Welcome everyone to a new season, one that Probst will most likely describe as one of the best ever. I must admit that I have barely listened to all the pre-season promotions. This season was built for the casual fans, giving the masses a chance to vote on their favorites and, of course, we wound up with a lot of recent players. I think it would have been much more interesting to see Shane and Teresa in place of Woo, Keith or Kass.
With returning players, we have much more information on the players than usual and we even have a lot of knowledge about them personally through their interactions in social media. Despite this, I will limit my analysis to the characters we once saw and look for differences in their new edits.
First, we have the Takeo tribe:
Terry Dietz: In Panama, Terry was a huge character right from the start. In episode one, we saw him win the RC for the Older Men’s tribe. He then took the map from Jiffy and quickly assumed leadership. He made sure that his tribe was well organized and he built a big fire on the beach, hoping it would be seen from the other islands in order to get an edge over his competitors. From day one, he was a doer, an active player that wanted to get the job done. His challenge and survivalist abilities rivaled the best we’ve ever seen. Austin even commented that the tribe was lost and couldn’t do a thing when their leader was on Exile Island. His social game however was extremely questionable. The editors didn’t help him though, starting in episode 4 where we heard Nick and Dan criticizing his decision to keep Sally over Ruth-Marie. After the merge, the scenes where he argued with Cirie and Aras rarely favored him in most of the viewers’ mind. Despite this, we have to note that he would have easily won the jury vote over both Danielle and Aras. Speaking of Aras, it will be interesting to see the dynamics between Terry and Vytas. A pre-game alliance is to be expected since there was a lot of respect between Aras and Terry after all was said and done.
Even if he is now well over 50, Terry is still in great shape and he will want to be the tribe’s leader. He doesn’t really have a male rival for that position in TKO. The women however could give him problems and his “Boys’ Club” mentality in Panama could come back to bite him. His early edit will give us an idea whether Terry will be a long term player or not. If he is successful, he will be quite visible again and we may even see the game from his perspective. If he is an early casualty then I expect some kind of “hero’s send off” where we will see him as a victim of circumstances, bitter rivals ganging up on him. If he isn’t featured a lot then it will be very interesting to figure out the reason for that editing choice.
Abi-Maria: When Survivor: Philippines began, Abi-Maria immediately looked like she was heading the wrong way. Feisty and loud, Abi wasn’t a fan favorite and her feud with RC may very well have cost her alliance a chance to win the game. Being given a second chance, we will see if she has learned anything. If she did, then she will tone it down and that could be very telling: If she is still featured then that will tell us she is a long term player. A quieter Abi-Maria will likely be ignored if she doesn’t last very long. If she continues to irritate the others it’s doubtful she will last as long as the first time because she never demonstrated any loyalty to her tribe.
Woo: From the start of Survivor Cagayan, Woo wasn’t shown as a smart player. He had very little presence in the premiere and all we learned from him was that he knew Cliff and that he was a fan of the basketball player. He then told us that his first mission failed and that was the main theme of his season story. Later, he agreed to throw a challenge to get rid of the NBA player but then proceeded to do his best in that competition. Despite knowing that most members of his tribe were against Cliff, he was still caught completely off guard when they voted him out. Simply put, Woo was almost always out of the loop.
He is a player with good physical skills that won’t cause waves in his tribe so he may very well have a good chance to stay a while but it’s very unlikely that his second chance will get him as far as his first. He isn’t a Survivor player; he is simply a happy camper. Since he completely wasted his first chance, I find it almost unbelievable that he was given a second one but this isn’t a thread meant to complain about the fans’ picks. (If it was then I would have so much more to say!)
Peih Gee: She was an endearing character in one of my favorite seasons. From the start, we saw that she was in a failing tribe and that it would be a tough battle for her but she tried very hard to make it work. In time, she assumed the leadership of the tribe even if Crazy Dave wanted to be the one doing everything and that the three Christians (Sherea, Jaime and Erik) formed an important voting bloc. For someone that could have been the first player voted out, she certainly played proactively and she almost flipped the game. Even when her attempts failed, she continued to fight and she was the last Zhan Hu member standing. She deserves a second chance and it will be interesting to see how she uses it.
