Survivor: Worlds Apart

Survivor Worlds Apart — The Bloggers Roundtable Preview

Rob Has a Podcast Bloggers Scott Gallagher, Dan Heaton, Michel Trudeau, Catherine Lucas, and Sarah Freeman weigh in on each of season 30’s castaways. Check out the bloggers’ winner picks and other predictions at the end of this post and the regular weekly blogs from this top-notch group throughout the season.

Masaya — The White Collar Tribe

Carolyn Rivera

Carolyn Rivera, Corporate Executive Carolyn Rivera, Corporate Executive[/caption]

Dan: Carolyn’s bio includes a recurring theme of not taking flak and wanting to assert her authority. It’s good that she’s self-aware, but reining in her fiery side could be a challenge. Carolyn is a young 52 and appears to be in great shape. She should be able to handle the physical challenges of Survivor, but there’s a danger on the social side. Her fellow Masaya tribe members are mostly in their 30s, and there’s a 15-year gap between Carolyn and the next-oldest player. In a group of six, she’ll need to make strong connections right away. The good news is that she isn’t playing with the typical 20-somethings that can doom the older women on this show. They’re all successful and probably mature beyond their years.

Carolyn cites Denise’s game as model for game play, and that’s a wise idea. Denise formed a bond with Malcolm that served them well in the early Tribal Councils. The question is whether Carolyn’s personality can play that type of understated game. She’s a corporate executive and used to running the show; that approach may not succeed in a group filled with Type A personalities. She also cites Sandra because she’s won but doesn’t elaborate beyond that point. Sandra is outspoken yet thrived because others underestimated her skills. I don’t expect Carolyn to play from the background in the same way.

Sarah: On principle, I am obliged to hate Carolyn, a.k.a “raising three successful kids, and getting my master’s degree while working full-time” Supermom. Tell me you had a meltdown every damned day, and all will be forgiven. Please… because you came off as really charming in your pre-season video and I’m liking you in spite of myself.

More practically, being over fifty is always a huge red flag. She’s the oldest player of the season and old enough to be the mother of most of her tribe. Luckily, Carolyn could pass for much younger and doing Tough Mudders is perfect training for your average Survivor obstacle course. While nobody else on her tribe has a family (Tyler isn’t even going to admit to being married), she can connect with them on a professional level. Her video demonstrates that she’s got a very easy way about her, unlike your stereotypical business woman.

I think Carolyn’s biggest problem is that she’s going to want to lead from the front, and it will be interesting to see if the other people on her tribe let her. Joaquin won’t. Max could go either way, but I think the rest would be OK with her doing that, at least in the short term. Could she get to the end and break the run of older women being blasted by the jury? I… think not. She could have a trajectory much like Deena from Amazon: a strong, controlling position for a good part of the game, before being blindsided by her own alliance. But judging by the makeup of the other tribes, I predict the authoritative, successful white collar woman to be in major trouble after the presumed tribe swap.

Michel: For some reason, listening to Carolyn’s video, I realized why this show has been going downhill for so long. It was when she said quite confidently: “I know I will make good TV”. That’s not her job. Her job is to play the best game possible, not to give the juiciest confessionals ever. It’s one thing if someone has the wit to give good confessionals but it’s totally nauseating to think that this has become part of the players’ plan. I blame it on the constant casting of returning players: Survivor isn’t the chance of a lifetime anymore; it’s become an audition for a recurring role on prime time TV. That being said, I hope Carolyn falls flat on her face. It would be funny to see supermom crack under pressure and quit. I’m pretty sure that we will see her leaving early so that would be enough to satisfy me.

Scott: Maybe I’m just tired from working all day, but I didn’t see anything in Carolyn’s video that stood-out to me in anyway. Maybe that is good thing in this game. I mean she looks like a long haired version of Carmela Soprano. Wouldn’t that be interesting if Carmela Soprano was real and playing Survivor? Wouldn’t that be the best insurance policy in the game, knowing that everybody else would be afraid to blind-side you out of fear of their car being blown up as soon as they returned home. I think it’s clear that Carolyn is an overachiever; being a mom, working and going to school shows that she’s not a lazy dummy. One would have to think that Carolyn will be able to blend it, not stick out as an overt target, which is always key in the game. The less reason early on that people have to suspect you being a monster in the game the better. I think Carolyn will make it to at least the Jury.

Catherine: Well, Carolyn’s definitely a high achiever with an impressive bio, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to Survivor success. While I hope she takes her own advice and models her gameplay on Denise’s game, I think that she is more likely to take on either the maternal role or attempt to take on a leadership role. Both \will not lead to success in the game — take on the role of the mother, and you are likely to get no votes at Final Tribal Council. Take the leadership role, and you are going to annoy people and become an early boot. Her interviews indicate that she has the self-awareness necessary to understand that her personality is going to be over the top and might not endear herself to everyone on her tribe. Understanding this is one thing, but I can’t see her being able to tone herself down. She’s a loud and proud New Yorker, and in her bio states that she is there to make good TV. If she can play under the radar, she’ll be able to go far in the game, but I don’t think she’s going to be able to do that. When I add up the loud personality, the fact that she is a fair bit older than the rest of her tribe, and the (unfortunate) way that maternal women are often perceived by their tribe mates, I see Carolyn being an early boot.

Shirin Oskooi

Shirin Oskooi, Yahoo Executive

Shirin Oskooi, Yahoo Executive

Dan: How can I not love someone who cites Rob as a “know-it-all” in her bio? It’s clear Shirin is a serious fan of Survivor and RHAP. Her giddiness about being on the show is evident in the brief video. Keeping that excitement in check might be important when dealing with players who aren’t experts. Shirin is only 31 and has been very successful, but I don’t get the sense that she’ll need to run the show at camp. Unlike an executive like Carolyn, Shirin doesn’t exude the “I am important” vibe on first glance. She’s dorky in an endearing way and should be well-liked in the group.

The questions with Shirin concern whether she’ll succeed in the challenges. If Masaya loses in the early stages, they may decide to remove the least athletic female player. This trend has been changing in recent seasons, and it’s a welcome adjustment. Super fans may also try to make the big moves early, which means targeting the alpha players. A guy like Joaquin could be a primary target because he’s really proud of himself. Shirin would benefit from connecting with a guy like Max, who’s also a huge fan and strategic thinker. She’s intelligent and has a chance to go far if she survives the start.

Sarah: Ask, and ye shall receive! Regular readers may remember I spent a good amount of time during Cagayan complaining that the show never casts women in its “superfan” slot. At 31, Shirin is a lot older than the show’s preferred fresh-faced superfan, but she’s got the nerdy credentials down. She’s also savvy enough to drop RHAP references in her bio (though we should note they don’t prove she listened before being cast) and has been slyly evading the ban on social media. Whether or not the show portrays her as this season’s superfan, the fans have certainly embraced her as such.

But superfan does not equal success on the show, and Shirin is an unknown quantity on a surprisingly physical tribe. I don’t see the White Collars voting on challenge strength, but if they keep losing (not that I see that happening), she could be in trouble. That said, she is in a great spot for connections. She and Max both went from Brown University to careers in the social media industry. She and So are both young women of color forging careers in business, though she probably has more in common with Carolyn’s career-track. She’s also a thirty something from California, like two freaking thirds of her tribe.

Shirin said in her Xfinity interview that her strategy was to have a friendship or at least a working relationship with every player in the game and she’s been given a great start for that. There’s bound to be a twist against her eventually, but I could see Shirin working her game plan all the way to the end. She’s definitely a winner contender; as far as I’m concerned, the main strike against her is that I can’t believe my pre-season sentimental favorite will win the game twice in a row.

Michel: She must have a lot of drive to be a product manager at Yahoo so we shouldn’t underestimate Shirin. She says she leads by influence, so that could be interesting to see how she applies this to the game. She is sure that she can befriend all the A-type personalities that she will encounter, but will she be able to convince them that they need her? The first few cycles will be crucial for her and, contrary to Sarah, I think Masaya is in for many visits to Jeff’s lair. Shirin wants harsh conditions in order to break her rivals and a disgusting food challenge so it will be interesting to see if she can live up to her assurance that it won’t break her down. “Morons are great to play with” she claims with confidence, already thinking of manipulating people like Lindsey. I wonder who will be edited as the moron?! She fears the lack of sleep, which makes her emotional. I do like the way she said she would have used Amanda as her favorite allym but I think she believes in editing a bit too much: Amanda could have beaten her. I doubt that Shirin makes it to the merger but she would be very dangerous if she does.

Scott: Am I crazy to think that Shirin is going to bug the shit out of everybody at camp? I feel like she could be an agitator at camp, which is always entertaining, like a hockey goon that just skates around during the game and throws cheap elbows or slyly whacks people with their stick. I think Shirin will be the equivalent of that in the game. I think she will be too mouthy to win a lot of friends, which I think will lead to Shirin playing overly aggressive early on, which of course can lead to early exits. All this is speculative of course; maybe Shirin will use her obvious intelligence to manuever herself far into the game, but my first impression of Shirin is that she is going to be one of the first ones out.

