Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers: Episode 7

Survivor

I honestly don’t think there’s much I can say that would add to the conversation about this week’s Tribal Council. Instead, I’d rather just direct you to Zeke’s own written response (see here) and get to talking about my players to watch for the upcoming week. His write-up does the situation 150-200% more justice than I ever could. Suffice it to say that I give mad props to Zeke for how well he’s handled this whole thing and I think it’s of utmost importance that we remember Jeff Varner is still a person.

With that said, let’s move on to the players to watch next week.

Ozzy: With the preview spoiling that next week is a merge, it’s important to keep your eye on someone like Ozzy. He’s this season’s traditional merge boot and has a history of misplaying the social game at this point in a season. This next week should really tell us quite a bit about Ozzy’s winning potential. He should have a solid core alliance with Zeke, Sarah, and Andrea. Plus, I think he has a shot to pull in Brad and Troyzan (the two alpha-males might be smart to protect each other for at least a few weeks). However, everyone knows he is a major immunity threat going forward, which makes the next few boots very important for Ozzy. If he’s able to latch onto a tight majority alliance, he has a chance to make it to Final 6, at least.

Tai: My big question for Tai is what he’s going to do with his idols going into the merge. Does he show someone to potentially strengthen/build an alliance? Does he play one just to be safe, knowing he has one in his back pocket? It’s hard to say what the right move is for Tai, but I think those idols (or Troyzan’s) are going to play a part in the next episode, even if it’s just a red herring.

Sierra: Sierra seems to have Brad (and Troyzan, by association) firmly in her camp, but who else is a guaranteed number? Michaela might be on her side; however, I wonder if Aubry or Hali will jump given that they haven’t been shown to be super tight with Sierra and Brad’s alliance? Either way, Sierra appears to have an important part to play in this season’s narrative and I wonder what move she’ll be making at the merge.

Sarah: Is it just me or does it feel like Sarah’s game is finally starting to heat up? We’ve slowly been getting more of her perspective in confessionals and that either signifies that she’s about to get cut from the game or her arc is beginning to shape into something important for the end game. This week could be a make or break one for Sarah’s game. She needs to make some moves and now might be the time to do so.

Zeke: This one is pretty obvious. Anytime Zeke is on the screen will be must-watch after last week. How will he handle the fallout of Varner’s move? I’m assuming he’ll want to downplay it as much as possible, but will his tribemates let him? I sure hope so. Zeke is an exceptional game player and I expect him to quickly recover. If Zeke isn’t in the majority after the merge, I’ll be surprised.

That’s all for today. It’s almost merge time, people!

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers Episode 5

Survivor

Was J.T.’s exit a demonstration of excellent manipulation by Michaela, Sandra, and Varner? Or is it just further proof that maybe Stephen Fishbach did all of the strategy steering during J.T.’s run to the Tocantins million?

survivor-gamechangers-michaela-bradshaw-sipping-tea-tribal-council

Personally, I think it’s somewhere in between. I mean, I cannot fathom someone sitting at Tribal Council, listening to someone repeatedly talk about how they “know they’re going home”, and actually believe that there isn’t some secondary plan I need to be worrying about. It seemed like J.T. was sipping his own Kool-Aid just a biiiit too hard and truly believed that he had pulled this masterclass move.

Unfortunately for the cowboy, it was Michaela who was pulling a masterclass at Tribal Council. She (and her alliance) correctly assumed how J.T. would react if she basically acted like she was lying down at the final moment. Sure, she was still cocky; however, she also gave off the air of someone who had given up hope. It was perfect.

And J.T. bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. It’s hard to remember a more perfect blindside from the last several years of Survivor. This one had it all. Sandra stirring up the pot by eating all the sugar. J.T. keeping that idol at camp (not even in his pocket!). Heck, we had our first “coffee sip” moment at Tribal. Just incredible. What a magnificent play by Michaela, Sandra, and Varner. They played J.T. like an Alabama fiddle and set up a dangerous foursome moving forward.

Not only was the move memorable, but I believe it was second-level smart. Listen, Jeff Varner’s last season was the twist-heavy Cambodia that saw a number of tribal shuffles. If anyone was going to sniff out the upcoming switch, it’s Varner. If they weren’t switching, you’re basically guaranteeing that you go right back to Tribal when you vote off J.T., but with the shuffle, it doesn’t really matter if you eliminate a physical player. An excellent reading of both the player (J.T.) and the game.

WHO TO WATCH

Aubry: Aubry is a great Survivor player and maybe the best confessional from an excellent Kaoh Rong cast. So, to see her regulated to maybe one confessional per episode and a minor part in the current storyline is pretty sad. Plus, she just found herself on the wrong side of a blindside at the last Tribal and has lost almost every early game ally she had. Where does she go from here? Does she stick with Varner, Sandra, and Michaela if any of them stick with her after the switch or does she look to jump ship? Aubry is not in a very good place right now, but if anyone can bring her game back from the brink, I think it’s her.

Debbie: What happened to Debbie? She was even more delusional than usual last week in her tirade against Brad. Did she even watch the challenge she was complaining about? If I’m Brad Culpepper, I would have seriously considered throwing that immunity challenge just to get Debbie out of there and protect myself from the wrath that is surely coming if Debbie makes the merge. I really questioned Brad’s choice last week in getting out Malcolm and I think this one might have been worse. He’s tossing his friends out of the game almost as quickly as he’s making enemies. Not a good look for someone with #winnersedit potential. That said, I’m really interested to see what Debbie does next. Here’s hoping she and Brad stay on the same tribe.

Brad: If you’re scoring at home, Brad Culpepper is one of two physical alpha males left in the game (the other being Ozzy). Yes, Sierra, Michaela, and Sarah are solid physical competitors, but the two traditional merge boots left are Culpepper and Ozzy. And that’s largely because Brad has directly and indirectly sent three of the other alpha males home over the last few episodes. That leaves Brad with nearly no one to hide behind, meaning his game is going to become very, very difficult if he doesn’t try to team up with Ozzy and keep him in the game. If these two end up on the same tribe, they have to work together. And if they don’t….one them will go very soon.

Sandra: The last player I’m really keeping my eye on as we watch another tribe shuffle is Sandra. If you’re going to get Sandra pre-merge, this is the time to do it. You switch tribes and then you pick her off before she can wrangle numbers. This woman is too dang good at building alliances and if you don’t get her out now, you might never get another chance. If Sandra makes it through this week, I love her chances to make it to Day 39.

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers Episode 3

Survivor

With my increasingly busy schedule, it’s become exceptionally difficult to find time to write about Survivor (or anything for that matter). However, there is something about this game that compels me to continue talking about it. After this past week’s thrilling tribal council, I decided it was time to get back to some Survivor strategy. Hopefully I can keep up with the season in this spot, but we’ve seen how that turned out in the past. Either way, let’s talk about what happened last week.

The first thing we have to talk about is obviously going to be that tribal council. Specifically, I want to focus on Brad Culpepper’s move. If you’re in Brad’s spot, you must be feeling good. Last week, you cut Caleb and essentially guaranteed that Tai is going to be loyal to you for quite awhile because he has no where else to go. That was an awesome move that proved Brad came to actually be a game changer this time around.

