SurvivorSurvivor: Cagayan

Survivor Cagayan – The Bloggers Roundtable

The Rob Has A Podcast Bloggers, Michel Trudeau, Sarah Freeman, Dan Heaton, Nick Maiorno, Scott Gallagher, and Josh Wigler, weigh in on each of season 28’s castaways.  Check out the bloggers predictions at the end of this post and check out the almost daily blogs from this top notch group throughout the season.

Appari – The Brawn Tribe

Appari – The Brawn Tribe


Dan: Former professional athletes have had a topsy-turvy road on Survivor. Jeff Kent and Gary Hogeboom disguised their glorious past, while Brad Culpepper wore it like a badge of pride and tried to run the game. Standing nearly seven feet tall, Cliff won’t have the luxury of hiding in the background. He’ll probably survive the early boots due to his athletic skills, but the target will become huge (no pun intended) after the merge. He’ll need to own his NBA past and grab allies from star-struck fellow athletes right from the start. There’s one flaw in that plan, though. Much of the tribe is a lot younger, so they may not have been watching his glory days on the hard court.

 “Uncle Cliffy” seems excited about playing the game and competing in challenges, but he may not have the willingness to lie and betray his tribe to get ahead. He’s a nice guy who’s going to have plenty of fans because of his NBA background, but likability only helps in the early going. It will take a strong, committed alliance to get him much beyond the game’s tricky middle. Cliff recognizes that he can’t hide because of his stature, but that may not be enough to keep him afloat. His chances to go much beyond the merge seem pretty low.

Josh: You’re right on the money, Dan. Cliff has nowhere to hide, and I get the sense that he’s a bit too trusting and honorable to navigate the late-game betrayals. I do think he’s primed for solid standing within the Brawn Tribe, though — for the very reasons he won’t do well come merge time. Except some solid face-time for Uncle Cliffy this season, but don’t expect him to survive much further than fellow athletes Kent and Hogeboom.

Michel: I look at the cast picture and think Cliff could go unnoticed. All he has to do is make himself look like a mountain. A bit of camouflage, an ice cap and voilà! Mount Robinson would become part of the scenery.  Unfortunately, Mount Robinson will fall down the cliff.  If he makes the merge without numbers, he’ll be an immediate target. Even with the numbers, his allies will be too scared to keep him around once his vote isn’t needed.  There’s only one way Cliff could go to the end and that would be to play like Shamar and hope a new Sherri sees him as a goat. However, “Uncle Cliffy” is a nice guy who thinks Survivor is like greeting new team mates and building a winning team! The fool! He only needs to be nice and work hard for a team to naturally build itself around him. The problem is that he won’t be given the chance to decide how that team gets broken down because he’ll be the first casualty.     

PS. Cliff: You’re not the tallest Survivor ever. Mitchell was 7’ tall.

Nick: All the men before me understand Cliff’s personality. He’s a nice guy. Simple as that. I mean, you don’t get nicknamed “Uncle” something for being a d*ck to other people. Although I disagree with the sentiments that Cliff isn’t bright or strategic enough. I think he’s fully aware betrayals are necessary to win this game; I just don’t think his personality will allow for it. And that’s a bummer because everyone will want a little more Uncle Cliffy in their lives.

Sarah: I basically agree with everything the guys above have said with the one proviso that he’s a professional athlete. He’s going to have a competitive streak in him, and that could be a problem if he ends up on a losing tribe–or if he feels people aren’t playing ‘fair’. There’s some scope for personality clashes there that could give him an earlier exit than we might expect.

Michel brings up Australia’s Mitchell which reminds me that Mitchell had some serious problems getting the kind of calorie intake he needed and checked out of the game as a result. Obviously, we’ve had some pretty big guys go deep before (how tall is James?), but Cliff is going to suffer from the hunger in a way the rest of the cast just won’t. That could be a major red flag in his game and there isn’t really a way around it.

Scott: Living in Portland now, having Cliff Robinson (Portland Trailblazer for the best years of his career) in the Game of Survivor is like having someone from your district in the Hunger Games. I think people from the NW are going to go crazy for Uncle Cliffy this season. I think Cliff is going to be somewhat of a meat and potatoes type of player, meaning I think he’s going to do ok in competitions and be agreeable at camp. I don’t see him having any kind of an aggressive social game. I think he will be a part of a majority alliance and make into the top seven, just based on his ability to get along well with others. He could just use his size over everyone else and rule like Xerxes in the movie 300. Alas I don’t think he will do that, so expect Cliff to be a gentle giant in this game.



Dan: Every recent season has had at least one guy who wants to be Russell Hantz. Tony seems all set to grab that mantle this season and thinks he’s the smartest player in this game. The beat cop talks repeatedly about setting aside his normal self and being ready to do anything to win the game. That’s easier said than done. After a few weeks in the game, a person can’t hide who they are. If Tony’s really a good guy who wants to play an evil character to win, that strategy’s almost certain to blow up in his face. He’s a fast-talking dude from New Jersey, and he does make some good points in his video about understanding your opponent. Even so, he’s giving off an overconfident air and seems destined to get blindsided. 

Tony seems really proud of himself, and he could incite chaos with his willingness to cause trouble. The question is whether he can navigate the dangers of playing this role in the post-Hantz era. If he plays too hard up front in hopes of being the master strategist, he could be destined for an early exit. Recent winners like Cochran and Tyson have formed a strong alliance and stuck with them right to end. Being devious may not be the proper route to success, especially for a guy who’s so focused on rocking the boat.

Josh: I had a similar reaction to Trish, Tony’s fellow Brawnee. Trish is sending mixed signals: she describes herself as a true and loyal and objective person, but says she knows she has to play a ruthless game to win.  Likewise for Tony. If he incites a new Hantzageddon while out on the island, he’ll crumble well before the merge. My hope is that he recognizes an ally in fellow police officer Sarah Lacina, and reins himself in a bit. The Russell Regime won’t work a second time, especially coming from someone who, in his daily life, seems like a legitimately good person. Play to your strengths, Tony, both from a physical and personality standpoint; do that, and you could go quite far.

Michel: Tony talks fast and he’s already playing too fast. Sure, everyone is an opponent, sure most have to get eliminated for him to win but it’s still a social game and he’ll need allies just like everyone else, something he seems to forget. I don’t like his chances of going very far in this game. He could be an interesting character though. He told us that he doesn’t like being outdoors in the heat and around sweaty people so you just know he’ll get cranky at some point.  Imagine Judd on steroids and maybe that will be “Tone-hey”.

Nick: Ah, Tony. Everyone has you pegged down to a tee. You’re like a jellyfish in the Philippine shore – transparent. I hope you stick around, but the more I analyze your tribe the more I realize it’s a sh*t show. You’re going to butt heads with everyone and you’re going to claim it’s all because they aren’t smart enough to play this game. I wish you the best, but your type of personality can never win this game.

Sarah: The main thing I want to say about Tony is what great casting. You couldn’t get a more stereotypical looking New Jersey Cop if you tried, and underneath is this heart-of-gold family man (seriously, the guy tweets about how much he loves changing diapers.) The thing about these great characters is that they’re not always easy to live with. Will Tony’s tribe be annoyed by him or will they embrace the brilliant lunacy of his existence?

As far as gameplay goes, I get a different read on Tony to the others. I interpreted his comments as being willing to go to Hantz-levels of treachery, but not necessarily to sabotage the game as Hantz has done. He talks about getting people water and hugging them after challenges. However, I think that’s exactly how everybody is going to expect him to play, so I don’t know if it benefits him. Still, he’s a dynamic personality and age-wise, he’s a bridge between the old and the young–cool enough to hang out with the 29 year olds, but able to talk family life with the middle-aged set (and daughters with Lindsey). I think we’re going to see Tony stick around to the merge at which point he’s going to be far too obvious a target.

Scott: Tony looks like a jacked-up, head shaven older brother of Vinnie from Jersey Shore. I think it’s clear based on the other personalities in this tribe that Tony will attempt to be at least “on paper” the leader of the brawn tribe. Tony has to be careful not to become another Brad C from last season, by being to outspoken and brash early on. I think if Tony can avoid the “Bull in a china shop” approach he may have a decent chance of getting to the merge but I think it’s going to take a real subtle social game, which we don’t know if he has yet.



Dan: When this season’s twist was announced, it seemed likely there might be a few lunkheads on the brawn tribe. The closest example from this group seems to be Woo, who gives off a very strong Fabio vibe. His martial-arts background should help in the challenges, and his laid-back attitude might keep the target off his back. He isn’t an obvious threat, and his lack of a more defined strategy could help Woo go far. He says a lot of standard clichés about finding out who he is and expecting the unexpected, and that’s not going to make for great TV. Of course, we may blink and find Woo sitting in the final five.

