‘Survivor: Kaoh Rong’ Episode 2 Review: Who Went Home In ‘Kindergarten Camp’?
Recap and review of Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Episode 2 – Kindergarten Camp:
We’re early into Survivor: Kaoh Rong, but “Kindergarten Camp” just might be a masterclass in how not to play the game. This isn’t to say that Jenny might not have been better under different circumstances, but one mistake can often undermine even the best of intentions. Of course, “best of intentions” is a bit of a stretch when those intentions are all about advancing your own game at the expense of supposed allies. But that’s not too different from the usual M.O. for Survivor, so why did the duplicitous approach work for other castaways in the past, but not for Jenny tonight? I think the answer was simple: Jenny simply didn’t commit. Worse than that, actually. She wavered.
Wavering in your commitment to an alliance isn’t exactly anything new, since even the best players have had to flip every now and then. But it’s generally a terrible idea to consider a flip this early into the game. This should have been an easy vote for the Brawn tribe. Alecia would have gone home, and the Brawns would have, in theory, been a stronger physical tribe. The goal for Jenny, as it should be for any castaway on Day 6, should have been to not rock the boat. It was just painfully unnecessary, especially since she was a crucial member of a four-person alliance. And although an eventual tribe swap would likely separate her from her allies, Jenny ought to have been focused on at least getting to that point. But instead, Jenny decided to propose the possibility of an all-girls alliance, rationalizing that no one will be gunning to pick them off once they get to the merge. And you know what? It was a perfectly fine plan. Hell, I didn’t even mind that her decision to target Jason was largely due to how much he was getting on her nerves. I mean, it’s generally bad form to let emotions factor into your decisions, but Jason was borderline insufferable tonight. The man spent damn near the entire episode ripping on Alecia behind her back, calling her a ditz, comparing her to a bird, and then joking about feeding her his own skin flecks. What made it doubly infuriating was that he was ragging on Alecia for doing nothing around camp, yet it seemed he spent the better part of the episode napping in the canopy while Alecia spends five hours building a fire. While I’m sure there were things left out of the edit, it’s hard to imagine Jason’s venom towards Alecia was a fabrication, and I doubt Jenny’s annoyance with that animosity was any less real. So I kind of get why she targeted Jason, since his attitude could be considered poisonous to tribe morale. But the problem was Jenny’s lack of commitment to the plan. Not long after forming the all-girls alliance with Alecia and Cydney, Jenny realizes that by blindsiding Jason, she’s blindsiding Scot, someone whom she actually likes. Suddenly, Jenny becomes the swing vote between two alliances. From here, it should have been easy for Jenny to go back to Scot and Jason without them ever knowing her allegiance was in question. But then tribal council rolled around, and Jenny proved to be too honest.
If you’re having doubts about your alliance, it’s usually a good idea not to voice having had those doubts. To be fair, Jenny never phrases it as having doubts about her original alliance. Instead, she brings up that several options were proposed, and that decisions were up in the air. Scot immediately takes issue with this, since it’s the first he’s heard about Jenny not being solid with them. For her part, Jenny takes offense that Scot would doubt her commitment simply because she brought up that different options were discussed. The lack of self-awareness here would have been bad enough to sink her, but Jenny doubles down by accusing Alecia of coming up with the all-girls alliance, despite having earlier said that the all-girls alliance had been something she’d wanted to do since Day 1. The way Jenny is scrambling to cover her own ass instantly destroys her credibility with Scot and Jason. Despite making a desperate plea to be saved, standing up on her seat like it’s the Dead Poets Society, she still gets voted out of the game by a margin of 3-2. Alecia sticks around, proving to be the most resilient player in the game, and we’re only six days in. While I’m not exactly crazy about Alecia, I respect the hell out of her refusal to give up, whether it was building the fire at camp, scrambling before tribal council, standing up for herself against Jenny’s accusations before the vote, or even refusing to be a liability at the challenge. On the subject of the challenge, these courses seem far more grueling than usual at this stage of the game. The challenge involved carrying a 300 pound log through an obstacle course, untying the ropes looped around it, and then using those ropes to form a slingshot, with one designated shooter launching bags at marked targets. Whichever tribe knocked down all their targets would win. It was a straightforward challenge, albeit physically exhausting, from the looks of things. But Alecia didn’t hinder her tribe. In fact, no one did. I would argue that Brawn didn’t really do anything nothing wrong to cost them the challenge this week. It was simply that the other tribes were better on this day. With