It's always interesting to read your point of view, FP.
You mentioned the intro. I look at it as the edit of an edited story. Jeff is actually telling us what was important to remember and how we should interpret the previous episode. That's why I like to analyze it separately from the rest.
I see that you are better at "Keith-talk" than me! I couldn't understand the line: "Give the rest of us, the low pack, a chance or something." The low pack! No one can accuse Keith of being arrogant.
I really liked your comments about Spencer vs Stephen and Spence wanting to take Stephen's place next to Jeremy. Maybe that's why he never mentioned Jeremy as a target. He also wants to remove Tash (TAJ!!!) from that cosy spot. Could Spencer return to Jeremy's side? I figure he will in order to eliminate Joe but will he do it for good? Doesn't he see that Jeremy is a huge jury threat even for him? Maybe Val's appearance will enlighten him.
Over at RHAP, I came up with a different angle for the story. I have tried to see how Buddhism is affecting the themes of the season and I think there is more to the "rebirth" theme than just being on their "Second Chance". For a while, we had recurring "Missed Opportunities" so what if each close call is meant to symbolize a rebirth?
Tasha had two close calls, first when she went to Angkor and then when Kass targeted her. It doesn't seem that she used either to improve her game because she hasn't changed anything in her plans.
Abi was targeted in the first episode but Abi being Abi, we can't say that she was enlightened by the experience. It was simply more of the same from her.
Stephen had is "rebirth" when Jeremy played the idol for him but, as we both noted, he repeated the same mistakes in the second hour as he had in the first.
Which brings us to the players that have grown from their "rebirth":
Kelley had close calls when the new Takeo tribe was formed and even more when she was the only Takeo in the 3rd Bayon tribe. Then she almost got voted out at F12 but her idol gave her a second "life". She used that "rebirth" to improve her game.
Spencer escaped close calls in episode 2, 5 and 6 so he'd be on his 4th life in this season. Reduced to tears when he had to vote against Shirin, his game has evolved so much that he is now the one in charge. He could very well be using his 4th life to reach Survivor's Nirvana!
By the way, maybe this "rebirth" theme also explains why we never hear anyone gunning for Jeremy. They could very well have mentioned his name but it's been systematically erased from the show. Either we are not supposed to see Jeremy escaping close calls or his rebirth will happen when he plays the idol on himself and not before.