RNO Roundtable: ‘Survivor: One World’ Pre-Show Predictionsby Reality News Online Staff -- 02/15/2012
Each season, various Reality News Online writers put together their collective heads and try to figure out which Survivor contestants will do well and which won’t. Some of them have had pretty good success. Others, not so much. We have eight writers participating this season, so let’s see what William Hammon, Sarah Freeman, Ken Kellam III, Chris Harris, Jenn Brasler, Jeffrey Clinard, Stinger James, and David Bloomberg have to say!
William: Alicia puzzles me. She’s a special ed teacher, which should mean she has infinite patience. At the same time, last season’s special ed teacher, Christine, had anything but. Were it not for challenge prowess on Extended Failure Island, we’d likely not even remember her. In her video, Alicia talks about being the representative for girls who aren’t models and aren’t comfortable in a bikini. However, in her bio, we get a picture of her in a bikini that leaves little to the imagination, and in both the bio and the video she declares that she’ll manipulate the men with her good looks. So remember, young ladies of America, if you’re insecure about your looks, flaunt them in hopes of making men your drooling slaves. CBS cares. (Yes, I’m “borrowing” Craig Ferguson’s bit.) As far as the game is concerned, she’s convinced she’ll be able to manipulate and backstab, as she’ll flirt with the guys and get all the girls to somehow confide in her and trust her. The trouble is, with the one beach format, the moment she starts flirting, she’s just as likely to have all the women distrust her and think she’s liable to flip sides. I give her a puncher’s chance, but she’ll have a hard road to hoe.
Sarah: Alicia turned me off the moment she said she was there for all the girls who were uncomfortable in a bikini. Sorry, the woman there for those of us who are uncomfortable in bikinis would be one who is not wearing a bikini. So I am admittedly prejudiced, but I think Alicia's going to suffer from the tribes-by-gender approach. She's going into the game hoping that her physical looks will get her underestimated, but I think the other women will see her as more of a threat who doesn't bring enough to challenges and send her home early.
Ken: She claims she’ll make good TV. So did Russell Hantz. She doesn’t like people who talk about themselves, so logically, she agreed to do a TV show that by its very nature appeals to huge egos. Smart move. Fortunately, she seems to understand the importance of strategizing, comparing herself to Jenna Morasca. Will she go as far as Jenna? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see her still around come merge time.
Chris: Strike 1: Her pet peeves include burping and farting. When you’re dirty, sleep-deprived, and living in the woods, the niceties go out the window. Hope she’s ready for that. Strike 2: Her stated reason for being on the show is not to win but to “make good TV.” Strike 3: She teaches Special Ed, which is a wonderful calling, but means she’s mostly around people who are operating without guile and putting a lot of trust in Alicia, leaning on her for help in an unforgiving world. Survivor is not a place where people will look to Alicia as a source of trust or help. Can she adapt to that type of environment as well as she seems to think she will? I count three strikes, and that means she’s out. Early.
Jenn: Last season I randomly chose my “predictions” from a bowl. That didn’t work out so well. (Darn you, Keith!) This season I’m going for the randomization again, but with the help of technology. I’ve put all of the contestants’ names into a randomizer, and the resulting list is the order in which they’ll be eliminated. I can’t say this will be any more effective than the bowl, but it can’t be any worse. That said, Alicia will be one of the first Survivors voted out this season.
Jeffrey: Alicia doesn't inspire “winner” in me. She inspires “loyal voter.” Sometimes they can win if the mastermind is hated, but usually they become also-runs. Third finalist.
Stinger James: When asked her reason(s) for being on Survivor, her answer, was “I’ll make good TV.” Eyebrow cocked. Her motivations are troubling. She sounds like someone who hasn’t really thought out what she’s getting into. She may be carted off on a helicopter, but no way she’s getting a million.
David: I see nothing about Alicia that makes me think she has what it takes to succeed on Survivor. If this were a season where the men and women were on mixed tribes, she might have a shot. But considering that part of her plan was to use her looks to succeed, I just don’t think that’s gonna fly on an all-female tribe. Oh, and she’s easily annoyed. Buh-bye.
William: All I can say is, it’s about damn time. It took 24 freaking seasons to get an actual “Bill” on this show. And no, Billy Garcia from Cook Islands doesn’t count. His name is Virgilio, not Bill, or Billy, or Will, or any other derivative of my proud moniker. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised. It took until Tocantins just to get a Joe. Anyway, I’ve seen Bill’s stand-up, and he’s quite funny (go to YouTube and search “Waiter Song”), which bodes well for his social game, assuming his sense of humor doesn’t offend everyone. As an ex-Marine who served in wartime, he’s certainly got the physical attributes needed to do well. However, he notes in his video that he only started watching the show during Heroes vs. Villains, which means his limited exposure to the show has only been in seasons where strategy was not really rewarded. Boston Rob won against a puppet and a crazy person, and this season filmed right after South Pacific, so he didn’t get to see the likes of Cochran, Sophie, Jim, and Albert actually play the damn game. As such, his only real chance to win is if he gets to the end against people who are either useless or utterly repellant. He also has to hope for a very vindictive jury. He’s got the skills necessary to at least make the jury, but I can’t give my namesake much of a chance beyond that.
Sarah: Ironically, the stand-up comedian is one of the few contestants who isn't claiming he'll be funny. Instead, he's more focused on his military background. As William notes, he admits he only started watching Survivor with Heroes vs. Villains, which gives him less than a year's experience of the show. Despite this, he seems amiable enough to fit in socially and smart enough to figure things out as he goes along, so I'd think he'd make jury at least.
Ken: This stand-up comedian is about to enter an environment where a sense of humor will more than come in handy. Ironically, he cites clichés as a pet peeve, then says he’ll win because he’s “physically capable, a great teammate, and would do whatever it takes to win.” Those first two, in addition to being major clichés themselves, could be the very things that will come back to haunt him once the merge hits.
Chris: Bill lists the reasons why he thinks he’ll do well as being “athletic ex-military experience, intelligence, competitive spirit, ability to adapt and being a team player.” All those sound promising, at least in the first half of the game, but … a stand-up comedian? I have no idea how to judge that one. It does suggest though that he’ll be able to make people laugh and win them over personally, instead of being the rigid hard-ass type that military types can sometimes present (no offense to our servicemen and women, but you have to admit, it goes with the territory and for a good reason). He says, in fact, that a lot of people don’t peg him as being ex-military, so in a social game, that could work in his favor. His physicality will likely get him to the merge, at the very least, and I can see his personality carrying him further.
Jenn: Bill will only make it as far as the jury phase.
Jeffrey: Bill is another player who seems to be a follower rather than a leader. However, I don't think he can make it to the finals as I suspect the women are going to have the advantage this season. I'll put him in the jury pool.
Stinger James: Haven’t had too many stand-up comedians on the show! Bill’s sense of humor and athleticism will serve him well, unless he’s annoying. Being former military, Bill has had to deal with disparate personalities, and has had to adapt himself into their framework, so I’m sticking to the former. Bill is a lock for the jury, if not more.
David: I like Bill and hope he does well. He’s a comedian, which theoretically should make him good at the social game. And he’s former military, so he knows how and when to work as part of a team. I think he will make an early alliance and stick around for a while. Could he make it all the way? Hmmm…
William: If Chelsea seems familiar to you, it’s because we’ve seen clones of her on just about every season for the better part of the last five years or so. She’s a generic blonde girl from the south who just happens to be in pharmaceutical sales (read: out of work model). The reason this particular generic blonde from the south is on the show is because she’s bestie-bestie-best friends with Jaime Huffman (nee Dugan) from the China season. You might remember her as the first ditz to ever play a fake idol and who later married fellow castmate Erik the Virgin. She now works for the show’s casting department, which is how Chelsea has been forced onto our screens. Chelsea has no idea how the game is played, and I’d wager she’s never watched the show apart from Jaime’s season. However, at least one generic blonde makes the merge every season, she knows how to spear fish, which means she’ll likely be the principle food provider on her tribe, and when the inevitable tribe swap happens (every time a season messes with the cast dynamic, they have a tribal switch; don’t think it won’t happen here) she’ll probably cozy up to the first gullible guy willing to drag her along for the sake of potential future “relations.”
