Monday, 11 February 2013

Survivor: Caramoan - Assessment of the Favourites

Erik Reichenbach, Survivor: Micronesia (Fans versus Favourites)

I feel good about Erik this season. Firstly, people will keep him around because of his strength in challenges. Secondly, Erik's a nice likable guy that people will want to keep around. Thirdly, he's reliable and loyal. He'll likely find the majority alliance, apply himself and follow their lead. He'll be a listener and won't be calling the shots, keeping the traget off him. Finally, people will underestimate this guy because of one huge mistake. Jeff said as he snuffed Erik's torch "I think that's what we call a life lesson" and I'm certain that's exactly what it was for the poor guy. I can see this guy making it real deep if his alliance has numbers, and then they’ll be kicking themselves that they let this huge challenge threat get that deep. If he’s not in the majority, he will be an early boot after the merge.

Corinne Kaplan, Survivor: Gabon

I believe Corinne's chances depend greatly on whether she can keep her mouth shut. Corinne's clever and she can be charming if she wants to be. However, how clever and charming she will be depends on how pissed off she is. If she can swallow her pride, she can get far in this game. In fact, she may be a popular pick amongst her peers to take to the end if she pulls the same antics as last time and makes some real enemies. Furthermore, she's quite weak in challenges, which is another incentive to take her deep. However, this is a double edged sword and it will put a huge target on her back in the pre-merge game. Especially on a tribe that really only has a few challenge liabilities.

Brenda Lowe, Nicaragua

Every All-Star season, we see a really strong player get voted out real early purely because of the threat they pose. We saw this with Rob Cesternino and Richard Hatch in All-Stars, Yau-Man Chan in the original Fans versus Favourites, and we saw it with Cirie Fields in Heroes versus Villains. I suspect we may see Brenda suffer the same fate in Caramoan. If she wants to avoid this fate, she'll need to learn from her last time out on the island and swallow her pride. Be nice and suck up to people, and keep herself in the loop. Luckily for her, her pre-game interviews suggest she knows this and she's willing to "put away bad Brenda, and show them good Brenda". Another thing she has going for her is her challenge strength. If she can prove to be an asset early on and put the target on someone else's back (Corinne?, Cochrane?), she'll be able to do alright. Unfortunately, she’s on a tribe that is rather strong in terms of challenges, and they may feel they can sacrifice her. Malcolm and Erik are the only challenge dominators, but almost everyone else is more than reliable. I think it would be in Brenda’s best interests if there was a tribe switch or some type of twist quite early on. Once again, I can't help but see her being too big a threat for a second time if she manages to survive the merge. The only way I see her surviving the first or second vote after the merge is if she finds herself leading a very loyal majority alliance. It's possible, she's definitely the type of player who could do it, but it's going to be tough. Personally I don't predict her doing too well this time around. Pre-merge or first to second jury member if things go well.

Andrea Boehlke, Redemption Island

I believe we’re going to see a whole new Andrea this time round. In her first season, she was a little too timid and she played a little too much with heart, rather than brains and as a result she aligned with the wrong people. It’s clear she has a passion for this game and she took it quite seriously last time. I always thought she’d come back stronger if she got the opportunity to play, and her interviews suggest she totally has. Right now she’s coming across very humble and very aware of the mistakes she made and she looks like she’s taking this second chance very seriously, she’s focused, and she’s ready to really step it up this time. I think Andrea’s in a good position because she won’t be perceived as too great a threat, and she won’t be targeted early as a challenge liability. I believe it’ll be in Andrea’s best interest to keep Brenda around, because whatever target is on Brenda’s back will relocate onto Andrea’s once she’s gone. I don’t really see any scenario where Andrea doesn’t make the merge and once the merge comes, I still don’t see her going too early. Say she enters the merge without numbers, she won’t be anyone’s biggest threat, and she won’t be butting heads with anyone, giving her free passage for the first few votes. I see Andrea finishing no worse than 8th.

Phillip Shepard, Redemption Island

Everyone will approach this nutjob in one of two ways. They may want him gone straight away because of his weakness in challenges, his demeanour around camp, and his completely irrational approach to both people and this game. Or they’ll be trying to take him the end to win an easy million. If Phillip can make the merge, he’ll very likely have a rather easy rode to the finals again. However, in one respect, the goat is a bigger threat than anyone else, because their golden ticket to the end means there’s one less spot left at the finalĂ©. Possibly at some point (Maybe at final 5 or 7) if no one will be able to make a majority vote, they'll vote out the guy that everyone else wants to take to the end. If Phillip makes the merge, this scenario or a really loyal alliance are the only ways I see Phillip not making it to the end. But there is absolutely no way this guy can win the game. None.

