Matt Liguori ranks the players each week with his own guest in RHAP’s Survivor Power Rankings. This week Matt is joined by Dom Harvey of the Dom and Colin Podcast.
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RHAP Survivor Power Rankings: Week 1
And away we go! Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is officially underway. We’ve finally uncovered the star of First One Out, Katrina Radke, who was ousted from the Heroes tribe in a unanimous vote after a lively tribal where the vote appeared to be between Katrina and “not actually in a power couple” Ashley Nolan. Ultimately, Chrissy kept Ryan’s idol to herself, ending the Mom Squad before it could ever truly come to life.
While the premiere was shorter and arguably less exciting than premieres of seasons past, the door was opened and we were let in on some forming partnerships and alliances that will likely come into play in these next few weeks before the tribes swap.
This week, I’m joined by Dom Harvey of the Dom and Colin Podcast. Make sure to check out Dom and Colin for in-depth Survivor analysis each week of the season, in addition to coverage of a variety of other reality TV shows and miscellaneous topics. Follow Dom (@domhrv) and myself (@mattliguori) on Twitter, tweet us what you think and leave a comment below!
So Dom, what did you think of the premiere? How much of an impact did only having 60 minutes rather than 90 have on the episode’s quality?
What we saw was good but it left me wanting more! It’s hard enough to fit everything important in a standard episode, and the premiere is always action-packed; the 90-minute and even 2-hour premieres in the past struggled to include everything. The tried and true formula — strategy, challenges, Tribal, miscellaneous — fits in 60 minutes because we already have some idea of who the players are and what they’re doing. When you also need to introduce the players and the season as a whole, there’s just not enough time. I love the three-tribe format but it makes the time pressure even worse — you now have three narratives competing for time instead of two, and one always gets lost in the shuffle. Things may well pick up soon — Millennial vs. Gen X started slow and went down as a beloved season — but for now, I join the chorus in feeling underwhelmed. I’m sure if Simone were on this season, she’d have something pithy to say about it.
The one-Tribal idol has made its debut! You in or out on this new twist to the game? Did Ryan play it correctly?
When you introduce a twist, you hope it makes its mark and spices up the game; a twist that doesn’t get used or just falls flat is a waste of time and energy. Ordinary idols are hit-or-miss — sometimes they lead to fantastic #blindsides; sometimes they languish in someone’s pocket for the rest of the game. This idol, hand-delivered to the obvious outcast on the losing tribe, is tailor-made for causing an upset at Tribal and making good TV; and to answer Sabrina Abbate’s timeless question, I do want good TV (that is what I want). Ryan made the clear choice — ‘sickly older woman who didn’t excel in the challenge’ is a classic first-boot profile — and I’m sure he was as sad as the producers and the audience when it didn’t work. It’s not completely over though; after all, the best fake idol is a real idol…
We saw some budding partnerships. Ryan and Devon, and Ashley and JP paired up. Either of these duos have what it takes to go the distance in the game, or is it too soon to tell?
My first and only experience with The Bachelorette was the season where Ashley married JP and I desperately want those hours of my life back. Unlike most Bachelor couples, they are still together; I don’t know how long this Ashley and JP will get to say that for. They don’t stand out as individuals so far and they lack the magnetism that successful Survivor duos seem to have.
Ryan and Devon might seem like a ClickHole parody of Stephen and JT but their partnership is off to a decent start. Ryan quickly identified Devon as a promising ally and let us know why; Devon was relaxed about it, but he’s relaxed about everything.
Who was your winner pick? And how did you feel about their first episode?
Like most of the Survivor fanverse I was on the Roark train and I’m still there after the premiere; she wasn’t featured heavily but we know who she is, which is more than we can say for many players. She worried in her pre-game interviews that she might be perceived as ‘bossy’, with all that implies, and we saw her stepping up to direct her tribe in the challenge — but with great results, and nobody’s complaining yet!
- Which will be the smallest tribe by the time we get to a swap?
- It’s hard not to pick the tribe that lost the first challenge — and losing an ex-Olympian (or so I’m told) can only hurt them. Themes like this are dissolved quickly (the sillier the sooner) so there’s not much time to catch up.
- Does Alan make the merge, given what we’ve seen of his gameplay thus far?
- I hope so! Recently these erratic players who make their mark early have stuck around for longer than anyone expected – least of all their tribemates.
- First person to find a normal hidden immunity idol will be:
- I’ll say Patrick finds it and someone sees him do it.
- Next tribe that goes to tribal council:
- The Heroes as a Matsing in the making?