I am particularly interested in seeing how she interacts with Terry. This time, she isn’t confronted with a dumb leader but she will certainly feel uneasy if he takes charge. I expect that the women of TKO, led by PG and the two Kell(e)ys, will form the main alliance with Varner and Spencer giving them numbers. If PG is the winner, it should be an editor’s dream because she will certainly provide great comments.
Vytas: In his first season, Vytas was a very good narrator, one that talked with a lot of confidence, showing that he felt he was a superior player. Another thing we learned from Vytas in Blood versus Water was that he was part of a pre-season alliance with his brother, Gervase, Tina and her daughter. He relied too much on that alliance but this fan favorite will likely want to have a working relation entering his second chance season. He didn’t hesitate to let Brad assume leadership of Tadhana and he was part of the ex-football player’s all-male alliance. With that in mind and considering that Aras was close to Terry, we can expect that Vytas will be Terry’s new Dan, helping the former fighter pilot assume the tribe’s leadership. That should alarm the women of the tribe and should enable them to flip the game on these two.
Spencer: This young man had a stellar edit in Cagayan, one of the few members of the Brains’ tribe that was shown to be smart. Despite a terrible start to the game he never gave up and found himself in a great position after an advantageous swap and a well timed merge. That’s when Kass threw it all away so we can expect that he will not trust her this time if an early swap brings them together. Another player that he should target will be Woo, not that he will see him as a threat but simply because he skated his way through their first confrontation.
Two things we know from Spencer is that he is a fan of the show and that he likes the strategic aspect of the game. Granted, some of the end game strategy in Cagayan was attributed to Spencer even if some of the ideas came from Tony (like the threat of a women’s alliance) but Spencer is a smart guy so he will likely have formed some alliances. He isn’t a very athletic guy so he is unlikely to bond with Terry. I expect to see him working with the women of his tribe just like he did in Luzon after Garrett showed that he was an idiot. An alliance with Kelley Wentworth seems destined to happen since both were betrayed by early allies. Like him, Peih Gee lost many early tribal challenges so that should also contribute to their bond. They will want to take charge from the start this time.
Shirin: For a player that didn’t have much impact on the game, Shirin certainly had a rich edit in Worlds Apart. At the start, she looked a lot like a dumb player, especially when she spent more time observing the monkeys mating instead of her tribe’s dynamics. She did connect nicely with Max but alienated all the others. Many said she was placed in the wrong tribe, thinking she should have been in the No Collar tribe from the start but that neglects the fact that even the laid back members Nagarote didn’t connect with her at first. She would have been voted out next if the merger hadn’t momentarily saved her. That’s when her edit changed and her redemption arc endeared her to many fans.
Since she proved that she is loyal, Shirin shouldn’t be an immediate target if the TKO tribe goes against Terry’s leadership. If not, then she would become an immediate target for Terry who should clearly remember the problems that his season’s super fan created for him.
Jeff: Varner is definitely the player whose selection pleased me the most. If only Shane had been there with him then we would have had two of the few former Survivors that have dared to bash the show. Most will remember Varner for his confessionals where he stood next to a tree and kept telling us that “Mike is an idiot”. I also remember that he started some fights between his team mates including the one that led to Alicia’s famous: “I will always wave my finger in your face.” The ability to create conflicts between other players can be an interesting tool as long as it doesn’t come back to bite him in the butt.
I expect Varner to lead a charge against Terry, Vytas and Spencer and I’d like to see him succeed. He mentions that he wants to target Spencer first but I’m not sure that should be his priority. Still, he should make it to the swap and probably even the merger. If that happens then we could be in for a treat: His reunion with Kimmi. He blamed her for telling Tina about the vote he received during their first Tribal Council, a revelation that eventually led to his elimination and the pagonging of Kucha. It doesn’t have quite as much history as the reunion between Jerri and Colby but it should be good.
Kelley: Kelley was my pre-season pick for San Juan del Sur and I still think she should do well here. She was almost invisible in the episodes before the swap but we saw that she was part of the alliance that included Missy. Therefore, she was right to say that playing with her father hurt her game. It was the animosity between Dale and Baylor that broke her bond with Missy.