But I think Brad got too greedy this week. He seemed to pick up that Malcolm was the only person keeping JT afloat over Nuku tribe. Since it worked so well with Tai, he targeted Malcolm. After all, that would bring JT right into Culpepper’s arms and knock out another strong player. On the surface, it’s probably a great move. I think it’s going to be a big mistake.

Look at where JT is sitting now. If Nuku goes to tribal next week, he’s gone. Sure, he could find an idol and play it, but with the information we have, he’s out. If Brad cuts Sandra instead of Malcolm, JT and Malcolm could easily control where the next vote goes, dropping someone like Varner or Michaela. Then, when we hit the merge, and Brad scoops up two huge targets (read: meat shields) that will likely feel that he’s trustworthy because he knocked off Sandra instead of Malcolm.

Essentially, voting off Malcolm is (at least as far as we can see) the equivalent of a swing of four votes (you lose the two votes you would have and give them to the other side). That’s a rough place to be in. Now, I fully believe that Brad can come back from this. He’s shown this season that he learned a lot from his first time out and his duo with Sierra Dawn Thomas is extremely dangerous. However, Brad is the physical threat out of those two and without JT and Malcolm to protect him, he might be ousted earlier than he’d like.

That said, what a tribal council! I cannot remember the vote every being so up in the air and I certainly haven’t seen anyone running around discussing the vote quite like that. Plus, an incredible idol play by Tai and another big blunder from JT that has to be on par with his letter to Russell in Heroes vs. Villains. Can the season possibly top that moment? Well, before we find out, let’s take a look at some the Survivors I’m watching closely as we move through the next week.

survivor-gamechangers-jt-teary-eyed-after-malcolm-boot

JT : Obviously we have to keep our eye on JT. He’s in the worst position among anyone in the game. I cannot fathom a scenario where JT is not the next person voted out at Nuku if he doesn’t find the idol. Culpepper really screwed over his former ally. I think there might be a sliver of hope in the form of an alliance with Aubry and Varner against Sandra, but that’s probably just me trying to find a way to get JT to the merge than something that may actually happen.

Aubry/Jeff Varner: Sticking with the Nuku tribe, I really want to find out what’s going on with these two. We have heard from them in bits and pieces, but they have yet to feel important to the season’s ongoing narrative. That leads me to believe that neither has a big impact on the outcome of the season, but they are both so bright and such good narrators that it’s hard to see their talents being wasted in the early part of the season. Here’s hoping that changes next week because I believe this duo could do some real damage if they get together.

Cirie: The “Original Gangster” made it through what was always going to be one of the tougher parts of the game. Those first few votes, players tend to want to keep “strong” people around and Cirie is never going to be seen as a physical asset (though the girl can do her some puzzles). Plus, she had Ozzy gunning for her due to her past betrayal. Now that she’s through the early game rush, what can this strategic mastermind pull together? We’ve seen Jedi mindtrick her way into a great situation in the past and it feels like something is brewing. Very interested to see what she does from here.

Debbie:  Debbie has to be on the watch list this week after her volatile scene for next week’s preview. And if we didn’t know something big was coming for Debbie, the broad’s a gamer. You know she’s going to bring great TV until her very last in-game breath. I’m captivated by Debbie on most occasions, so going into an episode knowing she’s about to explode on someone is a real treat. Here’s hoping episode four delivers on what are sure to be sky-high expectations.

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X – Week 6 Power Rankings

Survivor

Well, there you go. In four or five seasons of blogging about the game I’ve never had a winner pick go this early, but CeCe is officially out of the game following The Great Redistribution. Might as well get on with my queen’s requiem.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CvOa4xCWEAATMPy.jpg

A Requiem for a CeCe Taylor: So, this was as obvious as the day is long. CeCe is a big minus in challenges and, though Chris is a fellow Gen Xer, you knew he had zero loyalty to the two people who had helped blindside him in back-to-back weeks. I have no idea why CeCe was so confident in her “majority” after the switch. Chris had every trait imaginable for someone who is about to flip and David’s only real loyalty is to himself. If the numbers aren’t there, neither is David.

This was an extremely weak alliance and CeCe’s confidence was supremely misplaced and misguided. I placed CeCe at 11 last week, so I’d have gained 11 points. Of course, I haven’t been blogging this season so my current total is….11 points.

Oh well, on to the rankings.

Jay Starrett: Jay slides into the top spot because I simply cannot see any way his tribe can afford to cut him this week. Ikabula would be dead in the water with Jay’s skills at camp-building and swimming. To stay away from Tribal Council, they need Jay. I think he’s safe until we merge back down to two tribes (or hit the real merge).

Chris Hammons: It might be a mistake to place Chris this high, but I really loved his move to flip his tribe and align with Zeke and Michelle. This lets him sort of decide what happens if they lose again next week. Obviously, David could throw a wrench into Chris’ plans with his idol (more on that in a second), but I see zero chance of Chris getting the boot.

David Wright: If Vanua loses immunity, David is the easy vote. Everyone there knows it. However, David has an idol and you can bet that he’ll be playing it. So, does he show the idol to Chris and maybe try to swing votes onto either Zeke or Michelle? Does he show the Millennials and jump on a chance to boot Chris? Or does he tell no one and just decide for himself who goes? This could turn into a very important week for Mr. Wright. Just not one that will see him going home.

Adam Klein: Adam still has the idol? He’s still on a tribe with Figgy? Okay, I think he’s good.

Taylor Stocker: I really thought we’d finally see Taylor and Figgy split last week and give us a chance to see what Taylor would be without her. Sadly, it didn’t happen and I think that’s probably good for Taylor’s game (?). I mean, it seems like Figgy is being seen as the brains behind their operation, thus Taylor should be safe if his duo is targeted. If I’m a FigTails fan, I’m much more worried about our girl Figgy.

Ken McNickle: We didn’t get to see much from Ken this week, but his role in the season’s overarching story still feels significant. It could be a swerve from the editors, but I venture to guess that Ken easily makes the merge.

Hannah Shapiro: Hannah was someone I’ve been worried about for awhile; however, I think she’s done a great job of slipping under the radar after seeming like someone who might get annoying on the island. Her anxious personality irked Zeke and Adam early, but we haven’t seen any more of that. A good sign for Hannah.

Zeke Smith: This week might be make or break for Zeke in Survivor. He hasn’t felt like a major player in the early goings, more of a “second fiddle” to some of the other players on his beach. However, with David making a potentially huge #BIGMOVE, we might get to see Zeke’s full game come out this week. I expect that he will out-maneuver his opponents and skate through the week, but I’m not completely confident, hence the lowish ranking.

Will Wahl: I’m not getting anything from Will. He’s had no screen time and is obviously not a factor in how this season shakes out. Maybe that changes this week, but I doubt it.

Jessica Lewis: I was concerned that Jessica take charge attitude might come out after the redistribution, so I was happy to see that my concerns were unneeded. That said, we haven’t been given evidence that Jessica will be here for long and I think she’s the easiest boot if Takali loses immunity.

Michelle Schubert: If Vanua loses immunity, you have to assume David plays his idol. I think he believes he can work with Zeke and maybe Chris moving forward, which leaves Michelle as the odd woman out. Plus, we know that, when Michelle is in trouble, she tends to push waaaay too hard. I think she’s gone soon.