Catherine: Shirin endeared herself to me as soon as she did that adorable awkward marching thing down the beach. I don’t care what else is in her bio; she’s a winner to me. She could have compared herself to both Parvati and Boston Rob, and I still would have loved her, just for her marching. And then she name drops Rob C and says that she would bring a goat (or a muffin) to the island. She can do no wrong. I honestly think her bio is the most entertaining one that I have read, and I would love to see Shirin make an impact on the game that she obviously loves. Her game plan is to allow people to underestimate her, and that seems a solid strategy to me. Her tribe has people that will definitely stand out as dangerous — in Hali’s interview, she immediately identified Joaquin as the biggest threat, and she can’t be alone in that opinion. If Carolyn also ends up playing a leadership role, Shirin will easily make the merge. Her biggest challenge is going to be knowing when to stop her under the radar strategy. At some point, she will have to step up and make the jury see her as a serious contender for the million dollar prize.

So Kim

So Kim, Retail Buyer

So Kim, Retail Buyer

Dan: After her last-minute exit from San Juan Del Sur’s cast, So returns to take her shot. It’s hard for me to get a clear read on her. She raves about her physical skills and seems confident she’ll do well. So is gorgeous and personable, so making friends shouldn’t be a problem. Something about her bio makes me think she might fall victim to more devious players, however. Her comments are so open about her skills and even a few flaws, and it’s clear she’s overcome some major obstacles. Tribe mates who understand the game like Max and Shirin might target So as an easier victim because of her open personality.

A person who puts “LIVING” in all caps is unlikely to spend 39 days downplaying her talents. So describes herself as spirited, charming, cute, and coy. She also mentions a lot of pet peeves, including losing and complacency. So will be calling for big moves right from the start, but she won’t be making deals behind the others’ backs. Her strength may serve her well, but I see a blindside in her future.

Sarah: After waiting so long to find out what San Juan Del Sur’s team med-evac were like, So feels like an anticlimax. Like Dan, I can’t get that good a read on her, and she doesn’t seem to stand out from the usual women cast for Survivor. She’s certainly white collar, but I don’t get the impression that she’s as high a flyer as the rest of her tribe, and she was a transfer from Amazing Race casting rather than a dyed in the wool Survivor fan.

But that isn’t fair on So. I do like that she’s determined to be a female player who doesn’t play it safe (one wonders what she would have made of Natalie!), and she’s going to be able to flirt with the guys, be silly with the girls whilst being able to rub enough brain cells together to talk strategy — and hold her own in challenges. Her biggest problem is that she looks too much like the complete package. Modern players don’t let the pretty, bright and charming girl get to the finals. So wants to make big moves, but I’m not convinced she’s got enough in her to challenge her fate.

Michel: She wants to prove that women can be strong and strategic, but I’d like it if she could prove that she isn’t all talk and no play. I know why it’s hard to get a good read on her: She says the right thing but it sounds like it comes from notes she took before leaving: “I must say this… I can say that, etc…” She wants to have fun, but I get the feeling the fun will be at her expense. She is already afraid of starving, so that’s not very promising. I couldn’t believe that she thinks it’s a bad thing that she has a hard time trusting people. She thinks that will hurt her but that’s exactly what could save her.

So should seize the opportunity that she is the only woman on her tribe that could interest Joaquin to form a quick alliance with him and then simply see which other player they can attract to their side. If they can get the tribe to put the target on one person from the start (and this tribe isn’t lacking in first boot material. In fact, I think any of these six could have easily been a first boot in any other season) then a three-person alliance can coast all the way to the swap.

Scott: I think I’m in the minority here thinking that So seems like she will do well this season. I think she will be chill back at camp and use that to bring people to her to work a decent social game. I don’t think she will be a drama starter, I don’t think she will have a target on her back. I think she will be able to play nice with both the men and the women which is always an underrated skill in the game of Survivor. I think she makes a deep run in this game. I’m going to predict a top five finish…which probably means she will start a fire the first day and be the first one gone. Sorry So.

Catherine: Like Michel says, So says all the right things in her bio and videos, but despite that, I’m not sure that So really understands the game. So’s game could go either way — spectacularly good, or spectacularly badly. I think she’ll be a big character either way. She definitely doesn’t have the same level of game knowledge that Max and Shirin have, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. For super fans, playing Survivor is the chance of a lifetime, but I don’t think So is playing with that kind of pressure. She’ll play instinctively, form a tight alliance, and won’t come across as a threat. It worries me that she won’t be able to play the cutthroat game very well — although she says that she has no problems being manipulative, she also says she would take a pair of sunglasses to the island because her eyes give everything away. Her game play is to make big moves, and not play it safe, but in this tribe, I think she’s going to struggle to play the alpha role. There are way too many candidates! My prediction is that So is forced to play a much quieter game than she planned — and it takes her far.

Joaquin Souberbielle

Joaquin Souberbielle, Marketing DIrector

Joaquin Souberbielle, Marketing Director

Sarah: Joaquin’s entire persona seems designed to troll. His inspiration is Derek Jeter but for the series of women he’s been attached to, not his sports career. In his pre-game interview with Gordon Holmes, he makes a point of saying that lying is such a habit of his, that he does it unintentionally… he even states that he didn’t apply to be the show, he was recruited — nobody ever admits that pre-game! Either Joaquin is a remarkably self-aware person intent on being a reality TV villain (a.k.a. star) or his personal growth has been stunted for the past decade.

I find myself not really caring which. For one thing, even if he is intent on being a villain, he’s not cartoonish enough to stand out in this cast. For another, I don’t see his tribe tolerating his antics. In his video, Joaq states that he’s the alpha male wherever he goes. Unfortunately for him, his tribe skews old. If he wants to play the Alpha Male for three women older than him, he might want to check with Garrett how that plays out. While I don’t think the White Collars are going to be as apocalyptic as the Brains, they’ve all come to play and that means Joaquin can’t trust to his muscles to keep him around.

But discretion will not be the better part of valour, for Mr. Souberbielle. I expect to see him orchestrate a showdown with Max, trying to take out the senior male. Unfortunately, while Tyler might be open to using Joaquin as a goat, I predict the women will take Max’s side.

Michel: The self-proclaimed bullshit artist exudes confidence. He is certain that he can discern the players that will lie to him while being able to pull one out on everyone. The guy sees himself as a ladies’ man that will use flirtation to get ahead. He says he won’t fall for any women out there because he loves money more so it would be interesting to see if he gets fooled by one of these ladies. Contrary to Sarah, I think Joaquin will be able to get the women on his side early on, especially So. If they are smart, the women would side with the muscle man instead of the scholar. He would be easier to Outwit and he already seems set for a big blindside. He does have the good idea to align with a social butterfly in order to get information. Will he be able to use that information or will he be fooled by a good social player? It’s funny that he sees similarities between himself and Tony but doesn’t think he will suffer from paranoia during the game. Tony’s game was based on paranoia and how to counter every possible move that could be made against him. After a good start, I think Joaquin’s game will come to a sudden and painful end.

Scott: I kind of liked Joaquin from a personal level. I think he will play a smoother game then maybe my counterparts on here do. I think he should come on the show with a fake Eastern European accent smoking cigarettes, because without the New York accent he looks like one of the henchman from the Bourne movies. Wouldn’t it throw everybody off their game if some dude with a foreign accent just showed up at camp looking menacing and smoking a cigarette? Wouldn’t everybody playing just stay out of his way for the first few days of the game?

In all seriousness, I feel like Joaquin is going to make it far this season. I can see him being a part of a majority alliance that leads to a deep run, but I do see him being the victim of a blindside at some point as he will be too big a threat to keep to the finals. I project a jury spot for Joaquin.

Catherine: I really, really like the casting of Joaquin. I think he is going to be good TV, and I like good TV. However, I don’t see a way that he makes it far. I just don’t know which of his tribe members are going to be willing to align themselves with Joaquin, who is just clearly going to be unpredictable and untrustworthy. Best case scenario for him would be if his strength becomes necessary for his tribe to survive, in which case he’ll make it to the tribe swap before being eliminated. Best case scenario for the viewers would be an epic flame out and crazy blindside. I simply see no scenario where Joaquin manages to win this game. I’d be thrilled to see him even make the merge.

Dan: After watching Joaquin’s video, I’m convinced he’s playing a character. It’s all too much! If we take what he says at face value, Joaquin isn’t self-aware and should fall quickly to the intelligent fans in the White Collar group. If he’s playing for the cameras, that creates a different possibility. Maybe Joaquin is fooling us and preparing to execute a brilliant plan. I’d love to see the latter option, but I expect it’s unlikely. This means Joaquin is a prime contender for an early blindside. Like Catherine says, it will be good TV, no matter what happens.

