Survivor

‘Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance’ Review: ‘Witches Coven’ Shakes Up Alliances

Recap and review of Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance – Episode 9 – Witches Coven:

Have alliancs on Survivor ever mattered less than they do now? Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance has operated largely on a system of voting blocs, with person-to-person connections falling by the wayside in favor of temporary, just-for-now agreements. “Witches Coven” is the embodiment of this play style, as the person who went home technically did nothing wrong. She was just on the wrong side of one of these temporary alliances.

Of course, I can’t know for certain that the alliance between Spencer/Stephen/Jeremy and the “Witches Coven” will actually remain temporary, or if this is the beginning of a brand new alliance that will dominate the game from here on out. With only ten castaways now remaining, they certainly have the numbers to run the table. But it seems like voting targets change with each tribal council. Seriously, why was Kelly Wiglesworth the target tonight? I’m not sure a real reason was ever offered beyond the vague notion that she was some sort of strategic threat as part of a potential power duo with Joe. And even if they were a power duo, there’s not really anything that just the two of them could do to change the game. Sure, Joe continually wins immunity, just as he did here (accomplishing thee new record of going the most consecutive days without being at risk for elimination). But that doesn’t do much for Wiglesworth. I suppose if we crunch the numbers, Wiglesworth makes the most sense since 1) they can’t vote out Ciera, Abi or Wentworth if they’re using them as part of their voting bloc, 2) Tasha can be a valuable number if kept in their back pocket (although she was completely left out of this vote, as she cast hers for Ciera), and 3) Joe has immunity so you can’t target him, and 4) Kimmi is too loyal to Bayon to ever consider flipping. So Wiglesworth was the obvious pick, despite being virtually invisible throughout the entire season. In effect, Wiglesworth didn’t do anything wrong to cause her game to fall apart at Top 11, she simply was on the wrong side of the numbers. While I suppose you could say that’s a fault in her game, since stronger social connections would have resulted in more people fighting to keep her around, I don’t think the cast this season is even approaching it from a social perspective.

'Survivor Cambodia - Second Chance' Witches Coven

Credit: CBS

Case in point, both Stephen and Jeremy are playing very aggrssively, despite ostensibly being in a power position. There are major differences in their play styles though. Stephen’s aggression is on the surface. While on a reward, he begins formulating a plan with Ciera to potentially use the Witches Coven to take control of the game, on the premise that, if he should get to the end, he needs to be able to point to big moves he made. Stephen’s insecurity about his perception in this game is perhaps the biggest motivating factor in the decisions he’s made, since he knows exactly what happens when you make it to the end without being able to argue why you deserve the million more than the other guy. And so when the balance-based immunity challenge rolls around, and Jeff Probst offers an advantage in the game to anyone who steps down and makes it to their buoy first, Stephen races out ahead of Spencer and makes it just in the nick of time. That advantage? It’s the bonus vote that Dan Foley got last season, but with an added twist, as Stephen’s extra vote will come at the expense of someone else: whenever he chooses to use the extra vote, he must name the person whose vote he’s taking away, which not only gives his alliance (if it even still exists) a significant advantage in the ever-changing numbers game that is post-merge Survivor, it also gives him a little bit more protection in the event that the numbers should turn against him, personally. Compare this more openly aggressive strategy to the similar approach by Jeremy, who somehow spends the episode crafting a narrative that he’s next on the chopping block, despite there being no evidence that he’s even on anyone’s radar right now.

'Survivor Cambodia - Second Chance' Kelly Wiglesworth voted out

Credit: CBS

After being stuck back at camp following the reward challenge, Jeremy decides to go searching for a clue to the next hidden immunity idol. And, of course, he finds it. But this next idol isn’t going to be hidden at an immunity challenge. Rather, in a daring switch-up from the norm, the idol is hidden in a spot detailed on a map that Jeremy has found with the clue: but he’ll only be able to find the idol at night. Sure enough, he escapes from the bonfire that night under the guise of going to the bathroom, and finds a torch-lit area where the idol is dangling, waiting for him to find it. So now Jeremy has two idols, and a wealth of power in this game. Sure, he still needs people he can depend on to vote with him, and he even states that Stephen is his closest ally. But while Jeremy is playing just as aggressively as Stephen, he’s doing it all under the radar, making sure his moves aren’t being seen. He goes along with Stephen’s plan to vote Wiglesworth, even while acknowledging that he’d rather just stay the course with his fellow Bayons. Jeremy knows better than to rock the boat, but I think this was one vote he could allow to go Stephen’s way, since I don’t think he was losing a rock-solid ally in Wiglesworth the way he would have been if the target were, say, Kimmi, who’s made a point of being Bayon Strong. That said, I feel like Jeremy and Stephen’s respective play styles will come to a head, sooner rather than later. While Stephen/Jeremy/Spencer and the Witches Coven were able to send Wiglesworth off to the jury, I would imagine Tasha and Kimmi aren’t going to be thrilled about being kept in the dark, nor will Joe be too keen to have his head be next on the chopping block if he doesn’t win immunity. And Keith? Who even knows what he’s thinking? It’s looking like we’re setting up for a wild endgame, even if it does seem obvious, at this point, that Jeremy is the odds-on-favorite to win (tearful confessionals about wanting to provide a better life for your wife and kids don’t get included by accident).

'Survivor Cambodia - Second Chance' Review 'Witches Coven' Shakes Up Alliances

Credit: CBS

“Witches Coven” is another fun, dramatic episode of Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, as it becomes apparent that alliances are shifting — if they even exist at all anymore. It seems like no one has full control over their game right now, as the direction of the competition changes from week-to-week. But this will be a good thing for the drama of the season, considering how wild this season has been already.

But what did you think of Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, Episode 9, “Witches Coven”? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, check out the deleted scenes from last week’s EPIC episode!

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