The Rob Has a Podcast Bloggers, Scott Gallagher, Dan Heaton, Michel Trudeau, Catherine Lucas, and Sarah Freeman, weigh in on each of season 29’s castaways. Check out the bloggers’ winner picks at the end of this post and the regular blogs from this top notch group throughout the season.
Dale and Kelley WentworthDale[/caption]
Dan: When a player talks about business and says “I’m not here to make friends”, it usually raises a red flag. Still, I don’t see that approach as being negative with Dale. He’s a farmer and looks like a friendly dad, so he should have a chance to bond with the younger players. There’s always a risk of an older guy being the obvious vote up front, but he seems fit enough to stay afloat. Dale’s success could depend on whether he can join an alliance. This isn’t a particularly young cast, and his connection with his daughter shows that he might bond with players in their late 20s. If he can survive the early votes, Dale could go far.
Kelley is attractive yet doesn’t fall into the predictable casting pattern of models and beauty queens. There’s something about the way she describes herself that promises good things. It isn’t clear how much she’s watched Survivor, and citing Parvati is never a great sign. Even so, she doesn’t mention flirting as a prominent strategy and talks about Parvati as a strong, intelligent woman. Kelley is only 28 yet seems very different from women like Jaclyn or Baylor. There’s a confidence on the video that you can’t fake, and she won’t expect her dad to save her. It’s a lot different than playing with your boyfriend or husband. If the cards fall her way, Kelley has the potential to take a serious shot at winning the game.
Michel: In practically every pair, it’s one’s person idea to be on the show, to play this game. In this case, it seems to be Dale’s adventure and it sounds more like Kelley is there to accompany him. Unfortunately, he says that he isn’t good at the social game so that could end his story fairly quickly. Even if Dale manages to get along with the others and shows that he is a strong worker, his age will cost him the game. Age has always been the biggest divider in this game. Being teamed up with his daughter is an advantage he has over the other older gentleman, Keith, because no one should target him to weaken her game. While farming isn’t as demanding these days, it still keeps a man in shape a lot more than a sedentary job. Dan is right to say that Dale could go far if he survives the early votes but I don’t think he will. Not without a good social game.
Even if this wasn’t her idea, Kelley seems to have the right attitude towards this game. She looks like a smart, athletic woman. If she is as good at Scrabble and board games as she says, it could help her in some of Survivor’s “Mickey-Mouse-challenges”. It must be noted that she has probably the worst pet peeves to play Survivor. She says she can’t stand people who are either lazy, overconfident or don’t stick to their word, so that could easily get her in trouble. However, she says that socializing is her strength, so maybe she will find a way to live with the others. Being paired with a non-threat will help her fly under the radar. I agree with Dan: Kelley has to be considered as a possible winner.
Scott: My first reaction after watching the video was that these two people look like actors hired to play a “father/daughter” pair. If that’s the case, they should have taken this all the way and had Dale in overalls, with a straw hat and Kelley in a business suit, holding a cell phone making “deals” during this interview. If we play along and say that Kelley and Dale are who they say they are, then I’m stuck on Dale. I can’t decide if he has that “Let’s get the old guy out first because he brings nothing to the table” vibe, or the “Let’s take the old guy far into the game because he brings nothing to the table” vibe. I think he is definitely one or the other.
I think Kelley will be viewed as a natural “threat”, and therefore her Survivor fate will depend on whether she can link up with a majority alliance early on and not get backstabbed. Being good in both competitions and being likable doesn’t always translate into deep runs into the game, as so much of early Survivor games can depend on that season’s specific chemistry of each tribe.
Sarah: I am in total agreement with Mike when it comes to Dale. He admits himself that he’s never lived or worked anywhere but his farm, where it’s him and a handful of other people — doubtlessly from similar backgrounds. What is he going to draw on in his dealings with beach bums, gay Broadway performers and strident Sri Lankans? He might not be here to make friends, but that won’t change the fact that he’s going to have to if he wants to get within sniffing distance of the jury. He might be kept around as a workhorse, but I could also see him being the first one off his tribe.
I will also agree with Mike’s observation that Kelley is along with her Dad rather than here because she wanted to play Survivor. And that’s why I’m so low on Kelley — the vibe I got from her was Katie Collins — who accompanied her parent on the original Blood vs Water. That’s not a bad thing… she comes across like a smart, successful woman whom I would probably prefer to spend time with over 90% of this cast. But the game just doesn’t matter enough to her. I won’t rule her out from a win, but things will have to go her way. More likely, she’ll get lost in the shuffle and her finish will depend entirely on dynamics that have been defined by others. I am not expecting either Dale or Kelley to be particularly prominent on our screens.
Catherine: I want to love Dale more than I want to love anybody else on this season. And that is purely for the fact that he name dropped Big Tom in his bio, and seems to be the biggest fan on the cast. Physically, he seems to be in good shape, and he has a great partner in Kelley — smart and athletic enough to last, without being seen as a huge threat. If this pair does make it to the jury intact, I don’t think they will necessarily be seen as obvious targets. Another thing in Dale’s favor is the tribe he has been put on — the males on his tribe could easily be willing to work together and vote out the smaller, weaker females. That said, both he and Kelley admit that his social skills are not good. I’d love to see him go far, but I’m leaning towards early boot.
Kelley is an unknown quantity for me. She seems to be quite middle of the road: athletic, but not overly threatening; gorgeous, but not the beauty queen of the season; intelligent, but there are others on this season much more willing to demonstrate their strategic chops. What I am not sure about is if this will see her make a deep run into the game, or whether she will simply get lost in the crowd. Looking at the tribe she has drawn, unless she gets herself into an alliance quickly, she will find herself dispensable, and join Dale on the pre-jury trip.