Max Dawson

Max Dawson, Media Consultant

Max Dawson, Media Consultant

Sarah: In many ways, I’m more interested to see how Max fares online than on the island. Never before has somebody so well known in the online Survivor community made it onto the show, somebody that many of us talked to before we ever expected him to be cast. Max predicted that a lot of the Internet would be anxious to see him fail, but instead everybody’s fallen over themselves to claim him as their good friend. (I won’t even try. When it comes to Max’s social networks, I know full well that I’m third or fourth tier at best.) A good amount of the online fans will want Max to be a hit, to encourage the show to cast from that pool again. He doesn’t have to win, he just has to be the Next Big Thing. So… no pressure. Let’s hope Max doesn’t suffer from performance anxiety.

When I first heard Max had been cast (worst-kept secret since Rocker and the Twinnies), I assumed he would be a pastoral figure, very much in the vein of Coach in South Pacific, teaching the newbie players how to play and earning their respect even while they laughed at his eccentricities. (Max isn’t nearly as eccentric as Coach, but he’s still bloody weird. Evidence A: his bio.) Unlike Coach, Max has a fair dollop of self-awareness, which means he stands a chance of getting over that final Tribal Council hump.

But then the cast was announced, and it turns out that Max’s tribe is atypically devoid of early twenties types. As a former professor, he has a good rapport with that age group. I expect he’ll also be a dab hand at networking with the older set, but they’re going to have more reservations about him. To make matters worse, most of his tribe are big fans of the show and won’t be looking for guidance. On the plus side, Shirin is a fellow Brown alum who also takes a professional interest in social media, so that would seem like a ready-made alliance, while Joaquin is certain to make a bigger target of himself. I still think Max stands to do very well in this game, but it’s going to be a more challenging — and more interesting — run for him.

Michel: I had never heard of Max and never read anything he wrote about the show but from what I have read since the cast has been announced, I am reminded of Rafe who was a big Internet Survivor poster before Guatemala. Max may have a theoretical knowledge of the game and he does say all the right things in his introduction video, but I think he will have a hard time with the practical aspect of the game. For one thing, I think he will be too patient. While one can be voted out for playing too hard too fast, one can also be eliminated for missing the train. Alliances are made on day 1, and I think Max will waste time analyzing his tribe mates while some like Joaquin and So will already be making deals.

Scott: Rob, what the hell? Can’t you make one or two calls please, I will wear a Robhasawebsite shirt the whole time I’m out there if you can get me on. Max looks like a hipster, and I can’t stomach rooting for a hipster to succeed in Survivor. Has a hipster ever won Survivor? If so maybe I blocked it out, because it would hurt too much. Regardless, you would think that somebody that has taught a college class on this game would know how to play, so you have to think that Max is equipped to make a run if things break his way. I think he sits back early, assesses the group dynamic, and quietly joins the right alliance. I can see Max on the jury in the end. I can also see Max drinking a gluten-free beer in a bar with dudes in ironic mustaches and fake glasses.

Catherine: Obviously, the casting of Max is really exciting. But as he says in his CBS video, he is under an unbelievable amount of pressure to perform. Like Sarah, I don’t think the fans want him to fail — I think more people are rooting for Max to succeed than perhaps any other first-time player, ever. This kind of pressure can go two ways — last season, the pressure to perform got to Reed, and he managed to implode his game by overplaying from day one. The other hazard for Max is that he may be too patient, not wanting to make a move too early, and leaving the game blindsided. I think that Max will at least make the jury — his position in the tribe should be strong, and there are plenty of other targets for the earlier votes. If Max manages to make Final Tribal Council, he will win the game. But surely the other players will see this. Unless Max manages to find a player with Woo-like levels of loyalty, I see him falling short of Final Tribal, and landing on the jury. I hope his speech is epic.

Dan: Like Michel, I wasn’t familiar with Max until rumblings started about his appearance on season 30. This means that I don’t have immediate expectations or hopes for his success. Even so, I’m intrigued to find out what happens with Max. It could begin a new era of casting fans with a connection to the online community. Next up, Mario Lanza! I agree with Catherine and Sarah that Max could struggle with the pressure to prove his Survivor talents. Max is going to be interesting to watch, so I’m hoping he lasts a long time. I don’t expect that he’ll depart quickly, but the challenge may come around the time of the tribe swap. Will Max show the ability to work on the fly and not over play his hand? I’m not ready to pick him to win the game, but Max will stand out in this cast and make a serious push in the post-merge game.

Tyler Fredrickson

Tyler Fredrickson, Ex-Talent Agent Assistant

Tyler Fredrickson, Ex-Talent Agent Assistant

Sarah: Every tribe seems to have their neutral guy, and in White Collar, that’s Tyler. He’s got that nerdy look going on (I don’t just mean the plaid shirt!) but he’s a former football player and judging by his arms, he hasn’t lost that strength. He’s a fan of the show and has a very realistic assessment of the game in all his interviews which I love. On paper, I feel like Tyler is a great Survivor player who would be a reasonable bet to win.

The problem with him being the neutral guy is that it’s harder for me to predict where he’ll swing within his tribe. The other problem is that he’s on the tribe that’s going to be most suspicious of the neutral guy. I don’t see Tyler being first off the White Collar, but I could see him being taken out early, if his allies get nervous that he has too many options. I could also see him finessing his alliance to a finals where he’s best buds with all the jurors. Or maybe, as he talks about not wanting to miss opportunities, he will carpe diem too early and find himself taken out. Since hedging bets is not what you’re reading for, I’ll say he makes the merge but not the endgame.

Michel: Tyler has the drive that got him to the NFL and to work in one of the biggest agencies in Hollywood, so we will have to keep an eye on this soft-spoken Californian. Then again, he was a kicker so let’s not overestimate his physical abilities. Just like a rock group is usually made up of three musicians and a drummer, kickers aren’t really football players. Tyler wants to be a difference maker, so we should see his strategic side early on. I think it’s a safe to bet that Tyler will be there at the merger. If there is dissention in the White Collar tribe as most of us expect, then Tyler could find himself in the Jonclyn position as the swing voter. I don’t think this group will be as forgiving to the fence sitter this time though. The thing that could hurt Tyler is overconfidence. He thinks he will be able to get into people’s head, and he challenged Probst to mess with him. That’s not necessarily the best idea because our host may take him up on that challenge.

Scott: Bull sh*t his name is Tyler, Its Lucas!

 

I’m glad he made it! Tyler looks like he will be wallpaper this season. I don’t see him being taking out of the game early. I see him struggling to separate himself in this game, meaning I don’t see him being an Alpha leader in the game that makes it to the final 3. Like the previous two men on this tribe I do see him making it to the jury, which I guess in retrospect is kind of far-fetched, because what are the chances that the three guys from this specific team all make it to the Jury? I guess Tyler seems like the most vanilla out of the group and maybe the safest bet to make it to the jury.

Catherine: While I hate to say that I agree with Jeff Probst’s assessment of anything, I do agree with the assessment of Tyler that Probst gave in his interview with Gordon Holmes. Probst was not Tyler’s biggest fan, and when asked to choose one member of each tribe that would be in trouble early, he nominated Tyler as the person most likely to be sent home from the white collar tribe. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, because Tyler’s interviews come across as a little bland, while everyone else on the tribe seems to be a huge character, but I think Jeff Probst has it right on this one. Tyler may end up with more in common with Cochran than just the glasses — I think he is going to need to work on his social game if he is to have any hope of lasting within this tribe, and I’m not sure he’ll have the skills to do it.

Dan: I’m not expecting fireworks out of Tyler, but that isn’t always bad on Survivor. I see more in common with Jon Misch than just a potential as a swing voter. He’s a little bland and safe yet physically strong, and that combination often works on this show. On the other hand, a guy like Max could recognize Tyler as a threat and target him early. A lot depends on how much the thinkers in the White Collar group want to play in the beginning. It seems dull to pick the most generic guy in the tribe to do well, but I have a feeling Tyler will be around in the game for quite a while.

Nagarote — The No Collar Tribe

Jenn Brown

Jenn Brown, Sailing Instructor

Jenn Brown, Sailing Instructor

Catherine: Jenn’s Twitter profile is wonderful. Her interview with Gordon Holmes was hilarious. No matter how far she makes it in the season, I hope she gets plenty of screen time. She doesn’t quite seem cutthroat enough to win the game, but I bet she’s an entertaining character along the way. In her Gordon Holmes interview, she mentioned wanting to work with Vince (but everybody in this cast wants to work with Vince) and Joe. She and Hali should be natural allies, but neither one has a game plan to align with the women, and I think that they are going to be fighting to be allied with the Nagarote men. Jenn’s friendly, and I don’t think anyone will see her as a threat, so she should be able to fly under the radar long enough to make the merge. I just honestly can’t see anyone voting for Jenn to win the game. She’ll go far, but I don’t see her as our winner.

