Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor: Second Chance': Abrupt Departure, Tribe Swap

Season 31 of the CBS reality show features returning castmembers who were chosen by viewers.
AP Images
The cast of 'Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance'

Parvati Shallow is a 'Survivor' champ and three-time competitor on the show. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.

The intensity of last night's episode of Survivor: Second Chance still has me a bit jumpy. All of the surprising twists of fate, coupled with it nearly being Halloween weekend, made this one helluva ride — and one emotional hour of good television. 

Let's start right off the top with the ugly cry. When Jeff Probst shows up at your camp in the middle of the night, and none of your tribemates have been begging to leave the game, and no one is injured, you know something is terribly wrong. In the pitch black of night, Probst walks right over to where Dietz is sleeping and wakes him up. Terry's son Danny is in the hospital, and everyone thinks it's serious enough for Dietz to fly home right now. Dietz, in obvious shock and fear, agrees immediately. He doesn't blink an eye before telling his tribe mates that he's leaving the game tonight to go care for his son. My stomach drops thinking about what it must have been like for Terry to receive this type of news so far away from home. It takes about 24 hours of straight travel to get back to the East Coast from the castaways' island. 

Making the trip back from Koh Rong to Boston must have been the longest of Terry’s life. 

Thankfully, Terry's son Danny, a junior in high school, is now recovering from a successful heart transplant, and we can all hope to see Dietz back on another season of Survivor. I’m sure many share the sentiment that his second chance on Survivor came to an end too soon. 

When Terry leaves the game, his entire tribe (who we saw in last week's episode plotting Terry's demise) all rally behind him and start to promise they will "bring it home for Terry." I think this scene shows how different this group of people is from previous seasons' castaways. They appear to have formed very real connections, and it looks like they have banded together as a family. It's interesting to watch a team that continues to win challenges actually get closer to one another. In most seasons, when a tribe continues to win, all that downtime starts to intensify the paranoia, and the tribe ultimately self-destructs. That's not the case with this Ta Keo tribe. Maybe it's Joe's calming influence and leadership. 

Blame it on the man bun. 

When all of the tribes arrive at the reward challenge, they are informed of yet another tribe swap. "Drop your buffs," is fast becoming the theme of the season. 

Now, we're back to two tribes, and I'm very happy about this. With two tribes, it’s much easier to see alliances and read tribe dynamics. I also have a theory that all of these tribe swaps are being implemented to throw off pre-game alliances. Whatever the reason, thank you, producers for bringing us back to two. 

Now, back to Joe. 

Our immunity challenge is full of hot, oiled-up bods. And then there's Stephen. Once again, the Fish tries his luck at hand-eye coordination, and once again, he comes up short. As Fishbach runs back to join his tribe with his head hanging low, his teammate Jeremy tells him that he must have confidence in himself. "We have confidence in you. You have to have it in yourself," Jeremy says. 

Stephen is having a rough second chance. Because he’s caught up in his head, thinking he's not as good as the alpha males, he's blowing all of these challenges. He's getting tangled up in his crazy thinking, and he's sabotaging himself. If Stephen can ditch the baggage he's carrying from losing to alpha-male JT in Tocantins, Stephen will survive. If he cannot, he will perish. 

From the looks of this episode, Stephen wants to get rid of Joe because he doesn't want to watch history repeat itself. He knows that Joe is a major threat to win the game, and if Stephen and Joe are in the end together, it will be another epic fail for Fishy. Stephen sees this, and he wants to ambush Joe. The problem with Fishy’s plan is that Jeremy wants to keep Joe around as a shield. This all makes sense to me, and I think Stephen can't see past his own traumatic Survivor loss to understand the way Jeremy is playing. It makes you want to shake Stephen up and say, "Get it together, Fishbach. We’re all pulling for you!" Doesn't it?

Fishbach does redeem his poor challenge performance in the gross eating challenge. He sucks down that water beetle like it’s a tasty halloween treat. Woo hoo! I love watching people achieve personal victories like this! Stephen must have felt like a total rock star. 

Kass, on the other hand, does not perform very well in this food challenge. She ends up choking up her balut and losing to Tasha in the last moment. I'm with you on this one, Kass. When I just spellchecked that word, Google brought up images of a half-baked baby bird inside it's egg. I nearly puked just looking at it. 

Sick. 

Losing the challenge means that Ta Keo's happy family must lose a member. Who will it be? 

Savage feels quite comfortable taking the lead in this new tribe. He decides to chuck Spencer under the bus, and he tells the group that they will all use Ciera as the red herring. Not the most brilliant idea to throw Ciera's name out there, Savage. Understandably, Ciera is not happy with this arrangement. She pulls Kass aside and pitches a power move — blindside Woo. 

Kass now holds Spencer's fate in her cold, witchy hands. Will she play a vengeful game and vote out her former enemy? Or will she play it cool, take out an athletic threat and earn Spencer’s favor? 

This is exciting! I really love how Kass is maneuvering her way through this game. She’s observant and low-key, just waiting for the right moment to make her move. This is how you play the game. It's not easy to lay in wait, especially when you are a strong personality and a strategic thinker. I'm seriously impressed with Kass' skillful playing. 

Kass' perfect timing pays off in a blindside. Woo is voted out, leaving Savage out in the cold. How will he recover from this blow? Can Savage get back into the majority, or is he next to go? 

For more in-depth prob-sting of Survivor: Second Chance, check out my latest strategy analysis and recap here

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