Drew and Alec Christy
Dan: There are certain personality types on Survivor that immediately make me cringe. One of them is the overly arrogant jock. If you set John Rocker aside, the winner of this prize is Drew. A guy whose hobbies include “booze cruising” is usually not a player that inspires excitement. He clearly has a very high opinion of himself, and a big ego can lead to success in this game. However, it typically works if it’s combined with self-awareness. Drew cites Fabio or Malcolm as “athletic, smart bros” that are similar to him, but those guys were likable because they lacked the bluster. You rarely saw Malcolm take a victory lap after a great challenge performance. Drew will probably survive the first votes because of his athletic abilities, but he seems like a prime candidate for an early blindside. He’ll never see it coming.
Calling Alec humble is a stretch, but he looks better next to Drew. He’s 22 but seems much younger. Can such a naïve guy win the game? There’s a Fabio vibe to his approach, and this innocence could lead him pretty far into the post-merge game. He won’t be running the show but could glide along like Carter or Eddie while others guide the votes. It will be interesting to see if either brother is willing to work against their sibling. The bickering in the video reveals a possible rift, though it’s a long shot to expect a betrayal. Beyond some unintentional humor and bad game moves, I don’t see too much coming from this pair.
Michel: This pair could go down the way of Aras and Vytas in the first evolution of this twist. They will be needed at first because of their athleticism, but no one will want them to take control at the merger. Drew is older and he seems to be the true fan in this pair. On the other hand, he says he is there more for the experience than the money contrary to his brother so maybe we will have a Cain and Abel story but with the younger brother wielding the knife. It was funny to hear Drew say that Alec can’t shut up when it was actually the older brother that did most of the talking in their introduction video. I have more faith in Alec, the younger brother, the one that will be getting his college degree, to succeed instead of the big-planner, the party animal, Drew. Still, both are unlikely winners.
Scott: I was so distracted watching the video because for the first half of the video Alec looked like a life-sized Marionette Puppet. Seriously, look at his mannerisms and tell me I’m wrong. I think that I agree with Dan here that Alec has a “Fabio vibe”. I personally think that Fabio’s win was one of the weaker wins in Survivor history, as everything broke his way that season, but I digress. I think Alec will be “controlled” for lack of a better word by someone who really knows how to play this game. I think he will make it far but ultimately I think he will be playing blind during that duration.
I think on paper Drew looks like a “Malcolm”, but based on this video, it looks like he lacks the likability that Malcolm had. I think Drew will emerge as an early target and that will spell doom for America’s Next Top Model.
Sarah: Smarter than Fabio, dumber than Malcolm… these guys fall smack into the mid-range of generic bro player, and as Scott and Dan already observed, they lack the charm of the two we’re comparing them to. They do have the advantage of being on a season that skews young — like Pete in Philippines, they might be able to run their tribe… briefly. I’ll agree with the others that beta brother, Alec, will last longer than Drew, but I don’t think either will last much past the merge.
Catherine: I’m sure Jeff Probst will love these two, and play up their friendly rivalry at every opportunity, but I think that is about all that the Christy brothers will bring to the table. From what we see in the videos, older brother Drew is the more confident, self-assured one (although apparently in real life, it is Alec who’s mouth gets him into trouble!). He’s a model, who quit college because he wanted to party. I think Drew is going to have a bit of a shock when he realizes that at 25, he is the youngest on his tribe. He may have trouble seizing the alpha male mantel that he seems to have held his entire life. I actually think this could help his game — he may find himself able to fly under the radar in an older group. I think he will make the merge. But I don’t think he has the self-awareness to see the blindside that is inevitably coming soon after that.
Younger brother Alec’s position in this game probably depends on his ability to get along with (or get rid of) John Rocker. He is the youngest male on Coyopa, and a tribe that has both John and Wes might not need the strength of Alec. I expect John to attempt to take a leadership position, and that may leave the younger players at a disadvantage. If Drew is correct, and Alec is “mouthy”, then he might run into trouble. If both brothers make the merge, Alec does have the advantage of being the less intimidating brother, and that will buy him time. He may make it far (perhaps final 6 or 7), but I don’t see either of the Christy brothers as winning contenders.
Jeremy and Val Collins
Dan: There are a surprising number of likable people in this cast, and Jeremy and Val are at the top. It’s clear that both are big fans of the show, and they avoid the typical replies to Survivor players they resemble. Jeremy cites JT, James, and Tyson, though I don’t see him being a coconut bandit. He’s an athlete and could be a physical threat, but there’s little arrogance with those skills. The key for Jeremy will be avoiding the target that will come if he’s too strong in the challenges. He’s a firefighter and seems to understand the game, so building a solid alliance will be important. There’s no way to hide in a cast that isn’t filled with athletes. Jeremy claims to be willing to vote out Val to win the game, though I have my doubts. They’re a couple that should be easy to root for, and I don’t see him taking that step to win.
Following Tony’s win, you would expect that being a police officer would be a major obstacle. I don’t see it hurting Val’s chances, however. It will be interesting to see if she reveals her occupation. Val mentions Monica and Taj on her bio, and both were moms and strong physical players. It isn’t clear whether she will be willing to betray her allies, however. Her pet peeve is liars, and she mentions playing differently from her husband. It’s hard to get a great read on how well Val will do from our limited information. She should make friends and be solid in challenges, and making the merge is a likely scenario. Even so, there’s a risk in being connected with Jeremy if he shines in challenges. Despite not having Redemption Island, players may still vote out someone to weaken their loved one on the other tribe.