Woo describes himself as loyal and positive, and those aspects of his personality may help at the start. The question is how much we’ll see of him from the editors. He has a Carter feeling to him, though Woo does show more personality in his intro videos. He compares himself to Ozzy (probably the Cook Islands version), yet he doesn’t seem to have the same ambition or arrogance. Instead, he’s out for the adventure, and that could make it tricky for other players to know whether his mind is really in the game.

Josh: Absolutely, Dan. There’s a diagnosis for players who enter Survivor purely for the adventure: it’s called Gabriel Cade Syndrome. Woo needs to show that he’s invested in the game, and is worth taking seriously, or else he’ll find himself no further than the Carter spot. I don’t love Woo’s chances in the game, but I do love Woo. He has a fun energy about him, and an even more fun name. I hope he does well, if only so I can shout “WOOOOO!” after he wins an individual immunity.

Michel: I think Dan and Josh are wrong about Woo. First of all, no one will ever be like Gabe who never considered Survivor like anything else but an adventure. Sure, like many others, Woo talked about the adventure but they’ve all been “corrupted” by the game. Just by talking about the million we know that Woo isn’t Gabe. As for the comparison to Fabio, I think Woo is much more alert than the surfer dude.  Just the discipline needed to be a martial arts expert tells us that Woo won’t be as completely out of the loop as Fabio. To be a successful instructor one must be able to communicate with others and to judge the others’ weaknesses and strengths so I think Woo can go far.  There’s no question that his skills set is much more useful in the typical Survivor challenges, where speed, agility and balance are often used, than Cliff’s and Tone-hey’s.  I expect Woo will do as good as, if not better than Frosti, another likable, athletic Asian.  

Nick: I initially was on the same page as Dan and Josh when it came to Woo. But that page has been turned and I’m officially with Michel on this one. I’ve come to the realization that Woo is a major contender this season – one of the top five to be exact. He’ll get along with everyone and he’ll prove to be much more game savvy than people are going to give him credit for. I can easily see Woo being the winner of the million dollar prize and Sole Survivor. Simply put, I’m high on Woo.

Sarah: I am going more with Dan and Josh on this one (and definitely with Josh on the name!) Woo seems likeable enough, and yes, he’s a college graduate who has martial arts discipline–but that doesn’t guarantee Survivor savvy.  However, I think Michel is right on the money with comparisons to Frosti, who was likable, athletic, and in no way a force to be reckoned with in the game. Woo’s going to be picked up as somebody’s protege (Lindsey? Tony?) and will eagerly contribute his vote to all their schemes until they get blindsided by the rival alliance–assuming he doesn’t get himself voted off as a challenge threat first. I expect Woo to have a fairly straightforward run through to the mid-jury phase; after that, he’s probably going to have to win immunities and hope he ends up in the finals with people who nobody likes.  Still, a tip of my hat to casting who’ve generally done a great job at avoiding the obvious stereotypes for this theme. It’s great fun seeing the Asian castmember be the token surfer dude.

Scott: I think Woo’s destiny is to get blindsided in an absolutely horrific way. He seems like the type of player that will try and play with integrity, which is usually the recipe for a good blindside victim.  Being a martial arts teacher I think it would be awesome if he came to the game wearing one of the Cobra Kai’s black gi’s and immediately crane kick someone out there to send a message not to mess with Woo…I won’t hold my breathe though. My forecast for Woo is I don’t think he makes it to the Jury.  



Josh: In her CBS bio, Sarah says the Survivor contestant she’s most like is Malcolm Freberg. “He’s nice, but very strategic and tasteful about it.” Based on her video interview, I think she remembers something else about Malcolm: his most successful Survivor at-bat came about thanks to an air-tight partnership with Denise. Sure, it was also his undoing, but the partnership got him right to the finish line, until he bungled it for himself.

Sarah has a natural partner on the Brawn tribe in Tony Vlachos, a fellow police officer. That’s an instant connection that nobody else on Brawn seems to have. Rob and Nicole talked about this during their knee-jerk reactions to the Cagayan cast; cops are likely to work well with other cops. I’m hopeful that Sarah and Tony put two and together and realize how much damage they can do as a unit. The trick will be keeping their closeness hidden from others, or at least roping in another tandem (Woo/Lindsey? Trish/Cliff?) onto their side. Assuming she’s on the right side of the numbers before one of the Brains, Brawn or Beauty tribes folds, I like Sarah’s odds for the long-view. She’s athletically gifted, emotionally balanced, and sharper than she’s likely to get credit for.

Michel: Isn’t it strange that we have many seemingly built-in duos? On the same tribe, we have two African American women, two Southerners are on another, two police officers are on this one, etc… The casting department probably wanted to keep some of these players safe by giving them natural allies but will it work? I have doubts, especially concerning Sarah and Tony.  On the job, partnerships don’t always gel and I think this will happen here between these two. They will probably butt heads more than they will cooperate.  She’s a college graduate from the Mid-west while he’s a brute from Jersey.  Not exactly an ideal match. She describes herself as observant and competitive while I saw only a boring person. To compare with previous police officers, I see her more like the useless Cristina Coria from Cook Islands than the brilliant Amy O’Hara in Guatemala.  Sarah’s monotonous voice almost put me to sleep so I don’t think we’ll get many confessionals from her. As for her game, the onion-type strategy she plans to use for alliance building has been tried before.  As good as it sounds, it usually doesn’t work that way but in reverse: The big alliance forms first and then you make a few firmer connections within that alliance.  Going first for a key ally and adding numbers around you usually leads to getting played by the person you thought was your number 1.  

Nick: I think casting was thinking the opposite with two out of the three duos you mentioned – they wanted them to ironically butt heads (Sarah and Tony in this case; J’Tia and Tasha in the other). It would go to show: just because you’re the same skin color or have the same occupation, doesn’t mean you’ll get along in the pressure packed game of Survivor. As for Sarah, she’ll prove to be overemotional and naive when it comes to the game. Thus, I see her providing entertainment in tribal settings. Sarah’s personality will test her tribemates’ patience, so expect to see her gone before the merge.

Sarah: I cannot disagree with my fellow bloggers’ logic, but at the same time, there is no way I’m running down somebody called Sarah. Never mind that no Sarah has ever made the merge. Third time’s the charm, people! Biased or not, I do like Sarah who seems to be one of the more theoretical thinkers on the Brawn tribe and speaks sound enough Survivor theory (at too much length… maybe it goes with the name). However, the big concern for me is her social game. She may well be brilliant at reading people (though nobody gets any points for figuring out walking stereotype Tony is a police officer), but that doesn’t mean a thing if she can’t play her own social role and charm people. Fortunately for her, she’s got two people her own age in the tribe, which is as much of an advantage as anybody can start with in this game.
As far as Tony goes, I’m sure the producers are dying for a Good Cop, Bad Cop alliance, but the twist I’m rooting for is Sarah as the Bad Cop. To make the Police Academy reference, I so want her to be Hooks: to all appearance, meek and mild–until you cross her and she goes absolutely postal on you.

Scott: Sarah….more like Para———————noid, which is the type of player I think she will be. She reminds me of Laura from Survivor Hantz Island and Bloods VS.  Tyson’s Crips. I think like Laura from those two seasons, she will potentially be a beast in competitions but will lack the social likability to get other people to want to roll with her deep into the game.  I don’t think being a cop is going to help her in this game, unless one of the competitions is assigning blame in a minor traffic accident or trying to prevent Commandant Lassard from looking Foolish (to steal another Police Academy reference).

Dan: I’m seeing Sarah as more of the Carey Mahoney of this tribe. She means well, but it won’t be very exciting. I’m intrigued by the potential of her joining up with Tony and running the show. The question is whether he’ll be down for such an obvious pairing. The other players would likely smoke them out as a duo and try to split them. This could mean trouble for Sarah if it happens in the early going. She could benefit from being less volatile than Lindsey or not as goofy as Trish in the short term. This could give Sarah a chance to make the merge, but I’m not sure her long-term prospects are strong. 



Josh: Lindsey describes herself as a slave to her own emotions, someone who needs to sync up with someone a bit more “logical” in order to do well in the game. Sadly, she’s on Team Brawn, where brains are in shorter supply than demand. Her choices for a “logical” partner seem few and far between: the two cops seem like a likely pair to me, with cool-headed Cliff and pilates instructor Trish another possible pair. That leaves Woo as a potential partner, but brains really don’t appear to be his strong suit.