Michaela Bradshaw: Michaela said in the pre-season that she struggles to control her emotions and we saw that this week. Will outbursts like that shoot her in the foot this week? Maybe not, but I’m betting it happens sooner, rather than later.

Bret LaBelle: Now that Bret doesn’t have Chris around, he’s become a much less compelling character. Sure, he was just Chris’ lackey in the early game, but now he’s much closer to being a bump on the log. Ikabula has a Millennial majority, meaning that both Bret and Sunday are in trouble.

Sunday Burquest: Sunday is firmly in the minority with Bret at Ikabula and, like Will, we have seen nothing from here. Sorry, Sunday!

Figgy: If you read this blog, you know my thoughts on Figgy. She’s an interesting player who lacks social awareness and has done an incredibly poor job of reading her tribe. Her relationship with Taylor is a mistake (in Survivor, I’m not judging them as an actual couple) and will likely cost her the game.

Running Total: 11 pts

 

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X: Week 5 Power Rankings

Survivor

So….Survivor is still thing! A thing I still watch and then rewatch every single week. A thing I really want to write about. Unfortunately, life (and World of Warcraft) have gotten in the way the last few weeks as I finish moving, start  new job, and play hours and hours of WoW. Now things are settled and it’s time to get back to making power rankings, but first…a Requiem for a Lucy!

Requiem for a Lucy Huang: Lucy got  very Monica Padilla in Second Chances adjace edit in her boot week. Like Monica, Lucy was completely invisible through the first of her season. She wasn’t even on the show, as far as viewers were concerned. Now, Lucy could have been doing things behind the scenes that we’ll never seen, but, as far as viewers are concerned, Lucy had no impact on the game through three weeks. So, when she suddenly became the most heavily edited player on the show, you knew she was getting her torch snuffed.

I will give her credit though. At least she got idoled out by David; unlike Monica who completely misread her tribe and went home in a classic 3-2-1 vote. That means Lucy was able to control most of her tribe and convince the person going home that the fake plan was legitimate. I’m not saying Lucy was a better player in this season than Monica was in hers, but I’m not not saying that…

Anyways, on to the rankings!

1) Adam Klein: Adam has to be this high because, with an idol in his pocket, there’s no way he’s going home this week. If he so much as sniffs a chance of the votes going his way, he’ll save himself and no one knows he has an idol, so they can’t purposefully blindside him. Plus, I firmly believe that Adam’s story is key to how this season plays out, making him a major player this season. I fully expect Adam to make Final 7, at least.

2) Jay Starrett: I wasn’t super high on Jay going into the season, but it only took a few weeks before I became a believer. He’s very aware of everything going on around him and makes great observations in his confessionals. I think he’s one to watch going forward.

3) Ken McNickle: Ken’s story still seems crucial to the overarching plot of the season. Plus, it would be a mistake to get rid of someone who so obviously excels in challenges this early.

4) Michelle Shubert: Michelle is locked to Jay right now and, with a swap coming, that could quickly change. That said, she’s already shown an ability to flip numbers her way, so I like her chances at surviving another week.

5) Michaela Bradshaw: Michaela’s social game has been lacking in subtlety, but she makes up for it with her ability to stay fluid with her vote. That “anyone but me” mentality could be her saving grace this week.

6) Zeke Smith: Zeke was a major character in the first four episodes and I don’t feel like we’re anywhere near the culmination of his arc. I think after Taylor and Figgy’s arc culminates, we’ll see much more of Zeke.

7) Taylor Stocker: Like I said, Taylor and Figgy have been THE storyline on Millennial beach and were the big talking point of this week’s swap. To me, that signifies that we should be worried about at least one member of the couple. Figgy is much less socially aware than her man, so I would not be surprised to see her go home this week. Additionally, Taylor has dominated the screen all season, leading me to believe that he plays a major part in how this season shakes out.

8) Chris Hammons: Chris started the season on top of his tribe and, given his personality, I think he’ll find himself in a similar place after the swap. This guy is a born leader and, while it won’t serve him after the swap, I think it keeps him safe for now.

9) Will Wahl: Will has been almost nonexistent in the edit this season. That signifies to me that he’s going to be gone in a random spot at about 12. The swap boot is usually a major player, so I don’t see Will going this weekend.

10) Sunday Burquest: Sunday feels like the older, female version of Will. She’s just…been there(?) this season. Neither feel like a player of significance.

11) CeCe Taylor: It’s sad to rank my preseason winner’s pick this low, but unfortunately, this is where we are. We haven’t really seen why she’s found herself on the bottom, we just know she is. For her, it all comes down to who she ends up with this week. She needs a new tribe to readjust her position on the ladder.

12) Hannah Shapiro: At this point, I’m looking at players who have a potentially grating personality when you first meet them. I’m not saying Hannah is a bad person or is hard to be around, but swaps come down to luck and first impressions. She’s very anxious and struggles to correctly read social cues. That puts her low on the list with a swap.

13) Jessica Lewis: Jessica can be bossy at times, which could hurt her if she ends up with a majority of Millennials on her new tribe.

14) Bret LaBelle: Bret is in the same place as Hannah and Jessica. I’m not saying he has a bad personality, just that it’s the type that could leave a bad first impression.

15) David Wright: David just played an idol. That tells people he’s here to play. If he ends up on a tribe with Chris and Bret, you can rest assured that he’ll need to scramble again. David needs some luck on his side to stick around after a bold Week 4 performance.

16) Figgy: The preview for Week 5 suggests that we need to be worried about this season’s showmance. Now, I’m not a huge believer in reading the edit; however, we know that Figgy is not self-aware of how she comes off. Thus, it’s not a huge stretch to see her losing her camp boyfriend and then getting booted by a tribe that doesn’t want to put up with her crap.

So, is Figgy your next boot? We’ll find out tonight! Let me know in the comments how terrible my rankings are and thanks for reading.

Survivor: Millennials vs Gen-X Week Two Power Rankings

Survivor

Before we begin, I just want to quickly explain the differences I’m making in this column for season 33 of Survivor. In the past, I’ve always tried to post two blogs per week about Survivor, a strategy-centered post and a sports-styled power rankings. Well, I just don’t have the time for that anymore, so I’m going to trim down to one weekly column that includes most of both in a shorter fashion.

I’m also getting away from the sports version of my power rankings and simply going to the normal Survivor power rankings where I list out the contestants in order of who I think will be eliminated next. The sports angle was fun for me, but didn’t really lend itself the best to Survivor, so it’s getting the cut. I hope the three or four people who decide to read what I have to say about Survivor can handle the world-shaking changes to my Survivor commentary. Anyways, on to the rankings!

1) Zeke Smith: Call this high ranking a bit of edit-reading if you must; however, it’s hard to deny that Zeke is being set up as a major player this season. He got the hero edit with his “fire-starter” scene and his confessional count was pretty high. I haven’t actually looked at the Edgic this week, but I would assume it’s looking good for Zeke. I also think he’s incredible well-placed in a tribe that could’ve been his early undoing. He was able to quickly find the middle on a tribe that looks to be split between “cool people” and “nerds”. I think he comfortably rides that middle until the swap and then we’ll reassess.

