Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 46 recaps
But I don't make predictions!
By Damnbueno | Published: February 25, 20234
Survivor 46 Pre-season cast analysis

Can a Big Move be the wrong move?

Welcome back to another season of Screaming at the Screen – the column in which I share my thoughts and observations on the fly as I’m watching each episode of Survivor. Like most of you, I’m obsessed with Survivor, and have watched (and rewatched) every episode since season one in Borneo. I’ve even been known to transcribe episodes word-for-word to make sure I get my information correct when I tell the players why they’re doing something the wrong way ... even though I’ve never played the game myself.

As you know, we only get a limited amount of information from each episode, so the observations I have on the spot may not be my lasting impressions as I digest more information. But with a total lack of humility, I’ll say I usually get it right (well, some of the time).

For the last couple of seasons, I kept myself as spoiler-free as possible. I didn’t check out any cast previews or interviews outside of what’s here on Truedorktimes. But since I’ve been doing this column for a few seasons now, I decided to make an effort to bring something a little different for season 46. So, I dove into the preseason coverage, and learned as much about the cast as I can ... in the week before the premiere. I’ve arranged them by tribe.

Nami Tribe (orange)

Hunter McKnight

HunterSurvivor hasn’t had a Hunter since season 4, Marquesas. He was the tribe’s strongest member but Boston Rob saw fit to vote him out early. On visual alone, this season’s Hunter just screams “Alpha Male,” which tells me he’ll finish around 10th place – right when he’s no longer needed for Tribal wins, and before anyone will let him go on an individual Immunity streak. But after hearing him speak, he comes across as much more likable and humble than your typical Alpha Male. Hunter was about to go to Medical school, but chose to be a teacher because he loves being around kids from troubled homes. The women are gonna love Hunter, but how will he coexist with the men who want to be in control? That could be his biggest challenge. Hunter built a simulated Tribal Council in his yard during the pandemic. If he tells anyone about that, he’ll get booted at the next vote. Hunter could easily find himself as the player too likable to sit next to in the finals, but he could also thwart the votes through Immunity wins. I don’t see him reaching the end, but Probst will love him more than anyone else.

Liz Wilcox

Liz compared herself to Aubry and Cochran, and she does seem very quirky. That could be good or bad for her. Much like Carolyn two seasons ago, her quirks could drop her threat level, but it could also prevent her from being taken seriously enough to get a win. Liz applied to be on Survivor because her 7-year-old daughter dared her to. I think that’s a good thing because she hasn’t had 45 seasons worth of expectations to pile on herself. She could use this as an X factor to keep herself safe for a while. If others think they know the game better than Liz does, they’ll want to put Liz’s vote in their pocket. That’s a good way to keep yourself safe, as long as you know when to flip the script. Liz gives off a “there for the adventure” vibe. Those player types don’t come off as big threats. If she doesn’t help cause an early tribal Immunity loss, she’ll be around a while. There are just too many more intimidating-looking players around her. Why boot a vote you think you can put in your pocket? An X-factor for Liz is her many food allergies (fish, coconut, a few others). What is she gonna eat out there? Even if she wins a Reward feast, she might not be able to eat any of it. But one thing is for sure. Liz is hilarious. I can’t wait to see her confessionals.

Randen Montalvo

Randen comes off as a very straightforward, honest guy. His motivation seems to be fueled by a need to prove his family wrong. They all told him how badly he’ll do at Survivor. That’s what will drive him to succeed. That tells me that while he might not know how to put himself in a position to win the game, he’ll be creative and resourceful enough to make sure he sticks around through the next vote. He’ll throw anyone under the bus. He might only have to do that 2 or 3 times before he finds himself in the merge. He’s very focused on building relationships as opposed to finding Idols and Advantages. That tells me he won’t be wandering off alone a lot, and people will get used to sharing information when he’s around. The downside I noticed about Randen, is that he likes to give speeches. Sometimes that can come off as condescending, which usually rubs Survivor players the wrong way.

Tevin Davis

Tevin - The first thing I thought of when I saw Tevin was the child singer discovered by Quincy Jones – Tevin Campbell. This Tevin eventually reminds me more of Brice from Survivor: Cagayan. Tevin is an actor, and unfortunately, he strikes me as the actor stereotype – very self-centered. He’s very focused on his own point of view, and that tells me he’ll have trouble seeing things from someone else’s viewpoint. That’s not a good quality to have in Survivor. You need to be very empathetic. If his tribe wins early, he could easily make a deep run because nobody will take him seriously. But I think he’s more likely to be so annoying, he’ll get himself voted out pre-merge. He could easily make himself a swap boot after he tries to make the majority do things his way. Even if he’s swapped into a majority, his original tribemates may want to cut him loose because they think he’ll defect at a merge. Tevin will be the player most in need of an Idol.

