Ryan Kaiser

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.

His column, "Kaiser Island," previously appeared at Survivor Talk w/ D&D, covering seasons 33-35. He first appeared here at the True Dork Times in 2018, in the pre-season coverage of season 36, Survivor: Ghost Island.

Follow him on twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser

  • SurvivorSA: Return of the Outcasts logo SurvivorSA 9: Return of the Outcasts
    Blown up tribe swaps

    Week 2: Blown up by tribe swaps

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: July 29, 2022


    It was a week of well-executed blindsides, underdog comebacks falling short, color-filled swaps and shocking medevacs that were not actually medevacs but still ended in shocks. A massive four-pack of Survivor SA, and Ryan has all the action recapped and stan stars dispersed.

    Week 1: I was hoping I'm not Uranus

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: July 22, 2022


    Ryan has enjoyed, absorbed, and now thrown stars at (you'll see) the first four hours/three boots of Survivor South Africa's super-sized, first-ever returning player season, Return of Outcasts. Who will claim fandom's ultimate stan crown? (2 million rand not included in (figurative) crown.)

  • Survivor 42 logo Survivor 42
    Badass woman

    Episode 13: Close the deal

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 27, 2022


    The winner of Survivor 42 has been crowned, and Ryan relives the highlights of the last two eliminations and Final Tribal, celebrates the final five players, looks ahead to 43, and to another worthy Survivor season that will hit screens in just over a month.

    Episode 12: Final five forecast

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 24, 2022


    Ryan is here later than usual, but early enough to make timely predictions about how the final two eliminations of Survivor 42 — and of course the winner — (just) before finale day. And of course, a brief revisiting of the highlights of Episode 12.

    Episode 11: Badass woman

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 13, 2022


    As Episode 11 of Survivor 42 brings about the downfall of another big player amid a flurry of (mostly failed) twists and trinkets, Ryan recaps all the action, the strategic options, the hanger, and the self-snuffery.

    Episode 10: The king will be dethroned tonight

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 6, 2022


    Ryan is back for the lighter events of Survivor 42, Episode 10: half-drowned contestants competing in a lame challenge while Probst assures them it's 'fun,' reward winners getting spooked by disembodied voices, his winner pick joining the jury. So much fun!

    Episode 9: That ain't your family

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 3, 2022


    Ryan is back to revisit the first fully post-merge Survivor 42 episode, where the excitement ranges from people realizing they're not in the majority to lots of people sitting out of challenges. At least the latter leads to an increase in Drea's overflowing (with paint) armory.

    Episode 8: That ain't your family

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 22, 2022


    After mulling the episode, Ryan comes in later than usual to talk about the many conversations of Episode 9 of Survivor 42, from the big one in the second Tribal Council, to some that were one-sided in camp, to one that was inexplicably cut from the episode.

    Episodes 6-7: Are you buff-shaming me?

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 15, 2022


    After the Survivor 42 merge episode(s) twisted and turned in mostly predictable ways (except perhaps the boot), Ryan takes stock of where the sandy turmoil has left each remaining contestant, and puts forth a somewhat revised winner pick.

    Episode 5: Two weasels in a chicken coop

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 8, 2022


    With the merge approaching, Ryan takes one last look back at the three original tribes, evenly matched at four apiece, but all with internal discontent and warning signs. Will the various power duos succeed going forward, and if so, which one(s)?

    Episode 4: There is no Kumbaya - it's like Holy Crap-baya

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 1, 2022


    There's a lot of Ika in Episode 4 of Survivor 42, and a definite and regrettable dearth of Vati. Ryan makes the best of it, though, and doesn't even miss repeatedly in his attempts to grab the key events of the episode.

    Episode 3: The math doesn't make sense

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 25, 2022


    In Episode 3, Survivor 42's characters take a backseat to rogue challenge waves, twists, more twists, and overlapping twists. But the final vote ends up hinging on two people making decisions, some good, some really bad, and Ryan is here to walks you through the debris field.

