Matt Liguori ranks the players each week with his own guest(s) in RHAP’s Survivor Power Rankings. This week Matt is joined by the hosts of the RHAP B&B, Liana Boraas and Mike Bloom!
- Note: If reading on a cell phone, rotate your device horizontally to read the rankings side-by-side. However, this may not work for some devices with smaller screens.
RHAP Survivor Power Rankings–Week 12 with Mike Bloom & Liana Boraas
We’ve reached the end! The finale is on the horizon and we’re hours away from crowning our next Survivor winner. Five players remain, all with a different story on how they made it to the end. Some have maneuvered strategically, others socially, and some have stumbled their way into the final 5… but hey, they’re all there.
It’s fascinating when a season comes around in which some people hate it and some people love it. The cast, the editing, the gameplay… something in this season has been polarizing enough to create such a mixed reaction. While I’ve been vocal about my enjoyment of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, I have been a little confused with the through-line of the season’s story. One week we hear about Ashley’s frustrations with Ben, the next episode they’re in a new four-person alliance. Lauren and Ben are working closely together, the next week Ben single-handedly takes her out of the game. Devon drops out of an immunity challenge because he and Ashley are so tight, the next week he votes her out. We know Survivor has evolved into a game that shifts at every turn, I’ve just felt a few dots have been left unconnected along the way.
I thought it’d be fun to quickly look back on my rankings from the pre-season that I did with Antonio Mazzaro and summarize what I predicted about the final 5. The highest person I had ranked of the 18 new players was Ben at #6.
- Ben – ranked #6/18, predicted he could stick around for a while but saw him more as a lovable character similar to Tai… hoped he would be more like a J.T. (1.0)
- Ryan – ranked #8/18, also predicted he would be more of a character than a player (remember those promos!?), thought he wouldn’t be able to hide being a superfan and likely go out pre-merge
- Devon – ranked #9/18, predicted he’d be a likable guy with plenty of options for whom to work with, but would be screwed by an idol or a swap… reminded me of Fabio
- Chrissy – ranked #11/18, predicted she would be a loyal ally to one person or one group, but likely not win given her archetype and the lack of qualities she shares with previous winners Tina or Denise
- Dr. Mike – ranked #16/18, predicted he wouldn’t be the most popular guy out there, but wasn’t planning to underestimate him given the success of recent superfans… despite the David Samson vibes
This week, I’m crashing the RHAP B&B‘s pre-finale party to get ahold of Mike Bloom and Liana Boraas and see where their rankings line up going into the finale. There isn’t much time left before the B&B closes for this season, so make sure you catch this week’s episode with guest Pooya Zand Vakili, plus this week’s Feedback Show featuring Mike Bloom himself before the finale on Wednesday. Also make sure you’ve been checking out all of Mike’s Survivor (and Top Chef) exit interviews and more over at Parade. Reach out to us on Twitter (@AMikeBloomType, @LianaBoraas, @mattliguori) and/or leave a comment below to let us know what you think of our predictions and let us know yours!
First off, Liana… did you ever make it out of the Texas snow?
Liana: YES! Although I may never get over the absurdity of telling people “I’m trapped in Austin, TX due to snow”.
There’s been a lot of mixed reactions to this season. Some think it’s a great season and others can barely bring themselves to watch the episodes each week. Now that it’s coming to an end, how are you two feeling about this season overall?
Liana: This season has grown on me. I mentioned this on the B&B but I think the editing this season was a long con. I remember subtle scenes in the early episodes that really foreshadow the later game play (which has been very exciting to watch). I think looking at this season wholistically improves its quality.
Mike: Throughout Survivor’s 17 years, the one thing that has brought me back every six months in front of a variety of screens are the characters. This season I feel like we really have a “warts and all” way of storytelling and characterization, where people are shown doing both good and bad things from a strategic perspective and a moral perspective. Look at Ben as an example. He starts Episode 5 reckoning with his PTSD on the island and starts Episode 12 being called a jerk for the way he’s treating Chrissy. As a result, I’ve become more inherently interested in these contestants, as they’re shown as people rather than two dimensional archetypes, and I feel we have a really interesting final 5 who all have a different story as to how they got where they are. I can absolutely understand where people are coming with some of the things they’re not liking about this season, but I have definitely enjoyed it (though admittedly I may have some skewed opinions, considering this is my first season of getting to do exit interviews and host a weekly Survivor podcast).
You two have been checking guests in and out of the RHAP B&B all season long as the gracious hosts you are. Do you have a favorite segment out of the many you’ve done throughout the season?