It doesn’t help that Lindsey sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a sad reality that Survivor is often a game of first impressions, as Candice Cody knows all too well. In a back-against-the-wall situation, Lindsey strikes me as the easy person to strike down first. She’ll have to overcome some preconceived notions based on looks alone.But, really, at the end of the day, Lindsey identifies her central weakness pretty well on her own: she describes herself as impulsive and emotional, and in the same breath, talks about how competitive and badass she is. It’s a thin line between confidence and delusion. I like Lindsey as a character. As a gamer? Not so much. I think she’ll make great television — for the one or two episodes she’s around.

Michel:  She thinks she is great for this game, I think she’ll be bad. She describes herself as manipulative and strong and adds that she’s able to read people but all I saw was someone that will be the outsider and an early boot.  I hope she can give us a few laughs before she goes, that she can be as fun as Casaya’s Courtney or Raro’s Flicka even if she can’t do  much more than that.

Nick: I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said, Michel. I always find it humorous when contestants say their occupation will help them in the game somehow. Occupations have little to no bearing on how you’ll perform – it comes down to who you are as a person within a sociopathic environment. I think she’ll be sweet and funny, but prove aloof when she’s voted out before the merge. Along with a few others, she has a 0% chance of winning this game. 

Sarah: While players with colorful dreadlocks certainly don’t have a good history in the game (is Purple Kelly the highest finisher?), Lindsey seemed much more down to earth to me than her predecessors, and being a single mother, she should be tenacious. The downside is that I don’t get the feeling she has any real knowledge of the game–she’s doing this for the adventure and the money.

The Aparri tribe is a mini-Nicaragua, with half the players aged 29, and the remaining three spread from 39 to 48. To me, Lindsey has the strongest personality of the younger crew, and if they decide to band together, I think she could dominate that group. She says she’s too impulsive and will look for a logical player to balance her out: Sarah fits that bill. I can definitely see a scenario where Lindsey sticks around for awhile–one great thing about those colourful dreadlocks? Nobody’s going to assume she’s a threat either. I think she’ll get caught out by the post-merge maneuvering, but she’s good for jury duty–unless she has an attack of integrity after the first vote.

Scott: If she was in Dances with Wolves her name would have been “Talks with hands”. I have special powers from a near death experience as a child, so sometimes I can see into the future like Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone and with Lindsay I see her on the Jury glaring at the remaining three players and then when’s it’s her time to ask a question she will do the hostile, passive aggressive question where no matter how the three remaining players answer the question it will be wrong in her eyes and she will walk away with a snide comment. I think early on she will try to be one of the vocal leaders on the tribe, which I think will work early on in the game, but then sink her game come merge.

Dan: I wouldn’t underestimate Lindsey and think she’s going to be a tough competitor. Sarah wisely points out that she could dominate the younger group, and that scenario feels likely. There’s a question of whether she can keep her emotions in check when the game ratchets up after the swap. She was cast more for her image than her game knowledge, and there are a lot of super fans in this cast. Will that make her a larger threat or someone to keep around past the merge? I’m inclined to believe the latter and think she’ll keep herself afloat with challenge persistence and a limited strategy. She doesn’t seem inclined to pull a daring blind side and will look to power ahead with like-minded competitors. Uncle Cliffy seems like a perfect ally for her approach to the game. 



Josh: Trish describes herself as a people-person, and as a team player; someone who likes to look at people objectively before she makes any judgments, because first impressions can often be “dead wrong.” In the same interview, Trish talks about the “deep conversations” she had with herself prior to the game, recognizing that in order to win, she’d have to break promises and ruin budding friendships as a way of advancing toward the million dollar prize.

Rob likes to talk about how you can’t play as anyone but yourself on Survivor. The first person Trish describes sounds like the real Trish, and sounds like a real winner. The second person Trish describes sounds like the fake Trish, a cover she wants to create because that’s how she believes Survivor is supposed to be played. People have won Survivor on honor and likability. Trish’s own Survivor role model, Danni Boatwright, is a strong example of that. If Trish can lean into those instincts and prove herself a loyal ally and solid team-worker, she’s off to a great start. If she resists who she is, and tries to play a “bad guy” game because that’s how so many people play Survivor, then she’s toast.  Be who you are, Trish, or be gone early; your choice.

Michel: At least this tribe has one interesting woman. I really like Trish’s enthusiasm and her energy. I like even more the fact that she barely talked about what she will do in the game but expanded on what she will have to endure instead.  She showed that she understands the game and that big plans, on the days leading up to the show, are useless. It will all depend on integrating the tribe on day 1 and she seems to get that. Of course, it could be that we didn’t hear her talk about strategy in the presentation video because she’ll never be a strategic player on the show but if we do hear the game from her perspective we’ll know she’s a contender. The only red flags I see are her age (even if she looks younger than 47) and her temper which she says she’ll have to keep under control. I think Trish will go far if she gets in the early alliance. 

Nick: I couldn’t disagree more with Michel on this one. I love underdogs, but there’s a certain type of underdog I can’t stand. It looks like Trish is that certain type – overly enthusiastic and dramatic. People like this play up their “me against the world” mantra to excruciating levels of annoyance and when they don’t win, they pontificate how deserving they were. In other words, all signs point to her being the female version of Troyzan.

Sarah: I will see Nick’s Troyzan, and raise him one Rupert. (I’m pretty sure that analogy only makes sense if you don’t play poker.) Go on, watch Trish’s meet the cast video, and tell me that you can’t hear Rupert growling that speech word for word (though with more pauses for dramatic effect.) Now, Trish does seem like a wonderful person, and I think it’s great that the oldest player in the game is a woman on the brawn tribe–but I don’t think she can find the common ground on which to meet other players. Furthermore, when she talks about what it takes to win the game, she’s focusing on survival aspects, not about navigating the socio-political waters. Her best hope is for somebody to pick her up as a pawn–failing that, she’ll need somebody else to be disliked. I don’t think she’s going to be anybody’s key ally or best friend, and that makes her an easy vote. Even if she survives the early stages, she’s not going to have any direct impact on the game.

Scott: Seems like a great person away from the game, but my opinion here is that she will be the “Red Shirt” of the brawn team, meaning she will be the first member of the brawn team voted off. We all know that early on in every season of Survivor usually one of the weaker women are the first to go. On the brawn team, Trish seems like the most likely candidate. Her only hope is if my esteemed colleague Sarah is correct with her Rupert comparison and Trish actually turns out to be a Terminator in Competitions. 

Dan: I’ll make a bold prediction that Trish is the first person booted out of this game. The Brawn tribe will enter the first challenge over confident and finish last, and she’s the most likely target. Like almost everyone has said, Trish seems like a cool person yet feels lost from a game perspective. I’ll disagree with Scott that she’s a weaker woman, however. She’s possibly one of the strongest in physical terms. However, I think she’ll be too naïve and won’t be ready to outwit her competitors at the start. She also has an eccentric personality that could rub people the wrong way, and that’s an easy way to get voted out right at the start.

Luzon – The Brains Tribe

Luzon - The Brains Tribe
Luzon – The Brains Tribe


Michel: First, I have to say that, for the first time ever, I despise a new contestant. I see Samson as a con man for what he did to the Montreal Expos. But I will put that aside and consider him just like a character on a TV show.

I noted that one of his pet peeves is lazy people. On Survivor, that could be the cause of some conflicts and, if the lazy person is in an alliance like Shamar for example, it could get David in trouble. When he lists Boston Rob as his favorite player, he hits on one of my pet peeves: New contestants who think they can be just like previous winners. Good luck with that. His quote about being persistent, getting the task done and leading without being the leader could also get him in trouble. If the task is building the shelter and he won’t let others rest before it’s done then he will be seen not only as a leader but as a pushy one. On the plus side, he says he’s always underestimated, that he’s been a fan since episode 1 (he doesn’t say if he stayed a fan throughout though) and he shows a bit of self-deprecating humor that could serve him well.  His ability to con people and a potential conflict between the two young bucks on his tribe could get David far. I expect to see him make the merge.

Nick: I love a good con man. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t put David in that class. He’s not charming enough. The only people guys like David can manipulate are those that are inferior to him. If he makes the merge, it’ll be for one reason: the people smarter than him know he can’t win.