Playing on her own, she should thrive, especially if her tribe goes against the Boys’ club. She is smart and athletic so I can see her going far this time. Her early edit should be very revealing: In reality, she is a very minor character in this group of “fan favorites” so she should be ignored but if she isn’t then we will know she is a long term player.
Kelly: Kelly is one of the few players whose selection pleased me. Of course, it will be impossible to compare her presentation this season to her original edit because Borneo was so different. Back then, character development was the editors’ main job instead of showing the searches for idols and preparing us for the big, often fake, blindside. The 16 Borneo players had more substance than most of the finalists these days! To get an indication that Kelly makes it far, I will be looking for confessionals that aren’t about her first experience and how things have changed since season one. If that is her only role then we will know she doesn’t make it far.
Can Kelly make it to the end? It would surprise me because she came so close the first time. With Stephen and Woo, she is one of only three players to face the jury. None came as close to winning so maybe the others will say she already had her chance. I hope she can navigate her way to the end. While Hatch showed everyone how to play this game, she was smart enough to make connections with the other side and she even considered turning on her closest ally. Of course, Sue called her a rat for it but Kelly certainly spiced up the end game.
Then, here we have the Bayon Tribe:
Monica: I found it quite surprising to see that Monica was voted by the fans for this second chance considering she had a very small role in Samoa. I remember writing that she was no more than a deckhand after that season’s first episode but then so was Natalie! Monica was a jovial character and despite her small role she had a very consistent edit. She was identified as a Club Med vacationer along with Laura and the other players that Shambo didn’t like. Monica was almost always the alternate target in Galu. What the editors didn’t really show was that she had found a nice niche in Laura’s alliance and that this alliance formed the majority in Galu. To most viewers it seemed obvious that Monica was the one saved when the double TC was cancelled but the after show interviews told us that Shambo was on her way out that night. In Aiga, Monica’s role increased and she eventually became a feisty player, managing to get under Hantz’s skin a few times.
From all this, we can assume that Monica will once again try to get in the majority alliance without making too much waves but Bacon is much more likely to be dominated by the men than TKO. If Andrew, Joe and Jeremy get together as I expect, then there may be very little room for Monica to maneuver. These guys would be more likely to form an alliance with Tasha who is much more physical and Kimmi who could get in the main alliance just because she is part of Survivor’s lore. Monica is one of the few cute young women on this cast but the viewers will probably not get much time to enjoy her bikini shots... but she should outlast Kass!
Savage: After being the main casualty of the Outcast twist, Savage certainly deserved this second chance. Many will say that it should have happened sooner but Andrew was a very polarizing figure in Morgan. Many viewed him as a villain even if he was simply trying to lead his tribe against the juggernaut that was called Drake. His approach with Skinny Ryan and Lill was judged hypocritical by many but he was under very difficult conditions. Those two were obviously less adept in physical competitions than Osten and Darrah even if the latter pair grew disenchanted with being on the island. With the help of Burton’s idiotic plan, Savage managed to get his tribe to the merge with even numbers. That’s when his treatment of Lill came back to bite him.
What will he do with his second chance? I expect that he will once more go for an alliance that includes the most physical players and his plan should be facilitated by being teamed up with Jeremy, and Joe. Andrew won’t have the burden of assuming leadership because those two used a very collegial approach to the game. Joe even share his experience of being in a tribe that fell behind early.
Tasha: She was very well represented during Cagayan : We had the picture of a strong-willed woman that kept on fighting even when things didn’t work out for her. What the editors partially hid was her constant need to strategize. We heard Tony alluding to it, saying something like: “Tasha always wants to talk about the vote so when she doesn’t, you know something is up.” Still, she is a likable person and I expect that the Bacon tribe will prefer working with her than Kass or the young women. I think things could work out very well for Tasha this time around, especially if she can connect with the women of TKO after a swap.
Kimmi: One of the marvelous characters of the Australian Outback, I expect that it will be as much fun to reconnect with Kimmi as it was to see Gervase a few seasons ago. Because of Mike’s accident and the tribe’s demise after the merge, we didn’t see much of the alliance talks in Kucha. We surmised that Varner and Alicia were close, that they could count on Nick while Mike had Lis Lis and Rodger on his side. That left Kimmi as the outsider, explaining her early exit but I suspect there were many discussions that weren’t shown. In particular, I suspect Varner pushed for her elimination to deprive Mike of numbers.
