It’s that time of the season, friends. We’re past the merge and on to the stretch run.
I think I speak for most Survivor fans when I say, against all odds, despite numerous horrible moves and Probst beating us over the head over and over about the season’s theme, Millennials vs. Gen X continues overachieving. Each and every week, seemingly, we get a surprise boot and some, um, interesting gameplay to talk about.
Usually, though, this is the point of the season where things start to shake out a certain way. The merge brings with it a solidifying of alliances and, sometimes, a glimpse into how most of the players see the season playing out.
I think we got that last episode. In fact, I think we’re at a point in the season where we can maybe predict the next couple boots: Jay and Will, probably in the opposite order. That’s my guess, but based on this week, it seems pretty straightforward, right?
So, in lieu of talking theory this week, let’s do what I promised: A look at how I see the remaining castaways’ chance of winning. Let’s be clear, this is not a Gordon Holmes-like Power Rankings. In that exercise, Gordon and company rank based on likelihood of players going home this week. For example, if I did like that, I’d have Taylor pretty high on my list since I don’t think he’s going home next week. But, here, Taylor is very high on my list because I don’t think there’s a shot in hell the remaining players reward a true idiot with a million dollars.
As you can guess then, I don’t think too much of Taylor’s chances to win this game. But, you know, before this week, I thought way too highly of Adam’s chances to win. I don’t think he’s going to win this either. So who will win? Your guess is as good as mine, but here are my rankings.
Again, these are ranked from worst to first, with the people who I think have the least chance to win to the people with the best chance. This is not a prediction about who’s going next.
- 1. Taylor — Jeff mentioned this already, but one of the more annoying recurrences this season concerns how Probst refuses to let go of the idea that Taylor is some perfect avatar for millennials. As I’ve said, I’ve taught literally more than a 1,000 millennials over the last few years and almost none of them were like Taylor. Oh sure, I’ve seen some entitled folks. Oh sure, I’ve seen some with, um, less than great intelligence. And, oh sure, I’ve seen some folks trying way too hard to put forward a cultivated personality. But have I have ever seen all these, well, negative attributes together in one package? Nope. Editors have been trying to give Taylor little glimmers of a positive edit, but that ended this week. Taylor could get to end with Sunday, and he wouldn’t get one vote.
- 2. Sunday — I’m sure that Sunday is a lovely person. And I know what you’re wondering: How can you be so sure, Pat, since Sunday never speaks? Good question. She just looks nice. But, of course, she also never speaks and editors have seemed to go out of their way to make sure we think of her as a strategic non-factor. There’s simply no way someone this invisible wins anything.
- 3. Will — Speaking of invisible, before the last two episodes, I don’t think Will himself even knew he was on this season. While I’m sure Probst and company would think it would be a great story for the youngest player ever to win, we’d have heard a whole lot from Will if that was the case. Will’s a follower. Followers just don’t win Survivor often. And followers on the wrong end of the majority surely don’t win.
- 4. Bret — And still speaking of invisible, here’s Bret, my favorite Survivor Massachusetts resident in a while. Usually when we get folks from my home state, they’re awful stereotypes like Rodney (even though I love Rodney). But this season we have Bret and Hannah. I like them both, but neither has any control over their own game and neither has built enough social capital to win this thing.
- 5. Hannah — And that’s why I have Hannah here. The only reason I put Hannah ahead of Bret, even though Bret seemingly has better relationships with people, is because I still retain a small amount of hope that Hannah will actually strategize soon. We know she was cast as a strategist, but we also know she’s failed horribly at that so far.
- 6. Adam — This could change with Adam. These are still weeks to go and he owns an idol and an advantage that, I guess, could be played well at some point. (Can he steal the Legacy Advantage?) But, right now, we just saw a frontrunner have one of the worst episodes in recent memory. Part of doing well in Survivor revolves around knowing when to make moves. Adam continues showing bad judgment, no ability to hold back and a penchant for trying to play both sides. That might work when you’re stuck in the middle of a five-person tribe, but it sure won’t when large alliances are looking for solid members.
- 7. Ken — Honestly, I think when looking at this list, starting with Adam and everyone after, people have a shot at winning. So while I’m sticking Ken here in the middle, I do think he can win this game. It’s just … well, he hasn’t spoken in a while, he’s not going to blindly follow orders and folks like Zeke are going to rightly see him as a physical threat. Ken can win, but it’s going to be so much harder now.
- 8. Jay — So why have Jay so high on this list when I think he’s going home in an episode or two? Because this list is about who can win, and Jay’s played a pretty good game so far. Oh, sure, his confessionals sure make him look bad right now, but if he were able to battle back from the bottom right now, I think he’d earn a whole lot of respect and could definitely win at final Tribal.
- 9. Jessica — If you asked me before I started this exercise whether I thought Jessica could win, I would have said, “Probably not.” But the more I think about it, the more I think she’s in a perfect spot. People are going to underestimate her. We’ve seen she’s good with people. We also know she can strategize. She can also fly under the radar for a little while. The big key for Jessica will be making the one Big Move™ she can point to as her own. If she can do that, Jessica can absolutely win this game.
- 10. David — I’m certainly more bullish on David today than I was, say, two or three weeks ago. I still think there’s a good chance that David overplays his hand or ends up making one too many dumb Big Moves™. I think he could really upset people by betraying them too early. Yet, I’ve been noticing all the other players seem to like David. They think of him as strategic. He still owns an idol. He’s going to be somewhat overlooked because of his absolutely pathetic showings in challenges. Do I think David wins? No. But, the more I think about it, the more I think he can win. And he’s set up well.
- 11. Chris — Each week that goes by, I expect Chris to do something wrong, to make his chances start to dwindle. Instead, Chris keeps on making good, subtle moves. He’s built a decent alliance. I think he slightly controls the rest of the Gen Xers, but also has a good relationship with Zeke. And, of course, Chris is a clear physical standout. He can definitely win this thing.
- 12. Zeke — Who would have thunk, when this whole thing started, that a smallish dude with a mustache and a Hawaiian shirt would be dominating the game at the merge? But, you know, I do think Zeke finds himself in the best position right now. He’s not horrible in challenges, but he’s not going to be targeted. He makes good solid moves in a subtle way and he’s made plenty of good relationships. I just think he’s in the best spot right now.
That’s all I have right now. Of course, after next week, I’m sure this list will look totally ridiculous. But until then, here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s talk theory next week. Have a good one.