    Episode 2: What's your story

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 18, 2022


    Survivor 42's second episode dials it back a bit on the twists (perhaps they forgot where they were?), and puts a heavy emphasis instead on character development, and Ryan is here to praise every minute of it.

    Episode 1: You can be weird too

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 11, 2022


    Ryan takes a deeper look at the cast, now that he's seen them in action, as they soldiered through the many wild, wet (with disturbing liquids), and weird events of the Survivor 42 season premiere.

    Pre-season: Survivor 42 cast assessment

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 28, 2022


    As is traditional, Ryan returns from his winter hiatus to take a look at the even-numbered Survivor season's cast. If he sees his shadow, we're in for another 12 weeks of the same twists as Survivor 41. On the other hand, he reports we're also in for another solid-looking set of contestants, whose chances of winning he ranks.

  • Survivor 41 logo Survivor 41
    Time to show everyone

    Episode 13: Time to show everyone

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: December 17, 2021


    Ryan celebrates the winner of Survivor 41, and laments the show's continuing inability to tell the winning story of a female champion, despite the alleged new era. He also offers awards of his own, and looks ahead with trepidation at 41's probably evil twin, Survivor 42.

    Episode 12: We might've made a mistake

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: December 12, 2021


    It's finale prediction time on Kaiser Island, and Ryan puts forth his predicted endgame outcomes: Who will fall at five? Whose flame will be snuffed for not making fire at four? And who will win? The answers may surprise you.

    Episode 11: Wow, that drama was over quick

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: December 3, 2021


    Ryan looks at the bizarre final seven episode, where production tried to rob the contestants of a critical voting opportunity in favor of ridiculous box-opening theatrics, but also where the contestants once again rose above the mishmash of poor show decisions with compelling drama and discussions of their own.

    Episode 10: Today is the day

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: November 28, 2021


    Christmas came early for Ryan, in the form of a (pre-Thanksgiving) complex, emotional, deeply-felt episode leading to an epic blindside of a superstar player: the perfect balance of pathos, scheming, and player-driven drama. (Also, Heather survives another week.)

    Episode 9: I will literally kill you

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: November 19, 2021


    Ryan tries to make sense of the twin Tribals — a TMI one with the threat of advantages flying everywhere, and another not-enough-advantages performance from Xander. But in the end (or at least the one before the end), Ricard saves.

    Episode 8: Don't shut me down when I speak

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: November 12, 2021


    This week's episode was all about being heard, and it featured a rare appearance by the elusive Heather – in camp, before challenges, nearly winning challenges, at Tribal, and in confessional (!) — and Ryan is here for hearing it.

    Episode 7: Putting on her big girl pants

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: November 5, 2021


    With the merge finally completed, Ryan checks back in on the big surprises, the big non-surprises, and the big let-downs of the as yet unnamed red-buff tribe and their complicated first Tribal Council together.

    Episode 6: Merge-atory

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 29, 2021


    Ryan is, shall we say, less than thrilled with the half-merge episode's unnecessary mucking about with the structure of the game, but he's happy for the few character-based moments that shone through the haze of host lies and unasked-for manipulation.

    Episode 5: Master strategist

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 22, 2021


    Ryan looks back on another episode of Shan-tasy Island, where she faces one of the toughest decisions yet in the game, strong-arms her way into broccoli talk, and unleashes another dumb advantage on the game, all while opening up on some heartbreaking emotional content.

    Episode 4: The best stripper you've ever seen

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 15, 2021


    The sun rose on a (hopefully) new era of Survivor episodes this week, with long-absent characters finally making appearances, emotional challenge finishes, baby turtles, the only advantage being one that was prevented from being played, and a massive blindside. Ryan revisits it all while hoping for more of this.