While Ben’s tribe may have found themselves in an undesirable situation, being the first to attend Tribal Council, Ben landed in an ideal position… the middle. Katrina was an obvious outcast, but Alan had his eyes on JP and Ashley. Ben was correct when he said the decision was his and you really couldn’t ask for a better spot to be in on day 3. We saw in next week’s preview that Chrissy wants to team up with Ben, which leaves him covered from every possible angle going forward.
We still don’t know why Candice was a hero but it’s clear why Ben is. The muscular marine hits all the right notes: his military service makes him a hero to Survivor‘s target audience and the producers must be thrilled he was so vocal about the season’s theme. He has all of his fellow Heroes trusting him and coming to him for his vote, and his challenge prowess and value at camp don’t hurt either. In a game where tight alliances and best-laid plans can be shaken up by twists, I have the most faith in Ben to land on his feet no matter what happens. Survivor and Big Brother set the bar high for cowboys (and Cao Bois) but Ben should clear it easily.
Joe’s first confessional was the start of either a dominating Survivor game or an epic downfall; the fun part is, I can’t tell which. He told us how he wanted to have a tribe he could easily manipulate and he feels like he got one because healers tend to think with their heart over their brain. “They’re just all my victims at this point” he says. We saw him confronting Mike about having an idol, a little aggressively some might say, but it was backed up by other members of the tribe also seeming suspicious about Mike. I’ll stick to my gut in thinking that Joe can make a deep run, so long as his keep can keep his pants up.
Healer atcha girl! Roark knows that you need to shamelessly embrace the theme to get airtime on a season like this and was rewarded with a solid introduction in the premiere. As a Healer, and a superfan with a lot of common sense, Roark should work well with her tribemates and avoid the classic mistakes seen so often on Survivor. She gives off Sophie Clarke vibes but has more life experience than Sophie did when she won and seems more outgoing. The hype around Roark has only grown stronger since the season started but so far it seems justified.
I see you, Roark, with the explanatory intro confessional! Things seem pretty calm on the Healers beach right now. As the superfan of the bunch, I’m confident in Roark’s ability to find a majority if this group does end up at Tribal, though I really don’t see that happening. Roark seemed to be calling the shots during the challenge and given their victory, she’s proven herself a valuable challenge asset. It might just be the yellow buffs, but the Healers remind me of the Beauty tribe from Kaoh Rong. If they’re lucky, they’ll follow in the Beauty tribe’s footsteps and avoid Tribal completely. (Then again, don’t go full-Beauty tribe and have a player med-evac’ed.)
The Internet fan base rolled their eyes at the staged alliance scene with Patrick but the other Hustlers were none the wiser and having the tribe clown in your pocket is a great place to be. I’m optimistic Ali can strike the right balance on a tribe with some big personalities and some missing personalities — competitive and driven but not in a way that others find threatening, smart about the game but not obviously so, and engaging and fun to be around.
The little we saw from the Hustlers this week revolved around the two forming pairs. Ali and Patrick are linking up, as well as Devon and Ryan. We know that Ali and Patrick knew each other before Survivor so it isn’t a surprise that they’ve connected on the island, but I’ll be interested to see if and when the show addresses that. I think they will, but there was no reason to do so this early, especially if both of them will be around a little while. Ali seems to be thinking a few steps ahead, and with her tribe performing better than expected, I like where she’s at right now.
Someone who looks and runs like Devon has to screw up in a big way to go home early and Devon showed no sign of that on Wednesday. Ryan confiding in him and offering an alliance must have been unexpected but Devon handled it well and gave Ryan the validation he was looking for. If they can keep their alliance secret and intact, Devon should be bulletproof on what promises to be a volatile Hustlers tribe.
The ripped wonder-kid is working his magic on his tribe — Jessica is already looking for wedding venues — and has charmed the audience too. As with Devon, a young athletic guy who isn’t crazy or lazy has virtual immunity on pre-swap Survivor and Cole should have no trouble working himself into the majority. His dashing good looks could be his downfall: if he gets too close with Jessica we’ll see the same desire to break up a power couple and players like Roark and Joe are better at it than Alan. A couples alliance with Ashley and JP seems inevitable when they meet but I expect the nerds would get their revenge on the most beautifully bland alliance of the season.
Potential showmance on the horizon? I thought Big Brother already ended! A duo forming on the Heroes tribe isn’t working out too well, so it may not be so great over on this tribe either. Luckily for Cole, the tribe seems to love him (because honestly, who wouldn’t?), so there’s no reason to worry about his game right now.