Sarah: Chelsea's got a great resume: strong work ethic, certified scuba diver, knows how to hunt and, even better, spearfish. What I'm not so sure about is her social game, and whether she'll be perceptive enough to know when to drop her alliance. But with her qualifications, people will want to keep her around. She'll be unlucky if she doesn't make the jury.
Ken: Another medical sales rep graces the game. At least she knows why she’s here: To win the loot. But being on an all-girls tribe could well be her doom if the others think she’s using flirting to her advantage for later on. If she can survive until a tribal swap, she may go deep into the game. Otherwise, out before jury.
Chris: I’m sure I’m not the only person who takes a first look at Chelsea and worries we’re in for a Whitney redux, but I don’t really believe that’s the case. Unfortunately, that’s a double-edged sword this season. If she were starting out on a co-ed tribe, I think she’d be locked in from the get-go, but I don’t know that the women will take to her as naturally. In fact, you can imagine how popular she’ll be with the guys in the single-camp setting, which might lead to accusations of getting buddy-buddy with the enemy from her distaff tribemates. If there’s some kind of popularity-based coup early on, I have a hunch that Chelsea will be at the heart of it. As such, I’m not counting on her to be around for very long.
Jenn: She’ll be one of the last appointees to the jury.
Jeffrey: Chelsea has spear-fishing ability, which always comes in useful... assuming the tribe has a spear-fishing gun. I think this is going to carry her to the merge. I'll put her as having jury duty.
Stinger James: Chelsea plans to use her “redneck” side to advance herself in the game. The last person who said such a thing was J.T. and look how that turned out? A woman who can hunt and fish is a definite asset to a tribe. However, Chelsea’s only discernable people skills is that she can make people laugh. At her or with her? I think Chelsea’s got a strong shot at the jury.
David: I’m having a hard time getting a good read on Chelsea. I think you can see that my cohorts here are pointing in all the possible directions. Sure, she could be an asset for getting food for her tribe – unless the guys try to impress the ladies by doing it for them. But I think the women will try to make a go of it on their own, especially early – and double-especially after the guys apparently steal all their stuff at the beginning of the game. That could lead to Chelsea making the jury, but I don’t see her having the social/strategic game to get beyond that point.
William: I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Christina’s never actually watched this show. She offers nothing in the way of strategy, she insists that she’ll be silly and loveable, but will then somehow spin it back on the other players and be like a salesman, but only in reverse. Instead of trying to sell herself as an ally, it appears she’s going to try to convince them to willingly give up the game, which is just plain stupid. She works in sales and consulting, but she’s also a part-time model (you can find shots of her on Google). She bills herself as a freelance journalist covering travel and food, which she thinks makes her perfect for this (except for the fact that you never leave the island and you have no food). The most damning part of her bio is the fact that she willingly compares herself to Kristina and Fransessqua (that’s her name now). Somehow, I think the comparison will be more apt than she realizes, and she’ll be done within three episodes.
Sarah: Christina seems very smart and capable, but I'm not sure what she's bringing to the table. She has some survival skills, but Chelsea might well make those redundant. I expect that she's up for playing a very aggressive, interesting game, but my gut feeling is that her tribemates will be intimidated by her and send her home early. Maybe her self-proclaimed goofiness will lull them into a false sense of security, but I think this season's dynamics are wrong for her.
Ken: She compares herself to Kristina and Francesca from Redemption Island. To refresh your memory, Francesca left the game first, and Kristina shortly thereafter. If this is who Christina compares herself to, she may do about as well as they did. Or she may stick around until the end, simply because she’s a good person to go up against.
Chris: Christina certainly comes across as being very intelligent and highly driven, but will those traits be a factor in an under-the-radar way, or will she smack her teammates in the face with them? That question determines how far she’ll go in this game. She thinks her personality belies the stereotypes about her race, but like with Chelsea above, being a goofy, fun girl works better when you have men on your tribe that you can charm … and this season, at least initially, charming the men around camp may get you branded as a traitor. I do think she’ll fit in better than Chelsea, but she may have to prove her worth in challenges to stay around until either there’s a merge or a tribal switch-up, because her social skills may not be enough.
Jenn: Christina will be the unlucky first boot this season.
Jeffrey: Contrary to what she thinks, Survivor does not need a funny, goofy, Asian girl to “represent.” She's out before the jury pool starts.
Stinger James: Christina’s bio was full of red flags. Her inspiration was Gandhi. Snore. Nothing’s wrong with that, but such a cliché answer. Her pet peeve is people with poor follow-up skills. That’s about 90% of us! I have a feeling the “cute, funny, Asian girl” will burn herself out early.
David: My first impression of Christina was that she would be voted off early. The more I got to know about her, the more I saw that… I was right. She says she’s been an avid viewer of the show but then made statements pointed out by my fellow predictors here that seem to contradict that claim. She said on the TV Guide Channel preview that she is “socially smart” but then later admitted she can be too straightforward and come off as “harsh.” These facts do not bode well for her.
William: I love Colton! Any fan of this show, whether they get on as strategists, physical players, or people obsessed with camp life, has my support. What seals the deal for this fitter-looking version of Ross Mathews (watch Chelsea Lately if you don’t get that reference) is something he says in the overall cast preview video. He looks straight into the camera and tells the world that he’s going to play the game like any of us at home would want it played. That tells me he’s a cold-blooded strategist who will be hilarious to watch, and he’ll definitely have the best sound bites. Jeff Probst has already identified Colton as this season’s villain, so he’s all but certainly going to make it to the jury at least. The question becomes whether he’ll face the jury or if he’ll be the one to come up with the sassiest question from the jury.
Sarah: This season's super-fan! Are these obligatory now? I usually want to root for them, because they're so happy to be there, but there's a difference between happy and smug, which is how Colton is coming across. Even if he doesn't annoy his fellow players, he's too transparent as somebody who is eager to start the backstabbing. Unless he turns out to be a challenge god, chances are his tribe will blindside him at the first opportunity.
Ken: Colton claims the show has never had anyone with his social skills and charisma. Either he hasn’t watched the show much, or simply has delusions of grandeur. Either way, he may make the jury, but I’d be surprised to see him around at the end.
Chris: I’m really intrigued by Colton. But not in that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… (Please tell me people still remember Seinfeld references.) The whole “gay Republican” thing paints an interesting potential personality profile. As a Republican, he may have that cutthroat, survival-of-the-fittest belief system in place – no bleeding hearts here – but as a gay man, that likely means he’s had to spend a lot of time and effort trying to overcome the disadvantages his orientation presents within his own environment (because, let’s face it, the GOP isn’t typically considered the party of gay rights, and Alabama isn’t exactly West Hollywood). He describes himself as a “people person” – and well-rounded in his interests, which should help him fit in – but can be “scary when (he needs) to be” so he may do well in the social/strategic game. Can he win over the macho men on his tribe? I bet he does. He’ll have to prove his worth in a couple of challenges first, but I see a jury finish for Colton.
Jenn: Say goodbye to Colton before the jury.
Jeffrey: Colton is another Survivor player who thinks he can get by on his charm. When it works (see: Boston Rob), it can be brilliant. However, most people who think they are... aren't. Out before the merge.
Stinger James: Hoo-ey! Where to start? Colton has wardrobe full of skeletons in his closet! We’ve heard about a mother abandoned by her parents, an abusive step-father, “weird” high school; Colton has a lot issues, as self-expressed as his pet peeve, “ugly people who think they are hot.” Gross immaturity. Colton has built walls to protect himself, and Survivor is not the place to display them, or tear them down. Colton thinks he’s charming, but he’s doomed to be gone long before the jury.
David: Colton is a tough one to read for me. On the one hand, he’s a super-fan who should theoretically know how to play Survivor. On the other hand, my fellow writers have pointed out some big red flags for him. I’m afraid his ego may get the better of him.