Liana: I’ve had so much fun getting to talk with all our guests and try out a bunch of segments but the one moment that really stands out to me is when we had Meg Z on and played Mad Libs for the first time. Something about “Cole’s finger” never fails to make me laugh.
Mike: I was really nervous when we did our pre-season pilot podcast with Rob. As I said on the show, it was like having your dad let you take the wheel and drive the car around in the empty parking lot (a Ryan-level simile, I know). But the moments “Put it in Roark” came out of my mouth, quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever said next to “Ciera will not get a question at the Cambodia finale,” I feel like we already had found our tone. It was silly, it was nonsensical, and we kept making callbacks to it, which I feel like are three qualities to describe the B&B. Other than that, I loved playing “The Price is Roark” with Brent Wolgamott and, as a recent pick, Lita Brillman and Paul Asleson reading the contestants with Krampus tongue pops to boot.
I’ve been asking a few people about the idols and advantages overload this season and it’s been interesting hearing everyone’s perspective. What do you both think, too much? Or is this just modern Survivor… accept it and move on?
Liana: I actually wasn’t burnt out on idols/advantages until this last episode with Ben finding the immunity idol AGAIN! For me it felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Also, I have an aversion to endgame advantages after what happened to Cirie in Game Changers.
Mike: I was definitely incorrect in my assumption after Game Changers that they would scale back on everything, figuring they would only throw out a multitude of twists to truly keep these returning players on their heels. I think the idea behind some of these advantages are interesting, even if they do remind me of my days playing Survivor Online Reality Games (fun fact: I won one of those games playing Jaison from Survivor: Samoa, when I asked the jury not to vote for me at the Final Tribal Council). And I think timing them and utilizing them in the premerge was a fun way to build friendship or animosity between the tribes before everything got mixed up. I mean, who knows where Chrissy and Ryan would have been in this game if that superidol doesn’t show up on that boat?
I talked about this on the voicemails with Rob this week, but I feel like this issue with the idols this week isn’t necessarily there being too many, but that there are too many being PLAYED. There have only ever been two idols in the game at most (compare that to three in Game Changers, even though none of them got played until the last time they could), but because these people keep finding them and playing them (and being successful a handful of times), it’s starting to get tiresome. We’ve had idol turnover happening since Micronesia, so it’s nothing new, but it’s just become a large part of the story, especially last episode. In a perfect world, I’d love for them to still put idols at each beach premerge, then only one postmerge. But I feel like the show loves the excitement of that Wentworth/Jeremy “no votes” moment, and wants to try to replicate it by keeping multiple idols in play at once.
If you were Devon or Chrissy, who was the best person to take on the reward this week? They took Ryan, but there’s an argument for all three other players who weren’t chosen.
Liana: I actually think this was the correct choice at the time for both of them. Ryan might starve to death if he wasn’t taken! But seriously, Ben is clearly on the outs. Mike has been shown to be erratic and unpredictable. Ashley was solidly with Devon so while it’s a calculated risk, he can assume she will still be a number for him and use this to resolidify his relationship with Ryan. Chrissy was planning on voting out Ashley and Ryan is her skeletor boo.
Mike: I’m still trying to figure out who started this new apparent Devon/Chrissy/Ryan final 3 alliance (or as I’d like to call it, “Mama and Her Boys”). On the show, it seemed like Chrissy did. But in the Secret Scenes, it seems like Devon did, and Ryan and Chrissy actually have no intentions of taking Devon to the finals (whether it ends up actually happening is a matter for my power rankings). I feel like the two had different motives for bringing Ryan that happened to align. For Devon, it was that he wanted to build a bridge over troubled water with his Ry-funkel and create a good narrative for himself come the finale. For Chrissy, she just wanted to drink some mudslides with her friend. Like Liana said, you want to deprive Ben the chance of finding an idol clue on the reward, nobody knows what’s going on in Mike’s head (though Mike knows a lot about different types of heads in his line of work), and bringing Ashley just tightens that bond and makes Chrissy feel like a distinct third wheel. I think it was a good choice here, and I’m curious to see if this ends up becoming the dots to connect to our eventual final 3.
Mike, how cool has it been for you in your first season covering Survivor as a member of the press for Parade? As somebody who has been podcasting about the show for years and being a lifelong fan, this has to feel like a dream.
Mike: I’m going to call you Matt-loaf, because you took the words right out of my mouth! Admittedly it was very nerve-wracking at first. I’m someone who has served as an armchair quarterback for many years and a Survivor pseudo-pundit for the past few years, I now got the opportunity to stand and take a look at the other side of things. Additionally, I had never done any professional writing before, and I was nervous about working that muscle when I had gotten so used to speaking my opinions rather than taking them down. All that being said, I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve been able to do this season. In my interviews, I really focus on getting to know them as people, as well as hone in on the emotional realities of playing Survivor, so I hope that comes across. Admittedly, I was able to warm up a bit by doing exit press for Big Brother 19 over the summer. No tea no shade, but if I could get through talking with some of those Big Brother 19 contestants, I felt I could take on the world journalistically speaking.
