Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter.
His column, "Kaiser Island," previously appeared at Survivor Talk w/ D&D, covering seasons 33-35. He first appeared here at the True Dork Times in 2018, in the pre-season coverage of season 36, Survivor: Ghost Island.
Follow him on twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser
Episode 1: Risk it, or play it safe?
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 24, 2021
With a super-sized premiere, Ryan has a lot of twists, turns, decisions, and decision-makers to talk about in his first US Survivor recap in over a year. Will he take a shot in the dark, or talk directly to you, future Survivor players?
Pre-season: Swiping through Survivor Tinder
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 1, 2021
While the Survivor 41 cast has only just officially been revealed, Ryan is already here with the hottest of takes: Who on this cast is dateable (making the merge), who isn't, and who gets a super like? That's right, the day has finally come for cast assessment via Survivor Tinder.
Episode 16: Closing time at Chappies' diner
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 18, 2021
Ryan salutes the highlights of the finale of SurvivorSA: Immunity Island, from the winner, to F3 boot, to the rainbow-bedecked juror, to the classic, old-school Survivor feel of the finale as a whole, and recounts the ways in which this season made this first-time international Survivor viewer a SurvivorSA superfan.
Episodes 1-9: And then there were ten
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: August 1, 2021
With ten players out and ten still in, Ryan dips his toes into international Survivor recapping with a post-merge appreciation of the action thus far in SurvivorSA: Immunity Island. A full run-down of the highlights of the first half of the season (some of which didn't even involve Santoni), and predicting which remaining players will tank or triumph.
Episode 14: Take it all in
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 15, 2020
The War of Winners ends on a high note, in what could be the last Survivor finale for a while. Ryan celebrates the season's emotional end and its embrace of its past champions, with hopefully more to come. A finale that was grand, even if it's not the grand finale.
Episode 13: Funeral march
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 8, 2020
The end of Winners at War is nigh, and this week, Ryan is turning the episode's penultimate steps into a pathway to that end for the remaining five players, plus the two thousand jury members/people on the Edge.
Episode 12: Son of a B
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 1, 2020
It was a bittersweet week, as the war between winners not only claimed a fan favorite, but also as the fantastic tale of the spy nest fell well short of expectations, like a nocturnal avian projectile. Ryan finds other reasons to cheer, though. So... relax and let him carry you through the forest?
Episode 11: Psychotic double agent
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 24, 2020
Ryan revels in an all-Tony episode, as the show focuses almost entirely on his idol-finding, extortion-complying, immunity-winning, vote-flipping antics. Verdict: Time well spent (unless you don't like Tony, in which case, better luck next week).
Episode 10: A fantasy come true
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 17, 2020
This week's episode was overstuffed with love, tears, kids, and confusion. Ryan wouldn't cut a second from the first three, but wishes there was room to better demystify the last part. Still, here's his guide to what (maybe?) happened after the challenge and at Tribal.
Episode 9: Worth a shot
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 10, 2020
Winners are at war, and they're coming you, apparently. So get ready to whisper, listen to changes of plan every five minutes, and/or pin your hopes on a podium idol. Or, you know, just flip a coin. Ryan has the guide to all your Episode 9 options.
Episode 8: Everyone's a lion
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 3, 2020
Ryan takes you on a safari excursion to observe the lions and hyenas of the Winners at War merge menagerie. Who has the main mane? Who is lurking in the bushes, waiting for the scraps? Who is the Tiger Queen?
Episode 7: Thank you for schooling me
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 27, 2020
As the final pre-merge torch gets snuffed, Ryan takes a moment to somberly observe the passing of power from old school to new school. Then he gets to the business you've been waiting for: The awarding of the Debbie Donato Wanner Award for Best Performance on a Balance Beam.
Episode 6: Watch this, Jeff
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 20, 2020
Ryan both celebrates and mourns the twin Tribal Councils that sent two legends home, one in particularly legendary fashion, during Episode 6 of Winners of War. Don't worry, some peanut butter will make it all better.