William: Greg seems like a decent enough person, but there’s just nothing there as far as the game is concerned. He compares himself to Coach, and I can certainly see that, what with the romanticism and the lofty stories about wilderness survival. He’s one of two men (oddly enough, the two oldest men) who fancy themselves as Tarzan fans and want to be known by those monikers (the other being Troy, a.k.a. “Troyzan”). If the two of them clash, they may both be gone quickly, but Greg will go first. Part of the reason Chris Daugherty won the Vanuatu season is because the older men got together and formed an early alliance to take out the younger men. Greg doesn’t have that luxury this time, as apart from himself and Troy, the only men 30 or older are Jonas (37), Matt (33) and Michael (30). The five of them would have to get together for Greg to have a reasonable chance, and I just don’t see it happening. Unless Greg acquits himself fantastically in challenges, he’ll probably be an easy vote early on.
Sarah: I'm not sure why CBS thought we needed two Coach-alikes this season after the real deal last season, but here's the first of them. Greg at least is self-aware enough to compare himself to Coach and even has his own tall tale of survival in his video, so as far as I'm concerned, he wins this round. I'm not so sure he'll last in the game, since he's the oldest guy by 14 years and I can't see what he's got to overcome that. I'd like to see him stick around, but I think I'll be disappointed.
Ken: He compares himself to Ben Wade. Yep, that’s just what this game needs – an older version of Coach. Yes, Bob won a few seasons back, but as a rule, the oldest male in the game usually doesn’t make it too far, and on a tribe of young males, he could easily be their first target. Out before he knows what hit him.
Chris: Strike 1: Being the “old guy” puts you on the chopping block almost immediately in nearly every season. Strike 2: The whole “Tarzan” schtick is going to wear thin reaaaaalllly quickly, except for maybe the other guy who thinks he’s Tarzan (unless it’s like wearing the same dress to a party, in which case the two Tarzans will resent each other). Strike 3: He’s on the show for “the adventure, the challenge, (and) to lose weight.” This is not The Biggest Loser. Strike 4 (yes, there’s a Strike 4): He compares himself to Coach … and watching the video of Greg’s interview, I can kind of see it. Yerrrrrrrrrrr out!
Jenn: Greg not only won’t make the jury, he’ll be the first guy voted out.
Jeffrey: He's an older man, and is out there to lose weight (among other things). He thinks he's king of the jungle, and is going to try for alpha male status. There can only be one of them... and he isn't it. Out before the jury phase.
Stinger James: Greg is a fascinating mélange of a human being – plastic surgeon (not broke), organist, wrestler. So much depends on how much of that mélange he wants to share. Plastic surgeons typically don’t need a million dollars. It could make him a target if he chooses to be honest about his occupation. The wrestler part suggests he’s quite fit. He’s the oldest contestant, so he’ll need to be fit. Still, when the tribe starts struggling at challenges, women and the elderly are jettisoned first!
David: Probst immediately pinpointed a likely big weakness for Greg – that he’s very smart but wants everybody else to know it. That doesn’t usually go over well on Survivor (or, for that matter, real life – but you can’t usually vote people out of real life). Probst also thinks he has the potential to be his own worst enemy and Greg has admitted as much. Add the fact that he’s the “old guy” on a tribe that has plenty of young studs to carry the challenge load. Top it all off with his admiration for Coach’s moral game and he looks like possibly the first guy voted out.
William: Am I the only one who finds it odd that male models always admit they’re models, but when it comes to the women, most of them need fake job titles like “pharmaceutical sales rep”? Is it just me? Anyway, Jay will be, at best, an ineffectual player. He has an oddly insightful strategy to get rid of all the strategic players. My guess is that if he succeeds in that vein, he feels he’s strong enough to dominate the challenges from there on. However, even he admits that he doesn’t know how he’ll pull that off. There are a couple of other hilarious contradictions in his bio and video. First of all, having been a missionary, he said his favorite mission was to Brazil. Oh yeah, because if there’s one country that definitely needs an influx of Christianity, it’s the country with a giant statue of Jesus as their major landmark. Secondly, he compares himself to Colby and Rupert, but has the unmitigated gall to say that they “didn’t have the physical ability to perform.” That’s right: Colby Donaldson, who won five consecutive immunity challenges to get to the end in his first season,; and Rupert Boneham, who willed his tribe and himself to victory in countless challenges over his first two seasons, somehow didn’t have the physical ability to perform. That’s how you know Jay’s a recruit. He’s clearly only seen Heroes vs. Villains, where those two were not the powerhouses they had once been (Rupert due to injury, Colby due to indifference and age), because that’s the only way someone could be so ignorant of two of the greatest physical competitors this show has ever seen. As far as his chances go, Jay can possibly make the jury on physique alone, but even then it’s not cut and dry, and there’s no way in Hell (save him, Jeebus!) he’s winning. His biggest obstacle will be Colton. Colton is a strategist, which means Jay would target him. Also, don’t discount the possibility that Jay, an avowed Christian, could target Colton, who is out, loud, and proud. If they do come to loggerheads, I’ll bet on the one whom Probst has identified as someone to watch, and that’s Colton.
Sarah: Probably the most generic of the men, Jay is a laid-back model who should be useful for challenges and an easy alliance member – he's also one of half a dozen cast members who's already talking about making a big move. The only thing that stands out for me is that he says he wants to get rid of the smart people first, because (he claims) nobody ever does that. First of all, yes they do (e.g., Kristina and Francesca from Redemption Island, which he must have seen before he left), and second of all... smart people tend to notice such game play. On that basis, I'll say his tactics will get him voted off shortly before the merge and the individual immunities.
Ken: Jay compares himself to Colby and Rupert, but as William noted, for some odd reason, he claims they didn’t have the physical ability to perform. Hello? Did he see the way Colby dominated challenges in the Outback, only to lose due to a boneheaded final three move? Did he see how Rupert dominated the team stage of Pearl Islands, only to lose every time because he couldn’t strategize? The answer to both of these questions would appear to be “No.” Jay says he would choose their game play and his physicality. If his physicality is really on a par with their game play, he probably won’t be long for this game.
Chris: Based on the results of recent seasons, Jay’s upfront approach to his Christianity will mean he’ll go pretty far in this game. However, his athletic build is probably the better indicator that he’ll get to at least the merge, because he’ll be useful in challenges. Will he clash with Colton because of obvious reasons, or will they bond as Southerners? That could play an interesting part in the tribal dynamics. Jay says that he’s “laid-back“ and not the “macho man walking around trying to dominate everybody,” and you know what? I believe him. I think he’ll get along well with the ladies, which could mean he’ll have the resources in place that he’ll need to move along post-merge. He’s not cutthroat enough to win … but then again, I would have said the same about Fabio, so what do I know?
Jenn: He’ll come really close to glory but ultimately land on the jury.
Jeffrey: Jay looks like a strong competitor, and I think that is going to get him through the first part of the game. However, I don't see him winning, or making it to the final three. Jury duty.
Stinger James: Reading his profile made me think of Tim Tebow. He’s managed to draw a parallel with his athleticism and his faith. Jay thinks he’s level-headed and intelligent (yet he misidentified Colby as a contestant without physicality even though Colby won something like six challenges in a row on season two!). I sense Jay will follow his way into the jury. Whether he has the kind of mean streak to win the game is very much in doubt.
David: There are a number of things I like about Jay. First, although he is religious, he says he intends to lie, cheat, or steal as necessary in the game. He doesn’t plan on telling people he’s a model. And he intends to play the role of the quiet Southern country boy. What worries me is his statement that he can be blunt with people and hurt their feelings. I think he can overcome or avoid the latter and make it pretty far into the game.
