Survivor Cambodia – Episode 1 Recap Featuring Brian Heidik


The highly anticipated season of Cambodia is finally upon us! After an entertaining ninety minute premiere episode it’s time to recap it! Joining us, we have our recap expert, Clifton, plus Ben and the Ozlets chime in with their thoughts as well! Oh, and we’ll even speak to a real expert in our good friend Brian Heidik, the winner of Thailand!

(If you haven’t watched this weeks episode yet, clicking the link below will spoil the hell out of it, so if you don’t want to be spoiled then don’t click the link!)


The thirty-first season of Survivor begins with Jeff Probst reminding us that it is one of the most taxing games to ever exist. For those who lose, they are often haunted by endless thoughts of what could have been. This season for the first time ever, the fans were able to vote for contestants to finish what they started. Some have waited over a decade for this opportunity.


The Second Chance All-Stars ride a bus through Cambodia. (Image credit: CBS)

Fifteen years ago, Kelly Wiglesworth was one vote away from winning the first season of the game. She matured and is now a mother. She says that she can do anything now. Andrew Savage has a perfect wife, great kids, and a fantastic job. Pearl Islands is the only thing in his life that haunts him. He intends to give it 100% this time around. Spencer Bledsoe claims that he was too cocky last time around, thinking of Survivor too much like chess. He claims that he has matured, is more emotional aware, and prepared to connect with people. Kimmi Kappenberg says that her experience in the Australian Outback was cut short. She aims to get to the end after fourteen years. Kelley Wentworth claims that her father was her downfall on San Juan Del Sur. Outside of his shadow, she plans to make decisions for herself and play a her own game. Ciera suggests that she was not playing for the first half of the game in Blood vs Water. She hopes that she can be as strong and confident at the beginning of this game as she was at the end of her last. Tasha claims that last time she played she was “nice Tasha” in order to not disappoint her church members. This time she comes with a free pass from them to play aggressively.


The Second Chance All-Stars arrive in Cambodia. (Image credit: CBS)

Jeff Varner jumped off a pole in the Australian Outback for peanut butter and gave away a million dollars. He’s been replaying that history for fourteen years. This is his chance to re-write his story. He will not repeat his mistakes. Joe Anglim connected with his dad by watching the show while he was growing up. It was hard for him not to get to the family visit. This time he thinks he can. Kass claims that she was a troublemaker in her season. She likes her legacy but feels she will have to make people’s perceptions of her change. Abi Maria is aware of the mistakes that she made the first time around, and she hopes to patch those mistakes on her second time out, although she notes that villains have more fun. Jeremy says that half of his heart was with his wife on San Juan Del Sur. He wasn’t focused. He wants the money for Val more than for himself. He will get his redemption.


Jeff Varner is here to play. (Image credit: CBS)

Four boats containing all twenty castaways converge upon a larger boat where Jeff Probst awaits them. Jeff explains that all of them failed their first time around. This is their second chance. Jeff asks Ciera how it feels to be voted onto the show by the fans. She says that there is an added layer of pressure. You don’t want to let your fans down. Jeff Varner reveals that he has thought about this a lot over the last fourteen years. He’s emotional. Joe says that his time off from the game was short, but he is excited to be playing with the people he watched growing up. Jeff then addresses Kelly Wiglesworth, who receives applause from her fellow castaways. She says that it is strange to hear Joe say that he grew up watching them.


