Kaiser Island S36 - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor: Ghost Island recaps

Ghost Island cast assessment


Welcome True Dork Times readers to Ghost Kaiser Island!  To those who have followed my blog in the past, thanks for still following me, and to those going “who the hell’s this noob?” thanks for not immediately clicking the back button in your Internet browser! *thumbs up* I’ve been a Survivor fan for as long as the show’s been on television, starting when I was I just 8-years-old.  Since then I’ve obsessed over it, dreamt about it, applied for it, and for the last few seasons I’ve written about it over at Survivor Talk w/ D&D who recently closed up shop after 6 years of some excellent podcasting.  I needed a new home, so Jeff Pitman generously offered to have me pick up and move my little island from D&D to TDT, so here I am!


I took a writing course in college called “S.W.A.T.” which stood for “Sass, Wit, and Text” and that pretty accurately sums up my writing style.  Survivor is a television show – it’s meant to be entertainment above anything else.  For that reason, I tend to focus on the lighter side of the show and what makes it so entertaining.  While recapping the episodes each week, I like to make cracks, poke fun at people, and talk about what I found especially watch-worthy rather than analyze how the one shot of that crab popping out of the sand means impending doom for one person or another (it might, but I don’t care to write about it).  I tend to be a harsh critic so when I’m not a fan of someone I make it apparent.  Conversely, when I’m head over heels in love, I’ll be excessive about that too.  My recap of Game Changers could essentially be described as The Debbie Donato-Wanner Tribute Season, and I’m 150-200% satisfied with that.


The Survivor community is one that I follow more than any other and as much as we may bitch and moan about its twists, casts, or it no longer being as good as the early seasons, we all still love it even though it hurts sometimes, so I’m excited to be in a place to talk about it.  Millions of people reportedly watch the show, but I swear I’ve met like…ten in my real life outside of an official Survivor event which is why I’m so grateful to have the Internet where me and the stans can assemble.  If I didn’t have anyone to talk Survivor with (or at) I’d probably have ended up in a mental institution years ago, singing the Ancient Voices track ‘til I died.


I don’t read and watch all available content that comes out with the preseason press release, so the main material I’m basing my analysis is mostly the CBS and ET Canada interviews with the cast.  On paper, a person can say one thing, but their body language can say another, so I prefer to attack this with more of a visual even though I may end up oblivious to some possibly key factoids about them.  Oh well.  In case it’s not obvious yet (i.e. you’ve jumped to this paragraph hoping for a “tl;dr”) I often have a lot to say about Survivor, so without any further ado, it’s time to DIG DEEP into Ghost Island!


Ghost Island logo


Given how this season will be including a number of references and throwbacks to seasons of the past, I’m glad that casting at least attempted to get together a list of 20 fans of the game.  A few openly admitted to becoming fans only after being recruited and bingeing as many seasons as they could prior to flying to Fiji, but I think this could be a really competitive cast that’s eager to play the game.  My only worry was hearing most of them mention that their favorite players were from Game Changers, and while some of those players are greats, that season was certainly not, so I’m hoping the cast is meaning to emulate previous performances of those players.  The thought of getting another season like that is more terrifying than anything that could be found on Ghost Island.


Overall, I have a good feeling about this cast.  I felt a little stronger about the cast of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers but that one proved that even some really interesting people don’t always make the most interesting game when they finally get together.  I like that for the first time in what feels like a decade the initial tribes aren’t divided by some sort of gimmick which means more than trying to fit people under a label, the development of these tribes was focused on fitting people with people to make for the best TV.  Looking at Naviti and Malolo, I’m getting a bit more solid vibe from Naviti where Malolo could end up kind of all over the place, so I’ll start with the group that I think has more of the serious contenders to be our next Sole Survivor.






BradleyBradley calls Spencer his “spot stealer” for Cagayan, and I’m going to call Bradley my spot-stealer for Ghost Island.  He’s an intellectual superfan who’s been watching the show since he was in the single digits, embraces himself being the cold, heartless villain of the season, likes making fun of people, and the most important thing we have in common is that we both love Debbie, so I’d just like to formally say F*** YOU BRAD KLEIHEGE for being where I could have been.  Don’t blow this.