Sarah: David is in an unusual position of being an alpha male with no obvious challengers on the tribe. The next oldest guy is Garrett, almost twenty years David’s junior. Kass is the only person within a decade of him, and she’s not going to challenge him for authority. While the Brains’ tribe is the one where I have the hardest time predicting the dynamic, I am certain that David will be calling the shots–unless he’s such an overbearing ass that he’s voted off just to get rid of the nuisance, but I think both he and the other players are too smart for that.
So David isn’t in any trouble until the almost inevitable tribal swap, and it will be interesting to see what tone he sets for the gameplay in the early days. Everybody else will almost certainly see him as a figurehead whose ego they can pander while they pull the strings–will he recognise this and use it to his advantage? My take on David is that he’s got enough self-awareness to know how they see him, but he’ll still over-rate his own abilities to outplay them. I think he’s in for a long run, but I agree with Nick that he lacks the charm needed to get himself into a winning position. Early to mid-jury is the typical finish for his type, and I don’t expect him to surpass that.

Scott: Being a huge baseball fan, I can tell you the general perception of David in that world is comparable to Michael Douglas in Wall Street. With his team, the Miami Marlins, they used public funding to build the Circus Circus hotel of Baseball stadiums and then once built; they sold off every decent player they had to lower pay-roll. Sadly though, I can see David being a great player in this game. He did not get where he is today by being an idiot. He knows how to deal with people to get what he wants and therefore I could see him dominating his side of the street here without anybody on his tribe really willing to challenge his authority. Since he doesn’t look like a real physical threat, nor will he have a shomance on here, I predict that he will not be seen as a major threat, unless somebody out there does recognize him, which I doubt.

Dan: I’d be stunned if anyone recognizes David; I’m a baseball fan and don’t know any presidents beyond my hometown Cardinals. He sounds like a typical business executive with the drive to get ahead. That commitment might help David to take charge of the younger members of his tribe. I agree with Sarah that he’ll try to lead and guide the others to follow his plans.  David reminds me of the way Marty took charge of the older tribe at the start of Nicaragua. He was in control until the swap but made enemies by gaining a foothold so early. David is very proud of his achievements, and that confidence might serve him well or alienate the other players. First impressions are pivotal on Survivor, and he needs to be careful in such a small group. I don’t expect David to exit first but think he’ll fall just short of the merge.

Josh: One look at David, and you know he’s trouble. Anyone with a brain (and by my count, he’s surrounded by five big ones) will take one look at the Marlin Man and see a “schemer,” as Heath’s Joker would call him. He may as well have “UNTRUSTWORTHY,” “WILL DO ANYTHING TO WIN,” “SERIOUSLY DON’T TRUST ME” stamped on his forehead. Is it fair to judge someone by their looks? Maybe not back in the world, but on the beach of Survivor, first impressions are key — and everything about David screams of warning signs. That said, I expect him to last for a little while, if only because he seems like more of an asset than Spencer, and perhaps a better physical competitor than Kass. I certainly hope to see him last long enough to align with Uncle Cliffy, purely for the sight gag.



Michel: He exhudes self confidence which could create tensions with the other young brainiac on his tribe. His pet peeve is dishonesty which tells me he has a strict definition of the word since poker is pretty much based on dishonesty or at least the ability to conceal the truth. I don’t think Garrett will have problems with lying in the context of the game. He’s probably dedicated more time to prepare for this adventure than most of the previous castaways and that makes me think he will succeed. He says that he’s an extrovert that gets along with all types of people so it will be important to see if he is shown as being able to tone it down or if he is presented as a loudmouth.  Garrett is already seen as one of the players that could have fit in any of the three tribes and the winners are always presented as multi-dimensional people so he has to be considered as an early contender.

Nick: I’m under the impression Garrett’s profile is a ruse. He’s one of those guys that can be a d*ck and usually get away with it. He’ll prove to be strategic, but I think he lacks the necessary charisma to win this game. Anyone who presents Survivor as formulaic will eventually find themselves with a variable they can’t compute: humans. Garret will go deep, but he won’t win.

Sarah: Nick is on the money with the human variable. Watching Garrett’s video, I noticed that he went on and on about how he had prepared for the game and sizing himself up against the qualities you need to win. There was very little talk about what he would do in the game. That’s perfectly fair: a specific, detailed strategy rarely lasts past the first twist, but I’d like to know what he’s anticipating before I can really make an assessment. As a successful poker player, he must have had practice in anticipating his opponents’ games, but Survivor is longer and physically tougher than poker, and its players are much more diverse in both background and gaming style.

That said, Garrett is probably right that he has the qualities for which you’d expect a given player to succeed in Survivor. Unfortunately for him, not this tribe. Stick him with the Beauties and he’d be able to get himself in a dominant position with the youngsters there.  Even in Brawn, I think he’d bond with their competitive spirit. Instead, he’s on the Brains tribe, with a broad age-spread, and dominated by people with professional backgrounds. I don’t see where Garrett’s common ground is with these contestants, but even on a tribe of intellectuals, a poker player might be seen as a threat. If he can buddy up with David, in a sort of mentor/protege dynamic, he could be all right, or maybe his athleticism can convince them to keep him around for challenges, but I’m anticipating that by day three, Garrett will be the number one target on his tribe.

Scott: Being a professional gambler means you have to be willing to make big moves, being willing to “go all in”, which is how I see Garret’s chances in this game. I think he will either make it very deep into this game or will flame out way too early. In my opinion, Garret’s Survivor game rest on the first three days of the game. If in those three days he can build a majority in his mini-tribe and acquire some insurance he can be a major threat in this game. If that scenario doesn’t happen, I can see him being seen as shady, and/or as a major threat and he will be done early. He doesn’t seem like the type of player who can just hide in the shadows of this game, he seems like somebody that is going to be identified early on as a major threat.

Dan: Is Garrett even a real person? Reading his bio, the achievements and planning are so ridiculous that it barely registers as possible. What did he really do for those 2,000 hours of preparation? That’s more than 83 full days if anyone is curious. If Garrett’s persona in the game has even a small amount of the arrogance in his bio and video, he’ll get plenty of screen time from the start. The editors can’t resist showing off egotistical, goofy players who aren’t self-aware like Coach in the Tocantins. The question is whether Garrett will make those outlandish statements in confessionals or among his tribe.

I agree that he really stands out in the Brains tribe and better sell his physical strength as an asset right away. Spencer and Tasha both talk about blind sides in the main cast video, and there’s no better candidate than a guy like Garrett. He may be a poker player obsessed with reading others, but he’s almost certain to underestimate his tribe. Spencer in particular is going to look at Garrett and be ready to turn on him in five minutes. Sarah’s point about him possibly bonding with David shows one possible route for Garrett to avoid a quick exit. Even so, I’m not optimistic that it will happen.

Josh: I love Survivor poker players. Jean-Robert is an all-time favorite of mine, warts and all, if only as a character. Garrett, if nothing else, is a character. I agree with Scott that the first few days are going to be key for the guy. I also agree with Dan that folks like Spencer are going to be looking for ways to hop on the Get Garrett Gone ship early on. But if Probst is right, then Garrett is the smartest person on the beach this season; if that’s true, and he can put those brains to good use alongside his obvious brawn, then I like his odds. Garrett’s one to watch, no doubt about it.



Michel: I want to like Spencer but we all know that those 2 minutes pre-season interviews are heavily edited. The promo department spends a lot more time getting to know these people so what they put on the air is always telling. What we heard from Spencer is that his pet peeves are incompetent leaders and stupid people voicing their opinions. That makes me expect to see him portrayed as that incompetent leader that talks too much, I could see him presented as the “Dumb Player” on this tribe. Spencer adds that he doesn’t want to sit in an alliance, just hoping that he will be carried to the end, that he is eager to make big moves and loves blindsides. The stage is already set for his own big blindside.

That being said, I hope I am wrong because he says that his favorite survivors are Stephen and Marty which is quite refreshing. He likes Stephen’s cleverness and strategic planning, but notes that his personality is more like Marty’s. He says: “I am a natural leader and can come off as pompous or bombastic.” While refreshing, it’s another recipe for disaster. I don’t think Spencer makes it far but I hope he does. On a side note, Spencer has to be the palest contestant since Dan Berry. Can he stay ghostly white for as long as the spaceman?

Nick: I agree with everything Michel said, minus the whole “I want to like Spencer” part. Someone older and wiser should have convinced him this was a bad idea. He’s 21, so we should cut him some slack – but if we’re being serious, he’s not someone you’d willingly want to spend time with. He possesses many intelligences, but social isn’t one of them. And it never will be. 

Sarah: I don’t have a significantly greater opinion of Spencer than Michel or Nick, but I do think he’ll last longer. As the 21 year old kid, nobody in that old-skewed tribe is going to worry about him being a threat–and quite rightly, because he’s not going to be able to play the game on their social level. How will Spencer deal with this? Colton and Cochran are both examples of the superfan that got on the show, and were shocked and horrified when it didn’t play out as they had always imagined. Colton crashed and burned in a storm of denial twice, while Cochran flamed out in paranoia in South Pacific but got his act together for his second time around and was ready to grab his lucky break.

