The new season is fast approaching and I don't know how many people will be able to join the fun over here. I wanted to continue the tradition of the editing thread so here's a look at the characters and the game before the season starts.
For only the 3rd time, we have 3 tribes at the start. While on paper that should be a nice set-up, the two first games didn't give us very exciting pre-merges. Both Matsing and Saboga got decimated but, strangely, the last 2 members from those tribes (Jenna, Rupert, Denise and Malcolm) made the Final 4. What can we expect this time?
I think that dividing the tribes into Brawn, Brains and Beauty is a bad idea. It will influence the game that was supposed to be played between total strangers. Of course, people like Cliff and Tony can't hide their physical abilities but for the others, production put targets on their backs. Where, in the past, people could keep their occupation secret or hang back in some challenges to hide their abilities, this time everyone will know that some are considered smarter or stronger than the others.
That target will probably translate into a war between the "Brains" and the "Brawn" that could serve the members of the Beauty tribe well. We know that there will be challenges that will favor the Brawns and others that will be made for the Brains which means Beauty could easily slip in the middle every time.
Besides the tribe division, we have to deal with three additional twists:
- Tribes will elect leaders
- Leaders will designate their weakest member
- The Yul idol is back.
Who will be elected leaders? In Samoa. the tribes chose two men and very few women even received votes. Those guys (Mick and Russell Swan) weren't the youngest of their tribes. I'd expect Cliff, David and LJ to be the chosen leaders unless someone like Sarah volunteers.
For weakest, I think Lindsey, Kass and Morgan could be in trouble. Hopefully they will be smart enough to choose the extra bag of rice instead of the idol clue.
As for the idol, it all depends on two unknown factors: When will it expire and will they bring back the rule that it cannot be passed during Tribal Council? If it expires at F5 then it won't be an automatic trip to the F3 like Yul received. And an idol that is played after the votes are read needs to be in the possession of the player that will play it before the votes are made or else it it's a joke.
Now, let's look at the characters:
Cliff: I look at the cast picture and think Cliff is a mountain of a man. Unfortunately, Mount Robinson will likely 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 one receiving the votes.
Tony: He 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”.
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Jeff compares him to Fabio but I think Woo will be 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.
Sarah: 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.
Lindsey: 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.
Trish: 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.
David Samson: 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.
Garrett Adelstein: 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.
Spencer Bledsoe: 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?
J’Tia: 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.
Kass: 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?
Tasha: 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. 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.
Brice: I was ready to be wowed by Brice because he looks like he’d be a funny guy 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.
Jeremiah: I 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.
LJ: 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.
Morgan: 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. 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 Tenerelli so maybe it could work for Morgan. I’d enjoy watching her for the whole season but I don’t think it’ll happen.
Jefra: 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.
Alexis: 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.