Purple Rock Survivor Podcast: Game Changers episode 6 “Vote Early, Vote Often”

Win or lose, the queen stays the queen. Adios.

Purple Rock Survivor podcast: Game Changers Episode 6 “Vote Early, Vote Often”

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In this episode, Andy and John discuss:

  • The value of a six episode homage to Sandra.
  • How we’re taking her departure.
  • The emotional journey of watching the episode.
  • If there was anything she could’ve done to save herself.
  • If it was the right move to take her out.
  • Last thoughts for the haters.
  • Choosing a career highlight for Sandra among the many, many available options.
  • How we feel about the season going forward given recent trends.
  • What can we reasonably hope for at this point?
  • Have the producers messed this season up via casting, swaps, twists, etc?
  • Brad and Troy’s penis partnership.
  • The ridiculous Cochran cameo and how it could’ve been better or worse.
  • Tai’s idols and what they say about him.
  • Our spoiler policy.

Should we do the predictions post next week?

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If you have questions or comments, @ us on Twitter, or send us an email (purplerockpodcast at gmail).

353 thoughts on “Purple Rock Survivor Podcast: Game Changers episode 6 “Vote Early, Vote Often”

  1. I love you Changa. I am expecting this episode to be a lot more somber than the Malcolm boot.

    1. Here’s Culpepper and Sarah talking about Debbie being on Exile. If only the editors had time, there’d be a terrific sequence chock full of dramatic irony (the funniest irony) cutting from Culpepper and Sarah talking about how miserable Debbie must be to Debbie on that ship.

    2. Here’s Varner opening up a bit about his gay experience and what it’s like to be on a tribe with two other gay men. Also, the words “all-gay final three” are said, it’s all very exciting.

    3. Aubry hinting that she may not even wait until the merge to flip on Old Mana (btw, Aubry’s going to be the most exciting player once the merge hits, but her long term chances don’t look good)

      1. Sadly I think you might be right, and Aubrey being the most exciting player post merge when you look at the original cast is a pretty crushing indictment of this season

    4. Debbie at Exile, making a good case for why the double vote is the best advantage to take of the three. I think I agree with her, but I also think that fake idols are more than just “unloaded guns”

    5. Here’s Cochran discussing his experience and Debbie’s chance of winning. Here’s also a question that I don’t know if anyone’s discussed (though there’s a chance someone has), was there a former player better than Cochran to return considering the function of his appearance? Undeniably there are better players than him (he says so in this video), but can these people extrapolate their skills to other people’s games?

      1. I think Cochran probably gave us the best confessionals about dealing with Debbie that anyone could have hoped for. Also, I love him, so I can’t think of anyone better.
        I think two of the best candidates for this role are actually on this season (Sandra and Cirie), so that wouldn’t have worked.

          1. I think that is a good list, although judging from the podcast, I think Rob might give too conservative advice to some players but he is really good at conversations and directing advice. Personally, I’d add Aras, as he seems self-aware and could give good advice (no yoga on mountaintops) for second seasons, and weirdly enough, Tyson as he has experienced different aspects each time that he played and is an active enough viewer to give advice. Also I’d want to see Tyson talk about Debbie.

          2. Debbie would’ve blanked stared him and given a confessional that it was nice that they sent a handsome young man to hang out with, but it was odd when he tried to talk strategy.

          3. Heck, Cirie might have blankly stared at him and given a confessional that it was nice that they sent a handsome young man to hang out with, but it was odd when he tried to talk strategy.

          4. Tyson’s a great pick because he came back from a pretty embarrassing mistake in HvV and won the whole thing on his next try… plus I’ve come to appreciate his deadpan delivery on RHAP’s AF news…

          5. I don’t think Kim and Parvati would have given better confessionals than Cochran, but Stephen and Rob C would have been fun. But I think Cochran might be a bit more recognizable than Rob C to casuals.

          6. Rob C actually came in 3rd on the CBS poll of favorite players, about 4 spots higher than Coch. I assume CBS polls are uber casual. I was surprised to see him there since I would have agreed with you.

          7. People who would even be ON the CBS website aren’t even that casual. Rob C hasn’t played in a very, very long time. In terms of who is more likely to be recognized by the average Survivor watcher, it’s Cochran.

          8. That makes sense. The top 10 was interesting. On the pro-casual side, Russell is there. On the anti-casual side, no Joe or Malcolm. (Also no Rupert or Stephenie or James, but that was no surprise because I can’t imagine them as favorites of casuals or non-casuals, since their popularity has really declined in general.)

            Anyway, hard to know what to make of it. But interesting!

            1. Rob Mariano
            2. Russell Hantz
            3. Rob Cesternino
            4 Parvati Shallow
            5. Ozzy Lusth
            6. Sandra Diaz-Twine
            7. John Cochran
            8. Tony Vlachos
            9. Yul Kwon
            10. Cirie Fields

          9. I think Cochran, though inexplicable, is the correct choice for what the show was trying to do. They needed a winner who could eloquently dispense strategic advice, deliver one-liners to the camera and generate OMG buzz on the internet. Cochran is the person who best fits that weird idea.

      2. Now I have seen neither of Cochran’s appearances, and know him only be reputation, but Cochran felt very underwhelming. He seemed sensible and intelligent under poor conditions…but he wasn’t entertaining.

        I’d have preferred someone who could have played it for comedy. Maybe Rupert.

        Or, obviously, no one. That would have worked.

        1. Just to clarify, I don’t mean that Cochran is underwhelming in general- just underwhelming as “guy pointlessly on boat”

          That demands broadness he didn’t bring.