Four boats of contestants converge on Jeff. (Image credit: CBS)

Jeff then reveals the tribe configurations. The Ta Keo tribe, who will wear green, consists of Kelly Wiglesworth, Kelley Wentworth, Shirin, Abi Maria, Peih-Gee, Spencer, Terry, Vytas, Jeff Varner, and Woo. The Bayon tribe, who will wear pink, consists of Monica, Kass, Kimmi, Tasha, Ciera, Stephen, Jeremy, Andrew, Keith, and Joe. Jeff then reveals that the boat he is standing on is loaded with supplies that will make their experience easier. The tribes must race to collect as much as they can and put it on a raft. One hundred yards away is a small boat with rice. The first tribe to have a member get to rice will claim ownership of it. Jeff tells them to begin and the contestants waste no time diving into the water and climbing up the side of the ship. They quickly gather up as many supplies as they can without loading down the raft and both tribes take off towards the rice at the same time. Ta Keo takes an early lead and Wiglesworth leaps off the raft and swims ahead of it. Bayon, whose raft is beginning to sink, sends Joe to try and catch up to Wiglesworth. He begins to make up some ground but Ta Keo sends Woo who cuts through the water at a rapid pace and makes it to the boat ahead of everyone else. Ta Keo wins reward. 39 days, 20 people, 1 Survivor!


Woo wins rice for Ta Keo. (Image credit: CBS)


The Ta Keo tribe arrives on their raft at their beach and begin to hug and cheer. Woo says that he is honoured like when he got his first black belt. Wiglesworth immediately organizes people to get working on the shelter. She confesses that it is important to work hard and be useful at camp. Terry, Woo, Spencer, and Vytas are the workers at the camp. She hopes that people will remember that she was the one working for the tribe. It doesn’t get more old school than her. Terry confesses that there is a huge difference between old school and new school. In old school the camp life was the most important first step, but new school players begin playing the game immediately. He realizes that his social game is lacking and that he will need to work on it. Spencer tells Terry that he will be the backbone of the tribe. Terry tells him that his son told him that he should trust Spencer. Spencer tells him that he wants to play with solid, predictable, rational guys. He confesses that he wants to have more one on one conversations in the first three days than his entire time on Cagayan. Abi Maria then becomes upset that her bag, with her bracelet inside, is missing. She begins asking everyone around the camp if they have seen it. She confesses that she is beginning to lose her temper and it is hard not to pull out the fangs.


Terry connects with Spencer. (Image credit: CBS)


At the Bayon camp, the tribe seems to be in good spirits. Ciera says that the tribe is very peaceful. Kass and Tasha remember their palm frond weaving experiences from Cagayan. Ciera asks if they can believe they are back out here. Monica says that she is so happy. Keith confesses that he never thought he would make the cut but he is happy that he is there. He doesn’t plan to change his game much, but he hopes to tweak it a little bit. No fumbling this time. Jeremy approaches Keith and reassures him that they are good and everything is in the past between them. He hopes that Keith will come to him if Jeremy is ever in danger. Jeremy confesses that he is getting good vibes from Savage and Tasha, but his number one is Joe, who is the best shield he could ask for. He is convinced that their tribe is stronger. Savage then tells Joe about how infatuated his daughters were with Joe on TV. Joe confesses that he realizes he was a threat last time, but he hopes to make moves to work with the alpha males to help each other get far. Stephen is having trouble finding his place on the tribe, feeling like a fish out of water. He doesn’t know yet what is place is and is having trouble finding ways to help, unable to conquer a large branch. Meanwhile, Savage single-handily savages a tree.


Stephen struggles with a branch. (Image credit: CBS)


Back at the Ta Keo tribe Vytas is trying to establish a relationship with the women of his tribe. Vytas confesses that some people might suggest that he manipulated the women, but really he just manipulated their perceptions, which is what the game is all about. He doesn’t want to be perceived as a manipulator this early on. He wants the women to think he is a sweet guy who will help out. Shirin confesses that she finds Vytas to be smarmy. Her plan is to lock down an alliance immediately. She approaches Spencer and Varner and explains the connections that Vytas has on the other tribe. Varner tells her that she is very observant and he isn’t warmed up yet. He confesses that he is glad to be on her train moving a mile a second. He will say yes to whatever anyone says. It has been a long time since he has played and it is a bit overwhelming. It was all about the adventure last time, but this is coming at the perfect time. He is turning fifty next year and this is his mid-life quest. The second half of his life begins with this second chance. He’s the OG but he feels like the baby. Abi then finds her bracelet inside of Peih-Gee’s bag and she lets everyone know. Jeff laughs, asking her if she is going to say anything to her. She says no. She confesses that she has to play smart and not lose her temper. Peih-Gee confronts Abi and tries to clear the air that there was no bad intentions and it was purely an accident. Abi says that she was giving her the benefit of the doubt, but clearly she has a grudge now.