That being said, I expect that Kimmi will have learned a thing or two since then and that she will do very well in this format and this tribe. I don’t know if she can go as far as Gervase but I think she will make a deep run mostly because of her good nature. People won’t be expecting a strategic player but I expect she’ll have a trick or two up her sleeves.
Kass: I disagree with many of the audience’s choice for second chance but never more so than with Kass’ selection. She has proven to be untrustworthy so I expect she will receive the same treatment that Candice experienced in the first Blood versus Water. Personally, I’d be happy to see her leave first. While the editors did show some of her good moments, we mostly saw an immature woman that simply wanted to create chaos and that couldn’t stand seeing the attention going to Sarah at the merge. She flipped the game mostly to spite Tasha even if it left her with no chance to win it. Of course, with so many seasons featuring returning player, she probably didn’t care wasting her first opportunity because she knew she’d be back. It’s not as if Survivor is “the chance of a lifetime” anymore...
Keith: Here’s another waste of space. Keith simply isn’t smart enough to play this game. I don’t need to say anymore than that.
Joe: One of the few castaways that were able to make fire without flint, Joe is a good survivalist but that doesn’t mean he’s a good Survivor player. Some of the returning players already have him in their sights so he’ll have as big a target on his back as he had in Worlds Apart. He had occasions to make alliances in his first season but he wasn’t able to get it done outside of his original tribe. He had a good social game but he didn’t seem to try hard enough to persuade the others. Maybe he never had a chance after that swap. The same should happen here: I think Joe will be safe in the original Bacon tribe but that should last for only 2 cycles. The players are expecting a lot of tribal shuffling so his strength will actually become a liability. It will be tough road for Joe to simply make it to the merge.
Jeremy: The best advantage that Jeremy has entering his second chance season is that he showed a willingness to work with the women on his first tribe. The alliance he formed with Natalie, Missy, Kelly and Julie should pay dividends here. He wants to work with strong men but that shouldn’t turn the women against him. I see a strong alliance developing between him, Tasha, Joe and Andrew and that could carry him nicely through the swaps where he could connect with some of the women from TKO. Like Joe, he could become an early target because this format doesn’t favor strong athletes but Jeremy has more tools than the former Nagarote tribe member. I think Jeremy will do better in his second chance because he has proven he can be trusted.
Ciera: Ciera received a nice edit during her first season, one that probably makes her slightly over rated by most fans. She wasn’t a target early on mostly because her mom, who playing on the other tribe, wasn’t considered a threat. The men’s alliance in Tadhana targeted Rachel and Marissa first because they were connected to Tyson and Gervase. After the merge, she played a game that pleased Probst even if her “big moves” weren’t really to her advantage.
Because her big moves make her untrustworthy, (I mean voting out your own mother means no one would trust her word in an alliance) I don’t think Ciera has much of a chance to last to the merge. Even a swap wouldn’t be helpful.
Stephen: I really like Stephen. I thought, like most, that he deserved some votes during Tocantins’ Final Tribal Council. With that said, our own “know-it-all” knows too much! To our great pleasure, Stephen is one of the alumni that have stayed the closest to the Survivor community. That could mean many opportunities to create pre-season alliances but I think that, overall, his connections will hurt his chances. Everyone knows that he is a good strategist and that he has a tremendous understanding of the game so who will want to give him a chance to stay? It would only mean giving him time to outwit them. Much like Boston Rob feared Rob in the first All-Stars, these veterans won’t want to deal with Stephen. This shows the shortfall of a season with returning players. Survivor is a game best played by strangers.
How will these people be presented the second time around? Will a former sweetheart turn into a villain like Stephenie? Time will tell and the premiere will certainly give us some clues.
This thread will be devoted to the analysis of the edit of the show. I ask that you leave all source information out of this thread but I welcome everyone's contributions. A scene can always be interpreted many ways and while I try to see the editors intent, it's always a pleasure to hear different opinions.
Here's hoping for an interesting season.