Michel: Jeremy could be the surprise of the season. He names JT, James and Tyson as the players he’s liked so we know he has watched the show before. Being a firefighter could not only help him get in an alliance with Keith and Wes but it should help him in the more physical challenges. He seems to be a very likeable guy so, hopefully, that will help him early on and not come back to bite him in the butt when the players start eliminating jury threats. His laid-back attitude could also help him if the tribe is doing well and getting along, but it could turn into a problem if they are struggling to win challenges or build a decent shelter. I think Jeremy could win this game.
Like Dan notes, police officers have done well in strategy games lately so maybe Val will continue the string. She hates liars though so it makes me wonder if she will think everyone is lying to her. That isn’t a bad way to play the game but it can be exhausting. Saying that she compares herself to Monica and Taj doesn’t tell us much about her potential game as those two are probably people she liked more than players she would emulate. I was very impressed with her attitude and how she thinks her job will help her. If Jeremy doesn’t win, maybe his wife will.
Scott: Any championship team’s head coach will tell you it’s all about “preparation” and so you gotta like Jeremy and Val intentionally “shrinking” their stomachs prior to coming into this game. In my moments of thinking what I would do if I ever got to play Survivor, shrinking my stomach has popped into my mind. I think thinking and preparing like that is going to serve these two well. They both come off as “likable”, so you’ve got to like their chances this season to both make deep runs. Again, we haven’t seen them in “action” yet, so it’s tough to forecast them as the favorites, but I think they both have a chance to go far into the game.
Sarah: Like the guys, I am also on Team Emergency Services. Both Val and Jeremy are likeable without being threatening. Val probably has the tougher draw, tribewise, and — much as Laura Boneham was judged by her tribe — could be in trouble if the first challenge or two doesn’t allow her to prove her athleticism. Still, this is the pair I’d consider most likely to reunite at the merge — and they have a double advantage in that they’re unlikely to be the most threatening of the intact pairs. They’re probably in that sweet spot of physicality: an asset in tribal challenges, but shy of the top tier when it comes to immunity threats.
I’m a bit dubious about their tactic of starving themselves: shrinking your stomach is good, but depleting your body’s fat reserves is bad. Still, they’re bright, they’re fans of the show, and they don’t look skinny, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and see how this pans out. As mid-thirties parents, they’re alone in their demographic, but as RHAP (and most of the rest of the Internet) has already established, they’re likeable. Charm gets you a long way in Survivor. I absolutely expect these two to be a major influence on this season, and I would not be at all surprised if we have our first African American winner since Fiji’s Earl.
Catherine: I’m going to echo the thoughts of everyone else — I too, love Jeremy and Val. And there really is nothing to dislike in their bios, where both come across as actual fans of the show who have a really sweet relationship with each other and the necessary physical and mental abilities to succeed. I will certainly be rooting for both of them this season. I agree with Sarah that Val’s tribe doesn’t look good. It will take a lot of skill to work through that group. She’s the oldest female; however, in her video, she did mention wanting to work with John Rocker, and if she can pull that off, she may find her way to the merge and to the ideal final tribal council opponent.
Jeremy is a firefighter, with a ready-made alliance on his tribe in Keith, also a firefighter. Jeremy is also in a much better position than Val because his strength will be valuable to his tribe, and I think his laid back nature will enable him to form close bonds with many of these players. Somewhat ironically, I think the biggest threat to Jeremy and Val’s game is going to be each other. They both stand out so much in early impressions that I think if both of them are around come the merge (and I think they will be), they will be the biggest and most obvious threats to win the game. But good luck to them both; I think they are both solid winner picks.
Jon Misch and Jaclyn Schultz
Scott: So, good news, bad news after watching their video. The bad news is I don’t think either Jon or Jaclyn is going to win this game. The good news is after watching the intro video, I’m 80 percent certain that this story will be the next Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl movie. Can’t you just see the trailer now?
“He’s a bachelor that’s never been able to grow up…she’s an advertising executive who thought she had everything…They met and both decided to go on Survivor to try and fund a surrogate to carry their child…..Coming next winter: The Survivor Surrogate!”
You know what? That movie could actually be made with those two actors. Anyways back to the game. Both Jon and Jaclyn seem like the typical Survivor players who try to play the game way too “smart”. They overthink every move, which will probably lead to them attempting a backstabbing way too soon in the game that blows up in their faces, which will then lead to their Survivor deaths. I don’t see big things for either of them. I think they both will try to play the game too conniving and it will be clearly transparent to all the other players.
Sarah: Jon and Jaclyn, Misch and Schultz, are the bright young couple of the season, but they come off like a poor man’s Doctors Cody. They’re pretty and smart enough as Survivor contestants go… but they don’t seem to have any real familiarity with the show and they lack that edge. Jon even rattles off a list of survival skills as a reason he’ll win, heaven help us! (Though he does win bonus points with that plaid shirt.)
Their saving grace as players might be Jaclyn’s infertility. They’re not even engaged, yet they’re seeing Survivor as a chance to get the money they require to have biological children. (Sign me up for Scott’s “Survivor and Surrogacy” Lifetime Movie.) I’ve gone through IVF; the biological imperative overrides a lot of what you think you can’t do — in my case, it was injections; in theirs, it might just be lying and backstabbing. I still don’t think they can win this game, but I would not be surprised if another player fatally underestimates their ruthlessness.
Dan: I agree with Sarah that Jon and Jaclyn don’t seem to know much about the show. They list Hayden and Jefra in their bios as similar, and that says a lot about their understanding. Much of their success could depend on factors outside of their control. If either gets roped into a solid alliance, they could last for a while. Even so, I don’t see them making a huge impact on the game. Jon’s football background should give him an edge in challenges, but you never know with athletes.