Peih-Gee tries to clear the air with Abi. (Image credit: CBS)


At the Bayon camp, Joe works hard on making fire. Kass offers her glasses to be used to help make the fire. The tribe wonders where Stephen is and Kimmi suggests that he is looking for an idol. Turns out he is. He hopes that he is not being branded as someone looking for the idol and confesses that he needs to find a group that isn’t going to target him just because he is the nerd. Meanwhile, Joe succeeds in making fire using the friction method and the tribe is ecstatic. Savage confesses that he is in awe. He hopes that fire on Day 1 will be a great sign of things to come.


Joe starts a fire. (Image credit: CBS)



The next morning, Vytas and Wiglesworth meditate on the rocks. Varner confesses that he feels like he has never played the game before. It’s way too fast and he’s trying to make it not seem like he’s playing as hard as he is. He floats in the ocean with Peih-Gee and they agree that there is a division between old-school shelter builder people and new-school strategize down the beach people. Varner and Peih-Gee are in the middle. Peih Gee suggests that she would like to get rid of Abi. Varner says that Shirin is targeting Vytas.


Jeff and Peih-Gee discuss tribe divisions. (Image credit: CBS)



Meanwhile, Kelley Wentworth uses her palm frond and coconut collection role as an opportunity to look for the idol. She finds a clue in a tree which reveals that there will be a Hidden Immunity Idol at the next Immunity Challenge. The clue shows her exactly where it will be (under the front right handle of the raft) and tells her that she simply needs the nerve to grab it. She confesses that if she thinks she can grab it without being noticed that she will.


Wentworth finds a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol at the challenge. (Image credit: CBS)


Savage and Kimmi return from tree mail with news of their first Immunity Challenge. The clue reveals to them that the challenge will be the first challenge ever done: Quest for Fire. Savage gives his tribe a pep talk. They will all get gassed and they will pick each other up. They are a family. Monica confesses that she feels she is stronger now. Before the challenge, a bunch of people on the tribe participate in yoga led by Joe. Keith abstains saying that it is not for him. Tasha confesses that she was distracted by Joe’s body.


The Bayon tribe participate in some #Joega. (Image credit: CBS)


At Ta Keo, Vytas attempts to lead some yoga of his own but the women of the tribe are not very receptive. Shirin confesses that Vytas is so over the top. Kelley openly laughs as he attempts to get people to do various poses and shows off his body. After a negative comment, Vytas begins to be worried about Abi. He confesses that he needs to make sure he doesn’t get too comfortable. Terry, Vytas, and Wiglesworth agree that if they lose the challenge Abi Maria would be an ideal person to get out.


Vytas’ yoga is not so well received. (Image credit: CBS)


For the Immunity Challenge, the contestants must participate in the first challenge ever held in Survivor history – Quest for Fire. During the challenge, the tribes will race to a raft where they will light a torch. They will use the torch to light a series of fires making their way to a stand where they will place the raft. One person from each tribe will then use sticks and rope to fashion a long pole to get a key. That key will open a door. First tribe to get everyone through the door will win Immunity and a massive fire-making kit. Jeff then reminds everyone that Wiglesworth was present for the first run of this challenge. She lost.