This high ranking is a show of pre-game confidence in her and concern over players who were featured more. Desi certainly has the skills to succeed and is probably used to being the smartest person in the room but I doubt she can hide that as well as players higher on this list. Unlike some other favourites she’s a recruit, but she did her research and knows what she’s in for; that curiosity and commitment is as good a predictor of success as being a superfan. I hope I’m not walking this back after the next few weeks; if we’re right about Desi, the ceiling is very high for her.
Seemed fitting to have these three Beauties… I mean Healers… back to back to back. Quiet premiere for Jessica as well. Her only confessional was about how great Cole is. I’d be careful calling your new island crush by the name “Tarzan” when you’re on Survivor. As mentioned above, the Healers seem strong and calm. Keep doing what you’re doing, but be careful with the Fiji showmancing!
Even ignoring the lurid red turtleneck, I’m sure everyone had Ryan pegged as the season’s biggest superfan before they set foot on the beach. Ryan is wearing that as a badge of honour and doing that label justice so far. Although he displayed the usual self-deprecation and anxiety in his confessionals, he showed a lot of poise in reaching out to Devon and not overthinking the idol giveaway. I hesitate to place him higher as recent impressive performances by superfans may stick a target on him immediately.
I’m not sure what to make of Patrick’s premiere showing. It was good to see him and Ali connect; we know that’s a pair to keep an eye on. Patrick’s in a good position where things stand right now; he’s arguably the strongest guy on his tribe with an ally already by his side. What worries me is the goofy side of Patrick we saw this week and in the preview for next week. This guy is going to get himself hurt, or voted out, if he doesn’t calm down. But for the sake of great TV, definitely do not calm down.
Chrissy has come under fire for not using her idol on Katrina but exit press suggests they were never close at all and Chrissy’s position in the Heroes tribe looks solid now. When she is such an obvious first boot candidate that Ryan gives her the idol but is never in danger, you wonder if she’s much more well-connected than we were led to believe. If the preview is anything to go by (for the first time ever), Ben and Chrissy may become the real power couple…
Under three days into the game and you’ve got a guy running up to you to share news of an idol? Not bad! Devon seems like a likable guy and if you ask Ryan, trustworthy too. It’s hard to get a good read on the red tribe, but having information dropped in your lap is a very good start to playing Survivor. And about that guy who was so quick to be so trusting…
Patrick is the high variance pick for me — there’s a good chance he should be in the top tier and a good chance he belongs at the bottom, and I can’t tell which yet. I’ve compromised by placing him right in the middle. I hope whomever I pass the torch to gets to speaking in glowing terms about him, because from what little we’ve seen he’s a really nice guy. I’m not sure his tribemates find his sense of humour as endearing…
What a jam-packed first episode for Mr. Turtleneck! I like the decision to give Chrissy the idol. If there weren’t another older woman on the tribe, a stronger player would’ve been sent home. Not much he could’ve done about that, but hopefully the care package can help him out later down the road if he and Chrissy end up on a tribe together. The decision to immediately tell Devon about it was very risky, but he lucked out, since Devon was on board with working together. Ryan is confessionals gold, so I hope he sticks around.
With all the showmances blossoming on this season, Mike’s services as a love doctor will be in high demand. If Joe has his druthers, he may not get the chance to use them, but we can’t read much into that conversation; for all we know, Mike is solidly entrenched in some Healers alliance and Joe’s seen as a paranoid lunatic. Like David Wright, Mike can find his footing and become comfortable within the game; unlike David, I don’t think Mike will be a serious threat to win it, but I can see him as an entertaining character and important player.
My jaw dropped when the gifted idol wasn’t played on Katrina. As we’ve learned through some exit interviews, Chrissy and Katrina were never close. In fact it seems the opposite was the case, with Katrina claiming Chrissy was out to get her from day 1. It sounds like Chrissy wanted to make sure if an older woman were going home first, it wouldn’t be her. As a free agent, she now has a chance to make something happen. Team up with Ben and play the middle while the other three Heroes eat each other alive.
I didn’t have a strong impression about Ashley before the episode; that hasn’t changed, but her personality and affect are such that she’ll never make a strong impression. That fits nicely in a Heroes tribe that, minus Alan, fits the same description and will let her avoid the spotlight when the louder players take aim at each other. She beats future husband JP in these rankings because he’ll be automatically seen as the bigger threat, but if they end up in danger pre-merge his usefulness in challenges may shift the target to her.
The Internet’s consensus first-boot pick made it out alive. With a seemingly strong performance in the challenge and solid work ethic around camp, I wonder if Lauren’s in any trouble at all? You wouldn’t think so from the glimpse in we got on the Hustlers’ beach, but as the group with the smallest amount of screen-time from episode 1, there’s no way to know what’s really going on over there just yet.