Their hook of wanting money to have kids could win them some fans, but I don’t see either getting very close to the end. They have a reason to fight to stay in the game, but will they be willing to betray their allies to make it? I have my doubts. Being a likable, good-looking couple who’ve overcome some obstacles isn’t enough. In fact, it just puts a larger target on their backs.
Michel: Like Julie, Jaclyn could be in trouble just for being tied to a strong guy. Ex-beauty queens have had mixed results on the show, so will she be like Danni and Amanda or more like Angie and Katie? Time will tell but it doesn’t help that she compares herself to Jefra. In fact, it makes me think she only saw the last season and thinks she has the whole thing figured out.
I like Jon much more than my fellow bloggers because he seems very well-prepared for this game. I especially liked his answer that his pet peeve is people that have too many pet peeves. Could he be good for a few funny moments? That would be great. He seems to understand the importance of the social game so that could get him far in this game. I also like the fact that he doesn’t come in with a pre-planned strategy, a “ready-to-wear” game plan. Like he says: you have to let the game develop BUT I hope he doesn’t forget the importance of the early alliance.
Catherine: I think Jaclyn is in all sorts of trouble. Jon says she has a temper — not a great asset in the game of Survivor, and she seems to be the least athletic of the Coyopa women. If the men bond, Jaclyn is a very obvious early boot, and it seems to me that she lacks the Survivor nous to get herself out of this predicament. Dan and Michel both pointed out the most glaring thing in her bio — that comparison to Jefra. Best case scenario for Jaclyn is that someone picks her up as an extra vote and drags her along, but I don’t see her having any impact on the game.
I share Michel’s view of Jon. He seems sweet and affable enough, without being a huge threat. But I think the biggest positive for Jon is that he will be without a partner in the game very early. We’ve seen in the previous Blood vs Water that this is an individual game, and I think playing as an individual will be Jon’s biggest strength. I do see Jon going far.
Wes and Keith Nale
Scott: After watching their video, I’m left with uncertainty. I feel like hick-ish people in the history of Survivor actually end up going pretty far in the game…right? I feel like they’re the ones that always make it to the final five and then always get blindsided in the most horrific ways possible. With that said, I think if I had to bet on one of them I would bet on the dad Keith. I think Wes might have a hidden douchiness that will emerge come game time, which if so, would spell an early doom for Wes. I think Keith will be the savvier of the two and will look to and will join an early majority alliance that will carry him far into the game.
Sarah: Father and son firefighters from Louisiana — I’m normally immune to Southern charm, but it’s hard not to like Wes and Keith. Wes is a fan of the show, so he’s somewhere above Jeremiah in the Good Ol’ Southern Boys of Survivor, but I don’t think we’re looking at a second JT. Keith is more reserved, but if Wes is still living at home, we can assume his Dad also has a passing familiarity with the show. He’s fighting fit and he’s got the life experience of dealing with people in difficult situations. Not only that, but I don’t see him insisting on an alpha male role. I like Keith’s chances.
I like Wes more than Scott does, and I don’t think either of these guys will give their tribes a reason to vote them off — their strength will be too much of an asset and their laid back attitudes seem perfect for the game. Barring Exile Island shenanigans, one of them will be on a tribe with Jeremy, which seems a tailor-made alliance, while father/daughter team Dale and Kelley could also be useful to them. The danger point will come around the merge; they will just be too threatening as a pair… If they’ve not got a strong alliance before then, they’ll be out faster than you can say “the Brothers Baskauskas.”
Dan: More firefighters? They’re taking over the world of reality TV! I really like their video; you get the sense that both guys can’t believe they’re on Survivor. Unlike the Christy brothers and despite the bragging in his bio, I don’t get the sense that Wes thinks he’s the greatest player in this group. He should form bonds easily and won’t be one of the first physical players to face the vote. Sarah’s right that the laid-back attitude is the key for both Wes and Keith. Why go after them when Drew is around?
I’m not sold on Keith’s chances, however. He may be able to hunt and fish, but it’s risky to be an older guy on any season. He’s a firefighter, so the physical toll shouldn’t bother him. The perception of being weaker could be more important than the reality. So much depends on how the tribes are split. Sarah’s right that he’ll probably sit back and won’t try to run things. When a guy talks about wanting to have an easy chair and 39 cigars on the island, he clearly doesn’t mind taking it easy.
Michel: Wes says he will play like Ozzy and Russell, which is about the worst combination possible! It tells us that he will become a huge target early on. He does say he understands the importance of the social game, which was the downfall of his two idols, but will he be able to apply it? I think he will go far only if he becomes someone’s tool.
Keith may have drawn the favorable ticket here by landing on the older tribe. At the very least, he has a shot to avoid being the first one voted out because Missy could be seen as the weakest. That, however, is predicated on Honeypoo turning into a “Love-Tribe” where everyone gets along and they reach a consensus to vote out the weakest. Being teamed up with someone who looks as strong as Wes could also hurt him. I don’t give Wes and Keith even the smallest chance of winning this game.
Catherine: I really, really like these two — maybe I’m just a sucker for a Louisiana accent, but their videos have completely charmed me. I love the relationship they have with each other, and I am looking forward to seeing a father/son team play the game. Keith seems like a really likable guy, but more importantly, he is very laid back. Being the oldest tribe member makes him an easy first boot, but if he can make it past that his chances to make the end are great. I don’t think he will offer much in the way of strategy, and won’t step on too many toes. He seems like a ready-made alliance partner for Jeremy, and I think he would be a loyal alliance member. This makes him perfect to take to the end, but I’m not sure about his chances of winning the game.