2) Chris Hammons: We knew going in that Chris would be an alpha male in challenges. He’s a former college football player and keeps himself in great shape at his advanced age. What I’m surprised by is that he’s been playing his social game very subtly. I expected Chris to come in and command respect. We haven’t seen that. Chris has been low-key, aligning himself with Bret early and using David’s paranoia to buy his vote for the foreseeable future. A solid week for the former Sooner.

(Note: Yes, I’m aware that both of my top two are fellow Oklahomans. Am I biased? Probably.)

3) Ken McNickle: This is a potentially disastrous placement for me. I mean, on one hand Ken is the youngest, strongest player on his tribe and he’s got real outdoorsman chops that they can lean on. On the other, he immediately took a leadership role and, if the Gen-Xers continue to lose, this could turn for him. That said, I can’t see any Gen-Xer voting against Ken. They need some horses to go against the many young studs on the Millennial tribe. Ken is safe for now.

4) Mari Takahashi: Mari is in a very interesting position as we move deeper into the game. She obviously will be gunning for the “cool people” (Figgy, Michelle, Jay, and Taylor) if the tribe loses, but can she get the numbers to make the move? I think she easily grabs Adam and Michaela. Hannah is potentially down in they target either Jay or Taylor and Zeke could be swayed as he seems to hate typical surfer bros. That’s five and you need six. Does Will come over because he’s following the numbers or will the cool kids get a young Will to come over and bring someone like Hannah in with him? It’s hard to say at this point, which, I guess, is typical of a tribe that hasn’t been to TC yet. I’m nervous putting Mari here and I hope I’m not jinxing her.

5) Adam Klein: Adam had a pretty solid first episode edit. Plenty of confessionals and some strategizing with Mari early. All signs point to him being around for at last a few more weeks. The only question is who will the “cool people” target if the Millennials lose immunity? It’s really tough to say at this point. I would lean toward someone easy like Hannah or Michaela, but you just never know. I’m saying Adam is safe for now.

6) Will Wahl: Will was near purple this episode. He had a few confessionals at the jump, but wasn’t heard from as we moved through the episode. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes his trajectory more difficult to read. I think Will made a smart move in the short term of revealing himself to be the youngest because I think people will see that youth as something a jury will vote against, allowing him to slide through votes he might not otherwise. Look for Will to firmly make the swap with a great shot at merge.

7) Michelle Shubert: Of the cool kids, I like Michelle’s placement best. She has her close allies in Figgy, Jay, and Taylor, while also making connections across the tribe in Hannah. That fluidity will serve her well in the early game. Out of her alliance, I’m giving her the lowest chance of going home this week and I think that’s a super safe bet. I’m not reading Michelle a #player just yet, but she has potential.

8) Taylor Stocker: Taylor is leading the charge for the cool kids in this storyline. He’s the broiest of bros and Figgy wants him to be her husband. On the surface, that might lead you to believe that he will be the number one enemy of the misfits alliance if the Millennials do lose immunity. I don’t think that’s the case. You see, Taylor is too important to the story of Survivor. He’s been presented as a major player in the early parts of the season and I cannot see him being cut in the second episode. Can he win? Absolutely not. He’ll make the merge and be the likely classic merge boot because he, in his own words, “will never change”. Gotta adapt to win this game, Taylor. Better luck next time.

9) Bret LaBelle: Bret played second fiddle to his new friend Chris in the first episode and I think that’s about his ceiling. In all of his confessionals he was dissing players or generations and, while he handled David’s paranoia relatively well, I can’t see him keeping his cool through the entire game. I think Bret blows up on somebody in four episodes and Chris decides it’s not worth saving his buddy.

10) Michaela Bradshaw: Michaela was nearly invisible in this episode, which makes me wonder how much we should actually care about her. She was shown to be observant in her limited screen time, so I don’t think the situation is super dire. However, I’m much lower on her winner potential after this first week. She just was not presented as a major player of season 33. It can change, but for now I’m cooling off on Michaela.

 

11) Hannah Shapiro: In one scene Hannah is claiming to be on the outs with everyone, while in another Michelle is telling us that Hannah is someone she could see herself aligning with. So which is it? My gut tells me that Hannah was presented the way she was because the editors want the Millennials to have a “David” on their side to set up something later on in the story. Thus, I’m not too worried about Hannah right now. Talk to me in a week or two when we can really assess her game.

12) Jay Starrett: Jay was Taylor-lite this episode. He’s not quite the broiest of bros, but he’s up there. Given that Taylor is being set up as such an essential character in the early game, I think there’s real potential for Jay to be the first Millennial out. His strategy has been super minimal and I can his attitude rubbing people like Zeke and Mari the wrong way.

13) Jessica “Figgy” Figueroa: That being said, if I’m a fan of the cool kids, I’d be most worried about Figgy. We heard from members of the misfits alliance that Figgy is “trying to run the tribe” and is “aggressive”. If that doesn’t scream early boot, then you’re not watching Survivor. Look for Figgy to be cut if/when the Millennials hit tribal, which might lead to Michelle dropping Taylor and Jay like a bad habit.

14) Jessica Lewis: I thought Jessica had a strong first episode. She wasn’t overbearing (like I thought she might) and she seemed to be a driving force behind the plan to get Rachel out. However, I can’t see anything other than the kiss of death when I see her Legacy Reward. For anyone to have that, they need to vote her out, but also be someone she wants to win? It’s an intriguing addition to the game, just not one I would want at the very beginning of the season. Can she keep quiet about this thing for 35+ days? It’s hard to imagine, so I’m bumping her lower than I maybe should.

15) Lucy Huang: Lucy had no impact on the story of this episode. In fact, the only thing I really saw from her was overlooking the Legacy Award in the beach scene and her rolling her eyes at the Millennials. Not seeing Lucy as much of a player this season.

16) Sunday Burquest: Sunday got an intro confessional, which is a good thing. She a few confessionals. Also a good thing. Unfortunately, everything she said was just negativity toward the Millennials. I firmly believe that the edit is telling us that a Millennial will win this game, so I’m not high on Sunday’s chances to make a deep run. I think she makes the swap, underestimates a Millennial, and is sent home at around 14.

17) David Wright: David getting that S31 Fishbach edit. Seriously, if you didn’t get crazy Fishbach vibes, we were watching a different show. I mean, THEY SHOWED HIM BREAKING A STICK! A STICK! We all know what this means. That’s right. David is going to ride that triumphant breakdown music to the merge and a potential victory. David’s a player, mark my words. I’m slotting him this low because I’ve been fooled by the edit before and am trying to cover my bases, but I can’t see David leaving our screens anytime soon.

18) Paul Wachter: Don’t love Paul’s edit this week. He was immediately super anti-Millennial, which suggests that he’s too set in his ways to adapt and he’s a big minus in most physical challenges. That said, he did handle Rachel remarkably well, so maybe there’s hope.