Francesca Hogi, Redemption Island

Not a lot can be said about Francesca. I mean really, this might aswell be her first time playing. Last time, she was first voted out and she’s stated she never even watched her survivor experience. She’s also said her goal is to be “the most improved player”, and she very well could be, but she’s going to have to tread very carefully to escape that first vote. Imagine its day 3 and the favourites have just lost the first immunity challenge. They’ve been too busy these last few days establishing their shelter and there’s no majority alliance. No matter who is being targeted, the tribe can’t figure out a way to form a safe majority vote. So what do you do? You make the easiest, simplest, most tempting move and you send poor Francesca packing once again. The first few days are going to be instrumental for Francesca. She has to find the majority alliance and latch on to it. No matter how useless and dysfunctional that alliance might be, she needs to stick with the numbers. Francesca was too vocal and too confrontational the last time she played and that is why she was targeted so early. She’ll need to learn to swallow her pride and keep her mouth shut if she wants to succeed next time. Pride does not help you at all in the game of Survivor. Other than that, I have very little to say about her odds, because frankly, I don’t know how she plays Survivor.

John Cochran, South Pacific

Honestly, I have no idea where this guy is going to fall. He could be first voted out, or he could be the sole survivor. He will be an early target because of his challenge weakness, as he said in his pre-game interview “I bring nothing to the table”. But this is just another example of the hurdles Cochran will have to overcome if he wants to find success this time around. He absolutely must dial down all his social anxiety, self-deprecating humour, and insecurities if he wants to have a shot at winning this game. With almost all good survivor players, I believe they need to tone down their confidence, stay humble and a little bit more grounded. Cochran however is the complete opposite, he needs to take off. I know he will never be an alpha, but he can be so much more than an omega. If Cochran can make the merge, he’ll find himself in quite a good spot since he poses absolutely no challenge threat (except maybe in a survivor trivia challenge (which may happen, it did in the last Fans versus Favourites)). But if he hopes to make it to the end, he needs to form those bonds within his alliance, and get people actually wanting to play the game with him and ultimately go with him to the end. If he does make it to the end and he has learnt from his past mistakes and played a more dominant game, he really could win it all. The saddest thing is that he knows what changes he needs to make, but it’s not as simple flicking a switch, all of these flaws are things he’s probably been trying to change about himself his whole life.

Dawn Meehan, South Pacific

I believe Dawn’s previous season has left her in a very good position. In South Pacific, she proved to be reliable in challenges, reliable around camp, and most importantly, reliable to her alliance. The only way Dawn doesn’t make the merge is if her tribe goes on a serious losing streak. Once the merge comes she may hang around for quite a while because of her loyalty and predictability. However, there is no way anyone will let the personable middle aged mom who adopted 6 kids and works hard sit in front of that jury. She’s well spoken, she’s unlikely to have made any enemies on the jury, and I doubt she’ll play the game deceitfully. She may be taken up until final 5. The only way she can get to the end from there is with an immunity run or a really foolish alliance (and I mean REALLY foolish). Something like Phillip, Brandon, and a couple of these fans.

Brandon Hantz, South Pacific

Much like Brandon’s demeanour, his chances in this game are erratic. Last time he got lucky to be in a day one alliance that lasted. The man is a liability and can be manipulated. People will either try utilise this and keep him around all the way to the end, or they’ll try get rid of him early. I suspect Brandon will be able to last a while, because he’s useful enough in challenges, and his tribe is really lacking in terms of brute strength. Seriously, just look at Shamar, the man is a mountain. Once the merge comes, he should be able to avoid the chopping block for long enough. If he’s on the right side of the numbers, he may go to the end because he’s unlikely to get votes. If he’s on the wrong side of the numbers he should still last a while as long as he doesn’t stir trouble. In summary, Brandon could fall anywhere between 16th place and a spot at final tribal council, but he will not win the game. Some suspect Brandon may have matured and calmed down a little since his first season. Sure, he’s a little older now but he’s still a very young man, and since he last played he’s had a lot of trouble staying out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The last two years, and his recent interview with Dalton Ross aren’t all too reassuring to his chances this time around.

Malcolm Freberg, Philippines

The stigma of Russel, be damned, I like Malcolm’s chances here. Everyone’s worried because Malcolm is the first player since the infamous Ruzzel Hantz, to play back to back seasons without his fellow contestants having any idea what he did in his previous season. But I don’t see this being an issue, because you could spend 5 minutes with Malcolm and know he is absolutely nothing like Russel. And do you really think Andrea, Brenda, and Corinne would want to get rid of Malcolm early? This fear of the unknown will only have people concerned for the first few boots, and frankly, the favourites would have to be insane to boot Malcolm that early, since he’s arguably their strongest physical competitor. Not to mention, he has played in that exact location before. He knows where to catch the fish, he knows where to find fruit, he knows the weather patterns, and he knows how to make a flintless fire. The guy is just too indispensable to be booted early. I believe the biggest disadvantage for Malcolm playing back to back is that he has never gotten to see his own season. He hasn’t had the chance to properly reassess his performance, and learn from what he did wrong. Luckily for Malcolm, he really never did much wrong last time. I believe he is the most talented competitor of all the returnees. Once the merge comes, he has this ability to divert attention and turn the crosshairs on someone else. Say he comes into the merge with numbers and gets to final 6 or so with his alliance, he has a very good chance to go on an immunity run and win his way the finale. Let’s just hope there are no silver balls in his way. In summary, I believe Malcolm has the best chance of all the contestants this season and I am not at all biased because of my man-crush on him, I swear.

Robert Milner.

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