Another season is quickly approaching so itís time to look at the new cast and the early story lines that could develop in Cambodia. The opening theme of KaŰh RŰng is a repeat of Brawn versus Brains versus Beauty but all the promos focus on the extreme conditions and the need for medical interventions.
I was expecting to hear how the first edition was dominated by the Brawn tribe and how it was time for revenge for the other two tribes but thatís been completely ignored. We have to wonder if all the discussion about the weather isnít a way to hide a lack of interesting stories.
It would be a shame because I think we have a very interesting cast. Many viewers have fallen in love with returning players but Survivor is always better when played by strangers. Itís a game about trust so itís much more interesting if the players donít know who they can trust.
With that said, letís take a look at our characters:
Beauty - Gondol
Nick Maiorano: Itís a little strange to do a first impression of someone that I consider a friend. Iím really curious to see how Survivor will edit Nick, which aspect of his personality they will stress. I certainly hope we get to see the game from his perspective but we will have to wait and see. As for his presentation video, it was really enjoyable. It was a lot of what I expected and where many see arrogance, I see confidence and, most importantly, an understanding that a game is meant to be played for fun. Nick mentions he doesnít want to be bored out there but boredom is always present on Survivor even if the editors try their best to hide the fact that there isnít much to do for most of the day. It wonít be easy to stay active all the time. I like the fact that he mentions listening to others because that in itself is the best weapon when you want to manipulate people. I hope Nick does well and Iím pretty sure heíll be fun to watch even if he is portrayed as the seasonís villain.
Caleb Reynolds: Unfortunately, I watch Big Brother... Iím not sure why but I do. Not every episode and certainly not the live feeds but enough to have some memories of Calebís season. So for those that didnít see him, Caleb should not be targeted for being untrustworthy. The guy was so loyal that he was still thinking of himself as the leader of the ďBomb SquadĒ even if his ďalliesĒ had long abandoned it to form a new alliance that they called the ďDetonatorsĒ. Caleb was a joke to Derrick, the real player on that season, and he was used to target all the players standing in the way. Caleb won quite a few competitions (4 HoHs) but he has some weaknesses. So, he certainly could be kept as the dumb ally which really is the ideal ally! I seem to remember that he had a problem with being a Have-not for a week though so that could be an indication of problems to come on Survivor where you basically are a have-not for most of the time.
Caleb has some good qualities and his plan to build a shelter for veterans if he wins the money is certainly worth noting. Also, it seems that he has been able to profit from his appearance on Big Brother because he was able to quit the part time jobs he previously had. The main problem is that he sees Survivor as a game played in the jungle when, in reality, it is a game played between people. He probably thinks that all he needs to do is socialize, be friendly to get in the group. He probably still hasnít realized that his ďfriendsĒ will be the ones that will blindside him again.
Tai Trang: Thereís certainly a lot of love for Tai on the different boards. I think itís at least partly due to the fact that he inevitably reminds us of Yau Man. People should remember that Yau survived the first few Tribal Councils because Ravu was the Have-Not tribe and therefore they really needed his survival skills. Tai seems like the nice guy who will want everyone to get along. If Gondola turns into a ďloveĒ tribe then they will go to their first TC and will all vote against Tai. I donít think Tai will realize that he needs to subtly create conflicts between other people in order to survive. Thatís what worked so well for Scout. In the history of the show, from the very first couple of episodes in Borneo to the demonstration we had with Samboohoo, nothing has divided people more than age. Unless Tai can prove to be as valuable as Yau Man, which I doubt very much, or unless Gondola develops early conflicts, Tai will not last very long.
Michele Fitzgerald: As a super fan of the show, chances are that Michele will be portrayed as a dumb player! This bartender spent most of her introduction video just dancing in the sand. It may work to get good tips but I donít think it will help her game much. I expect sheíll dance her way to Loser lodge unless sheís useful to someone elseís game. One thing in her favor is that she seems fairly relaxed and easy going. Will that last under the tough conditions? If she can keep on smiling then she could surprise us with a long coat tail ride.
Anna Khait: While she isnít a model, Anna is a beautiful woman. More importantly she expresses herself very well. I wonder if she is aware of Vanessaís run in the latest season of Big Brother. If she is, sheíll probably choose to hide her profession. I suspect casting a poker player was Survivorís reaction to Vanessaís strategic prowess. Will Anna fit the bill? I hope she does. She describes herself as sociable and mentions that she was a huge fan of the show before getting into poker (http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-players/253333-anna-khait gives statistics for her going back to 2013. Her total winnings arenít very impressive. They are under $12000 compared to Vanessaís 3.5 Millions. Even Jean Robert had 2Mill!) Her plan is to get people to like her and hide the fact that she will be playing hard. I like hearing her talk about trusting only a few people and getting people to underestimate her. Sheís ready to flirt with anyone so she could be an interesting one to follow. Iíd put some money on the poker playerís chances.