William: The moment I saw this guy’s name, my mind immediately went to the Weezer song (and if the same thing happened to you, we would probably be friends). Apart from that, however, I really like Jonas. He seems like a toned down version of Colton, noting that he’s willing to lie and backstab, and while he doesn’t want to be the villain, he won’t complain if he’s portrayed as such. What stands out the most to me is a line from his video, where he justifies lying and backstabbing by pointing out that there have already been 23 seasons of this show. If you don’t know that this goes on, that’s your problem, not his. Kudos to you, Jonas. Kudos. He’ll probably have a decent social game (comparing himself to Fabio), and being a sushi chef, he can probably do great things with the fish the tribe catches. His biggest threat, as with Jay, will be Colton. If Colton’s like Russell, he’ll want to get rid of the strategic competition, which will make Jonas an early target. If Colton wants strategic allies, particularly one who seems a bit more docile when it comes to decision-making, then he and Jonas will be a formidable pair. For now, he’s on the bubble for the jury.
Sarah: A sushi chef who spear-fishes has got to be a lock for the jury at the very least! Jonas came across as quite bland in his interview, so could easily get the silent edit this season, but I liked what he was saying. He's got Ozzy's island experience, but he's more mature, less athletic, and is quite clear on Survivor being a game of lying and manipulation. He won't be considered a threat early on, but I think he's going to be well-liked enough to be a big threat at the end... I wonder if he's got the strategy to work around that and get himself in the finals?
Ken: He compares himself to Fabio, and we all know how that worked out – oh, wait, Fabio won, didn’t he? Jonas claims he’ll win because he has a track record of doing what he sets out to achieve. Guess what? So do most of the people in this game, dude. He seems to think he’ll win because he can get along with people. If that’s all the strategizing he intends to do, he can say goodbye to any chance of winning, even if he makes the finals.
Chris: Jones will probably be pegged almost immediately as “tribe cook,” and he’d better relish that role, since he’s not going to be one of the athletic dynamos, from the looks of it. Athletic enough to get by? Sure. But he lacks the six-pack of some of his tribemates. He talks about being perceived as a villain, being aware that people lie and backstab, and knowing what others have done over the history of the show, and that suggests he’ll be a savvy, strategic player. That also suggests he’ll go far in the game, but will piss off too many people to actually win.
Jenn: Like the musical brothers who share his name, Jonas will leave the show with fame and fortune. At least, unless the randomizer is wrong. And what are the chances of that?
Jeffrey: Jonas is likely to leave early because he's older than most of the other males and I doubt his plan to win hearts with great cooking is going to make a difference. That means he'll be a quick exit and won't be voting for a winner.
Stinger James: A chef on Survivor! He could be awesome at keeping his team happily fed! A lot will depend on his social game. He describes himself as “care free,” which could come off as if he doesn’t care! Jonas could go very far or seen as completely useless (I can season my own rice, thanks) and be easily dismissed. Social game is all… I don’t have a good feeling about this.
David: Positives for Jonas: He has watched every season of the show, he is used to this climate and island living, and he’s a sushi chef. Negatives: He’s an admittedly poor liar and Probst doesn’t think he’ll be aggressive enough to jump into the right alliance early. So, basically, he has physical positives and social negatives. In this game, social outweighs physical, so it doesn’t bode well for Jonas.
William: I can say with a fair amount of certainty that if there’s one player who will be insistent on an all-female finale, it will be Kat. Her bio is all about her love for Xena, and the drive of being a female warrior (even though she describes Gabrielle’s character arc when gushing about Xena in her bio – yes, I’m a nerd). Still, Xena is her hero, unlike “normal” people who idolize “Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump.” Just let the idiocy of that statement sink in. In further dumb news, she wants to be the youngest female winner ever, which is impossible, as she’s 22, and Jenna Morasca was 21 when she filmed Amazon. She had heart surgery at a young age, but won’t tell anyone, because she thinks that will make the others judge her unfairly. However, as we saw last season, Keith had a pacemaker that everyone could see, and no one held it against him. Hell, part of the reason Whitney cheated on her husband and hooked up with Keith is because she had also undergone heart surgery as a child. Methinks this means that Kat was an alternate for last season. She claims to have never taken gym class as a kid, something CBS also highlights, which means they’re trying to portray her as an underdog who will go far (as opposed to the petit thief who got arrested last year – you can find her mug shot online). I can see her being a latter day Ami Cusack. If she keeps the Xena blinders on, she’ll make the merge then get the rug pulled out from under her when some of the other girls decide they don’t want to be all gung-ho on the girl power (especially if the women are outnumbered). If she keeps an open mind (or if she can control the other girls like Parvati did in Micronesia) she can definitely make the end, and maybe even pull off the win. It all depends on what alliances she forms and what she does with them post-merge.
Sarah: If Jay's our generic guy, Kat's our generic girl: the pretty, blonde southern country girl. The only thing she's got to distinguish her is open heart surgery. She talks herself up pretty well, but in this game, she's Chelsea-lite, and is younger than most of her tribe by several years. Oh, and her hero is Xena Warrior Princess... which shows she has a geeky side, so I'll give her props for that. Still, all in all, I don't think she's going to find her place in her tribe and will last only as long as her use in challenges.
Ken: She lists “girly girls” as a pet peeve, and in a tribe of women, that can be either good or bad. She cites herself as a leader, but, for the millionth time, we all know what happens to leaders. She wants to be the youngest female to even win the game, but she’s 22 and William has already noted that Jenna Morasca was 21 when she won the Amazon. In any case, she comes across as a bit of a narcissist who may well be in for a rude awakening. Jury at best.
Chris: Strike 1: She idolizes Xena the Warrior Princess and wishes she could be “half the woman” that Xena is. Strike 2: She thinks she’s “manipulative” because she “loves(s) boys.” Strike 3: You look at her and every “dumb blonde” joke you’ve ever heard comes to mind. If Kat can use that third point to her advantage and get everyone to underestimate her, she’ll have some real potential. If she lives up to those stereotypes? Well, you know what happens with three strikes …
Jenn: Kat won’t make it past the second week of competition.
Jeffrey: Kat will live or die on her ability to charm women, not men. If she can do it, she'll make it to the merge and perhaps the finals. If she can't, well, she'll be voted out as I think she is the likely to fraternize with the enemy. On the whole, I think she's destined for an early exit.
Stinger James: Her hero is Xena, Warrior Princess. Check, please. Kat has quite the opinion of herself. I love how she boasts that she “talks her way out of tickets” (I’m sure being pretty and blonde has nothing to do with that!), which says her interpretation of herself is likely out of skew. But, there is something to be said for being young and hot on a show full of strapping young men. Hotness will get her to the jury.
David: Kat has said she plans to play without making big moves that might get her targeted but also making sure she’s not the weakest link. That sounds great in theory, but just because you don’t think you’re the weakest link doesn’t mean everybody else agrees. Kat will need to find the right allies immediately or else she’s toast.
William: A bit of “inside” information for the readers when it comes to Survivor casting. If you want to know the difference between the models and the girls who have real jobs while happening to look good, check out the bikinis they wear for pre-game interviews and photos. If the bikini doesn’t match, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is a “real” woman who doesn’t feel the need to show off her body all the time, and likely doesn’t actually own a bikini. As such, they borrow from crew members who have similar dimensions. Such is the case with Kim (and also, I’m guessing, with Alicia). The reason I went on this mini-rant is because there’s really nothing to say about Kim apart from that. She’s clearly knowledgeable when it comes to the show (comparing herself to Stephenie, Elisabeth, and Amanda), but that knowledge is misplaced. For example, she likes Amanda because she’s tall. If height is all she’s judging on, wait until she meets Leif. She thinks she’ll win because she respects people, and no one would vote off someone who respects them. Um, yeah they would, especially if they think you’ll respect them enough to vote for them from the jury, dingus! She also has the very useful skill of being able to tell what animal a person would be just by looking at them. I can do that too! Kim is a loon.
Sarah: On paper, there was nothing that really drew me to Kim: she seemed smart enough, but trying too hard. Even in her video, I was a bit confused as to why she was going to hide the fact that she was a white-water rafting guide (that falls into the category of making you sound useful but not a threat). Yet, by the end of her video, I really liked her. She just seemed like somebody I'd want to get to know. Charisma can get you a long way in Survivor, and in absence of any other obvious threat factors, it might take Kim all the way to the finals.
