It’s Season 31 and this is going to be a special one: Survivor: Second Chances. We all voted for 20 people from the past 30 seasons to make up the cast; our first full all star season since Season 20: Heroes vs. Villians. That’s going to be a tough one to top, but I for one, have high hopes.
Back at It
It’s crazy to see some of these people back here. Kelly Wiglesworth was one vote away from being the first winner ever back in Borneo! Jeff Varner is still haunted by jumping off a pole for peanut butter back in Season 2. And remember Kimmi? She named the chickens and wouldn’t take a bath in that same season.
Andrew Savage says he has a happy life now. He has a great job and a great family. But the only thing bad about it is how he parted ways with the game after Pearl Islands. It’s that outcast twist that did him in. I’m sure Boy Scout leader Lil still haunts his dreams.
Fan fave Spencer says that he was too cocky his first time around. That’s something I can get on board with. But now he says he’s done a lot of maturing and he has to work on building more personal relationships because you can’t just treat people like chess pieces.
Both Kelley Wentworth and Jeremy played the first time around with their loved ones, and they both think it was a big distraction. I’m not sure how Jeremy’s wife distracted him since she was voted out second, but okay, Jer.
Ciera said she only just started getting the hang of playing the game when things ended for her in Blood vs. Water. Now she has a lot more confidence and she’s going to come out of the gate playing hard.
Kass likes being known as Chaos Kass, but she knows she has to rein it in if she doesn’t want to be a target. She says the only thing that needs to change is other people’s perception of her. But she promises that if she makes the merge, that’s when her game will really start. Getting to the merge is going to be tough for her I think. She seems a likely candidate for the first boot, which I hope isn’t the case. Life is more interesting with a little Kass in it.
Jeff Probst welcomes the 20 contestants to Second Chances! Ciera says that there’s a lot more pressure now that they’re playing to make the fans who voted them in happy. Joe is thrilled to be playing the game with people he grew up watching but the people he grew up watching aren’t so thrilled about being called out as being old. Jeff Varner is visibly very emotional. He can’t believe he’s getting another shot after 14 years.
Next comes a typical marooning. The contestants are separated into the Ta Keo tribe and the Bayon tribe. They have to gather as much supplies as they can from the main boat and then whoever can swim 100 yards to another boat and get a large bag of rice will win it for the tribe.
It’s mass chaos, as usual, gathering the supplies. Then Wiglesworth jumps into the water to swim over to the rice. But she gets tired and Joe and Woo jump in and pass her. It’s a battle between Joe and Woo, too massively athletic challenge competitors (and “No Collars,” if you want to use the Worlds Apart classification). Woo beats Joe to the boat and gets the rice for Ta Keo.
The Ta Keo tribe is wearing blue buffs and is made up of Woo, Abi Maria, Vytas, Jeff, Kelley Wentworth, Kelly Wiglesworth, Terry, Shirin, Spencer and Peih-Gee.
Everyone is happy to be at the beach and they spend a few minutes celebrating. But time to celebrate is short. Kelley Wiglesworth, Terry, Spencer, Woo and Vytas get to work on building the shelter.
Terry knows that he’s an old school player and he wants to play the game with other old school players. But he and Spencer have a connection. They shake hands and say they’ll watch one another’s back. Terry knows he has to focus more on his social game this time around and Spencer wants to have more one-on-one conversations with people on Day 1 this time around then he did the entire time on Cagayan.
One thing Abi learned from playing Survivor is that she has to keep her emotions in check. Knowing how something should be done and actually doing it are two different things however. She immediately starts getting irate when she thinks someone stole her bag with her bracelet in it. And when she finds her bracelet in Peih-Gee’s bag, she doesn’t know what to think.
Peih-Gee sits Abi down and insists it was just a mix up. Abi says she’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, but it seems like Peih-Gee might be on Abi’s list now. Not the greatest place to be. Hopefully Peih-Gee will play smart enough to work her way off it.
Vytas is already trying to work his swarmy charm on the ladies but Shirin sees right through it. She tells Spencer and Jeff that she wants Vytas out first. She thinks that he’s too well connected both here and on the other tribe.
Jeff is taken aback by how hard Shirin is playing. It’s hard to be an old school player in a new school world. But he’s embracing that this adventure is going to be different than his adventure in the Outback.
Vytas and Kelly Wiglesworth do yoga on the Cambodian ruins which is really pretty cool. But Vytas’s yoga moves are turning everyone else off around camp. He’s walking around massaging shoulders and thrusting his hips. It’s not a good look and the ladies do not appreciate it.
