Well, in theory... - Pat Ferrucci's Survivor: Winners at War recaps
How about some power rankings heading into the end game?
By Pat Ferrucci | Published: May 4, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 12 recap/ analysis

How about some power rankings heading into the end game?


Wow. It’s been a little bit, friends. I hope everyone is safe and healthy and enjoying this pretty amazing season of Survivor. I had such high hopes of writing each week, but a combination of work leave, viruses, and unexpected extra work left me with very little time on my hands.


But you don’t care about excuses. Heck, though, what a season this could have been for communication theory. Let’s count the ways:


  • Yul, almost immediately strategically using priming theory to make his tribemates think of those in the “poker alliance” as a threat.

  • Of course, I know I’m in the minority, but the thrill of seeing Boston Rob return made me a happy boy. Rob so clearly attempts to minimize communication. Really, he thinks of his alliances – or organizations – as a form of dominance; he’s the leader and that cannot be disputed.

  • Many of the more recent players immediately began talking about an old school/new school divide, effectively utilizing social identity theory to create an us vs. them dichotomy or, more saliently, an in-group and an out-group.


Oh man, I could go on and on: Sophie basically destroying the early portion of the game, truly changing the minds of people like me. Denise, my Winner Pick™, giving us an unbelievably satisfying moment for Sandra to get the boot. Unlike Sophie or Sandra, Ben and Adam making us question if they’re very good players at all. Kim never really finding herself in the game and, honestly, seemingly outplayed the entire season. Heck, even the Edge delivers quality television most weeks. Seriously, minus episodes 8-10 — which were all good, but the editing left a lot to be desired — this season has been truly up there with the best ever. Look, it’s no Heroes v. Villains, but it’s clearly top-tier and an absolute saving grace in a time without sports.


Without baseball, basketball and hockey, I literally count the days to the next episode. And, now, knowing we only have two episodes left, I’m already a bit depressed. But, with that said, I found myself with some extra time this week – what with a concluded semester and all — so I thought I’d give you some impressions of where I think this season is headed. It’s a little tough to predict, to me, but some power rankings might help.


So, here we go. The following are my power rankings for those left in the game and the folks hanging on Edge. Remember, these are not predictions for who will leave next, but rather how I think they fare in terms of chances for winning.


The remaining castaways:

The remaining castaways


7. Ben – I don’t think there is any way that Ben wins this game. There are a couple big reasons. First, he hasn’t really done anything of note so far besides piss people off. And, second, did I mention he seemingly pisses each and every castaway off at least once an episode? The wishy-washy playing combined with an odd anger at the thought of playing a fluid game is really disappointing, especially when you consider the male winners who could be out there in his place.


6. Nick – Unlike Ben, I don’t think Nick is playing a bad game, but he’s just not playing much of a game at all. It’s really hard to see how Nick expects to win or what he views as an effective end game. Also unlike Ben, Nick was really good and strategic in his season, so it’s been quite disappointing to see such passive play. I guess Nick thinks he might be able to get to the end with, maybe?, Michele and Ben and win? I still think Michele wins relatively easily in that scenario.


5. Denise – To me, my Winner Pick™ seemed to peak too early. Her amazing play on Sandra looked to put a target on her back, a target that would make her go home shortly thereafter. But Denise did an amazing thing by effectively moving to the background and avoiding elimination. Unfortunately for her, she moved too far to the background and now is seemingly considered a goat of sorts. I don’t think anyone in the game fears Denise. She really needs a Big Move™ or two to up her chances.


4. Jeremy – Can Jeremy win the game? Of course. Really, with the right combination of luck and good moves, anyone remaining can still win. The issue for Jeremy, as I see it, is nobody wants to take him to the end except maybe Tony, and he can’t beat Tony. When you really think about it, this season’s been quite odd for Jeremy; he really played defensively throughout. He’s been blindsided in the vote numerous times and never really made a move himself. He’s only this high because the other contestants see him as such a threat that he is one, even if it’s completely undeserved in this game But, he can still change all that and clearly owns the skillset to do so.


3. Michele – Honestly, if I wrote this column a couple weeks ago — which I should have — I probably would have placed Michele even higher. She’s played a hell of a smart social and strategic game, one that will really surprise a lot of jurors if she can sell it well. Unfortunately, the last couple episodes makes it look like she’s been lost, not knowing how things would go down and completely out of the loop. That’s going to hurt her at the end. Also, the editing does Michele absolutely no favors because, more than anyone besides maybe Nick, we have no idea of her long-term strategy or, even, reasoning behind certain moves.


2. Tony – To me, without a doubt, Tony’s played the best game of anyone so far. He’s absolutely amazing and, if he makes it to the end, Tony will almost certainly be talked about as the best Survivor player ever … since he’ll have two dominating wins under his belt … two wins that nobody will consider even the least bit controversial. But, I think everyone knows this. And I think Tony’s going to get eliminated at 5. I could be wrong, but that’s my guess right now. I hope I’m wrong.


1. Sarah – And that brings me to Sarah, who no doubt understands that Tony needs to go. She’s too smart to do it now, when Tony owns an idol that could be played for her. But she’ll orchestrate his elimination after using him as a meat shield for a couple more votes. Unlike in Game Changers, Sarah doesn’t have many flashy moves to talk about at the end, but her social game and the way she’s been in control for almost the whole game will win her the crown against anybody but Tony, I think.


The Edge – I don’t think anyone can win from The Edge. But, who do I think is most likely to return? Based on the edit and fire tokens, here are my rankings: Parvati, Tyson, Sophie, Rob, Natalie, Kim, Adam, Ethan, Yul, Wendell, Danni and Amber.


Pat Ferrucci Survivor recapsPat 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.