19) CeCe Taylor: This is going to be my worst winner’s pick yet. I mean, I’ve only been writing for three season’s so far, but last year I predicted Neal to win (was evacced, so I’d call it a wash) and Jeremy to win in S31 (who, as you’ll remember, dominated the game). I had high hopes for CeCe and her ability to social maneuver through the game and then she was one of the first people to talk down to the Millennials on the mat. IT’S THE FIRST DAY CECE! YOU CAN’T WAIT ONE DAY?!?! Ugh, my solid track record is forever sullied with CeCe’s second week boot. She was on the chopping block, but the editors felt it wasn’t important enough to give her time over David. That should tell you who’s going to be the important player this season. She might make it a few more weeks, but her ceiling is a Monica Padilla from Second Chances edit. Meaning, she’ll get a purple edit for a few weeks, have one big moment, and get the boot. There’s no story here and I can’t believe I this was my choice for the S33 winner. Ya win some and ya lose some.

Requiem for a Rachel Ako: Oh Rachel. You can’t get a much worse first boot episode. It was so typical. She was overbearing, trying to tell people what to do at the shelter. She volunteered to both smash the mask and do the puzzle first (PSA to all future Survivors: literally never tell anyone you’re good at puzzles. This can only hurt your game). Predictably, she failed at both. It was almost sad how obvious her boot was. Sorry, Rachel. At least you made an impact.

Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X-ers: Pre-season Tier Rankings

Survivor

It’s that time again, Survivor fans! That’s right, the next season of Survivor starts tomorrow, but I’m sure you already knew that. After the abrupt end of my blogging for Kaoh Rong last season (blame my job as a summer camp director) I was wondering if I’d bother blogging again this season. And then the pre-season started in earnest and I knew I needed to get to writing. Thus, what follows is a quick-hitting look at every contestant from the upcoming season. They’ll be grouped into rough tiers based on their “winner’s potential” and I’ll pick my winner at the bottom. As always, thanks for reading! Get ready for Wednesday, y’all!

Tier 6 “Am I ageist?”

Brett LaBelle – Gen X-ers: Brett was a little hard for me to read in his pre-season material. He could be a big surprise and use his skills as a cop to go far…or he could blow it in the first episode, play hard too fast, and be the season’s first boot. Gun to my head, I think he lasts a few weeks because he seems to know how the social game of Survivor works and I’m betting he comes through with some solid early leads. Unfortunately, I don’t find him dateable and he’s gone before the merge. Sorry, Brett!

Rachel Ako – Gen X-ers: If Rachel makes it past her first Tribal Council, she’ll be fortunate. I don’t see what she brings to the game besides being a pretty face. Her interviews give me zero insight into her game knowledge and her constant harping on being an “author” make me assume she’s going to try and prove how smart she is. The tribes being separated by ages does her no favors because the only player that’s going to be swayed by her looks is probably Ken McNickle. I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I’m not seeing it.

Paul Wachter – Gen X-ers: As we saw with Debbie last season, big, weird characters usually don’t win this game. That’s not saying Paul can’t make the merge, just that ninth place is probably his ceiling. Let’s be frank, these people are out on an island for 39 days. If you’re going to be constantly talking, it’s going to get annoying fast and give them a reason to vote you out. I know it’s the same as not breathing to you Paul, but please, for your own game, learn to shut your mouth.

Lucy Huang – Gen X-ers: I have to be honest, Lucy didn’t really give me much in her pre-season interviews. She’s a mom and also a bodybuilder. She also doesn’t seem to have much of a game background. I don’t know, I just didn’t get a great vibe from her and it’s hard to see her having a big impact on this season.

Tier 5 “Dateable, but Not That Dateable”

Sunday Burquest – Gen X-ers: Sunday has to (HAS TO) play up the mom role as soon as the swap hits. She appears to be a massive minus in physical comps and it would be a shame if that was the reason she leaves early. If she can slide through the first few boots, I think Sunday’s chances to play that Dawn/Lisa Welchel role and group up with a few younger players as a solid number. That said, the game is too cutthroat these days for me to see her making it to FTC. Instead, I think her ceiling is probably somewhere around fifth. Not a bad showing for Mrs. Burquest.

Jessica Lewis – Gen X-ers: I get the vibe from Jessica that she wants to be in charge. Especially among the Gen X-ers, I think this is going to be her undoing. I think Jessica has merge potential, but may have a first boot floor. It all just comes down to how slow she plays the first episode.

Michelle Shubert – Millennials:  Our first Millennial! Michelle is a very interesting player for this game and it all depends on her poker face. In all her pre-season material, she seemed to push her religion and that could really go either way for her. Plus, in her interview, it seemed like she was planning to play a game that doesn’t really fit her personality. If people can read through that, how long will she last? I think it’s mistake to try and play to a role that you don’t fit and that might be what sends Michelle home. I think Michelle slots in the eighth to thirteenth range this season.

Tier 4 “Contender or Flame-out”

Ken McNickle – Gen X-ers: Ken is fit, attractive, and has  great reason to play (his daughter). Ken is also on a bad tribe for him and may struggle to keep his mouth shut about said daughter. Which side wins out? That will decide his placement.

Hannah Shapiro – Millennials: Hannah has a lot of the tools you’re looking for in a quality Survivor player. The obvious comparison is probably a funnier Aubry from Kaoh Rong. That said, my biggest hangup was Hannah’s constant need to overtalk in her pre-season interviews. It annoyed me and I’m not living on a island with her for weeks at a time. It might just be a personal thing, but it keeps her out of my true contenders list.

Tier 3 “Just Here to Chill”

Taylor Stocker – Millennials: The three Survivors in this category strike me as people who aren’t really huge fans and are just here for the ride. In some ways, that can work out very well. For instance, Taylor has the classic Survivor body type for challenges and could be a real threat if he makes the merge. However, I really worry about his ability to strategize and make a case for why he should win if he makes it to FTC.

Figgy Figueroa – Millennials: Figgy’s video left me wondering where she’s going to fit. On one hand, she’s a great female athlete who should thrive in individual comps. On the other, she says she will tell everyone anything, which doesn’t really work in Survivor? I’m not seeing her as much of a game player. Look for her to just barely make the merge.

Jay Starrett – Millennials: I think you can basically take everything I said about Taylor and put it here. I just have a better vibe about Jay and think he’ll go further. No real reason.

Tier 2 “Strong Males”

Will Wahl – Millennials: Strength can relate to a lot of things, but for Will I think his strength is his self-awareness and his game knowledge. I commend Will for saying he’ll be open with his age and it honestly could be a big positive for him. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to see him being an easy early boot if the Millennials lose. If he can lay low like Julia last season, I think Will has a shot.

Adam Klein – Millennials: Adam has the tools to compete. He knows Survivor and is just generally intelligent. Plus, he has a great reason to play. My one worry about Adam is that he seems like the person who’s going to play super hard, super early and that could rub some of the Millennials the wrong way.

Chris Hammons – Gen X-ers: He’s a fellow Oklahoman, so you know I have to love Chris! Even without my bias, I think Chris is going to be a near lock for the merge. I think his alpha male tendencies will work well on the Gen X tribe (though I worry about him and Jessica butting heads) and he will always be an asset in team physical challenges. I wonder how he’ll connect with the Millennials when the swap comes and he has merge boot potential written all over him. Hoping he goes longer!