Julia Sokolowski: Sheís the youngest contestant weíve had since Natalie Tenerelli and wouldnít she have been the perfect ally for Boston Rob?! Another super fan of the show, she says sheís been watching since she was five years old (That means she started around the time of Pearl Islands and that makes me feel so very old!) She says her experiences in Tanzania will help her out there in Cambodia but I doubt it very much. Itís funny that when she mentions being underestimated she talks about being ready for all the outdoor experiences. The other players wonít really care about that. Itís her game that needs to be underestimated if she really wants to surprise people. I doubt that she has a game to play.
Brains Ė Chan Loh
Joe: I donít see him making the merger because of the tough conditions. Either he wonít be able to cope with the conditions like we saw with Mike Borassi or the tribe will see him as a liability. I also think he will try to be sneaky, sneaky because there was a shot of him during the video where he is hiding behind foliage. This ďTony-wannabeeĒ is simply another castaway that will be outsmarting himself, thinking heís cleverer than the others. Production always gives a tribe one free vote to give them time to get settled in and Joe fits the bill.
Neale: Neale could be one of the most interesting characters weíve met in a long time. Anyone that says heís part do-gooder and part dirty capitalist can have a few surprises in store for us. I also like the way he expresses himself. He seems to have watched enough of the show to know what to expect but isnít the super fan that will go overboard like Max or Shirin. His introduction videos showed him sitting in a tree so I wonder if his confessionals will be shot the same way. It would be fun because those images made me think of Hatch and Varner. I really like Nealeís chances and I donít see any reasons to worry about a fracture between himself and his tribe.
Peter: Will the Survivor editors present us with another ďdumb doctorĒ? Weíve had a few that seemed completely out of their element when it came to the strategic aspects of the game. Sean, Marcus and Mick come to mind as examples of what not to do on Survivor. I donít think Peter will be as bad as those three but there are some warning signs. I donít see any direct conflicts between him and Neale because neither seems to take things too seriously but Peterís problems could come later when itís time to make important decisions. On Survivor, the players have so much down time that Peter will not feel the same need to make quick, life or death decision as he does in the ER. I think that could lead him to take too much time to evaluate the ramifications of each decision, making him appear indecisive. Add his penchant for unpredictability and he becomes the worst type of ally: The smart, likable guy you canít trust.
Aubry Bracco: Maybe itís because Iíve seen too many of these types of introduction videos but Aubry didnít spark my interest. She talks about being nerdy, weird and funny and I should react positively to that but I have the feeling that those are words sheíd like to have associated with her personality instead of her real traits. Iíd bet that Aubry will not get many confessionals because sheíll be too shy or intimidated by the whole thing. Working on a companyís Facebook page isnít exactly the ideal job to make real bonds with people and her talk about being a Scorpio with Gemini rising could be a turn off especially in the Brains tribe. I donít think sheíll be a first boot but I donít think sheíll make an impact either.
Elisabeth Markham: Once more, Iím a little disappointed with this introduction video. Someone who talks about Game Theory should pique my interest considering that it was a post explaining how Game Theory impacts the game (and the way the editors present it) that really got me involved in the show after being more of a casual viewer during the first 5 seasons. The problem here is that I donít know if Elisabeth will ever get the chance to apply the theory. She seems much too sure of herself and her abilities. Since those introductions are edited, Iím thinking we heard her bravado because she comes to regret it. If she is given a role in the premiere, if we do see that strategic side of Elisabeth then maybe she has a chance. She certainly seems better equipped to make an impact than the other two women on this tribe.
Debbie Wanner: Iím also a chemist so maybe I should like Debbie. Iím not there yet. Iíll have to see how sheís edited before I can decide. My first impression is that sheíll be boring which means I donít really care at this point what will happen to her. She could form a partnership with Joe but I donít think thatís her best move. If those two are seen as a pair they will be booted first and second. A smarter way to go would be to throw Joe under the bus and work on forming a strong trio with whatever pair that connects out there. With tribes of 6 people, a player really only needs two allies if the group agrees on an obvious first boot. Then itís clear sailing for the trio until the tribe swap. I doubt that Debbie will act quickly enough to get in that alliance.