Ken: She thinks she’ll win because she treats everyone with respect and honor, asking, “Why would you vote off someone who respects you?” Uh, because you’re trying to win a game, and because someone who’s respectful of others might well be a threat to win it all for that very reason. Like Kat, she could be in for a rude awakening.
Chris: There’s something about Kim that I like. I’m not sure what it is … well, okay, it’s probably her looks. I admit it, okay? But her statement about not going in with a set strategy – but at the same time at least recognizing the place of strategy in the game – gives me hope for her and her flexibility within the game (and as we all know, being flexible is one of the key rules all Survivor contestants should know by now). Her physicality and outdoor skills will make her valuable early on, and I think she has the personality to play her way deeper into the game. I may be totally off-base, since this is more of a “gut” thing for me than logic, but I’m going to keep my eye on Kim (yeah, yeah, yeah …).
Jenn: Jury duty for Kim.
Jeffrey: Kim has exactly the right balance of things I'm looking for in this batch of Survivors. She's not too old or too young, and her business is dealing with high involvement decisions. She's my choice for runner up.
Stinger James: It’s time for the “you seem like a nice lady, but” portion of the program. Her pet peeves are bad bridesmaid dresses and, let me get this right, ahem, “people who honk to reprimand rather than as a warning.” As the kids like to say, stay in your lane, lady! Kim is hitting me as too girly-girl and dainty. And that’s the kind of contestant that people will feel very little guilt about voting out. They can feel like they are putting her out of her misery.
David: The main negative for Kim is that she just got divorced and is looking at Survivor at least in part as a new beginning. But on the positive end, she has outdoor skills and is athletic, which may very well help her all-woman tribe. Then, once they get to the later stages, the men will more likely stand out as bigger threats, so she still won’t have to worry about it being a negative for her. That brings us back to her looking at Survivor in terms of her life rather than in terms of a game – and that could be her downfall.
William: Let me just say right off the bat that I’m kind of crushing on Kourtney right now. I love down to earth girls with awesome tattoos (I’m sure there are several readers and writers on this site who remember how smitten I was with Big Brother’s Lydia a few years ago). I also love that one of her pet peeves is “people who love the smell of their own farts” (mine smell like a summer in Tuscany if I do say so myself). All that said, she’ll probably be one of the first ones gone. She’s clearly on the show for therapy, as her bio is full of remarks about some bad times in her life, and even in her video she admits that she has terrible luck. She also doesn’t want to lie or backstab, and lists people who “chew others and spit them out just because they can” as a pet peeve. Clearly, she’s not cut out for this game. She wants to be like Fabio because he was laid back and honest and still won, but you have to bear in mind that were it not for a late immunity run, he wouldn’t have even made it to the end. Kourtney herself admits she’s not the biggest physical powerhouse. She may even be a liability in challenges, despite a job (motorcycle repair) that shows she’s not afraid to get down and dirty when needed. As she puts it, if there were to be another Heroes vs. Villains season, she’d want to be a hero. However, this reveals her lack of game knowledge, as several of the “Heroes” recognized the need to backstab (Stephenie, Cirie, Amanda, and J.T. chief among them). Kourtney doesn’t recognize that need. Unless her entire tribe is worthless in challenges, and/or she somehow emerges as the best of the bunch, she’ll likely be gone very early. It’s a shame, because out of the whole cast, she’s probably the one with whom I’d most like to socialize.
Sarah: Her name is Kourtney Moon, which immediately makes me think of Daphne Moon from Frasier, and it's entirely appropriate since she's been cast as the kooky-girl (which is presumably also why she spells her name with a K). She's certainly more interested in staying true to herself than in playing the game, so I was all set to dislike Kourtney, but in the end I didn't have it in me. She's a mechanic (pity her name isn't Kaylee for a Firefly reference) and a single mother, which gives her a grounding that should help her relate to the older and more cynical players. As a sweet non-threat, she could get taken under somebody's wing and carried all the way to the end... But if she doesn't find that somebody, she'll be out pre-merge thanks to her own admission that she doesn't have the physical ability of her fellow players.
Ken: Since one of her pet peeves is people who chew others and spit them out simply because they can, it’s a good thing she isn’t playing this game with Russell Hantz. But to her credit, I love the reason she thinks she’ll win: Because nothing in this world makes any sense whatsoever and anything really is possible. If you need further proof of this, look no further than last season, when probably nobody thought Sophie had a shot. But will lightning strike twice? I don’t think so. Much as I’d like to see her stick around, I just don’t see it happening.
Chris: Strike 1: Her “claim to fame” is having a child. Since when is that a “claim to fame”? Women do that all the time. It’s the reason why we have, y’know, a human population on this planet. Strike 2: She compares herself to former castaways Jud and Courtney, neither of whom is especially remembered for being a great Survivor player. Strike 3: She has no patience for hypocrisy and wants to be thought of as a “nice person” in the game. Then go play The Amazing Race. This is not the game for you. Out!
Jenn: Kourtney will be the first Survivor to make the jury.
Jeffrey: I think Kourtney can do quite well. Despite her appearance, I think she'll fit in well with her initial tribe and may make it to the finals. I don't think she'll win though, as people who claims they need the money usually don't win it. Jury duty.
Stinger James: Profiles like Kourtney’s usually annoy me. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, my fair women, but women have been squeezing children out of that tiny orifice since time began. Stop trying to make it a special achievement! (Also, when your child is the most interesting person you know, it’s probably time to reassess some things.) That said, Kourtney seems like she would throw herself in front of a train for her kid. Someone that hyper-motivated will not flinch to make big moves and tough decisions to further herself in the game. Kourtney also showed some writing acumen, which suggests a quick wit and a sharp mind. Not bad qualities to have on Survivor!
David: When I was discussing Kim, above, I mentioned that her downfall could be the way she’s looking at Survivor in terms of her personal life. The same goes for Kourtney – except multiply that problem by a bunch. She admits that in life, she has often just up and quit when the going got tough. Now she’s here for her son, but I wonder how much of her oomph will fade when she starts to really miss him and realizes how difficult this game can be. Even if she pushes through, she doesn’t seem strategic enough to pull off a good showing.
William: I think I have a fourth-degree connection to Leif, as his wife was recently on a game show with my best friend. Through that connection, I know that Leif is a huge Survivor fan, which means I’m already rooting for him. There will be some novelty to his status as the first little person in the show’s history, but that will wear off quickly, especially when the others realize that he’s pretty jacked despite his small stature. He will pleasantly surprise his tribemates and perform fairly well in challenges. According to his bio, he’s not a fan of backstabbing, but in his video he admits he’ll be conniving if the situation calls for it. Just like Kat is being presented as an underdog on the women’s tribe, I think the same can be said for Leif on the men’s side, which means he’ll probably go pretty far. One thing’s for sure, there’s going to be a lot of laughs when he tells his tribe that he’s a phlebotomist, as there will invariably be at least one or two people who can’t even pronounce the word, much less spell it. I think this guy is going to be a lot of fun. The novelty of his stature got him on the show, but his personality and his skill will be what wins the audience over.
Sarah: Leif is out to prove himself, as the first little person to play Survivor. By the sounds of it, he's got the physical and survival skills to do that, but that doesn't mean he'll succeed at the game. While he compares himself to Nicaragua’s winner, Fabio, he doesn't refer to Kelly Bruno, the amputee on the same season. Kelly's tribemates were reluctant to align with her because she had an inbuilt underdog story to sell the jury, and she got voted out before the merge. Leif is bound to have the same problem, and I don't think he's got the social game to overcome it – especially if he's not even anticipating it.
Ken: He hates backstabbers and being taken advantage of. That explains why he’s on Survivor. He says he’s beyond willing, ready, and able to “outwit, outplay, and outlast” all the other. But being willing and being able to pull it off are two different things, and I just don’t see it from this guy.
