Survivor: Second Chance. Man, it’s been a long time coming. Well, I guess, maybe not this specific season, but another all-star one. We’ve all been waiting a while. I mean, a person can only take so many San Juan del Surs and Worlds Aparts (at least the early game) before they start to yearn for some folks who actually have a bit of a clue about how to play the game.
OK, I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? An introduction is in an order.
As you could probably surmise considering it’s right there on the top of this here page, my name’s Pat Ferrucci and I’m going to be recapping here at True Dork Times each week this season. I’m going to be doing it a bit differently, though.
In my normal (or at times abnormal) day, I’m a professor of journalism at the University of Colorado who does a fair amount of research. In that job, I use a lot of theories concerning communication to explain how things work the way they do. Well, that’s what I’m going to be doing here … hence the title of this column: Well, in theory …
What I’m going to do each week is apply a communication theory to the episode. Basically, I’m going to try and explain why things happened the way they did. Of course, a theory is really only a way of explaining things. We kind of test theories everyday in life … even if we don’t know it.
I know, I know: This sounds like it could be a wee bit boring. I promise, and you’ll have to trust me for now, that this will be fun.
Besides applying a theory each week, I’ll also add some observations, both interesting and humorous. Or at least that’s the goal.
But right now, we don’t have a season yet. We’re about a week or so away. So what does that mean? Well, how about I give you guys the 1,456th preview you’ve read this offseason?
Last week, Survivor made a little news when Dalton Ross wrote about how Probst doesn’t think half the women in the Second Chance cast could win. We, of course, wouldn’t expect anything less, but it got me thinking: What about a preview that ranked the chances of each cast member to win?
As we know, in an all-star season, things can get a bit odd. All the pre-game alliances and what-not leave some folks bitter once the game starts and inevitably breaks up said alliances. Plus, for the most part, we’re talking about good players who have a freaking clue. Therefore, it’s all about the social game this season. Good social game equals chance to win. Bad social game equals you’re, um, not going to win.
So, without further ado, here are my rankings from cast member with the least chance of winning to my pick to take home the $1 million, the title of Sole Survivor and maybe 3% of the attention at the reunion special.
Oh, and just to be transparent here (as any good journalist should be), I made sure to cast my vote online at CBS.com for this season. I consistently put Jim Rice, Shane and T-Bird on my ballot, while leaving out Joe, Woo and Shirin. That’s out there now. Oh, and also, this isn’t a list of who I think is best, just my perception of the chances for each player to win. Here we go:
20. Kass — I just don’t think there’s any way Kass wins or even goes far. Woo hoo! Probst and I agree on this one! Seriously, though, this cast is full of veteran players who value rational, self-interested decision-making processes. I mean, is there more of an antithesis to that than Kass? Unpredictability will not play well. Plus, let’s be honest, at least on TV, she seems pretty socially inept.
19. Joe — I like Joe in the way most people like relatively bland physically gifted challenge beasts. But I agree with Andy Baker: This type of person won’t do well amongst veterans. Plus, Joe seems way too laid-back for this game and, as one of the younger dudes, he’s going to be targeted early. The end of the man-bun will quick, I fear.
18. Spencer — In the same category as Joe as a younger guy who can do OK in the challenges (but nowhere near as well as Joe), Spencer will also be a seen as a good strategic player … even though every strategy he tried during his season failed miserably. Sometimes you just can’t shake that nerd label. The only chance he has is if the Cagayan folks can work together to save each other. I doubt it and I don’t think Spencer will be around for long. And that’s sad because we may not get many pouty meltdowns from him.
17. Shirin — I don’t know why, but I’m in the minority with Shirin. Even amongst the dumpster fire that was most of the cast of Worlds Apart, I thought Shirin pretty much sucked as a player. Oh, yeah, she made it further that I thought, but she got pulled along because of other players’ self-interested moves. I mean, is there any way to deny she was bad at socializing, the challenges and only OK at strategizing? She can’t win. Again, I agree with Probst here. Wow. I wrote that.
