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Parvati Shallow is a Survivor champ and three-time competitor on the show. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season finale of Survivor.]
I think we can all agree that Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance has lived up to the hype. CBS took a gamble this season, letting the fans select 20 of our favorite players. I admit, I wasn’t sure it would work at first, but the gameplay we’ve seen from this group of competitors makes me sad to see it end. And I bet I’m not the only one who’s going to shed a tear tonight after the finale wraps up.
But before we get all mushy and start singing sappy Boyz to Men songs, let’s recap what just went down, starting with Kimmi.
Kimmi Kappenberg, from the Australian Outback, made waves early on the season when she blindsided Monica for merely suggesting an all girls’ alliance. After this move, Kimmi stepped back and shut up. Until now, she happily played a supporting role to Jeremy and Tasha. But tonight is Kimmi’s night to make a move. After Abi’s vote out, Kimmi starts to get clear that she is on the bottom of Jeremy, Tasha and Spencer’s alliance. Even if she does make it to the end, what’s she going to say to the jury about her gameplay? Umm … “I hung in there, please vote for me.” Kimmi’s lackluster gameplay certainly will not gain her any jury votes.
It’s time to go to work, Kimmi. And work she does. This girl is anything but subtle. She approaches Wentworth and solidifies a pact to blindside Jeremy. Of course, Kelley Wentworth is on board. She’s got nowhere else to turn.
When Spencer wins the challenge, Wentworth knows she’s the biggest threat and probably the next to go. She needs Kimmi to follow through, and Kimmi intends to do just that. When the tribe gets back to the beach, Kimmi runs to the well with Keith and tells him the plan; they’re blindsiding Jeremy. Keith is in. Kelley shows up next. She’s in.
What Kimmi doesn’t realize is that Spencer and Tasha are on to her. She’s acting strangely, and they know something’s amiss. I mean, you don’t have to be dating a rocket scientist to know that Kimmi has flipped.
Jeremy refuses to accept the thought of Kimmi’s betrayal. He prides himself on developing strong, loyal ties to his allies, and Kimmi has been with him since the beginning. This would be too much to bear. When Tasha and Spencer insist that Kimmi has flipped, Jeremy pulls Kimmi aside to question her. Here come the waterworks. OK, ladies — just so we’re all clear — getting incredibly defensive and starting to cry when someone asks you a question is a dead giveaway that you are lying. Do not use this move. It’s amateur hour.
Though we all see right through Kimmi’s manipulative emotional deflection, Jeremy is still blinded by his trust in his loyal ally. You’ve got to give it to this guy. He’s a good one.
One of the hardest things about playing this game is being deceived by people you trust. Yes, betrayal and deception are woven into the very fabric of this game, but that still doesn’t make it easy to accept this dishonesty.
I don’t think Kimmi needed to make this move against Jeremy right now. She could have just laid low and taken out Spencer or Jeremy at the next vote and ensured herself a place in the final three. It would be easy to convince one of the boys to go after the other, simply to eliminate a greater threat to win.
But Kimmi gets greedy to make a name for herself, and at tribal council she gets called out by Spencer, who finds himself emboldened by the immunity necklace around his neck.
If Kimmi sticks to her plan to vote out Jeremy it will be three votes on Jeremy and three votes on Wentworth. Spencer is laying it on thick, however, and it seems that maybe Kimmi will be convinced to ditch her plan and vote with the majority.
Wentworth plays her idol.
Jeremy plays his idol.
Jeff reads the votes.
Three votes for Kelley — do not count.
Three votes Jeremy — do not count.
Say whaat?!?! Stephen Fishbach’s head explodes. No votes?
This has never happened in the history of Survivor.
What a tribal! After 31 seasons, the game still continues to shock and amaze us. That’s why we all love it so much, right?
So what happens now?
They re-vote. But, before they get to that, Jeremy must know who voted for him. He’s shocked. It cannot be Kimmi! Could she have it in her to turn on him like that? How could he have been so foolish not to see it?
He skips his way over to the voting box, and with a flourish, deposits Kimmi’s name in it.
The girl’s toast.
Jeff reads the votes— again.
It’s a tie — again. Three for Tasha, three for Kimmi.
We’re deadlocked once more.