Spencer said he’s used to being the smartest person in the room and was ready to dumb down for his tribe. As it is, he’s going to be the one struggling to keep up with people who are similarly intellectual and have a boatload of life experience to boot. If he can acknowledge the knock to his ego and play humble, he can slide by while the older players take the target. If he has to prove to America that he’s still smarter and better than the rest of his tribe, he’ll never make the merge.

Scott: I think Spencer is little to green for this game. I think he is about four years away from being a real threat in this game. I think the lights will shine to bright and the moment will be too big for him. This doesn’t mean I think he will be one of the first voted off, because I don’t, I think he will be the quite guy who we hardly see confessionals from, who will probably be one of the first members of the Jury. I think he will follow David’s lead and have some level of protection early on in the game. Being 21 years old, hopefully he won’t suffer the same fates as other past child stars, Like Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber when this is all over. 

Dan: Spencer is one of those players that will drive some people nuts and have them praying for him to lose. I still expect him to last a long time, however. The Brains tribe is the perfect spot for his approach to the game, and he could form a strong coalition against someone like Garrett or David who tries to lead the tribe. He’ll need to have a solid alliance when the swap happens and puts him with physical players who may question his worth. Staying under the radar will be essential if he wants to go beyond that stretch of the game and make waves after the merge.

I’m with Michel in wanting to like Spencer; anyone who references Stephen, Marty, and Rob in his bio can’t be all bad. He doesn’t make it easy, though. The comparison to Rob’s game in the Amazon should be a good model for what Spencer needs to do. He has to keep his ambitions to win in check and only take charge at the right time. Rob’s humor played a big role in pulling the wool in front of the other players’ eyes. Judging by the video, Spencer doesn’t have that same personality. If he gets into nasty conflicts, he can’t sell physical strength as an asset. He needs to work diligently behind the scenes, and I expect that may succeed for a while. Spencer should make a big impact but seems destined for an epic blindside after his true colors are unveiled. 

Josh: Say what you will about the guy. Say he’s arrogant. Say he comes across as sadistic, even. But give credit where it’s due: it takes some guts for King Joffrey to vacate the Iron Throne long enough to play Survivor.



Nick: I think J’Tia is one of five people who have a serious chance at winning this game. She seems like she’s on a mission. The only thing that will stand in her way is herself. I can see her getting annoyed with people quite quickly if they aren’t on the same page as her intellectually and strategically. Due to her strong personality, I think we’ll get to see the game through her eyes at some point – which I eagerly await.

Sarah: I really like J’Tia too–in some ways, I’m a little disappointed that she isn’t on the beauty tribe, because it would be nice to have one female beauty over the age of twenty-two, but I’m always going to be in favor of women being celebrated for their brains over their looks. J’Tia is the most dynamic of the female brains, and this sends up a red flag for me–she could meet the same fate as Kristina and Francesca in Redemption Island. Another potential issue is that as she’s from Miami originally, she might recognise David–something that could work in her favour, or could set him against her.

On the other hand, I have a lot of faith that she’s going to know how to play those early days, and I really like the fact that she’s talking about wanting to be the rock for other players. Often when talking about strategy, players focus on the active psychological game of manipulation and only keep half an eye on the passive one of how they are coming across, yet that’s often more important–the role you play in other people’s games is your safety net in yours. I expect J’Tia not only to be around for the merge, but to at least be a factor in the endgame.

Scott: For the first half of her video I thought I was watching a late night infomercial on traveling to some exotic island.  Clearly intelligent and beautiful I don’t share the same optimism for her fate in this game as my previous colleagues. In J’Tia, I can see future blow up’s at camp which could be deadly to her game, because she appeared as someone who might struggle managing their emotions if a disagreement should arise. In a game where everybody is looking for any reason to vote out somebody to preserve their own Survivor life, getting into conflict with other people always seems like easiest way to eliminate somebody. All of this is just conjecture at this point, but the vibe I got from J’Tia is that she might be a player who struggles to keep her poker face, which any good survivor player needs desperately.

Dan: It’s refreshing to see all three women over 30 on the Brains tribe, and J’Tia has the most potential to do well. I like her attitude in recognizing that being friendly and likable is actually important on the show. Confrontation and devious play could make for good TV, but it’s rarely a wise move in the first 10 days. J’Tia also has life experiences as both a model and as a nuclear engineer, and they should help with relating to other players. Her choice of Richard Hatch over typical picks like Boston Rob or Parvati in the bio is telling. She’s likely a long-time fan who recognizes his contributions beyond manipulating people.

I disagree with Scott and Nick about J’Tia having possible issues with controlling her emotions, at least judging by the short videos. The fact that it’s presenting her in such a positive light is also important. The editors want us to like J’Tia up front and aren’t setting her up as a divisive player. I’m onboard with J’Tia lasting well into the post-merge game.

Josh: I like all of the Brains women, honestly. The Brains women are my jam, and J’Tia is, perhaps, my favorite jam. She’s fast-talking, sharp-witted, beautiful and confident — all ingredients for not just a great TV character, but a great player. There are a lot of people on the field that could do some damage this season, and I think J’Tia is absolutely one of them. Fingers crossed that she does well; I’d love to see her stick around for many weeks to come.

Michel: J’Tia has it all: Beauty, Brains and Brawn. She’d be my winner’s pick if she wasn’t playing on a season with such an idiotic twist.  Being labeled a Brainiac when she’s so obviously beautiful will mean one thing: Jealousy.  The other players won’t let her near the end line because they’ll know they can’t afford it. I love her strategy of being there for the others but I was worried at first because she talked so much about the adventure and the experience. It made me fear that she only wanted to last long but didn’t have the drive to win. Then she started talking about being devious and I saw her great potential…if production hadn’t put that huge target on her back.  While I see her making the merge, I see her leaving around mid-jury when people realize she’s a winner.



Nick: Kass’s strategy in life and Survivor is to downplay herself. BREAKING NEWS: She’s mastered it! Good grief, she’s mastered it. I highly doubt we’ll be seeing many confessionals from Kass, regardless of how long she stays in the game. Speaking of which, I think she’ll be an early boot due to being a challenge liability.

Sarah: I’m going to disagree with Nick on this one. I love Kass. Was it the lack of make-up? The flat shoes? The frumpy swimsuit? Who cares, she’s my runaway favourite going into the season. That said, Nick’s probably right that we won’t see many confessionals from her, yet I hold out hope that the editors will surprise me. There’s far more substance to Kass than most of her flashier, quippier, bustier competitors.

Nick may well also be right about her challenge liability–Kass herself anticipates sucking in the challenges. On the other hand, if we assume that the challenges won’t be too physical while the tribes are thus separated, that might not be an issue. The big red flag for me is Kass’s decision to hide the fact she’s an attorney (presumably made in advance of knowing the tribe designations). She’s going to have to give her tribemates some reason for why she was cast as a brain, and an attorney isn’t so much of a target when set against a poker player and a nuclear engineer. If she claims she’s an animal handler, the rest of the brains are going to be suspicious of what she’s hiding.

Still, as the unassuming player in a group of egos, Kass is onto a good strategy for any Survivor tribe. It might be wishful thinking, after watching Amazon during the off-season, but Kass reminds me a lot of Deena. If she can make it past those early stages, I see her as a force to be reckoned with. Deena’s mistake was in overestimating her relationships with the younger players. Forty-one year old Kass is starting on an older tribe, but she’s going to need to befriend the twenty-somethings at some point.

Scott: Dear god my ADD was on ludicrous speed watching her video. My view on Kass is that I don’t think she will be able to connect with anybody out there, which to me seems like almost certain early survivor death. The fact that every Survivor competition always involves some stupid puzzle might be the only thing that can potentially save her, but other than that I don’t see any reason (as of now) to think she will have any sort of impact in this game.  

Dan: I work at a law firm, and Kass’ approach seems very familiar to me. She’s smart yet downplays her skills to avoid standing out in a negative way. This is an intriguing strategy for Survivor, yet it rarely works to hide your occupation. Sarah makes a great point that Kass calling herself an animal handler is not a good idea, particularly on a Brains tribe. Lawyers aren’t beloved, but lying about your job is much worse than just being honest.

Women over 40 often exit the game early, but that doesn’t mean Kass is doomed from the start. David is four years older and could bond with her, and Tasha is just four years younger. They could band together against a younger guy like Garrett and subvert those expectations. The danger for Kass is being considered a physical liability, so she needs to find a way to avoid being a weak link in challenges. If she can prove her worth in the early stages, Kass could surprise people expecting a quick departure.