Episode 5: Cracks up the wazoo
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 13, 2020
After a nod to Yul's noble ALS quest, Ryan recaps the many twists and turns resulting from the swap to three tribes: awkward reunions, even more awkward self-quarantines, and obstacle champ Sandra staying safe and staying out of sight.
Episode 4: He's f***ing dangerous
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 6, 2020
It's another week, another favorite leaving for Ryan, but he's not gonna give up, and he'll push through a grueling episode featuring Adam's implosion then recovery, Ethan's near-death experience and survival, and Tyson's near-safe experience that was snuffed by an immovable Queen.
Episode 3: Devour that guy and spit out his bones
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 28, 2020
Ryan goes through the stages of grief over the blindsiding of Ethan: denial, anger, more anger, actually lots of anger. Well, anyway, somehow he ends up at acceptance. (Sort of?) Thankfully, Tony and Tyson are still here to provide comfort in this difficult time.
Episode 2: Is she just clueless?
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 21, 2020
Ryan mourns the loss of his Danni Girl, gone too soon. But he's excited about the exploits of noted aerialist Tony Vlachos and a freshly devilish Sophie G. Clarke, and is anxiously anticipating escalating tensions in the looming Boston Rob - Sandra war.
Episode 1: Everybody has a target
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 14, 2020
Twenty Survivor winners, all at war with each other? Ryan is elated to report that for the premiere, at least, the formula worked, and was exactly the bloody, blindsidey mess he was hoping it could be, if not moreso. Fire tokens and Edge of Extinction notwithstanding.
Pre-season: Cheers for Chaos Kass
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 9, 2020
With Survivor unleashing a 'Survivor at 40' clipshow this week in preparation for the Winners at War premiere, Ryan takes us back to his favorite moment in Survivor's first two decades: The Cagayan merge Tribal Council.
Pre-season: Wagering on the Winners at War
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 3, 2020
Ryan luxuriates in an all-winners cast two decades in the making, and ranks each winner's chances of winning this particular season (Edge of Extinction notwithstanding). Who has the best chances to win? Who has none?
Episode 14: The prize isn't only in the million dollars
Published: December 20, 2019
Ryan takes stock of the Island of the Idols winner, the finale and reunion show, passes a final judgment on the season's story, cast, and final five, then looks ahead excitedly to Season 40: Winners at War.
Episode 13: Where are we in the game?
Published: December 14, 2019
After Elaine's heartbreaking boot and the dark cloud of another dispiriting Dan card, Ryan tries to take a fresh look at the remaining five Island of the Idols players, and assess their standing heading into the finale.
Episode 12: Wrecking ball
Published: December 6, 2019
Loved ones visit Fiji, but only for the powerful. Noura gives a rant for the ages. An underdog alliance goes up in flames as Dean leaks the plan, and Karishma's ninth life is finally snuffed. And Ryan Kaiser attempts to sift through the wreckage for signs of life.
Episode 11: This bitch bit my finger
Published: November 30, 2019
As a compromised Survivor season staggers on, Ryan tries to focus on the positive: Lauren's idol-winning bet, Noura somehow selflessly winning immunity, and Karishma's big idol play. Also Detective Dean's half-baked obfuscation.
Episode 10: The answer is no
Published: November 22, 2019
After the previous week's harrowing circumstances, Ryan runs through an episode that tries to pretend nothing major happened. Which dampens any thought of celebrating what would otherwise be exciting events in this one.
Episodes 8-9: Standing up for what was right
Published: November 15, 2019
As the once outstanding Island of the Idols season takes a dark, grim turn at the merge, Ryan sets aside the jokes for a week to ponder what went wrong, what needs fixing, and to praise those who stood up for what was right.
Episode 7: You want to pull some crazy s***?
Published: November 8, 2019
Ryan praises and guides you through a second straight spectacular, character-driven, socially relevant episode of Survivor, which as a bonus also featured abundant flashy gameplay and strategic insights ... almost all of it by women. Plus a salute to Rudy Boesch.
