Survivor Seasons: How Second Chance changed the game of Survivor

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Among the best seasons with returning players, the great cast of Survivor: Cambodia heightened their level of play, changing Survivor forever.

Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance is perhaps one of the best themes for a returning player season. Each of the castaways were returning for their second season, and they all had unfinished business. Their experience and knowledge of the game revolutionized the way alliances form, making Second Chance a top ten season of all-time. It’s also a great season to rewatch before Edge of Extinction airs since both Joe and Wentworth are in it. Here are some key ways Cambodia changed Survivor.

Voting Blocs!

A voting bloc is when a group of castaways decide to vote out a common threat. These differ from alliances because they’re more short-term and usually change after that threat is eliminated. Although we’ve seen voting blocs temporarily form in earlier seasons like in Amazon and Heroes vs. Villains, it was in Second Chance where this new type of alliance became popularized.

Production did a great job of throwing everything at these castaways. For the first time in Survivor, the two initial tribes were expanded to three, and then a few episodes later they went back down to two! Add in the earliest merge ever at 13 people and you had so many shifting loyalties.

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These dynamics motivated the castaways to view each Tribal as an opportunity to get rid of a big threat, as opposed to simply sticking to tribal lines. This led to thrilling and fluid gameplay that resulted in surprising blindsides almost every vote.

Since Second Chance, we’ve seen a few other seasons including Game Changers, Millennials vs. Gen X and David vs. Goliath, build off this progressive gameplay. It’s so exciting to watch the strategy of Survivor evolve, and we hope to see to voting blocs become a key part of every season!

Hiding idols in challenges.

Production threw in another awesome twist for Cambodia: hiding Hidden Immunity Idols in a challenge. Jeremy Collins and Kelley Wentworth each discovered their own clue that showed them exactly where an idol was hiding at the challenge. They were both skillfully able to pull out the idol without anyone noticing.

This new way of planting idols is perhaps the best hiding place of them all, as it adds a whole other entertaining element to a Reward or Immunity Challenge. Although it hasn’t been aired, you can be sure that since Second Chance, castaways have been subtly examining the challenge grounds for a possible idol. This is something I’m sure Wentworth will try during Edge of Extinction!

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Using other threats as a meat-shield.

You can always go back in the history of Survivor and theorize how possible winners like Vecepia, Natalie White and Danni used bigger threats as a shield to advance themselves further. That being said, none of those castaways were vocal about this strategy during the game. It was really only until Second Chance that the idea of using a meat-shield became popularized.

Coming into Cambodia, Jeremy appeared to be a strong physical threat who even won an Immunity necklace in his first season. He made it clear that he wanted to be surrounded by other strong players so that when someone makes a big move, they go home instead of him. It was a way of keeping the target off of his back. Jeremy used this strategy perfectly, as he had Savage on his side, and he did everything in his power to keep Joe alive deep into the merge.

By the time both Savage and Joe were gone, only seven people remained. Jeremy’s strategy worked so well, that the only votes he received the entire season were three blocked by his idol, and ten to award him with the Title of Sole Survivor. Just like voting blocs, the idea of keeping a meat-shield around has been used by many castaways since, including Davie from David vs. Goliath.

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We don’t get treated often with seasons that evolve the game of Survivor in a major way. Second Chance definitely fits into that category and it’s fun to watch castaways still reference this season when they’re out on the island.