    Episode 3: These things just fall out of the sky

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 8, 2021


    There were a lot of things raining down this week: advantages, more advantages, even more advantages, references to broccoli, but mostly the groans and curses of long-suffering Survivor fans like Ryan, who saw this top-notch cast shoved aside to make room for Advantage Talk Hour, all of which amounted to nothing.

    Episode 2: She's a firecracker

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 1, 2021


    Ryan revisits the highlights of Survivor 41, Episode 2, aka "The Evvie Show," as he recounts the savvy Yase's Tiffany-whispering, Xander-wrangling, vote-protecting tour-de-force. With bonus hidden Brad, pretend Sri Lanka, and cheering Heather. A surprising paucity of butterflies, though.

    Episode 1: Risk it, or play it safe?

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 24, 2021


    With a super-sized premiere, Ryan has a lot of twists, turns, decisions, and decision-makers to talk about in his first US Survivor recap in over a year. Will he take a shot in the dark, or talk directly to you, future Survivor players?

    Pre-season: Swiping through Survivor Tinder

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 1, 2021


    While the Survivor 41 cast has only just officially been revealed, Ryan is already here with the hottest of takes: Who on this cast is dateable (making the merge), who isn't, and who gets a super like? That's right, the day has finally come for cast assessment via Survivor Tinder.

  • SurvivorSA: Immunity Island logo SurvivorSA 8: Immunity Island
    Closing time at Chappies' diner

    Episode 16: Closing time at Chappies' diner

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 18, 2021


    Ryan salutes the highlights of the finale of SurvivorSA: Immunity Island, from the winner, to F3 boot, to the rainbow-bedecked juror, to the classic, old-school Survivor feel of the finale as a whole, and recounts the ways in which this season made this first-time international Survivor viewer a SurvivorSA superfan.

    Episodes 1-9: And then there were ten

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: August 1, 2021


    With ten players out and ten still in, Ryan dips his toes into international Survivor recapping  with a post-merge appreciation of the action thus far in SurvivorSA: Immunity Island. A full run-down of the highlights of the first half of the season (some of which didn't even involve Santoni), and predicting which remaining players will tank or triumph.

  • S40 logo Survivor 40: Winners at War
    Take it all in

    Episode 14: Take it all in

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 15, 2020


    The War of Winners ends on a high note, in what could be the last Survivor finale for a while. Ryan celebrates the season's emotional end and its embrace of its past champions, with hopefully more to come. A finale that was grand, even if it's not the grand finale.

    Episode 13: Funeral march

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 8, 2020


    The end of Winners at War is nigh, and this week, Ryan is turning the episode's penultimate steps into a pathway to that end for the remaining five players, plus the two thousand jury members/people on the Edge.

    Episode 12: Son of a B

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: May 1, 2020


    It was a bittersweet week, as the war between winners not only claimed a fan favorite, but also as the fantastic tale of the spy nest fell well short of expectations, like a nocturnal avian projectile. Ryan finds other reasons to cheer, though. So... relax and let him carry you through the forest?

    Episode 11: Psychotic double agent

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 24, 2020


    Ryan revels in an all-Tony episode, as the show focuses almost entirely on his idol-finding, extortion-complying, immunity-winning, vote-flipping antics. Verdict: Time well spent (unless you don't like Tony, in which case, better luck next week).

    Episode 10: A fantasy come true

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 17, 2020


    This week's episode was overstuffed with love, tears, kids, and confusion. Ryan wouldn't cut a second from the first three, but wishes there was room to better demystify the last part. Still, here's his guide to what (maybe?) happened after the challenge and at Tribal.

    Episode 9: Worth a shot

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 10, 2020


    Winners are at war, and they're coming you, apparently. So get ready to whisper, listen to changes of plan every five minutes, and/or pin your hopes on a podium idol. Or, you know, just flip a coin. Ryan has the guide to all your Episode 9 options.