Episode 6: Ain't scared of no fight
Published: November 1, 2019
Ryan revisits the high-pressure Tribal that could have gone to rocks, or featured an Aaron flip, but instead deployed a key advantage and an ex-Vokai missing the merge. With lots of juicy stakes, heartfelt 'real talk' conversations, and chicken decapitation reactions along the way.
Episode 5: Orange is dead
Published: October 26, 2019
Ryan takes a minute to relax, with his face full of sand, reflecting on the state of the game in this interlude of an episode: largely Noura-free (and Island of the Idols-free), lots of Karishma, too much Applebee's, and everyone scrambling to distance themselves from old Lairo.
Episode 4: The Noura TV show
Published: October 18, 2019
Ryan is here at this place and time to remind you all that if you live in the present and visualize success, dreams can come true, such as getting to see Noura visit Island of the Idols, then run her tribemates into trees. Also Lairo pulled off another blindside.
Episode 3: A couple steps too far
Published: October 11, 2019
Cracks, cuts and covert operations were abundant in the Lairo tribe this week, and Ryan is here to praise some, bury others, and curiously cheer still others? In-dean.
Episode 2: Parvati 2.0
Published: October 4, 2019
Ryan revisits another episode of Island of the Idols where the women did everything: start fires, find idols, win idols, yell at their tribes, fall off ladders, arrange coups, and of course, get voted out. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.
Episode 1: What is this place?
Published: September 27, 2019
Come, stare in slack-jawed wonder as Ryan Kaiser replays for you the events of the season premiere of Island of the Idols. Events you have seen before, but will still amaze you in their level of Janet stanning and Idol (mostly Sandra) worship.
Published: September 23, 2019
The True Dork Times writers congregate and try to pick the winner of Survivor: Island of the Idols based on almost zero evidence. But that's no reason to avoid making what are probably ludicrously inaccurate hot takes.
Pre-season: Island of the Idols cast assessment
Published: September 16, 2019
With barely a week and a half left until the premiere, Ryan is eager to get rolling with Island of the Idols, and, armed mostly with their CBS bios, has put together a brisk run-down of which new castaways among the cast may soon have their own giant wooden head statues.
Episode 14: Defeat everybody else
Published: May 18, 2019
Well, it finally happened. Edge of Extinction is finally extinct. So it's time to put a tiny Wardog cap on the season, as Ryan revisits Chris's 5-day march to victory, and the ultimate irrelevance of the 13 episodes that preceded it.
Episode 13: Not living on the Edge tonight
Published: May 10, 2019
Ryan revisits an episode that mostly just recycled the usual idol antics, as the finale clock ticked down, and imagines a time better spent: With lots of Reem. Lots and lots of Reem. (Also some Aurora and Lauren, but mostly Reem.)
Episode 12: Thanks for the honeymoon
Published: May 3, 2019
Ryan recaps a tear-drenched episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction: From the tear at the bottom of Ron's advantage menu, to the contestants' tears of enduring Probst's talk-show questioning with their loved ones, to the salty splashes on the loved ones in the challenge, to Ryan's own tears at the Reem vs. Wardog showdown at the Edge being cut for time.
Episode 11: It gets harder as you get deeper
Published: April 26, 2019
It's a somber time, as Ryan reflects on the errant swims, the missed rings, the mud baths, the rice wars, and cheeseries that led to the Wardog's slipping to Extinction. Although at least there was a lot of Reem and Kelley to soften the blow.
Episode 10: Holy ____, Wardog
Published: April 19, 2019
Ryan Kaiser has survived a mountain of pizza and dodged falling balls to bring you this grim report of two returnees felled in a single episode, all thanks to ... dammit, Wardog.
Episode 9: My spidey sense says it's me
Published: April 12, 2019
Amidst the turbulent waters of Tribal Council, one calm, half-idol-wielding chap provides the landing lap for people jumping ship. No, it's not Wardog. Ryan navigates the all-Tribal episode, and recaps its high points and low blows, like hiding the person who has (allegedly) been running the show.