Dan: I love the idea that Jenn’s main goal is to buy a jet ski. For that reason, she’ll probably do well because she isn’t obsessed with getting the million. She’ll also be able to talk about the joy of wine making after the show airs with Jon Misch. Her laid-back attitude should keep the target off her back, especially if she finds some allies with the guys. I agree with Catherine that Jenn should be entertaining and probably isn’t a real threat to win. She’s only 22, and it usually takes more life experience to grab control of the game. Even so, I expect that Jenn will make the merge and probably end up in seventh or eighth place.

Sarah: There are some Survivor players you like because you would like them in real life. There are some you like even though you would hate to be around them. And then there are those who you like, but who would despise you. Hi, Jenn!

Jenn reminds me more of young women from the early seasons than modern Survivor: she’s a girl next door rather than bikini babe, she’s here because of an adventurous/competitive streak rather than a desire for fame, and she’s scrappy without taking anything too seriously including herself. Like Joe, I think Jenn’s in a safe spot on No Collar, and although I see her being an antagonistic presence, the other players will always have bigger fish to fry. That said, I agree with Catherine over Jenn on the jury vote — I could believe that Jenn would be a key factor in getting her allies to the end, but she will most likely lose to them. On the plus side, I am highly optimistic that Jenn will play the snarky narrator role all season long.

Michel: If her interview with Holmes is any indication, she enjoys joking around a lot so the question becomes: Will the others find her amusing or will they cut her fun early? She has no problem lying, but will she overdo it? Jenn gives me the impression that she is very self-aware and knows what will work and what won’t and she also knows that trust has to go one way when she says she wants to align with someone that is very honest because she isn’t. She already likes Vince, calling him “Dances with Wolves” and also notes that there are a couple more she likes so I suspect that she will be making alliances early on but her plans don’t include the other women. I bet that will change when she realizes there are only six players in the tribe. Like the others, I’m confident enough to predict that Jenn will make the merge and could very well be in a good position to get to the end.

Scott: If I had a dime every time a Survivor woman says that she “gets along better with men then women”, I would be a rich man if it was still 1923 when the term “If I had a dime every time” thing started. Every woman in Survivor and in real life says they get along better with men than women, obviously it’s because most men don’t have the psychotic gene that affects 89.6 percent of women. With that said, I wasn’t a big fan of Jenn based on what I’ve seen so far. She looks like she will be overmatched in Survivor. She just has the vibe of someone that is just going to float along for about four episodes, not really be observant of the social dynamics going on around her. I could see Jenn being the victim of a not-so-subtle blindside.

Nina Poersch

Nina Poersch, Hearing Advocate

Nina Poersch, Hearing Advocate

Catherine: Nina comes into the game with a huge disadvantage. Nagarote is a young tribe, and Nina is 10 years older than any other member, and 25 years older than the other two women. She’s also Survivor’s first deaf contestant since Christy Smith played in season six, and it will be interesting to see if that proves to be another social disadvantage. Nina does have some points in her favor — she is definitely a fan of the show, and knows the way she wants to play the game. She seems nice enough and emotionally stable enough to avoid the characterisation that has plagued older women in recent seasons. She compares herself to Tina Wesson in her bio, and Tina is one of my all-time favourites. I will be hoping that Nina can manoeuvre her way past the first few votes, and if she can, she will make it deep into the game.

Dan: Catherine points out that the age difference is probably a bigger challenge for Nina in the game than being deaf. Will she be able to bond with Jenn and Hali? The other option is trying to connect with Will, who’s only 10 years younger. A pair can be extremely valuable in a tribe of six. I’m really interested to see the first deaf contestant on Survivor since Christy. While this situation is different because of the Cochlear Implants, it still creates a challenge. Another red flag is Nina’s lack of confidence in her ability to lie. I see few manipulators in the Nagarote tribe, so it’s hard to say who will gain control. I’m not convinced that Nina will take charge within this group, so avoiding the vote early may be tricky. That said, she won’t be a huge target if she can make the first tribe swap and might go far.

Sarah: Like the others, I want Nina to do well, but I’m worried she’ll be out early. She is at least on a tribe with enough of a social conscience that they should make the effort to talk one-on-one to her, and perhaps this will also translate to not wanting to vote the deaf woman off first. But the age gap is immense, and unlike the other older women on the season, there’s a sense of naivete about Nina. At one point in her video, she worries about being deceitful, and notes that it’s a game for a million dollars and “these people have to understand”. That’s the problem, because as much as players know that, they only understand if you sell that to them throughout the game. If Nina does survive the age divide in the early stages, I can see her being undone by her guilt in the mid-game or her apologies at the end. Still, she has a positive outlook, so no matter how rough the Survivor experience gets for her, I’m sure she’s glad she got to take the ride.

Michel: In every tribe, there’s always been that one person that should be the easy first boot. Normally a tribe should have time to settle in, build the shelter, and make plans if only they’d use the first cycle to eliminate the “weak link”. The problem is that early conflicts and quick alliances often derail them and they don’t put to good use production’s “gift”. For example, many people say that the fans in Micronesia had a big disadvantage because of the favorites’ experience, but if Joel hadn’t jumped the gun and booted Chet first then they’d have had some time to acclimate themselves to the game and even the playing field somewhat. All this to say that Nina should be the first one voted out of her tribe.

Scott: Is it bad that if I was playing with Nina I would want to partner up with her, because of the thinking that deaf people can read peoples lips from afar? Like George and Jerry in Seinfield:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYZClMeQcOw

I think like the others above me here I could see Nina struggling, but I could also see her making it at least to the merge because I don’t see her making waves at camp. I could see other players being more annoying and getting voted out before Nina. I think like mentioned before, Nina has to find a strong player to partner up with in the first few days of the game. Early stages of Survivor vote-outs seem to be obvious targets and camp pariahs and I don’t see Nina being either of those two.

Hali Ford

Hali Ford, Law Student

Hali Ford, Law Student

Catherine: Hali seems like a sweet girl who is eager to play. Maybe a little too eager. In her cast video, she spoke about how she was going to be making big, bold moves because that is the way to win the game. And going for the big move early in the game has been the downfall of many a promising player. I don’t think Hali is going to go far — in fact, I think she very well could be the first boot, unless someone else on her tribe puts in a J’Tia like challenge performance. She compares herself to Parvati in her bio and wants to align with the men of the tribe, Joe in particular. I think her overt flirting will put a huge target on her back, and she won’t be around for long. Which would be a pity, because I am really intrigued about all the non-musical ways that a ukulele can be used!

Dan: Should a law student really be called “no collar”? Hali does enjoy surfing and motorcycles, so I guess that’s different. I love that Hali is ready to play in a bold way; there’s a short supply of that type of thinking on Nagarote. On the other hand, it recalls someone like Garrett who forgot that it’s a long game. Catherine wisely points out that Hali may not be able to sit back at the start. The question is how much we should read into her videos. I’m inclined to think that she’ll take a wiser approach and save her big moves for the right time. I’m taking a more optimistic view and sticking my neck out on this one. I think Hali will surprise and be a player to watch on her tribe.

Sarah: I can’t decide whether I agree with Dan or Catherine on this one. Hali should be a ready-made ally for Joe and Jenn, the two players I’m confident will be safe — yet her proposed game style doesn’t mesh with theirs. Joe doesn’t want to flirt, neither she nor Jenn wants to work with other women. If she hangs around, she’s a good link to the white collars in the event of a tribe swap — but that’s as much a reason to boot her as keep her. On the other hand, she doesn’t seem antagonistic and agewise, she’s a less obvious boot than Will or Nina.

It’s all going to hinge on her adaptability… if Hali can change her intentions to suit the hand she’s been dealt, I think she’s good to the merge. Otherwise, she’s going to have to hope that No Collar doesn’t make the trip to Tribal Council… I think she’s got a better chance of being remembered for her ukulele than her game moves though.

Michel: Reading her interview with Gordon Holmes, I get the impression that Hali is ready for the game. She already intends to align with Joe whom she sees as a second Malcolm, and she is ready to boot anyone that stands in her way. That’s a tall order, but I think she can just get it done. As soon as she hears Jeff say that she is on a tribe of No Collars, I’m guessing that she will lie about being a law student and come up with a more frivolous field of study. If she has the skills to be a lawyer, then that twist could be a gift for her because it could hide her true colours. While I think that Jenn will give better confessionals, I think Hali will play a better game. I’m going to say right now that Hali will go far in this game.

Scott: I think I agree with Sarah when she said it’s about Hali’s adaptability, whether she comes off as likeable to the other players or not. I could see her being the girl that the other women in the game irrationally hate and if so it would mean curtains for Hali. Don’t women from the south usually make it pretty far though in the game Survivor? I feel like there’s an inordinate amount of women from the South who have at least made it to the jury in this game. With that said, I don’t see anything yet from Hali that tells me she has a real chance to win this season. I anticipate a finish somewhere between 7-11 for Hali.