16. Jeff — I’m rooting for Jeff. Maybe not to win, but I’m rooting for him to go far. I just don’t think it’s going to work for him. First, I think that most of the cast are newer folks, so therefore Jeff’s pregame alliances might not be strong. Second, as one of the older guys who’s known for being strategic, I think he’ll be targeted. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.
15. Abi-Maria — This list doesn’t forecast when I think these folks will go home. Actually, I think Abi-Maria might really go far. But she’s not winning. Nobody on this cast will vote for her and then have to admit she beat them. She proved to be a decent strategist during Philippines, but she was awful at challenges and, of course, legendarily bad socially. She’s a goat in this game. A goat that could be a vote for the real players, though. Nothing more.
14. Vytas — I enjoyed watching Vytas. I think he got screwed by pregame alliances. But I also think his confessionals showed an arrogant strategist who too transparently looked out for only himself. These players have seen the seasons. These players will remember. These players will ditch Vytas before the merge. Or maybe I’m wrong.
13. Stephen — I’m rooting for Stephen to win … or at least get close. But again, as a strategist who willingly went on this season with the label “the knowingest know-it-all,” I just don’t think there’s a shot in hell he goes far. Folks are going to always think he’s looking to blindside them, even when he’s not. If he can make the merge, he’ll be in really good shape because people might not focus on him as intently, but I don’t expect him to get there. Sad.
12. Ciera — Ciera is the female version of Stephen. I think they played similar games (Stephen’s was definitely better though), but more importantly, I think other players will look at them the same way: We need to get rid of her before she gets rid of us. She’ll be an early target because of her reputation as a gamer. She gives good confessional too. So let’s hope I’m just dumb. That’s very possible. Or probable.
11. Terry — Oh, Terry. Simple, simple Terry. I don’t think Terry will be any different whatsoever as a player. Except he’ll be older. Don’t get me wrong, Terry was one of the people I was rooting for the hardest to make the cast. You just don’t see folks like him make it far in this game anymore, though. But sweet, sweet Terry just wants to dominate challenges and half-assedly strategize in ways that don’t make sense. Oh man, how I miss his strategy from Panama. I wonder if he figured out how to use an immunity idol in strategy yet. I think he sticks around to the merge and is immediately dispatched. He’s a loyal vote for your alliance, but then get him out before he can win every single immunity challenge that’s not patently unfair.
10. Peih-Gee — Holy crap the world was a different place back in 2007, in the days of China. Peih-Gee got so much hate, both online and during the reunion special, for throwing challenges even when, in this specific case, it was great strategy. However… I feel like reading other previews and listening to podcasts over the last few months, she’s gotten a lot of credit for this and people are forgetting just how awful of a social player she was during that season. Almost nobody liked her. She got in loads of fights. She purposely antagonized when it hurt her. Peih-Gee is one those folks I feel like could win this game, but it would take a big change in her gameplay, namely chilling the f out, at least on the surface. I’m rooting for her.
9. Kimmi — I have make a confession: I’ve seen The Australian Outback three times, and I really don’t remember a thing about Kimmi’s gameplay. Like most folks I think, I remember Kimmi and Alicia fighting. I’m excited to see any old-school player return to the game, but I have to say that seeing Kimmi on the ballot was a total shocker. What producer thought, “You know what Survivor needs? More Kimmi Kappenberg.” Her return is, to this here recapper, a whole bunch of random. I love her New York accent though.
8. Kelly — When listening to the get-the-vote-out podcasts on RHAP a few months ago, one thing about Kelly became very clear: She hasn’t watched much Survivor in recent years. I feel like the game may have passed her by. Heck, she didn’t really play much of a game in Borneo. But… she did play a little more than most people think. I feel like her naiveté about new-school Survivor and the fact she probably won’t strategize too much or rock the boat will keep her around for a while. She’s good at challenges, obviously, and that can only help her tribe. She’s just not too threatening because of when she played and her reputation. I feel like this could be a huge advantage. If she can just make it far enough to get her feet under her, in a strategic manner, she could win this thing.