Liana, suppose there was a fan vote to put somebody from Survivor on the upcoming Celebrity Big Brother, who is your vote going to? Give me two names, somebody from this season and somebody from any other season. When I asked Taran a few weeks back, his pick was your girl Cirie.
Liana: I like that Taran is assuming there might actually be strategic game play on Celebrity Big Brother. Look, it’s going to be a hot mess of a television show and I’m here for it but I would never want to subject Cirie to that. Will there be emergent gameplay? Probably but only if it involves throwing wine at other contestants. Given the nature of the show give me Shane Powers (for obvious reasons) and Patrick Bolton (I feel like we only began to scratch the surface of that crazy train).
I’ve also been asking everyone who they’d like to see return from this season for a second chance. I think this cast has potential for a lot of returnees, so I’m curious who you both want to see back.
Liana: DAUUUGHTAAAH!!! (Or JP and his dog Thor on a BvW season)
Mike: I feel like you could do another three-tribe season and just put the entire prejury group from this season on it. You have firecrackers (Patrick and Alan), people with a head for the game (Ali and Roark), and sweethearts (Jessica, Simone, and Katrina). I know people have gripes that this season features an “unlikable” group at the end, so bringing back the people who died heroes before they could live long enough to become the villains would give a fun second chance to what I feel is a great cast overall.
Note: This week’s rankings are a little different than normal. We’ve decided to rank the contestants based on the order we think they’ll finish this season in.
1. Dr. Mike
If you think I’m crazy for this pick, good. All I’m saying is the last time we had a two-person alliance named after coconuts, one of them won. Dr. Mike’s best move this whole game may have been naming his alliance “CocoNuts”.
All season we’ve been reminded that viewers and players both shouldn’t count anybody out. Every time you underestimate someone, they prove why you shouldn’t have. Mike’s had a rough journey to final 5. He’s been knocked down time and time again, made to look like a fool by some of his competitors. What he does have going for him are the relationships he’s made along the way. While he may not be the biggest strategic threat, he’s made some friends who are all currently sitting on the jury.
You don’t need to have the most Survivor skills to win the game. You need to make it to the end with two players who are less liked or less respected than you are. In my layout of how things end up, Dr. Mike will make the final 3 with Ryan and Chrissy, who are both less liked by the jury than he is. Mike will have three guaranteed votes from his fellow Healers… two more would lock up the win and against opponents like Ryan and Chrissy, that shouldn’t be hard.
What has seem destined for a while now could finally come true. A few weeks back, it seemed like Chrissy may not even make the finale, as her and Ryan were pushed outside of the majority alliance. Now heading into the finale, it appears Chrissy is the player with the most power and control over getting herself a seat in the final 3. Chrissy has both Ryan and Devon assured they’re going to the end with her, while Ben and Dr. Mike remain in the game with big targets on their backs.
Chrissy’s social game has been incredibly poor. Finding more than one vote for her on the jury is a struggle, but crazier things have happened. Chrissy has been so focused on the strategic maneuvering that she’s sent everybody to the jury with bitter feelings. We’ve seen enough past players treat their opponents like chess pieces rather than human beings to know it’s a game that results in an intense final Tribal Council and nowhere near enough votes to win. Chrissy played a strong game, but I’m guessing it won’t end in victory.
We really know nothing about Ryan’s relationships with anybody on the jury. It seems like he isn’t as disliked as Chrissy, but you never hear anybody raving about how great Ryan is as a person, or how strong of a game he’s played. Just like Chrissy, it’s hard to see him getting many (any?) votes.
Ryan seems almost guaranteed a seat at the finale. All four other finalists are seen as a bigger threat than he is in one way or another. He could get screwed out of that seat by an immunity win falling into the wrong hands, but you have to imagine if anybody has a choice between Ryan and any other player, they’d keep Ryan in the game. When it comes down to it, Ryan’s “resume” is nowhere near impressive enough to counter the fact that his relationships with the jury are probably close to nonexistent. He’ll have a chance to plead his case to the jury, but I don’t expect them to entertain much of what he has to say.
Remember in San Juan del Sur, how we spent the entire first half of the game debating between which of the obvious winner candidates would actually take it home, Jeremy or Josh? And then all of a sudden, both guys go out back-to-back and the actual winner, Natalie Anderson, emerges like “Hey guys, been here the whole time! What’s up!?”