        2. See, I was laughing at just about everything he said. I think that might just be due to my gigantic crush on him. But I think he’s a generally pretty funny guy (despite the sitcoms he writes for.)

          1. I love Cochran and enjoyed seeing him, but it was overwhelmed by the irritation over the pointlessness of the entire endeavor.

          2. Yeah. I get that. It was pointless, but at least it was pointless with someone I enjoy.

        3. I don’t really remember how I’ve felt when I watched him last episode, so he could not be in the same form as last time (but I think that I’ve enjoyed him). I think that Cochran isn’t endlessly soundbite-y as say Rob C, but he still provided a lot of humor, as a self-aware guy who knows that everyone sees him as a meekly, nerdy person (his humor is very tongue in cheek, so some could mistake some things he says as something serious).

  2. Wow, This season has been a real kick in the junk so far and I think that is all that really needs to be said on that. More interesting is discussing WHY things have gone the way they have, and on that point I think that this season is the poster child for a disturbing trend that I’ve been noticing over the last few years. The trash on survivor isn’t just there to fill space and get voted out anymore.

    Player strategy in survivor goes in and out of fashion like many things, and the successes and failures of previous seasons tend to have a large influence on later ones until a counter strategy is developed. For a long time it was the under the radar approach that was dominant, then the out in front big target seemed to supplant that, and now there is a growing body of evidence that the newest successful strategy is that of what I like to call, the boring piece of trash.

    The boring piece of trash is a player who has no discernible skills that set them apart from the majority of the cast. They usually have a middling grasp of strategy and the charisma of a wet paper bag. They are boring in confessionals and boring in their camp interactions. In short, they suck. The only advantage they have is that there tends to be more of them than any other type of player on most seasons. Although they tend not to be big fans, they have usually followed the show somewhat, particularly later seasons, and they are increasingly learning the one lesson they need to torpedo a season, that if they stick together and remove anyone fun, interesting, or smart, one of them will be able to win.

    Survivor needs to deal with this problem or it is going to seriously impact the quality of their show. While I think there are several viable options for dealing with this issue, I think the one that makes the most sense is painfully obvious (although possibly more difficult in execution), cast less sucky players! I know the prevailing opinion around here tends to be that you need a certain amount of suck on a season so that the good players get to stick around and vote them out, but unfortunately that approach is giving us what we’ve seen so far this season. If you want survivor to be an interesting show, the most important element of that is making sure there are interesting people on your TV throughout the season.

    In conclusion, Probst, I know you follow this podcast, no more trash on my TV! Give me all the Tony, Malcolm, and Sandra, and none of the Troyzan, Hali, Sierra.

    1. I mean, I kind of get that, but we now look at players like Parvati and Wentworth as elite-level players. And going into Micronesia and Cambodia, they were the kind of head scratchers that Hali and Sierra are. Same with Boston Rob. If you don’t give those players the chance to show what else they have, then you are just seeing the same people play over and over again. I mean, do we really need to see Rupert or Russell Hantz play Survivor again?

      1. I get your point but are you sure you want to pick Hali and Sierra as the two to hang the “let’s see what they got” hat on? And no I don’t think anyone sane wants to see Russell or Rupert anymore, but there are plenty of other more dynamic people who’ve only played once I would like to see again. There’s a strong element of subjectivity in what kind of player people like (for example I don’t care for Parvati and think she’s very overrated) however my argument was that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find more dynamic players to bring back and the garbage they are bringing to sit on the bench are ending up with far too much playing time because they’re banding together to take a baseball bat to the kneecaps of the stars.

        1. Hali and Sierra are just two people you mentioned. I think we’re going to get more out of Brad and maybe Sarah Not everyone is going to be a winner. You also bring back great players who wind up being duds. I think it’s a crapshoot.
          But I also can’t criticize them for “banding together to take a baseball bat to the kneecaps of the stars.” They’re playing for a million dollars. Zeke is a fan. He clearly respects Sandra and her gameplay, but he’s dumb if he doesn’t try to get her out of the game. That’s the whole point. I mean, Sandra is my all-time favorite Survivor contestant. I love her. But if I was playing against her, she’s my #1 target. And Malcolm, Ozzy, Tony, JT, and Cirie are right at the top of that list, too. I don’t think you can fault them for playing the game. If they sat back and let the faves win, we’d be criticizing them the way we do the cast of Redemption Island.

          1. I’m not criticizing the trash’s gameplay, you’re right that they are doing exactly what they should be. I’m criticizing Survivor for putting too much trash on the season.

          2. I think the problem is arguably less that there’s too much fodder (but there’s also too much fodder….TROY AND DEBBIE), more that none of the fodder has really stepped up and made the argument they have star potential. There isn’t an All Stars Boston Rob, or a Micronesia Parvati, or a Kelley Wentworth who has emerged.

            Brad Culpepper is making the case that he’s pretty good at survivor and not hateful when edited positively; but he’s made no case that he is good TV. Same with Sierra.

            Now that could change- the pre-merge has been largely about giving Sandra (and other people, but mostly Sandra) room to shine. Brad could become fun next week. But right now…Survivor hasn’t proven to us that this fodder has hidden depths.

          3. I think your point about Brad absolutely hits the nail on the head, he may actually turn out to be a pretty good player, but he is NOT interesting tv, and that will always be the most important quality I look for in a survivor player. I think Andy is the one who always makes the point that Survivor is entertainment first above everything else it is (apologies if I’m misattributing this to you), and I completely agree with that sentiment.

