Those really are exciting times for Survivor fans. Last Spring (and soon again next month I assume), I’ve never seen fans and contestants alike being so excited about the show. I did vote every day, I spent way too much time on Reddit reading and discussing the potential contestants. I wish I had had more time listening to their interviews on Rob has a Podcast, etc.
Now, all is said and done, and for the first time we officially knew the cast even before they start shooting the show.
And seriously, did you see that cast? Don’t expect any coattail riders and the few contestants who are not seasoned strategists are challenge beasts.
No, really those are very exciting time. We could get the best season ever in just about a few months.
Ok, enough soliloquizing, let’s talk about those contestants.
And first a few words about those who didn’t get selected:
– Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper: It was a bit upsetting to see that she wasn’t selected. I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to see her back on the game (I voted for her some days, didn’t some other days), but deep inside I thought she deserved it. Also, we just need more early season players among returnees, and she rocked her first time around (even if I rooted against her back then).
– Brad Culpepper: I’m torn about Brad. I loved hating him, and I want more of him at some point, but yeah, not this season. Not sure if he’ll get another chance though. He seemed OK with it though. I didn’t seem him campaigning much if at all, and during the show, he clearly wasn’t expecting to be selected.
– Max Dawson: As I wrote on my previous post, my appreciation of Max is strange. I liked him back in the days before he became a Survivor contestant. Then, he was a big disappointment on his season, then I liked him again afterwards, on social media and such. However, I do think he deserves a second chance and that he could become a great player once he’s not starstruck anymore (a little bit like Cochran in a way: pretty useless on his first season, but rocking his second time).
– Mike Holloway: Hadn’t he won his season, he would have been back. Mmm… Do I want to see him return? Yes, especially to see how he’d fare in a different context. Do I want to see him return so early? Probably not.
– Shane Powers: Did you see Shane’s face when he wasn’t selected? Did you see Max’s face when Shane wasn’t selected? Did you hear me scream “NO!” alone in my living room when he wasn’t selected? The fact that Shane wasn’t selected is a travesty. Shane was supposed to return for pretty much every returnee season after his first, and every time something prevented him to do so. Everyone thought this time was the one… Who? Who didn’t vote for him? A few days ago, when it was revealed that there has been more than 10 million votes cast, we were all wondering who was going to get screwed by the casual vote? I guess we got our answer. I feel terrible for Shane, I really do.
– Jim Rice: Jim seemed so crushed too. I didn’t vote for him every time, now, I feel bad about it. The guy really wanted to return, more than many others I think. He campaigned hard (too hard some people are saying). He really deserved a second chance (especially seeing how he probably was one of the best players on his season but got screwed by Cochran badly). Another collateral damage from the casual vote I believe. I also believe that we’ll see him play again one day, Probst really love him.
– Carolyn Rivera: I kinda like her… Kinda didn’t care much for her either. I’m fine with her not being in this season.
– Troy “Troyzan” Robertson: I really want to see Troyzan play again one day. But I didn’t think it was going to be this time. He didn’t think it was going to be this time either (seeing his reaction). he had a lot stacked against him: he’s from the One World season, he’s not that popular, and he didn’t campaign that much.
– Natalie Tenerelli: I think she shouldn’t have been on the show the first time, so you can imagine how much I didn’t want her the second time. She’s not returnee material, I really do hope she never returns.
– Sabrina Thompson: Part of me wanted her back, because I think she has untapped potential for that game. Part of me doesn’t really care about her.
– Stephanie Valencia: I’m so excited she’s not back. Not now, and hopefully never. I can’t explain why I dislike her so much, but I really can’t deal with her. I think it’s the way she speaks more than anything else. She sounds so much like too many insufferable Jewish princesses and Cuban princesses and other Floridian princesses I met when I lived there. Maybe she’s not like them, but… the little I’ve seen of her makes me think she’s exactly like them.
– Mikayla Wingle: She remains a mystery to me. She really only was a prop for crazy Brandon’s storyline in her season. So I kinda wanted to see more of her… Then again, this was running the risk that she remains just a prop and takes someone’s spot that’s there to actually play.