Chris: Leif may be the most difficult person in this game on whom to get a good read. You’d think his size would work against him, but I don’t know that; there may be advantages to being smaller than the other contestants that we’ve never had a chance to see on this show previously. He’s going to be a hard guy to ignore, which means that people will be talking to him, and he’ll be talking to people… and that’s a good thing, because that’s how you develop alliances and stay in the loop around camp. Despite his size, he’s in good shape and has survival skills, so his tribe may find value in him, and he understands that sometimes you have to be conniving, which means he’s no dummy. I just don’t know. I think he has potential to win, and potential to be the first one out.
Jenn: If there’s a final three, Leif will be in it. If not, he’ll serve on the jury instead.
Jeffrey: Leif should do well, particularly if he is as good as he claims in the outdoors. He also has the right mental outlook to do well in the game. The only thing stopping me from putting him near the winner's circle is a gut feeling the women are going to outplay the men this time. Jury duty.
Stinger James: I think we all are going to learn a lot from Leif! Prepare yourself: this may come off as a bit callous, but they pay me to analyze. Leif is in an awesome position, because no one will want to be known as the ones who voted off the little person. Unless Leif proves to be a complete pain in the assets, he’s there for a good long time. All he has to do is be not-annoying. He won’t even have to show that much personality, just don’t be in the way! Jury for damn sure.
David: Several of my fellow writers have mentioned the interesting position Leif will have in the game. Sarah noted the comparison to Kelly and her underdog story. Stinger mentioned that nobody would want to be the one to vote off the little person. Both of these will likely come into play. Based on the behavior of other Survivors when dealing with a contestant who had some sort of physical impairment, I think his tribemates will at first be hesitant to vote him out so they don’t look like total jerks. Somewhere along the later game, though, they will conclude that going up against him is too dangerous because he has the whole underdog thing on his side. Because of that, if his opponents are at all smart, he’ll end up in the jury.
William: Matt seems like the prototypical Survivor contestant. He’s physically fit, he’s intelligent, and (at least according to him) he has the charisma to form strong alliances that move his agenda forward. That said, there are some red flags. For one thing, while he understands that everyone will be playing their own game, he says that he’ll let it go so long as it doesn’t interfere with his game. Well, eventually everyone’s game plan will interfere with his, as everyone wants to win (at least in an ideal world). Secondly, he makes it clear in his video that he has a plan and that he’s going to stick to it, and concedes he might be set off if someone tries to tamper with his scheme. It’s always good to have some general strategy ideas and to know how this game is supposed to be played (that’s why David has the “What Survivors Should Have Learned” article). However, you can’t go in with an ironclad plan. You have to adapt to your surroundings and to the people who are also playing for a million dollars. If Matt doesn’t keep this in mind, he’ll rub a lot of people the wrong way and be cast aside at the earliest convenience. Still, he is self-aware enough to know that he’ll be considered a threat and he wants to work around that, so I’ll give him a fair chance for the time being.
Sarah: There are players who are ready to play the hand they're dealt, and there are players who are ready to play the game they want to play. Matt definitely falls into the latter camp, refusing to compare himself to past contestants because he wants to take Survivor game play to its inevitable next level. He doesn't specify what that is, but I wonder how flexible Matt is going to be. As a smart, athletic male in his thirties, he should be able to get to the merge. At that point, I rather suspect his carefully plotted web of intrigue will unravel on him, and he'll find himself one of the first jurors.
Ken: His bio contains one of my favorite quotes of the season to be: “If someone’s plan is to play like a past contestant they are probably both in-over-their-heads and in real trouble.” I couldn’t agree more, because no matter how much you try to play like a previous player, there’s a different dynamic with every game and cast. He does want to play a game he describes as bold, evolved and innovative, and hopes to take game play to the inevitable next level, as Sarah mentioned above. While the odds of doing just that are against him, he seems to know what he’s up against, unlike Coach, who came in and declared he was going to change the way the game was played. Don’t be surprised to see Matt around at the end.
Chris: This edition of Survivor doesn’t seem to have as many muscle-bound pretty boys as in years past, but I’d say that Matt fits that role. In this case, it’s totally okay, because that’s probably what his tribe is going to value early on – strength and athleticism. Then again, the less “pretty” types like Leif, Colton, and Jonas might just gang up on the Abercrombie models and toss them out of the game. You always have to give lawyers a little bit of credit for being smart and potentially cutthroat, and he makes it pretty clear that’s who he sees himself as being. We’ll see. I think he does well, but I’m not sure he’s a winner.
Jenn: Matt will make it about halfway, but he’ll just miss making the jury.
Jeffrey: Matt is likely to do well. He has many qualities I look for, including some maturity, the right mental outlook, a willingness to adapt, and some athletic ability. In another season, he might win it all. Jury duty.
Stinger James: I love lawyers on this show! So many of the elements you need to be successful on Survivor, lawyers do every day! I like that Matt has a definite “never surrender” attitude, and those abs are showing he’s quite fit. There could be some arrogance in him that will make him unpopular to some, but Matt is looking like my horse!
David: I feel like I have to root for Matt, because he’s a Cubs fan (even though he doesn’t live in Chicago). But beyond that, he seems to have a plan for everything. He doesn’t intend to let the other players know he’s a lawyer, so they don’t feel threatened by him. He doesn’t intend to let them know he has a serious girlfriend either, so he can flirt as a strategy. He doesn’t intend to stand out in challenges and will pull back if he sees he’s doing too well, so he doesn’t become a physical threat. It’s great to have these plans, but there are also some not-so-great parts of Matt – like Probst saying he will be seen as condescending, arrogant, and misogynistic. Yikes! But considering Matt declared himself the favorite to win, he’s definitely going to have to clamp down that ego. Still, I get a good feeling about Matt’s chances in the game.
William: Is it just me, or does Michael look like a buff version of Seth MacFarlane? It is just me? Okay then, moving on. Michael gets points for being a fan of the show and an actual applicant (shocking, I know). He also gets points for wanting to play as clean a game as possible. He loses points for saying he wants to take the show “back to its roots” by winning without backstabbing. Does he not realize that the original “Sole Survivor” was a man who had no scruples about backstabbing at the moment of truth? He also loses points for the naïveté of thinking that he himself won’t ever be backstabbed. He compounds this arrogance by telling us that he knows he’ll be able to talk his way out trouble if he’s ever a target. Yeah, once the group’s mind is set, they rarely change it. Just before he gets voted out, we’ll see a great scrambling sequence from him, but just like 99% of the others before him, it will be unsuccessful. He has the strength to at least make the jury, though he could go earlier if his plan to “get all the ladies on [his] side” backfires with his all-male tribe finding him untrustworthy.
Sarah: Michael wants to play an honorable game, but has been promoted as a villain, so that should be interesting. Self-awareness certainly doesn't appear to be his strong point, but I expect he's much more adaptable than some of the players, and that will probably get him further than anybody expects... He could even end up being a finals goat, although my guess would be he falls short of that.
Ken: What little I have to go on with Michael, I like. He seems to understand the importance of keeping your enemies close. I don’t know if he’s watched every single episode of the show, but it sure sounds like he has. If he follows that strategy, it could well take him to the end. How many times have we seen people shun those they couldn’t stand or weren’t aligned with? Like Matt, Michael could well be around at the end.
Chris: Another muscle man! I’ve picked a lot of guys on the male tribe to go far, so it’s time to start thinning the herd. Michael thinks that people believe he looks like an “ass”? That’s not good, because if that’s their first impression, that’s all they need to vote you off. I have to think Michael’s physicality to make him valuable early on, but I’m not convinced that he has the brains to play around the tricky strategic spots. If the weaker members of the tribe decide to pick off one of the stronger ones, I suspect it might be Michael they target.
Jenn: He’ll get to hang out at Ponderosa and serve on the jury.
Jeffrey: Michael is a mess of contradictions, such as being a natural leader who can step aside, and a people person who doesn't think he can be backstabbed. Guess what? He can be. Out before the jury.
Stinger James: I think so much can be learned by the pet peeves question! He’s annoyed by “annoying eaters,” “people who grunt when working out,” and those who “need a cigarette.” Not sensing much compassion for people who are different from him! And he will very likely bump into those personalities on the island! While it’s sweet that he wants to do the show for his mom, Michael will burn himself out in the social game.