7. Andrew — I’m not sure Savage has any chance to win this thing. But, I feel like he should be the poster boy for this season. I don’t think there’s anyway he doesn’t win Pearl Islands if the horrid outcasts twist doesn’t happen. Yet at first, I didn’t think he could win that season, either. So … I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt until he gets voted off legitimately. With that said (or written), alpha males in all-star seasons? I mean Boston Rob, yeah, but besides him? I feel like Andrew needs to take less of a leadership role if he wants to win. But does he have that in him?
6. Kelley — A very popular choice to go far, Kelley, to me, does seem to fit the archetype of the contestant that could win in this type of season. She’s good at challenges. But not too good. She’s not really threatening (unless you’re a moron spending some time on San Juan del Sur). She seems to have a good social game. She’s good looking. Her dad’s not around to piss people off. Add all these things up and, I think, we have a real contender.
5. Tasha — I think people don’t give her enough credit for her work on Cagayan. Unfortunately (or fortunately in some ways), Tony, Kass and Spencer dominated that season, at least in terms of camera time post-merge. That might work to Tasha’s advantage. She did well in all three facets of the game and I think there’s a good chance she gets out to the island and folks overlook her until she’s already got the game under control… as best as you can, of course. Now, if she comes out of the gate too fast (and this really goes for anyone), that could be a problem. But she didn’t even do that in Cagayan.
4. & 3. Keith and Woo — I know Andy Baker’s already put the kibosh on these two winning the game because it would make the jury feel stupid, like they were bested by two incompetent players. And I think that’s a probably correct, great argument. But I just can’t get past the opinion that these two will be severely overlooked in the early game. There’s no reason for anyone to get rid of Keith and Woo at first. They’re loyal votes who probably won’t out-strategize anyone. And neither are challenge beasts… even though they’re both good at challenges. I can totally see both getting to the merge, winning some challenges and staying on the fringe while the bigger players take each other out. Just like both did in their first seasons. The one difference? All-star seasons tend to have bitter juries and what better way to enact that bitterness than by screwing the big strategic player who makes it to the end by voting for Keith or Woo? I mean, it’s happened before (ahem, Amber, ahem).
2. Jeremy — OK, so I admit it: As a Boston native, it’s in my genes to root Jeremy and his Boston accent. But, I also think he’s going to have learned quite a bit from his time on San Juan del Sur, and he already came in with a good head on his shoulder. He’s smart, athletic and highly social. But, at least during his season, I don’t think he came across as too much of an alpha male like Terry or Savage, as much of a schemer like Stephen or Spencer. For male players, I feel like he’s in the sweet spot: He won’t be overlooked like Keith or Woo, but he won’t be as threatening as some of the others. We’ll see. Go Patriots.
1. Monica — Everything I just said about Jeremy, well, I could say it about Monica too. Now, of course, because I’m choosing her to win, she’ll be voted off first. And I do think, after listening to her pre-game interviews, she could come out playing too fast. But I have this gut feeling that she’s just made to play this type of season, that she could be a new Parvati-like player… not as good as Parvati of course, though. They have so much in common. Except, just a reminder, I do think Monica played better in her first-time showing than did Parvati.
Well, that’s it. Take these predictions with a grain of salt. I’m sure when the season’s over, these here predictions will look horrible. Monica will leave first. Kass will create chaos all season and emerge victorious in a close vote against Joe and Shirin. We’ll see though. At worst, I’ll look dumb. It won’t be the first time. Just ask my students.
With that all said (or written), next time we all talk, it’ll be about some theoretical underpinnings to the strategic moves the players are making. I’m excited. And, also, make sure to comment on these stories and hopefully we can have some good conversations. That’s it for now.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He’s seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he’ll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.