Survivor Edge of Extinction cast assessment: Kelley Wentworth will make it count

Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

One of the toughest grinders in Survivor history, Kelley Wentworth enters Edge of Extinction with just one goal left to accomplish; winning the game.

It’s hard to rate tenacity in Survivor when everyone is starving just as equally as one another. However, I’d argue the people who have been playing from behind for most of the game are amongst the most tenacious players. Denise and Malcolm at least had each other for the majority of the game; Kelley Wentworth’s story, for a large segment, saw her fighting for her life with few backing her corner.

Though she played for a cup of coffee in San Juan del Sur as part of a father-daughter duo in a Blood vs. Water season, she swapped into a tribe where the numbers weren’t in her favor and she was voted out just before her father. It was in Cambodia – Second Chances where she truly thrived, as Kelley became one of the season’s best storylines.

Kelley burned some bridges early on Ta Keo, unsuccessfully trying to vote out Spencer as Shirin took his place in a 5-4 vote at their second tribal. She did manage to find a Hidden Immunity Idol in the first challenge (a Survivor first to bury an idol in a challenge) and maintained relationships with the Bayon women causing trouble to pick up future partners at the merge.

As Kelley was deemed too much of a strategic threat and Ta Keo’s merge numbers dwindling, she was deemed the second merge vote threat. However, nobody knew she had a Hidden Immunity Idol, allowing Jeff Probst to read “Wentworth, doesn’t count” nine times in a row to enter into the Survivor record books.

Though she hustled and bustled all the way until fourth place, Kelley Wentworth’s determination and ability to find two Hidden Immunity Idols is her biggest legacy entering the game. She has done everything short of winning and has said as much in her ET Canada interview, and I think that Edge of Extinction might be the setup she needs to win.

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Kelley Wentworth is a strategic threat and a challenge threat in Survivor, but she also knows how to whip an alliance together or vote in voting blocs on the fly. She’s very adaptable, which is perfect for a game where the literal rules of the game are being thrown out the window without anyone’s knowledge.

She’s not alone, either, as she has the potential to reconnect with Joe Anglim if a tribe swap occurs. The two have played in Cambodia together and even competed as a team in the short-lived Candy Crush game show. They split a $100,000 prize together; a fact that may be lost on Survivor fans that only remember her voting Joe out.

Whether she will want to work with David Wright remains to be seen, but I do think it’s in her best interests to do so. Edge of Extinction is based on maintaining good relationships and if you’re voted out, scratching and surviving on a deserted island with nobody telling you what to do. Should Kelley get voted off, she has a history of tenacity and struggling from the bottom and can get herself back into the game.

The only problem I see with Kelley is that she may have a huge target on her back. Returning players in any Survivor season have a huge leg up on the competition and have historically made it to the finale in mixed-player seasons, so Kelley will need to flex her social skills first over strategic skills if she wants to lessen her target and push it towards other returnees.

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If there’s a woman in Survivor most uniquely prepared for Edge of Extinction, it’s probably Kelley Wentworth. It kind of makes you think about how this season idea came up in the first place, but regardless; it’s great to see such a fiery, bombastic, entertaining character return to the game.