Now, the selected players.
Did you see that cast? Is it one of the best cast for a returnee season or what?!?
It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as possible to perfection, really.
Let’s see who we’re getting and some general impressions as well as a vague prediction about how well (or poorly) they’ll fare.
– Abi-Maria Gomes: She’s kinda of a question mark to me. She was some sort of a trainwreck during her first season and went far only because her tribe didn’t really go to tribal before the merge and after that she kinda was a goat. However, on social media and elsewhere she has shown that she was smarter than that. Playing a second time, she may be more level-headed and less emotional… maybe… (because I also believe this is part of her personality), but she’ll be playing against some very very good players. Also, there’s the risk that she doesn’t play the game as much as she plays a character to get more screen time. Unless she has drastically changed, I don’t see her having any chance to win, but she could go far, if only as a goat.
– Andrew Savage: I’m a bit surprised he got selected. I didn’t think he left a big mark in people’s memories. Lately there’s been a debate of the hardcore fan vote against the casual fan vote (for example the fact that Shane didn’t get voted in because of casual fans not voting for him). I wonder who voted for him? I didn’t think neither casuals nor hardcores really would do it in numbers.
Personally, I don’t care about him either way. Now, his relationship with Terry could be interesting (I don’t know if they already knew each other before being selected, but I believe that they will bond very quickly). If they’re on the same tribe, they could take control of that tribe pretty easily, and then they could also take over the immunity idols after the merge. Now, I don’t know how strategic Savage actually is. Probably at least a little bit (my memories of his game in the Pearl Islands is pretty vague). There’s another factor. One of his best friends is called Jeff Probst. Can Probst stay impartial?
– Ciera Eastin: She could have a big target on her back quite early on. She’s shown that she has what it takes to take control of her game. Depending on who’s going to be on her tribe, she could be a very early boot, or on the opposite take control of the tribe, and make it to the jury – I don’t think she’ll go to the end, if she survives until then, she’ll be perceived as a very big threat. She’s clearly aligned with Vytas and Monica. It’ll all depend whether they’re on the same tribe or not really.
– Jeff Varner: I’m so excited that Varner is back. In Australia, he really was my favorite player, and he had the potential for becoming an awesome winner. I remember already imagining him as the new Richard Hatch. This didn’t happen, and when he didn’t come back for All-Stars, I couldn’t believe it. After that, I was under the impression that we’d never see him again. I couldn’t believe it when I saw he was among the 32. And I couldn’t believe when I saw the very positive response online (back in the days, I felt that I was the only one really liking him), to the point that after a few days, there was no doubt in my mind that he’d be back.
Now, the question is how well can he do? Physically, he doesn’t seem as in shape as he used to be. But I’m pretty sure that his mind is as sharp if not sharper (having more life experience and all). He’ll have to play a very subtle game so that he’s not perceived as a thread. He could go far. Can he win? It’ll be difficult, but I believe that’s a possibility.
– Jeremy Collins: I’m pretty glad that he’s back! I don’t think that many people will disagree when I say that Jeremy (with Josh Canfield) was the best player of his season, and that he definitely deserved to win it (hadn’t both players almost eliminate each other – I know it’s not technically possible, but you know what I mean). I like him as a player, and I also like him as a character, I love his “complaining confessionals” they’re often hilarious and he’s often right at the same time.
Can he do well? I believe he can. He’s not a “household name” that he’ll be an early target. If he manage to somewhat stay in the middle of his tribe, he could be in a very good position at the merge. Oh and let’s not forget that he most likely has a sure ally in Kelley (and even better, she’s even more under the radar than he is). I believe he’ll be one of the players to watch this season.
– Joe Anglim: I like Joe. I don’t love Joe, but I like Joe. He seems like a cool dude. He seemed to vaguely know how to play, and he seems pretty likable. Now, while he’s pretty popular among viewers, I don’t think players perceive him the same way. While recency helped a certain number of players to be voted into the island by viewers, I have the feeling that old school players will target some of them pretty early. People like Jeff Varner or Andrew Savage may think: we’ve waited for more than a decade to get to play again, you were just on the show, get out of my way. Now with that being said, I’m sure he won’t be an early boot either, he will help winning challenge premerge, but it’d be silly for any player to keep him when merge time comes.
