The Baker's Dozen

Editor’s note: This week’s column is written by The Contrarian, Captain Obvious’ lesser-known, but decidedly more opinionated, side-kick. The thoughts, ideas, and theories expressed by The Contrarian do not necessarily reflect those held by the blowhard who normally writes this blog. Proceed and process accordingly.


None of this preamble or pontificating business. Time only for unsubstantiated opinion delivered as immutable truth. The other guy writes ostensibly philosophical 3,000 word screeds; I simply call it like it is.


Let’s go.


Good night, Shirin

1) Shirin has the potential to be a GREAT Survivor player.


She’s smarter than you, me, and Captain Obvious put together.


Yeah, so she made mistakes. Know what she did with the flaws in her game? OWNED them.


How many Survivor players admit they screwed up?


She went out there too soon. The wounds inflicted by Will and Dan were too fresh. Survivor is won by people with healthy heads and hearts; she had neither.


Time heals all. The one thing Shirin did not have was time. You do the math.


Bring her back for Season 40 and she crushes everyone.


2) The producers should wait at least a year – probably more – before bringing someone back.

There is a sweet spot for returnees: the time away has to be long enough to learn, but short enough that the game has not passed them by.


  • Boston Rob had two years between Marquesas and All-Stars. (You say Amber won All-Stars? I say you’re wrong.)
  • Parvati, over a year between Cook Islands and Micronesia.
  • Cochran, a year.
  • Tyson, four years… which strains this theory but does not break it.
  • Sandra had ages between wins, but Sandra is an outlier, and has been forever thus.
  • What about Boston Rob redux? Under a year between Heroes vs. Villains and Redemption Island. Yeah, but he struggled at the outset, was surrounded by goats, and that season does not exist.


Shirin should not have gone right back out there. Amanda and Malcolm should not have gone right back out there. Dear lord in Heaven, four OUR sakes, Russell and Rupert should not have gone right back out there.


Wait a year, producers; the game will be better for it. But who am I kidding? Every producer in the history of television failed the marshmallow test (


Now I have to vote out the one person I wanted to play with

3) Spencer’s confessional was f#&@*?! amazing.


If you’re someone who has mocked the Young Lad for crying during a confessional, there’s something f#&@*?! wrong with you.


I defy you to go without sleep for six days, eat almost nothing, and live in a bamboo shelter – all while playing a game filled with paranoia – and not get emotional.


One of the main reasons to watch Survivor is to witness what it means to be human. The beauty. The agony.


It’s called reality television, and it doesn’t get any more real than a young man struggling with voting an ally – more importantly, a friend – out of the game.


If you laughed, grow up. If you ridiculed, ask yourself why you’re a horrible person. If you winced because Spencer’s raw emotions made you uncomfortable… well, there’s hope for you yet.


The hug of death

4) Varner has signed his own death warrant.


King of the Confessionals. The Sultan of Old Schoolers. The Pharaoh of Flipping.


Varner is all of these things.


His game is over all the same.


He’s not going any time soon; he may last until long after the merge. But he sprinted at the start of a marathon. In his attempt to wake up the shelter builders, he alarmed everyone.


I’m no Dan Foley; I’m not going to argue that flippers never win.


But in a season of savvy returners, Varner’s early game moves will earn his inevitable elimination.


Knowing that a swap was coming at 18 (as they ALL did), Varner should have let Abi go. She’s too volatile for endgame alliances. This would have kept everyone clueless that he was calling the shots.


Coming into the game, Varner was someone who could help eliminate the big targets… but now he is one.


I win!

5) Abi-Maria is awesome at Survivor.


Everyone wants to take her to the end. No one sees her as a threat. And she’s mastered the meta-game: As the only player in her casting niche, she’ll play this game at least three times if she wants to.


Ha, joke’s on you. Even The Contrarian isn’t this stupid. Abi’s horrendous.


Weepy Kass

6) The end of Kass’s story has been written.


The guy who writes this blog tells me he likes Kass quite a lot as a person, and thinks she has a deep understanding of how the game works.


Doesn’t matter.


Here’s the problem: The producers humanized her.


Kass crying? In front of other people? Because of Savage’s story?


That’s her character arc: The game has given her what she needs.


The player who orchestrates her end? They told us last week. Tasha.


Kass talked about how awful many of her Cagayan cast-mates were, and how affirming it was to be on a tribe with real, genuine, and nice people this time around.


