Spencer Duhm was a contestant on Survivor: Tocantins. He is not only a huge superfan but is the youngest ever Survivor contestant at the time of filming, at 18 years old. Spencer was placed on the Jalapao tribe and mixed well with his fellow tribemates, surviving the first couple of vote-offs. However, Spencer wasn’t included in the strong JT/Stephen/Taj alliance, and after a poor challenge performance was voted out in 12th place.
Spencer not only played on the same tribe as Stephen Fishbach, but he was also voted out by Stephen, so Spencer knows what Stephen is capable of in the game of Survivor. Inside Survivor reached out to Spencer to get his thoughts on Stephen’s second chance. Spencer Duhm talks Stephen Fishback and his chances on Survivor: Cambodia.
“What was your overall perception of Stephen’s game on Survivor: Tocantins? Pros and Cons?”
Stephen probably adapted better than anyone else in Tocantins. He came into the game expecting to be an outsider, and to some degree he was. Placed on a tribe where six of the other seven castaways either lived in or were from a state south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the self-professed “New York Jew” certainly had some work to do. From aligning himself with the R&B singer and the Alabama rancher, to quietly engineering crucial blindsides while only truly enjoying a majority for one vote (Sydney), Stephen constantly adapted to the hand he was dealt while battling his way to a finalist’s stool. I’m not sure he slept at ease even one night out there!
Despite how much I respected and admired his game and resiliency, I know even Stephen would tell you that letting JT take the heat/credit for the majority of their moves cost him any real chance of winning the final vote (well that or taking Timbira-hated Erinn). I suspect now that he’s being given the chance, he’ll make sure his crucial moves are more visible and he’ll live with the blame/credit that comes with them.
“How do you think Stephen will change his game on Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance?”
I somewhat answered this above, but… I suspect Stephen will enter the game as a threat and will have to be aggressive early to secure his place. Who wouldn’t immediately target the guy who’s penned a Survivor strategy blog for the last six years? Once he manages to do that (confidence!), I suspect he will focus on making sure that when he does make a crucial strategic decision, he’s given the proper credit for it – he won’t make the same mistake twice.
“Will the fact that Stephen writes and talks about Survivor for People Magazine and RHAP (Rob Has A Podcast) hinder his chances?”
One way or another, I have to assume that his high profile involvement in the Survivor community over the last six years will certainly affect how his fellow S31 castaways view him. In one sense, Stephen’s exposure to (and possible interactions with) the more recent castaways could serve as a link that other earlier castaways don’t enjoy. The alternative would be that he does write a strategy blog for People, which could very easily put a bounty on his head from the outset. He’ll certainly be aware of his perceived threat status and I fully expect him to use his platform to his advantage.
“Who on the Second Chance cast is Stephen’s biggest threat?”
I’d argue two Cagayan castaways. First, Spencer Bledsoe. Both he and Stephen are highly cerebral players that are willing to take bold strategic risks and have earned their stripes while the numbers were rarely, if ever, in their favor. You typically align with people who balance you – let you see another perspective that maybe you’re not inclined to see at first glance; Spencer is the closest thing to a reflection in this cast. On the flip side, Kass McQuillen poses the opposite threat: unpredictability. Based on how they played the first time, Kass probably played the most “chaotic” game of anyone going to Cambodia. When you can’t reasonably predict how a fellow player will act, they become a huge threat to everyone’s game.
“Who on the Second Chance cast do you see Stephen potentially aligning with? Who will be his JT?”
Ahh I, have no idea. You can’t ever be sure who people are truly loyal to going into a game that was meant for complete strangers. Stephen has probably met (or at least interacted with) all but maybe a couple of the Second Chance cast, so he certainly has a starting point to make those crucial bonds in Cambodia. If we’re going with someone like last time, I’d say Andrew Savage is the closest game personality to Stephen’s former ally, JT. Savage (thanks Probst) is a highly physical player, doesn’t shy away from the leadership role, and seems to value long-term loyalty. Like JT/Stephen, Savage had a tight bond with Ryno until he met his untimely demise thanks to the worst twist in Survivor history: the Outcasts.
I feel like making nice with the newer players (12/20 have played in the last 5 years… We just celebrated 15 years of Survivor in May. Misrepresentation?) while establishing lasting bonds with the players that have waited the longest for a second chance will be crucial to creating alliances that will endure.
“What is the major thing Stephen needs to avoid this time around?”
Self-doubt. Stephen will acknowledge your strengths ten out of ten times before boasting about himself. Whether that’s self-deprecation or simply good manners, I hope he doesn’t allow pressure or self-doubt to hinder his game. I fear his personal expectations could weigh heavily on him when faced with crucial decisions. Many former successful players will tell you that more often than not, it’s as simple as trusting your gut. Stephen is as adept at playing this game as almost anyone; I just hope he trusts his instincts.
“What is Stephen’s secret weapon to win?”
Aside from his popularity? If the S31 cast was the GOP primary field, I suspect Stephen would be polling like Donald Trump or Jeb Bush amongst former castaways. I get the sense that a good portion of the Survivor community is rooting for our strategic advisor to have success. Or maybe those are the only ones I talk to, ha! Let’s face it, that’s not going to help him against 19 other money-hungry castaways. Honestly, I’d say his secret weapon is his physical prowess. Stephen has been working hard in the gym for years since Tocantins and I truly believe his strength will surprise some people in Cambodia if given the chance.
“What kind of animal/player will Stephen be this time – Fox (cunning strategist), Bear (strong and loyal), Goat (no chance of winning), or Dead Fish (dragged to the end)?
Chameleon: whatever it takes to win.