Tier 1 “Winner Potential”

CeCe Taylor – Gen X-ers: CeCe is a big-time social threat. I think she can easily play a game reminiscent of Cirie. I don’t know if she knows the game, but I don’t know how much that will actually hurt the style of game she’s likely to play. Instead, my biggest worry is that CeCe’s temper will get the better of her and cause her to blow up on somebody. That said, I think CeCe is going far.

Michaela Bradshaw – Millennials: Michaela gives off the vibe of someone who’s going to fly under the radar for the first six episodes and then become a major player in the midpoint of the game. She’s a hard-worker and is driven to do well. Plus, I think her background makes her hungry to play well. I’ll be surprised if she isn’t “top five, baby”, at the very least.

Zeke Smith – Millennials: Zeke has my heart. He has your heart. He has everybody’s heart. I can’t remember anyone being this hyped about a new Survivor in awhile and I think it’s deserved. Obviously, that makes it hard for Zeke to live up to our expectations; however, I think Zeke easily makes the merge and gives us the incredible character we’re craving. He’s probably too big of a threat to win, but consider me contagious with the Zeke-a virus.

David Wright – Gen X-ers: I love David. He’s going to be the season’s “know-it-all” and I think he’s overplaying his social awkwardness just a tad. In fact, I would be surprised if David doesn’t turn out to be something of a social butterfly on the island. Look for David to play a big role in shaping the outcome of this season.

Mari Takahashi – Millennials: If you built a female Survivor competitor in a lab, I think it would come out looking a lot like Mari. She’s intelligent (both in-game and out), she’s a competitor, she has a background in ballet, which translates well to Survivor, and she’s attractive. She really is the total package. In fact, she might be the odds on favorite if I wasn’t so worried about her overplaying her hand early. But don’t get it twisted, Mari is coming to play and she just might win.

WINNER PICK:

CeCe Taylor. As much as I want to say Zeke or Mari will win this season, I think CeCe is going to ride her social game to the end. She impressed me quite a bit in all of her interviews and I think she will slide through the early days of this game before really awakening at around final 13. I’m expecting big things out of her, but would not be upset if any of my top five made it to the winner’s podium.

So, what do you think? Will my winner pick be the first person cut from the island (probably)? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you on Wednesday (but really Thursday because I’m a tired old man who doesn’t write as fast as he used to).

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week 11 Power Rankings

Survivor

Another week of Survivor down and another rough week for me work wise. That said, this season has been consistently fun to watch and week 11 was no different. As I’m sure you’re aware, Julia was sent to jury this week in a somewhat surprising vote. Do I think this move was a smart one for all involved? And where do I see Jason sitting now that all of his allies are out of the game? Read on for that and more in this week’s version of my Kaoh Rong Power Rankings.

7) Julia Sokolowski (-3)

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16

Julia has been really impressive all season, but I think her immaturity finally caught up to her. Coming back from the previous week’s vote, Julia was absolutely irate because she wasn’t included in the vote to get out Scot. It was a case of extreme saltiness that really hurt her game, especially as it relates to her relationship with Aubry. Michele and Jason were quick to say “they understood” and knew it “was just a game move”.

Julia, on the other hand, didn’t “want to hear it”. Being that angry at someone just solidifies to them that you never really had their back. How is Aubry supposed to react when you express so explicitly that Scot (one of Aubry’s main enemies) was someone you wanted to move forward with? That just proves to her that you were never on her side. Considering that, outside of maybe Cydney, Aubry has the most power in this game, I think it’s easy to conclude that you’d want to do everything you can to pacify her and try to reaffirm you’re on her side. Julia didn’t do that and now she’s out of the game. That said, I would feel bad if I didn’t quickly say that I was really impressed with Julia this season. I would not have been able to function nearly as well on Survivor when I was 18.

6)Joseph Del Campo (+1)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 6  Total: 17

Joseph is slowly and steadily moving up these power rankings. Will his march continue until he is crowned the Sole Survivor? I sure hope not.

5) Tai Trang (-3)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 8  Total: 18

Tai continues to be entertaining television and has probably already earned a second chance at Survivor if he loses this season. That said, he’s made a ton of strategical missteps and will only win this season on the merits of his personality. I mean, I know I talked about how Julia poorly mishandled the tribe after Scot’s boot, but I think Tai might’ve done an even worse job of talking to Jason afterward. I don’t know if it’s the language barrier or what, but he did not seem sincere at all and Jason didn’t buy what Tai was selling for a single second.

The one thing I think you take out of the episode if you’re a Tai fan, is that he still has an idol and an advantage. Now, will Tai correctly play those? I would guess not, unless Aubry tells him exactly what to do. Tai gets how to play the game enough to be dangerous, but not enough to actually win the season. I think Tai is firmly on the bubble this week and would not be surprised to see him go home with an idol in his pocket.

4) Michele Fitzgerald (+2)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 5   Total: 19

Michele’s case for a winner’s edit got stronger this week. She performed very well at both challenges, winning them both, and continued to get prime confessional time. She continues to appear involved in the strategy of the season through her confessionals, while never actually doing much in the gameplay. It’s a really weird edit and either means she’s going to win the game or be booted out next week. At this point, I still firmly believe she’s winning this season against Jason in a very unsatisfying end to a great season. Nothing against Michele, she’s just one of the least interesting players left in the game (though she is better than Joseph!)

3) Cydney Gillon (+2)

Strategy: 7  Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 20

Cydney was in an interesting spot this week. She had an opportunity to side with Jason, Julia, and Michele and vote Tai out, which would, one way or the other, get the last idol out of the game. She elected to stick with Tai, Aubry, and Joseph to vote out Julia and I’m not certain that was the best move for her game.

If she votes Tai and he doesn’t play his idol, she could easily spin it as just trying to flush the idol. I don’t think, in that scenario, Aubry and Joseph have anywhere to go. Thus, Cydney would be able to choose who she wanted to side with at Final Six. If Tai does play his idol, then she still gets Julia out and should be able to spin a similar tale to both Tai and Aubry. Instead of playing the middle and having her choice of alliances, Cydney let Tai keep his idol and sent Julia home.

That’s giving a lot of power to a player with an idol, an advantage, and a track record of screwing over his allies. Plus, you now leave Jason as a player with no prospects, meaning people won’t be gunning for him anymore. If they’re not gunning for him, it’s within the realm of possibility that they might start gunning for you. I’m not saying Cydney made a terrible move (in fact, I think it was a solid move); I just think she could’ve made the same move differently and put herself in a much more powerful position.

2) Kyle Jason (+1)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 9   Total: 21

I love Jason’s spot in the current makeup of this tribe. He has no allies and no idols, making him the smallest target in the game. Plus, most of the jury doesn’t like him, giving him goat potential. And Jason’s smart enough to be able to work from this position. I fully expect him to work two of the girls against each other in Week 12 and gain himself a few more days. The only scenario I see Jason going home is if Tai plays his idol to knock Jason out. Otherwise, I don’t see why anyone would be driven to go against Jason at this point. He’s completely cut off from everyone and has managed the jury terribly. If anything, people are going to want to keep him around to drag him to the end. And, if he makes FTC, anything can happen.

