Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Survivor Cambodia, Second Chance: Finale Preview

Tonight is the last episode of Season 31, the very successful Survivor Second Chance, which gave fans of the show the opportunity to have a say in who would be brought back to try and redeem themselves after an unsuccessful first time on Survivor. Not only were the fans who voted in the returning players invested in the game like never before, the theme of a "second chance" and the honor of being selected weighed heavily on those players.  Players were concerned with not making the same mistakes that plagued them in the past as well as playing as hard as they could to show their appreciation to the fans who gave them their second chance.

With six players left, it's a good opportunity  to look at their second chance stories so far and predict where the story may end for each of them.  I went back and rewatched the first episode of the season to see how each of the castaways were introduced and what the beginning of their story was and how that may relate to each of their stories might end.   

One thing we know for certain, the Survivor producers have hundreds of hours of footage to show us and so what they do choose to air has some significance for the story.  A good example from the debut episode is Joe Anglim discussing his greatest Survivor regret being having missed out on the loved ones' visit.  His story played out with that circle closed as he managed to stay in the game just long enough for his father to run out of the jungle and into his arms. 

What of the final six?  What was their redemption story as shown in the first episode and how will that story be resolved?

The first of them to get a confessional on the premiere episode was Spencer Bledsoe.  The young superfan from Cagayan, is just a year away from his first unsuccessful outing and he's come better prepared and, he promises, less cocky than the first time.  He tell us that last time he looked as his tribemates as chess pieces to be moved around.  This time he promised to be more emotionally aware and to use his improved social game to win this game.

So far, he has made good on his promise.  Even when he found himself at the bottom, he worked on the social aspect of his game to position himself as the lesser of two evils (with Shirin being the greater).  He opened up to Jeremy Collins and built a personal relationship there while also feigning closeness with Stephen Fishbach.  But the most notable part of his narrative so far was his admission to Jeremy that he had trouble articulating his feelings and had yet to tell his girlfriend that he loved her.  At the loved ones' visit, Spencer took that opportunity and it was highlighted.  That may be the end of Spencer's arc - the cold, robotic "brain" finds his heart,   It certainly could be.  But he was one of only two whose confessional included some promise of winning the game, so I can see him getting to the end. 

Next up is Kimmi "don't wave your finger in my face" Kappenberg from Australia.  Forever associated with Alicia's flying digit and her love of chickens, Kimmi is older and wiser but seems less haunted by her first outing and less desperate to win.  Her dream is not to have her time on Survivor cut short and to make it to the end.  From what we've seen, Kimmi has done a great job staying calm, avoiding drama, building an alliance, being flexible when she needs to be, and being (almost always) on the right side of the vote.  She has already far exceeded her run the first time out, but for a full redemption story she would need to be one of the final three. I think she has a good chance.

 Kelley Wentworth from San Juan Del Sur is eager to get back in and fight for the title, this time without the weight of her father dragging her down.  What she wanted this time out was to make the moves she wanted to make and have a better game.  Kelley has accomplished this goal with flying colors.  Her idol play that negated nine votes against her was a record and she has scrappily fought her way to final six despite being on the bottom for weeks.  She has rewritten her Survivor story even without making it to the end and so I don't see Kelley making final three.

Tasha Fox, another Cagayan castaway, went far but not far enough her season.  More a victim of ultimate Survivor Tony Vlachos' great gameplay than any failing on her part, she's promised to bring a little villainy to her game this time out.  "I'm here to win a million dollars and when it's all done I'll pray for forgiveness."  For that confessional to pay off, Tasha would have to backstab someone - probably Jeremy - before the end.  I see her getting to the final three.

Good guy Jeremy Collins from San Juan Del Sur is back for redemption which in his case means not getting too comfortable and being blindsided by your alliance.  This time out he was going to be more focused.  He wanted to win the money for his wife Val more than himself.  But the quote he gave is not exactly a winner's quote: "I just need to go through this again.  I'm back for some redemption."  As much as I love Jeremy and want him to bring the money home, I'm worried that this is not the quote of an eventual winner.

Notably, Keith Nale from San Juan Del Sur did not have an early confessional in the premiere episode.  His was much later, after the two tribes were divvied up.  He promised to be a better strategist this time.  And then he spit.  He admitted that last time he coasted to the end without an alliance.  Still, he said that fourth place was a hard pill to swallow (apparently everything is hard for him to swallow) and he was going to try and tweak a little bit this time out.  The second time was going to be different.  "No fumbling this time."

My prediction for the final three - based solely on the premiere confessionals - is Tasha, Spencer and Kimmi.  I hope I'm wrong, since my hope is that Jeremy makes it to the end because if he does, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't win the whole thing.  He's certainly been given a hero's edit this whole season and has played a really strong game - strategic, personal, calm.  But the other five would be, in Jeremy's words, "so stupid" to take him to the end.  Just a few more hours and we'll know.

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