Wes has the same charm about him, although as soon as he said his social game was like Russell’s, alarm bells started ringing. The trouble with Wes is that he is going to want to play (unlike Keith, who I can see taking a backseat to a more dominant partner), and there aren’t many on his tribe who are going to surrender the alpha male position willingly. He is not going to be able to go in there with a Russell game plan and last more than a few episodes. The key for Wes will be letting others take the lead, make their mistakes, and then making his move. Any brash moves out of the gate will see him leave the game early.
Nadiya and Natalie Anderson
Sarah: When the news leaked that the Twinnies were on this season, many fans were outraged — while others, like myself, celebrated. Without looking at their previous reality show history, they’re a great fit for the season. It’s likely that a pair of identical twins would have been recruited regardless for this next round of Blood vs Water: with the Twinnies we get two genuinely brawny women (always a good reminder that healthy shapes for women range beyond the bikini-hourglass), we get a couple of genuinely smart players — if they can concentrate on one thing for long enough to actually use their brains, we get an ethnicity that’s tragically under-represented on the show, you get a pair who have actual experience of living in tropical conditions thanks to their Sri Lankan childhood, and we get two utterly bonkers sisters who we can count on to be pinging all over the bloody radar at all times.
What we aren’t getting are long-term Survivor fans, though in the Twinnies’ case. I think having Tony be their blueprint for success might just be the best thing possible for this season. One of the things I’m most curious about is seeing them as individual entities rather than a unit. From the video, I’d say that Natalie is the one who’s got the most drive for this game… Both seem to believe there’s a chance one will be voted out early, but Nadiya seems more apprehensive about it, and talks about just wanting to get to the merge so she can consult with Natalie. They also hope that this season the pairs will take out the singletons —will they attempt to put this into action?
Do I think they’ve got a shot of winning? Lord, no! They’re anything but subtle. But do they represent our best shot of seeing the spy shack return? Of making crazy sound bites over immunity idols? Hell, yes! I pray that at least one of them gets to cut an entertaining swathe through this game. I think it’s unlikely both will make the merge, but if neither of them does, the season will be the worse for it.
Dan: I’m also thrilled to see the Twinnies on my TV again. If you’re going to do stunt casting, at least choose players with big personalities! They’re so competitive and will end up in conflicts from the start. It’s going to be great! I’m also excited to see Nadiya and Natalie on separate tribes and understand them more as individuals. They won’t be overwhelmed by the situation and are comfortable in front of the cameras. That’s a big advantage, but it also puts a huge target on their backs.
I also don’t think the Twinnies can win, but I expect one of them to last for a while. Judging solely by their bios, my money is on Natalie to make it further than her sister. The Twinnies are dangerous as a pair, so keeping them from both making the merge is essential. On the other hand, a loud and possibly abrasive character could be a great ally to bring to the end. I don’t get the sense they’ve watched the show and spent hours figuring out their strategy. On the other hand, that rawness could lead them to try almost anything. Sarah wisely points out that watching Tony could help them. We want bold players in the game, and only seeing Cagayan could give Nadiya and Natalie an entertaining model to follow.
Michel: It’s been a while since I’ve watched The Amazing Race regularly but I’m sure they could have cast a more interesting pair than this one. I saw the premiere of their second Amazing Race and it wasn’t pretty to say the least. I think Natalie was more rational than her sister. From what I remember, Nadiya wouldn’t stop complaining about the wrong decisions that she thought Natalie was making so that should get her in trouble. Here’s probably where I differ the most with Dan: I don’t want bold players, I want interesting people who are smart players. Boldness in of itself can be stupid and that only makes for good TV if the stupid people make us laugh. It’s not always the case. Interesting people always make for good TV.
I don’t give either of the twins a chance to win this game. They are abrasive even to each other, so imagine how they will be to people that get on their nerves and there will be people getting on their nerves. I don’t think they will be smart players either because they simply don’t know the game.
Scott: Twins! Like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito taught us in Twins, you got to watch out for the creepy, secret connection that twins have with one another. Let’s be honest here, twins are always a little creepy right? I always feel like twins have special powers like if you shake their hand this will happen:
Anyways, I think the twins will try to be aggressive social players this season. I think by trying to be aggressive, it’s either going to totally pay off or will lead to early exits for both. I don’t see a middle ground for these two. I see either feast or famine.
Catherine: I’m going to take a deep breath and admit that I am a huge fan of the Twinnies; however, they obviously haven’t seen the show before. Natalie’s description of Nadiya as being a mixture of Rupert and Monica is one of the funnier moments of the cast bios. Take a moment to imagine a Rupert/Monica hybrid…and then think how long that person would last in Survivor. Think what a strategic mastermind a Rupert/Monica hybrid would be. My hopes for the Twinnies as players are not high.
My hopes for the Twinnies as television are. They clearly have the potential for train wreck TV, as their recent Amazing Race outing showed us. They can be loud and argumentative. They have the potential to be incredibly irritating; however, their first showing on The Amazing Race showed us that they have the ability to stay loyal to an alliance while playing a cutthroat game. And as individuals, the Twinnies are absolute unknown quantities. As Nadiya has drawn the bad luck of being on Coyopa, where I think the men will dominate, I don’t think she will make the merge. This will reduce the target on Natalie, and if she irritates people as much as she did on the race, she may even get dragged to final tribal; however, I cannot see either of the Twinnies winning this game.
