I know what you’re all thinking: “Ferrucci hasn’t written in a couple weeks because his fantasy team keeps getting decimated.” Now, yes, I am in mourning that every one of my handpicked winners keeps getting the boot (miss you, Molly), but fear not, my friends, Janet still remains and will win Survivor.
In reality, I’ve underestimated how much free time I’d have juggling work and other new responsibilities. But, alas, you don’t care about that. Well, I’m back this week so let’s talk.
If you’ve been following this column for any amount of seasons, you know that I typically publish three power rankings per season: one before the first tribal shakeup, one before the merge and one prior to the finale. Well, my first one should have ran last week, but time got away from me.
That means we’ll do it this week.
But before we get to the power rankings, I wanted to take a moment and discuss Jamal’s absolutely amazing talk with Jack. Let’s be clear: Reality television is typically a cesspool of casual racism and unchecked bigotry. I don’t watch Big Brother, but I read the news and know that every f’n summer we’re reading about some horrible human depicted positively on that sh*tshow of a program. And we also know it was only last year that Survivor castaway Julia Carter published a piece noting some of the racism she experienced on the show … content never shown on TV. If we’re going to (correctly) criticize the show for not putting that on the air, we need to give it credit for how it handled the Jamal and Jack talk.
Anybody who’s been reading this column for more than a season has read a piece where I apply social identity theory to the game. Without explicitly mentioning theory, Jamal perfectly summed up how identity works, how we’re all members of several groups determined by things such as race, gender, religion, sports fandom, hobbies … whatever. We’re all in so many groups and all those memberships, collectively, make up our identity. But when we encounter people we don’t know, they tend to stereotype us based on the membership they can most easily identify. That’s often race or gender, since it’s much harder to know other parts of our identity without talking to us. That’s why we see so much casual racism or sexism on television and in life. That’s why that was such an amazing couple minutes of television. Good job by all.
OK, that’s just something I had to write, now let’s talk power rankings. Remember, this list goes from least likely to win to most likely to win – in my small mind – it is not about how far I think someone will go. For example, I think Noura could go far in this game, but I don’t think there is any chance she could win.
14. Karishma: I think Karishma, no matter she does from here on out, owns the smallest chance of winning this game. There is just no way this group is rewarding her challenge deficiencies and social issues. I don’t think she can muster the social capital necessary to make a game-defining move, so she could be dragged to the end, but that’s it.
13. Noura: I think Noura is in a similar position to Karishma, though she probably deserves better. Noura is kind of kooky, for lack of a better word, and because her tribemates never take her seriously, she can’t win. She’s amazing TV though; that’s for sure.
12. Dan: Do I think Dan could play this game well? Sure. Do I think Dan is playing well? Nope. That montage where Missy mocked him perfectly summed up his game, I think. Dan thinks he’s smart and sneaky — and he is probably in real life — but in this game, folks are on to him. I don’t think he has enough close connections to last to the end and win.
11. Aaron: What can you say about Aaron? Well, he’s awesome in challenges and he’s playing very hard strategically. But I think both are his downfall. Look, people who look like Aaron almost always get booted at the merge. That would be happening no matter what. But I can’t remember a player, in recent memory, who overplayed strategically as much as Aaron. He talks about thinking multiple votes down the line, but that’s a bad strategy when you need to make it to the next vote. He’s overplaying so much. His machinations — many this week — are totally unnecessary.
10. Jack: Can Jack win at CrossFit? Maybe. But I just don’t think he wins this game. Maybe it’s his edit or his youth, but he just seems on the outs and a kind of ancillary member of the old Vokai. I don’t think he can win. And I think his challenge strength will make him a target come the merge.
9. Missy: She seems to be playing a hell of a game, but her edit scares me. Also, I think she’s been a little all over the place, which has made her own alliance not trust her as much as they should. That could be a problem as we move forward.
8. Elaine: Elaine, at this point, should win. But she’s like Christian from a couple seasons ago: Nobody is letting her get to the end and she won’t do it herself through challenges or idol hunting.
7. Dean: With Dean, it’s a little weird. Usually, on a season, there are numerous players just like Dean, but he’s all alone this season. And there are a couple dudes who are better in challenges — Aaron and Jack — which should shield Dean a bit. Plus, Dean’s OK socially. But he doesn’t seem like a winner to me. He’s not strategic enough to make a move worthy of jury vote ... at least so far.
6. Jamal: Man, I want to root for Jamal after this week. But it’s easy to forget, he was on the outs with his own tribe. Yes he has an idol, but besides Jack, who are his close allies? Dean maybe? I just don’t know where Jamal goes to gather a coalition for a big vote. And even if he does, that coalition will be tighter with each other than with him.
5. Elizabeth: Honestly, Elizabeth is playing well so far. She’s done a good job navigating some tricky situations. And she’s going to be good in individual challenges. The main concern I have, though, is she plays the middle too much. She talks to everyone and agrees with everyone ... that’s going to get her in trouble at some point.
4. Lauren: So far she’s been great, but can she pull off — and get credit for — a Big Move™ at some point? She’s probably not winning challenges, so that’s going to be key for her game.
3. Janet: Maybe I’m biased, but I think Janet is playing so much better than expected. She’s good at challenges, but far more observant and strategic than I would have thought. The way she pinpointed exactly why Tom needed to go a couple weeks ago broke my heart (for fantasy purposes), but impressed the hell out of me. I’ve said it seven times and I’ll say it again: Welcome to the Sole Survivor Club, Janet.
2. Kellee: She’s got an idol, she’s super smart and she’s not physically intimidating. Kellee is a player to watch this season. The way she got too emotional coming back from her visit with Rob and Sandra worried me, but she’s been absolutely amazing since.
1. Tommy: I think Tommy is one of the best social players we’ve seen in a long time. Add to that his physical challenge skills and we may have a great player. Honestly, I’m not sure who should be number one, which means we’ve got a wide open game that could signal a hell of a season. But, for now, I put Tommy here even though he looks slightly in trouble right now ... especially if the new Vokai smartly throws the next challenge. But I think Tommy finds a way to stay to the merge and then he’s a real favorite.
Real No. 1. Boston Rob: Probst will find a way for Rob to win and get his own HGTV show making huts on islands.
OK, well that’s all I got. I’ll be back next week with theory. I promise.
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.