1) Aubry Bracco (0)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 6  Entertainment: 9   Total: 22

Aubry’s playing the best game of the season, and I don’t really see how you can argue it. She’s driving almost all of the strategy this season and has continuously steered the vote to a position where it benefits her the most. That said, I think she’s in a very, very dangerous spot this week. People are realizing that she is the power broker this season. Now is the time for someone like Cydney to test the waters on going after either Aubry or Joseph and cutting Aubry down a few pegs. In fact, Aubry and Joseph both sticking around in Week 12 will be as surprising as if Jason goes to jury. The only scenario where I see both of them staying is if Aubry is able to convince everyone that Tai and his idol are a bigger threat. Considering she’s the reason Tai still has his idol, I think this is exactly what Aubry plans to do; I just wonder if it will actually work.

Next Boot:

As mentioned, I think it’s either going to be Aubry, Joseph, or Tai. My guy leans to Aubry because of how strong she’s been since the merge started. You have to assume that the other players know she’s playing a winning game right and will be looking to knock her off the pedestal. If Aubry wins immunity, I think Joseph is gone. However, I would not surprised if Tai was targeted because of his extra toys. This episode is a little up in the air, but I think Aubry and Tai are the easy front-runners for the next boot.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week 10 Power Rankings

Survivor

Note: Running a week behind because of work. Think of this as mostly here for my own records.

Had a bit of a wild one last week, so I wasn’t able to post my initial thoughts on the episode. Though, if you watched it, you can probably guess that I was extremely giddy when Tai didn’t play the idol and loved Aubry’s sly manipulation of both Tai and the jury. This has been some of the most exciting Survivor television (in entertainment value, not in strategy) in recent memory, which makes it really fun to cover week-to-week. Heck, even villains like Scot and Jason are fun to hate. Now that you know my general feelings on the episode, let’s dive in and take a look at this week’s rankings.

 

8) Scot Pollard (-1)

Strategy: 3  Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 6   Total: 12

I love, love, love Scot the villain. He is so arrogant and so full of himself, that the editor’s job is almost too easy. This guy’s downfall was obviously coming soon and seeing it happen in that manner was incredible. Like, you can’t write a more perfect ending for this guy.

That isn’t to say his game tape is all bad. I loved what I saw from him when he got away from Jason after the swap. He was kind and seemed to excel at manipulating social situations. His strategy was never that great and he didn’t appear to be a legitimate threat in any individual challenge we’ve seen this season.

All that said, I really liked Scot on the show. He was a fun guy to root against, but he wasn’t so completely slimy that you just wanted him off of your television. That’s about all I can ask for in my Survivor villains.

7) Joseph Del Campo (+1)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 1   Entertainment: 5   Total: 12

Joseph is playing that Dan Lembo game really hard right now. He is atrocious at every single challenge they put him in and I can’t remember the last time he had a meaningful confessional. His one redeeming quality is that he’s a great loyal soldier who will vote for whoever you tell him to. That makes him a key piece in someone else’s eventual victory.. And, even though he’s losing himself the game, you have to admire his ability to “stick to the plan.”

6)Michele Fitzgerald (-1)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 5  Total: 17

Michele is getting the weirdest edit of the season. She has been extremely visible in almost every post-merge episode. She gets confessional after confessional, but is never involved in the strategy of the season in a meaningful way. What does this tell us about her role to play in the rest of the season? I think it’s time to start really considering that we might be staring down a final two between Michele and Jason, with Michele winning to a bitter jury. What other reason would there be for Michele’s continued placement in storylines she doesn’t really have a part of? Are the editors trying to throw us off or are they trying to give us a reason to like a player who is bland and, to be honest, boring? Obviously, I have no insider info, but I believe this might just be the path we’re looking down.

5) Cydney Gillon (-4)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 6  Total: 18

Cydney’s game wasn’t quite as good this week, as she took a backseat to the domination of Aubry. However, she’s allied with Aubry and, after getting rid of Scot, looks to be in a much better position than she was last week. If Cydney can keep the girls and Joseph strong, she should have a chance to win this whole thing.

Once Jason is gone, Cydney has to be the favorite in most challenges and I think Aubry values her enough to keep her around. Cydney’s real challenge might be finding a way to get Aubry out of the game because, at this point, if Aubry makes Final Tribal Council, she’s winning this game.

4) Julia Sokolowski (-2)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 7   Total: 18

Without knowing exactly what the Super Idol could do, I thought Julia played her situation well this week. She was trying to force Tai to play his idol, while her ally (Scot) got to keep his. On paper, that’s a good move; however, it was never going to happen. Julia’s biggest problem is that she’s been so obvious in playing both sides that Aubry and Cydney refuse to actually work with her. Aubry knew she had to take a shot at the idols last week, but I would not be surprised if she turns her sights on Julia. People who play the middle are dangerous and getting rid of a floater might be more helpful than getting rid of someone you know is against you (read: Scot). Julia’s in dangerous waters this Wednesday.

3) Kyle Jason (+1)

Strategy: 4  Challenge: 9   Entertainment: 8   Total: 21

Jason’s challenge performance was pretty great and solidifies him as the de facto physical threat going forward. Of course, his strategy has been terrible since the merge and his arrogance around camp has made it almost impossible to imagine a scenario where he can win this game.

With that said, I actually like his spot right now. He’s not going to win the game, but I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine him winning second place. Think about it. He is absolutely not a threat to anyone for at least two weeks. If he keeps his head down and lets the majority alliance cannibalize himself, then he gets down to final five. Depending on how the numbers play out, he might be the biggest immunity threat and could easily win a few in a row to get himself to the finals.

At that point, he probably loses to almost anyone left in the game (he might beat Joseph), but at least he can say he played the villain role to the T and got all the way to second place. He’s always saying how much he loved Russell Hantz’s game. Maybe it’s fitting if he follows in his footsteps all the way to the end.

2) Tai Trang (+4)

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 10   Total: 24

From a pure entertainment standpoint, there isn’t anyone doing more for the show than Tai Trang. His performance this week was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen on television (scripted or otherwise) and he’s been a joy to watch all season. On the strategic side of the things, I’m still a little concerned that he may have made the wrong decision this weekend, but I think it’s still up for debate. On one hand, he loses two allies that he could’ve beat in the end and loses his power over the Super Idol. On the other hand, he now has the only Idol in the game and has an extra vote at one of the next few Tribal Councils. Is that swing enough to make this move look positive? That’s hard to say. In any case, Tai continues to be must-watch TV and I really hope he comes back sooner, rather than later.

1) Aubry Bracco (+2)

Strategy: 8   Challenge: 9  Entertainment: 8   Total: 25

Aubry’s playing the best game of the season, and I don’t really see how you can argue it. She’s driving almost all of the strategy this season and has gone from an obvious position of disadvantage two weeks ago to being in the majority in the Scot vote. That’s a quick turnaround and really speaks to Aubry’s ability to subtly steer a person’s opinion. Her intentionality in conversation is fun to watch. Everything she says and does has a purpose and always furthers her game without making her look like too big of a threat. Plus, she’s shown a real aptitude for Survivor challenges. Going into the season, I assumed she’d be one of the first out in almost every challenge, but she sure has proven me wrong. Consider me fully on the Aubry bandwagon.