Josh: Kass isn’t going to hide the fact that she’s an attorney. She’s too smart for that. Maybe that was her plan pre-game, but once the Brains, Beauty, Brawn twist is revealed, she’ll course-correct. She has to. Or else she’s a dummy. And she’s not a dummy. She’s a Brain! Literally! Unless I’m wrong, and Kass is a dummy, and tries to hide who she really is, in which case, lights out, lady. But I don’t think I’m wrong. I think Kass is going to lean into the situation and make it work — as much as she can, anyway. Kass and Spencer strike me as the most obvious physical liabilities on the Brains Brigade, so that could work against her. I wouldn’t be stunned if that’s the case. But I have higher hopes for Kass. I like Kass. She’s not my runaway favorite, as she is for Sarah, but I like what I see, and I hope I continue seeing it for a healthy handful of cycles.

Michel: I’ll be blunt: Kass will be the first boot for the Luzer Tribe. Yeah, Samson could be unable to hide his Napoleon complex, Spencer could show that he is a spoiled brat, the tribe may want to get rid of the African American pair but they’ll put that aside for one vote in order to get rid of Kass…AND she will have deserved it. What a dumb strategy to want to appear weaker than the others. She’ll be on a tribe that is tagged as physically weak so they will be forced to eliminate their weakest link. I mean, the Brawn tribe, like Tambaqui, Lopevi, La Flor and Manono, could eliminate one of their strong guys and still have plenty of muscle left but the Luzers won’t be able to afford eliminating a guy right off the bat. A woman is doomed on that tribe and the one that wants to play the weak card is practically voting against herself. Add the fact that she is the oldest woman and what else should we expect?  Her only chance would be to show that she’s the smartest so that she could at least say she’ll help them win the non-physical challenges. Why else keep her?



Nick: Tasha’s in for a rude awakening. Her personality isn’t meant for Survivor. She thinks she wants to be a liar and manipulator, but she doesn’t. Her only chance at winning this game is if she stays out of the crosshairs and holds on tight. I think she’ll do this, but even then, I don’t think she’s capable of winning.

Sarah: Tasha is one of the players this season who doesn’t seem to fit particularly in any of the three categories. She’s pretty enough, athletic enough, smart enough… but she doesn’t stand out against the others in these attributes. That doesn’t mean she’s a bad player, and it’s probably going to be beneficial to her in the early days–what possible reason would you have to target Tasha? Still, while she says all the right things and I like her well enough, I don’t have any conviction that Tasha has really got what it takes. She won’t be one of the first boots, but she won’t be around for the end-game either.

Scott: I found Tasha to be the most likable out of these three ladies. I think if she can survive the early boots in the game that she has the ability to get along with people and therefor more likely to be taking far in the game. She doesn’t seem to have the type of vibe that is leader-ish, which could help her be seen as less of threat. 

Dan: Tasha’s from my hometown of St. Louis, so I’ll be rooting for her all the way. Represent! She seems like a nice girl who should make friends easily on the island. It’s clear that Tasha’s a fan of the show and thrilled to be there. The question is whether she’ll be able to respond when the game gets rougher. That seems like a stretch given her faith and optimistic attitude. There’s a chance that Tasha will stick around for a while, but that’s more dependent on how the challenges shake up than her strategic skills. I’m hoping for the best, yet getting much beyond the merge could be a tall order for her.

Josh: I don’t have a read on how Tasha will do in the game. I can see her going deep. I can see her going first. Either way, I know at least this much: I like Tasha a lot. She might be the most likable person on the season. Likability only gets you so far in Survivor, of course, so the jury’s still out on her fate in the game — but like Dan, I’m rooting for her.

Michel: The fact that Tasha was placed on the “Brians” tribe even if she has a fair amount of each characteristics that divided these tribes tells us that production wanted to create their own dynamics by having pre-arranged pairings. While this artificial alignement could help some players, it’s more likely that it will backfire. The tribe won’t want to keep the two African American women together so one will go and that’s probably going to be Tasha. Why? One trait that Tasha has more than J’Tia is arrogance.  As likable as she is, I found her very pretentious when she spoke about becoming the leader at just the rigth time, picking the right people to be in HER alliance and already knowing THE strategy to use.  Like Nick said, this woman who loves blindsides is in for a rude awakening…the kind that you have in loser lodger when the pain of the knife is still fresh. 

Solana – The Beauty Tribe

Solana - The Beauty Tribe
Solana – The Beauty Tribe


Sarah: Of all the Beauty tribe, Brice probably best fits the stereotype we all expected, with his materialistic, cool kid demeanor. Unfortunately for Brice, the Beauty tribe actually has much more of an outdoor bent thanks to Jefra, Jeremiah, and LJ. Brice’s background and job as a social worker means he’s experienced deprivation, and I don’t doubt that he’s full of the proverbial street smarts, but if everybody else adopts the backwoods mentality, his inner city finesse won’t help him. If the young girls decide to clique together, he could probably adapt to them very easily for their fourth and potentially take control. If the country trio teams up, he’ll be in trouble.

In Brice’s favor, he’s likeable. When I started watching his video, I was worried he was going to annoy me, but he won me over. He shows a self-awareness that should serve him well in Survivor. I still think he’s got a raw deal on the tribe he’s on, but if he can last until the tribal swap, I see him adapting pretty well. Ultimately though, starting as a fish out of water does not bode well for getting into a power position late in the game.

Scott: Watching Brice’s video I got a little bit of a Colton Vibe from last season, in that he seems like the one who will start the most drama on a tribe that on paper seems the most drama-ish. Being a Social worker myself, I can vouch that working in that field does give you some survivor game skills in that you have to have incredible patience, plus also like Survivor, you learn to live on nothing, both of which could help Brice here. Brice seems like he will be a dominate personality in the game, which could help him early on in the game at least. I can see Brice forming strong alliance with the girls on his tribe and therefore he will carry a lot of power in the first stages of the game. My forecast for Brice is that he makes a decent run at this thing and makes it to at least the jury.

Dan: I’m right with Sarah on my reaction to Brice getting more positive from the video. He seems like a smart guy who could do well if he survives the early votes. Brice does have a tricky position on the Beauty tribe and might get targeted if he doesn’t make quick friendships. I’m skeptical about his chances if they lose challenges early, but Brice has the potential to last a long time if he gets through the beginning stages. Like Sarah mentions, he won’t be viewed as a threat after a swap and could help to target the more physical players. The trick is lasting that long. He also needs to be careful and not get irritated with someone who ruffles his feathers. I hate to say it, but Brice needs some luck to avoid going home right at the start.

Josh: What more can I add that Dan and Sarah didn’t already cover so well? You guys are brainy and beautiful! I’ll just say this: I really like Brice on camera, and I hope we see him last at least a couple of episodes. If he can overcome his odds at the start of the game, Brice could go on to become one of the more memorable Survivor newbies in recent seasons.

Michel: After reading what Sarah, Scott, Dan and Josh had written, I was ready to be wowed by Brice but his video proved to be a huge disappointment. So he was picked on when he was young, so his older brothers roughed him up. He thinks that will help him in this game? Please! Everything he said made me realize one thing: Brice watched the show but he doesn’t understand the game.  It brought me back to my first impression of Brice when I read that he considers himself a lot like Cirie, Colton and Ozzy!!!  How can anyone be like those three and not be completely schizo! They are about as different as can be so Brice watched the show, liked some people but really didn’t understand their personality or their game.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Brice turns out to be Zane v2.0.  All show, no substance.

Nick: Brice reminds me of Coby Archa (Palau) with a bit more flare. As Sarah mentioned, Brice has self-awareness, but it’s the type that doesn’t give a sh*t. Combine that with a dry sense of humor and touch of flamboyancy and I’ll be laughing any time Brice graces our screen. He’s without a doubt going to be my favorite character, but like most of my colleagues alluded, I’m afraid his time in this game will be short. 



Sarah: Jeremiah is a model who plans to use his southern charm—which based on previous seasons should get him far. Although he’s in his mid-thirties, he comes across as younger, and considering he wants to flirt with the girls, I think he’ll have no problems getting on the good side of the female beauties. Meanwhile, his outdoors interests should help him bond with his fellow thirty-four year old, LJ.

Jeremiah’s problem is that unless that air of naïveté is an act, I don’t see that he’s really got the social savvy he needs to win the game. He might well get far enough to luck into the right situation to win, but I don’t see him revolutionizing the game any time soon.