With Bradley comparing himself to Spencer, I could see some of those similarities being Bradley’s undoing.  By now, everyone knows not to overlook the nerdy super (duper) fan after seeing the likes of Spencer, Adam, and Ryan (although this cast won’t have seen the latter) in the past few years.  Keeping some of that savviness and arrogance in check for a few days may not be difficult, but I can’t see Bradley making it 39 days without at least a few of the other players seeing through his fake attempts at emotional connections and also his sharp tongue getting him into trouble.  I think Bradley is smart enough to maneuver his way to the merge just by knowing so much about the game, but I could see him getting a comeuppance when his head gets too big – something reminiscent of Zeke in Millennials vs. Gen X.  I could see Bradley as a pre-merge boot for that reason, but I’ll stand to have a little more faith than that in my spot-stealer.


Prediction: Mid-Jury




KellynKellyn has a really energetic personality, and given the recent successes of some of the spunky nerdy girls (FYI “nerd” is only a compliment coming from me) like Aubry and Hannah, I see Kellyn next in line to be that surprising player to go deep into the game and potentially make some impressive moves.  She’s always smiling in her interviews and if she keeps up that exuberance, I think a lot of players will be wanting to work with her.  Unlike some of the other “nice” players, I do believe that Kellyn is a big enough fan of the game to know when it’s necessary to make some rather heartless decisions and she’ll be willing to execute them.


She said she wants to align with a superfan who knows the game and knows how to read people in the game.  This instantly makes me think Kellyn and Bradley will come together quickly.  Bradley may even be the ally that Kellyn ends up cutting later in the game for her own benefit, but at least for the first half, I can see them working well together.  Kellyn may rely a little more on Bradley’s Survivor expertise, given that she’s only picked up the show in recent years, while Bradley will probably rely on Kellyn’s more approachable and inviting personality to recruit other allies.  My gut says Kellyn is going to be a major player this season.  Depending on who’s near the end with her, I can see her winning, but I could also see her being the next to earn the title “best to never win” and coming up just short.


Prediction: Late Jury




SebastianSebastian is the latest to be cast in the Ozzy/Malcolm/Joe category which is one I usually find very little desire to root for, but I surprisingly like Sebastian.  He’s a superfan, proven by his recalling of the one of the show’s greatest and most hysterical moments with Jeff making his way to the live vote reveal via jet ski.  Unlike Ozzy, Joe, and to a lesser extent Malcolm, Sebastian doesn’t have an ego about him.  Maybe those three didn’t either going into their first seasons, but especially Ozzy and Joe have traveled far down that road after their multiple appearances.  Sebastian seems very down-to-earth and humble and while the comparison to those guys is inevitable, Sebastian’s personality could lend him decent success in this game.


He says he’s willing to embrace another side of himself in Fiji, the side that can backstab and play cutthroat, but I’m not so convinced we’ll get to see that animal fully come alive.  I don’t think Sebastian has that killer instinct needed to get to the end given how quick he was to apologize after he joked that he was willing to stab someone in the neck or kidneys with a Hawaiian sling.  I see Sebastian getting pretty close to the end with a mix of challenge wins and positive opinions from his competitors, but I think he’ll be the victim of someone having more of the guts to stab him in the back before he’s able to do the same to them.  We also know that the final four fire-making challenge is knowingly in play, and given Sebastian’s outdoorsmanship, no one’s going to let him have that kind of opportunity to make it to Day 39.


Prediction: Late Jury




ChrisAh, the ladies man, and one who knows it.  Chris says that most of his friends are women and feels that maybe means he understands women more.  Thus, his biggest strategy is going to be playing the role of the flirt and getting all the women on his side, I guess going for some sort of “Chris’s Angels” angle?  That all sounds great until the time would come when it would be down to just Chris and a group of women.  Who becomes the odd man out?  Well, the only man, naturally.