Now, Jeff has to just start making up rules. Since this has never happened, here’s how it’s going to go: Jeremy is safe, Kelley is safe, Spencer is safe. The six contestants still in this now have a chance to have a conversation and come to an agreement. If they cannot decide between Tasha or Kimmi, then both the girls are safe and Keith goes home by default.
Keith’s face says it all — how could this whole thing now be on me?!
Spencer doesn’t even give them a moment to deliberate. “Tasha is not going anywhere. So it’s either Kimmi or Keith,” he proclaims with the utmost authority.
This guy must be used to barreling people over to get his way. It’s an effective strategy.
For a moment, Keith tries to sacrifice himself, but Wentworth is not having it. As a group, they decide to send Kimmi packing.
That is most definitely the most dramatic tribal council I have ever witnessed, and I’ve seen my fair share of drama at tribal.
Even Jeff is lost for words.
All he can say is, “wow” as he sends the final five back to the beach.
And the show must go on.
It’s going to be impossible to top that tribal council, but I suppose I’ll keep watching.
The failure of Kimmi’s plan leaves Wentworth in a very precarious spot. She no longer has the protection of a hidden immunity idol, and if she loses the next immunity challenge, she will surely be making the long, lonely walk to loser’s lodge.
I don’t want this to happen. I want Kelley to crush this challenge and score the necklace. I like her. She’s playing a mean game and she deserves a shot at the win. But the odds are not in her favor.
I’m biting my nails watching this challenge. It’s a puzzle. For sure, Spencer will take this one, easily.
He doesn’t. Kelley wins!!
And all is right with the world.
Seriously, this is perfect. Now that Kelley’s safe, she can get to work trying to save her last remaining ally, Keith.
Tasha, Spencer and Jeremy are not turning on one another. Kelley’s only option is to try to trick the group into believing Keith has an immunity idol. She fashions a fake one out of some beads and a medallion she’s collected. Keith takes his treasure and tries to look suspect.
After that wild tribal council, Jeremy is off his center. He’s checking out Keith and feeling “weird.”
What if Keith has an idol? It will probably be Jeremy that they vote out. Jeremy can’t shake the paranoia. He gets Keith’s attention, and while Tasha is sleeping in the shelter next to him, Jeremy whispers to Keith to vote Spencer.
No way Jeremy is really going to vote Spence. He values loyalty too much to turn on his boy now. It also makes zero sense to vote out Spencer and keep Keith. That would be giving way too much power to Wentworth moving into the final four.
But maybe, if Keith can play this fake idol right …
He doesn’t even mention it at tribal. Why not even try, Keith? Whyyyy??
So Keith goes home, and it’s Wentworth fighting against the power threesome Tasha, Spencer and Jeremy.
This doesn’t bode well for our scrappy little underdog.
Again, Wentworth finds herself in the position of needing to win immunity to stay in the game. This challenge requires mental focus and agility. It looks like something she can win, but she looks tired.
Kelley’s frailty is in stark contrast to how confident Jeremy looks going into this challenge. When Kelley is the first to drop, sadly, we know it’s curtains for Kell.
Jeremy wins the challenge, and he immediately drops to the earth in tears. These are tears of relief. He’s given everything he has to get to this point, and he’s made it to the final three. It’s almost over.
Almost. He’s still got to make it through the jury battering.
Unsurprisingly, Jeremy stays loyal to Spencer and Tasha and they vote out Kelley, unanimously.
I can’t wait to see what Kass has to say about all this, as the power now shifts to the jury.
One by one, the jurors ask their questions. Tasha is basically ignored, and we know that it’s between Spencer and Jeremy for the win.
They both are working the jury seamlessly. Jeremy compliments Ciera on impacting the game, and Spencer tells Kass exactly what she wants to hear. Smooth, boys. Real smooth.
But the real win comes when Wentworth asks her question, “What is your second chance story?”
Tasha says she wanted to be loyal. Spencer talks about his transformation.
Then Jeremy drops a bomb. He’s here for his wife, Val, and their two kids, but what the jury doesn’t know is that Val is pregnant. Jeremy says that the hardest thing he’s had to do was not talk to Val, to miss his baby growing inside her and to not tell everyone that he’s going to have a son.
The emotion is so thick, I can see everyone scribbling Jeremy’s name on the parchment in their minds.
What a dynamic, incredible, surprising, perfect end to a perfectly-played-out season.
Congratulations, Jeremy, and congratulations Survivor for killing it once again!
Well played, everyone.
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