Joe Anglim

Joe Anglim, Jewelry Designer

Joe Anglim, Jewelry Designer

Dan: There aren’t too many players that seem too generic this season, but there are a few exceptions. One of them is “MacGyver Joe”, who might do okay but is unlikely to be great television. He should also apologize to Richard Dean Anderson for stealing that title. Joe talks about being an asset to his tribe because he’s athletic and competitive, and that might work at the start. He’s almost certainly a loyal ally for smarter players to use for votes. Joe may talk about being willing to lie and deceive, but I’m not convinced. When a player references karma, it usually means they’ll want to take the high road and won’t see the hammer coming.

Joe’s really focused on the physical side of the game; he references working with his hands and outdoor activities like hiking and hunting. This guy would probably do great in the early seasons, but the adventurous side of the game isn’t so important these days. Within the No Collar tribe, Joe is the youngest guy and has a chance to connect with girls like Hali and Jenn. They’re also outdoor enthusiasts and may like his approach to life. He’ll probably slide through for a while, but Joe’s chances within the individual game seem less certain.

Sarah: I am in full agreement with Dan that Joe is one of the most average people in this cast — but that’s exactly why I, unlike Dan, am so optimistic for our jeweler. Joe makes me think of Brett from Samoa — also known as Purple Brett or Invisible Brett since he got so little screen time. But while Brett didn’t make for riveting television, he was an awesome ally. Player after player revealed in their post-boot interviews that they had an alliance or friendship with Brett that nobody else knew about. Yet Brett was such a self-effacing presence that he was overlooked by the Foa Foa four until it was almost too late to stop his immunity run to the end.

In a cast with this many loons, you have to think Joe’s averageness is going to be a major benefit — even more so, on the no collar tribe. I agree with Dan that his bio is very unoriginal and gives a little too much weight to the physical aspect of the game, but the grounded and pleasant guy in the video is somebody you want to align with, somebody you feel confident talking strategy to. Maybe he’s a little too obviously this guy, judging by Shirin’s Xfinity interview, where she said she’d have to screw him over, but when you have multiple people mentioning you as a potential ally in the pre-game, you’re doing something right.

Joe also seems smart enough to handle the murky, post-jury waters, though I don’t think he’ll be targeted as a strategist over most of the other players. Like Jon last season, there will come a time when he’ll inherit the mantle of player to boot pre-finals, but Joe will at least be around for the endgame. With better luck in his allies or idols or immunity challenges than Brett had, Joe is a big contender to win this whole thing.

Michel: He says he comes from a Survivor family, he likes Malcolm and he seems cool so Joe should be able to navigate his way around the pre-merge. He reminded me of Todd when he said: “when you vote them off, you have to say this relationship with you was real. It’s an absolute truth, but that’s the game.” I also enjoyed reading: “Everyone dies, it’s just a matter of when and how.” He cautiously mentions Vince as a possible ally but will wait to know him personally. He claims to be a lot like MacGyver, being able to do anything. All in all, I think Joe has the best balanced introduction of all these contestants.

Add the fact that many players already liked him before the game started. For example: During her interview with Holmes, Shirin said the following about Joe: “There’s a guy who’s like a beautiful specimen of man. He’s got Greek goddess hair and he’s tall. And beyond that, he’s friendly and gentlemanly. He’s got a first-class ticket to the end. Because, in spite of being attractive, he’s also so nice. You can tell that he’s outdoorsy and skillful and has an artistic side. He’s the kind of guy I want to work with.” Right now, I have to agree with Shirin and say that I am very impressed with Joe.

Scott: He looks like the guy the Lifetime channel would cast to play Malcolm in the made for TV movie “Survivor Nights”. Any young guy that looks fit is going to be a target. It always comes down to whether these types of players have the social game to go along with the physical tools. He looks like a guy that won’t cause too much trouble at camp, but he also doesn’t come off as an Alpha. If this holds true, then Joe better hope that he’s on the right side of the immunity challenges early on in the game, so he can entrench himself into a majority alliance. If not, he might find himself being on the other end of a blindside.

Catherine: Joe is another of the No Collar players who give off a very innocent and naïve vibe, and because of this, will probably go far. He seems to be very sweet, his video was very likable; he will get along with everybody, and almost certainly be part of the main alliance of the tribe. The girls will want to work with him, and I think the men will see him as trustworthy too. I can see him being the swing vote the first time they visit Tribal Council, and positioning himself firmly in the majority. His strategy is to lay low, work hard and be an asset to the tribe — and if he sticks to it, I really think Joe is a serious contender to the win. He’s capable of laying low until he needs to, and pulling out some crucial immunity wins. I don’t think he’s going to be entertaining, and I think I’m going to be disappointed every time a big player goes home, while Joe is still around.

Vince Sly

Vince Sly, Coconut Vendor

Vince Sly, Coconut Vendor

Dan: If there’s anyone that embodies the “no collar” world view presented by the producers, it’s Vince. He describes himself as a life coach, but his bio says he’s a coconut vendor. This is confusing. Does he sell coconuts to people while he motivates them? It’s really hard to take this guy seriously, but he’s perfect casting for this type of season. I might run from Vince in real life, but I expect to enjoy watching the silliness on TV. His first hobby is dancing, and his video includes the expected shots of him dancing away on the beach. This is going to be interesting.

The big question for Vince is whether his personality will connect with his fellow Nagarole tribe members. There’s a fine line between having positivity and being just too much. This group offers a possible chance, yet I still see “early boot” written all over his forehead. He’ll be entertaining at times, but I don’t get the impression he’ll bring any real strategy to the mix. He references Coach and Fabio in his bio, and I can’t think of better choices. I don’t think he’ll do as well, however.

Sarah: If Survivor was decided on name alone, Vince Sly would win despite the stiff competition this season. If it was decided by job title, Vince still wins. If it was decided by hairstyle… I think the safe conclusion we can draw here is that Vince is some pretty amazing casting.

I have no idea what to make of Vince. Surprisingly, (per his Xfinity interview) he’s actually a fan of the show, who scoffs at all the girls saying they’re like Parvati. He’s also oddly confident that he can use his life-coach skills to be a master manipulator. I say that’s all going to be pretty irrelevant because the other players aren’t going to be able to take him seriously. Will he be a Tocantins Coach, kept around until he’s no longer useful, or a Redemption Island Phillip, brought to the end as a goat? Or will he be that rare lunatic who is so off-kilter that he gets voted off before we get tired of him? I’m thinking we’re going to have time for his novelty to wear off.

Michel: This “complex and dynamic individual” has already made quite an impression on his fellow castaways. For example, one said: “You’ve got Pocahontas with the feathers in his hair. With his food he does this trance thing every time he eats. Some weird cult stuff, I don’t know what he’s doing.” If he is as easy going in camp as he seemed in his video, than he shouldn’t have a problem aligning with others. He likes to flirt and tell stories, so he should have no problem with the social game. His present work consists of helping people find what motivates them, which is probably one of the best things to do in this game so that could make Vince a very dangerous player. If the conditions don’t turn him into someone that the others think is too weird, then he should go far. When asked about the player he”d like as an ally, Vince had a great answer: “…a likable, sweet-faced dude who’s not very bright to take you to the end.” That’s my thinking exactly!

I read the following in his interview with Holmes: “It’s a community of people who gather together with intention. It’s not just a bunch of people getting together and taking a bunch of crazy drugs and calling it an experience. It’s intention driven. Like Beloved is about the expansion of your heart chakra. They have yoga in the morning, seminars in the afternoon, and then it’s party time at night. So, we vend to these people. It’s hot, we offer them what I call a P.S.O., a Portable Spiritual Oasis…also known as a coconut.”

This nutjob reminds me at once of Marquesas Peter, Aras, Fabio and Zane, which represent two first boots and two winners. Those two outcomes seem like real possibilities with this guy: Either the tribe wants nothing to do with his “intentions” or he charms them all the way to the end game.

Scott: Dear lord, he looks like the love child of Coach and Fabio (the model not the Survivor player) and he acts like a bad sitcom guest star, who’s playing the eccentric date of one of the stars. I would much rather watch him in his real environment being a “life coach” then playing Survivor. You have to think in the cynical Survivor world that we live in now that Vince’s act is going to wear thin very quick, unless he has a Charles Manson like vibe; where he controls the minds of all the female players and gets them to commit acts of sabotage and blindsides against the rest of the players. Short of that happening, I think Vince doesn’t make it to the merge.

Catherine: This No Collar tribe is quite possibly the most insane group of people that Survivor has ever thrown together. I think Vince by himself would qualify as being more insane than the craziest of crazies: I would rather hang out with Shane, Coach, and Phillip than this guy. I’m pretty sure he was recruited from a Coach Lookalike competition, and Vince will probably be something quite similar to Tocantins Coach — the other players laugh at him, but play along with him because he is zero threat to win the million. We know from the Gordon Holmes interviews that nearly every player wants to work with him. They see exactly what we see — a guy who will play with honesty and integrity, and probably be incredibly easy to manipulate. He’s also going to be good value in the challenges, and I can’t see anyone wanting to vote Vince out, ever. It wouldn’t shock me to see Vince in the Final Tribal Council. However, first impressions last, and from first impressions, I don’t think Vince is getting anybody’s votes, but $100,000 would buy him a lovely new coconut cart.

