There are a few fun enigmas from our vantage point heading into the “Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance” premiere, and Kelley Wentworth is one of them. We’re thrilled that she is on mostly because it is always nice to have several longtime fans of the show out there, but it’s also hard to write much of an in-depth spotlight on her. She didn’t last that long in “San Juan del Sur,” and didn’t get much in the way of airtime even when she was there.
Really, we think her selection into the contestant pool and also her support from the public speaks mostly to potential. Anyone who has seen her campaign or heard her talk about the game knows that she is passionate, and she is someone who really wants to come out there and get another shot. Whether or not it works out in her favor, however, remains to be seen.
(Quick note: While we’ve made it clear that we’re going to be referring to Jeff Varner as “Varner” this season to avoid confusion with Jeff Probst, we’re still going to call Kelley by her first name. Thank Kelly Wiglesworth for spelling her name differently.)
History lesson – 14th place, “Survivor: San Juan del Sur.” Kelley’s most-notable moment through the first several episodes was being targeted by Drew Christy out of nowhere, seemingly just because she had “seen every episode” and therefore was a significant threat. (Little did Drew know that he would ultimately become his own biggest threat.) From there, she was mostly a victim of a bad tribe swap that stuck her with Missy / Baylor and Jon / Jaclyn. Jon and Missy were already close dating back to the earlier days on Hunahpu, and she and her dad Dale just couldn’t make any inroads. She was voted out one week before her dad was shown the door.
What worked the first time – While on her original tribe, we feel like Kelley’s flexibility and game intelligence were assets. We got the sense that she was decent in challenges, and she was working well with many people on her tribe not named Drew. If you go back and look at that, you’ll see that she was someone who could have probably made it far had there been a different draw at the tribe swap. We don’t even think she did that terrible a job trying to save herself.
What needs to change – She already can rest easy not having to worry about a loved one in the game this time; Dale was great television, but he struggled at times to get along with others and that created more challenges for Kelley’s game. She will need to be insanely quick to adapt this time to the players around her, and also have a good read on where people stand. If there’s a similar situation with a tribe swap, and there most likely will be, she has to overcome it.
Potential obstacles – We don’t so much worry that anyone will think Kelley will align with her “San Juan del Sur” cast-mates Jeremy Collins and Keith Nale. We’re more worried about her being a pre-merge boot. Early on in the game, we feel like people are desperate to find a reason to get someone out. That made Francesca an easy target in “Survivor Caramoan.” Rather than trying to get to know Kelley, we could see someone just saying that she is too much of a wild card since nobody really knows her game completely, and then sending her promptly out the door. They could also see her aggressive campaigning and think that this means she will be an aggressive player.
Prediction – We thought that Kelley would make it to the end during the “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” preseason, but we’re not going to rate her as highly here. It’s mostly out of concern that she will really want to prove herself this time and end up playing a little harder than she really needs to. With that said, we do still think she’s make the merge and a few votes beyond that. Unless you are really desperate for a reason to get someone out early, why eliminate her? She’s not going to be a huge target right away, and we don’t see her a challenge liability. Also, without a partner in the game she won’t be as susceptible to tribe-swap trappings.
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