survivor second chance recap: “the tribe has spoken.” “…yes, they have.”

Cambodia-Kelly-Wiglesworth-smile-episode-1

So long, Wiggles. You never saw it coming.

She never saw it coming. Perhaps the onslaught of endless rain drowned out her radar, but Wiglesworth was clearly caught flatfooted and dumbfounded as her torch was snuffed out for the first time ever. “The Tribe has spoken,” Probst announced as he extinguished Wiglesworth’s flame. “Yes, they have,” a clearly surprised and dejected Wiglesworth responded.

The Season 1 finalist, whose greatest claim to fame was losing to Richard Hatch, was a fierce competitor this season, but she may have overplayed her own hand; relying too heavily on old-school alliances in a season fraught with ruthlessness, backstabbing and guile.

But really, was it so surprising? No, not really. Wiglesworth was not the most dominant player in the game (that would be Joe), but she was well-liked, sociable, athletic and something of a quiet threat playing a subtle game throughout her second run at Survivor this season. Her own style of play made her vulnerable to an unexpected blindside. It also didn’t help her that Joe is one of her closest allies. He’s Threat No. 1 in this game and she was sitting beside him the whole time, assuming too much that she was in a power position. Last night completely changed that, and Joe better be scrambling or the axe will fall on him soon. After all, to take out the king, you’ve got to take out the queen first, right?

I’m sure, to those, in her alliance of eight six or so, it was a surprise. In reality, it was a predictable and somewhat necessary blindside. It most certainly continued this season’s theme of loosening alliances, all seemingly getting played by a voting bloc of Wentworth, Ciera and Abi-Maria.

However, the most telling moment of the season came during this week’s reward challenge. Given that it was a team challenge involving 11 total players participating in a “schoolyard style” pick, you knew someone would get left out. Even the most casual observer this season could figure out who was going to be left unpicked, sitting on the bench: Abi-Maria. It was a decision less about her physical ability and more about her attitude, I’m sure.

While Abi-Maria’s status in the pecking order remains low, the likelihood that she’ll make it to the end of the game is high. After all, whom would you like to be sitting next to at the final Tribal Council? A popular player like Joe? Or an emotional ball of madness like Abi-Maria?

The most interesting aspects to this week’s episode were the twists that will play into future votes. Jeremy secured his second immunity idol. Sure, it’s an embarrassment of riches, but only if he knows how to play them. Let’s hope he doesn’t do something stupid with them, as so many Survivor contestants before him have done.

Jeremy’s haul is interesting, but Fishbach’s Tribal Council advantage of stealing a vote is truly going to be epic. As with any advantage in the game, it comes down to timing. Stephen is a smart player, so I don’t anticipate he’ll squander that vote. Such a bold, sneaky twist couldn’t have fallen into better hands this season, if you ask me.

Survivor Employee of the Week: Stephen Fishbach
stephen-3-540x8091It’s obvious, isn’t it? No, not you, Joe. We expect you to win challenges. This week’s award goes to Stephen Fishbach. He earns the honors not just for taking a shot and winning the Tribal Council advantage, but for engineering a blindside through an unholy alliance of friends and foes that, without his efforts, probably wouldn’t have ever occurred.

Fishbach singlehandedly eliminated a huge threat with shrewd and deft politicking both within and without his own alliances. Of course, this will only paint a larger target on his back. Will he slither through the labyrinth of tumult he’s about to encounter? Let’s hope. Without Fishbach, that island gets insanely boring.

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