Monica Padilla: The 'Survivor Gods' Didn't Want Me to Win

Originally posted 10/24/2015 05:40 AM

Rumor has it that there was a contestant named Monica Padilla on this season of Survivor – although it's not surprising if you didn't notice.

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Jeff Varner: I'm Proud of How I Played Survivor

Originally posted 10/17/2015 12:45 PM

You've got to hand it to Jeff Varner.

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This season of Survivor is different from many others: of the 17 contestants left, almost all of them are legitimate threats to win the game.

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On every season of Survivor, one contestant manages to steal the show.

This season, it's Jeff Varner, the 49-year-old from North Carolina who's snarky, funny and extremely quotable – although he sometimes says things that make everyone's jaw drop.

In the first two episodes of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, Varner has been playing hard, all the while telling other contestants that the game is moving too fast and he's just trying to keep up. (You're not fooling us, Jeff. Sorry. You know exactly what you're doing.)

In an exclusive deleted scene from this week's episode, Varner talks strategy – and then shares how he feels about the other contestants.

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Few contestants have been beaten down by Survivor as much as Shirin Oskooi.

After spending 10 years applying for the show, she was finally cast in Survivor: Worlds Apart. On that season, she had vitriolic clashes with contestants Dan Foley and Will Sims that reduced her to tears.

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Before the season premiere of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, host Jeff Probst promised viewers that the season would be brutal.

"These contestants are getting a second chance to play a game that millions of people want to play," Probst told PEOPLE. "It is not going to be easy for them."

Case in point: the seasons' second immunity challenge. In an exclusive sneak peek at Wednesday night's episode, teams climb over increasingly steep A-frame walls – and it doesn't go smoothly.

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Survivor's Vytas Baskauskas: Being Voted Off First was 'Really, Really Sad'

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Well, someone has to go first.

The reality of Survivor is that anyone can be the first to be voted off – although it's not usually a young, strong guy. In the first 30 seasons of Survivor, only four of the first boots were men under the age of 40. (And one of them was übervillain Jonny Fairplay, who was a special case.)

But in Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, it was 35-year-old yoga instructor Vytas Baskauskas who was first to take the walk of shame.

There's no question that other members of his tribe would be weaker in challenges, but Baskauskas was perceived as a well-connected contestant who might emerge as a threat.

Baskauskas tells PEOPLE what went wrong – and whom he holds responsible for his ouster.

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It's Jeff Probst's job to hype Survivor. It comes with the territory.

Sometimes the seasons live up to the hype (Survivor: Cagayan comes to mind). Other times, the season never really gets off the ground.

But this season, everything is different. Probst, 53, talked with PEOPLE after returning from filming Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance – and he seemed genuinely energized about the season. "The contestants were honored that people voted for them, so they felt an obligation to play hard," Probst tells PEOPLE. "Many of them swing for the fences from the get-go."

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Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance Contestants Tell PEOPLE How They Prepared to Play Again

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Well, this should be fun.

CBS has released the first details of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, and the season sure looks like a winner.

In May, America voted for the cast of the long-running franchise's 31st season. They chose 10 men and 10 women who had competed once before but hadn't won the game.

By and large, America got it right, although the omission of Survivor: Africa's Teresa Cooper was a heartbreaker.

Still, multiple sources have told PEOPLE that the season turned out to be one of the franchise's strongest in its 31-season history. Here's what to expect:

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Survivor's Jon Misch and Jaclyn Schultz Are Married! See Their Gorgeous Wedding Album

Credit: Manstrom Photography

When we last saw Jon Misch and Jaclyn Schultz, they were competing on Survivor: San Juan del Sur. They both did well – he ended up in sixth place, and she was the season's runner-up. (It was a Blood vs. Water season, so Misch and Schultz were already dating when they competed.)

Their love clearly survived Survivor: Misch and Schultz were wed in a traditional ceremony in Detroit on Sunday.

They exchanged their vows at the Shrine Chapel in the suburb of Orchard Lake, and Schultz tells PEOPLE that she found the perfect dress for her big day. "It's a Pnina Tornai from Kleinfeld," she says. "It has long lace sleeves fitted to my body with a train. It's a mixture of lace and silk."

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