– Kassandra “Kass” McQuillen: Kass is another player that we fan want to see go far because she’s TV gold (that’s why we voted in mass for her to play again, right?), but she’s a player that any contestant with sense would want to keep next to them. She’s not even that great of a player, sure she made lots of move during her season, but how many were good moves? One? Two? So yeah, she’s there to fuck up your game more than anything else, so if you have the slightest trace of a functioning brain, you’ll want her out of your tribe as soon as you go to tribal. She’ll unfortunately be an early boot.
– Keith Nale: At first, I didn’t really want to see Keith back on this season. On another one why not, but not on this one. Then, his campaigning amused me enough that I may have even given him a vote here and there. He kinda is a question mark for me. First, he’s unlikely to be an early target. Also, he based his whole campaigning on being clueless (and amusing because of his cluelessness), just like back in the not-so-old days of San Juan del Sur. And I’m kinda wondering; is he still so clueless? I do think that he has some game now. Sure, not as much as the best players out there, but enough to survive a few votes (he’ll be useful around camp, he’ll help winning challenges, he’s not a threat, he should make the merge) and to establish some kind of game, even more so if the big players target each other early on. Can he win? I want to say no, but then again, he was closer to winning than we think on his first season. Can he go far and have an impact on the game (if only by sticking to the plan)? Definitely.
– Kelley Wentworth: I know what many people are saying: “why is she back, I barely remember her?” What I have to say to them is that I voted for her every day, and I’m extremely excited that she is returning (and I can’t believe enough people believed in her to vote her in). Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t really leave me with a strong impression during her season (we barely saw her after all), but she did leave a strong impression in her exit interviews as well as the ones of people who played with her. She was a player and she was playing hard, probably as hard as Jeremy and Josh… and then she got screwed (by the reshuffling of the tribes, Missy, her dad not fitting in, the Blood Vs Water format – check what applies). And as a result, she got the almost invisible edit because her storyline didn’t really fit in nor mattered within the grand scheme of that season. What I’m saying is that I see this season as a season for people that got screwed, and as such she deserves to be there as much if not more than many other contestants.
How can she fare in the game? Well, the fact that we haven’t seen a lot of her makes it hard for us to know of her gameplay, but it’s actually a great advantage for her in the game, as the other contestants won’t know much about her either and she won’t be seen as a threat at all. Someone who knows the game (she’s a long time fan apparently), who has played before (even though not for long), who isn’t really known nor on anyone’s radar… I don’t know what you think, but I think that she’s a big threat, a very big one… Two names come to mind at the moment: Amber and Parvati. Sure Amber only won because Boston Rob brought her to the end and everyone was pissed at him. But Parvati? Not many people considered her a threat before Micronesia started. Penner maybe? Because he knew her. Well, this time the other players who know her were either allied with her (Jeremy) or Keith Nale…
– Kelly Wiglesworth: She is a big question mark. Of course I’m excited to see her back, even though I’ve never been a big fan. However, rumor has it that she hasn’t really watched the show ever… Her season maybe? Not even sure. So even if she’s so important in the history of Survivor, what impact can she have on this season? Does she even know what a hidden immunity idol is? Maybe she has caught up? Maybe she can play today’s version of Survivor (Gervase and Skupin showed us that they adapted well enough to make it to the end, but not well enough to win), maybe she can’t. In any case, if she’s still athletic enough she could make it to the merge. Then, if she’s not strategic at all, she won’t be a threat and could go far (but not win), if she starts winning too many individual immunities, she’ll be out as soon as she doesn’t win one. If she learned how to play strategically, she could be dangerous, but I don’t think she can win.
