It’s an biannual tradition to pick someone heading into a season of “Survivor” to be the champion, and when it comes to the latest “Fans vs. Favorites,” it is a little more complicated than usual. We have a roster of returning players that we have been able to form a pretty solid opinion about courtesy of some of our castaway spotlight articles; however, it’s so much harder to judge the fans based on just a tiny video set before the game begins along with Jeff Probst’s initial assessment of the full cast.
We’re not going to go through this position-by-position, mostly because there is really no difference to us if you are finishing the game in 16th place, or if you last a couple of days longer. Instead, we’re going to touch on some of the more significant highlights.
Early boots – The first person off of the Fans tribe has to be Matt Bischoff. It’s one thing to have a gigantic beard, but it is something else entirely to spend all of your time talking about it. Either he or Brandon Hantz (who has been exposed as out of his mind and a terrible player to have an alliance with) will be the first two people voted out.
While Francesca Hogi will be able to say that she is not the first person to ever be voted out twice on day one, she’s not lasting long this time, either. She’s not particular great at keeping her opinions to herself, and being that Phillip Sheppard is great to take to the end as a goat, he’ll have an easier time of getting an alliance. The only other pre-merge elimination (taking into account that it will probably happen at 12) we see coming for the returning players is after a tribal swap, and this leading to a surprisingly early exit for Malcolm Freberg. Remember how upset Russell Hantz was at losing in Samoa, a sign that he knew he had no shot in “Heroes vs. Villains”? This is the same sort of feeling we’ve gotten from him since his fourth-place finish.
This leaves four more Fans to get rid of before the merge, and we’re going to say that Hope Driskill (pageants!), Julie Landauer (a failure to fit in, which is sad because we like her), Shamar Thomas (physical threat), and Sherri Biethman (social threat) following course.
Post-merge game -Straight out of the gate, we see Eddie Fox being taken out as a Colby-esque threat to go far and win. You’d think that there would be a traditional Pagonging at this point, but we anticipate this season to be far carzier than that given the people that are on it. We expect to see Erik Reichenbach, Corinne Kaplan, and Andrea Boehlke all eliminated in some sort of stunning fashion here, which leaves us with four fans and four favorites.
This is where some of the Favorites will panic (or use an immunity idol), and get rid of two pretty good players who managed to keep themselves alive longer than anyone expected going into the merge: Michael Snow and Reynold Toepfer. Allie Pohevitz will likely last one more week, that way the group can take out the threat that is Dawn Meehan.
The winner is… – This leaves us with a group consisting of Brenda Lowe, John Cochran, Phillip Sheppard, and the last fan standing in Laura Alexander. And the final boot before the last tribal council will be … Cochran. Sorry, John: we expect an alliance between him, Dawn, Brenda, and Phillip (once again playing the goat role) to dominate most of the game, but Brenda designed this perfectly so that she would have a final three of players that contributed very little to their seasons.
We saw back in “Survivor: Nicaragua” that Brenda and Parvati were similar players, and we don’t use that term lightly. This is the season where she makes good on that comparison as the winner. She is a smart, extremely sly player who we see making stabbing some people in the back, but a la Boston Rob in “Redemption Island,” are you really going to give the game to a fan who did nothing, or a guy who just annoyed everyone?
Who do you want to see win this season? We want to hear some of your thoughts below, and you can read all of our individual spotlights for the Favorites over at the link here.