Missy Payne and Baylor Wilson
Sarah: The cheerleading mother and daughter are San Juan del Sur’s attempt to recast Laura and Ciera. They’re scrappy and smart — but likely not as smart as they think they are. The athletic MILF usually holds sway over a clique of younger women, but I’m not sure if Missy’s going to have the right tribal make-up for that, seeing as they’re down two women before even starting the game and a lot of the younger players are male. Missy runs a cheerleading gym — that doesn’t suggest she works much with young men. My guess is she’ll be a very early boot.
Baylor should do better if she’s as competitive physically as she believes she is. Her age is working against her… She’s clearly very switched on, and I expect her to be good socially, but she’s not got the life experience that Survivor so often rewards. My prediction is that she’ll buddy up with a guy who fancies himself a puppet master, and though she’ll fight hard, as far as screen time and game influence goes, she’ll be lost in the mix.
Dan: Is it possible to be too competitive? Baylor is only 20 years old and expects to win challenges, and this may be a rude awakening. Ciera’s the exception in terms of really young contestants. Life experience is an asset on Survivor, and Baylor may be naïve and expect to run the show. Her chances are better than her mom’s, however. Missy has accomplished a lot in life, but I’m not sure she’s made for this game. When players talk about making the end in their opening videos, it’s rarely a great sign. Sarah aptly points out the imbalance between the men and women, and that won’t benefit the older woman in most cases. I’m not getting a great vibe that she’ll even last until the first tribe swap.
Michel: It seems that, according to Missy, the world has enough doctors, engineers and scientists so little girls should aspire to become Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Is it a Texas thing? At least the mom has made a business out of that crap. The daughter looks and sounds like a mindless puppet. People will say that she is still young but being 20 isn’t an excuse for being that dumb. I see a spoiled brat that thinks she is better than everyone else.
The only interesting thing I found about them is that they put Missy, the person with the most pet peeves, on the same tribe as Jon, the guy who hates people that have too many of them! I’d love to see Missy start complaining about everyone’s idiosyncrasies only to have Jon shut her up. If a conflict erupts between the two and the tribe has to decide between them, the athletic guy should have the advantage.
Sarah sees an attempt to recreate the Laura and Ciera dynamics but I simply don’t see it. These two practically put me to sleep while watching their two-minute introduction video so I don’t expect anything from them. This “dynamic duo” wants to make Survivor history by being in the final 3 together! I wouldn’t be surprised, or disappointed, if they make history by being the first two voted out. They talk about Baylor winning every challenge? Then they say she isn’t good in the water or in puzzles so that, right there, tells us that they are in way over their head.
Scott: Tell me after watching Missy/Baylor that they don’t remind you of Violet Beauregarde and her mother from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
Can’t you see Baylor being cocky or doing something inappropriate and then Jeff Probst comes out with some Oompa Loompas to sing a song about the life lesson that should be learned from all this? Would that be the best Survivor moment of all time? I just can’t see Baylor being a “great” Survivor player. I think Missy will either be one of the first gone, or will be treated basically like a hostage and dragged to the end of the game. Can’t you picture a day 37 Missy; emaciated, pale with a bandanna that looks like it’s been through a few wars?
Catherine: Twenty is awfully young. Even younger on this season of Survivor, where only three of the 18 castaways are under 25. I have a feeling that Baylor is going to find this really difficult. To survive past first boot, she needs to do two things. the first is to outperform Jaclyn in the challenges; maybe outperform Dale, but I think Dale is probably stronger than she is. She cannot be the weakest. Perhaps the cheerleading will help with this. Probably not, though. The second thing Baylor needs to do is to make herself a free vote to the majority alliance. These things might help her see past the first vote, but she won’t last much longer. She’s simply too young, in a season where women are going to be at a disadvantage from the beginning.
Unfortunately, I don’t have high hopes for Missy either. Probst describes her as super-likable, and perhaps she will manage to pull a Trish and be someone’s loyal sidekick. But she isn’t the type of person to take control of the game. She is by far the oldest woman in the game (13 years older than Julie, the next oldest woman in her tribe), and may struggle to form those social bonds. I think she’ll make it further than Baylor, and might find herself blindsided and sitting on the jury, ready to make an epically bitter speech.
John Rocker and Julie McGee
Michel: Hopefully, we will get some laughs from “Off-his-Rocker” but it will be a surprise if he does better than Kent. The retired pitcher says he will take his clubhouse experience to get along with his tribe mates but that remains to be seen. Listening to his video, I got the feeling that he talked to a PR expert and was trying to say all the right things, but how long can he keep it up? For example, he says he can read people and change his personality to mesh with others’ but will he be able to do it? He enters the game with the right attitude and his biggest fear is to be voted out first. His athleticism should keep him safe at first but the fear to be voted out could make him do crazy things that could get him voted out first. More likely, I see him going the way of Culpepper: leaving just a few rounds before the merger.
Julie could be in as much trouble as Rachel and Marissa combined in the first BvW! She should be targeted just to prevent John from having an ally at the merger. Or, like Monica, she will have to watch her husband get bashed by his tribe. I doubt that she will be able to take it as well as Monica and turn it to her advantage. Playing with her boyfriend on the other side eliminates a possible flirting strategy. She says she is good at earning trust and John says her social game will be excellent but I don’t think Julie will make the merger.
