We’re sure that it’s not a hot take in the Survivor community that Joe Mena is incredibly reminiscent of Survivor: Cagayan winner Tony Vlachos. As a matter of fact, he may be so reminiscent that some people out there accuse him of being related. They’re both bald guys from the Tri-State Area who work in some degree of law enforcement, have heavy accidents, and have similar outlooks on life. Maybe Joe is a little less built like a tank and a little more reserved, but those are some of the only differences we perceive from the start.
Given that Tony did win his first season (let’s forget about the second one — we like to think of Tony at his best), could Joe do the same on Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers? That’s something we want to get into in our CarterMatt Castaway Spotlight series today.
Age – 34.
Location – The Bronx, New York. We love New Yorkers in this game! He’s such a fish out of water in terms of the survival aspect of the game; as a matter of fact, he had to learn to swim just to be a part of the season.
Bio – He works as a probation officer, which is why he’s a part of the Healers tribe, and deals with some of the most dangerous people out there. He sees his job more about risk management than trying to necessarily rehabilitate these people, and he understands that you need to be tough sometimes to get the job done. He’s also a parent, and he views this show through the lens of taking care of business and bringing home the money.
Past Survivor comparison – He (of course) compares himself to Tony, but also sees a little bit of Jeremy Collins and Mike Holloway in him. Personally, we think that if he just focuses on combining Jeremy and Tony he’ll be golden; we don’t think anyone can replicate the sort of game Mike did given all of those challenge wins!
Strengths – He’s similar to Roark and Cole in his tribe in that his job requires him to communicate with a wide array of people, and when you think how much he’s worked in the career, his social game is probably through the roof. We also love his mindset, his focus, and even that he’s a parent. We do think it helps people remember to focus on the right thing and not get caught up in the game or being on television or how many Twitter followers you’re going to have after the fact.
Weaknesses – Joe’s lack of survival skills in the early going could cause him trouble, and we do see him clashing with Cole given that he’s a 24-year old wilderness therapy guide and Joe may not love taking orders from someone like that. He’ll be an asset in some challenges, but we also don’t think of him necessarily as some sort of tank. The Tony similarities could also work against him, even if that’s no fault of his own.
Pre-show prediction – So much of Survivor is about timing, and we wonder if the timing is off for Joe and the other players will see him and automatically try to get him voted out of the game. That stinks, but it could happen. Personally, we’d like to see him make it to the merge since if you look at the game in an insular way, he’s got a lot of the tools for it — he’s smart, he’s social, and he will stop at nothing to win and bring that money back to his family.
How well do you think that Joe Mena is going to do on Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers? Let us know in the comments below!
Also, click here to see some of our other CarterMatt spotlights on this season. You can get more between now and the start of the season by also visiting our Facebook. (Photo: CBS.)