          4. I think John and I make that point fairly equally. He’s probably even more pro-entertainment than I.

          5. My apologies to you John for suggesting you don’t value entertainment as much as Andy!

          6. In fact, the show deserves extra criticism BECAUSE the trash are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. This is a foreseeable problem.

            There’s another universe where Natalie Anderson doesn’t get a concussion that maybe keeps this season from hitting critical mass of meh-ness.

      2. I would gladly take Rupert playing again. Not out of any great joy I get watching Rupert play, but I do like watching other people have to play with Rupert.

        1. Rupert over Troy would have been great for this season, if we are cutting fodder.

          Because watching Sandra play with Rupert is gold. GOLD!

          “I’m going to vote you out, and you’ll still vote for me to win a million dollars”

      3. I think that I’ve said it somewhere else, but that these “huh?” casting choices may not be necessarily coming out pre-merge. My examples for this are from newbie seasons: Aubry and Natalie A. They weren’t really that much of a focus in pre-merge but post-merge they fullly came together on their own. Some may say that they showed some flashes before that, which I don’t disagree with, but I don’t think that many people were calling then that they will be huge fan favourites. For example Hali (to be in line with my Hali-trutherism) showed in the swap pre-merge that she could really articulate herself if she needs to, so she can became a bigger character later. I’m not saying that it WILL happen, maybe it will became a boring end-game, but I don’t want to cry that it’s snowing when there’s sun outside.

        Ashley Underwood, we’re forever grateful for what you’ve brought to the game. We are not worthy of the joy you bring us.

          1. I think that’s because while Kim was a great player, she wasn’t that interesting as a character. How many hilarious or insightful Kim confessionals does anyone remember from one world.

          2. I love Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin as a player, but she definitely needs to be surrounded by people that can deliver more entertainment. Same with Yul. I dig their cerebral gameplay confessional stuff, but I need them in a cast that also provides levity.

          3. See I wouldn’t necessarily lump her and Yul together. I found Yul really interesting because he had all these really insightful confessionals and interactions where he analyzed the state of the game in a way we the audience could see. Maybe I’m misremembering one world, but I don’t remember Kim giving those sorts of sound bites.

            Edit: Yul’s name

          4. This is precisely why Sandra is so unbelievable. She combines all the amazing strategy and gameplay with an incredible entertaining personality. Not a lot of players can claim both amazing entertainment value and amazing play.

    2. Especially in returnee seasons – if you can’t find 18-20 awesome players willing to play again, then just don’t do an all star season.
      I think the idea of just cutting down on the chaff in casting is a good one. I would be curious to see a season where they just cast the 18 (or 16, or 20 – whatever) best applicants they could find. It could be a trainwreck I suppose, if the cast doesn’t mesh well together or (god forbid) there aren’t enough alpha males and bikini babes, but I would tend to think that the odds would be in favor of it being amazing.

      As an aside, I’m not sure if anyone around here still watches Amazing Race, but they did a wacky twist this season where they threw out the entire premise of their show and just randomly paired teams of strangers. On its face it seemed like a really stupid, terrible idea HOWEVER, in my opinion it appears to have allowed them to actually come up with a really great cast of interesting people who are actually fans of the show (without being forced to tether them to a less interesting partner). I wonder if there are any “rules” like that that Survivor could throw out the window to reinvigorate their casting?

        1. Somewhat, except not romantic and actually a lot less stupid so far. They started with an individual mini-challenge and then got to pick their partners based on how they finished.
          A lot of people are assuming that this is the last we’ll see of Amazing Race, so I’d say it’s resoundingly un-disappointing so far, in light of that.

      1. You mentioned a good point: why did this season have to have 20 players? Survivor had for a really long time only 16, and it worked reasonably well. (At least with 18 you certainly can do a season.) The main reason to have more players is because of quitters and/or medevacs, but these are relatively rarer in returnee seasons. If you cut out Sierra, Sarah, Debbie, and Tai (or you choose who), suddenly this season could have been radically different.

        1. Tai was a requirement for this season. The producers would be idiots not to go back to that popular a player. I think an 18 person season where you remove Troy and Sierra would work well.

          1. I agree that Tai was a must have, but losing 4 players wouldn’t have been the worst thing. Probably would mean they have to change a lot of their formula for the season, but they are already doing that. Plus, once cast came out everyone was like ‘why so and so, just seems like filler.’ A stricter application of the theme “game changers” and a willingness to reduce the number to 16 might have yielded a more ‘cream of the crop’ cast.

            This is another reason that i think the theme was chosen to promote the cast they had, not the cast picked to meet the theme.

          2. I still call Bullshit on Probst saying “Oh no, we had the theme in mind when we were casting”. I still think, and will always think, that they wanted a winners/jury/pre-merge season especially since they had at least 8 winners in consideration at one point. But once the winners started dropping, they were screwed.

      2. I actually am watching this season of TAR and I agree with you (I didn’t watch a new episode yet so don’t spoil it for me) . I would say that some new viewer could say from the first episode something about 18-19 contestants, and since there are so many different people, that’s saying something! (by the way I’m team Floyd/Becca and Brooke/Scott)

      3. I think there is in fact a “rule” they could do away with that would help tremendously in that regard. And that is their casting quota or different archetypes they stick to so slavishly. I understand the argument for it as it probably helps the show appeal to a more diverse range of viewers, but maybe doing away with it for one season and just cast the best people you can find. If the ratings tank that season, ok experiment failed and you can just go back, but I think odds are it would help the quality of the show pretty dramatically.