Brawn Ė To Tang
Darnell Hamilton: I liked Darnellís interview a lot. We certainly havenít had enough players who, like him, have had it tough from the start. Many canít afford to go on the show while most have too many problems to care about a TV show. The problem with Darnell is that his life story will certainly remind the other players of Dreamz in Fiji. I also liked Dreamz, thought he was a much better player than the editors showed but I fear some members of Toe Tap will not want to run the risk of playing with someone that could turn into the new Dre. If he can somehow get into the majority alliance on his tribe and avoid the pitfalls of the early swap that usually happens in seasons with small tribes, then Darnell could be a fun character to follow. Iíll be looking for a relatively quiet first episode, maybe only one confessional and a few camp scenes, just enough to let us know heís a player. If he gets an over the top first episode, it would tell us that heís either an early boot or that heíll be portrayed as the dumb player that canít win even if he goes far.
Kyle Jason: I think Kyle will go far in this game. I like his no-nonsense approach and his background should serve him extremely well in this situation. He mentions that he doesnít make long term plans so maybe heíll be able to adapt his game to the circumstances. He talks of playing like Hantz but, hopefully, heíll have the tactical side of the Villain but he wonít forget the social game. Being a blue collar, he could certainly connect well with Darnell and that would make for a fun duo. On the other hand, his military experience and his job in law enforcement could make him distrust someone with street smarts. I think that the dynamics between these two could decide the fortune of this tribe. Will they be toe-tapping their way to the merger or will they be stabbing their toes at every challenge? Iím not ready to say that they will be Matsinged because the first Brawn tribe dominated the game as did the Blue Collars, their closest match. Production will find a way to tailor the challenges to their skills.
Scot Pollard: For once, a former athlete isnít going to hide his past. We wonít have a Scot Hawkins in Cambodia! In a game where trust is paramount, it isnít very smart to pretend to be someone else if there is a chance that you will get caught. I donít follow the NBA so I had to read his bio to know who he was and while he wasnít a superstar, he played long enough and was on enough different teams that he will likely be recognized. Iíd downplay the bank account though. Jealousy can create dissension. Iím not too worried about his old injuries because it could actually help him avoid becoming a target. Heíll do well in strength based challenges and he should be smart enough to leave the races for others. Can he strategize? If he concentrates on the social game, the strategy could take care of itself. Being able to tell stories about the NBA and its players could help him make friends out there. I wonder if heíll use one of his confessionals to tell kids to do drugs!!!
Cydney Gillon: The first thing I noticed about Cydney was her smile. I think others will notice it too and that could break the ice. I think her biggest luck factor in this game was to be placed on the Brawn tribe. There will be bigger physical threats and she wonít frighten the likes of Scot and Kyle. She talks about having multiple personalities but Iím not too worried about seeing her alter egos, Rebecca and Storm, making a weekly appearance because I think Cydney mentioned them more for fun than anything else. Of course, who knows what will happen under the stress of the game and the conditions. I also liked the fact that she will be going to med school: There is more than just muscle to this brawny girl. I donít think the Brawn tribe will be the worst out there because, along with the Beauty tribe (and production), they will be motivated to humiliate the Brains tribe once more. What worries me more is her statement that she wonít share the food that she catches. Thatís certainly something that could get her voted out. How will she do? I see her making the merger but then leaving somewhere in the middle of the home stretch.
Jennifer Lanzetti: A lot of posters seem to be on team Lanzetti. I donít share the enthusiasm surrounding her. Yes, she had a pleasant video and she certainly could find a way to adapt her game to any situation but those are only words. The first words I heard her say was that she owns a virtual construction company. A virtual construction company? I guess that means she builds ďdreamĒ houses! From there, the next thing I heard was that she hates it when it rains, so Iím thinking sheíll leave on the rescue boat because we know itíll be pouring out there. I looked at her action shots in the video and she seems overly sure of herself and her strength. This self-proclaimed bad-##### will certainly meet her match on that brawn tribe and I wonder if sheíll be ready for it. Iím not convinced that Jennifer goes far in this game. I need to see more from her before jumping on her bandwagon.
Alecia Holden: I think many people will regret dismissing Alecia too quickly. I wouldnít put too much in the fact that Alecia doesnít really fit in the Brawn tribe. The categories rarely work anyway. Remember Heroes versus Villains? Iíll say that casting really liked Alecia and simply had to find a way to get her on the show so they used her tomboy personality and her fatherís background to place her on the Brawn tribe. Alecia could certainly find a nice spot in an alliance with the big guys and make her way far in the game. The worry I have is that she says she is very opinionated and confrontational, adding that she doesnít like bossy people. Well, that might not be the best way to approach the game. Hopefully, she can put a lid on it and leave her anger for her confessionals. Now that would be fun because every tribe, including the Brawn one, needs a Courtney Yates to make us laugh. Iíd like to see Alecia make it far in the game even if it is a long shot at this point.
What are your impressions and what will you be looking for in the first episode? Letís start the discussion.