Here it is guys; Survivor is back with season 34, Survivor: Game Changers! We’ve got another season with a full cast of returning players, and it’s a very exciting, and very random group of former players. I think we’re in for a fun show if the premiere episode is any indication, and in the spirit of Game Changers I’ve decided I’m going to change some things up myself on the blog. My favorite blog for any season is always the one where I get to do my power rankings, so I’ve decided to make blogging a little more fun for myself by centering my weekly recap around the Power Rankings. I like breaking down the game player by player more so than recapping the action anyway, so I hope you all like the concept I have here and continuing checking in as I break down the season week by week, player by player! Here’s my Game Changers Power Rankings for episode 1:
- Cirie Fields
– Cirie already has people targeting her from every side, so she has to be in the worst spot right now. Luckily for her, a swap might help stabilize her spot in the game, but I imagine it would only be temporary. She can’t be seen as much of a physical player, so she’ll be considered a liability in challenges, plus her penchant for playing a devious social game will cause concern from every angle. It will take a miracle for Cirie to get to the merge, but if she does, her dds will increase dramatically.
- Andrea Boehlke
– I feel like we got nothing from Andrea this episode, and that’s a real pity. Andrea is such an energetic, interesting player, and seeing little from her at first gets me a little bit concerned that she may not play a big part in the story of the season. But who knows, it’s hard to give 20 people screen time in an episode, maybe her best is yet to come!
- Troyzan Robertson
– I like Troyzan as a player, I think he’s smart, strong, and survival minded. He embodies the Survivor mantra in a lot of ways, but I imagine that throwing in with Sandra will be a problem for him. Aligning with the biggest threat in the game can go well, but it can also get you eliminated very early. We’ll have to see how things play out for Troy, but I’m not confident about his place in the tribe after one episode.
- Sandra Diaz-Twine
– Queen Sandra won the battle against Tony, but might she have lost the war at the same time? Sandra has one twice by blending in, by paying an “Anyone but me” game, but she’s already gone off program by targeting Tony and letting her name get thrown around all over the beach. No one is underestimating her right now, and that does not bode well for her long-term prospects.
- Debbie Wanner
– I really liked the scene Debbie had with Cirie when she was questioning the strategy points Cirie was trying to tell her. It showed me that Debbie’s head was very clearly in the game and her heads were on point. My concern with Debbie is not whether she could play the game well, rather it’s whether or not others think she can play well. My guess is that she may have trouble making moves because people won’t go with her.
- Tai Trang
– Does Tai always need to “tie” himself to the chickens? We already saw another player, JT, make a point of saying Tai might be a problem when it comes to getting close to the chickens. We also saw Tai fail to assuage Cirie in a scene earlier in the episode, basically confirming his lacking social game. I don’t see Tai doing well on this season, but at the very least he’s a cool character to have around. On a side-note, I’d love to see Caleb and him on the same tribe again.
- Ozzy Lusth
– I think Ozzy is actually playing really well through the first two votes. Luckily for him he didn’t have to go to either Tribal Council, but even if he did I imagine he would’ve been perfectly safe. In the team portion of this game, Ozzy will stay essential, and I think that should give him plenty of time to make the necessary alliances to go far. I love seeing Ozzy back on Survivor, so I hope he can get past his status as a threat and go deep in the game.
- Aubry Bracco
– Aubry is a difficult player to figure out through one episode. I get the feeling that she’s respected by her tribe, yet she’s been given a bit of a negative tone so far on camera. It’s just a little thing I’ve picked up on watching what’s going on, but it makes me question whether or not she’s going to do well here. Considering her season just aired before they went out on location, she has to be fresh in peoples’ minds, and that will definitely play against her. Aubry will have to combat that quickly if she wants to win the game.
- Michaela Bradshaw
– It was a quick turnaround for Michaela to play season 33 and 34, but even still, it seems like she didn’t learn from her mistakes. She was getting upset and pouting all over the beach prior to the first vote when she should’ve just kept the poker face strong. Luckily, Michaela is safe through two votes and she can gain control of the game still. Michaela is an aggressive player, but if she wants to win I think she’ll need to add a little bit of finesse to her repertoire. Let’s hope she does, she’s great TV!
- Brad Culpepper
– WWMD? That’s the question Brad is asking, and it’s probably a plan he should keep for the long haul. In Blood vs. Water, it was Monica Culpepper who was able to make friends and prosper, while Brad made enemies and was voted out quickly. This time, Brad seems a little less interested in forcing the action, and that’s really his best chance at survival. If he doesn’t make waves, he will be fine.
- Zeke Smith
– Zeke played well out of the gates on Game Changers. I felt like he was approaching the game with a certain eagerness that everyone could appreciate and admire. He wasn’t being too gamey, choosing instead to make friends and feel people out. Zeke has an upper hand in this game because the rest of the cast don’t really know what kind of game he could play. I think Zeke can wait a little while to see how things play out before he ramps his game up, and being in the place to have that kind of luxury is nice.