– Kimmi Kappenberg: Fun fact, before Survivor Australia started, just by reading their bios, Kimmi was my early favorite. It stopped right from episode one or two. I don’t know why, she doesn’t seem to be a bad person, but she annoyed me from the get-go. Then the chicken incident happened, then she was responsible for Jeff Varner’s untimely boot (not even because she blindsided him – she had already been voted out by then – but because she didn’t realize that she was giving precious information to the other tribe). Honestly, I don’t really know why she was on the list of possible returning contestants, and I don’t even know how she got voted in. I assume a mix of hardcore fans wanting the old school players back in and the casual still remembering Australia?
Now, that she’s back, how will she do? No idea. Can she play strategically? How about her social skills? Have they gotten better? Too many question marks. Yet, something tells me that she’ll be an early boot, but I’ve been dead wrong about her before (back before Australia, and for my guesses of the fan vote more recently), I could be dead wrong again.
– Monica Padilla: Not gonna lie, I disliked her in her season, too bitchy, too… I don’t know… I didn’t like her. However, she tried to take out Hantz, and she’s one of the few people who tried. Sure, it was too little too late, but she showed that she could probably play the game (one disadvantage Galu had in Samoa – the same for many tribes who go on winning streaks – was that not going to tribal made them not having to play the strategy game much). I voted for her many times to see if she really had what it takes. We’ll see. If she actually can play this game, she could do very well. I’m not too sure how she’ll get along with other people out there, but she already has a long-friend in Ciera, which could gain her some more allies (Vytas? Will he align with Ciera? Most likely. And with Monica? Probably too, at least at first). She won’t be perceived as a threat, so with the right allies and the right amount of luck, she could even make it to the end. And win? Maybe.
– Shirin Oskooi: What to think of Shirin? I’m sure she’s an extremely nice woman in real life, but let’s admit it her sudden rise in popularity is only due to her being abused by the dead fish and the obnoxious pig. Don’t get me wrong, what they did was unacceptable, and I even think rules of Survivor should change. Why would you be kicked out of the game for hitting someone, but not for doing what Will did to Shirin? I think the latter is comparable to the former, and both should result in eviction of the offender. But back to Shirin. My point is that before this regrettable incident, she was seen as annoying by other contestants and viewers alike. Will that change? No idea. On the one hand, she will be more aware of the perception other contestants have of her. On the other hand, her personality is what it is, and living 24/7 with her is not for everyone. While her “OMG, I’m on Survivor!!!” attitude will be gone, it may be replaced by “OMG, I’m playing Survivor with so and so, I’m such a big fan!” which may be as annoying. Now, she’s a very intelligent woman and I think she’ll be able to control her emotions at least to a certain extent, and depending who is on her tribe, she may just find the right allies to go deep in the game. And if she’s in that position, she may become very dangerous. That’s going to be the key for her: find the right friends from the get-go. If she doesn’t she may end up in a similar position she was in her season (minus the abuse, hopefully). If she does, and manages to improve her social skills, she could go all the way.
– Spencer Bledsoe: I love Spencer, he’s one of my favorite players from the recent seasons. I’m very glad he’s back (although there was little to no doubt that he was going to sooner than later), but I’m worried about him. I think he will be perceived as a threat by pretty much everyone. The least strategic players for obvious reasons, but the strategic players too. He could be a very early boot unless he’s lucky (something he didn’t seem to be much in Cagayan) and finds people who are willing to work with him. Tasha? Although she may want to distance herself from him. The other Survivor nerds such as Stephen or Shirin? They may, but they’ll need numbers, I’m not sure they’ll get them. Regardless how long he survives, Spencer is going to have a huge target on his back from day one and until his exit. I could see him going to the merge with some luck, but not much further0
– Stephen Fishbach: Stephen is in a similar situation as Spencer, with a few small differences: he’s less athletic, but he has more connections in the Survivor community. Stephen will also probably be a target from the beginning, unless… Unless the less strategical players feel that they need a “brain” in their alliance and in this case, they may tend to gravitate towards him. This is what Stephen will need to make it to the merge: a strong alliance and by strong, I mean an athletic one too, one that will avoid his tribe to go to Tribal Council much premerge. If he makes it to the merge, he could navigate in between alliances and power players to go further in the game. But going to the end will be hard, very hard… However, if he makes it to the end, he can be sure to face a less bitter jury than in Tocantins.