Will Sims II

Will Sims II, YouTube Sensation

Will Sims II, YouTube Sensation

Dan: I’m intrigued to see how Will does on Survivor. His charisma is present even in the brief video, and he’s so different than the other two guys on his tribe. If Will can perform well at challenges and make a few connections, he could be a surprising contender. There’s an interesting theme with all three guys about having to try and be deceitful. None have a clear strategy for how to move forward. Will at least recognizes that he’ll need to be charming at the start to form solid bonds. But what happens once the game becomes tougher? That’s the point where I’m unsure about Will’s chances.

This bartender is listed on the CBS site as a YouTube Sensation because of his appearance with Jay Leno. Was that all a ploy? If he’s really that sharp and can play the dim-witted and lovable guy character, Will might be a sleeper to surprise the others. In a tribe of six, the biggest challenge is just surviving the first few Tribal Councils. Will must ensure that he connects with the young people on his tribe right away. He isn’t such an imposing physical threat, so the target won’t fall his way down the road.

Sarah: Will’s a lovely guy, and very charismatic as Dan noted. My concern is his lack of familiarity with the show. By his own admission to Gordon Holmes, he’s only seen seven or eight seasons, and he’s under the impression that Rupert doesn’t get stressed out. The YouTube video that earned his recruitment also put him on the No Collar tribe, when perhaps this family man bartender would be better off with the blue collars. He’s going to be out of his depth from the moment the game starts.

I see the game going one of two ways for Will… he might find the elements harder to deal with than he thought and lose all interest in the game as a result. Or, considering his fondness for Rupert, he might decide to take on the role of camp leader. Either scenario is bad. His tribe mates will probably like him, but they’ll ultimately find him an easy cut. I like Will, and I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see him making the merge.

Michel: It’s funny that the title of his Xfinity interview is “I’m Not Going to Compromise Who I Am” when his “fame” comes from a video that was supposed to be spontaneous but was apparently staged.  Come to think of it, he is perfect for Survivor and its “reality”. He sounds like a guy who enjoys life and wants to have fun with the others so he should be seen as a good team mate. Like he says, it is hard to vote against someone you like. He is a casual fan of the show so it will be interesting to see how much of his knowledge he can use. His limited knowledge is apparent when he says he likes Rupert because he never really got stressed out when, in actuality, Rupert stressed out more than most, especially after receiving a vote or hearing that a spear had been lost! This bartender should be able to use his people skills to go deep in the game but, in Survivor’s version of the “Peter Principle” he will reach the point where his likeability will become a liability.

Scott: I think bartenders (good ones at least) should be perfect for Survivor. I mean you’re dealing with people when they’re at their worst. You would think that bartenders have an expertise in the world of people who are struggling with their environment. Will seems like a nice guy, seems like someone that isn’t going to rock the boat or cause drama. He also doesn’t seem like someone that is going to be cutthroat, which is a trait that you kind of need in this game. With that said, Will seems like someone I would like to play with if I was in the game, but obviously I’m not, so I fear Will could be chewed up and spit out with more treacherous players. My heart says that Will will (how else to say that?) make it to the jury, but my head says he won’t make it to the merge.

Catherine: I have so many problems with this guy before the game even starts! I don’t believe in Will’s Jay Leno skit, where he was “randomly selected” to sing karaoke at a gas pump. I don’t think there is a more annoying occupation for a reality TV star to have than “YouTube sensation”. All YouTube sensations irritate me. He’s clearly not a fan of the show, and really, really likes Rupert. So I’m not rooting for Will. Sorry. I think he’s in over his head in this cast too. We are likely to see a highly strategic game, and I just don’t think that Will has it in him. I’m sure he’s a really nice guy, and perhaps he will follow the path of his idol Rupert, sticking around long enough to be completely loyal to his alliance, and then cruelly blindsided when he is no longer useful. I know that if I was on this tribe, Will would be the perfect ally — more predictable and less crazy than Vince, and completely loyal. Ultimately though, nobody is letting this guy get to Final Tribal Council, and I don’t think he has the skills to get himself there. My heart says that Will is an early boot. My head says that any intelligent player would take this guy at least to the merge.

Escameca — The Blue Collar Tribe

Kelly Jo Remington

Kelly Jo Remington, State Trooper

Kelly Jo Remington, State Trooper

Michel: She intends to let the guys flirt with her even if she is gay and she wants to say that she is a bartender instead of a police officer so she better be good at lying. Kelly is also a long-time fan who understands the social game, so it will be interesting to see how she puts it in practice. She has an agenda before the game starts: “I already know who I’m aligned with. I already know who I want to get out first. I know who the strong people are, who the weak people are.” She thinks it will be Brain vs Brawn vs Beauty, which isn’t far from the way it will turn out. At 44, Kelly Jo could be targeted by the younger members of the tribe, but I have a feeling that the Blue Collar women will stick together. They saw what happened to the Kalabaw and Matsing women in their first Tribal Council, so they will probably try to drive a wedge between the guys.

Scott: I think I could watch Kelly running from the water onto the beach 100 times. Definitely a little spazzy there. I like how she gives a little eye wink and patriotic shout-out when she talks about how if there were players with military backgrounds that she would make sure to take them far in the game, like she’s doing her stump speech on Fox News. Like as the viewers we’re supposed to think “Hey this woman is for our troops lets vote for her”. Kelly also said that she is big on Trust, in which case she literally picked the worst game for someone who values “trust” above all. With that said, Kelly looks like someone that can get along with different types of people, and therefore if she can get with the right people you could see her making some noise in this game.

Catherine: I have such high hopes for Kelly. Theoretically, she should be able to form close bonds with everyone on her tribe. She could choose to go with an all-female alliance, or could align with the older men. In her CBS video, she mentioned wanting to take the military guys to the end, and that makes me think that she might, to quote the great Deena from Survivor: The Amazon, “not be so interested in the chick thing.” The one red flag from Kelly’s video is her confession that she is worried that she is playing too hard before the game even starts! Last season, we saw Reed; a fan of the show, who had all of the abilities to play a strong strategic game, play the first few days in a panicked paranoid mess, and never quite recover. If Kelly can relax, I think she could be a strong and influential player. For me, she’s a possible winner.

Dan: I’m hesitant with Kelly because she seems to have the right mix to do well. That also felt true with Val last season, who was a fan with a similar occupation. I love Kelly’s attitude and down-to-earth approach to the game. Unlike so many other contestants, she doesn’t seem to be struggling with the idea of lying or manipulating others. I agree with Catherine that it’s possible Kelly might be too ready to get rolling and play the game. Even so, she has more life experience and should be able to adjust to the excitement. The dynamics of the Blue Collar tribe are going to be interesting. Kelly’s much older than the other women, but I don’t think it will hurt her. She’s definitely one of the contenders, but there are still nagging questions in my mind on whether it’s too obvious.

Sarah: I mostly share everybody else’s assessment of Kelly, but I am much less certain that she’s going to be a contender in this game — and that’s due to my suspicion that the Blue Collar tribe will be seeing a lot of Tribal Council. Kelly has probably got the best skillset to lead that tribe, and I think she’ll realize that… but I don’t see the others agreeing. I do think she’ll be a big challenge asset, so she might be able to ride it out to the tribe swap — but I don’t see her finding the numbers to survive past that point. Kelly seems really awesome, but I think her game is going to be an exercise in frustration for both her and us.

Lindsey Cascadan

Lindsey Cascaddan, Hairdresser

Lindsey Cascaddan, Hairdresser

Michel: She wants us to know that she brings her wild and eccentric personality to Survivor but somehow I feel she will spend most of her time in Loser Lodge. She likes to flirt and says she is smart and sneaky, but she isn’t too sure how she will handle starving and being sleep deprived. I see a train wreck in Lindsey’s future. Maybe not as bad as the previous Lindsey had but still she won’t come close to the goal.

Scott: I kind of agree with Michael here, that this could be a train wreck waiting to happen . How many times in Survivor has somebody “flirted” their way into joining a blindside? Let’s be honest, she’s cute for sure but she’s not Jessica Alba or soon to be Bruce Jenner here, I don’t think the other players are going to be so blinded by her beauty and flirting that their gameplay will dissolve or anything. I think she could be our token “quit the game and piss off every bitter person who has tried to get on Survivor for over fifteen years” award winner. I don’t see any possibility of her winning this season. Anybody want to take that bet????

Catherine: Lindsey mentions in her bio that she is used to people underestimating her, so I’m sure she won’t mind that my estimation of her is really not very high at all. Having said that, my opinion of Ciera Eastin was not high before I watched her play in season 27, and Lindsey does identify strongly with Ciera. So perhaps she’ll last longer than we all think she will, but I don’t think she is going to win. Her strategy is going to be to flirt her way to the top, and unless Rodney is somehow the power player on the tribe, she’s going to struggle to manipulate the votes purely by flirting with her tribe mates. I think she’ll have a much better showing than some other tattooed/single Mom/hairdressers. This Lindsey will actually attempt to play the game. However, I still expect to see her as a pre-merge boot.