If Ben is able to win his way to the end, the game is his. He’s impressed the hell out of the jury and I don’t see a world in which they don’t award him the grand prize. But in order for my theory about Dr. Mike winning to come true, Ben and Devon will have to go out 5th and 4th, consecutively. After Ben wins immunity at final 5, he’ll secure his spot in the final 4. If Devon goes out 5th, Ben will only have to get past Chrissy, Ryan, or Mike in the final 4 challenge. While that doesn’t sound impossible, my gut tells me Ben will crack under the pressure and lose the game at the last moment. Many seasons come with the heroic final 4 “YOU ALMOST HAD IT” player, and I think Ben will follow David Wright as the next to fall into that category.
“If Ben is King Arthur at the Round Table, I am happy to be the Statue of Liberty in America, because America’s gonna beat England in the end.” If you remember, Mike said that about Ben at Tribal Council a few weeks back. It doesn’t help that Mike always seems to be wrong, but maybe this is his one statement in the game that turns out to be true.
Having spent the past few weeks since the merge all aboard the Devon-winning train, it feels strange to have him slotted in 5th place here. After seeing Chrissy, Ryan, and Devon come together last week, I’m left wondering if Chrissy actually wants to bring Devon to the end, or if she just needs anybody on her side who will bite. Chrissy’s ideal situation in this final 5 probably is bringing Devon and Ryan to the end, but in my layout of how things play out… I’ll say Ben wins the final 5 immunity, and the target shifts to the next biggest physical threat in the game, Devon. It would make more sense to boot Mike, the bigger jury threat, but Chrissy is going to want to win that final 4 immunity, and she knows she’ll beat Mike easier than Devon.
Devon has played a strong game, but just like everybody else in this final 5, he’s made mistakes. Blindsiding your closest ally three nights before the vote in which you’d want her to award you $1 million isn’t the best call, besides the fact that voting out someone guaranteed to bring you to the end (that you could beat!) is insane. His game has been a little sloppy lately and letting go of Ashley might’ve cost him the million.
Devon is in a great spot to make the final 3 given his deal with Chrissy and Ryan which I believe will come to fruition. This down to earth surfer bro takes home the million dollars by stunning the jury (and us) with his Final Tribal Council performance. While previously seen as the second least articulate player this season (lookin’ at you JP), he sheds his broisms and persuasively communicates how he’s been playing the game. While I’m excited for a Devon win, I’m more excited to see him clean shaven and well dressed at the finale #Daddy #priorities. Side note: Devon is the player I thought Patrick would be #PatrickAlliance.
I will be disappointed that Chrissy couldn’t pull out the win but I can understand what the jury is thinking. While she was my preseason winner pick, she seemed to struggle with anything social/not math and unfortunately the jury is composed of human beings not computers. She will receive JP’s vote; I’ll now call an audible and bring in Brad Culpepper to explain that 1 in 8 does not result in a win. I know others have criticized her game play but Chrissy is an amazing strategic player when it comes to crunching the numbers, analyzing risk, and determining the correct game move for her. Also, she was the last woman standing so… I’ll call her the remainder, that’s the female that remains!
Oh Ryan, sweet, sweet Ryan. You were perceived as Chrissy lackey (after JP) so any moves you made together she got credit for. I predict that Ryan will receive no votes at the Final Tribal Council but not for lack of trying. He will throw out a few more analogies to which I will either chuckle mildly or roll my eyes. Ryan really grew on me this season and while I don’t think he had the strongest social game I do think he can be organically funny. The reunion show this year needs a reverse Biggest Loser style weigh-in where we see if Ryan was able to regain the weight he lost during the season. #Skeletor
How Ben made it this far is beyond me. Maybe it has something to do with all the idols that the “Survivor Gods” keep directing him to find. Surprise, surprise I think he gets the final secret advantage and uses to secure a spot in the final four. Once the advantage/idol well dries up, Ben is joyously voted out by his tribemates. Ben has been a crazy player to watch all season and it’s been fascinating to see his story develop. He went from being part of the four that made a big move and targeted JP to being the most despised player (according to his tribemates) left in the game. Maybe he can get a tattoo to commemorate this experience.
5. Dr. Mike
While I will be disappointed when Mike goes, I’m still happy he was able to thrust his way into the final 5. Ben will be safe due to an advantage and Mike is unable to penetrate into the alliance of Devon, Chrissy, and Ryan. Mike attempts to make deals with everyone, ultimately stradling too many groups and trying to juggle too many balls. He is unable to overcum the alliance of three and sadly his game comes to a head when he is voted out in 5th place. At the final tribal council, Mike rides the final three hard pushing them to thoroughly explain their games. Perhaps at ponderosa JP and Mike can recreate the idol strip search and market it as a PSA for testicular cancer awareness.