If it looks like a Tony, walks like a Tony, talks llama like a Tony… Joe’s aesthetic and playstyle may have a solid pedigree, but it’s unclear if anyone else can make it work (if that’s even what he’s going for). Joe’s attempt to intimidate Mike may have shut a door that Joe will need later on without really accomplishing anything. Still, I hope I get to watch Joe play his own way for a long time, however dodgy his moves are; the man is TV gold.
Uh…. anyone there? *crickets* Very quiet week over here. The popular opinion is Lauren will be the first boot of the Hustler tribe, but Lauren seemed to be working hard around camp and looked really strong in the challenge. With alliances forming all around (Ali and Patrick, Ryan and Devon), Simone may find herself on the outs and an easy vote off if the Hustlers lose a challenge.
Many fans were very pleased to watch the #JPExposedParty and see what happened; if Ashley gets her way, we may see more things like that. Their partnership already puts a target on them and I doubt he and Ashley can command the following they would need to avoid that target. Being broken up at the swap might be the best thing that could happen to them; if he can distance himself from Ashley, he’s an appealing ally.
Not even a full hour into the new season and we have pants coming down on two tribes! While Joe’s managed to stay on, JP bared it all, leaving Hali Ford shook. The stage has been set for a showdown between JP and Ashley vs. Alan. With the possibility of Ben and Chrissy teaming up, everyone else is in danger. This week, Ben framed things as “Alan and I have a choice on which way to go” which leads me to believe Ben and Alan are closer than Ben and JP/Ashley are. So if it comes down to JP or Ashley going home, you’d assume they’ll keep JP’s challenge strength around.
It’s hard to reach the word count for someone who was almost invisible on opening night, but I’ll try! All we’ve heard from Jessica is her approval for Cole — lots of viewers will agree with her, but love is complicated and so are arbitrary internet rankings. She seems very upbeat and positive and every tribe loves people who can keep up morale, but that may be hard to maintain after weeks of starvation and frustrating losses (in challenges or at Tribal).
What a start we’re off to, eh!? Fired right out of a cannon, Alan hit the beach running. I’ll take all the entertainment we can get, given that uninspiring premiere. Alan has set a clear target on JP and Ashley. It seems like he has a good relationship with Ben, and if Ben brings Chrissy on board, they have the numbers. But Alan’s way too unpredictable, so for all we know he sees Ben and Chrissy getting together, and next thing we know we get a blurred out Ben. There’s a strong argument to be made by JP to Ben saying, “Hey look, this guy is getting us all riled up. Let’s get him out and move forward as a strong 4.”
A quiet episode for a quiet player. Lauren may earn respect as a hard worker and loyal ally who can bring a calming presence to the Hustlers tribe, but I’m unsure if she can connect with this very young group and she could easily get caught in the crossfire between the self-styled masterminds. She’s a great example of the “real people” who excite Jeff Probst but get sidelined in favour of wacky characters and big moves.
Not a great start, Doc. The tribe noticed as Mike scavenged the beach in search of an idol, leading to a somewhat aggressive confrontation from Joe. As the older guy in the group of young, strong, pretty people, Mike already appears to be an outcast, as many predicted pre-season. Combine that with sketchy idol searching and Mike’s fate could already be sealed. Lucky for him, he’s on a strong tribe that may not see Jeff around a fire anytime soon.
Pre-season fans were excited for Simone to give us her brutal cast assessment in confessionals every week. I thought we wouldn’t get to see that for long unless she managed to keep all signs of her feelings to herself; sadly, she did that so well that we saw literally nothing from her. If drama erupts on Hustlers beach, I expect her to be at the centre of it and give us a great recap afterward.
Pains me to leave you this low down, Ashley! As one of only two picks I have in a draft, I sure hope you don’t leave this early. As mentioned above, the stage has been set for a battle between Ashley and JP against Alan. I’m choosing to be cautious here and assume Alan, Ben, and Chrissy will link up to break up the supposed power-couple. As we saw last week, the votes would’ve gone to Ashley over JP in order to keep challenge strength in the game. I’d assume the same situation would happen a few days later if the Heroes make a return trip to Tribal.
Alan is single-handedly keeping the Heroes tribe interesting and we all thank him for it! Other players who seemed doomed to fail were able to make deep runs–Abi-Maria has a long and storied Survivor career–but Alan is also a massive physical threat whose card is marked the moment he reaches the merge. With any luck, he’ll be around for long enough to turn all of Fiji into a nudist colony.
Matt’s Power Rankings By Week