- Sarah Lacina
– I love the way Sarah discussed her previous game on the show. She seemed to learn a thing or two from Tony as to how one goes about winning the game. You have to get your hands a little dirty to play the game of Survivor, and Sarah seems resigned to do whatever she needs to do given the situation. If Sarah is able to be malleable like that, I think she could do very well this season.
- Sierra Dawn Thomas
– Look at Sierra go! She’s probably the most criticized selection of the whole cast because she doesn’t seem to be a “Game Changer” per se, but right off the bat she managed to find the Legacy Advantage, and now has a leg up on her competition. I really like the choice component to the Legacy Advantage this year, and I think Sierra is smart enough to use the advantage as a ploy to make some alliances. I’m really excited to watch Sierra now that she has this advantage now, and who knows, maybe she’ll be the Kelley Wentworth of this season!
- JT Thomas
– How can a former winner seem so unassuming in a game of “Game Changers?” When he’s good, that’s when. I ranked JT as the best winner in my winner’s ranking for a reason, because he has a way of making people like him. So far we haven’t seen much of JT, but I imagine that’s perfectly OK. He’s not going to play a flashy game, but people aren’t going to be lining up to get rid of JT any time soon. As he said on the boat before the game, Sandra might not be the only two-time winner by the end of 39 days!
- Hali Ford
– You can tell from listening to her confessionals that Hali is ready to play. I love her spirit, and her mind, and I think she really is the cobra in a field of snakes here. Hali will be able to adapt to whatever group she goes with, and I think being able to play without the “No Collar” baggage is going to free her mentally to be a bit more fluid with her strategic game. I’m excited to see her play; I think she’s going to slay the competition!
- Jeff Varner
– I think Jeff Varner is playing a much more controlled game this time around, compared to how he played in Cambodia. Jeff was all over the place in his second chance season, and I think a lot of that was probably just nerves and adrenaline taking over. He sounds poised from what we’ve seen so far, and that’s an extremely good sign for him. If there’s one thing we know about Varner it’s that he’s a good talker, and I think as long as he stays calm and stays present, he’s going to talk himself into the right alliances at the right time.
- Caleb Reynolds
– I was extremely impressed with Caleb in the premiere; he really has a good mind for the game right now. We saw him at the center of attention for a lot of the episode, whether it is the Ciera vote or the Tony vs. Sandra war and it’s really awesome to see given how horribly his game ended last time. I think in a sense, Caleb is in one of the best spots of anyone in the game solely because everyone wants to use him for their own ends. As long as people want Caleb around to provide some muscle at camp, or to win challenges, or just be a good, loyal team member, Caleb may just find himself very deep in the game with a real shot at running the table for a surprise win.
- Malcolm Freberg
– Malcolm feels like the narrator right now, which makes him the favorite for the time being. We got to see Malcolm make the decisions this week without feeling like the alpha male or the leader, which is a sign that his game is honestly going quite well. Malcolm got to spearhead the Ciera vote and he got to make the decision to turn on Tony when he did and I only realized he did that after I was done watching the episode. So far so good for Malcolm, he’s playing as good a game as anyone through the first week on the beach, but it is early so anything could change!
Thoughts on the episode:
- My player of the week honors are going to Malcolm for episode 1. I think Malcolm is comfortably in the middle of all of the action without sticking his neck on the line. Judging from the way he’s been talking, he seems eager to play well and confident in his ability to win, so I think of everyone on his tribe, he is probably in the best position to anticipate the flow of the game and stay in the numbers, without having to be the leader or make the move himself. I really like what Malcolm’s doing so far, his poise will bring him far…My favorite moment of the episode probably was when Tony, only minutes into the game, decided he was going to run off into the forest saying he’s looking for an idol. That had to be the funniest moment from the episode, and such a classic Tony Vlachos move. I hate the fact that we’re not going to get to see him play more, but I’m happy we got a full episode of his insane antics…This season has a really fun feel to it compared to a lot of other all-returnee seasons, and I’m really enjoying the nature of the game so far. I think the Game Changers theme has actually been helpful for the game because it evens the playing field a bit. The producers haven’t pigeonholed people into themes they feel they have to live up to, and in doing so, have let the players be 100% themselves without any pushes in any direction. I think we might be looking at the most organic returnees’ game ever, and that would be great to watch…I’m being bold for this season and making a winner pick early, because I really like going with my instincts when I watch this show. So here it is, I think Hali Ford will be the winner out of this group. My chances of being wrong are great, but there’s something about her wits, and her dark horse position amongst this group that makes me think she will go far and be able to out maneuver the big names towards to end to win. I think she has a leg up with the jury because she’s studied law, plus I think people will severely underestimate her knowledge of the game because she was a “No Collar” when she played. Look for Hali this season, she’s my pick to go all the way!