The game of Survivor is filled with highs and lows, and Wednesday night’s new episode of “Survivor: Cambodia” had extreme examples of both. One minute, our contestants were on cloud nine when they were given moments with their loved ones during the classic “loved ones challenge.” The next, we would witness a player hitting rock bottom physically, with their body giving out during a challenge resulting and the Survivor medical staff needing to be called in. It was proof that everybody has their breaking point. Here is the full episode recap, starting at the top of the ep:
Aftermath. Following the epic blindside of Fishbach at the last Tribal Council, Jeremy, Tasha and Kimmi were all feeling a bit uncomfortable and out of the loop. That damned voting block thing once again reared its ugly head, and they were not involved in the decision (and yes in case you are wondering, I’m calling them voting “blocks” and not the proper “blocs” to fall in line with the way that CBS is using the phrase in their promotions and on the show). But the ability to recover and stay calm is a crucial part of the voting block game. Jeremy did this nicely, and even though he did not want to see Fishbach go home, the next morning he was right back out there giving compliments where compliments were due. “That was a great move last night,” Jeremy tells Spencer. Spencer likes that he pulled off the big move, but also is aware that he does not want to become a “game-bot who treats people like pawns.” At this point, Spencer feels the need to keep Jeremy close and happy. But Jeremy wasn’t the only one looking to recover from the Fishbach blindside. Elsewhere at camp, Kimmi tells Kelley that she wants to pull of an all-girl alliance with them, Abi and Tasha, and this would require Joe to get the boot at the next opportunity. It was a nice moment to show Kimmi playing the game, as she has quietly been at the center of the power alliance for almost the entire season.
Loved Ones. After a cryptic fake-out by Probst (something about how “sometimes we do things a bit different…Today we did not do something different.”), he revealed that the remaining eight players had made it to the loved ones challenge. One at a time, the players’ loved ones were revealed. First up was Jeremy’s wife Val, who competed with him on Blood vs. Water. It was an emotional reunion (they all were), but even more so because Val is pregnant and when Jeremy left for Survivor, he did not know the sex of his baby. “It’s a baby boy,” she whispered to him. Wow, powerful stuff. My eyes were already misty by the time Tasha’s cousin Christina came out…but the waterworks started up again when Spencer’s girlfriend Marcella came out. You might remember a story from earlier this season where Spencer told Jeremy about Spencer’s inability to show his feelings, and how his girlfriend had once said “I love you” to him, but he was unable to say it back to her. Well the first words out of his mouth today were those three powerful words. Spencer has changed himself, for the better, and the proof is in his performance this season. After that emotional encounter, Abi’s mom came out, followed by “Big D” herself, Dana Nale (Keith’s wife, who also refers to her as “Big D.”) We all recognized Kelley’s dad Dale, also from Blood vs. Water, and then Joe and Kimmi’s dads came out last. It was a “dream come true” for Joe, who had visualized his dad coming out during the loved ones challenge during his first season, but he never made it that far to make his dream a reality…until now. All of the hugs out of the way, Probst announced that the winner of the upcoming Reward Challenge would get to spend some time with their loved one back at camp, feasting on an all-out American BBQ.
Reward Challenge. To get time with their loved one, they had to retrieve a few bags full of puzzle pieces: One buried in the sand, another that they had to spin around for that made them dizzy, and then a third on a balance beam, which wasn’t all that easy to grab since they were dizzy and all. Not the most riveting challenge visually. The puzzle word to be solved was “nourishment,” and Kelley was the first to figure it out, winning the challenge. Probst then allowed her to choose three others and their loved ones to accompany her and Dale at the BBQ. She chose Keith and his wife, Abi and her mom and Kimmi and her dad. Probst then allowed her to pick one more pair, and she picked Joe and his dad. That left Jeremy, Spencer and Tasha – and their loved ones – out of the party, with their loved ones sent home at the challenge’s end.
Sight For Sore Eyes. At the loved ones feast, we got a classic one-liner from Keith, who was overly excited to see his wife. “I needed to see somebody,” Keith said. “I don’t care if you would have brought my fifth cousin.” Elsewhere, Joe’s dad shared a slightly awkward (for us) moment when he told his son, “I never had a friend like you.” Dad and son really bonded, and Joe shared that his dad was never all that emotional growing up, and that what he said to him at camp was something he would never forget for the rest of his life. The Anglims must be kissers as well, because the show seemed to include every single shot of them kissing each other that they had.