Scott: In this short video I just saw, the obvious comparison for me is that he seems like a poor-man’s JT. He seems like he will be good in competitions, can get food for the tribe and will get along with everybody, all traits that will potentially take him far into the game. I think his fate and downfall will be that he will roll with a dominant social player who he will be too trusting of (whomever that may be) who will ultimately stab him in the back late into the game.

Dan: When Jeff Probst talks about this season having a lot of “salt of the Earth” people, his prime example has to be Jeremiah. He’s set to be a fan favorite and shouldn’t be leaving the game anytime soon. Jeremiah’s set up well on the Beauty tribe and could make an alliance with someone like Jeffra and move far in the game. That said, he could be heading for a blindside in the post-merge chaos. If Jeremiah makes strong connections, there’s a chance he could make a run at the end. Sarah rightfully points out that he could be too naïve for the game, however. My fearless prediction is a seventh-place finish and then a prompt return in a future season. He could be the Malcolm from this group and have general audience appeal though not as much game knowledge.

Josh: I get Reynold Toepfer vibes from Jeremiah — in other words, I’m not very impressed, and I’ll probably eat those words. Lord knows I did not care for Reynold before Caramoan began, and by the end of the thing, I was in love with the guy. Maybe it’ll be the same case here. Maybe not. For right now, I can’t deny my first, gut reaction: I’m not a Jeremiah fan. Not yet.

Michel: Well, I do like Jeremiah a lot. I’ve seen comparisons to JT, Malcolm and Reynold but, to me, he’s much more like Brandon Bellinger from Guatemala. If Probst hadn’t flipped the game with that ridiculous swap in Guatemala, Brandon would have been very well positioned to win it all and I think Jeremiah can do the same with this group. His intention of making friends is a good one if, like he says, he doesn’t forget that he’ll have to get rid of most of those friends. That is how the game works and he seems to understand that.  I don’t really think he’s naïve in the same way that Jay was in One World but, like Jay, I think everyone will want to have Jeremiah on their side which means a likable, hard working guy like Jeremiah can go very far.  Probst doesn’t use the expression “salt of the Earth” very often but he did when he presented Tom before Palau. If it applies to Jeremiah, we will have to keep an eye on him.

Nick: Sarah hit the nail on the head right off the bat. Jeremiah doesn’t possess the necessary skills to win this game (which is a good thing as a human being). He’s just here to enjoy the moment and doesn’t care about winning. He’s simply a nice human being playing a game that isn’t meant for nice human beings. 



Sarah: At first, I was inclined to agree with LJ that he’d be better suited to the brawn tribe than the beauty one, but then I realized: Rugged outdoors type, with dark hair, piercing blue eyes and dimples? If the Survivor audience has a type, LJ manifests it superbly—though it seems they missed a golden opportunity to also put him in a blue shirt.

As a horse trainer, he’s got patience and he’s got the outdoors background that will help him bond with Jeremiah and Jefra. What kind of connection he’ll forge with the rest of his tribe isn’t certain, but the beauty tribe skews so young that he’s the leader almost by default—unless the girls decide to group together and put a target on his authority. But there isn’t an obvious leader among the girls, and the last time I expected that demographic to group together (for the fans tribe inCaramoan) they all went out before the merge.

So my thought is that LJ has a good position on his tribe, if a more visible one than he perhaps wants. If his social game is as good as he thinks he is, he should be able to make excellent use of that going forward—but right now, we have only his word on it. Time will tell, but he’s definitely on my one-to-watch list.

Scott: Ok first off, L.J looks like the lead character for a Hallmark movie where he plays a recently widowed father of two daughters who decides he wants to raise his kids in a small town. At first he struggles with being a single parent in a new town, in a new way of life, but then he meets another widow played by Eva Longoria whose been living in this small town her whole life and together they both learn how to love again…beautiful story right?

As far as L.J in this game, I agree with Sarah, that L.J will be seen as the natural leader of his tribe. I think L.J’s fate rest in his ability to get along with Brice and if he can do that I can see him being one of the favorites to win this season. The other side of that coin is that being seen as the de facto leader of a tribe usually also means a big target for the weaker players and usually will turn into their rallying cry. In these types of situations its usually up to the Survivor gods to determine the timing of losses in immunity challenges which effect the L.J’s of the world in determining whether they will have long or short lives in the game of Survivor…Capice? 

Dan: LJ is a tricky guy to assess, particularly on a small tribe. He looks and sounds like the kind of player who could win the game. Heck, he’s even from Boston. Sarah rightfully points out that he’ll probably end up as the leader of the Beauty tribe. LJ seems like a guy who’s used to running the show. Will he be able to practice what he says in the interview and allow others to lead? I’m a little skeptical, yet there’s a lot of potential in his approach to the game. He seems to have a better strategic mind than Jeremiah, but that could push him to over play in the early stages. If he can ensure they don’t lose many challenges, LJ could have a strong group ready to follow him to the end. While he seems like an obvious target after the merge, we should keep in mind that the last two winners for this cast were Denise and Cochran. They might not be as wary of a convincing alpha male running the show further into the game.

Josh: I’m a little weirded out by how much he looks like Boo Bernis. Beyond that, I agree with my fellow bloggers here; LJ has what it takes to win Survivor, and is certainly in the best obvious position on the Beauty tribe. Whether that translates to victory, or gets him voted out as a threat ala your Hunter Ellis and Marcus Lehmans of the world, remains to be seen.

Michel: He’s a guy that definitely has it all: Charm, athletism and brains. In Survivor, that’s a triple-threat and to avoid the target associated with that status, he will need to do as he plans: Restrain himself and let others think they are making some of the decisions.  However, just listening to his eagerness about solving puzzles tells me that LJ won’t be able to stand back. It will become obvious to everyone that he could win the game. While I see him riding the Solame tribe all the way to the merge and even gaining the numbers during the predictable “Brains vs Muscles” post-merge massacre, I think LJ will be blindsided around Final 5 or 6. 

Nick: It looks like LJ is receiving high praise, accompanied with a little trepidation. As far as I can tell, LJ is the heavy favorite. There’s only one red flag that I came across and it’s that one of his pet peeves is “liars”. Due to his competitive background, I think he’s more than capable of becoming a 39-day hypocrite. But it still leaves me with a burning $900,000 question: Will he wind up like Colby Donaldson in the Australian Outback or JT in the Brazilian Highlands?



Scott: So as’s most eligible bachelor, naturally I’ve been giving the girls on the beauty tribe to start with. So why don’t I start with my future wife Morgan, who grew up were I originally grew up too in San Jose, CA. Student at San Jose State University, usually is hot girl code for “Waiting to meet one of Mark Zuckerberg’s friends to marry” (ok that was wrong..sorry). Morgan is claiming she is not going to suffer from the young-hot-female survivor curse of being one of the first ones gone, claiming her plan will be to try and play right in the middle. The plan for Morgan needs to be to align immediately with the strongest people on her mini-tribe and hope to not perform the worst on her tribe in comps. Early on in the game you have to show your worth in some capacity in the competitions. Morgan out of the three girls on her tribe seems like she might be the most treacherous or willing to backstab if need be. My guess is Morgan makes a decent run in the game, at least to the merge.

Dan: I’m not so optimistic about Morgan’s chances. She could easily fall victim to the sad trend of removing the younger women at the beginning. Morgan also chose “attractive” as one of her three attributes, which is not a good sign. She is very focused on pushing back against misconceptions about her looks. While that could happen, I don’t get the vibe that she’s watched much of the show. I agree with Josh that she seems willing to back stab others, but I’m not sure that chance will happen. A benefit for Morgan is the make-up of her small tribe of six. If she’s able to align with Jeremiah or LJ and avoid a “girls vs. guys” scenario, she could stay on the right side of the numbers during the early votes. Of course, you could say the same thing about Alexis.

Josh: Can’t say I have high hopes for Morgan. Perhaps a decent run at the 2015 Miss Survivor title, but that’s about it.

Michel: She’s proud of having been chosen as a 49er cheerleader and it’s easy to see why she was chosen. The same charm worked with the casting department.  No doubt that Morgan can socialize with the other people in her tribe but there’s a big difference between being sociable and having a social game. Not many see the difference and it’s clear that Morgan doesn’t. She wants to hang out and align with the people that are middle-of-the-road and UTR types of players but that would help her only if she could organize that group. Like Scott wrote, in a tribe of 6, she would be better off supporting a strong leader thus creating a strong pair of votes and grabbing a few more to be able to coast until the swap or the merge. Hanging with the UTR players will only make her one of them; a boot waiting to happen. Morgan will make the merge only if she’s lucky. It worked for her “idol”, Natalie T. so maybe it could work for Morgan.  I’d enjoy watching her for the whole season but I don’t think it’ll happen.

