The next season of Survivor is about a month off, but they’ve given us our cast list. I had planned on putting together a “who I’d like to see” post, but kept putting it off, and now it’s kind of too late. Ah well. I’ll just throw my comments on the announced cast into the void and sharpen up my Speculation Stick.
Three quick comments before I get to the peoples in question.
Comment the first: This will be the third time many of these people have played the game. I’m not sure I feel about that. There have been so many interesting characters throughout Survivor history who have only played once; I don’t buy that all of them would turn down the chance to come back. There’s not much I can do about this but grumble under my breath, really… but I can’t shake the feeling that we’re going to see a lot of stuff we’ve already seen before.
Comment the second: I don’t put much stock in who CBS classifies as a “hero” versus who they brand a “villain”. There are good guys and bad guys on both sides of the line, as well as good and bad players. Furthermore there are almost identical players on each side of the line, who were split up superficially or at least on very slim justification. Moves that would be “villainous” in one season might be “heroic” in another. This doesn’t bug me, actually; it’s just worth noting.
Comment the third: All-Stars showed us that previous winners have virtually no shot their second time around. I was glad nobody from Fans vs. Favorites had won before, but we’ve got some winners this time. I expect they will all of them be voted off quite early, and for the same reasons.
- Candice (Cook Islands)
Sorry honey, but I don’t remember you. Cook Islands was the “omg racist” season, and you’re a white gal, so you must have either been Penner’s ally or one of his betrayers. Make more of an impression on me this time around.
- Sugar (Gabon)
I do remember this cutie-pie, but not her game. I have vague recollections of her making the finals despite being a pretty wishy-washy player.
- Colby (Australia, All-Stars)
Good ol’ All-American Colby. We didn’t see much of him in All-Stars but when I went back and caught Australia on DVD I decided I really liked him. Great guy who plays a great game. It’ll be interesting to see, though, how these members of the Old Guard fare, who haven’t been near the game since the introduction of Exile Island, double elimination and hidden immunity idols.
- James (China, Fans vs. Favorites)
I commented that I didn’t really like the idea of people coming back for a third round. I would make an exception for James, who was eliminated from Fans vs. Favorites due to injury. He got a bad break his second time out and I look forward to seeing what he gives us this time.
- Amanda (China, Fans vs. Favorites)
In All-Stars they went to pretty great lengths to prevent players who had already played together from starting on the same tribe. They didn’t have that luxury in Fans vs. Favorites, so this will be the third time James and Amanda have been tribemates right out of the gate. Amanda was too under-the-radar in China and I really loved how she leveled her game up in Fans vs. Favorites. (See also: Parvati.)
- Cirie (Exile Island, Fans vs. Favorites)
In one of Cirie’s first confessionals in Exile Island she remarked about how she had never been camping and was kind of freaked out by leaves. Looks like she’s changed her mind about that, because she apparently can’t get enough of Survivor! I’ve always liked Cirie, and I know she can bite when she has to. I felt she got kind of a raw deal at the end of Fans vs. Favorites, but that was in part her own bad planning. And again, she’s played with Amanda before. (Amanda is a popular girl on this tribe.)
- JT (Tocantins) – Million Dollar Winner
If you’ve read my Tocantins write-ups here on the website you know I am all about some JT. He’s the charismatic country boy who took his best friend and ally to the very end of the game and then threw him under a bus so he could win. That he can get away with such a bastard move and still be both a “hero” and a fan favorite shows what a masterful player he is. I really hope he can somehow step further than his million dollar shadow.
- Rupert (Pearl Islands, All-Stars) – Million Dollar Winner
I love Rupert. If we ever met I would give him a great big bear hug. I rooted for him almost exclusively through two very turbulent seasons — the first two I watched. I don’t want to see him play again. Most people that get a second chance at Survivor try to play a different game because, obviously, their first one didn’t go well. Rupert played the same exact goddamned game and gave the same exact goddamned pity-party exit interview when he left. He’s never won, but America voted to give him a million bucks anyway because, hey, why not. I’m hoping that’s enough to get him voted off first, but I know better than that. He’s such a manipulable sap that he’ll probably get dragged along by a stronger player and then cut loose well after the merge. Here’s to his third pity-party.
- Stephenie (Palau, Guatemala)
In her first season I loved Steph because she was the ultimate Survivor underdog. Her original tribe was exterminated. There wasn’t even a merge in Palau; by the time she was the last woman standing, she just got a note saying “okay, go to the other beach now”. When she came back next season to play again she was almost a completely new person. She became a powerful and calculating player, and clawed her way to the finals. Unfortunately, the jury that season voted based on who was nicer and not who played a better game. I’ll be rooting for her.
- Tom (Palau) – Million Dollar Winner
Being a New York fireman, Tom is probably the only member of his tribe that is a legitimate hero. This man is a beast. His individual immunity sweep is the stuff of legends. He killed a shark for looking at him funny. And he’s the only Sole Survivor I can think of that honestly and truly finished the game without resorting to deception or trickery. His opponent in the finals knew she didn’t stand a chance. Because he is such an incredibly strong player and a previous winner to boot, I’m pretty sure we can write Tom off the first time the Heroes lose a challenge.