Episode 8: Civil war
Published: April 5, 2019
Ryan takes stock (stake? steak?) of the state of the game after the Kama kollapse, and revels in the no-longer-purple reveals of Aurora and Julia as power players, and Wardog as a number-crunching, ____-logic-playing, actual puppetmaster.
Episode 7: Let's f***ing do it
Published: March 29, 2019
Ryan revisits the highs and lows and expletives and exits of the Extinction reveal and return, and the lows and whoas and oh nos of the rest of the Edge of Extinction merge episode.
Episodes 5-6: Everything's a gamble
Published: March 23, 2019
As the pre-merge fast-forwards through its final two hours, Ryan pauses to mourn Aubry's blindside, appreciate the Extinction chaos, remark on Lesu's losing and Joe's winning ways, and take a worried peek ahead at the big Extinction reveal and return.
Episode 4: The Cleveland Browns of tribes
Published: March 15, 2019
Everything is different and yet pretty much the same, as Ryan surveys the aftermath of the tribe swap: Some madness, some sadness, and some acceptance that maybe The Wardog is running this asylum, after all.
Episode 3: She's lost her rocker
Published: March 8, 2019
If you were hoping Ryan wouldn't be able to get through his Episode 3 recap of Edge of Extinction without addressing the giant chicken in the room, you're in cluck. (Not sorry. Totally Wentworth it.)
Episode 2: I would vote me out
Published: March 1, 2019
Revisit the revelry (also the recriminations?) of Episode 2 with Ryan, who loved Reem on Redemption, er, Extinction, and mostly tolerated the rest of the episode's idol talk and returnee-hating.
Episode 1: This old lady can kill it
Published: February 23, 2019
With a (mostly) new cast and a new twist, there's a lot for Ryan to recap, from the Joes to the cobras to the reeming. But don't worry, Reem could extend her life on this show. Who will join the Debbie-Natalie pantheon this season? Could it be... clothes?
Pre-season: The TDT EoE contestant draft
Published: February 17, 2019
As the new season nears the True Dork Times writers gather to draft fantasy teams of three players. Whose prediction skills will drive their team to extinction? Whose prognostication will give them an edge and a victory?
Pre-season: Edge of Extinction cast assessment
Published: February 4, 2019
Ryan runs through his first impressions of the Edge of Extinction cast, then comes up with an approximate bootlist. Which, in the context of a poorly explained brand-new twist, may not end up meaning much. But it's here!
Episode 14: Make as many fireworks as possible
Published: December 22, 2018
Ryan bids a fond farewell to a great season, and makes as many fireworks as possible, as one should. Chief among them: His choice for Player of the Season, which is of course 100% correct. Deal with it.
Pre-Episode 14: Jury Jeopardy - David vs. Goliath
Published: December 17, 2018
With six players remaining, three True Dork Times writers (Pat Ferrucci, Ryan Kaiser, and Jeff Pitman) unite to forecast the outcome of the Survivor: David vs. Goliath jury's vote on the final three. Who will win the million? And more importantly, will we out-predict Survivor scribes from other sites?
Published: December 15, 2018
Ryan negotiates his way through the twists and turns of a convoluted but ultimately shocking final boot before the David vs. Goliath finale. Chock full of tricks, frenemies, revenge, God, and of course... balls.
Episode 12: I'm excited, and I'm nervous, and I'm sad
Published: December 7, 2018
Ryan ponders the relative merits of going Big (Move) AND going home, crapshoot (lack of) movement to win reward, not moving at all to win immunity, and hiding your movements so as not to become a target, as seen in Episode 12 of David vs. Goliath.
Episodes 10-11: Drunk with power
Published: December 1, 2018
Ryan looks back on two hours of David vs. Goliath that delivered in so many ways: yoga, tips, dunks, drunks, Godfathers, drunk Godfathers, eggs, and dings. Or possibly bings, depending on your perceptions.