I don’t see Chris’s plan gaining much traction, but that’s not to say that I see Chris being in trouble early.  Guys like Chris make the merge on the regular.  He’s someone tribes will keep around in the beginning, but once the game turns individual his torch will be snuffed quickly.  Chris can’t hide his brawn or beauty, and if the players realize this model has a brain too, short of a Ben-esque finish, Chris will be sitting as one of the early members of the jury.  I like Chris, and while I’m not sure how deep his Survivor fandom runs, he seems eager to play the game and has a plan going in which is not always the case with other jock types on the show.  One other interesting thing that Chris pointed out was eying Sebastian as a fellow “island guy” so we’ll see if that creates an instant alliance or an instant rivalry considering they’re both starting out on the Naviti tribe.


Prediction: Early Jury




MorganMorgan comes across as a very go-with-the-flow individual.  That’s a good thing because it won’t make her much of a threat strategically, and I don’t see her physical ability being much of a threat given how many jocks this cast has, but with that in mind I think Morgan is one that is going to be dangerous – not so much because of the moves she’ll be orchestrating, but because of how easily she’ll be overlooked sort of like a Danni.  She will be a physical asset in the beginning, and I could see her laying low after the merge, maybe winning a few challenges but not enough to have anyone targeting her.  Morgan seems pretty fun and is likely someone people will want to work with.  She’s also a younger woman who lives life in the water which gives her a multitude of possible connections to fellow Naviti women and also men like Sebastian and Chris who share similar hobbies.


Morgan also indicated that she wants to work with the nerds (yay!), so I could see her finding herself in an alliance with Kellyn and Bradley, possibly starting out as their #3 and later bumping Bradley out if Kellyn decides to turn on him.  I think Morgan will be a loyal soldier to whomever she aligns with and I can see her having a strong chance at making it to the end because of that but also because she won’t be an overly aggressive player, thus perhaps someone that another player wants to take to the end to beat.  I can’t say I see Morgan winning, but I can definitely see her as one of the last people in the game.


Prediction: Final Three




DomenickAt 38 years old, Domenick is the third-oldest person in this cast which is going to make him stand out in the sea of 20-somethings.  Starting out on the Naviti tribe, he and Angela sit as the patriarch and matriarch in terms of age, so I can see his initial tribe looking at Domenick as their leader despite his desire to lay low and let the other egos take each other out.  While he’s older, Domenick’s personality is one that I think will fit very well within a young cast.  He said he doesn’t want to be a father figure to anyone but would open to being seen as an older brother.  With some of the younger players looking for someone to take them under their wing, Domenick may end up doing exactly that.


I don’t take Domenick to be the guy too bossy or controlling of the people around him even though he makes a living as a construction manager.  He’s watched the show since its inception, so he surely knows that living on Survivor island isn’t the same as living on Long Island.  If he seemed the alpha male type who actually wanted to take control in this game, I wouldn’t expect Domenick to last long, but if that power naturally finds itself his way, a little like it did to Boston Rob who Domenick compared himself to, I see Domenick going far in this game, and if he can make it to the very end, I think he’ll be a top contender to win.  For the purpose of picking someone this cast assessment, I’m going to go ahead and say that he will.


Prediction: Winner




AngelaAngela definitely is not winning this game.  I wouldn’t give her that great of odds even in a more age-balanced season, but especially with her being one of two people over 40, she’s going to have a great uphill battle.  On top of that, she comes from the military and seems to have a tough, straightforward, and maybe a little abrasive personality.  I don’t see her meshing well with the younger players in the cast.  I think a lot of the younger women especially will not be able to connect with her in the way she needs them to in order to stick around.


She’s starting on a tribe with Domenick, one of the “older men” in the game (100% in a relative sense, because outside of Survivor I wouldn’t classify late-30s/early-40s as particularly “old”).  If she can bond with Domenick for being in that stacked-against age group, he may be Angela’s saving grace in the game.  As I said about him, I think Domenick’s going to be a leader of a Naviti alliance and in a position to majorly influence who stays and who goes.  If he has a connection with Angela, I think she’ll stay over some of the other younger women on Naviti, but should she either not lock in with Domenick immediately or lose him in a tribe swap, then Angela’s fate will be sealed.  I’m having a strong sense of the latter happening.