        1. Just for the sake of it, here’s a counterpoint: Survivor continually tops the ratings for their time slot, so if the casting process ain’t broke…

          1. I understand both sides of this.
            A) Survivor is a 33 season tried and true formula, and while it has some deviation, has not yet produced a show that broke things to the point people stop watching.
            B) Survivor’s amazing fanbase is what has kept it where it is, and not many of that fanbase are still watching the show because of casting archetypes.

            That being said, ultimately it boils down to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Survivor’s ratings will have to tank before they start messing with the process, and producers are never gonna support ‘experimenting’ when it comes to ratings. 1 bad season has been enough to kill even the greatest of franchises (though not enough to kill some of the more resilient).

      4. And since we’re on topic of TAR, I am now watching for the first time all the seasons (along with the canada ones), so what seasons would you say to look forward to, and which to be prepared for cause they aren’t that good. (I’ve watched the first 8 seasons by the way).

          1. Oh I heard it was a really great one, right beside 3,5 and 7 as one of the best (which I all loved).

        1. The seasons all sort of blur together for me, but certain teams definitely stand out so the seasons with the most memorable teams are usually my faves. TAR starts really strong so the early seasons are all pretty great. Other than that I’m a big fan of the All Stars season (11 I think?). I also like 12 and 15, and I agree with Black Dynamite that season 17 is a great one. I think it’s fairly universally agreed upon that the Family Edition is the worst? And I’d say it’s been slowly declining since about the early/mid 20s, but it’s mostly still watchable. I thought last season really sucked, so I’m glad that season 29 is shaping up to be better 🙂

          1. OK, thanks. I didn’t hear that people were really calling 15 really that good, but I’m still will be coming in to it with an open head. I watched season 8 not that long ago, and yeah, it’s definetely last in my rankings so far. It has 40 PEOPLE to remember, since there are kids in there challenges had to be toned down, some families weren’t that good (I wasn’t fan of Paolo’s AT ALL), and Weavers, while I sympatized with them a lot due to their situation, and I did think (especially early) that a lot of teams were really unfair to them, I just don’t think that they were in the right state to be in the race, and they probably more detracted to the season than added (and it was really fucked up that they had to perform TWO tasks that were really tied to their trauma). And the course was definetely the weakest one from the ones that I’ve seen, but since I’m not an american I could still see some things that I didn’t see. That being said I could still see that it could get wrse than this, and it had a really strong finale so at least it ended at a good note, but I’ll (and I’m just focusing on watching BBCAN seasons for now before I begin watching TAR

            again). And for those curious these are my TAR season rankings:
            1.TAR 5
            2.TAR 3
            3.TAR 7
            4.TAR 2
            5.TAR 6
            6.TAR 1
            7.TAR 4
            8.TAR 8

          1. No worries. Can’t wait till I actually see this season (even though I think I know who wins).

      5. I’m enjoying this season of the Amazing Race so far and I agree with you that this twist on the format forced them to cast interesting individuals. Too many times you have the generic white couple that takes much screen time but do nothing memorable. Now it seems everyone has a story worth tuning in for. Also, I’m all about Team Fun.

        1. I still didn’t watch the new episode, but Team Fun is AWESOME. If they keep it up I probably would call them one of my favourite teams of all time (from the ones that I’ve seen at least).

        2. Team Fun all the way!!! I live in Colorado so they’re definitely my faves. Also I’m especially fond of Floyd because go Buffs!

      6. We used to watch The Amazing Race — then a few years ago we got behind on the DVR and I started to watch and just found I didn’t care enough to catch up.

        I did see both seasons of the “Twinnies”. God, they were annoying on that show. 🙂

        1. I actually gave up for a while around the most recent all stars season, but then when I ditched cable and got CBS All Access maybe 1.5 years ago I guess it was the perfect combination of decreased choice in mindless TV selection and increased ease of catching up after the fact, so it sucked me back in 🙂 I also figure the show is on its last legs so I’m sort of watching out of nostalgia at this point.
          Also, the twinnies were super annoying on TAR. My husband hated them so much that he still visibly cringes at the word “twinnies” 😮


      I have NO idea why this comment is listed as “awaiting moderation”. And as moderator, I can tell you that it is approved in the back end. I’d unflag it if I could, but the system isn’t asking me to.

      So, you know… approved. Click on it and respond people.

        1. This has honestly never happened before. Sometimes things go to pending (usually for people who double-post), and we clear that up.

          Maybe you got downvotes and it did that automatically? If so, not cool on the downvotes people. And also, I’d have expected to go in the system for me to moderate.

          I’ll just blame Disqus.

      1. I was wondering about that (I said everything that I wanted in one of my other comments, but still thanks).

    4. I get where you are coming from, but I’m not sure who you could be talking about in terms of winners (besides OWMF of course). I’ve enjoyed all of the recent winners besides her. Jeremy, Natalie, Mike, Adam were pretty entertaining and often endearing. Or perhaps you are just referring generally to the players who make the merge?

      1. Correct more the players making the merge than the winners, although i personally didn’t care for Adam and would put him more with Michelle than the other three. Mike only won because of his immunity run, that season was the Magnum Opus of boring/terrible people joining forces to try and win the game. Natalie managed to pull off an impressive win despite her cast mates trying to go down that path by keeping her head down till the moment was right. Jeremy, yeah I’ve got no complaints about how that season played out. But do you see the trend I’m referring to with trash forming alliances to take out the interesting players?