Dan: I hate it when we all agree! My first impression from Lindsey is that she hasn’t seen much of Survivor. Her descriptions of how she’ll play are very simple. She calls herself the “perfect storm of smart, strategic, and strong”, which basically means nothing. I also think she’d more suited for the No Collar tribe and might have more success there. It’s great that Lindsey is proud of herself and crazy, but neither of those skills holds much weight in this game. Also, will she be wearing that swim suit on the island? While it shows off her tattoos, it isn’t so well-suited to camp life. She won’t be boring, but I’m not ready to bet Scott that Lindsey has a real shot at the end.

Sarah: If it helps, Dan, I love Lindsey! And her fascinatingly impractical swimsuit! I always have a soft spot for the wild child casting spot and want them to do well. Unfortunately, I do share everybody else’s view of Lindsey’s outcome. Not so much for quitting, but I don’t think she will find her spot in the game nor does she bring anything to the table for this tribe — the No Collars seem a much better fit for her. Even if she does prove to be more of a Ciera than a… uh… Lindsey, there’s some recency bias there. If we are all making the connection between Lindsey Cascaddan and Lindsey Ogle, you can bet the players will as well. An easy option for an early boot, and I don’t think she’s drawn a good enough hand to avoid that.

Sierra Thomas

Sierra Dawn Thomas, Barrel Racer

Sierra Dawn Thomas, Barrel Racer

Michel: She says she is very driven, focused and athletic. She isn’t afraid of sleep and food deprivation…now. I wonder if she will say the same thing on day 10, if she makes it to day 10. It’s funny that she has to remind herself that these people aren’t trustworthy so she may already be in trouble. Somehow, I don’t think she will show the same confidence after she gets her butt kicked around a few times. Like Lindsey, her only chance is for the Escameca women to stick together and get one of the guys on their side.

Scott: Yikes, I don’t see a strong player here. Her vibe is that of someone that was picked by the producers from a face shot that came from a talent agency, not someone that loves the game of Survivor. I think Sierra’s only chance is what Michael said above, that the women of this tribe stick together. I don’t think she will have the mental game needed to win Survivor…that is all.

Catherine: Sierra is physically, ready for the game. Unfortunately, I don’t think she is quite strategically ready for what is coming. Sierra’s biggest problem will be that she seems be dead set against working with the women on the tribe. She mentions wanting to work with some cute guys, and hoping that she will be able to use her good looks to force herself into a good position in the game. I really think that the only hope in this game for either Sierra or Lindsey is if the three women on the blue collar tribe stick together. Sierra’s apparent unwillingness to do this will put her in a vulnerable position. I can see her tribe being dominated by an older alliance, and this would put Sierra in a very weak position indeed.  I’m not expecting to see very much from her. Sierra strikes me as a pre-merge boot- although models named Sierra who aren’t really ready to play the game can actually do quite well for themselves, so who knows?

Dan: I’m going to disagree a little with the consensus on Sierra. Judging by her video and interviews, I can totally understand the negative reactions. She isn’t a big fan of the game and cites Parvati (of course) as her model player in the bio. On the other hand, Sierra’s different than some of the other younger women in this game. She’s 6’1 and should be a force in challenges based on her athletic background; she’s also 27 and isn’t so naïve about the world. A barrel racer from Utah won’t be as easily intimidated by the game as she might look on the surface. Standing out in the early challenges and making allies like Mike could put her in a good position. I’m not ready to pick Sierra to win the game, but I think she could make the merge.

Sarah: I’m with Dan on this one. In many ways, Sierra’s the most conventional casting choice of the season, and I think other players will ally with the attractive blonde who holds her own in challenges but has barely seen the show — particularly since her cowgirl background will probably give her a good work ethic around camp. Unlike most of this season’s cast, Sierra is a known Survivor quantity who can be comfortably slotted into a game plan as a reliable vote.

This isn’t meant as a dig at Sierra’s independence. I’m sure she’s sharp enough and she doesn’t come across as docile, but without that game knowledge base, I don’t see her achieving any major impact on the game. But if she can make a deep run with the right alliance and talk up how she’s considering her options, she could make a bid for a return spot.

Mike Holloway

Mike Holloway, Oil Driller

Mike Holloway, Oil Driller

Scott: Mike has the look of the Survivor player that thinks they’re the natural leader and then begin to uncomfortably force the issue to the point that they eventually turn everybody against them and then they get the Survivor blindside, probably early in the game. I’m basing this, solely on the clip of Mike running awkwardly in the water. I mean that had to be the producer’s idea right? They should have taken this all the way and brought Apollo Creed to Survivor to train Mike during his clip:

Would anybody bet against Mike if they saw a clip of him and Apollo Creed racing on the Survivor shores and then embracing in very tight, high shorts? I can’t see Mike doing much in this game. His best case scenario in my opinion is to be a pawn that gets used and then taking out. I think the camp mental warfare will be too much for him and I see Mike imploding from paranoia and from not being in charge.

Catherine: Okay, so Mike’s CBS video ended with him wanting to show America that “your regular old dumb country boy can come out here and win this thing, you know?” Firstly, JT kind of already did that. But secondly, it tells me that Mike might not have the strategic mindset that is necessary for the game. His pre-game interviews are full of contradictions. He wants to be the nice guy, and yet he claims he also wants to be the villain. He wants to play dumb, and at the same time play a cutthroat game. I’m not sure that Mike really knows what he is doing, and that could work for or against him. I do think that he has some people on his tribe who will be willing to work with him — I can definitely see Mike, Dan and Kelly — who all have traditional blue collar roots and are the older members of the tribe — bonding and making the merge together. At the merge, he’s a physical threat and doesn’t have enough game sense to see it. I think Mike will make the jury.

Dan: Mike seems like a very familiar personality type for Survivor. He seems tough and strong and has enough charm to avoid bothering the rest of his tribe. That combination may be enough to get him through the early game. Catherine brings up the best question with Mike, however. How will he play when the game starts rolling? Will Mike want to make a big move and shine for the cameras? If he’s able to keep his need to be a villain in check, he should find willing allies in the Blue Collar tribe. I agree that Kelly might be a good option, and he might also find common ground with Sierra despite the age difference. The potential is there if Mike doesn’t try to play from the front.

Sarah: Mike is the Blue Collar’s True Neutral, which means he’s hard to get a feel for, but he should be a safe bet to stick around in the tribe. In fact, in this tribe, which I’m predicting to be this season’s Trainwreck Tribe, he’s the only person I have confidence in to stick around. There’s no reason to vote off the affable oil driller, and considering his experience with counselling, he may well be needed as a pastoral figure in his tribe.

On the other hand, Mike just doesn’t stand out, and I’ll second Catherine’s opinion on his desire to show a country boy can win. That’s not the kind of line that makes me think somebody’s a player to watch. (Wes said the same thing.) Beyond that, all his talk about being the villain suggests he may be overthinking it. Being the neutral player is a good ticket into alliances while staying off the radar. Mike could win this whole thing just by playing it cool — if he decides he’s got to make big moves and unleash his inner Tony, he’ll be in trouble.

Michel: Mike says he is ready to let his real life at the door and use people, especially a woman that would be sweet on him. He said he wants to be one of the elite people to have played this game just before adding that he’d like to be the villain. That shows what he thinks is required to be an elite player so I expect that he will be socially inept. He wants to show that the dumb country boy can win but many have tried already and most have failed. I think that Mike will show his dumb side and get himself booted as soon as his strength isn’t needed anymore.

Dan Foley

Dan Foley, Postal Worker

Dan Foley, Postal Worker

Scott: “My name is Dan (something) (Something)(Something) (Something)(Something). We get it Dan you’re a character. He looks like a Maine version of Champ from Anchorman:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuHezFweJ40

Clearly Dan is a fan, which you always like to see, as opposed to when the show producers cast people from a model agency, with players that have never watched a season of Survivor. We didn’t see a lot of action shots of Dan, so it’s tough to gauge how Dan could potentially handle the physical aspects of Survivor. Since he’s such a big fan, you have to think that he knows how to play this game from an intellectual standpoint and hopefully that will spell a long run in the game for Dan. Players like Dan have to have the vision to appraise the dynamics of their specific season cast. They need to figure out early who their 4-5 other players to roll with in the end will be and lock that in the early stages of the game.

Catherine: Dan did compare himself to Rupert in his bio, saying he has Rupert’s love of family, strength and stunning good looks. And watching his video, I’m not sure if he’s going to be anything more than Rupert in a better outfit. I’ll be watching him and hoping to see the underground shelter 2.0. Because he is the biggest fan on the show (with the possible exception of Max), I hope that I am wrong. I hope he brings more to the table than a lovable and eccentric character. He says he has the ability to play strategically. We’ll just have to see if he gets that chance. I do think that Mike and Kelly seem to be natural allies for Dan. As long as he can hold his own physically, he’s in a good position to make the merge. As long as his ambition to play strategically doesn’t put too much of a target on him, he should go far. I don’t expect him to have the resume in the game to get the jury votes, but for the sake of super fans everywhere, I would love to be proven wrong by Dan.