    Episode 8: Everyone's a lion

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: April 3, 2020


    Ryan takes you on a safari excursion to observe the lions and hyenas of the Winners at War merge menagerie. Who has the main mane? Who is lurking in the bushes, waiting for the scraps? Who is the Tiger Queen?

    Episode 7: Thank you for schooling me

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 27, 2020


    As the final pre-merge torch gets snuffed, Ryan takes a moment to somberly observe the passing of power from old school to new school. Then he gets to the business you've been waiting for: The awarding of the Debbie Donato Wanner Award for Best Performance on a Balance Beam.

    Episode 6: Watch this, Jeff

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 20, 2020


    Ryan both celebrates and mourns the twin Tribal Councils that sent two legends home, one in particularly legendary fashion, during Episode 6 of Winners of War. Don't worry, some peanut butter will make it all better.

    Episode 5: Cracks up the wazoo

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 13, 2020


    After a nod to Yul's noble ALS quest, Ryan recaps the many twists and turns resulting from the swap to three tribes: awkward reunions, even more awkward self-quarantines, and obstacle champ Sandra staying safe and staying out of sight.

    Episode 4: He's f***ing dangerous

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: March 6, 2020


    It's another week, another favorite leaving for Ryan, but he's not gonna give up, and he'll push through a grueling episode featuring Adam's implosion then recovery, Ethan's near-death experience and survival, and Tyson's near-safe experience that was snuffed by an immovable Queen.

    Episode 3: Devour that guy and spit out his bones

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 28, 2020


    Ryan goes through the stages of grief over the blindsiding of Ethan: denial, anger, more anger, actually lots of anger. Well, anyway, somehow he ends up at acceptance. (Sort of?) Thankfully, Tony and Tyson are still here to provide comfort in this difficult time.

    Episode 2: Is she just clueless?

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 21, 2020


    Ryan mourns the loss of his Danni Girl, gone too soon. But he's excited about the exploits of noted aerialist Tony Vlachos and a freshly devilish Sophie G. Clarke, and is anxiously anticipating escalating tensions in the looming Boston Rob - Sandra war.

    Episode 1: Everybody has a target

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 14, 2020


    Twenty Survivor winners, all at war with each other? Ryan is elated to report that for the premiere, at least, the formula worked, and was exactly the bloody, blindsidey mess he was hoping it could be, if not moreso. Fire tokens and Edge of Extinction notwithstanding.

    Pre-season: Cheers for Chaos Kass

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 9, 2020


    With Survivor unleashing a 'Survivor at 40' clipshow this week in preparation for the Winners at War premiere, Ryan takes us back to his favorite moment in Survivor's first two decades: The Cagayan merge Tribal Council.

    Pre-season: Wagering on the Winners at War

    By Ryan Kaiser | Published: February 3, 2020


    Ryan luxuriates in an all-winners cast two decades in the making, and ranks each winner's chances of winning this particular season (Edge of Extinction notwithstanding). Who has the best chances to win? Who has none?

  • S39 logo Survivor 39: Island of the Idols
    Kaiser Island

    Episode 14: The prize isn't only in the million dollars

    Published: December 20, 2019


    Ryan takes stock of the Island of the Idols winner, the finale and reunion show, passes a final judgment on the season's story, cast, and final five, then looks ahead excitedly to Season 40: Winners at War.

    Episode 13: Where are we in the game?

    Published: December 14, 2019


    After Elaine's heartbreaking boot and the dark cloud of another dispiriting Dan card, Ryan tries to take a fresh look at the remaining five Island of the Idols players, and assess their standing heading into the finale.

    Episode 12: Wrecking ball

    Published: December 6, 2019


    Loved ones visit Fiji, but only for the powerful. Noura gives a rant for the ages. An underdog alliance goes up in flames as Dean leaks the plan, and Karishma's ninth life is finally snuffed. And Ryan Kaiser attempts to sift through the wreckage for signs of life.

