For our final spotlight article for a returning player on “Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites,” we turn to a man who is not just a specialist, but the specialist: Phillip Sheppard. He’s a man who has spiritual conversations with his dead grandfather, wears feathers on his head, and announces his status as a former federal agent like it is the ultimate ice-breaker at a party.
There was no doubt whatsoever that Phillip was going to be put on this season, and to be frank the producers of “Survivor” would have been crazy to not cast him. The man is complete and utter entertainment gold, and is afraid of confrontation the same way a vegan is afraid of tofu. He also probably waged one of the greatest second-place campaigns in the history of the show. We don’t think anyone has ever done so great of a job at making it so impossible for them to win (even though Ralph did vote for him), while also guaranteeing that every single person in the game would want him sitting in front of a jury.
Phillip is claiming that he will play to win this time around, which is good in that we really don’t want to watch him do the same thing all over again. He’s going to have to work hard right away, though, to prove that he is not just out to be the wacky guy again who wants a ton of airtime. These are returning players we’re dealing with here! Don’t think that they are above voting someone out because they’re taking away from their confessional count.
The biggest strength Phillip has, and he’s smart enough to know this without a doubt, is that he will not come into this game even as a remote threat. He can make an alliance on day one, swear to be loyal, and just about everyone will believe him. He will also be that one guy who will annoy a few people on the tribe, so he’s a good person to align with if you want to try to hide behind other players. He also will work hard around camp, even if this does at times lead to some bossy behavior.
Phillip’s weaknesses, meanwhile, are obvious. For one, there is already someone in this game in Francesca who wants him to be sent home the first second she can, and he’s going to have to get rid of her almost right away to get rid of this target. He’s ultimately the sort player that there’s no middle ground with: he’ll either be out very early as a liability to the social game of everyone else, or he’ll make it to the end again and probably lose.
Prediction: Expect a repeat of the first time around. We know that Phillip is trying to say that he purposefully played a character much of the time out there to get himself further, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from interviewing over a hundred former contestants it’s this: it is very. very hard to be anybody other than yourself out there. Phillip’s probably going to still have antics, and even if he is more subdued, he’ll likely still annoy a good half of this tribe.
Ultimately, there are some very smart people in this game (Brenda, Malcolm, Andrea), and we have a hard time imagining one of them not pairing up with Phillip and then trying to go to the end with him. Some of the fans will not have played with them for very long unless there is a swap, and they could be blinded on the jury by preconceived notions.
How well do you think Phillip will do in this game? Be sure to share some of your thoughts below, and you can view the rest of our spotlight articles for this season here. We will have our full predictions for the season up within a day of the premiere.