HOLLYWOOD—It’s rare for a show to have me so hooked, I’m literally on the verge of having a heart attack during each episode, but the latest installment in the “Survivor” franchise has my eyes glued to the TV screen every Wednesday. The 30th season in the franchise, “Second Chances,” has brought back some of best to play the game, who were so close to the $1 million, prize, but came up short.
To be honest, I haven’t watched a season of “Survivor” in years, the last season I think I watched may have been the third or fourth installment. In my opinion, a series can only last so long before it becomes somewhat stale, but the players this season deliver surprises each week. We have the challenge beast Joe, who has won four consecutive immunity challenges.
These are not easy challenges people, so the moment Joe loses an immunity challenge, he could see himself voted out during tribal council. This truly has been the season of blindsides. When you lose such pivotal players like Woo, Jeff Varner, ‘Chaos Kass,’ Andrew Savage and a host of others who don’t see the inevitable, it can leave fans of the series talking for days.
Could one argue that a single player is controlling the game? At this moment, no, but it is apparent that Joe, Stephen Fishbach and Jeremy are some strong contenders for the top prize. Stephen is doing his best to think ahead, but at the same time, thinking too far ahead can lead to devastation if one is not careful. Joe is the most likable guy in the game, which makes him a threat because if you go to the end with him, he can present a damn convincing case as to why he should win.
As for Jeremy, he’s the second strongest physical threat behind Joe. So if Joe leaves or if he has immunity, that can place Jeremy on the chopping block, but Jeremy has an ace in the bag. He has TWO, yep, you heard me, two idols can he can play in the game. With less than 10 players left, this puts Jeremy in a solid spot in the game. I’ve seen previous gameplay where players would use the idol on allies to keep them in the game and to take out a threat, but at the same time, do I want to risk my safety to save someone else who could turn on me at any given time? Nope.
Jeremy has a close relationship with Stephen, but to be honest, his loyalty should be given to Spencer, who I think 100 percent, will ride with Jeremy all the way to the final four. We have the Witch’s Coven as Stephen notably described them, Ciera, Kelly Wentworth and Abi-Maria. I will admit Abi was a bit fun in the beginning, but is just annoying at this point. She’ll vote with the wind, and in my opinion has become a wasted contestant on the show. Ciera is playing the game, but probably a bit harder than she should be. Her undying loyalty to Kass has placed her in a sticky situation; she is building allies, but people can dispose of her if needed. She and Kelly are a good duo, but if they were smart they’d cut Abi-Maria at some point, she can only be dragged along so far, in my opinion.
One must admit, seeing Kelly W. play that idol to save her life, and send Savage packing, was epic. However, I think the game-changing vote was not between Spencer and Woo, but Tasha, Kass and Ciera. I was literally on edge watching the votes tally up, because my gut told me Tasha was a goner, but Kass got a taste of her own medicine and it was a treat to watch. The biggest concern is that the alliances have shifted. We have Kelly, Ciera and Abi-Maria, we have Joe and Keith, we have Jeremy and Spencer, we have Tasha and Kimmi and Stephen is connected to everyone, well except Joe and Keith.
So now we have a situation where we could have a five and five split when it comes to a vote, so the strategic move would be to take out one of the ladies from the Witches Coven. You take one of them out, and you shatter that alliance slightly and eliminate a number that can be pulled by any of the remaining voting blocks, as Stephen calls them. Right now, I am rooting for Spencer and Jeremy as I see them as underdogs, but an even stronger duo if they align and properly take out those who are threats to their game.
In a final four scenario, I’d love to see Jeremy, Spencer, Stephen and Joe. Yes, one of the ladies should be in the mix, but right now I can only see Ciera maybe making a go, if she can hamper down on her aggressive gameplay. Tasha is able to lay low, but she needs to pinpoint a strong ally, and right now she seems to have allies, but not a solid ally. One thing that does annoy me slightly about the game, is that it is hosted by Jeff Probst. I think he is phenomenal, but I can’t help but get slightly annoyed with him when he talks during the immunity challenges. It’s almost like he causes the contestants to lose focus during the challenge. I love how he instigates the drama during the Tribal Council meetings. I mean unlike the other CBS hit “Big Brother,” “Survivor” allows the castoffs who are part of the jury to attend every Tribal Council leading to the finale. Why is this important? It keeps the jury keyed in on how the game is being played throughout, versus, not knowing a single thing except who got voted out and by whom ala “BB.”
It’s funny how a series that has lasted over 15 years on network TV has continued to reinvent itself in way to keep old fans, new fans and those who lost interest coming back for more entertaining TV week after week. Oh, did I forget to mention the “special power” that Stephen earned last week to take a contestant’s vote and earn himself a second vote? Yes, that is a power that is game-changing, but ONLY if Stephen utilizes the power at the right time. I’d say this is something that should only be used when we’re down to the final five or so. This can definitely send home a power player or ensure Fishbach’s survival in the game.
“Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chances” has found a way to make me love the series even more than I loved it before. New episodes air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.