We don’t think it’s breaking news that Tony Vlachos is one of our favorite Survivor players of all times. He’s endlessly entertaining, completely ridiculous at times, and a complete and total mad scientist of the game. He’s almost like Wile E. Coyote only that his plans somehow work. He called himself King of the Jungle his first season, and given that Sandra Diaz-Twine calls herself Queen it feels like we’re in the midst of a real battle when it comes to the monarchy of this game.
How will Tony do a second time in this game? It’s a question that we’ve wondered for a couple of years now. His first win was incredible, but it was such a high-risk style. Sooner or later, you have to think that Wile E. Coyote’s plan is going to fall apart and the anvil is going to fall on him … right? Let’s try to figure that out in this new edition of our daily pre-game spotlight series.
Past performance – Winner (Survivor: Cagayan)
Historical perspective – One of the most dominant and aggressive winners ever. Tony never slept, which makes us wonder if he is either A) a llama-speaking robot from Westworld or B) a guy who turned into Rip Van Winkle and slept for like a month the moment that the game was over. He was ALWAYS thinking, always plotting, always spy-shacking. He found idols, played idols, had crazy schemes, and above all else, was incredible at getting people back on his side even after stabbing him in the back. He created such madness that people inevitably thought that someone would take him out eventually; it just never happened.
Strengths – One of the skills that is really forgotten is how good he is at manipulating people and reading into how they think other people perceive them. For example, swearing on his badge because he knew Sarah would value that, or convincing Woo to take him to the end based on the “honor” of it all. (That, from strictly a win/loss perspective, may be one of the greatest moves ever.) He’s someone who knows how to get himself out of a bind, isn’t going to rest on his laurels, and will PLAY every living second of the day. He’s also strong and useful in group challenges, even if he struggles in winning individual ones.
Weaknesses – Other than maybe Sandra, Tony’s got the biggest target out of anyone out there. When you have a reputation that is bigger than all Fiji where this season is shot, people want to bring you down. They want to burn the spyshack and take all of the idols. Tony’s got to be prepared for a different perception this time. Nobody in Cagayan may have been willing to acknowledge how good a player he was until it was too late. Everyone knows going into the season now. There’s not a ton of incentive to working with him because he’s always out for his own self-interest. Sure, he’ll take some allies far, but remember he was fine cutting one of his most capable and closest ones in Trish before the final four.
The comedy here is mostly that we got SO much pie on our face most of Cagayan thinking that there was no way Tony was going to pull off what he did because it was such a dangerous way to play; yet, we also said that if he did it, he’d go down as one of the greatest winners in history and here we are. Do we have faith in Tony the legendary Survivor player, or do we play the grumpy realist who doesn’t see it happening the second time?
Ultimately, we’re probably somewhere in between. While it’s easy to see people trying to treat Tony like they did Russell in Redemption Island, Tony’s far more likable out there — he’s affable, funny, and he doesn’t sabotage other players by taking and burning their stuff. He plays so hard that it’s tough to see him getting voted out right away. Unfortunately, we do think that his number will be called before the endgame just because the target is so enormous and there are other people out there like Malcolm and Andrea who are great at finding idols, as well. We don’t know if he can win a string of individual immunities if he has to. We’d love for a Tony win to happen again, but we’d be Wile E. Coyote ourselves to bet on the big stick of Acme dynamite that is him entering this game. Maybe he’ll prove us wrong again; time will tell.
What is your take on Tony going into Survivor: Game Changers? Can he pull off another win? Share in the comments. Before you go, we invite you to check out all of our other spotlights when it comes to the season. (Photo: CBS.)