‘Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance’ spotlight: Can Shirin Oskooi change up her game?

Shirin -Shirin Oskooi is one of those people who we really enjoy having on “Survivor,” mostly because she’s there for one reason and one reason only: She loves the game. She doesn’t need the money, doesn’t really seem interested in the fame, and she probably nerds out about strategy in the way that we would out there.

Of course, we know that being a fan of the game rarely translates into anything on an All-Star season. Sometimes, it works out (John Cochran in “Caramoan”). Other times, you’re deemed as too smart and therefore too dangerous (Rob Cesternino in “All-Stars”). Where is Shirin going to fall on “Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance“? There a lot of different variables here, and we’re excited to dive in and try to sort this out.

History lesson – 8th place, “Survivor: Worlds Apart.” At first she was perceived as sort of the quirky super-fan who was insanely curious about the local wildlife, and also talking mass amounts of “Survivor” history with Max Dawson. After Max left, she then had to try and reassess her game, and she did a pretty good job of immersing into the No Collar alliance. Unfortunately, after the merge and after Jenn’s idol play, she just fell on the wrong side of the numbers, a familiar place for her the majority of the time. Near the end, her game (and really the season) was marred by some horrendous comments made by Will, which in turn started a larger conversation about some of the sexism present in this season.

What worked last time – Shirin was smart, she understood alliances and numbers, and we think to a certain extent it is helpful to have someone who understands “Survivor” history so well. It doesn’t allow you to predict the future, but you can at least anticipate some things. When Shirin was in an alliance, she was the sort of person who would do anything to help you; we don’t know if this is how she would play the game in power, but we saw someone who you would want on your side if you were in a situation to make a play.

What needs to change – It took her a good chunk of the pre-merge last season to start to settle in, and she is going to need to do that at a much more rapid pace if she wants to have any hope of making it to more than a couple tribal councils. Also, she needs to try and become more under-the-radar, and try to work right away to be a contributor in a larger alliance. Maybe starting out in tribes of ten versus tribes of six could be helpful in this case, mostly because she will have a little more room to blend in.

Potential obstacles – More so than not being a great physical performer in all of the challenges, we’re worried mostly here about jealousy. Everyone who is entering this game will have heard Shirin’s jury speech about making “her first million” at a very young age, and it’s always easy to take out someone with the “you don’t need the money” excuse. From there, they could be jealous that she is so popular in the community, or that she got so much screen time that her being there would jeopardize their own presence on the show. It sounds ridiculous, but we do think people think that way.

Prediction – We think that Shirin is the person who could win and win easily at the end; we just think it’s going to be really hard for her to get there this time. We could see her getting along with some people on her Ta Keo tribe like Kelley Wentworth and Spencer Bledsoe (who are both huge fans of the game), we feel like the recency bias is really going to hurt her in a similar way that it will Joe Anglim. She will probably be gone early, mostly for some of the reasons we listed under “obstacles.”

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