Today, millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving. It is a time of year when families and friends come together to eat turkey, enjoy the Macy’s parade and watch American Football. It is also a chance to say thanks for the simple things in life that we often take for granted: food on the table, a roof over your head, and family by your side. Everything the castaways on Survivor: Second Chance were missing and longing for this episode.
Survivor has visited some brutal locations over the years and Cambodia is proving to be one of the toughest. Torrential downpours and thunderstorms have wreaked havoc and left the tribe with a battered shelter, no fire, and perpetually cold, wet clothes. Watching people huddled in a shelter, being miserable and listening to Abi-Maria Gomes and her misinformed weather forecasts, is not exactly fun; if you have a perverse desire to watch people with rain-wrinkled skin suffering from severe gastrointestinal distress, then this episode was for you.
It is no real surprise then that many castaways chose to sit out of the Immunity challenge for a chance to have a construction crew rebuild their shelter. However, it was somewhat of a shock that EIGHT of them chose to do this. It goes to show just how dire the situation must have been if all but two of these determined players were willing to give up their shot at safety in the game. Except for Joe Anglim of course, who was able to beat handily Keith Nale (the only other person that chose to play) in yet another ball balancing challenge.
After Joe had won immunity, the episode became a battle between Ciera Eastin and Stephen Fishbach. Last week, Stephen spent the majority of the episode talking about “voting blocs” and how this supposedly “new” strategy was the way this season’s game was to be played. He said the phrase “voting bloc” so much that it started to seep into the tribe vernacular. The players believed that this was what was happening and that they had to adopt that same strategy. It was like a sort of Pavlovian experiment.
The constant shifting of alliances was one of the main causes of confusion at camp. Everybody was trying to keep their clothes dry and their numbers in order. Even within alliances, there was confliction. Namely in the group of Jeremy Collins, Spencer Bledsoe and Stephen, who last week decided to join the “witches coven” to blindside Kelly Wiglesworth.
Spencer pushed for the ouster of Stephen because he viewed him as a potential threat down the road. Jeremy, on the other hand, did not feel comfortable with turning on an ally. Spencer deserves credit here for being the first person to stand-up to Jeremy – who up until that point had dictated the votes with masterful control.
It appeared, heading into tribal council, that Stephen was about to leave with advantage in hand until Jeremy whipped out one of his hidden immunity idols and played it for the Know It All. Two weeks ago Ciera was gleefully celebrating when her alliance mate Kelley Wentworth played an idol against Andrew Savage, this week she was the victim of another San Juan Del Sur-ian idol play.
Ciera played a ballsy game that ultimately turned her into a huge target. Her eagerness to see big moves eventually turned her elimination into a big move of its own. Her outspoken passion for the game, combined with Wentworth’s idol play on Savage, set the ball rolling for what has become a fast-paced, electric post-merge game. Perhaps her choice to take the white rock and sit out of the challenge contained an element of poetic justice – she did, after all, force a rock draw in Blood vs. Water that saved her game. However, unlike Jeff Probst, I do not believe that this was a million dollar mistake – the challenge involved Joe and balls, what chance did Ciera have?
With Jeremy’s idol play on Stephen, it has suddenly thrown up a caution sign over the “voting blocs” strategy. Fluidity and shifting numbers are all well and good until somebody sticks their neck on the line to save another player and reveals that there are deep bonds alive in the game. Jeremy’s bold play and Ciera’s elimination put a momentary (perhaps permanent?) end to the voting bloc experiment and became crucial in what happened next in Episode 11.
Our review of Episode 11 will follow tomorrow. For now, enjoy your Thanksgiving day.