Kelley Wentworth wants to take some time to look for the idol. She looks for a long time before she finds something in the tree. She celebrates prematurely because it’s just a clue. Not only is the idol hidden this season, but it’s hidden at the challenge! That’s an interesting twist. Now she’s going to have to be extra sneaky.
The Bayon tribe wears magenta buffs and is made up of Keith, Jeremy, Joe, Tasha, Ciera, Kimmi, Kass, Monica, Stephen and Andrew Savage.
Jeremy takes some time to talk to Keith to make sure that the air is clear between them. He wants to make an alliance with the strong people on his tribe (Tasha, Savage and Joe) but he wants to make sure Keith has his back too. Sounds like a solid plan. Only it’s leaving some of my faves on the wrong side of the numbers which is a bummer.
One of those faves is Stephen and he’s already feeling out of place. He doesn’t feel comfortable with the rest of the alpha males on his tribe so he’s still trying to find out where he fits in. He decides to spend some time looking for the idol, (he even dives into a nasty swamp), but he doesn’t have any luck. Which is unfortunate because his tribe mates notice his absence which puts a bigger target on his back.
While Stephen is messing around in a swamp, Joe makes fire and Savage’s man crush on Joe intensifies. It’s currently at full throttle, which is impressive because it’s only day one.
Before the challenge, Savage gives a very Savag-ean pep talk like he’s back in the Pearl Islands talking to the Morgan tribe. Let’s hope for their sake that they’re better at challenges than Morgan was.
Joe leads everyone in morning yoga (or Joe-ga, as Tasha calls it). Keith opts out of the yoga session because he’s not about that life. He also calls Joe a free spirit pretty boy, which is kind of hilarious.
It’s the first immunity challenge and Kelley Wentworth is already on high notice about where she’ll have to look for the idol.
For the challenge, the tribes are repeating the first ever challenge from Survivor: Borneo. Each tribe will race on a raft through the water to light a series of fires with a torch. When they’ve made it to the beach, they have to set their rafts down on a platform (where the idol is hidden) and then one person will construct a pole to reach beyond a gate for a key. Whoever opens their gate and lights the final fire first wins immunity.
The Te Kao tribe is off to a fast start. They maintain their lead while Keith struggles to light the torches for Bayon, even dipping it once in the water and losing the fire.
On the beach, Kelley Wentworth tries to find a moment to grab the idol but misses her chance. Kelly Wiglesworth works on the pole for Te Kao and Joe works on the pole for Bayon. Kelly Wiglesworth goes for the key first but her pole isn’t long enough so she has to reconstruct it. Meanwhile, Joe’s slow and steady approach pays off and he’s close to grabbing it.
While everyone’s on the edge of their seat watching the survivors with the poles, Kelley Wentworth takes advantage of their attention being elsewhere and grabs the idol. (Wow, Kelley Wentworth is really here to play! I didn’t really know that much about her coming in, but she’s already grown on me more than she did the entire time in San Juan del Sur.)
Spencer tries to take over for Kelly Wiglesworth, but by then it’s too late. Joe’s grabbed the key for Bayon and they’ve opened their gate to win the first immunity challenge.
It’s a huge relief for everyone on Bayon; no one wants to be the first person voted off.
It gets worse for Te Keo though. Jeff tells them that they will not be returning to their beach before the vote. They’ll have no time to scramble before Tribal Council.
Woo doesn’t really seem to know what’s going on, (shocking), but he says there’s a clear division of old school vs. new school players. Terry says it was an eye opener getting to the beach and seeing everyone play so hard.
Peih-Gee says she’s trying to learn from her mistakes and correct them and split the difference between being a hard worker and being a social player. Abi says she’s trying to reign in her temper and this game is about personal growth for her.
Varner thinks that he sees the division in the old school and new school players too, but he’s here to play “balls to the wall” (gross). He says tonight’s vote will set the tempo of the game.
Abi reads the situation around her and suddenly gets very uncomfortable. She says she’s not ready to go home but she feels nervous that a male alliance could be targeting her. Vytas says it isn’t about gender, but about keeping the tribe strong.
To the vote! Here are the votes we see: Woo and Vytas vote for Abi. Abi and Kelley Wentworth vote for Vytas.
And it’s Vytas who has the unfortunate distinction of being the first boot. Vytas wishes them all well, while barely masking his contempt. He says in his final words that he would have rather not have made it back at all then be the first boot. Now the Baskouskas brothers get to join the Twinnies in the category of having been first off and sole survivor in the same set of siblings.
Next week: Abi is not happy about getting so many votes. I knew that old Abi couldn’t be too far gone!
(Image courtesy of CBS)