        1. I absolutely see that trend and in general agree with you. I was just scratching my head over it because I thought you were including winners in the trash heap!

        2. Your assessment of Mike is why I don’t kill him much for his fuck-up at the auction. That batch of sad sack losers were always coming for him, probably around the time that they did, because he was obviously better than them. Winning challenges was his only play.

        3. I don’t really see it. SJDS had a big casting problem that they were lucky ended up working out, but even if you didn’t like the winners who was the boring trash alliance in MvGX and Kaoh Rong? MvGX was filled with big fans and Kaoh Rong was filled with big players. I do think there a couple people a season that casting could try to avoid (Will and the lovely Joe DC from each of those seasons come to mind), but it doesn’t really feel like a trend is emerging.

  3. The bonus interviews are quite enlightening about Sandra’s chances after the swap. Zeke is very clear, stating that the swap outcome was the best possible: not only did they get a majority, but they got Sandra in their tribe so they could get rid of her ASAP. Ozzy doesn’t go that far, but he is very definite: if it were anyone else, I could even think about giving them a chance. But for Sandra, that is not a possibility. (And these confessionals seem to have happened right after the swap.)

  4. The story about Sandra and Fairplay’s grandma is that she SWEARS he mentioned ANOTHER dead grandma earlier in the game, and how he was out there playing for his dead grandma, because it was her dying wish or whatever.* So, when Fairplay turns on the waterworks about a dead grandma, she was like, “TWO dead grandmas? Bullshit.” And then she goes Changa on his ass, trying to get out his buddy. And that is why I love her.

    *Fairplay claims he was building up a SICK grandma, so it’s possible she misunderstood.

    1. My favourite part about this story is that Sandra probably just straight up wasn’t listening to JFP which would be exactly in character for her

      1. Changa doesn’t give a fuck about your grandma, sick or dead. It’s all the same to her. Bless her cold, cold heart!

  5. BTW, welcome aboard the Brad Culpepper train, boys. It’s neat train.
    Kind of boring, but not as bad as the Troy train.

  6. I really, really hope these aren’t actually last thoughts for the haters. There should be a taking down Sandra haters segment on every podcast, whether its relevant or not

    1. Look, I manage to find reasons to attack Rob haters every other podcast, and he hasn’t been relevant for the entire time I’ve had a podcast. So indicators are good.

  7. I think you guys summed this game up perfectly. If you replaced the winners and 3rd-4th players with the other Cambodia rejects and 2 other mediocre men to create the Caramoan of all stars seasons, then I would be perfectly happy with the season of Brad Culpepper. The problem is that I want to see a season called Game Changers dominated by legends or rising stars.

  8. I too feel that this cast is going to be all filler, no killer down the homestretch. Will that wind up making it a bad season? Probably, yes. But there is a slim possibility that someone does something cool out of that bunch. And so long as whoever wins says “I’m doing this for Sandra,” then I’ll be ok enough with it, and move on to hoping the next time they cast a returnee season, they learn some lessons from casting too many also-rans here.

      1. There’s always that concern, as Production & Probst seems to disproportionately feel really good about really terrible people.

  9. I will also say that I liked All Stars, and that it has a few advantages over this season. Rob was a massive, charismatic force and his game there helped create modern Survivor. He also kept fan favorites Rupert and Big Tom around for a while, so the casuals and kids had people to root for.

    1. Rob’s appeal kept All Stars afloat for a good chunk of it. But many, many people were deeply unappealing that season, and it was fun to watch Rob take them out.

      1. Yeah, I’m not generally a fan of that season for several reasons. But Rob exposing them all for how entitled they all felt is kinda funny in hindsight.

        1. For me, it was funny at the time. Which, frankly, was a surprise, since I’d never cheered for the villain prior to that (unless Rob C counts).

          1. I don’t always agree with the classifications of CBS. I say he is neither hero nor villain. Neutral box!

        2. I get the feeling that Kathy had some sort of agreement where she was *supposed* to win, or maybe that was just in her mind. But Kathy in particular came off really poorly the whole season.

          1. Reportedly, there was a F4 alliance between Big Tom, Lex, Kathy, and Boston Rob. That is a big reason why Lex and Kathy let go of loyal Jerri in favor of Amber. That leads to the whole Lex and Boston Rob fight at the merge. But because Lex says something like “We have Big Tom”, Big Tom becomes more on the outs with Boston Rob.

    2. I could never truly hate All Stars because that was the first season of Survivor I ever saw, and I got hooked on the show because of it.

    3. I actually kind of like All Stars. It was the last season I watched in its entirety before going off to college, at which point it became difficult to obsessively watch every single episode live. I think it also probably marks the end of the initial golden age of Survivor, so it was kind of the end of an era for both the show and for me personally. I completely understand that it’s a bit of a mess of a season, especially with all the emotional baggage, but I’m also a terrible person so I love to laugh at all the feels. I still routinely quote Sue’s epic freak out to this day (“It wasn’t SORTA, JEFF!”)

  10. So, I think I’m not as down on this season right now as some of you because I simply never had any hopes for it. Even pre-season, while people were quite excited hyping about it, I refrained mostly from commenting because I simply could see no way how our favorites wouldn’t be voted out immediately.

    And the advantage of being a pessimist is that while most people are becoming very negative on this season, I am actually pleasantly surprised that it has been so good so far. We got six Sandra episodes, almost half a season! (and five more than I expected pre-season), and they were all awesome. Even the two Tony episodes were really fun.

