the ultimate act of bro-manship, his best buddy Jeremy Collins busted out a hidden immunity idol and saved him, sending pesky “witch” Ciera Eastin out instead.
After being out of the loop and meeting the Island Grim Reaper for the first time in his Survivor career, Stephen is now determined to make his next move. He gets his chance to lay the groundwork by playing in the ultimate throwback challenge, Survivor Folklore. Seeing this challenge come back as a nod to classic Survivor was such a treat, and running the challenge at night, with the castaways running through the jungle with only their torchlight to guide them, was a great touch.
After narrowly beating out Spencer Bledsoe, and performing the best Jedi mind trick on Abi-Maria Gomes, Stephen wins the reward. He then takes close allies Jeremy and Tasha Fox for a nice lunch to shore up his plan, while leaving the rest of the players back at camp to plot his demise.
Also back at camp, Kelley Wentworth performs her second tension filled idol search of the season. This time, she has to locate and untie the idol from underneath the shelter, in broad daylight, while her tribemates are just a few feet away. With some stealthy waddling and expert Abi-Maria dodging, Wentworth successfully snags her second Cambodian idol.
Fast forward to the vote and all sides think they have the numbers. After waiting round after round, Stephen’s Golden Boy target, Joe Anglim, has finally lost an immunity challenge and is vulnerable to the vote. Armed with his vote steal advantage, Stephen thinks he has the numbers to take him out. Unbeknownst to him, the Young Lad has defected to the Wentworth insurgency and is on board to vote out Fish.
When it comes time to put pen to parchment, The Wizard casts his stealing spell, using Joe’s own vote against him. But Spencer, Wentworth, and their numbers manage to sidestep the wily wizard and vote Stephen out of the game. Showing great sportsmanship, he congratulates his fellow competitors on the “great blindside” as Jeff snuffs his torch, leaving Survivor: Cambodia with a smile on his face and title of “Know It All” intact.