The tribes prepare to begin their Quest for Fire. (Image credit: CBS)

The challenge begins with both tribes charging for their raft. They keep decent pace together at first but Bayon falls behind as Keith allows for their torch’s flame to dip into the water, forcing them to stop and reignite it. The Ta Keo tribe is the first to make it back to the beach and begin working on the key portion of the challenge. Wiglesworth is the designated person for the Ta Keo tribe and she sets to work. The Bayon tribe finally makes it to the beach and Joe sets to work on the next part of the challenge for his tribe. Meanwhile, Kelley Wentworth is focusing on the Hidden Immunity Idol. At first she feels that she lost her opportunity to grab the idol. She hangs to the back of the tribe and waits for the perfect moment. Wiglesworth struggles with constructing a pole for her tribe and Joe is able to bridge the gap between the two tribes. As both contestants stretch for their keys and both tribes are focused, Kelley Wentworth seizes the moment and grabs the Hidden Immunity Idol and stuff it into the back of her shirt. Joe grabs the key and successfully gets it back to the tribe. Bayon wins Immunity and reward.


Wentworth manages to grab the Hidden Immunity Idol at the challenge. (Image credit: CBS)

After Bayon departs, Jeff asks Wiglesworth whether she feels responsible. She says she definitely does. It was her fault. Jeff notices she is emotional. He asks if it is because she doesn’t want to let anyone down. Wiglesworth nods but the tribe quickly says that she didn’t let anyone down. Jeff then revels that they will go directly to Tribal Council. Spencer confesses that having to go to Tribal Council without all his ducks in a row is extremely unsettling since one wrong move could end up with all of his ducks wiped out at once.


Ta Keo consoles Wiglesworth after her lack lustre performance. (Image credit: CBS)


Jeff begins Tribal Council by instructing the Ta Keo tribe to dip their torches in the fire. He asks Spencer what it means to be voted in by the fans. He says that there is a whole new element of heartbreak to be letting down everyone who voted for you. Woo says that the division in the tribe is apparent immediately. There is the old school shelter builders and the new school strategists. Terry agrees and says that he is part of the old school regime. He says that after they work they start to talk, which is a big part of the game. Jeff corrects him, saying that it is a HUGE part of the game. Peih-Gee says that “Second Chance” is all about the effort to correct the mistakes you made the first time. Abi says that her second chance is about growth. There were situations she could have been a fire-cracker but she is counting to 10 and keeping it in. Vytas notes that his situation has many layers of complexity. Not only does he want a second chance to win, and not only does he want to match the accomplishments of his younger brother, Aras, but he has the added pressure of not losing to Terry, who his bother defeated in his winning season.


The Ta Keo tribe goes to Tribal Council. (Image credit: CBS)

Wiglesworth says that the inability to strategize before Tribal Council is going to affect the vote in a big way. She is trying to catch up. Varner says that he thinks everyone knows what is happening. A lot of work has gone into the last few days. Vytas agrees that it is not random. People know who they want to work with. Woo says that the vote will set the tempo of the game. He doesn’t know where he is going. Abi says that there is clearly a male thing going on. She is nervous and not ready to go. Wiglesworth says that she is picking up on some cues and thinks she knows what to do. Varner says that all he has been doing is picking up on cues. He’s having trouble sleeping. It’s a different world than Australia. He is balls to the wall and he doesn’t think his fellow old-school players are playing at the same speed he is. This is his second chance, he doesn’t want to screw it up. It’s an important night. They vote. Abi votes for Vytas, simply saying “I’m sorry”. Vytas votes for Abi saying that he wanted to play with her but that there is still a lot of room for growth. Jeff retrieves the votes. No idols are played. The votes are revealed: Vytas, Abi, Vytas, Abi, Vytas, Abi, Vytas, Abi, Vytas, Vytas. Vytas is the first person voted out of Survivor: Cambodia. Abi smiles broadly. Woo looks shocked. Terry looks shaken. Vytas’ torch is snuffed. He turns back to his former tribe and wishes them well and tells them no hard feelings. Jeff says that their second chance can end at any time. They have to make the most of it.


Vytas is the first person voted out of Survivor: Cambodia. (Image credit: CBS)


Abi is playing the same old game, and she goes after Peih-Gee. Varner tries to change it up. He confesses that he doesn’t like these people and he had a wake up call to play the game.


