Survivor Insights 168: Second Chance, My Pre-show Favorites

Hi Survivor Fans,

Here in the Philippines, Jack TV will air the live episodes of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chances starting September 24, 2015 (Thursday, 9:50 PM).

This is the 31st season of the reality-competition show that features 20 returnees, three of which came from their first two seasons in 2000 and 2001. In other words, this is the first season in which old school meets middle and new schools.

Who will outwit, outplay and outlast? Who will get the second chance of a lifetime?
Survivor Cambodia: Second Chances

Old vs. Middle vs. New

Before answering those questions, let me share my observations first. It looks like these 20 names are picked from three different eras. Kelly, Andrew, Kimmi and Jeff are old-school survivors who played in season one (Borneo), in season seven (Pearl Islands) and in season two (Australian Outback) respectively.

Middle-school began in season nine (Vanuatu) and ended in season 20 (Heroes vs. Villains). Stephen (Tocantins), Monica (Samoa), Terry (Panama Exile Island) and Peih-Gee (China) will return for the first time to represent this period.

Twelve returnees come from the new-school, which began in season 21 (Nicaragua) and ended in season 30 (Worlds Apart). Joe (Worlds Apart), Jeremy (San Juan Del Sur), Keith (San Juan Del Sur), Ciera (Blood vs. Water), Tasha (Cagayan), Kass (Cagayan), Vytas (Blood vs. Water), Spencer (Cagayan), Woo (Cagayan), Abi-Maria (Philippines), Shirin (Worlds Apart) and Kelley (San Juan Del Sur) will complete the cast.

My Pre-show Favorites

These returnees are divided into two tribes – Bayon and Ta Keo. After careful evaluation, I notice Bayon Tribe is stronger than Takeo in terms of physical strength. Ta Keo will have Vytas, Spencer, Terry, Woo and Jeff but it appears these men can’t easily outplay the combined power in Joe, Jeremy, Stephen, Keith and Andrew.

The five women in Bayon and in Ta Keo stand on the same platform. It seems Ciera, Tasha, Kimmi, Kass and Monica can and will outwit, outplay, outlast Abi-Maria, Peih-Gee, Shirin, Kelley and Kelly without much problems.

Four of these returnees, one male and one female in each tribe, grab my attention as I re-assess their strategic accomplishments in their previous seasons.

Stephen Fishbach, 36, NY New York


Stephen is best remembered as one of the smartest strategists who never received a vote in the finale.

In Tocantins, he became a part of a cross-tribe alliance, which helped him survived the merge.

Stephen took risks. Some worked well. Some failed. Luckily, these risks never stopped him to glide into the final two with JT.

Cerebral, flexible and risk taker – that’s Stephen. He’s a power player with numerous Plan Bs in his head.

Returning as a first time returnee in a tribe filled with strong personalities, Stephen will seemingly make early sacrifices to bring his game to the next level.

Tasha Fox, 38, St. Louis Missouri


Tasha is best remembered as a rising proactive player in Cagayan. She orchestrated the plan to eliminate Garret as early as Episode 1.

Tasha made baby steps forward when the three tribes were reshuffled. She made the merge and protected herself by winning three immunity challenges in a row.

Spencer ended her winning streak, unfortunately. Without the necklace around her neck, Tasha attempted to make a last minute deal with Kass, Spencer and Woo.

Surprisingly, a deal isn’t enough to protect Tasha from all uncertainties. She became the sixth jury member.

Tasha stayed hungry in her first season. She was tested from the start but she chose to make her plans happen. She kept winning when least expected.

It’s a gamble to choose her as favorite. She might be viewed as an early threat. Yet, she seems unstoppable. Her journey continues and Tasha will still have an extra set of cards to play.

Jeff Varner, 49, Greensboro NC


It seems interesting to pick a favorite from an old school era. Jeff comes from a season that isn’t peppered with tribe reshuffle, hidden immunity idols and exile island.

Jeff sat in a good position as Kucha won three immunity challenges in a row. Unfortunately, Kucha lost two members before the merge.

Then, there’s the Tribal Council. Jeff and Colby found themselves hanging by a thread as votes and re-votes were tied at 5-5 and 4-4, respectively.

The luck didn’t side with Jeff. He was eliminated based on a vote he received in Episode 1.

Jeff returns for a second chance after 15 years. SURVIVOR changed a lot since. How will Jeff handle the tension? Is it enough to say Jeff doesn’t have the right weapons against the younger, fitter and smarter competitors?

Abi-Maria Gomes, 35, LA California


I’m taking a great risk for choosing Abi-Maria. The ideal choice is Kelley but I realize Abi gets what it takes to stay longer after analyzing the series of events in their respective seasons.

Abi handled the situation well even if she’s labeled as the villain. She made the last five without overplaying. She even surprised herself by winning the immunity challenge in Episode 11.

Maybe, either luck played a major role in her game or Pete only helped her survived another day. Looking back, Abi played a game for herself. It was neither impressive nor bad. It’s misinterpreted even.

Her 36 days of survival, however, says it all. Abi will return and will use her invisible game to outlast others.

Photos Courtesy of: CBS, Jack TV Facebook

My Top 5 092015

No one cares about this countdown but me.

5. Backyard Party by: R. Kelly

Hey hey, it’s | A backyard party | A backyard party | We’re just havin’ | A backyard party | We’re just havin’ | A backyard party [Genius]

4. 28 Thousand Days by: Alicia Keys

There’s only 28 thousand days | Who would you love? | Where would you go? | What would you celebrate? | I’m telling you that life’s too short to just throw it away | So have the time of your life, so have the time of your life [AZ Lyrics]

3. Uh Oh Feeling by: Brian McKnight

You always find a way, to brighten up my day | Joy you bring makes everything alright | Every time you call my name, it always starts the flame [This is RnB]

2. My Baby Just Cares For Me by: Usher

She don’t care for shows | Unless it’s front row at my show now | My baby just cares for me | My baby don’t care for, rings or expensive things | My baby just cares for me, uhh [Metro Lyrics]

1) My Imagination by: John Legend

To hide in my imagination | There is always magic waiting | Never counting time | Always on my mind | There’s a place that only I see | Far away from all that haunts me | Inch by inch creating in my imagination [Direct Lyrics]