Prediction: Pre-Merge




WendellI’m on the fence with Wendell.  He’s watched the show since Tocantins and considers himself a superfan, but I get this sense from him that he’s going into the game a little unfocused or scatterbrained.  In his interview, he was naming several different Survivors he thinks he’ll emulate including Sarah, Tony, Brad Culpepper, Jeremy, and Tyson.  Four of the five of them are winners with Brad coming up just a few votes short at Final Tribal Council, so at least he’s trying to mimic their successful games, but given how different those five individuals are, I’m not confident that Wendell really has a clear path to the end in his mind.  I think he thinks he does, but I don’t get that impression.


Wendell seems confident in himself, and I do think he has the personality that could make him one to easily find himself in an alliance where he isn’t much of a decision maker, but someone who is a valuable number and kept around.  That said, I see plenty savvier players in this cast, and my instinct is that Wendell could find himself out of the loop at a pivotal turning point of the game and perhaps since he claims to be cool under pressure, he may feel too comfortable to realize what kind of pressure he faces.  Wendell strikes me as someone who will end up the victim of some alliance shifts after a swap.


Prediction: Pre-Merge




ChelseaStarting in a tribe of 10, historically there has been a high tendency for the first vote to be for one of the seemingly less athletic, smaller females on the tribe.  For that reason, I worry for Chelsea.  Being a professional cheerleader should indicate that Chelsea can hang in there with any physical challenge, but in Survivor perception is so much stronger than reality.  If Chelsea’s immediately perceived as a girly-girl who isn’t cut out for this 39-day extreme physical competition, then she could be in trouble even if she does consider herself one who can make connections with any type of person.


Chelsea also stated that she avoids confrontation and prefers to sit back and watch others duke it out.  Again, as someone who may already be put on the outs of her tribe because of her appearance, if she doesn’t fight hard enough to work her way back in, Chelsea could find herself stuck with an early seat on the sidelines only to cheer on the rest of the players.  Chelsea seems really sweet and I do think that her personality is something she has working in her favor, but only if she puts herself out there enough for other players to recognize it.  I think Chelsea will struggle the most with making a strong enough first impression to avoid being a fast target.


Prediction: Early Boot




DesireeBoth being younger women, I think Desiree and Chelsea will naturally gravitate toward one another and I think they’ll also complement each other with their personalities.  Desiree will be much more outspoken and a more visible fighter in terms of playing the game.  She doesn’t seem afraid to get her hands dirty.  One thing that stood out with her is her comment about not being able to tolerate the alpha male type personality, and while I don’t think he fits the egotistical label, I could see Desiree having some conflict with Domenick if he’s the one in charge of Naviti.  She’s young and she’s feisty which could get Desiree into some early trouble.  I feel like an argument between especially Desiree and Angela is inevitable.


Between Chelsea and Desiree, Desiree has more potential to rub some people the wrong way, but like I said, she also comes across as a little tougher which could give her the edge in a potential vote between her and Chelsea if the tribe approaches the vote from a purely physical standpoint.  However, if Naviti doesn’t win most of the challenges before the swap, I’m not sure that Desiree will make it past the first stage of the game.  She also said she doesn’t have a plan and doesn’t believe going into the game with one is a good idea given the number of variables that come into play.  That may not be completely wrong, but I think going in with some plan is at least better than going in with no plan at all.


Prediction: Early Boot






StephanieStephanie Johnson may be my #1 preseason favorite.  I love her personality!  On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s at least a 15, but that’s exactly what has me scared for her life in the game.  She sounds like a super-duper fan, and I think that she could be so excited to play this game that she’s going to have a hard time toning it down.  She may even think she’s toning it down when it’s still not the level of energy that going to make other players receptive toward working with her.  Especially with those bright neon colors (which I totally approve of) it’s going to be hard for people to not take notice of Stephanie, and I worry it won’t all be positive.


