Survivor: Cambodia was the 31st season and aired in the fall of 2015.
For Survivor‘s third ever all-returnee season, they tried something a little different this time around. Not only did fans get to vote on the cast, which we’ll dive into more in a minute, but this season was also the first all-returnee season not to include winners. It was dubbed as Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, where winners weren’t eligible because they had already accomplished the greatest feat in the game.
The season was a success and now let’s take a look at the most memorable moments from Cambodia.
Voting for the cast
As I alluded to earlier, Cambodia was the first time that fans got to vote on who returned to play. There were 32 total players to pick from with 12 not making the cut. I went into more detail on the ballot in another post, which you should definitely check out.
Second Chance theme
Again, as I mentioned earlier, this season’s cast consisted of players who hadn’t won the game before. One of my favorite aspects about it was that they allowed pre-merge boots to be eligible and this opened up a whole new door for Survivor. Sometimes players get the short end of the stick in their original season and get voted out pre-merge. It wasn’t fair that they never got an invite back until season 31, but that changed with Cambodia.
Idols in challenges
For the first time in Survivor history, Hidden Immunity Idols were placed somewhere in a challenge and contestants had to decide if they wanted to be bold and go for the idol (they had the exact location on a clue) or not risk being caught. It added a whole new element to the game and is something we’ve continued to see throughout the years.
Cambodia is without a doubt one of the toughest locations Survivor has ever been to. It rained constantly and it definitely took a toll on the contestants. If this had been a season of newbie players, it’s very possible we would have seen multiple people quit. That’s how rough it was in Cambodia.
One on one on one challenge
After the tribes went from two to three, there was a reward challenge held where each tribe picked their strongest guy to compete. It was a competition pitting Andrew Savage against Terry Deitz against Jeremy Collins with Savage and Deitz winning, leaving Jeremy and his tribe with nothing. Survivor doesn’t do challenges like this very often, but it sure was interesting.
Two tribe switches
Occasionally Survivor has multiple tribe switches, but it was big in Cambodia because they went from two tribes to three tribes then back to two tribes, really shaking the game up and forcing people to make multiple alliances. I wish Survivor would do multiple tribe switches more often because it’d force players to never get too comfortable.
Alliances became a Survivor staple in the first season of the show, but 30 seasons later, we were introduced to voting blocs, which were a bit different. Rather than having one main group and sticking with them until the end, players would shift their allegiance and work with people who had a common goal.
Usually it seemed that if someone was a threat, those who agreed that player was a threat would form a voting bloc to get that person out, and then move onto the next voting bloc for the next vote. At the time, it felt like voting blocs would be the next big thing in Survivor, but they never really stuck honestly. Maybe it’s because this was an all-returnee season so people felt more comfortable jumping around, but voting blocs haven’t been as big ever since.
We saw in season 30 how the advantage era began and we had another new advantage introduced in season 31. Stephen Fishbach made the decision during an endurance challenge to dive off his perch and go for an advantage waiting for him in the water. Spencer Bledsoe also went for it, but was about a millisecond too late in getting the advantage.
Fishbach’s advantage was that he could steal a vote, which he used against Joe. Ironically enough, it didn’t matter, as Fishbach was sent packing that very same tribal council. The vote steal has continued to stick around, being utilized in Game Changers, David vs Goliath, and Winners at War.
No votes at tribal?
The tribal council held at the final six went down in history as one of the craziest tribal councils ever because it was the first time that no votes were cast. Three votes were placed on Kelley Wentworth and three votes were also placed on Jeremy, but both of them had played their idols and were safe from being ousted.
That left Tasha Fox, Kimmi Kappenberg, and Keith Nale in the mix to go home at that tribal council. When the players revoted, it was a deadlock between Tasha and Kimmi and from there, the players had to unanimously decide who went home between Tasha and Kimmi or else Keith would be the one to leave because… Rules!
Ultimately, Jeremy and Spencer made it clear they weren’t flipping on Tasha and wanted to see Kimmi go home since she flipped on them. Keith offered to leave, but Wentworth fought for him and agreed that Kimmi could be sent packing. It was one of the strangest tribal councils ever, but is always a fun one to re-watch.
The rise of Kelley Wentworth
Remember earlier when I said that sometimes pre-merge boots get a bad draw and that’s why it was unfortunate that they couldn’t return? Kelley Wentworth falls into that category. She was the fifth boot on San Juan Del Sur, but campaigned hard for Cambodia and was voted on.
She played hard in her return season, going from a pre-merge nobody to a Survivor legend. She played two idols correctly and was honestly an immunity win away from being crowned the winner of Survivor: Cambodia. She’s one of the players to most benefit from a second shot at Survivor.
Survivor’s third perfect game?
Jeremy won Survivor: Cambodia in a 10-0-0 vote and there’s some debate as to if he played the third ever perfect game in Survivor or not. Jeremy received all 10 jury votes and theoretically, he did make it through the game without a vote with his name on it counting, as he played his idol and wiped out three votes.
The problem is that while those votes technically didn’t count, he did receive votes. That’s where the debate lies with Jeremy’s win. He played a dominant game in Cambodia, but some are on the fence if his win should count as a perfect game or not.
What were your favorite moments from Survivor: Cambodia?