    Episode 11: This bitch bit my finger

    Published: November 30, 2019


    As a compromised Survivor season staggers on, Ryan tries to focus on the positive: Lauren's idol-winning bet, Noura somehow selflessly winning immunity, and Karishma's big idol play. Also Detective Dean's half-baked obfuscation.

    Episode 10: The answer is no

    Published: November 22, 2019


    After the previous week's harrowing circumstances, Ryan runs through an episode that tries to pretend nothing major happened. Which dampens any thought of celebrating what would otherwise be exciting events in this one.

    Episodes 8-9: Standing up for what was right

    Published: November 15, 2019


    As the once outstanding Island of the Idols season takes a dark, grim turn at the merge, Ryan sets aside the jokes for a week to ponder what went wrong, what needs fixing, and to praise those who stood up for what was right.

    Episode 7: You want to pull some crazy s***?

    Published: November 8, 2019


    Ryan praises and guides you through a second straight spectacular, character-driven, socially relevant episode of Survivor, which as a bonus also featured abundant flashy gameplay and strategic insights ... almost all of it by women. Plus a salute to Rudy Boesch.

    Episode 6: Ain't scared of no fight

    Published: November 1, 2019


    Ryan revisits the high-pressure Tribal that could have gone to rocks, or featured an Aaron flip, but instead deployed a key advantage and an ex-Vokai missing the merge. With lots of juicy stakes, heartfelt 'real talk' conversations, and chicken decapitation reactions along the way.

    Episode 5: Orange is dead

    Published: October 26, 2019


    Ryan takes a minute to relax, with his face full of sand, reflecting on the state of the game in this interlude of an episode: largely Noura-free (and Island of the Idols-free), lots of Karishma, too much Applebee's, and everyone scrambling to distance themselves from old Lairo.

    Episode 4: The Noura TV show

    Published: October 18, 2019


    Ryan is here at this place and time to remind you all that if you live in the present and visualize success, dreams can come true, such as getting to see Noura visit Island of the Idols, then run her tribemates into trees. Also Lairo pulled off another blindside.

    Episode 3: A couple steps too far

    Published: October 11, 2019


    Cracks, cuts and covert operations were abundant in the Lairo tribe this week, and Ryan is here to praise some, bury others, and curiously cheer still others? In-dean.

    Episode 2: Parvati 2.0

    Published: October 4, 2019


    Ryan revisits another episode of Island of the Idols where the women did everything: start fires, find idols, win idols, yell at their tribes, fall off ladders, arrange coups, and of course, get voted out. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

    Episode 1: What is this place?

    Published: September 27, 2019


    Come, stare in slack-jawed wonder as Ryan Kaiser replays for you the events of the season premiere of Island of the Idols. Events you have seen before, but will still amaze you in their level of Janet stanning and Idol (mostly Sandra) worship.

    Pre-season: Big heads: The TDT Island of the Idols contestant draft

    Published: September 23, 2019


    The True Dork Times writers congregate and try to pick the winner of Survivor: Island of the Idols based on almost zero evidence. But that's no reason to avoid making what are probably ludicrously inaccurate hot takes.

    Pre-season: Island of the Idols cast assessment

    Published: September 16, 2019


    With barely a week and a half left until the premiere, Ryan is eager to get rolling with Island of the Idols, and, armed mostly with their CBS bios, has put together a brisk run-down of which new castaways among the cast may soon have their own giant wooden head statues.

  • S38 logo Survivor 38: Edge of Extinction
    Kaiser Island

    Episode 14: Defeat everybody else

    Published: May 18, 2019


    Well, it finally happened. Edge of Extinction is finally extinct. So it's time to put a tiny Wardog cap on the season, as Ryan revisits Chris's 5-day march to victory, and the ultimate irrelevance of the 13 episodes that preceded it.

    Episode 13: Not living on the Edge tonight

    Published: May 10, 2019


    Ryan revisits an episode that mostly just recycled the usual idol antics, as the finale clock ticked down, and imagines a time better spent: With lots of Reem. Lots and lots of Reem. (Also some Aurora and Lauren, but mostly Reem.)