    So this season has this in its favor. On the downside, I just feel things will look a lot like Worlds Apart from now on. (Except for the bullying.) And it goes a lot against this season the number of idols and swaps and everything that is going on. It just doesn’t leave space for real Survivor. Hell, you have a season of some of the best players ever, and you feel the need to bring MORE favorites as twists to take away their already small air time? Although I certainly don’t dislike Cochran, instead of getting 10 mins of Cochran confessionals, why didn’t we get 10 mins of Cirie, who has barely been shown at all so far?

    Overall, I expect that even with some really awesome episodes, this season will end up ranked on my bottom 10 seasons. (But, to be fair, I am already from the start really negative on returnee seasons. Between pre-game alliances, pre-game reputations, etc., we just lose so much of what makes Survivor Survivor.)

    1. That’s why HvV is such a good season. Yes, there was a lot of idols, but certainly not THIS many. But Production knew that they had 20 (okay maybe 16-18) of the best players in Survivor history and they said, you know what? Let’s just let this ride. No swap. Only 1 double tribal council because of the size of the cast.
      I think the amount of junk they are doing the season is not so much “changing the game for Game Changers” but “having no faith in the cast”.

    2. To be fair, I’m not sure Cochran took away time from Cirie or Aubry. He took away time that would have been allotted to Debbie on Exile. So… we may have come out ahead there.

      1. Not true. Julia in KR barely got 2 mins from her exile time. Once they decided to flew down Cochran then decided to convert this exile into a reward and devote quarter of an episode to it.

  11. Before you guys even started talking about Sandra’s best moment I thought “one of them better say it’s ‘I’m against you Russell.'”

      1. Hey man, I’m with you. There are so many great Sandra moments that trying to sum her up in one almost seems disrespectful. But, much like Malcolm with “hold up, bro” 2 weeks ago, it seems hard at first but really, there’s one thing it has to be and it’s “I’m against you, Russell.” It’s the perfect intersection of her play style and what made her pop as a character.

    1. Her idol play is also up there for me. Not because it’s a great move or anything. It was an obvious move. It’s because she did it with flair, and the jury was openly cheering for her, the worst winner ever, and biggest goat of all time. That was when I knew she was winning HvV, and I was in awe.

  12. Thing I didn’t think of while podcasting but realize now: maybe all our mewling about too many duds in the cast or too many swaps or too many twists is all just the result of the incredibly bad luck of having all the duds swap together on Mana 2.0. I mean, what are the odds?

    Counterpoint: this is why you don’t fill a cast with enough players that they could fill an entire swapped tribe.

    1. With 33 previous seasons to pull people from, why would there ever be a need to pull two more people from Worlds Apart? Even one seems extreme.

      1. And if you’re gonna, at least make it Mike. Who they brought in for interviews in pre-casting.

        (Note: this isn’t necessarily an endorsement, but he’d have acted as a shield for people I like).

      2. Even more people are going to come back from WA.. production most definitely loved that cast for their own reasons. Mike, Rodney, Carloyn will play again in future IMO, Jenn probably could too if she was bothered.

        1. I said it last season, but I wouldn’t mind Rodney coming back if he gets a Reward Challenge stolen from him.

    2. Yeah, 2 of the tribes being a 5-1 split doesn’t give much opportunity for players to switch things up. If those tribes had each been 3-3 I think we would have seen original tribal lines not matter as much.

      Unfortunately for 5/6 of the players on those 2 tribes, the tribe expansion didn’t really change anything.

    3. I don’t even think that they needed to replace 7-8 people in this cast with big names for it to not be a problem. I mean these are people who are most replacement level IMO – Troyzan, Sarah, Sierra, Hali, Brad, Debbie, Tai, Caleb
      Out of these I would give production a pass for Caleb, Tai, Debbie and even Brad. Caleb was always going to play next all stars and the other 3 can get in for being big characters.

      The other 4 there is no such excuse. So even if you just replace Hali, Sierra, Troy and Sarah with proper top tier survivors, you actually tilt the balance and avoid a gang up by also rans.

      1. I’d have to say that my only disagreement with this is that the other tribes had similar opportunities to win the immunity challenges to keep away from TC. Had Tony/Sandras tribe gone on an immunity run, perhaps we get a different game and they get time to bond rather than go after each other.
        Sure, its disappointing as a fan to lose the high-profile personalities, but this season could easily have turned out favorably for JT/Malcolm/Sandra/Ciera/Tony.
        All in the game.

  13. I get why people are pessimistic, but this season has been A+ so far and highly entertaining. Until it stops being entertaining, I’m just going to enjoy it instead of worrying about the sh*tshow the post-merge is going to be. We got SIX EPISODES OF SANDRA, how can anyone be sad about that?

    1. I understand the worries that people have, probably thay are all well deserved, but I agree with you. Just bacause the season COULD get worse, doesn’t mean that we all should just forget the good things the season brought.

      1. Also, I like Gabon, so you know I don’t really have a problem with seasons where all of the entertaining people are out early.

        1. Hey, I’m not the only one, high five! (not like my favourite season, I don’t know if even it would crack my top 20, but I still liked it.)

          1. Same, but I still enjoy it. It’s low on my list. But not low enough for Barbara. (Who hasn’t even seen it.)

        2. Yay for Gabon! I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that upon the rewatch, I moved it into my top 10.

          1. I don’t like it quite that much, but I don’t find it nearly as awful/boring as everyone else seems to.

          2. Not finding it nearly as awful/boring as everyone else thinks it is… is not the ringing endorsement I was hoping for! Gabon was just pure enjoyment for me on the rewatch, every episode had something memorable.