I don’t know if anyone will necessarily “dislike” Stephanie, but they may see her as a little much which could even come across as threatening.  Someone with as much energy as Stephanie could be dangerous if she can focus that energy into the physical and mental aspects of the game.  With as many different skills and hobbies she has, on top of a larger than life personality, the Malolo tribe could look to vote out Stephanie before she’s able to make any waves, or a tsunami, rather.  If there’s one person I hope I’m most wrong about in terms of placement prediction, it’s Stephanie, but I have a huge fear of her being the first one to go should Malolo lose the first immunity challenge.  What an awful waste that would be too.  I honestly can’t believe it took Survivor as long as it did to cast her.


Prediction: First Boot




BrendanBrendan sticks out a bit on Malolo due to his age.  Much like Domenick on Naviti, though, my gut instinct says this will work out in his favor.  By my math, Malolo skews even younger than Naviti, so they’ll need someone with a little more life experience to be in charge, and something tells me that person likely won’t be Stephanie.  Brendan’s a teacher so he’s no stranger to having to lead people that are younger than him.  I think he’ll be a very valuable asset for as long as the original Malolo tribe is intact, and he seems like a likable guy who won’t be confrontational or aggressive in his leadership style.


The problem Brendan could face is being the leader of Malolo after Malolo inevitably is broken up in a swap.  If he lands on a tribe with a Naviti majority, and they’re looking to target the former Malolo’s strongest member, Brendan would be the prime person to eliminate.  He could also be someone that anyone in the game would like to get rid of before the merge to avoid him becoming a massive threat down the line.  Brendan reminds me a little bit of Marcus who suffered a similar fate in Gabon.  Brendan could easily be that “shock boot” as someone with a big, winning edit who gets the rug ripped out from under him right before the merge.


Prediction: Pre-Merge




GonzalezStephanie Gonzalez, who I guess we’re going to be referring to as just “Gonzalez” once the game begins, is a totally different person than I was expecting.  She’s a gun-slinging, horse-riding, paint-balling type of woman – none of which would have been on my list of anticipated hobbies of hers.  Steph’s personality seems like one that will be able to jive with anyone and I think she’ll be able to find some common ground with most of the other players.  She has a great energy about her and another thing I like is that, like several others, she’s feeling the nerd love.  A lot of players have mentioned wanting to work with the Survivor superfan/nerd-type so this season could end up with those players having some major power throughout the game.


All that said, I think “Gonzalez” will do well, but my only reservation will be about Malolo not maintaining their numbers after the merge.  Something about Naviti just strikes me as the stronger or at least more well-rounded tribe which makes me believe they’ll have control of the late game with a few Malolo players just hanging on for dear life.  Steph could be one of those players, and I’m not sure if she’s the type who will attempt to make a grab for power when she needs to, maybe being one of the last members of Malolo in the game, but finding herself outnumbered close to the end.


Prediction: Late Jury




JamesApparently, James has the highest IQ of anyone to have ever played Survivor which is going to have Heidi Strobel asking to review some test results.  Jeff Probst made a comment about being interested in watching James having to learn to interact with other humans…as in, he doesn’t know how to already?  Jeff is hardly the Survivor oracle, and if anything, what he says should be taken completely oppositely, but if he’d go as far as to call James a few nuts and bolts shy of being a robot, maybe there is some reason to be concerned for James’s ability to learn to love.


Physically and mentally, James is a perfect prototype player for the game.  He’ll be an asset in enough challenges to get him to the merge with ease but then that’s where he’ll start to malfunction.  I’m not sure if James will be able to read people as well as others and be able to see his demise coming.  Having been a competitive sprinter that originally applied for The Amazing Race, James is all about that finish line and thus could be blindsided by some hurdles in his way.  He may make it through some of the early votes of the merge, but I think he’ll be sent to Ponderosa a before the finale, unless the show’s going to strive for a new record of nine or so active players on finale night.