Soda Thompson

Soda – Soda is a teacher, who works with Special Ed children. Right there, it tells me she’s got a lot of patience, which is a valuable quality to have while playing Survivor. Soda struck me as a very down-to-earth person who has things in proper perspective. She was raised in a dysfunctional household and came out relatively normal. I think this gives her a slight edge in that she won’t overreact to some of the quirkier personalities around her. I don’t see her getting into fights. I see her as the peacemaker, who’ll be able to find out where all the votes are going. She’ll stay in the middle of things, similar to how Dee and Jesse did in recent seasons. She calls her observational powers her “Sodar.” If she’s got colorful names like that for other things, she’ll be confessional gold.

Venus Vafa

Venus – The first impression might be the lasting one for me. I’m in love with her. She can do no wrong, just like Brenda from Nicaragua and Desi from HHH. I’ll fight anyone who says differently. I had to set the mood before listening to her interview, so I played the hit song “Venus” (the original by Shocking Blue, not the awful Bananarama cover version). Venus is a data analyst. I’ve never been more interested in data analysis until this moment. She says she’s playing Survivor because of representation. She hasn’t seen many Persian people on TV. I hope she’s on my TV for every episode. She should be in every commercial too. She even cited Rob C.’s move of blindsiding Christy in The Amazon as one of the best moves ever. This woman is singing my tune. I get the feeling Venus isn’t playing to win, she’s playing to make a positive change to how Iranians are perceived. I say more power to her. She doesn’t come across as very game-savvy, which could help her. But she definitely knows her Survivor. Does she have what it takes to win? I say “She’s got it. Yeah baby, she’s got it.” Now I’m gonna listen to some Frankie Avalon.

Siga Tribe (green)

Ben Katzman

Ben – He’ll have Idols falling in his path whenever he records his confessionals. Oh wait, that’s a different Ben. This season’s Ben describes himself like Jack Black in the movie “School of Rock.” I don’t see it, but I don’t think that will help or hurt him in Survivor. His “Hey bud, let’s party” attitude will buy him some safety, but he’s equally likely to blow that cover by telling people he’s got an Idol or an Advantage. He’ll probably be more of a follower who has no idea how he got into the final 7. But he’ll give very entertaining confessionals. He could easily “Fabio” his way to the end and could win if the other two put their foot in their mouths along the way. But I don’t see him influencing the voting along the way.

Charlie Davis

Charlie – The last Charlie I remember on Survivor played in Gabon and spent his entire season drooling over Marcus. This season’s Charlie was late to the party – the first season he watched was Winners At War, so his Survivor education was a little backwards at best. But this might not be a negative. Dee and Earl hadn’t watched much Survivor before they played, and they turned in masterful winning rookie seasons. Charlie says his superpower is being able to name Taylor Swift songs. For me, that’s reason enough to vote him out first. I don’t have a strong read on Charlie. I could see him making a deep run like Carson or getting himself voted out early like Zach from Survivor 42. Zach unknowingly put the target on his own back by apologizing for causing a challenge loss.

Jem Hussain-Adams

Jemila (aka Jem) – Much like J. Maya from last season, I’m gonna have to figure out if I’m gonna call her “Jem” or “Jemila.” She says if she finds an Idol, she’s not gonna tell anyone. That alone tells me she’s smarter than most “new era” players ... if she actually does it. She seems to know the game very well, and is aware of most of the mistakes others have made. She relates most to Naseer (Survivor 41) because his background is similar to hers, but I don’t know if she can play the same type of game he played. Naseer was more of a naïve challenge beast. Jem isn’t naïve at all. If anything, Jem might get booted when others discover she’s smarter than they thought she was. She speaks with a lot of confidence. That could get her booted too.

Maria Shrime Gonzalez

Maria – She says she’s a “parent coach.” I’ve never heard of that job, but my first thought was she’s some kind of therapist. Denise Stapely was a therapist, and she won the game, so there’s that. Maria says she can tell when someone is spiraling downward, and she’ll help if that person is in her alliance. That could help or hurt her. As the oldest female, she could get slapped with the “tribe mother” label, which historically hasn’t worked for most older women. Then again, last season, Julie seemed to destroy that mold. Maria should be open to empathizing with everyone. While favors might not be returned on Survivor, being treated with respect is rarely forgotten, especially when it comes to Jury votes.

Moriah Gaynor

Moriah – I’m gonna have fun changing “Maria” to “Moriah” and back this season. Moriah strikes me as very book smart, but not very street smart. On visual alone, she reminds me of Aubry, or maybe last season’s Drew if he were a woman. She openly embraces her nerdiness, and cites Hannah (MvsGX), Kellyn (Ghost Island), Gabby (Davids vs Goliaths) and Frannie (Survivor 44) as her inspirations. All of them did reasonably well, but none of them won. She’s even got a 3-D printer like Carson and practiced some Survivor puzzles. So, who knows how Moriah will do? Moriah calls herself a “classic overthinker.” So, my biggest question about her is will she emulate her predecessors and take a half hour to cast a vote (like Hannah)? Will she write down one name, cross it out, and write another one below it (like Aubry and Carolyn?). She seems more self-assured than that, but you never know. One thing working in her favor is the fact that at least 7 players said they got good vibes from her on the Ponderosa during pregame. Something about her makes her seem approachable. Moriah will have a lot of options open to her.