Scott: Holy F**k, that’s John Rocker. That’s what my first reaction was. As a big baseball fan and the self-proclaimed resident jock of the Rob Has a Website universe, I love it when professional athletes come and play Survivor. John Rocker in the 1990s was basically a WWE bad guy. Every time he came out to pitch he basically looked like this:
I’m guessing that he still has massive PTSD from the hell he created for himself in his twenties and therefore will probably be on his best behavior this season. Like Cliff Robinson from last season, I think John could very well play the game very docilely, meaning he will kind of just be there until the remaining players decide it’s time for him to go, which my guess is that it will happen smack in the middle of the season. I think his game could be absolutely blown up if there is another player that is very outspoken against him (the odds could be high on that), and if that happens, it will make John an early target for a good ol’ Survivor shanking.
Julie, I think, will either make it very far in the game or will be one of the first to go. She is smoking hot, which usually spells doom, because the other women usually will band together in a gaggle of resentfulness and unite for the only time in a given Survivor season to make sure that the hot girl goes home. I couldn’t get a good read on her strategy-wise, so yes, I’m being a tad sexist.
Sarah: As per usual, with professional athletes on Survivor, I had never heard of John Rocker before he was cast, but within days of the cast announcement I had heard everybody’s opinion on him and read (and been appalled by) his infamous comments on New York City. Then I watched his video and went: “Huh?” John Rocker talks like a cartoon character. He comes across as laid back, apparently not sure why he’s there and a bit dopey. It’s positively endearing.
That said, I can’t imagine his castmates will forget his history — yes, many of them could be too young to know it, but they’ll get filled in by the older ones, and it’s not like he’s been going around publicly apologizing for those statements. And I have yet to see John in “Game On” mode. But right now, he’s not coming across as a threat in any way, and if he can keep that up, I can see people not getting around to getting rid of him. That said, his laid back attitude is also the biggest strike against him. It doesn’t look like he’s got the motivation to save himself — so I agree with Michel and Scott that he’ll likely be gone before the merge.
Julie is a totally different story. She’s confident and clearly so uninterested in playing this game as a couple — she’s there to play it for herself. She’s 34, but looks younger, which is always an asset in this game. Like Tasha last season, she’s old enough to have the life experience, but she can also relate to the carefree single life of the twenty-somethings. It’s too early to tell if she’s overrating her social game, but she’s got all the starting advantages.
However, Michel is right on the money when he compares her to Marissa and Rachel. Julie’s tribe won’t have John to disprove their opinions of him, so that’s going to be huge negative baggage for her, and I’ll be curious to see how she handles that if it comes up. An early exit for John might well be the best thing for Julie’s game. It would certainly be a shame to see her get sent home as a knock against him when she’s the one who actually seems interested in playing the game.
Dan: I’m very familiar with John Rocker from his days with the Braves, and I expected to dislike him from the start. His sprints from the bullpen made him a hated guy even before all the awful comments. What’s strange is that he seems pretty harmless. The question is whether he’s going to play that way or is following a PR plan like Michel believes. The guy’s a giant and should be considered too valuable to vote out early. He’s probably safe from enduring the fate he dreads of going home first. What’s hard to predict is how aggressive his tribe mates will be at the start. We saw daring players in Cagayan that would take him out as soon as they could. In most cases, a guy like Rocker would make the merge or at least get close. In our current Survivor era of quicker moves, you never know how long he could last.
John will try to play laid back, but it’s not like he can hide behind other players. Some players will know him and his background, and that isn’t going to help. His best chance is to follow the Boston Rob route from Redemption Island and try to intimidate his tribe. He should form an alliance right away and stress loyalty and the price of betrayal. I don’t expect any of that to happen, however. John will make waves, but it’s hard for me to expect him to make a serious run. His game knowledge seems pretty limited.
Julie is clearly the bigger Survivor fan of this pair, and she even cites Colleen Haskell in her bio. She earns major points for not listing Parvati, but I’m still a little wary of her chances. Having John as her boyfriend is a serious crutch given the baggage from his past. I agree with Sarah that Julie needs him to exit to have a chance to go far. There are few scenarios that include both of them at the merge. Becoming a free agent will give Julie a chance to play her own game and not get pulled down by that connection. If John gets a Culpepper-like reputation or even just does well at challenges, it won’t look good for Julie.
Catherine: Being an Aussie, I have never heard of John Rocker. I actually watched his bio video, thought he would be great at the game, and then went back and read his Sports Illustrated comments. I’ve heard about his t-shirt business. I’ve seen his Twitter account. So I really don’t know what to think. Judging him off his videos, he comes across as laid-back, likable and with a really good read on the game. Judging him outside of those videos, he seems insufferable, offensive, and without a hope of making it past the first vote. I’m not sure which John Rocker we are going to get to see, and I think the outcome of the game hinges on it. If he comes out, irritates everybody, and leaves early, I think it gives the women of Coyopa (particularly Val) a really good shot at the money. If not, I think his size and age will lead to him being the leader of the tribe, banding the men together, realizing that 5 in 9 equals in, or something like that, and riding an alliance deep into the game. Val and Jeremy have already recognized that he is a great person to take all the way to the end. So for John, he could go early, or he could make final tribal. I’d expect to see him for a while.
Julie gets brownie points from me for her Colleen reference. Although she does say that she’s like Colleen because Colleen was good at making alliances. Now, I love Colleen, but alliance-making was not exactly her strength. Julie seems like she will play a far more manipulative game than Colleen ever would have done. She seems to be positively glowing at the thought of voting John out, and she quite rightly sees this as an individual game. I like her approach, and I am hoping for her sake that John is an early boot, allowing her to play unencumbered by either his deeds or his reputation.
Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly
Michel: Like his partner, Josh seems to have a fun personality and it could serve him well to make bonds with others. On the other hand, he could be too much for some of the other members of his tribe. According to Reed, Josh’s weakness is a lack of a poker face so that could be fatal on Coyopa, a tribe with many big characters.