– Latasha “Tasha” Fox: I like Tasha, and I’m glad she’s back. I feel that she somewhat was under-edited in her first season, and I want to see more of her. How is she going to do on her second outing? Mmm… Hard to tell. I don’t think that she’ll be perceived as a threat at first, but as the game progresses, everyone will remember her immunity run in her first season. Also, as I assume that Spencer and Kass won’t start on the same tribe (just a hunch I have, all “pairs” will be split), where Tasha ends up could be interesting. If she’s on the same tribe as Spencer, it may draw a target on her back earlier than expected; people will remember that they were allied. If she’s with Kass, it could be more interesting. Will they target each other from the get-go? Will they form a secret alliance (I doubt it). Overall, I think that Tasha will be voted out right before the merge or at the merge, despite a great beginning.
– Peih-Gee Law: Peih-Gee is kinda of a mystery to me. I mean, I do remember her from her season, but how will she fare on this season is unclear. She seems to have no friends, but also no enemies in this cast. It could be good, she could become very popular when alliances are going to be formed and numbers will be needed. However, she will have to find this alliance quickly or she could end up being isolated. She also has a strong personality, she’s gotta be careful to fit in from the beginning (I think I remember it was her major problem in her season; she somewhat was isolated and remained a loose cannon until she was out). In other words, I feel that Peih-Gee is one of the wild cards of this season. If she manage to position herself right in the beginning she could go all the way and win it all. If she messes up early, she could be a very early boot.
– Terry Deitz: It was kinda of a no brainer that Terry was going to be back. However, I really don’t care for him. I didn’t like his “holier-than-you” attitude is first time around, and I’m 100% certain that this hasn’t changed, it’s just part of who he is. Sure, he makes for a loyal ally, but one who won’t give you his vote in the final tribal council if you had to vote him out. Also, I’m not sure he understands strategy beyond “let’s win challenges.” I guess you understand, I don’t like Terry, I don’t care for him and I’d rather him not being back (I can’t even start to imagine if he took Shane’s spot). How well can he do? He will most likely make the merge, but he’ll be cut as soon as he doesn’t win immunity (and seeing how he’s older and the opposition is stronger, I don’t think he’ll go on an immunity run this time).
– Vytas Baskauskas: I really like Vytas. I really do. Hadn’t he been competing against Tyson, I think I would have rooted for him in his first season, as he was the best non-returning player. He also seems to be a great guy to be around, and he’s a well-rounded player, capable to be strong physically, strategically and socially. However, I’m afraid he won’t do well this season. I can’t tell why, but I have a bad feeling. Is he going to want to be the alpha male of his tribe, fail and alienate himself from the others? Is he going to come out to strongly? Is he going to have a huge target on his back because of his connections (Ciera, but also the “RHAP crowd” through Aras). Or maybe he’s going to be sneaky enough to manage to go around all those hurdles and go far in the game? I hope so, but I just don’t see him making it to the end.
– Yung “Woo” Hwang: Meh… He was interesting to watch for about 5 minutes in Cagayan. I have no interest in watching him again. However, I will have to, so I have to at least think a little how he’ll do. I don’t think he’s game will change at all, and I really don’t think that he has learned to play any differently. But because of those reasons, he could actually make it very far, as he’s very loyal but not with a single strategic bone. The only thing that came make him a target is that he will win some individual immunities. He will most likely make the merge, could possibly go to the end again or close to it. I don’t think he can ever win this game.
OK, now my crazy predictions (I usually never make them before one or two episodes into the season, but this season is so exciting that I have to make some now).
They will make the merge (providing they merge at 12): Savage, Ciera, Jeff, Jeremy, Kelley, Kelly, Monica, Shirin, Tasha, Peih-Gee, Terry, Woo.
And the winner of Survivor 31 – Second Chance is…. Kelley Wentworth!!!
There, I said it. Watch it happen…