Next Boot:

Without Scot to shield her, I think Julia might be in the most trouble this week. She’s a known floater and it might be safer to cut off the person in the middle than to attack someone like Jason. I think Aubry has good control over both Cydney and Joseph, while Tai can’t really go anywhere else. That gives her a 4-3 advantage and lets her mostly dictate who goes. Obviously, anything could come up and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Aubry or Tai targeted, but I think Julia is the safer bet.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Week Nine Power Rankings

Survivor

Following last week’s episode of Survivor, one thing is for certain, our television sets are about to become a lot more boring on Wednesday nights with Debbie off the island. But seriously, Debbie was a Survivor character in every sense of the word. She was a joy to watch and I, for one, cannot wait for Survivor Redemption Island II: Coach vs. Debbie. It’s inevitable, right?

Anyways, you know the drill. The following are sports style power rankings and I’ll end this post with my prediction for the next boot (by the way, go back and look about how spot-on I was last week. I know my stuff…sometimes). On to the rankings!

9) Debbie Wanner (-4)

Strategy: 0   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 13

Here’s the weird thing about Debbie this week, I wouldn’t actually hate it if the rest of the tribe had followed her and voted for Scot. I mean, you know (or assume) the Super Idol is out there. You know that you have to attack it at some point to get it off the board and mitigate how much randomness can occur in the game. Therefore, putting votes on one of the threesome that has both idols and forcing them to either play the idols or keep them and go back on their words is probably the best move you could make.

With that said, you have to, and I mean HAVE TO, be fluid in the game of Survivor. When Debbie rolled into camp and was as rigid as a steel beam with her strategy, you knew that was a bad sign. She wasn’t willing to play with anyone else and would not even take the time to hear people out. No one wants to play with someone like that. They want to be validated. They want to believe that you think they’re smart (even if you don’t!). As much as this game can be about cold-hard logic, it’s also about controlling and playing to the other castaways’ emotions.

Debbie did not do that and she went home. Keep that in mind if you ever make it on the show.

8) Joseph Del Campo (0)

Strategy: 4  Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 5   Total: 13

At this point, it almost feels pointless to even write about Joseph. He’s loyal to an extreme fault and that’s literally all I know about him. He was willing to stick with Debbie even when it made zero sense to do so. If the Super Idol wasn’t hanging over the game, he’d be my next target. I just don’t see how you can play with someone like this.

7) Scot Pollard (0)

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 9   Total: 14

Scot did an incredible job…of playing himself into second place. The only people who would even consider voting for Scot right now are Tai and Jason. And really, I think Tai is even suspect. You just cannot mess with a person’s food if you want a shot at winning this game. It’s the kind of strategy that makes for good TV, but will get ripped to pieces if you make Final Tribal Council. And, I think we can all agree, Scot stands a much better chance of making the Finals now that he’s made such a horrible strategic move. People are going to want to bring him because they know he won’t get votes. It’s not an ideal position, but at least he got further than Uncle Cliffy.

6)Tai Trang (-4)

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 9  Total: 17

Tai’s turn to the darkside was incredible to watch. He was so conflicted in every confessional and you know the editors were eating that up. I mean, this guy was the paragon of the Survivor community just a few weeks ago. Now he’s slowly giving into his anger and joining Darth Pollard and Kylo Jason on the evil Brawn empire. It is such great television. Here’s hoping the Tai downfall arc continues for at least a few more weeks. I won’t be satisfied until he strikes down that chicken.

5) Michele Fitzgerald (-2)

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6  Total: 18

Michele was pretty quiet this week. She had a decent performance in the immunity challenge and was a key cog in bringing Julia into the Debbie vote. Otherwise, she felt super under the radar, which is either a good look for the game she’s been playing or an indication that she’s going to get that Kimmi edit from Cambodia and be voted out at around final five.

4) Kyle Jason (+5)

Strategy: 4   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 10   Total: 20

Jason really played to the cameras this week, especially at Tribal Council. He is a great Survivor villain. He’s easy to hate, but not so hateable that you actively want him out of the game. Instead, you want his roast to be slow, so you can eat it up each and every week until he ousted at final four or five. It’s going to be a fun next few weeks with Jason.

3) Aubry Bracco (+1)

Strategy: 9  Challenge: 4   Entertainment: 7   Total: 20

I thought Aubry was a little too quick to go after Julia. Sure, it never a bad move to vote out the person in between two alliances to get rid of some randomness and it would’ve been risky to go after any of the Scot, Jason, Tai coalition. However, you can’t win this thing until you get the Super Idol out of the game. It’s simply too powerful and is going to sway so many people. Better to take the early hit on the chin and give yourself enough time to regroup. That said, if she wasn’t going to vote out someone like Scot, I thought Aubry made the safest possible move she could. And (to cop a phrase from Alecia), at the end of the day, that’s sometimes the best move.

2) Julia Sokolowski (+4)

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 8   Entertainment: 6   Total: 20

I was not a big fan of Julia’s decision to try and ally with Scot, Jason, and Tai. I mean, on paper, I’m a huge fan of putting yourself in the middle of two alliances and playing whichever one gets the power. I just wish she hadn’t been so obvious about it. This has to be a sly move, where neither side really knows that you’re playing them. Instead, she basically just announced her whole plan at the reward challenge and cost herself the trust of Aubry and Cydney. That’s a bad move and I question if her youth and inexperience is what caused her to chase the big, long-term move in favor of playing conservatively and biding your time. Maybe I’m reading too much into it; however, I wasn’t a huge fan of her strategy this week. Of course, if she keeps winning immunity, it doesn’t really matter.

1) Cydney Gillon (0)

Strategy: 9   Challenge: 4  Entertainment: 8   Total: 21

I’m starting to worry that my love for Cydney’s game is making me overrate her slightly. I think she played an incredibly great subtle game; however, we’ve seen her blow up on people a few times now. I wonder if that’s by design or if she’s actually struggling to control her anger. If it’s the latter, I struggle to see her surviving Scot and Jason’s attempts to sow chaos through the tribe. It’s also worth noting that she was the target last week if Julia hadn’t flipped. Will that continue and does that mean she may get idoled out the game? I certainly hope not. I think she’s played the strongest game thus far and, while Aubry or Julia would be solid secondary winners, I would feel a little disappointed if she doesn’t make Final Tribal Council. Fingers crossed, I suppose.

Next Boot:

So, if last week’s boot was tough to predict, I think this one is even more so. I know from osmosis (read: r/survivor) that there is an assumed third medivac coming (curse you, spoilers!). Just going off of who’s left and how they’ve been edited, I think it’s either Joseph with his invisible edit or Cydney with her borderline hero edit. This feels like the point an evac might be coming, though that’s just my gut.

Assuming a medivac doesn’t happen, I think the girls have to target that Super Idol ASAP. That means putting votes on either Tai, Jason, or Scot. If I was playing, I’d put them on Tai because I think he’s the least likely person to actually get that second idol passed to him ( i know, I know, he did last week, so this point is mostly moot). If the Super Idol (or regular idol, for that matter) is played, then it just comes down to who the boys vote for. Last week, that person was Cydney and I can’t see much of reason for that to change. Unless someone like Julia makes a move to upset Scot or Jason, I think we’re going to lose Cydney to an idol. You’ll find me in my room crying myself to sleep Wednesday night, if that’s the case. Thanks for reading. Talk to you Wednesday!