Prediction: Mid-Jury




LaurelLaurel is going into this game guns blazing, and she doesn’t seem to be worried about that.  She’s an Ivy League grad and athlete and isn’t going to lie about those accomplishments in her life.  I guess her thought is that if she’s honest, people will trust her more, but I’d be cautious around that kind of “triple threat” as she openly admits to being.  She seems to know the game, but we see a lot of fans forget what they know once they’re on the island, and I can see that being the case with Laurel.  Subtlety doesn’t sound like her forte, and this game requires so much of that to be successful.


Personality-wise, I’m struggling to see someone that Laurel is going to connect with.  She may fight Stephanie J. to avoid that first boot slot and win out, but after that I don’t think Laurel will have anywhere left to go.  I see some other bonds forming in the tribe between certain individuals, but I’m not sure where Laurel is going to fit in, so my gut says she just simply won’t.  Laurel looks great on paper given her background, but out on the island, there’s so much more social game at play where I think is the one area Laurel may not be as solid as she thinks she is.


Prediction: Early Boot




JennaJenna said some things that struck me very positively and others that had me slapping the palm of my hand to my forehead.  Jenna said she felt like Survivor was her destiny and it’s a thrill that she needed at this time in her life.  As someone who’s also in my mid-twenties trying to figure out where my life is going, I’d be a big fan of watching that story of hers unfold.  On the flip side, Jenna revealed that she’s very emotional and is actually hoping for a showmance to happen for her.  Sigh…she had me on her good side and then lost me at that and the story about her already breaking down in tears before the game even started.


Jenna reminds me a little of Morgan from Naviti, and if she can ixnay the showmance dream I can see her having close to the same level of success.  But seriously, Ghost Island filmed just a little over 6 months after the Taylor/Figgy story which should have been the final nail in the coffin for anyone ever considering getting involved with a showmance on Survivor.  Not every Survivor dating game has had ended with a win like Rob and Amber’s.  Lately there’s also been this trend of the merge boot being a female who’s tied to male who the tribe fears has an idol.  Knowing her strategy, I could see Jenna ending up as the merge boot in a similar situation to Michelle or Jessica’s from recent seasons who were victims of attempts to flush an idol out of play.


Prediction: Early Jury




MichaelShow me the birth certificate because there’s no way I’m buying that Michael is actually 18.  If he is, then he really must have taken after his parents and developed an old soul.  I also think that his intent to lie about his age and claim he’s 23 will be the easiest sell he’s made in his career because even looking at him, I don’t see a teenager.  Most 18-year-olds I’d see struggling to relate to older individuals because a lot happens after you turn 18, but Michael sounds to be already living a pretty independent lifestyle which may give him more in common with the rest of the cast than the average teen would have.


Michael, like Jenna, made mention of being open to a showmance, so that’s a red flag to me saying that these two may find each other.  Wait until she finds out he can only have soft drinks on the rewards – that may be a deal-breaker.  If not a showmance, then the two will at least form a tight alliance, one that could be targeted relatively early in the game.  Given that Michael will be one of the biggest physical contenders in the cast, they could seek to get rid of him sooner than later, or start with Jenna and then move on to him once they confirm he’s without an idol.  I’m sure he’s out to beat Will’s record as the highest-placing 18-year-old, but I think Michael will be knocked out a few rounds sooner than Will was.


Prediction: Early Jury




LibbyLibby is admittedly not a long-time fan of the game.  I gather that she was a recruit who spent the few months before the game trying to catch up on what Survivor’s all about.  Sometimes people that don’t know as much about the game are exciting to watch because they add an element of unpredictability, but I’m not sure Libby’s personality will be that for me.  Her Christian faith plays a large role in Libby’s life and while some approach the game differently than they do their life, Libby, who isn’t a diehard fan, may not be as willing to do so.


Libby won’t be the one making any flashy moves, but she’s cute and likable, so she’ll likely be around for a while.  On the Malolo tribe, I can see her getting together with Jenna and Michael, hopefully coming up with a better name than something like the Triforce, and if they go down, so will she.  I’ve got Jenna out around the early part of the merge, so I’d say Libby ends up close to that area as well, maybe making it just a few rounds further.  Along with that, Libby might be my top contender for getting the infamous “purple edit.”