Episode 9: Do you like surprises?
Published: November 25, 2018
Ryan recounts his shock and awe at the advantage avalanche the Davids pulled off in blindsiding Dan, but also his love of burger atmosphere and perchance, a hint of a new honorary Wanner?
Episode 8: That Christian, he's wily
Published: November 16, 2018
Ryan navigates the twists and turns of an episode that was all about Christian, but really only as a distraction in order to pull off an epic idol-aided blindside. With as many sandbags, pizzas, Culpeppers, and Dan pleases as you can handle.
Episode 7: What everyone RSVPed for
Published: November 9, 2018
Three tribes become the singular (but double-named) Kalokalo tribe, and Ryan Kaiser is here for the merge shenanigans, mostly involving various Goliaths strong-arming each other, but also double (triple?) agents, art, and seagulls.
Episode 6: She deserves an Emmy
Published: November 2, 2018
Ryan searches for meaning in a post-Natalie David vs. Goliath world, and finds some seeds of post-merge hope (even if it's not a strategy): A more villainous Angelina, a descent into madness on Vuku, a potential successor to James, and an entire tribe of Debbie-worthy balance beaming.
Episode 5: Always in trouble
Published: October 26, 2018
It is a dark and tumultuous time as Ryan endures a heavy, wrenching blow: The loss of Queen Natalie, long may she reign. Also some cyclone wrecks the camps, or something, idols are found, challenges won, jackets argued over, yada yada.
Episode 4: Gerrymandered against the Davids
Published: October 19, 2018
Ryan reviews a movement-packed episode, as Bi leaves, tribes swap, something called Jabeni appears, Natalie ascends to her throne, Carl finds a strange new power, Tiva loses immunity, Alec flips, and Natalia is blindsided. Phew! But at least she takes it in stride.
Episode 3: Get off my island
Published: October 12, 2018
Ryan relishes every hair-flipping moment of the title bout in this episode: No, not Mason-Dixon vs. Gabby, or Bi vs. her knee, but Goliath vs. Goliath, a.k.a. Natalie vs. Jeremy.
Episode 2: Why would you wanna take out the old lady?
Published: October 5, 2018
Ryan surveys the damage of two storms that swept through Episode 2 of David vs. Goliath: Elizabeth's high-powered flipping of the votes on David to save Lyrsa, and Natalie's cyclonic path to deepest reaches of his heart.
Episode 1: We will keep fighting
Published: September 29, 2018
Ryan basks in the extended space of the David vs. Goliath premiere, exulting in the extra time to meet and greet the new contestants, from the John of many names, to the Davids of many sad backstories, to sad back story of Pat, to the force of nature that is Natalie.
Pre-season: The TDT DvG contestant draft
Published: September 22, 2018
The True Dork Times writers (Ben Martell, Pat Ferrucci, Ryan Kaiser, and Jeff Pitman) come together to draft fantasy teams of David vs. Goliath contestants, in an attempt to win eternal* glory by having the team containing the winner. (*Offer expires roughly one month after the season ends.)
Pre-season: David vs. Goliath cast assessment
Published: September 16, 2018
With just over a week until the premiere, Ryan kicks off our Survivor 37 coverage with his impressions of the new contestants of Survivor: David vs. Goliath, some of whom actually have some pre-season content beyond their written bios!
Episode 14: There's only one winner
Published: May 26, 2018
Ryan looks back at the highlights of Ghost Island's finale and season, from the challenges to the champion(s) to the curses. He also crowns several winners of various prizes, even though the show (quite dramatically) had just one.
Pre-Episode 14: Jury Jeopardy - S36
Published: May 21, 2018
The True Dork Times writers assemble once more to project the jury votes, while doing battle with scribes from other Survivor sites: InsideSurvivor, A Tribe of One, Purple Rock Podcast, and the RHAP bloggers. Who can boast the most votes noted for Ghost Island?