Nick: Scott, Rob Has a Website’s most eligible bachelor (when did this happen?), wouldn’t mind having Morgan as a wife. As for me? Well, I’d be more than happy to share several romantic evenings with her. But that’s about it. I hope she’s a sweet girl so I’m not forced to throw jest her way. Although I must announce, the No Chance of Winning Club officially has a vice president. Sarah, be kind…

Sarah: Be kind? I have two less reasons to like Morgan than you guys do… Seriously, though, she seems like a nice enough girl, but that’s it. The game is going to be harder than she expects, which is OK, since with the other two girls she’s part of a ready made voting bloc. If Solana’s men are determined to vote off a girl first, then I’d put my money on her, but otherwise, I think she’ll be around for awhile–though I’m not expecting her to bring much more to the game than she does to her press photos.



Scott: Jefra looks like one of the descendants of the Lannister family from Game of Thrones. Jefra claiming that she doesn’t need a man to get her far in this game is either, foolish or naïve in that you do need a man in Survivor because guys are stupid and we like to feel like we’re heros, especially around pretty girls. We know from science that pretty girls in small spaces don’t get along, so what’s going to happen is two of the three beauties are going to turn on the one very early in the game. My guess is Jefra is the one who gets turned on (no-pun intended). A Lannister always pays its debts so be careful turning on her.

Dan: Despite having a silly last name, I give Jefra the best chances of the women on the Beauty tribe to go far in the game. She may claim to not need a man to succeed, but I expect that’s mostly about pushing back against stereotypes in her video. She’s only two years older than Morgan and Alexis, yet that difference could be enough to connect with two mid-30s guys in her tribe. Jefra has the feel of a player that may not win but will be around well past the merge.

Josh: I’m with Dan. Completely disagree with Scott. I don’t think Jefra needs a man at all — she needs allies, sure, as all players do. I view Jefra as one of the season’s players equipped with all three B’s. She’s a stunner, but she’s also smarter and stronger than some might give her credit for. Of all the young women on the Beauty tribe, I think Jefra has what it takes to do well in this game.

Michel: I found it quite refreshing when I heard her say that she’s a lot like Chelsea. She didn’t even mention Parvati.  However, during her video, she shows a lot of confidence about being able to hunt, fish and that she is a fighter which sends all sorts of red flags for me. What if the promo editors focused on that aspect because she won’t be able to survive?  I think all that bravado foreshadows an early quit or a medical evacuation. If I’m wrong and she really is that good of an outdoorswoman then maybe we will see her finish as the runner-up. Now that would be hilarious because she finished twice as the runner-up in the Miss Kentucky contest.  More likely, Jefra is one of the first few boots.

Nick: Dan, Jefra not only has the best chance of the women on her tribe, she has the best chance out of all the women. With that said, she’ll be nothing like Chelsea personality wise. Jefra is more of a Natalie White or Tina Wesson. I think she’ll be a pleasure to watch as she grows with the game. If you don’t root for a person like Jefra, you’re most likely possessed by the devil.

Sarah: Jefra might say she doesn’t need a man, but she and Jeremiah seem to be the most likely alliance of the tribe, with their southern background and fondness for hunting and fishing (though hopefully not a showmance–he’s more than a decade her senior!) Jefra’s the most flexible person in the tribe… she can go with the girls, who are close to her own age, or she can buddy up with outdoorsmen, LJ and Jeremiah. There’s a very good chance that she’ll end up doing both, putting her at the heart of the alliance, even if she doesn’t think of it that way.  That said, I’m definitely seeing her as more of a Chelsea than a winner. In fact, I see the three Solana girls as a potential repeat of Andrea, Ashley and Natalie from Redemption Island–if Jefra ends up in the finals, it’s more likely to be because she’s been loyal to the leader of her alliance (potentially great news for LJ?) than because she’s fought tooth and nail to give herself the win.



Scott: Alexis said the word psychology a lot in her meet the cast video clip, which is curious if her plan is to unite the girls together which again would go against science…and you don’t go against science. Alexis seems like she may be the best of the three in competitions, which would help her cause early on in the game. Alexis seems like maybe she’s not ready for the game to get devious and dirty, if that is the case it could be an early exit for Carl Jung, unless she can dominate the competitions early on in the game.  

Dan: I agree that Alexis may have a shot because of her athletic ability, and she recognizes that not appearing to be a threat is a wise strategy. Of course, she’s also only 21 and might get overwhelmed by the nastier side of the game like Scott mentions. Alexis lists her “flirty” personality several times in her online bio, and that can approach can go both ways. Players like Elyse from the South Pacific have learned that aligning too close with a strong guy could be dangerous. In this season’s small tribes, it doesn’t take much to get someone voted out right at the start. 

Josh: Alexis talks the talk, but I’m not convinced she’ll walk the walk. The Elyse comparison is a good one. Perhaps she’ll take the Parvati path instead. I like Alexis on camera, and can see her becoming a fun character to watch this season. She’s a bit of a question mark to me, as far as how she’ll do in the game.

Michel:  I like Alexis’ personality, the way she leans in and smiles when she talks and I think her tribe mates will like her also…if she is helpful around camp and in the challenges.  That will be her first hurdles; if she crosses them then she will go far. We haven’t had many psychology majors playing the game and that  knowledge could certainly help. The problem is that her fellow players won’t be sitting on a couch, waiting to be analysed. Will Alexis be able to think quick on her feet? I think so because I see very good potential in Alexis. In fact, I see her in the finale.

Nick: Alexis rounds out (sexual innuendo!) my top five contenders for the season. In the early stages of the game, I see her closely aligning with LJ. As the game progresses, I think she’ll be able to work her magic as long as she’s on the right side of the numbers. And if she’s on the wrong side, I think she’ll get picked off for being seen as a threat and to weaken whatever alliance she’s in. As the rest of the guys have mentioned, her personality should shine.

Sarah: I am all over the Elyse comparison. I remember before South Pacific aired, I was very struck by Elyse’s charm and I thought that if she buddied up with somebody like Cochran, her charisma and his game-knowledge could be a deadly combination. Obviously that didn’t really work out–and it definitely wasn’t helped by Elyse’s decision to buddy up to strategy-lite Ozzy. At least Alexis doesn’t have an obvious showmance partner on her starting tribe–but she also doesn’t have anybody who needs her bubbly personality.

I get the sense that there’s deeper stuff to Alexis, but it’s submerged beneath her role of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and we have a red flag in that she doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of knowledge / interest in the show prior to being cast. She’s a dark horse contender for me, but mostly I think that this is the wrong time for Alexis: she’s a little too young, a little too Survivor-ignorant. On the other hand, if she makes enough of an impression to be recast (and it seems almost certain that one of these young girls will), she’d be one to watch on her *second* showing.

Winner’s picks

Sarah: Not to humble brag, but last season I picked Tyson as my winner for entirely arbitrary reasons, and that worked out pretty well.  Accordingly, for this season, I shall judge my winner by who has the most awesome name, and that is clearly…. Sarah!

Dan: It’s a tough choice with all new players, but I’m going to pick LJ. He’s a strong guy but not the most obvious threat, and he seems to understand the game. LJ’s also starting in a strong position on the Beauty tribe and should carry that advantage well into the game.

Josh: Oh, I’m really not sure. I like a lot of these contestants, and I’m not wild about a bunch. No one sticks out to me as “THE Winner,” though. There are no outward Ethan Zohns or Kim Spradlins on this cast list. So, I’ll just go with my gut: Sarah Lacina, no further explanation.

Nick: My pick is LJ. I’ve pegged his chances of winning at 33% (3 : 1 odds); with the next closest competitor at 20%. May the charismatic hero steer clear of his conscience when it matters most.

Scott: It makes no sense because when I wrote about him a week ago I picked him to get 86’d early on, but I changed my mind and am going with Garrett. I have no logical reason why other then feeling like this season is wide open with no clear favorite and maybe Garrett has a little Matt Damon in Rounder’s in him…Ya, I know, that’s an awful pick. 

Michel: I think Jeremiah will be the Sole Survivor. I see the “Brains” Outwitting themselves, the “Brawns” Outplaying themselves with the Beauty tribe Outlasting the others by doing what they do best: Using their charm to make alliances. I expect that the Brains and the Brawns will clash at the merge which means they will need the Solame members’ votes.  Jeremiah should be well positioned within that group and I think he will know how to maneuver his way to the top spot.

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