          3. Let’s just say I’ve been shamed about how high it is on my list and have been negatively influenced. I still find it enjoyable. And I love most of the cast. And it probably has some of the best assortments of challenges in the show’s history.

          4. Ok now please indulge me and let me know what your top 10 is! I love seeing those kinds of lists.

          5. 1. Heroes Vs Villains
            2. Micronesia
            3. Pearl Islands
            4. Tocantins
            5. Cook Islands
            6. Cagayan
            7. Panama
            8. Philippines
            9. China
            10. Australia
            11. Cambodia
            12. Amazon
            13. Borneo
            14. Blood vs Water
            15. Caramoan
            16. Kaoh Rong
            17. Millennials Vs Gen-X
            18. San Juan Del Sur
            19. One World
            20. Palau
            21. Guatemala
            22. All-Stars
            23. Samoa
            24. Vanuatu
            25. Gabon
            26. Fiji
            27. South Pacific
            28. Africa
            29. Worlds Apart
            30. Redemption Island
            31. Nicaragua
            32. Marquesas
            33. Thailand

            Please note that Gabon is as low is at is due to shaming from Barbara Anderson.

          6. I’m happy to see Panama as high as it is. Also pleased but not surprised at how high Pearl Islands and HvV are (as they should be on all such lists). I’m sad though at Africa and Fiji being ranked so low!

            If you watched the recent Australian Survivor 3, where would you rank it?

          7. I haven’t seen any of Australian Survivor. I only just made my way through the whole series of American Survivor for the first time. I found Africa boring and Fiji just pissed me off.

        3. Where were all of these people during the watch-along when I was struggling all by my lonesome to defend that damn season?!?

          Ironically after the watch-along I like Gabon significantly less, so now I disagree with your pro-Gabon position. How could you all be so foolish?

          1. I was then too scared to come out, and actually talk to people online, so sorry about that.

          2. Well I liked Nicaragua the first time I watched it so…

            To be fair tho it was only the third season i watched so still figuring out the strategy part

    2. Yeah, I wish I had your optimism, but I don’t want my season to peak on entertainment value on episode 6…. I think I’m just more and more afraid that nobody but terrible people and/or players are going to be left at the end.

  14. Just got to the point in the podcast where Andy makes his all or nothing argument for good vs mediocre players. Honestly, a far more elegant solution than my rambling hatred of the trash. If you’re bringing back good players make it all good players. If you’re bringing back the trash then make it all trash. Maybe some of the trash will transcend its trashness and become good, but at a minimum one of the trash gets to rise up and be king/queen of the trash.

  15. Ok, time to update tocantins’s power rankings! As people already pointed out elsewhere, a clear trend seems to be materializing that the fun players are slowly but surely falling on these ranks. (As it goes without saying, I’m not spoiled about anything of this season.)

    Survivor goddess tier:
    – Sandra: once a goddess, always a goddess. (+0)

    Star tier:
    – Brad: we got very little of Mana today, and the little we got had Brad in it. (+0)

    Top tier:
    – Troy: the same as above applies. Actually, I’m starting to prepare myself for the time when I might have to upgrade Troy to Star tier as well. (+0)
    – Ozzy: Tai mentioned Ozzy at tribal, and the fact that no one seemed to even consider going for it is a good sign for him. (+0)

    Middle-of-the-pack tier:
    – Zeke: Zeke was the big winner of this episode, and since in this tier people are so close to each other, that makes him jump significantly. (+5)
    – Sierra: Sierra didn’t appear on the episode today, but the fact that her biggest alliance partner did bodes well for her future in this game. (If not at all for her chance of eventually beating him in the end.) (+0)
    – Hali: the swap was really really good for Hali, at least short term. Now she seems completely safe, and gets to even choose her alliance going forward. (Everything points to her siding with Brad etc.) Her problem, as with all swing votes, is that she is not in the core of either alliance. (+3)
    – Sarah: Sarah is getting more screentime, and her game position is really solid. (+4)
    – Andrea: her position in the game after this swap is really solid, but I just can’t rank her any higher, since she keeps not getting any screen-time. (-1)
    – Cirie: although the show didn’t show that yet, my analysis here
    goes by the principle that Brad’s alliance will get the majority in the
    new Mana. (Since that is the only thing that makes sense edit-wise, and
    probably also strategically.) That puts Cirie near the bottom, but maybe she can work with them to vote out someone else. (-6)
    – Michaela: The comment above also puts Michaela near the bottom, with one special hindrance: she is an original Mana, and they are quickly becoming extinct. (She is my voted-out pick if her tribe loses) (-4)
    – Varner: with Sandra gone, Varner is totally on the bottom of new-new-Nuku. And he is an original Mana. If they lose the challenge, I can’t see how he is not going out. (-3)

    Bottom tier:
    – Aubry: her greatest enemy in the season was just voted out, yet I don’t see how her current situation is any better. She said she is willing to flip on her former (original) Mana mates, but being +5 as of now, I’m not sure they even need her. (+1)
    – Tai: John complained last week that I was placing Tai too low, but I’m doubling down on my bet this week by placing him even lower: even though he found TWO idols this week, he ended the episode by being the worst player of the week by Rob. (Not that I place that much faith in Rob’s assessment, but to be ranked the worst player in an episode where you find not one but two idols, you need to be doing something severely wrong.) After tonight (and players’ confessionals), I don’t see how the rest of his tribe trusts him, and although the idols (and general lack of endgame threat) will possibly get him far (especially given that the merge is next week), I honestly can’t see any way he is winning this game. (-1)

    – Debbie: it is funny that according to the bonus confessionals, Cochran actually complements Debbie a lot after their talk. The fact that we don’t get to see that at all in the actual episode cements her 0% chances. (-1000)

    1. I largely agree, though I’m much less impressed by Troy’s edit than the group.

      I’m not even saying you are wrong; I’m probably just so blinded by Troy’s boringness and/or penis that I instantly forget everything he says.

