Wow. Joe outlasted Ali. I didn’t see that coming. I guess I should’ve listen to the rest of the TDT family… I drafted Ali too high. Oh well. Such is life…
Wow, Miss You Already
I really thought Ali was going to have a comeback and do some damage come Merge time. I really, really thought the votes were going to swing toward JP. *sigh* Can’t win ’em all. She was a sacrificial archetype: someone worthy who must fall to kick off the celebratory bloodbath that could be the rest of the season (especially with the likes of Ryan, Chrissy, Mike, Jessica, and even Joe still lingering around). Built up only so you could be knocked down. Sorry, Ali. In a cast that—to be fair—has a lot of solid players and characters, you may have been my favorite, and you’re gone entirely too early. It was a necessary, good move made by Ryan and Chrissy, but like many good calls in Survivor, it makes for worse TV (because Ali would’ve easily been more dynamic post-Merge than JP).
Alrighty. Given how this week was, by measure, dull as a whole, I figured I give my general thoughts on the remaining contestants as we look toward the Merge. To make it a little more interesting, I’m going to give a loose ranking on the likelihood of these people winning—worst to first. Neat. Okay. Go.
Not Convinced You’re Better at Balance Challenges than Devon or Cole
Hey! We heard JP’s blandly athletic ass mention something that’s good for his game—i.e. being good at challenges. Given as the Merge is about to hit… I tend to disagree. Nice for production to remind us he’s out there doing something other than dragging Soko through challenges though! Also, important to note, if Jeff says you’re playing the most “laid back” game, that’s probably not a compliment. JP will live and die by his warrior archetype. Moving on.
Apparently, there’s this woman named Desi out there who was apparently thinking of voting for Joe. Please don’t take this super seriously, however. She’s just a rumor, at this time.
Just Lose Already
You’re a prettier Taylor from MvGX, and I firmly believe our good Doctor would’ve taken the fisherman and cowboy’s side, booting you this week if you weren’t on the best tribe. Do you think all their Hero and Hustler friends are going to be super keen on an athletic, arrogant dude who’s inconsiderate with his eating habits last that long? Oh, did I mention the Healers still have five people? Still my least favorite person out there.
Nice Dude, Tough Crowd
Devon Zoolander made the Merge! Honestly, from the small bits we’ve gotten of Devon, I think he seems like a super nice person who I’d love to hang out with. In some, weaker seasons, he might even be able to win in the end, but I have a hard time believing he’s strategically sound enough to maneuver his blossoming saint archetype into sitting at the end with Cole and JP (the only pair I think he could rightly beat in a FTC).
Nice Surprise, Tough Chances
I’m so glad Lauren made the Merge! Once more, people like Lauren need to be cast more often. She’s hard working, socially sound enough to make connections, and seems to know the game. I think she may be a bit too abrasive to win in the end, however (note how short she was getting with Cole), and I don’t think she’d quite got the game of anyone above her on this list. Still, if she finds her way to the end as a perceived goat, people might be in for a small shock. Lauren could win.
To me, we should be seeing a lot more of Ashley than we are. I get vibes from her that she’s smart and clearly athletic. She made a strong bond with Devon and will get another one back with JP. Also, she’s not too threatening at this juncture, and if she plays her cards right, she should be able to worm her way much, much farther. That being said, the fact we haven’t seen much of her is worrying, and I think she’s gone sooner rather than later. Too bad. I think she’d be a star in other seasons.
I’m shocked I’m putting Joe this high, but his confessional this week about winning the million dollars for his family boosted him up beyond a common villain. He, Ryan, Jessica, Ben, Chrissy, and Mike are the remaining players who have gotten a serious confessional about their life outside of Survivor, a necessity for editors if they want the ultimate winner to resonate with audiences. For now, Joe has an idol and a story about his children that’s worth fighting for. I’m actually rooting for Joe, though I could see him out around seven or six in a similar fashion to Jason in Kaoh Rong. Still, he needed the help of another clue to remind him the idol was probably near the well… *sigh* At least he’s got another idol.