A wonderful sentiment and a great moment, for her and the show.


But who did the camera pan to as Kass said this? Tasha. One of the Cagayan players who was undoubtedly unkind to her in the aftermath of her gameplay.


With revenge on her mind, Tasha is going to come gunning for Kass. It’s going to be ugly. And it will end Kass’s game.


Silver lining: There’s a good chance this will destroy Tasha’s ability to win, too.


Bros being emo

7) Jeremy further damaged his chances.


Savage gives Jeremy the perfect moment to soften his image, to become vulnerable in the eyes of assassins (which, in this case, is a good thing).


You’d have to be stupid to mess that up, right?


No way Jeremy would miss this opportunity to allow others to exercise empathy.


We all know to never be the first person to walk away from a good group cry, right?


But that’s just what he does.


Yeah, yeah, I get it. I can’t imagine being out there with a pregnant wife back home. But still.


C’mon, man.



8) Savage isn’t a scathingly judgmental jerk…


… he just plays one on TV.


So, what matters in Survivor are, according to Savage, morality, values, loyalty, dignity and courage. And Stephen apparently possesses none of these. Because he went looking for an idol and dared to suggest that someone else might do the same.


It was incredibly courageous and dignified for Savage to say this in a confessional positively dripping with morality and so steeped in values.


By the way, didn’t that sanctimonious attitude get Savage voted out by Lil?


That bears repeating: Eliminated. By. Lil.


Savage is attempting to define how and why players will stick around and ultimately win the game.


Thank goodness he will fail.


9) The season’s theme: Learn or Leave

Two episodes in, and the theme of the season is clear: If you studied, you stay; if you learn, you linger; if you’re stubborn, you’re snuffed.


(Listed alphabetically within tiers.)



Abi: She’s like an antagonist in a telenovela, only less subtle.

Monica: Has made viewers pine for Natalie Tenerelli. Astounding.



Jeremy: Thinks he’s learned but hasn’t.

Joe: After starting fire and creating hammocks, tattooed “THREAT” on his forehead.

Kelly: She’s really happy she’s back in the Tagi alliance.

Peih Gee: Everyone wants to fight with Abi. Only Peih Gee does so.

Savage: Strategically and sanctimoniously stuck in Season 7.

Stephen: It’s not easy to make a guy swinging in a hammock look like an evil overplayer. And yet they have.



Ciera: Claims to have learned. No proof yet, because apparently there’s no footage of her. She must be hanging out with Monica a lot.

Kass: Traded chaos for catharsis. Denouement is not far behind.

Keith: Said he needed to change. Spat. Disappeared.

Kimmi: Said she’s different now. Laughed. Disappeared.

Woo: Learned how to say no, but did so to remain who he was last time: a loyal pawn.



Spencer: Publicly proclaimed he’s learned his lesson.

Terry: New-found “social game” shoved down our throats.

Varner: Has learned enough to become the teacher. But given the chance, what student doesn’t vote out the teacher?



Kelley: Going with the flow. Following the numbers. Assuring the opposition. That’s how you play Sandra’s “anybody but me” game.

Tasha: Too nice last time. Will beg for forgiveness this time. Now THAT’S an arc.


10) Probst Probe: He sucks at similes.

Will attacked Shirin for reasons of religion and race.


Shirin “abandoned” Abi for reasons of everyone couldn’t stand her.


Yep, these are just like one another, Jeff.



11) Fortunes Rising: Tasha


Tasha was invisible again this week… except for her recap confessional:


“I’m here to win a million dollars. And when it’s all done, I’ll pray for forgiveness.”


This might be a winner’s quote, but it might also be that her prayers fall on deaf ears. Divine beings are far more forgiving than juries (especially ones full of returnees). Either way, Tasha’s an endgamer.



12) Fortunes Falling: Monica


Monica lovers are noticeably silent these days. Almost as quiet as Monica herself. I can’t imagine why.


I wonder if the producers have now realized that All-Star seasons don’t need empty bikinis?




13) Prediction Time: The Swap that Surprised Exactly Nobody

Someone’s mini-arc is ending this week. The options, alphabetically:


A Kass who cares and cries.

A very care-y Terry.

The unwooable Woo.






That’s it for this edition of The Baker’s Dozen – if you’d like to keep the conversation going, leave a comment below!


Andy Baker

Andy Baker is a long-time, but definitely not long-winded, Survivor blogger.

Follow Andy on twitter: @SurvivorGenius