Big Moments. While the BBQ crew were living it up and sharing important moments with one another, an extremely important moment occurred back at camp. Sulking about Kelley’s picks to join her at the reward, Jeremy, Spencer and Tasha make an official Final 3 deal, agreeing that Joe needs to go next no matter what. Who said alliances are dead?
Immunity Challenge. For Immunity, the players had to balance a small wooden statue on top of a pole, and every five minutes they had to add an extension on the pole making it longer and longer. I could have done without Jeff Probst’s hand gestures when showing us how they had to “raise the pole higher,” but hey, if it gets past the censors then it can’t be all that bad. There was a catch with this Immunity Challenge though: There would be TWO winners instead of just one, the last man and last woman standing. Kimmi fell out first followed by Abi, and when Tasha’s statue fell, that left Kelley as the Immunity winner for the girls. Shortly thereafter Spencer and Jeremy fell out, leaving 50+ year-old Keith up against Mr. Perfect Joe Anglim for Immunity. Seems like we all knew how this one was going to end, right? Wrong. In fact, nobody could have predicted how this one would end. After an hour and twenty minutes (!!!), with the pole over 16 feet long (double !!!), everybody was impressed with how the old-timer was hanging in their with the young buck. But suddenly, tragically, Joe just…collapsed. Keith was announced as the winner of the challenge, but seconds later, everyone realized that Joe didn’t just lose, he had totally fainted and crumbled into a heap on the ground.
Medical Team. “You’re in great hands,” Probst told Joe. The scene was quite scary, and I immediately thought back to when Russell Swan collapsed during a challenge. That episode resulted in Russell having to exit the game. We all were wishing for Joe’s recovery as we watched the medical team work their magic. Soon after collapsing, Joe was coming to. As the doctor explained, “He’s used up all of his energy stores in the last hour. Basically, his blood sugar’s come down. Joe tells the doctor, “My legs went numb.” Man this game is brutal, but here is Joe, a true Survivor hero, literally pushing himself past the breaking point. The good news for Joe and the fans? The doctors cleared him to continue on in the game. The bad news for the contestants? Joe was allowed to continue on in the game.
Tipping Point. While Joe was reaching his breaking point, the game was reaching a pivotal tipping point. Tasha found herself in the middle of two possible alliances: On one side she had her all-game-long alliance with Jeremy and also Spencer. On the other hand she had the budding all-girl alliance. To vote out Joe, the girls would suddenly be in the majority and could take control of the game. Tasha chooses her side. She decided to tell Jeremy and Spencer about the all-girl alliance, and from her perspective, it seemed like a great move. She wanted to be the one to tell them about it, because if they would have heard about it from someone else, they would lose trust in Tasha. But this instead solidified both of their trust. Joe was going around camp trying to rally up votes to get Abi out, wanting her out because she is “not a player” and in his mind, is somebody not worthy of being in that Final Three. Tasha’s news had both Jeremy and Spencer scared about what to do next, wondering if they should stick with getting Joe out, or if they should in fact vote out Abi to keep the girls’ numbers down. Spencer summed it up best by saying, “If we keep Joe, I’m terrified. If we get rid of Joe, I’m terrified.” But either way it was clear that Tasha seemed to have sided with the guys. That was the vibe anyways, heading into Tribal.
Tribal Council. They talked about Joe’s health and the evolution of the game once again. Joe was not going down swinging, but his bluntness in calling out Abi in front of the others only seemed to be more of a sign that he was in serious trouble. He warned of letting Abi slip by Tribal after Tribal. Abi took the criticism in stride.
The Vote. Abi is shown voting for Joe, adding that he should really cut his hair because he looks like a clown. Joe is shown voting for Abi. Spencer’s vote is not shown, but he says, “I have the terrifying feeling this is either a winning or a losing vote.” No Idol was played and then the votes were read: Joe – Abi – Tasha – Joe – Joe – Joe. In a 6-1-1 vote, everyone’s favorite dominant physical specimen was voted out of the game, making Joe the sixth member of the jury (the other votes? Well, Joe voted for Abi, and – inexplicably – Keith voted for…Tasha? Hmmm.)
Analysis. As always, I will post a separate article with my personal thoughts on the game, you can find my Episode 12 analysis here (link will be active once analysis is live and online).
Next Time On…Probst’s voice tells us, “After a huge blindside (huh??) Jeremy and Spencer are worried.” But as we found out tonight with Joe’s fainting episode, this game can be brutal, and in the next preview scene, we see Spencer take a nasty fall and Tasha scream “I need help!” during another grueling water challenge.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive one-on-one, second-chance interview with Joe Anglim, and be sure to follow me,@tomsantilli.
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.