Episode 13: Going kamikaze
Published: May 17, 2018
Ryan revisits all the big moves of Episode 13, and somehow still has time to mourn Kellyn, have visitations from Ghost Angela, pirate Sebastian, and crazy Donathan, while still spending half the episode with the obvious winner.
Episode 12: Go big or go home, girl
Published: May 11, 2018
Ryan reminds us that as the oozing Malolo orange lava of the Ghost Island pre-merge petrifies into Lavita black rock, only Aunt Patty can shake things up and make them interesting again.
Episode 11: Luck of the draw
Published: May 4, 2018
Like Probst, Ryan has very few questions about this largely snooze-inducing episode, but stay (Naviti) strong, there are real fakes, slaps, and sleeping to be had as he recaps the double Michelle Yi-ing.
Episode 10: The goats are coming together
Published: April 29, 2018
Formerly live from Boston, Ryan retraces all the curses reversed, Doms hmmmed, Tribals lit, helicopter highs, and (surprisingly few) Malolo lows of Ghost Island, Episode 10.
Episode 9: Seize the moment
Published: April 19, 2018
It's Episode 9 of Ghost Island: Peel your eyeballs away from the tacos and margaritas and towards Ryan's tale of guts, slugs, tongues, gags, and Game Changing power plays that would impress even Survivor's new marine biology expert. Stick around, something or somebody might get played.
Episode 8: This is a showdown
Published: April 11, 2018
Survivor rolls out a rollicking merge episode that brings together 13 people who are content to make the episode entirely about Chris and Domenick. How does Ryan work in three Survivors who aren't actually in the episode? Through the magic of recapping.
Episode 7: Nasty son of a bitch
Published: April 7, 2018
As Ghost Island's pre-merge ends in Episode 7, Ryan tries his best to cope with the sudden loss of Bradley's bitching. Luckily, items have been maturing over the last decade to ease various people's pain. Sadly, none are the Immunity Willard.
Episode 6: Dealt some bad hands
Published: March 29, 2018
After six episodes of searching, Ryan finally finds his Wanner wannabe, and it was good. Better, at least, than the luck of the Malolos, the fortunes of various blindfolded women, and the ghosts of Ghost Island, who were forced to find new... accommodations.
Episode 5: Soak in the strength
Published: March 23, 2018
Ryan describes both his deep appreciation for and simultaneously being crushed by Ghost Island Episode 5, an episode that dispensed with twists and gimmicks to focus on the characters and their various motivations for playing.
Episode 4: The leader never wins
Published: March 16, 2018
Ryan winds his way through the many impediments of Episode 4 of Ghost Island, from wandering wolves to spooked Kellyns to PB & J that is mostly neither PB nor J, but bread. Oh, and cursed immunity balls.
Episode 3: A broken family
Published: March 9, 2018
Ryan recounts the twisting of the two happy Ghost Island families into two newly dysfunctional families, one of which has someone extremely averse to dirt. But help and/or Laffy Taffy are on the way, more or less. Or lies. Yes, lies are on the way.
Episodes 1-2: Walking truly into the unknown
Published: March 3, 2018
Ryan recaps the highs and lows, the sighs and 'fros, of Survivor: Ghost Island's first two episodes. Who were the players of the week? Who was terrible, but great TV? Who were the true ghosts?
Pre-season: TDT Ghost Island contestant draft
Published: February 22, 2018
The True Dork Times writers (Andy Baker, Ben Martell, Dan Otsuki, Pat Ferrucci, Ryan Kaiser, and Jeff Pitman) assemble to draft fantasy teams of Ghost Island contestants, in an attempt to seize eternal* glory by having the team containing the winner. Unless one of the two undrafted players (Team Ghost) win, in which case everyone loses. (*Or until Fall of 2018, whichever comes first.)
Pre-season: Ghost Island cast assessment
Published: February 14, 2018
Ryan Kaiser evaluates the new contestants of Survivor: Ghost Island and assesses their chances of success. Who will be first out? Who will win? Who will come in somewhere in between?