Tim Spicer

Tim (aka “Spice”) – He’s a “college coach” who helps kids get into and stay in college. Once again, I’ve never heard of that occupation either. But he says his game will be most like Shamar’s from Caramoan. That’s pretty alarming to me. Shamar picked fights with several, so for Tim’s sake, I hope he was joking about that. Tim said he hoped to leverage his voice to his advantage. His monotone style of speaking almost put me to sleep, so again, I hope he was joking about that. Even when he got excited about something, it didn’t come off as compelling to me because what he was saying wasn’t exciting to me. How is he gonna convince people how to vote the way he wants? He cited a player named Diane as one of the players he relates to. The only Survivor Diane I know of played in season 3, Africa. She lasted 3 days. I hope he was joking about that.

Yanu Tribe (purple)

Bhanu Gopal

Bhanu – It seems like he fits the casting category that also brought us Yam Yam from season 44, and Naseer from season 41. If he gets swapped with Jem they could be natural partners. He seems very energetic and enthusiastic. Can he reign that in enough to not be too annoying? He’s also very observant. He noted how he saw one other player flashing the same hand signals to him and several others. He also talks too much. He’ll use 200 words to say what most would say in 20. Yam Yam talked too much too, but he also made people laugh all the time. I don’t see Bhanu being as quick-witted as Yam Yam. Will Bhanu find a Carson to depend on? If he doesn’t, his Survivor run could be very short.

David Jelinsky

Jelinsky – His name is actually David, but I hear he wants to go by his last name. Who am I not to comply? He’s this season’s youngest player, but his parents were both addicts, so he’s pretty self-sufficient. What struck me first about him was that he sounds like NBA Hall of Famer and current analyst Bill Walton, both in vocal tone and in enthusiasm. If he shares his personal story too much, others may want him gone purely because it would be hard for a jury NOT to want to help him out. He’s likable. He might be too likable to sit next to at the end. He also comes off as arrogant, but he knows it. I don’t think he knows just how arrogant he comes across. He’s the type who won’t know when he’s angered someone. That’s a bad trait in this game. If he tells someone to “get over it,” he could be getting a ride back to Ponderosa.

Jess Chong

Jess (aka Jessica) – There have been so many Survivor Jessicas I’m gonna stick with calling her Jess in this case. Jess strikes me as a little socially awkward, which I think could buy her some early safety. She won’t come off as a priority to remove early unless she causes a challenge loss. Jess claimed that Fabio from Nicaragua knew what was going on the whole game. That tells me she’s not very observant. If that’s her read on Fabio, how off will her reads be on these players? Considering she’s 37, she communicates more like she’s in her 20s, which might also keep her safe since there are so many younger people on her tribe.

Kenzie Petty

Kenzie – When I see a tattooed hair stylist, I think of quitter Lindsey Ogle from Cagayan. When I heard Kenzie speak, I thought she could get on my nerves very quickly. She said she relates to Carolyn, who indeed played a decent game. But Carolyn was never taken seriously enough to win the game. Kenzie says she’s gonna play dumb. If this cast has seen Carolyn’s game, that could make them suspicious of her. Kenzie didn’t give me good vibes. She strikes me as a “just there for the adventure” type.

Q Burdette

Quintavius (aka Q) – When I think of someone who goes by “Q,” I think of legendary music Producer Quincy Jones. This Q is a Real Estate Agent. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to make music puns about his Survivor game, but you know I’ll be trying. He’s a football player with a degree in Accounting. He binge watched 40 seasons in 3 months, so he knows the game, but I’m not sure how much info he has retained. Has he picked up on the value of subtle moves? His thick southern accent will be disarming – much like how it worked for J.T. in Tocantins. All signs point to a deep run here unless he gets caught on the wrong side of a swap. His athleticism will keep him safe early, and he's probably got the brains to last longer than most physically-intimidating looking players. He also says he won’t throw a challenge, and will target anybody who does. To me, that labels him an Alpha Male style player. They tend to get blindsided a lot. His ability to accurately gauge how others perceive him will be most important for Q. If he gets pushy, he’ll be signing his own death warrant.

Tiffany Nicole Ervin

Tiffany – She says she has no filter. That tells me if her tribe wins a lot early, she could be a zero-vote finalist because her mouth will get her into too much trouble to win the game. But if her tribe loses early, she’ll be one of the first booted. She loves Natalie Anderson’s game, so that’s definitely a plus. She’s chosen a good player to emulate. She says she can’t control her facial expressions and doesn’t see any problem with letting people know when she’s mad. That’s Survivor kryptonite. She says “In Tiffany’s world, things go Tiffany’s way.” To me, it doesn’t look like Tiffany will ever know how others are perceiving her because she’ll be preoccupied with trying to make people see things her way.

After listening to every interview, I have to say I’m overjoyed by the fact that almost across the board, every player said if they found an Idol or an Advantage, they would NOT tell anyone about it. This made me think more than 10 people have been reading my column. There are a lot of quirky personalities in this cast too (thank you, Carolyn), so it looks to be a very entertaining season. I’m very curious as to what your first impressions are, so let me know in the comments.

damnbuenoDamnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.