Prediction: Early Jury




DonathanDonathan is just “tickled” to finally get to play Survivor.  I think Donathan will be someone that brings some fun and goofiness to the game, but secretly he’ll be using that as a weapon to make friends and allies.  He’s a little like Tai in his whimsiness, but Donathan’s a bigger fan of Survivor than Tai was, so I think he’ll have a lot more awareness of his own game.  Tai was just Tai, and Donathan will just be Donathan, but he’ll have a firm grasp on how he can use that to propel himself to the end.


I find it hard to think of a scenario where Donathan is voted out.  He isn’t going to be one to make enemies or ruffle feathers, so as long as this superfan doesn’t have a lapse in judgment and become all BIG MOVEZ-obsessed, Donathan should be someone we see in the finale.  I think he will make a ton of friends in the game and be sought out by many alliances which may ultimately be the reason he doesn’t win.  The one case I can see Donathan being a target is around the last few days of the game where he’s seen as someone with a lot of friends on the jury, little blood on his hands, and a compelling life story that would give him a strong case to present at the final tribal council.  Donathan may not see himself as one, but I think close to Day 39, Donathan could be the biggest threat in the game.


Prediction: Late Jury




JacobJacob’s hysterical, and what I love about his humor is that I don’t think it’s artificial.  He owns who he is and knows he’s a dork who isn’t shy to make self-depreciating cracks about himself which makes him a pretty endearing person.  I don’t think he’ll end up like a Cochran or Ryan and try too hard to sound quotable on camera, so I’m anticipating a lot of confessionals that genuinely make me laugh.  I have some folks I already enjoy in this cast, but I like having someone to laugh with or laugh at, and Jacob may be the person who ends up subject to both.


His worry is that he’s going to be an early boot, but I see great things coming for Jacob.  Unless he’s just a sack of Chet in challenges, who’s going to want to vote out Jacob?  He’ll have everyone rolling on the dirt at camp whether he tries to or not, and like Donathan, I think Jacob would be a harder emotional vote to cast.  I think he’ll play a strong strategic game, but Jacob’s still young very young and unsure of himself which, if up against someone in the end who can more confidently speak to their game, could be Jacob’s downfall.  I’m looking forward to a fun story watching Jacob feel like a fish out of water at the start and then really come into his own after the merge.  He may surprise a lot of people by finagling his way to the end, perhaps being brought there as someone to beat but then proves to be some major competition.


Prediction: Final Three




For those keeping a tally, here’s a breakdown of who I think could go far and who I think will fall flat:


Pre-Merge: Stephanie, Laurel, Chelsea, Des, Angela, Wendell, Brendan

Merge: Jenna, Michael, Libby, Chris, James, Bradley, Gonzalez

Finale: Sebastian, Donathan, Kellyn, Morgan, Jacob, Domenick


That’s a very strong finale group, so I’m sure that’s way too good to be true.  I may also seem sexist throwing so many women into the pre-merge group, but thinking back to the last all-newbie, 20-person season, I can sadly see a string of ladies going out early especially with even more muscle around this season.


Not from a potential gameplay standpoint but from a personality standpoint, I have the highest expectations for Stephanie (either one), Jacob, Kellyn, and I think I’ll like Bradley so long as he doesn’t become too “meta” about the whole experience.   If he sticks to just being kind of a dick to people then I’ll be more than content with him.  Jacob, Kellyn, and Stephanie J will be dynamite in confessionals, and I just really like Gonzalez.  I’m also a bit of a self-hating millennial, so I could enjoy watching Brendan, Domenick, and Angela rolling their eyes at the kids saying the darndest things.


All in all…it’s a crapshoot.  Not every year can have a Kim where it’s obvious from the second names and photos are released who will be the best thing to come out of the season.  As always, I know I’ll be off about who I like, who I dislike, who could win, and who won’t.  My saying is that even a bad season of Survivor is still some of the best TV, so I’m pumped no matter what and eager for February 28th to get here.  I ain’t afraid of no ghost (island).


I promise that’s the one time I’ll make that pun.



Ryan KaiserRyan 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: @Ryan__Kaiser