Slimy, Conniving, but Very Relevant
As good as this episode was for Joe, I think it was bad for Ryan. Let me be clear, booting Ali was the only right move Ryan had for a plethora of reasons, and with her gone, he’s mostly tied up the loose-ends from the move I still don’t like of his from the previous week (though I know there are those who disagree). The quality of the move aside, however, Ryan came off as slimy to me this week in a way Sarah Lacina—despite her constant backstabbing—never did. By his own admission, Ryan’s a weasel. He’s got plenty of time to turn his game around and submit a winning resume, but he’ll have to knock out a few of the people ahead of him on the list if he wants to do it.
Star-Crossed and Love Struck
As far as an edit goes, Jessica hasn’t contributed that much to this season’s story. Given as she has yet to see a Tribal, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as she’s still gotten consistent coverage week-to-week. What worries me about Jessica, however, is her attachment to Cole. It doesn’t take a lot to see Jessica is in charge of Cole, and if Cole is perceived as a liability, so will Jessica. Whether she votes him out or not, I think her stock vastly improves with Cole gone. She’s athletic, charming, and has a connection with (Doctor) Mike and his idol. Ditch Joe and Desi and start forming bonds outside your original tribe, ya big dummy! Now, will she do it?
Hats Off and Good Luck
I toyed with putting Ben far lower on this list for a long time. While I stick to what I said, about Ben being a tragic hero, I just see too many ways he could find a means to succeed in this game. I don’t think he’s going to be targeted right off the bat, and he’s got a great connection with the powerhouse that is Chrissy. He’s got all the tools he needs to win, and if he gets there with Chrissy (which I hope he does), I think we could see one of the best FTC in recent memory. Does the edit still say to me that he falls just short? Again, yes. But I really hope I’m wrong, hence I’m putting you third, cowboy. Don’t let me down.
A New Queen
While Ryan seemed to get his hands dirty this week, Chrissy never really had a connection to Ali that she was betraying. So, this week, what did she do? Solidify her tandem (control) over Ryan by knocking out his last, smart Hustler ally option, make JP probably feel somewhat indebted to her, and skate into a Merge where she’ll be greeted by Ashley and Ben (both of whom bring allies of their own to the Hero-Hustler armada). Not to mention, with the likes of Ben, Devon, and JP taking the brunt of the physical shade and Ashley and Lauren seeming like somewhat easy boots whenever and Ryan at her hip, who can stop this magician archetype?
1. (Doctor) Mike
Revenge of the Nerds
Is there a more loveable character out there right now than Mike? The content of him catching and cooking a fish did not need to be included, and yet editors chose to. Why? In my opinion, this mirror Natalie White in Samoa killing a rat and eating it. A small, somewhat-pointless piece of content that solidifies two things: one, this isn’t Doc/Natalie’s natural environment, but, two, they’re conquering it. Not to mention, Ben says he’s proud of Mike overcoming him being out of his element… does Ben vote for Mike in the end to win? Like he said, he may have started at the bottom, but I said it after episode one, Mike’s got a winner-ish edit. I don’t think anyone else’s is even close at this point.
A Closing Thought, Dearest Readers
Juries: Size Isn’t Everything
I don’t get why Juries have become so large. Personally, I view making the Jury as an accomplishment. Nowadays, however, they seem to start too early—ten person Juries are completely unnecessary, after all. Now, perhaps the first Merge boot here will get Corinne’d (the only time I wanted a large Jury in a season of Survivor), but it seems more likely that a Merge=Jury these days. I don’t really have a lot more to say on this, I just think starting a Jury prematurely cheapens the accomplishment. Thoughts?
Okay, Merge prediction time! Well, given as the past few seasons, say SJdS until the present, have followed a pattern of having an under-developed person going home at the Merge (Kass being the only arguable exception to this, I think), this is the basis I’m going off of for my prediction. That leaves people like Desi, Ashley, Devon, and JP. However, one name stands out more than most: Desi, I don’t know how it happens, but I think you’re gone.
Dan Otsuki has been watching Survivor religiously since season two, and is a recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound, where he double majored in English and Religious Studies. He's also applied to play on the show every time he's been able to do so.
Follow him on twitter: @DanOtsuki