Jeff Varner tries to explain his move. (Image credit: CBS)








It’s hard to believe we are here once again for another season of Survivor! Always so exciting, especially given we are now at ANOTHER full returning player season which is just so good. Excited is an understatement.

However I see many comments claiming this to be the “best premiere ever” or even “best Survivor episode ever”. Really? It was a good episode, don’t get me wrong. But was it really THAT good? In my honest opinion I think it would struggle to make the top 10 best premieres of all time. It was fun to see so many old school elements into it for sure, and the lack of strategy and focussing on character moments was fun. But it was bland in some parts. Why so much Yoga? Do we really care about that? I also didn’t really need to see oodles of screen time devoted to how hot Joe is. I get is. He is hot. But I don’t really need to be reminded every five seconds. And Abi and the bag? Please. Red herring alert if I ever saw one, but that’s all we had on Abi? I can see it being developed into a much wider story arc of her time trying to develop into something else in the game compared to her last go around, but yeah. Not exactly a shining moment in the episode.

Outside of those opinions, it was solid. Everything Varner was amazing. He hasn’t lost any of his touch after all these years. Keith was pure gold everytime he opened his mouth. And can I just give another amazing shout out to the fact that Kelly Wiglesworth is back?! I just can’t get over the fact I was seeing her on a brand new episode 15 years later! It was worth it for that fact alone.

Moving forward though it makes for interesting viewing because we had this limited strategy talk without alliances made and a fairly “shocking” blindside that really wasn’t completely explained. It sets it up well for a good season so as you know I’m about to say…BRING IT ON!



What an awesome premiere episode.  It seems they made a concerted effort to make call-backs to the first season, with the marooning, walking through the village, grabbing stuff off the boat, and Jeff naming the tribe members and explaining what the tribe names refer to.
Ta Keo Tribe Notes:
– Kelly gets the first confessional of the season.  However, I don’t buy that she thinks about the first season every day!
– Wow, Varner got a HUGE edit tonight.  I can’t help but contrast him to his former tribemate Mike Skupin, when he says the game is moving too fast for him.  Is he playing too hard?  We’ll see.
– Terry is trying way too hard to play up the social game.  I think he’s good for now, but Spencer will have his number.
– Abi hasn’t changed.  You can tell that she is trying to keep from blowing up, but she won’t hold out for long.
– Shirin is in a good spot.  She has more annoying people (Abi, Peih-Gee) as well as threats (like Spencer and Terry) to hide behind.
– Kelley gets the first idol.  It was way too easy to grab it during the challenge.
– Who the hell voted for Woo??  At least he got the rice.
– Vytas’s exit was telegraphed from his first scene.  He says he doesn’t want to manipulate the girls and then is immediately shown manipulating the girls.  And the girls don’t appreciate it.
Bayon Tribe Notes:
– Tasha gets a winner quote right off the bat about her church wanting her to lie and backstab.  “I’m here to win a million dollars, and when it’s all done, I’ll pray for forgiveness.”
– Kass says people’s perceptions of her will have to change.  You’ll need to be a big part of that, Kass.
– Does Jeremy really see Keith as an ally? I suspect is only using him for his loyalty and will want to blindside him eventually.
– Great edit for Joe, getting the fire started for the second straight season and leading #Joega.  Also,  alpha males helping each other – Great strategy!
– Stephen gets the dodo edit.  This is either a sign that he is going home early or has a redemption arc.  I think he is targeted.  However, he knows what he has to do so maybe he’ll be fine for a while.
– Savage steps up as the leader again. But with bigger targets around, he should be fine for now.
– Nothing from Ciera and Monica, and very little from Kimmi.
My winner pick: Episode One is always tough, but I’m going with Tasha.
Next to go: Abi or Monica.



Wow! This episode delivered in a big way! It seems like everyone got a word in, and, to nobody’s surprise, everyone is there to play this season.

