Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance': The Playing Field Is Evened Out

"Just when I think I know which way the vote’s going to go, I’m surprised."
Courtesy of CBS
Parvati Shallow is a Survivor champ and three-time competitor on the show. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.
“We could totally win challenges now.” Is Spencer’s statement foreshadowing his imminent immunity win?

It’s safe to say everyone is a bit relieved that challenge-dominating Joe is out of the game, and now the playing field is more even. While I know many fans, myself included, are missing Joe’s fabulous, flowing mane, we have to admit it will be more fun watching challenges that anyone can win. 

So, let’s get to it. 

The reward challenge is a repeat of one that Keith won in his previous season, and watching him fly through the ropes course, gathering just enough rope to give him space to complete the bag toss, we see just how unfair this is. Not to minimize Keith’s ferocity in challenges, but it appears that the rope gathering is the trick to win this, and having competed and won this challenge before gives Keith the ultimate advantage. 

After destroying everyone in the challenge, Keith chooses Kelley to join him on the most incredible reward of all time, a trip to Siem Reap to be blessed by monks and to sleep in the ancient temples. Now this is a reward worth fighting for, and when Keith gets to choose another player to join him, I’m surprised that no one begs for it. Keith stares at the ground and picks Spencer. 

Jeff, with the utmost curiosity, must know what just went down in Keith’s mush-ball brain. In his attempt to placate Jeff, Keith points to Jeremy and garbles about seeing Val and then looks at Tasha and completely blanks on her name, mumbling something about her cousin and how hard that was. 

Say what??

This season of Survivor is one of the best I’ve ever seen in regards to just how much these people are going through. I think the fast-paced nature of this game, plus being beaten down by the elements and not eating enough, is really taking its toll. 

What happened to all those giant clams that you were collecting in the beginning, Kimmi? Was Monica right in wanting to ration the ocean’s bounty for the end game? We haven’t seen them eating anything but rice for the past two episodes, so I think Kimmi may be regretting her choice to eat all the food up front. We’ll never know what’s going on in Kimmi’s head, however, because she simply does not speak. Her big talk last week about pulling together an all-girls alliance has fizzled and is not even on the radar anymore. Sometimes I forget Kimmi’s even here — until we have a scare like Tasha’s near-death experience at the immunity challenge. 

The immunity challenge is rough for everyone. Spencer, after his feast and a good night’s sleep at the Angkor temples, is racing out front — until he face-plants into the side of a boat and has to return to the start. I’m wincing each time we see Spencer take another digger in his desperate attempt to win. It all pays off in the end when Spencer takes 15 seconds to crush this insanely difficult puzzle and win immunity. Seriously, I realize that I am no puzzle master, but I tried that puzzle in San Juan Del Sur when I went down with press, and after 10 minutes, I still didn’t even come close to getting it. This is a huge victory for Spencer. He’s just proven himself a force to be reckoned with at challenges, and he’s earned the title of Puzzle King of Cambodia. No one will beat Spencer at a puzzle from here on out. You mark my words. 

While Spencer is making quick work of the puzzle, Tasha is still in the water — looking in need of serious assistance. The underwater safety team rushes to her aid and drags her onto the platform to asses her need for medical care. She’s visibly shaken and coughing up a lot of water. This is scary. 

It’s the second time we’re seeing strong contestants’ bodies give out at a challenge. Joe’s body crumbled in last week’s immunity challenge, and now Tasha’s body is failing from exhaustion. These people are giving everything they have to this game. And, each one of them will give everything to get to the end. 

While they’re all playing their hardest, not everyone has an equal shot at winning. Abi believes she’s really beefing up her Survivor résumé, and despite knowing that people want to take her to the end because they think they can beat her, she thinks she’s got what it takes to win. This is crazy talk. I like Abi, but she has no shot at winning this game. She’s played erratically and made people uncomfortable. She did have some power in the beginning of the game, but we haven't seen her making any strategic moves since then. All of the strategizing credit must go to Kelley Wentworth for getting out Joe last week and saving Abi. 

So, for this tribal council, will people be targeting Keith because he’s a challenge threat, Abi because she’s a threat to go to the end or Tasha because she’s so close to Jeremy and Kimmi?

I have to give credit to these contestants. Just when I think I know who’s tight with whom and which way the vote’s going to go, I’m surprised. Spencer and Jeremy start each morning off with a coffee walk and strategy talk. They look super close, but Spencer has turned on Jeremy and Jeremy has betrayed Spencer’s trust. How can anyone know who’s truly trustworthy when they all seem so close? 

Which “we” will it be??

Trust is so nuanced in this game. Kelley and Keith trust Spencer because they just made a deal with him on the reward to vote out Tasha. But, when Tasha approaches Spencer with a plea to give the fans the best show, Spencer is sold. At this point, it’s less about trust and more about the bigger picture. What will the fans want? A boring, predictable final three? Or will Spencer give the people that voted him back in the game what they want — an exciting final show?

With this argument, Tasha wins Spencer’s vote for this tribal council, sending Abi packing. 

Who knows what will happen next week as we sail into the final episodes of this magnificent season? One thing is certain, Kelley Wentworth will most certainly have to play her idol, and we can expect some more fireworks at tribal council. 

Giddy up, Survivor!