Lucy Philips-Roberts ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor
Survivor episodes always start with the losing tribe returning from tribal council, and this episode was no different. However, this time the person who was almost voted out, Spencer Bledsoe, was reflective rather than combative about his fallen comrade Shirin Oskooi. Although he was upset, it was really nice to see that he was actually willing to change. He even says in his confessional that only those who are willing to change can succeed in this game, creating a true hero’s journey. Could this be a winner’s edit? This is something seen throughout the episode and season as Kass McQuillen works up the courage to show any stitch of emotion and as Andrew Savage is unable to keep his mouth shut about his feelings on the tribe swap.
An old Survivor trope was seen just minutes into this episode when someone says, “everything’s great!” Audiences know that nothing is great, or at least not for long. So when Terry Deitz unabashedly pats himself on the back for having any amount of social grace, it is evident that things are about to shake up. And of course when host Jeff Probst brings in the tribes way too early for the challenge, it’s obvious that something’s up. Tribe swaps are common, but not like this. The tribes are being changed into three tribes! What? This is the first time that this has ever happened. And that alone makes for a happy fandom. Not only was this a great twist, but the third new tribe must start from scratch by making a new shelter and camp-life. Cambodia continues to bring the twists, and it’s safe to say that everyone is jazzed about it. Probably the most jazzed would be Spencer, who since he was willing to change, “the Survivor gods smiled upon him.” Spencer was certainly the best “confessionalist” of the episode. Savage, however, who ended up on the newest tribe, Angkor, was very vocal about his concerns with the tribe switch.
Some members of the new Takeo tribe, Terry, Joe Anglim, Kelley Wentworth, Keith Nale and Ciera Eastin, were overly confident. Terry even went so far as to say “I don’t know if we’re going to lose a challenge.” Once again, he avoided strategizing. Feeling too comfortable is a death wish on Survivor, but Terry did it twice in this episode and yet, his tribe was safe. The new Bayon tribe, Jeremy Collins, Stephen Fishbach, Spencer, Kelly Wiglesworth, Monica Padilla and Kimmi Kappenberg, were concerned with finding the idol. Stephen was glad to no longer be on “Camp Macho,” citing the former strong man alliances on old Bayon. Although his alliance followed suit, Stephen bringing up the idol hunt was one of the most cringe-worthy moments. But just like that, his alliance went for it. The framing of this made it seem like Stephen would be the one to find it, but Jeremy found the clue. Any episode that features a mid-challenge idol-grab is going to be suspenseful. It also makes the challenges more thrilling than usual. And finally, the new Angkor has Abi-Maria Gomes, Jeff Varner, Peih-Gee Law, Woo Hwang, Tasha Fox, and Savage. Tasha was immediately wheeling and dealing, using the loose cannon that is Abi-Maria to find a crack. And boy did she find it. Once again, mirroring episode two, the majority alliance has been turned upside down at the hand of Abi-Maria.
After Angkor lost the immunity challenge, Jeremy just barely snagged the idol, and Angkor completely exposed itself. Jeff Varner foolishly mouthed to Kelly Wiglesworth on Bayon. It is still speculated but some think he said “Kimmi and Monica.” This was stopped immediately when Tasha physically and verbally called him out stating, “We’ve got a rat,” thus causing the chaos back at camp where the vote jumped from Jeff to Tasha to Abi-Maria to Peih-Gee. Although Abi-Maria is one of the most infuriating players, she is extremely entertaining because she constantly contradicts herself. While she claims that she is willing to vote off arguably her closest confidante, Jeff, she also labels herself as “a very committal person,” and forces her “alliance” to make up their minds when she changes her mind every few minutes. At the tribal council, Jeff Probst was absolutely floored to hear that Tasha and Savage were not on the bottom but have actually made their way up to the top. His jaw actually dropped. What most would predict, a classic “pagonging,” when the majority alliance picks off the minority, is no longer the case in the thirty-first season — certainly a welcome change.
Episode Grade: A