Survivor

‘Survivor: Second Chance’ Review: ‘Bunking With the Devil’ Is Blindside City, Baby!

Recap and review of Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance – Episode 6 – Bunking With the Devil:

There’s been a lot of predictability on Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, even while a lot of the obviousness has made for awesome television. But “Bunking With the Devil” is first-class Survivor. It’s wild, unpredictable, and loaded with some of the biggest twists and turns in this season so far. Everyone is playing at a high level, and it’s showing in the amount of strategy being deployed here.

Long story short, the tribes get shuffled yet again, with the new Ta Keo consisting of Kass, Woo, Spencer, Abi-Maria, Ciera, Savage, and Keith. In ending up on the same tribe, Spencer and Kass were forced to confront the lingering animosity from Survivor: Cagayan. While Spencer seemed ready to let bygones be bygones, Kass was still holding onto her past grudge against Spencer, claiming she was out for revenge. This, despite the fact that she outlasted Spencer last time around, soundly beating him by essentially out-playing him. I was worried that the Kass who’d appeared to have evolved was devolving once confronted with an uncomfortable element from her past. It didn’t make game sense to get rid of Spencer at this point, nor did it make sense for her to alienate him without even trying to hear him out, since Spencer could be a valuable ally precisely because no one would expect Kass to ever work with him. It’s this realization that prompts Kass to rethink her position on Spencer, especially once the new Ta Keo ends up losing the immunity challenge (the wonderful “gross local delicacies” food challenge).

Survivor Second Chance

Credit: CBS

In trying to set up a Spencer blindside, Savage overplays his hand by coming up with a plan that involves telling Spencer they’re all going to vote Ciera. This ends up having the negative effect of angering Ciera, since Savage throwing her name out there indicates to her that he doesn’t think much of her as an ally. I don’t really know how Savage could have avoided all this, since he had to give Spencer somebody’s name, and if he’d chosen a close ally, Spencer would realize he was being snowed. By the same token, there has to be some sort of middle ground between keeping Spencer blind, deaf and dumb, and losing Ciera’s loyalty. But that option never presented itself, unfortunately. And so a backlash happened against Savage and his allies, as Ciera got Abi-Maria, Spencer and Kass together to organize a blindside against Woo, taking away one of Savage’s key allies, and giving their foursome the numbers on Ta Keo. Naturally, Kass was caught in the middle, since she was the swing vote: she was in the unique position of either writing down Spencer’s name or Woo’s. And yet, Kass showed the remarkable growth in her game by setting aside her personal differences with Spencer and writing down Woo’s name. Time will tell if it was the right move or not, but honestly, I don’t blame Kass for the call she made. Spencer isn’t a threat in the same way Woo is. Woo is a physical threat, and immensely likable, but that likability is exactly why no one would ever target him. Hell, he got to the end of Cagayan virtually unopposed, and would have won if he’d taken Kass instead of Tony. Spencer, meanwhile, has a reputation that precedes him, whether he deserves it or not. No matter how much he swears his game has changed, everyone will still see Spencer as a schemer who could switch alliances at the drop of a hat. Spencer is valuable because he’ll always be a shield. Woo was a threat, but Spencer is a target. And a target is a lot more valuable to have around than a threat. Woo gets blindsided, and it’s the biggest one of the season yet, as Woo is genuinely stunned. And I can’t say I blame him.

Of course, this was also a very emotional episode of Survivor as well. Seriously, I can’t think of any episode that got me choked up the way this did, largely due to two separate incidents that reverberated throughout the episode:

1) Terry gets woken up in the middle of the night by Jeff Probst, who informs Terry that his son is hospitalized. Apparently, the doctor and Terry’s wife think it’s serious enough that he should rush home to be at his son’s side. Without even thinking, Terry is ready to leave. When he breaks it to the rest of the tribe, it’s a mixture of shock and tears, with everyone pouring their hearts out for Terry, wishing him the best, and promising to keep him and his family in their thoughts. At the next day’s reward challenge, Probst goes around to each of the parents in the various tribes and asks what they’d do if they were in Terry’s situation, and man, just seeing people like Ciera and Savage struggling to keep it together had an instant effect on me. Even Kass was in tears by the end of it. In short, it was very emotional. But the night’s other big heartstring-puller was arguably just as unexpected…

Survivor Second Chance - Episode 6 - Bunking With the Devil

Credit: CBS

2) Stephen Fishbach broke down in tears in a crucial moment. At the reward challenge, the tribes were shuffled AGAIN, with Angkor being dissolved and mixed up with Ta Keo and Bayon. Stephen ended up with a lot of allies, like Jeremy, Kimmi, Tasha and Ciera, with a clear first-elimination in the form of outsider Kelley Wentworth. But a new option for elimination presented itself, as Joe told Stephen he’d rather get rid of Kimmi first rather than go the easy route and vote out Kelley. This told Stephen that Joe was already shoring up his alliances for the merge, and that he would not remain Bayon strong once he got to that point. Stephen took this information to Jeremy, who understood the importance of getting rid of Joe and not allowing the “golden boy” to thrive. And yet, Jeremy simply can’t allow his alliance to act on the information. Jeremy getting rid of Joe would put a target on his own back, since he would then become the new biggest physical threat. Jeremy is very blunt in his confessional when he says that he needs Joe as a “shield”. What we’re left with is an ideological division. Stephen isn’t wrong for being leery of Joe’s glad-handing tactics, but Jeremy isn’t exactly wrong either for wanting to keep Joe around to distract others from the threat he himself presents.

Woo voted out on Survivor Second Chance - Episode 6 - Bunking With the Devil

Credit: CBS

Nobody is in the wrong, and yet Stephen, who’s faced self-esteem issues in the challenges this week (even earning a rebuke from Jeremy, who tells Stephen he needs to start believing in himself), sees this as a failure of his own social acumen. As Stephen explains in a tearful confessional, he knows what happens when you fail to get rid of the “golden boy,” and he came out here hoping to amend his mistake. He’s basically putting everything he has into winning Survivor, yet he feels it still isn’t enough if history just ends up repeating itself anyway. It’s so strange to see Stephen break down, and even he comments on how crazy it is that he’s getting emotional about this, but that’s part of why it was so affecting. He was breaking down for human reasons, namely his frustration at control gradually slipping from his grasp. His heartbreak is completely understandable, and all too palpable, since he’s in a situation that doesn’t have a clear solution. He could make the move against Joe and try to get the numbers on his own to make it happen, but he risks alienating his current allies. Luckily for Stephen, he doesn’t have to make the choice this week, since Bayon not only wins immunity (totally crushing the “gross food” challenge), they also earn redemption for their defeat in the reward challenge, in which they lost a picnic of brownies, fried chicken, and mac ‘n cheese all after blowing it on the combination slip-and-slide/ring toss challenge (which honestly looked like a TON of fun). Ultimately, Stephen gets to avoid tribal council yet again, but it comes at the cost of getting to put any plans to move against Joe into action. I suppose we’ll see if that ends up having an affect as we move forward.

Ultimately, “Bunking With the Devil” was a top-tier episode of Survivor: Second Chance, and easily the best episode of the season so far. With the merge coming up, it’s likely to get even more explosive, since the tribes have been shuffled so many times that virtually everyone has had the chance to play with each other before the merge, which almost never happens in this game. It should create some thrilling dynamics, since I’m not sure any alliances are set in stone right now. No one has the numbers, and everyone is in play. Survivor has never been more exciting.

But what did you think of the latest Survivor: Second Chance, “Bunking With the Devil”? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on Survivor: Second Chance, read the update on Terry Dietz’s son, Danny!

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