I get the feeling that Reed will lack the patience that is needed to play this game. Of course, he could go full tilt for 39 days like Tony just did, but that isn’t the usual winning recipe. If he can’t stand slow pedestrians and servers, how will he adjust when there is nothing to do for days? He is a big fan of the show so he could make it far in this game. He says he plans to work behind the scenes but that generally isn’t the first step. He needs to start by making connections in order to be able to do the things he wants to do behind the scenes afterwards. If he can’t establish enough connections, then he will be spinning his wheels to no avail.
Scott: Got to say that I think both Josh and Reed have the potential to make deep runs into the game. They both seem like they will be well-liked at camp (always a powerful trait to have) and both seem like they can connect with different types of people or personality types. I really don’t have a lot of analysis here to give. They both seem like they will be strong players and if they both make it to the merge, watch out. I do think that Josh looks like a 1958 East Coast prep student if that helps at all; other than that, I got nothing.
Sarah: It’s very refreshing to get to their video and see two people thoughtfully assessing their strategies in the game and what their weaknesses will be — based on a long-term familiarity with the show! Reed is our friendly neighborhood Spider-man actor, and I can only imagine that his aerialist training has given him the right kind of all-round athleticism for Survivor challenges. It’s an athletic cast, but if I were going to pick a challenge beast going into this season, my money would be on Reed.
Of course, that could be as much a disadvantage as an advantage going forward, but as far as this game goes, they’re a good age, a good build and have a good energy. If for nothing more than singing around the campfire (precious little entertainment out there, remember), they will be kept around long enough for us to see Josh’s natural hair shape.
Their targets will come in the post-merge game, but I have confidence that Josh and Reed will learn the lessons of the Brothers Baskauskas and prepare for that. I could easily see one of these guys winning. I’m sure they’re going to have a major influence on the game, and they’re definitely two of my favorites going in.
Dan: I share my fellow bloggers’ high opinion of Josh and Reed. I think they have the best chance to make the merge as a pair. Being athletic and entertaining is a strong combination, especially with more intense guys like John in the game. I don’t see a reason that either one will face the vote early. They’ll do well in challenges but don’t have that bulky look that draws the most attention. I agree with Sarah that Reed has a great chance to do well in challenges. Both are fans and seem to have the right attitude to thrive in this game. They may be a little full of themselves, so that may create some obstacles.
If Josh and Reed both make the merge, the danger will create trouble for both of them. While I don’t see either voting the other out, they could be pressured to split up or face the consequences. Will the others recognize the issue with keeping them around? There are a lot of players that don’t seem as knowledgeable about the show, so that could provide an opening for fans like Josh and Reed. It will be interesting to see if we’ve all be drawn in by their enthusiasm. How hard can Survivor be for Spider-man? I’m looking forward to watching them, and I can’t say that for everyone.
Catherine: I completely agree with everyone and have very high hopes for these two. In a cast where there are plenty of recruits who have a very limited knowledge of the game, these two are fans. They have thought about their strategies. They seem to be quite self-aware. They’re a good age for the game, not the oldest in the tribe, but with enough life experiences to stop them making rash mistakes. Apart from Reed’s comparison of Josh to Lisa Whelchel, the bios of these two tick a lot of boxes for me. Their only drawback may be that in their excitement for the game, they may have a bit of a Tony-like approach, desperate to play the game at every moment. In this cast, that may not be necessary.
I expect both of these men to make the merge. They are likable, will be an asset in challenges, and can foreseeably work with any of the members of their tribes. They may find themselves set up as the swing vote early, but will find it easy to join an alliance. At the merge, there is no doubt they will be a target. But what I love about these two is that they know this. They have no concrete plans to work together. If they have to play individual games, then so be it. I think they may be the only pair at the merge willing to do this, and it speaks well for them. I think they are both great, I think Josh may do a little better than Reed, mostly because towards the end I think the target on Reed will be greater.
Who will win Survivor: San Juan Del Sur?
Michel: I think this season has a young cast so that we should look for someone in their 20s or early 30s to win. At 28, Kelley fits the bill while not being too young. I think she will endear herself to the others and fly under the radar since her dad isn’t a physical threat.
Sarah: Often in Survivor, you can’t go far wrong if you bet on likeability, and Jeremy and Val seem to have near universal adoration. Since more people seem to be gravitating towards Val as the winner of the two, I’ll throw my support behind Jeremy.
Scott: My pick to win the game is this guy they call “Boston Rob”. I think he is a real comer. I think he will shock everybody with his intelligence and ability to get others to do what he wants them to do to further his game. Okay, I really have no clue who is going to win this season. It’s wide open. Gun to my head, I would have to go with Jeremy/Val. For the sake of having to pick one person, I guess I will go with Jeremy.
Dan: I’m terrible at picking winners, so part of me is tempted to pick someone random like John Rocker or one of the Twinnies since their chances seem so low. That’s too much of a stretch, though. We’ve had three male winners in a row on Survivor, and the last two have played out in front. Despite the numbers disadvantage, I believe the tide will turn this season. It’s time for a woman to take the title, and Val’s likability and solid athleticism make her the most complete player to grab the win.
Catherine: My last three winner picks have not been good. I picked Dawn and Gervase, both of whom made it to the Final Tribal Council, where they had zero percent chance of winning, and neither of them even got a vote. And then Cagayan gave me my worst winner pick yet in Brice. And while Brice was a beautiful butterfly, he was not the masterful social player that I was hoping for. With that said, Josh is my pick. He is socially strong, won’t let anyone down in challenges, and most importantly, he knows the game.