    Episode 12: Thanks for the honeymoon

    Published: May 3, 2019


    Ryan recaps a tear-drenched episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction: From the tear at the bottom of Ron's advantage menu, to the contestants' tears of enduring Probst's talk-show questioning with their loved ones, to the salty splashes on the loved ones in the challenge, to Ryan's own tears at the Reem vs. Wardog showdown at the Edge being cut for time.

    Episode 11: It gets harder as you get deeper

    Published: April 26, 2019


    It's a somber time, as Ryan reflects on the errant swims, the missed rings, the mud baths, the rice wars, and cheeseries that led to the Wardog's slipping to Extinction. Although at least there was a lot of Reem and Kelley to soften the blow.

    Episode 10: Holy ____, Wardog

    Published: April 19, 2019


    Ryan Kaiser has survived a mountain of pizza and dodged falling balls to bring you this grim report of two returnees felled in a single episode, all thanks to ... dammit, Wardog.

    Episode 9: My spidey sense says it's me

    Published: April 12, 2019


    Amidst the turbulent waters of Tribal Council, one calm, half-idol-wielding chap provides the landing lap for people jumping ship. No, it's not Wardog. Ryan navigates the all-Tribal episode, and recaps its high points and low blows, like hiding the person who has (allegedly) been running the show.

    Episode 8: Civil war

    Published: April 5, 2019


    Ryan takes stock (stake? steak?) of the state of the game after the Kama kollapse, and revels in the no-longer-purple reveals of Aurora and Julia as power players, and Wardog as a number-crunching, ____-logic-playing, actual puppetmaster.

    Episode 7: Let's f***ing do it

    Published: March 29, 2019


    Ryan revisits the highs and lows and expletives and exits of the Extinction reveal and return, and the lows and whoas and oh nos of the rest of the Edge of Extinction merge episode.

    Episodes 5-6: Everything's a gamble

    Published: March 23, 2019


    As the pre-merge fast-forwards through its final two hours, Ryan pauses to mourn Aubry's blindside, appreciate the Extinction chaos, remark on Lesu's losing and Joe's winning ways, and take a worried peek ahead at the big Extinction reveal and return.

    Episode 4: The Cleveland Browns of tribes

    Published: March 15, 2019


    Everything is different and yet pretty much the same, as Ryan surveys the aftermath of the tribe swap: Some madness, some sadness, and some acceptance that maybe The Wardog is running this asylum, after all.

    Episode 3: She's lost her rocker

    Published: March 8, 2019


    If you were hoping Ryan wouldn't be able to get through his Episode 3 recap of Edge of Extinction without addressing the giant chicken in the room, you're in cluck. (Not sorry. Totally Wentworth it.)

    Episode 2: I would vote me out

    Published: March 1, 2019


    Revisit the revelry (also the recriminations?) of Episode 2 with Ryan, who loved Reem on Redemption, er, Extinction, and mostly tolerated the rest of the episode's idol talk and returnee-hating.

    Episode 1: This old lady can kill it

    Published: February 23, 2019


    With a (mostly) new cast and a new twist, there's a lot for Ryan to recap, from the Joes to the cobras to the reeming. But don't worry, Reem could extend her life on this show. Who will join the Debbie-Natalie pantheon this season? Could it be... clothes?

    Pre-season: The TDT EoE contestant draft

    Published: February 17, 2019


    As the new season nears the True Dork Times writers gather to draft fantasy teams of three players. Whose prediction skills will drive their team to extinction? Whose prognostication will give them an edge and a victory?

    Pre-season: Edge of Extinction cast assessment

    Published: February 4, 2019


    Ryan runs through his first impressions of the Edge of Extinction cast, then comes up with an approximate bootlist. Which, in the context of a poorly explained brand-new twist, may not end up meaning much. But it's here!