So I know, I tried to cover the Tocantins season, my usual readership didn’t care for it, no new readership arrived here (how many blogs talk about Survivor after all? I must appear on page 12 in google when looking for something about the show), but I don’t care, I’m über-excited for this season, and I’ll try to cover it.
Let’s start now with the cast!
Amanda Kimmel (China & Micronesia)
-I loved Amanda in China, not as much in Micronesia. Still, she is one of the most competitive woman to ever play that game and is the only person that went to the final tribal council twice! Although, we all know she messed it up twice. To her defense, she ignored the China’s final tribal council results when she was at the Micronesia’s one, so couldn’t “have learned” from her mistakes.
–Strengths: Her competitiveness, her personality (she’ll make friends).
-Weaknesses: She’ll be perceived as a threat as she’s the one that has the most connections with other people (Courtney and James from China, Parvati and Cirie from Micronesia, especially because of her previous alliances with James and Parvati). Will she be able to “own” her game play this time if she makes it to the end?
Candice Woodcock (Cook Islands)
-I’m not sure why she was cast (I assume as a replacement of somebody else who couldn’t make it) as she didn’t leave a strong impression her first time around. I guess, just like in any season, some people always get cast to be pre-merge boots (and more power to them when they make it far into the game (yes, I’m alluding to you Shambo!)), and as usual we need some hot girls in the cast, with a Heroes and Villains theme, it’s a little hard to find many past Amanda and Parvati. I wonder why she was cast as a “hero” though as her only claim to fame was “mutinying” against her tribe (a interesting twist I wish had happened again, but never did). To be fair, apart from that, I remember her being kinda sweet.
–Strengths: Likable. As she didn’t leave a strong impression, the other players won’t have many preconceived ideas about her.
–Weaknesses: Not very strategic, she may get eaten alive easily by the stronger players.
Cirie Fields (Panama & Micronesia)
-Cirie, although I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive her for voting out Yau-Man instead of allying with him in Micronesia, may be one of the players I respect the most of all Survivor contestants ever. This is a woman who never left her living room before (She was scared of dead leaves on her first day out there!!! Who on Earth is scared of leaves?) and who ended up being the dominating force for not one but two seasons. She deserved to win both times, got screwed both times, maybe third is the charm as they say.
–Strengths: Few survivors can be totally manipulative and still be well-liked, she’s the queen of that strategy.
–Weaknesses: The first time she took everyone (including herself?) by surprise, the second time, she made the right alliance and a few bold moves (targeting Yau-Man early in the game), this time, people will certainly see her coming and she may be an early target. Luckily for her, she has Amanda and James with her, and I assume they will ally with her at least in the beginning, as if she survives the first votes, she can go far.
Colby Donaldson (Australia & All-Stars)
-I never really was a fan of Colby. In Australia, in went far for one reason and one reason only: physical dominance of the game, the only time he had to play strategically, he messed up and that cost him a million bucks. In All-Stars, he just sucked. But yeah, a lot of people like him, he was some sort of “hero” in Australia for winning all of those challenges, I understand why he’s here, even though I would have reserved his spot for someone else.
–Strengths: Well… His physical strength, that’s pretty much it. And even on that field, I’m not sure he can’t compete against James or even Tyson or Rupert.
–Weaknesses: Poor strategical play, people will remember his dominance in individual challenges, and will give him the boot before the merge because of that.
James Clement (China & Micronesia)
-James is really cool, widely popular, possibly the physically strongest survivor ever, so he belongs there (especially after being evacuated from Micronesia).
–Strengths: His physical abilities. He is hugely popular (even among other contestants I assume) and has lots of connections out there (Amanda, Parvati, Cirie, Courtney) and he’ll make a lot of friends in his tribe.
–Weaknesses: His lack of strategical game. He’ll ride the coattails of his “girlfriends” except that they will most likely be targeted early.
James “J.T.” Thomas, Jr. (Tocantins)
J.T. is back, and J.T. is still the same likable, down-to-earth, strong and smart person. He’s as manipulative as many other players, but he does it in a way that people don’t hate him for it (remember his final council, Stephen took all the blame, when it really was both of them). I’m glad to see him back, and I really hope he’ll go far again.
–Strengths: Should I say it again? He’s likable, down-to-earth, strong, smart and as manipulative as many other players.
-Weaknesses: People will be “scared” of him and will target him early because he’s likable, down-to-earth, strong, smart and as manipulative as many other players.
Jessica “Sugar” Kiper (Gabon)
Why is she back? Not sure. For the eye candy factor I guess. OK, I admit, there’s a part of me that really likes Sugar, but another part of me really hates her. She got really lucky the first time around (ok, she’s also a better player than many people -including myself- give her credit for), but the players she’ll have to face this time are a totally different level than the ones in Gabon (Bob won remember… Bob…) She’s definitely an early boot, I don’t see how it can be otherwise. One thing though, apparently she’s dating J.T. these days, so we can assume that he will protect her, but that would definitely hurt him in the game. I wonder what’s gonna happen with that.