David: Ah, Michael, the already-designated villain of the season. Of course, just because he’s a villain doesn’t mean he’ll stick around a long time – but I’m betting he gets on the guys’ good side early. At some point, the others may figure out what he’s really like, but by then they just might want to take him to the end as jury fodder!
William: Did you know Monica is married to an ex-NFL player? If you didn’t, then watch her video and read her bio, because she’ll tell you about 97 times. Seriously, half of her content is about her husband and not herself. She actually lists, “Ex-NFL Player’s Wife” as her occupation. Most of us would just say “Unemployed.” She clearly wants to play the role of tribe mom, but admits that she hates people who are lazy and unappreciative. There are two big problems with that line of thinking. One, she puts way too much stock in camp work ethic as a means to advance in this game. Two, if she starts bitching at the others to pick up the slack, it’ll be a lot easier to shut her up by voting her out rather than pitching in with chores. Depending on how early she clashes with the other personalities on the beach, she could go far or be the first one voted out. An interesting twist in her tribe mom dynamic is the fact that both tribes will share the beach. If the men are the lazy ones, the women may want to keep Monica around just to annoy the men and potentially throw them off their game, even if she’s a liability to them in terms of strategy and challenges. I’ll be intrigued to see what, if anything, she does in this game, but I’ll be furious if she wins, as she brings absolutely nothing to the table in terms of strategy.
Sarah: I'm guessing the glamorous footballer's wife will end up as the leader of Salani. She'll attract the younger girls but seems hardworking enough to earn the older players' respect too... the only person I see her butting heads with is the only woman older than her, Nina. What she doesn't come across as is Survivor-savvy. I could see her bringing a solid alliance to the merge, only to be blindsided at the end-game.
Ken: She compares herself to Tina from the Outback, and in a tribe of all women, playing the nurturing mom card might be the right thing to do. As one of the older women, she might be left out of any initial alliances, but if she survives until a tribal switch, she could be around a bit longer., and then get ousted near the end because no one wants to go against her.
Chris: As a University of Kentucky fan, whose football team is routinely brutalized by the Florida Gators – the school of Monica and her NFL star husband Brad Culpepper – I want to root against Monica. Unfortunately, I think she’s here for a while. She seems very Type-A, and that could mean that she stands the risk of turning off her tribemates, but I think that in this case, she’ll prove the dominant personality over the younger girls, who may even see her as a maternal figure. Monica is using to juggling a lot of tasks, and keeping her finger on pulse of every individual in the tribe sounds like a skill she might actually have. Monica is getting to the merge, and she might reach the finals.
Jenn: Monica will be among the Survivors out before the jury phase.
Jeffrey: Monica is poised to do well. She has some maturity, along with some athletic and diplomatic skills. She should be able to fit in with a core group and motive a group to work towards goals. Naturally, this goal will be to make herself the winner. My pick to win.
Stinger James: Monica is a woman with something to prove. She gave up her own ambitions to be a football player’s wife and soccer mom. Unintentionally highlighting the sadness of that, she lists her husband as her inspiration and rattled off his long list of accomplishments. When it came to answering questions about herself, she had so little to say! The wife of a former football player and now lawyer? Money is not an issue. Monica is there for self-discovery, and I hope she finds it. But she will not find herself on the jury, nor will she find a million dollars.
David: Most of my cohorts have suggested that Monica may well become the de facto leader of the ladies’ tribe due to her social and mom-like skills. I’m thinking there may be another factor at play as well – her high level of fitness. If she were just an older woman, she could get quickly voted out. But her tribemates might well want to keep her around to help in challenges too! That bodes well for her early on, but I don’t see her making it too deep into the jury.
William: Nina sounds like an absolute hoot. Her hero is her mom, who “was a feminist before it was acceptable.” Wait, it’s acceptable now? I look forward to your letters (borrowing another Craig Ferguson bit). Also, her mom encouraged her to take up “sports over cheerleading.” I can’t wait to see the fireworks if this woman tells the other girls that cheerleading isn’t a sport, seeing as how half of them did it in high school and college. I’ll applaud her for speaking the truth, but it won’t go over well. As far as the game goes, Nina’s got a lot counting against her. She’s the oldest woman, which automatically makes her a target. She’s physically fit, being a former cop, but that doesn’t always bode well. Back in Samoa, Betsy was a cop and she was the second person voted out. She doesn’t talk about the game at all, instead getting excited for the challenge of the competition. Competitive spirit is admirable, but this show does not begin and end with challenges. Nina has no strategy to speak of, and she notes that while there is only one winner, the game begins as a team endeavor. That sort of attitude, again while admirable in the real world, is the perfect excuse to vote her off. Her tribemates could easily decide to send her packing, justifying it by saying it’s “for the good of the tribe.” Even if she makes the merge, her “team first” attitude translates as her not making any moves for herself. She’d be a loyal ally, but she’d get dragged to the end rather than earning her spot through game acumen, which means she’s all but certain not to win. I do hope she sticks around for at least a few episodes, though, as she’s one of the more intriguing characters at first glance.
Sarah: Nina's tough and determined, so might well be able to overcome the physical obstacles that her age presents, but I'm not so sure about the social ones. I like her, but there's nobody on the tribe that I can see her bonding with, and that makes me think she'll be a pre-jury boot.
Ken: She wants to prove a fifty-something woman can compete, but she’ll already have a target on her back as the oldest woman, so she might not get the chance due to preconceived notions. Like Monica, if she survives until a tribal switch, she could last a while, as the others won’t see her as a threat. But that’s unlikely, and unfortunate, because it might be good for the show if she stuck around awhile.
Chris: Any former SWAT team member isn’t going to be intimidated by a thing out in the wild … or that’s the assumption, anyway. Like Monica, she’s very Type-A, and they can either work together or form a power struggle – and if it’s the latter, I think Monica’s “mother“ potential for the younger women could win out. Age shouldn’t be a factor for either woman in terms of physical acumen, since both Monica and Nina seem to be in great shape. I’m just not convinced that Nina is quite as well-prepared to play the social game, and I think there’s room for only one of these women on the island long-term.
Jenn: Nina will be the last woman standing, but she won’t make it to the finals. It’s jury duty for her.
Jeffrey: Nina has too high an age to last too long in the game. She may last longer than I think, but only because I think the women are going to take an early lead in the game. However, eventually her tribe will go to Tribal Council, and I think she's first out among them.
Stinger James: Some female contestants can represent themselves in challenges as being as formidable as a guy. Nina strikes me this way. She’s been a college athlete and a cop! In a foot race, not many bad guys were going to get away from her! In a tribe, Nina is going to be in the challenges. She’ll kick the butts of any other woman on the show. All Nina has to do is make some friendships, keep an ear out for the right alliance, and presto! She’s on the jury.
David: My first inclination was to mark Nina as an early vote-out due to her age. But my fellow writers have pointed out so many positives about her physical abilities that I find myself second-guessing. Then I go back to what Probst said about her needing to make alliances in a hurry or else… and I’m third-guessing. In the end, I seem to be coming down on the side that she will not have the necessary social skills to bond with the younger women, who will send her packing early.
William: Sabrina knows her biggest asset and liability is her mouth, but she vows to keep herself in check and not be the “angry black woman.” I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s a sad stereotype that the casting department loves to perpetuate. Think about it. Since Cirie’s first two seasons, where she established herself as one of the greatest players of all time, only three black women have even made the jury, and of those three, only Taj wasn’t typecast as “angry/crazy black woman” (that was Candace). The other two are Reality TV Hall of Shame inductees (Crystal Cox for doping in the Olympics, and NaOnka for quitting/being a horrible person and again for her finale/reunion behavior). This typecast is meant to cause drama at camp and make for good TV, but success for the actual player is the exception, not the rule. Sabrina, unfortunately, has that stereotype working against her. Even if it’s not accurate, that will be the prejudice most players will have coming into the game. If she can overcome it and prove she’s sane, she has the potential to go fairly far. If she doesn’t, she’s toast. Even if she does come off with her head screwed on properly, the fact that she’s a germophobe out in the wilderness will likely do her in early.