Dan: Joining the fine ranks of Dan Lembo and Dan Berry, this Dan has giant alligator skin shoes to fill. We both have a wife named Erin, so maybe this guy is okay. I love that he’s an obsessive Survivor fan; driving 25,000 miles to try and make the show is no joke. Part of me wants to pick him to win just because it would be a great story. On the other hand, my rational mind reminds me that Dan doesn’t appear physically built for the game. Will the Blue Collar tribe focus solely on athletic skills at Tribal Council? That’s a good question. I’m hoping that someone like Rodney or Lindsey stands out as a more obvious target by irritating the group. If Dan can survive the early stages, he isn’t the type who’ll draw the attention at the merge. I’m hoping all the effort to make it will pay off with a good experience.

Sarah: I feel bad for saying it, but I am so uninterested in Dan. I love seeing fans realize their dreams, it’s just… there is nothing in Dan that makes me feel he’s got what it takes. Maybe it’s the Rupert love, but certainly on a strategic level, I don’t know if he’s the person some of the other superfans will want to work with. I foresee many differences of opinion on game logic.

There’s also the problem of the physique — again, I like it when they cast people that don’t look as if they spend all their time at the gym or on a diet, and clearly Dan is in decent enough shape to pass the physical, but he looks to be the heaviest guy out here by a significant margin; on a six-person tribe, that’s an excellent reason to vote somebody off. I think he’ll be lucky to make the tribe swap.

Michel: This super fan knows the game but I don’t think he will be able to apply what he knows. Reading his interview left me a little puzzled because, in the same paragraph, he said that logic dictates the game and that you have to follow your gut or else you are screwed. Which will he choose? He sees himself as a good poker player but why did he give himself such lousy cards? Instead of travelling all those miles to auditions maybe he should have jogged to his local gym. Not only is he unfit but that dumb beard will make him stick out right from the start. The guy has first boot written in a big bold L on his forehead.

Rodney Lavoie Jr.

Rodney Lavoie Jr., General Contractor

Rodney Lavoie Jr., General Contractor

Scott: Listen, I liked Rodney, until he said he was going to go down as the “best Survivor player from Boston”. How dare you sir.

“Rodney, I served with Boston Rob, I knew Boston Rob, Boston Rob was a friend of mine, Rodney….you’re no Boston Rob.”

 

Rodney just looks like he is going to be a huge target in the game. He just has the look of somebody that the other players are going to band together to get out without any real cause. He has to hope that the blue collars can reel off Immunity challenge wins early in this game and then hope he can get a foot-hold in a majority alliance. Short of that happening, I don’t see Rodney being long for this game.

Catherine: I hate to just echo what everyone else in the Survivor world is thinking, but Rodney has zero percent chance to win this game. His CBS video and bio make him seem like he could be the third Christy brother. Reading his Gordon Holmes interview did change my opinion of him slightly. He’s had a rough life, and he may be able to use that to bond with others in his tribe. And although Garrett was the exception to the rule, generally guys like Rodney are important to keep around in three-tribe seasons. I think he should be safe until the tribe swap (where if my prayers are answered, he’ll end up with Joaquin in an ego clash for the ages), but I still see Rodney as a pre-merge boot.

Dan: I think there’s more to Rodney than the cool smirks in his video, but that doesn’t mean he’ll shine in the game. He’s confident and has worked hard to get where he is, but he’s still 24 and doesn’t seem to grasp some basic concepts of Survivor. Being the star is rarely a good thing, especially at his stage in the show’s history. Others will zero in on this guy, especially if he’s a challenge beast. I don’t see Rodney holding back and trying to play a quiet game. He’ll be loud and trying to take charge at camp, and hustling can really hurt you in the opening days. This is going to be interesting.

Sarah: I am putting all my money on Blue Collar being the trainwreck tribe, and the reason for that is almost entirely Rodney (if you haven’t, read his interview with Gordon Holmes which defies all laws of journalism). Athletically, he should be one of their star players, but somebody like Rodney is not going to listen to others and will act on impulse without checking in with everybody else first. That’s a problem in challenges. It’s a problem in camp. It’s one hell of a problem in strategy.

Chances are that early on, some of the savvier players — or at least the older set — will look at Rodney and decide that he’s the guy they’re going to drag to the end… but like Shamar, Brandon Hantz, J’Tia, etc., I think Rodney will implode before then. If Blue Collar are lucky, they’ll vote him off first, but I think they’ll make the fatal mistake of keeping him around for muscle and get thoroughly burned for their pains. Not to stomp on Catherine’s dreams, but there is no way Rodney is surviving to the tribe swap.

Michel: Obviously cast as a possible new type of Boston Rob, Rodney will keep the censors on high alert with his (expletive deleted) choice of words. While he calls Brady the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time), it seems that he sees himself as the G.O.A.T. human being. In Survivor, that translates into simply goat with lower cap letters. It’s rather comical that he values his ignorance of the game’s history, saying that it is better to trust his instincts than to have learned from previous strategies. This self-proclaimed big liar says he doesn’t know how to follow and that he can easily get people to trust him. This will be the key point of his game: Can he sell himself? He says he will let the others dig their own graves but I question if he will be able to keep his cool. On the other hand, the way he describes his rivals was quite interesting, he reminded me of a cruder Bobdawg. Therefore, he should be good for laughs, the season’s “Dumb Player” and as such, I think he will be around for a little while.

Fearless Predictions

Who will be the sole survivor?

Dan: Max. I’m making this pick with no connection to Max or knowledge of his success in the game. In a sense, my pick is reaching into the past and torpedoing his game. I’ve never picked a winner correctly, and most of my choices leave very early. So enjoy 16th place, Max!

Sarah: My first instinct was that we were in an era of the brashest player winning, but that logic dictated I should pick Rodney. Traditionally, I’d go for the neutral player with the best starting hand, but we all wanted to pick Joe. So I am going to break my usual rule and gamble on my sentimental favourite: Shirin, do me proud!

Michel: Joe. Everyone loves Joe and the fact that they already compare him to Malcolm means he has a big advantage over all the others. When they see that he is actually likeable then he’ll have it made.

Catherine: I don’t think he’s going to be good TV, but I do think he will be a good Survivor player. My winner’s pick is Joe. He’s incredibly likable, Probst wants to poke him, whatever that means, and I think everyone is going to want to work with Joe. At the same time, he seems innocent enough to not be an immediate threat. I feel good about Joe, but then, I felt good about Josh for season 29 too, and if luck goes against him, I could see Joe’s game having a similar trajectory.

Scott: Joaquin. I go against my better judgment and pick Joaquin to win the game. I think last season it was a woman to win, and this season the crown goes back to the men. I think Joaquin potentially could have the ability to get people galvanized to do his bidding, carry out Survivor assassinations, and blindsides. If he can turn the heat away from himself while blending in a strategic social game, I could see Joaquin walking away from the game as this season’s champion. I’ve been historically awful in picking the winners on here, so you should probably read this and then go put your money on literally anybody else.

Who are the two runners up (assuming a final three)?

Dan: Sierra and Shirin. I can see Shirin working with Max as a strong pair to make the end, and Sierra will be the wild card that slides through and finishes in second.

Sarah: Jenn, Vince

Michel: Hali and Jenn. Joe will need allies to make it to the end so one of these two should be there.  I just double my odds to have one right by picking both.

Catherine: Sticking with Joe as the winner’s pick, I tried to think about who it makes sense for him to have worked with. I’m going with Nina and Jenn.

Scott: Carolyn, So

Who makes the merge (11 choices)?

Dan: Hali, Jenn, Joe, Kelly, Max, Mike, Shirin, Sierra, So, Tyler, Will

Sarah: Hali, Jenn, Joe, Max, Mike, Shirin, Sierra, So, Tyler, Vince, Will

Michel: Hali, Jenn, Joaquin, Joe, Kelly, Lindsey, Mike, Rodney, So, Vince, Will

Catherine: Dan, Jenn, Joaquin, Joe, Kelly, Max, Mike, Nina, Shirin, So, Vince

Scott: Carolyn, Dan, Joaquin, Joe, Kelly, Lindsey, Max, Nina, So, Tyler, Will

Who will be a challenge monster?

Dan: Joe

Sarah: Joe

Michel: Joe

Catherine: So

Scott: Joe

Who is most likely to quit the game?

Dan: Lindsey

Sarah: Rodney

Michel: I don’t think anyone will quit.

Catherine: I don’t think anyone’s quitting this season. The most likely quitter is Will, simply because I think everyone else loves the game a lot more than he does.

Scott: Sierra

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