-Strengths: She’s non-threatening.
-Weaknesses: She’s minor league (come on, who could play in Gabon? Kenny, that’s all), this is the World Series of Survivor.
Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands & All-Stars)
-Rupert is back, Rupert had to be back, he’s one of the most popular player ever. Personally, although I liked him a lot in the past, I felt like every video I saw of him since All-Stars (and even before the end of All-Stars) he was becoming more and more a parody of himself, Rupert playing Rupert on camera. Hopefully, once on the island again, he’ll be more himself again. How will he fare this time is a big mystery. It’ll all depend on his popularity in his group. Will he make good friends, or will he annoy people?
-Strengths: He’s physically strong. He’s usually well-liked by his fellow castaways.
-Weaknesses: He may annoy people. The “fan favorite” factor, the other players may resent him for it, not sure.
Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau & Guatemala)
-I loved Stephenie in Palau, to the point she had become my favorite survivor at that point. She seriously annoyed me several times in Guatemala (I must admit I only have vague memories from the Guatemala season, it was when I had just returned to France and then moved to Paris, didn’t follow the season as closely as the other ones, I may even have missed a few episodes). I assume she’s still a very strong player that will make the right alliances (Tom seems like an obvious one) and she should go far.
-Strengths: I don’t know where to start, she seems that she’s just full of them: kicks ass in challenges, great strategy, and great social game.
-Weaknesses: Huge target early on because the other players will fear her.
Tom Westman (Palau)
I never liked him too much (I don’t hate him either, don’t get me wrong). I know America loves creating heroes all they can, and he’s almost the stereotypical hero: NY Fireman, strong, good player, well liked, plays with integrity, etc. Personally, I have issues with people that are too perfect. But, unless his age (he’s not that young anymore, he must even be the oldest out there) has weakened him a little (I doubt it) he’s still very strong, and he will be hugely respected by his tribesmates, I’m pretty much sure, he’ll even be the leader of that tribe. He should make it to the merge, but then, the villains will cut his throat as soon as they can (unless Cirie has done so previously, which would surprise me).
-Strengths: All-American Hero, Captain America style.
-Weaknesses: Like all the players that are so obviously strong (physically, mentally, socially) the weaker players will gang on them and target them as early as possible.
Benjamin “Coach” Wade (Tocantins)
-I’m so glad to see Coach back, I love him so much… Well, I love to make fun of him so much. I’ve never seen such a phony and full of themselves person. The funny part being that he doesn’t realize that nobody takes him seriously and he thinks that he’s widely respected. I wonder what was his initial reaction when he learned that he was going to be in the “villains” tribe? Although, from the latest videos, it seems that he’s started to realize what everybody thinks of him, and maybe, just maybe, he takes himself a little less seriously.
-Strengths: Nobody takes him seriously and he’s so easy to read that many people will want to use him in their alliance.
-Weaknesses: Whoever took him in their alliance will ditch him as soon as he’s not useful anymore. It may be tempting to take him to the end, but if you have an angry jury in front of you, they may just pity him and give him the million dollars… No… It can’t happen…
Courtney Yates (China)
-I love Courtney, I love her attitude, and the fact that she doesn’t take anything seriously (I can’t wait to see her interact with Coach) and she doesn’t seem to give a shit about anything. She’s hilarious, fun to watch, and fun to be around I’m sure.
-Strengths: She’s nonthreatening, she has friends (on the other tribe though…), she doesn’t give a shit.
-Weaknesses: Her big mouth (?), she doesn’t give a shit.
Danielle DiLorenzo (Panama)
-Who? Seriously I had forgotten her very existence until I saw her name again, this is how much of an impression she left. A villain? Why? Oh yeah, she screwed Cirie and Terry over, which lead to Aras victory, not even hers. Why didn’t they choose Shane or even Bobby from that season as villain? Oh yeah, they needed a girl I guess (sure Bobby Dawg is not really a villain, he’s even a (anti-)hero for all who’ve ever read his blogging, but within Survivor, the “dump incident” was definitely villainous!).
As she left such a (lack of) impression, I assume it’s pretty much the same among the rest of the cast (except maybe for Cirie), so she’s a big mystery. She could be first boot, or go very far.
-Strengths: No idea. Can make fire in a tie-breaker?
-Weaknesses: No idea.
Jerri Manthey (Australia & All-Stars)
-No, not Jerri again… Sure, I understand, the original villain (Richard Hatch, who else?) was not available, so they had to have the original “villainess”, but I’m sorry, I like my villains to be villains within the context of the game (manipulative, cutthroats, puppet masters, etc), Jerri is none of that, she’s just a whiny bitch with poor strategic play. So hopefully, she shouldn’t make it too far, she’ll be entertaining for a few episodes, and she’ll get the boot once she’s annoyed everyone in her tribe. And I hope it will be the last time we’ll hear from her…
-Weaknesses: Annoying bitch.
Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands & Micronesia)
-Who would have guesses Parvati could be such a good player? When she came back in Micronesia, I really wondered why (a little bit like Candice and Danny this year), but she really owned the game and shown what she was capable of. And she can do it again! Of course, this time, people will know better.
-Strengths: Strong strategic play, fun and likable, and let’s face it: her flirting skills.
-Weaknesses: People will be “scared” of her, especially in her tribe as she has lots of friends in the other tribe.
Randy Bailey (Gabon)
-I love Randy, him and Kenny where the only interesting things in the Gabon season. I keep on wondering whether his attitude (I hate everyone, I don’t have any friends, I hate everything too) is real or if it’s just a role he’s playing. It seems genuine, but I wonder why such a person would even want to be on TV and such. In any case, it makes for great television, and he’s highly entertaining. I can’t wait to see him interact with Coach.
-Strengths: Nonthreatening, and for some reason, I feel people will trust him.
-Weaknesses: Can he really play the game?
Rob “Boston Rob” Mariano (Marquesas & All-Stars)
I really hate Boston Rob, I really do, ever since Marquesas and his betrayal of Hunter and Gina. I don’t know what it is about him, but I despise pretty much everything about him, even his voice makes me cringe, and what he did to Lex and Kathy in All-Stars was quite despicable. Despite all of that, I recognize that he’s one of the best players that have ever players this game, but don’t believe the hype, he’s not that good, and surrounded by people like Russell, J.T., Parvati or Cirie, he won’t manipulate his way through the final vote as easily as in All Stars (after all he didn’t do so well in the Marquesas).
-Strengths: Highly manipulative.
-Weaknesses: People will see him coming. Too cocky.
Russell Hantz (Samoa)
Russell is definitely one of the best players that ever played Survivor, if not the best (I would have loved to see him against Yul, Yau Man, Rob C, Richard Hatch though, but at least we’ll see him against Boston Rob, Cirie and J.T.), he totally dominated the game in Samoa, and could do just the same again.
-Strengths: On top of his manipulative skills, let’s not forget that the season was shot on the same location, just a few weeks after he was done shooting his season, so not only he’ll “play at home”, he’ll still be physically and mentally in game mode, no adjustment necessary (while some other people haven’t played in five years). Also, the other players don’t know him, they have no idea who he is, what kind of game he plays or anything else (although, he’s on the villain team, that should be a clue for some). As he said in a pregame interview: had they seen the Samoa season, before starting shooting that one, he’d be first to go. I love his pregame plan of pretending to ride on Boston Rob coattails and then getting rid of him when he won’t be needed anymore.
-Weaknesses: despite his skills and the advantages previously mentioned, I’m afraid he’ll get too sure of himself, too cocky and he’ll let his guard down at the wrong moment.
Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands)
What makes Sandra a villain rather than a hero, I’m not sure. What makes her even be present in that season I’m even less sure. Of course she won her season, but she won it because of the worst twist in Survivor history, and her strategy while efficient didn’t make her a great player either. Still, she has the personality to survive this game a second time, and if she outlasted Johnny Fairplay and Rupert (and a few other quite strong players), she can outlast a lot of people this time too. Can she win? I doubt it.
-Strengths: A strong social game.
-Weaknesses: Physically weak, not a great strategist.
Tyson Apostol (Tocantins)
Last but not least, Tyson! He’s certainly one of my favorite survivor ever. Is he a great player? Not sure. A good one? Definitely. The most entertaining one ever? Hell yeah! I love his attitude, I love the comments he makes, especially in the back of other people. Does he think half of what he says? I’m pretty much sure he doesn’t, he just says it for entertainment value, but it works, and it works well.
On the game side of things, he’s not as strong a mastermind as he says he is, but he’s not a bad one either, and the fact that he’s generally well liked by other contestants will play in his favor. Except that this time, they’ll know how he talks about them in private interview, and I’m not sure how they’ll like that, and that could be a reason for him to get the boot.
-Strengths: His fun attitude will gain him some friends. Very strong physically. Can play the game well.
-Weaknesses: Some people may just mistrust him no matter what because of the way he talks about them (or they imagine he talks about them) in private interviews. He may get too cocky.
Overall, the Heroes team look much stronger than the Villains one, but the latter should be more entertaining. I won’t risk any prediction for the potential winner yet, not even a final 10 group, as those all-stars edition tend to be very unpredictable in the beginning (and a bit too predictable towards the end sometimes).
I must say that I’m pretty happy with the cast, of course, I wish Richard Hatch had been there, as well as Rob Cesternino, Stephen Fishbach, Yau-Man Chan and Todd Herzog, in my opinion the best strategists of Survivor (with Boston Rob and Russell Hantz of course), but we all know we need some hot chicks in cast of Survivor, it can’t only be masterminds and puppet masters.
I can’t wait for February 11th (well, Feb 12th actually, with the time difference and all)