Sarah: Sabrina claims that she is not the Angry Black Woman. I really hope she's right! I can't make up my mind about Sabrina. As with Christina, I don't see where she'll fit into the tribe, but unlike Christina, I think Sabrina will be able to carve out her own social niche. What I'm less sure about is whether she'll take the time to sit back and analyze whether that niche is in a safe position. I'll hedge my bets and say she makes jury.
Ken: She’s an oddity for Survivor: An African-American woman with a normal-sounding name. On one hand, she describes herself as blunt, which could be a one-way ticket to Loser Lodge. But she also says she can stroke egos and get people to do what she wants, and then go for the kill when they least expect it. Whether that’s true or not, at least she understands the importance of pretending to be nice. Something tells me she’ll be able to deal with any cultural barriers, and while she may or may not be around at the end, don’t be surprised to see her on the jury.
Chris: Sabrina is the second profile thus far to list “kids on leashes” as a pet peeve (Kat’s was the other). Really? That’s your big pet peeve? Frankly, I don’t even know where they’re seeing all these kids on leashes – not where I live, that’s for sure – but to be honest, it sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Most of the kids I see run around all over the place tearing up jack. See, now I’m turned off to Sabrina, but it may not matter, since I’ve already picked enough women to get the boot early. She’s in good shape and seems to have some decent social skills, but she does admit her mouth can get her in trouble and she’s a “germaphobe,” so I’m still on the fence here. I can’t see her doing any better than barely making the jury.
Jenn: Sabrina will be out before the jury.
Jeffrey: Sabrina is going to be known as the accidental Survivor, as the reason she's on the show is that she shares a name with a person who applied. The producers liked this one better. I doubt she'll have what it takes to play well. Out before the jury.
Stinger James: She admires Sandra? Sorry, Sabrina, you lost a lot of points on that one! Sabrina thinks she’s persuasive, but the key to the game is to not find yourself trying to persuade people! Toss a thought out there, see if it sticks. Otherwise, agree, nod, softly object if necessary, but don’t make waves until the jury. Sabrina seems likely to overplay. Bad sign.
David: As has been mentioned, Sabrina is on Survivor not by design, but by accident. I suspect that means she is not really a big enough fan to truly understand how to play the game – especially since she can be overly opinionated and vocal. She’ll make it for a little while, but not long enough.
William: Wow, this man is out there! First of all, “Troyzan”? Seriously? Greg’s Tarzan obsession was bad enough, but this guy actually raised monkeys! I won’t harp on the guy too much, as he’s a lifelong fan of the show so I have to root for him a little bit. He’s definitely the designated “crazy guy” this season, as his interview is a combination of Phillip’s spaced-out nature, Coach’s grandiosity, and Jimmy Johnson’s love of apes. He’ll either entertain his entire tribe or annoy the hell out of them like Jimmy Tarantino. He says he has some ideas in his head for what he wants to do, as he’s been planning for this show for its entire 11-year run. I have a feeling those ideas will only make sense in his own head. He’ll be a wild card. He could either be the first man cut due to his age (only Greg is older), or he could be so loveably insane that a smarter player like Colton or Jonas will want to have him as an ally to drag to the end as jury fodder. Strap yourselves in when this guy’s on camera, that’s all I can say.
Sarah: Our second Coach-a-like, although he's much happier thinking of himself as unique. I'm facepalming already, but I expect the rest of his tribe will peg him as easily fooled, set him up as a figurehead leader, and casually get rid of him at the jury stage... much like Coach's first time through. I kind of hope that he's annoying enough to be the first one voted off, though.
Ken: Troy thinks being on the show is his destiny, and that the game was made for him. Yet in his bio he mentions nothing about plotting or scheming. Instead it appears he intends to rely on outdoors skills and physical ability. That formula worked for Tom Weston, at least the latter part of it. But for being such a fan of the show, Troy doesn’t seem to realize that the very things he cites could be his undoing after the merge. And in a tribe of young, fit males half his age, those things may not carry him too far. Jury, if that.
Chris: My first reaction? “No. Just… no.” Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe managing the game of Survivor is like raising a dozen monkeys. But… no. Then I realize that Jeff Probst is going to love this guy, and the people Jeff loves having on the show always seem to stick around for a while, so… Troy may be here for the long haul. Eek.
Jenn: Troy will be able to make it all the way to the finals, but he won’t be the one taking home the million dollars.
Jeffrey Troy doesn't look his age, and that is a plus as I think he'll be an asset to his tribe. However, the game is eventually going to catch up with him. He'll be on the jury.
Stinger James: Troy has an attachment to nature unlike any other contestant. That’s going to play huge for him! He’s going to become his tribe’s leader, which is another set of pitfalls to overcome, but he’s going to prove to be too crucial to his tribe’s survival to ever vote him off. Legitimately. Not like, say, Coach or Rob Mariano, who only made their tribes think they need them. I definitely like Troy’s chances in this game. Jury? For sure. Winner? Hmm.
David: Troy is a big fan of Survivor and claims to know the game. But from some of his comments, I have to wonder. For example, he’s 50 but says he’s open to a relationship with the women. Um, no. His choice of strategy also worries me. Maybe he’ll surprise me, but…
Who will not make the jury?
William: Right now it doesn’t look good for many of the women, as several seem to bring nothing to the game. However, a deficit at the merge does not mean a woman won’t win (see: Morasca, Jenna). Also, with Colton as the identified villain of the season, I have to assume that people he’d target will meet an early fate. My pre-jury bootees are Alicia, Christina, Greg, Jay, Kim, Kourtney, Nina, and Sabrina.
Sarah: Alicia, Christina, Colton, Greg, Jay, Kat, Leif, and Nina.
Ken: Chelsea, Greg, Jonas, Kat, Kourtney, Leif, Nina, Troy.
Chris: Alicia, Chelsea, Greg, Kourtney, Leif, Michael, Nina, Sabrina.
Jenn: Alicia, Christina, Colton, Greg, Kat, Matt, Monica, and Sabrina.
Jeffrey: Christina, Greg, Colton, Jonas, Kat, Michael, Nina, Sabrina.
Stinger James: Alicia, Christina, Colton, Jonas, Kim, Michael, Monica, Sabrina.
David: Alicia, Christina, Colton, Greg, Jonas, Kourtney, Nina, and Troy.
Who will make the final two (three)?
William: Colton and Troy, with Kat as the third.
Sarah: Jonas, Kim, (Kourtney).
Ken: Michael, Christina, (Matt).
Chris: Bill, Monica, (Jonas).
Jenn: Jonas and Troy, with Leif an alternate third.
Jeffrey: Monica, Kim, (Alicia).
Stinger James: Troy, Matt, (Jay).
David: I’m looking at an all-male final three of Bill, Matt, and Michael.
Who will win it all?
William: The villain hasn’t won in a while, and I think it’s time for a change. I’m going with Colton, though to be fair, this is the least confident I’ve been in my picks in a long time.
Sarah: This is based on the type of player that I want him to be, rather than any hard evidence he is that type of player, but... Jonas!
Ken: Michael will win a final two handily over Christina, who’ll get two votes at the most. If there’s a final three, it will be close, but Michael will barely edge out Matt for the win.
Jenn: Jonas. Make me proud, buddy.
Stinger James: Troy.
David: I’m going with my gut on this one – and I think it will be Bill.
So there we have it! It’s quite a wide range of picks, with only Jonas and Bill scoring two votes to win (one of the Jonas votes being Jenn’s computer!). Indeed, even the final three picks are pretty varied. Looking at the contestants we expect to leave early, though, there are some names that came up frequently, like Alicia, Christina, Colton, Nina, and Sabrina.
Each week, Ken will give us an update as to how our predictions are going and which RNO writer is in the lead. So be sure to check back and root us on as we root on the players we’ve picked to win it all!
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