I’ll start with Ta Keo because I’m fully team #votevarner this season. I was massively impressed with Varner and Wentworth. Varner is playing his ass off and I’m loving it. He seems to be in everyone’s plans and is playing it well! The man does not disappoint. Kelley Wentworth impressed the hell out of me as well. Where was this girl last year? She’s game aware and man, that idol. That was the most suspenseful first Immunity Challenge I’ve ever seen! Well done to producers on that one. Shirin and Spencer are looking great together, so I’m going to be watching them for some great moves this season, and if not that, at least some great moments! Abi had a rough premiere though. That bracelet storyline was mundane to say the least, but I think it holds some important foreshadowing. If she’s making a big deal (albeit holding back for her standards) about a bracelet, what’s going to happen when something serious happens. Particularly with the preview for next week, Abi’s fuse looks like it’s shrinking by the minute, and is about to explode.

The other side of the isle is off to an interesting start as well. Jeremy hit the ground running to form an alliance with Keith, Savage, Tasha, and Joe. He seems to be doing the most thinking on the Bayon tribe, and has landed in a great spot right off the bat. If the other castaways aren’t careful, we could be talking about Jeremy Collins: Survivor winner come December. On the flip side, poor Fishbach. I love the guy, and am tempted to cry “edit,” but he does seem to be isolated from the tribe early. And oh the branch. Painfully hilarious. I’m hoping he’s getting a Fabio-type edit, wherein he’s painted as a bit of a doofus only to come back and be a real contender, but I’m afraid the Fish may be on the chopping block, and as we learned from Bob Dawg Mason, those heads come right off.



Wow, what a very solid start to the season. Sad that my pick to win ends up being the first boot but he was trying too hard and it ended up being his downfall. How about my pony? By far the star of the episode was Kelley Wentworth. I was also very impressed by a few people, Jeremy, Joe, Varner and Savage in particular. Abi-Maria was the same old, whether she thinks she has grown or not, is it entertaining? Yes, but it will get old if she sticks around for a while. All in all it was a great opening episode and everyone seemed to have at least one moment, even those like Monica who we only heard from once. Great way to start the season and hope that it only goes up from here.


Each week this season we’ll bring you the viewpoint of at least one former Survivor contestants to hear what they think of the episode and their thoughts for the rest of the season! Our 1st recap features the great Brian Heidik, winner of Survivor: Thailand! He discusses everything that happened during this episode as well as looking ahead to the rest of the season with his answers to the ‘Cambodia 4!’

DARK HORSE: Keith   

Join us next week as we are joined by Dan Foley from Worlds Apart to help us recap the second episode of Cambodia – Second Chance!



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3 Comments on Survivor Cambodia – Episode 1 Recap Featuring Brian Heidik

  1. I agree .. AWESOME episode. Kelley Wentworth is totally my winner’s pick at this point. Great edit, great strategy, awesome idol clue find and awesome choice of when to actually grab it. And she perfectly fits into the group of players that have done extremely well on returnee seasons that you would have never suspected would do well (Amber and Parvati, as well as Cochran and Tyson to an extent).

  2. Jack Sophilot // September 26, 2015 at 6:52 am // Reply

    I loved this episode. Poor Vytas received the Vince Sly edit. I watch these shows one time only not because I’m not a life-less loser but because I have other meaningless duties to tend to. I don’t remember Vytas being so douchey and creepy on BvW. They’re sticking it to Dan Foley by giving Shirin a great edit. I know crazy when I see it and she’s certifiable. Luckily for Shirin she’s paired with Abi-Maria. MS. Gomes is the equivalent of a Boeing 767 making an emergency landing onto the tracks of an oncoming bullet train. Who doesn’t love a spectacular train wreck? Shirin looks rational and sane next to that kook. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe we’ve seen a season with so much pregame strategizing. No other reason to vote off a challenge asset off this early unless all your ducks are in a row. Can’t wait to see this play out. Great job fellas.

  3. I really liked this episode.

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