- Courtney (China)
Another player I just don’t remember that well. I seem to recall finding her to be excruciatingly annoying, but I might be getting her name mixed up with Corrine from some other season.
- Danielle (Exile Island)
Other than Cirie and the guy with the fake cell phone I just don’t remember much about Exile Island. I know Danielle was one of the finalists, and I know she lost to a yoga instructor, but that’s it. She must not have been that villainous if I can’t even bring her visage to mind.
- Jerri (Australia, All-Stars)
Ugh. Okay. In All-Stars (which, remember, I watched before I saw Australia) I absolutely couldn’t stand Jerri. Make no mistake, she is not a villain because of her calculating mind or her willingness to screw other players — she’s here because she is a bitch and nobody likes her. When it was pointed out during the All-Stars reunion show that, in fact, nobody liked her she ran off the stage crying. The only thing that will help me tolerate her presence this season is Round Three of her feud with Colby. One of my favorite moments of Australia is still an obstacle course challenge where Colby dragged Jerri around like a rag doll with absolutely no regard to her physical well-being. And she was still made to be the bad guy! Hilarious.
- Parvati (Cook Islands, Fans vs. Favorites) – Million Dollar Winner
I thought absolutely nothing about Parvati in her first game. When the underdog tribe came up to topple her alliance she kind of stood back and let it happen. I remember her smiling at a tribal council where she admitted she no longer cared about winning, and just wanted to vote her biggest enemy off. And indeed, this is what happened. Weak player, nothing to see here, let’s move along. When she came back for Fans vs. Favorites, though, she sliced through the game with almost surgical precision. Somewhere along the way she decided she wanted to win and was willing to fight hard for it. Unlike Steph and JT, though, I kind of feel like I’ve seen all of Parvati I need to. I wouldn’t cry to see her gone early.
- Tyson (Tocantins)
Tyson was one of my favorites in Tocantins simply because of how much contempt he had for the other players. This was a side of himself he never showed to anyone while he was playing, but of course now the cat is out of the bag. Tyson went down because his tribe got lazy once they had a numbers advantage. I hope he learned his lesson.
- Coach (Tocantins)
My number one complaint about Tocantins was that they spent way, way too much screentime on Coach. Coach is an almost morbidly dumb player and has the most gigantic ego I think I have ever seen in this game. Coach talked big about changing the game so the strongest really would survive — and then utterly failed to deliver on that promise. I think he’s too stubborn to play any differently this time around, but I at least hope he’s seen Tyson’s confessionals by now and knows not to trust him.
- Russell (Samoa)
Ah, Russell. My boy. I love Russell just about as much as I hate Coach. He is devious, tactful, and perfectly adept at setting his emotions aside from the game. Like Steph, I feel he played an extremely good game and only ended up losing because he went up against the wrong jury. It’s almost worth seeing Coach back just to witness the way Russell decides to use and/or destroy him. I can’t wait.
- Randy (Gabon)
Randy was… an odd one. I can’t remember his game very well (or anything else about Gabon for that matter), but he was pretty much just a mean old cuss who somehow dodged a lot of votes. Randy is probably most well-known for inviting complete strangers to the reunion show instead of his friends and family because, well, he doesn’t have any friends or family. I also seem to remember him ending up something of an Ensemble Darkhorse. I look forward to seeing his special brand of curmudgeonism again.
- Boston Rob (Marquesas, All-Stars)
Okay, I’ll make another exception to my “no three-timers” comment. I didn’t get to see Rob play in Marquesas, and by all accounts he did pretty terrible, but he was a gangsta in All-Stars. He had half the players marching to the beat of his drum and the other half laying agape in stunned exasperation at how difficult it was proving to get rid of him. I bet he and Russell spend a lot of time fighting over who gets to be the tribe puppetmaster.
- Sandra (Pearl Islands) – Million Dollar Winner
I feel Sandra is a very unique player. She would have been somewhat of a nonentity on virtually any season of Survivor, but Pearl Islands had a few huge personalities that set immediately to work destroying one another. By the time the dust settled Sandra pretty much just walked up and took the prize. (Pearl Islands’s endgame was actually a little more complicated than that… maybe I’ll write a post about it sometime.) What I remember most about Sandra is that she is very, very tough to fool. During Jonny Fairplay’s dead grandma stunt she was the only player who didn’t give him any sympathy. She either saw through the act or wasn’t willing to detach herself from the game and give someone else a freebie. Those are both qualities I really like in a player. It’s also worth noting that Sandra wanted to play in All-Stars but couldn’t because she was recovering from an illness she contracted during Pearl Islands.
Hmm… I just thought of a fourth general comment: they changed the tagline from “Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.” to “Return. Revenge. Redemption.” I wonder if that’s an indication in how the season will play out. All-Stars ended up getting really weepy, with a lot of players letting their friendships getting in the way of the game. Fans vs. Favorites saw a huge leap in the level of strategy in the comebacks. I’m excited to see where Heroes vs. Villains takes us along those lines.