that said, I don’t know how the decision to keep Alecia and lose Jenny will affect their challenge prowess going forward. Then again, I’m not sure how things could get much worse for them, so they might as well just roll the dice on Alecia and keep her around, rather than taking the risk that Jenny is going to flip the next time she sees a shinier option. But let this be a lesson to future castaways: don’t flip when you have a solid position in an alliance early in the game; but if you do plan to flip, commit to it and don’t waver. Oh, and if you do waver but decide to go back to your original alliance, then for the love of God, don’t mention you were considering flipping. It shouldn’t be hard, although it’s easy for me to say as much when I haven’t been under the baking sun with very little food and water for six days. But come on, this should be Survivor 101. (Tellingly, the tribal council voting recap showed that Scot stayed true to Jenny, so I guess her apology worked. But alas, it wasn’t enough)
As for the rest of the episode, we got some interesting developments in both camps. Debbie continues to annoy all of the Brains with her intellectual superiority, since she won’t stop going on and on about everything she knows and how she knows it. Whether she’s juggling to prove her physical worth, or assuring her tribemates that they needn’t boil the water since she’s made a living out of inspecting water, the Brains just don’t seem to appreciate having her around (hell, they sat her out of the challenge this week, prompting her to serve as a glorified cheerleader). Peter seems to be the only person who sees Debbie’s worth as someone to take to the end. While it’s a bit early to start thinking that far ahead (seriously, never play a post-merge game pre-merge), I don’t think it’d be the worst thing in the world for Peter to team up with Debbie and Joe, two people who’ve been largely marginalized by the youths of the camp. Case in point, Liz doesn’t like Joe because she feels he doesn’t take her seriously. Of course, to be fair to Liz, Joe doesn’t. He’s annoyed with her for the same reasons other people are annoyed at Debbie. Liz makes an extravagant display of her knowledge at every turn, whether it’s creating water filters, spreading ant ashes to prevent insect attacks, or going on about the “pathogens” in the water. Liz actually struggles to keep it together after she and Joe get into an argument about building a fire. It’s kind of insane that a tribe that functions this well in challenges already appears to be coming apart at the seams. And yet, I feel as though these divisions could be exploited by Peter if he recognizes they’re there.
Meanwhile, the Beauty tribe has arguably the biggest development of the episode: Tai finds the hidden immunity idol! Well, sort of. He finds the box that contains the idol. The problem is that he must first find the key to unlock the box. And the only way to do this is to climb a tree and use what looks like some sort of divining rod to get the key down. And there’s no way Tai can do this without being conspicuous. So he puts it off for now, which could be a huge mistake if there’s a tribe shuffle, and he gets moved to another beach. That said, I’m not sure what other choice he has, other than to rope someone else in his alliance into the plan. Perhaps Caleb would be a good fit? The episode builds up their blossoming bromance, as Caleb gets along really well with Tai. Caleb is no homophobe, and even cuddles with Tai when he’s cold. The two even joke about the kiss Tai steals when he tries to swipe a piece of fish from the cowboy’s mouth. Tai telling Caleb about the idol would show immense trust, and could further solidify their bond. If nothing else, having help would presumably make getting the key easier, since one person could distract the others while the other person climbs. Perhaps the hidden idol was purposely designed to require two people to find it. I mean, really, there was no way Tai was going to climb all the way up that tree without getting noticed. Then again, maybe I’ll be hilariously wrong, and Tai will manage to climb the tree and nab the key next week. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me. This is a tribe of people who decided to hang out in the water without Tai, despite Tai’s history of looking for the idol when left alone. If he gets the idol, they’ll only have themselves to blame.
“Kindergarten Camp” is a surprisingly fun episode, despite how it basically just reiterates conflicts from the premiere for most of its runtime. We saw some boneheaded gameplay tonight, but I feel like we’re at least getting to know these people better. The Survivor: Kaoh Rong has some likable personalities, some jerks, some strategists, and some physical threats, but they’re all at least colorful in their own ways. The conflicts that are arising are fun to watch, and I’m pretty excited to see where this season is headed, particularly now that we’re already at the point where alliances are crumbling into dust. Much like the start of holiday season in department stores, it feels like it comes sooner every year.
But what did you think of Survivor: Kaoh Rong Episode 2, “Kindergarten Camp”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more Survivor news, read up on the serious criminal charges facing former two-time Survivor castaway Michael Skupin!