Note from Mike: In line with our B&B preseason predictions, I’ve decided to write my own 100% correct narrative for what’s going to happen in the Survivor finale.
After betraying his closest in the ally in the penultimate episode and being left hugless, admittedly his chances look as prone as he did right before the merge in what is definitely the best drone shot in Survivor history so far. But he’ll end up getting kept around in the hope of taking down Ben, and when the Marine is finally unsafe, the shot is too good to not take. As a result, the Mudslide Alliance made at the island resort ends up paying off to fruition. Though Devon’s alliance jumping can be seen as fickle as the waves on any given day, his general affability will lead a large amount of the jury to say, “He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like him” (in a horrifically timely reference). Devon uses some money to give back to his family who supported him through all the hustling, then buys a whiskey bar that serves as the place every Survivor after party will be held moving forward.
Reaching a moment she has dreamed about ever since watching the Borneo finale, Chrissy comes into the Final Tribal Council with meticulous notes about every part of her game. While that may not sway some of the more emotionally-driven jurors, the fact that she was seen as such a strategic figurehead (along with a few challenge wins) will earn her more votes than I think any of us initially expected back in the early jury phase. Though Chrissy ultimately does not walk away with the prize, the success of her, Ben, Mike, Lauren, and Joe as characters will prompt Mark Burnett to greenlight Survivor 39: Parents Island.
It’s crazy to think that he went from one of the most hyped contestants preseason to a main character pre-merge to arguably the person with the least win equity going into the finale. It’s almost a more complicated version of the Sherri Beitham arc we saw in Caramoan. At Final Tribal Council, one juror will approach Ryan and, much like Jim Rice did to Albert in South Pacific, ask him to answer a question without using any metaphors or similes. Unfortunately, that’s a bridge that Ryan is not able to cross, and he starts off the finals on a bad note that he’s never able to recover from. I do hope a tie happens and he gets to cast the winning vote because we get to truly see who a man in his early 20s values more: his mother or his best friend.
So this one may come as a bit of a shock since I feel like the community at large has already inscribed Ben’s name on the Survivor winner’s trophy that presumably gets sent between houses every few months. But two pieces of information have been stuck in my head the past couple of weeks. We get a lot of talk on the show about how, if Ben gets to the end, he wins no question. This isn’t necessarily unheard of, we’ve seen this talk about Tyson and Mike before. But then we have Probst hyping up this ending, which has many speculating a close vote or even a tie at the Final Tribal Council. If that’s the case, why edit Ben as a slam dunk winner and then end up with a nail biter of a vote (Not to confuse with the time Cole was so hungry he literally ate nails)? I know you can also take Probst’s words to mean that Ben actually comes through and is able to crush in the end after working his way out of a hole from the final 7 (that he admittedly got himself into). But I’m banking on him finishing in much more of a David Wright position than a Mike Holloway position.
5. Dr. Mike
Ben gets yet another idol, putting him officially on the Mount Rushmore of idol acquisitions with Tony, Tai, and the blurred face of one other guy. When tasked to choose to move forward with Devon or Mike, though Chrissy and Ryan planned to initially go all the way with the sex doctor, they look at a number of factors, including Devon’s greater chance of beating Ben in the final Immunity Challenge, Mike’s lack of stable allegiances (despite all the balancing he practiced beforehand), and his likability paired with some banked Healer votes on the jury. The Nuts part of the Coconuts finally get snipped, leaving Dr. Mike unable to truly finish (but will lead to a profitable career as the star of CBS’ new drama, if the plan Rob and I had on the voicemails come to fruition).
Before I get out of here, I wanted to thank everyone for following along with the rankings all season. I had a great time doing these for Big Brother 19 over the summer and was thrilled to get the chance to do it all again for Survivor. I’ve had some great guests and I can’t thank them all enough for their time each week:
- from the RHAP fam: Antonio Mazzario, Dom Harvey, Haley Strong, Adam Rida, Ali Lasher, Jordan Parhar, Taran Armstrong, Josh Wigler, Colin Stone, Liana Boraas, and Mike Bloom
- the Survivors themselves: Will Wahl, Kelley Wentworth, and Pete Yurkowski
So thanks for reading! Thanks to everyone who has reached out with any kind of feedback and to the great Christine Larivière for all of the help putting these together. Enjoy the finale, hopefully at least something predicted in this insanity above comes true!
Matt’s Power Rankings By Week