      1. Maybe I have the exact opposite problem, that I especially remember Troy’s confessionals because they make me cringe, but is there any episode so far that he didn’t have a confessional? Or even worse, a “storyline”? (As opposed to “Oh, this food tastes good!” confessionals.) First he was alone after the swap, then he found an idol and hated blond women, then he made friends with Sarah, now he makes friends with Brad. Compare that with Aubry or Andrea.

  16. What are the spoiler tags, aparently something really … awkward happens and i’d like to post a semi-spoilery warning for those who might need it *note no bootlist spoiler, just one specific scenario spoiler *

      1. It’s important to note that that makes everything to the end of the comment covered under a spoiler tag. So if you want more things not under that tag, you need to close it with

  17. Ok so again this is a spoiler fro something that happens next episode, it contains no bootlist or any other spoiler
    Apparently Zeke and Varner get into a huge fight during the next episode and as part of it Jeff (allegedly forced by the producers to make it part of Zeke’s story) forcibly outs Zeke as trans, Zeke and Varner have since talked it out and have made up

    Its not necessarily going to effect most people but i’d rather it be out there for those who need it

    1. Wow. I really wish I hadn’t read that. Not saying that it is out of bounds to post just…I really wish I hadn’t read that.

      I also really, really hope it isn’t true.

      1. yeah Inormally HATE spoilers but this was big enough I felt I should at least post a warning

      1. I just realized I left a sentance that did just that under the spoiler tags accidentally

        1. No, I was just being sarcastic. The post just said “checking the spoiler tag” when I responded.

      2. Okay, so I don’t want to seem insensitive. I hadn’t refreshed the page, so the comment I was responding to still said “testing the spoiler tags” and I didn’t realize until other people responded with actual things that you had edited the comment.

    2. I have been waiting for something along the lines of this to happen since he first appeared. I just didn’t expect it to be traumatic. More of a positive, uplifting thing. Now I am full of dread.

        1. I was very confident about it. I work with trans men and he has many things in common with them, in particular his voice but also elements of his story and his interaction with his dad during the family visit. I became curious enough to show a snippet of one of the episodes to a colleague I’m close with who is a trans man, and he called it within moments. I’ve been eagerly awaiting a reveal of “Survivor’s first trans contestant” because I’m all for increased visibility. Now I’m sad that this reveal may be something more traumatic than awesome.

          1. My only hope is that this leads to a useful and productive discussion about how the decision about when/where/how/whether to come out should solely made by the person in question. But, like you, I’m worried.

          2. I completely agree with this. Gotta remain hopeful! I am heartened by the fact that CBS/Probst obviously respected his wishes last season because there was zero press about a trans contestant and they were clearly on-board with Zeke’s identity as a gay man rather than as a trans man. So although worried, I’m retaining a bit of hope because their engagement with Zeke’s identity has been completely on Zeke’s terms, as it should be

          3. I am quibbling with that one because go back to MvGX and hear how many times Probst mentions to Zeke how much of a “transformative” experience it has been for him. He even does it at the reunion as bait. I was wondering why CBS, but especially Zeke, was kinda playing their cards close to the vest for this one. I just assumed it was due to the political climate.

          4. Interesting. I will have to keep an ear out for that during my eventual re-watch. Flew right over my head the first time, despite my feeling that he could be trans.

          5. I don’t have much to add, just that I suspected as well but figured he would address it if it was true and he wanted it to be out there. I’m hoping there’s some way the show can spin it as a positive sort of “coming out” instead of the story just being about Varner outing him but if that’s the way it happened I guess there’s not much they can do to hide it. To be honest I’ve been a little meh on Zeke in both his seasons so far but learning more about his background makes me like him more.

          6. I was a fan of Zeke in his first season – such an amusing character! Very gamey in the second half of the season, but still enjoyable, especially David vs Zeke episode. In the first half he was fun and original and I loved his confessionals; he was one of my early favorites.

            I’ve been turned off to him this season so far. He’s trying so hard to be a certain type of player. Too hard. “Bathe in blood” comment made me cringe.

            This reveal will maybe make him appealing to me again, as a character. I’m mainly worried for him on a human level. As John says below, I just think that identity is 100% personal and the idea that anyone would attack that infuriates me.

          7. I agree completely about the human level concern. Trans men and women endure so much and are forced to become so strong and resilient that I can’t stand anyone putting additional burdens or pain in their way. Hopefully Varner learns a lesson from this. The heartening thing for me is that younger generations seem to be more and more accepting of different identities. Even my teenage cousin who posts republican/pro-Trump memes is cool with gay and trans people, so baby steps I guess

          8. I have a solid number of trans* friends and one cousin who is trans*. They are definitely happier now that they’ve transitioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their lives are any easier. If Zeke doesn’t want everyone to know he’s trans*, it makes me like Varner less that he’d think outing him is acceptable.

          1. Yet another good example of why r/survivor sucks.

            Although I must admit to going there after Purple Rock this week, if only to commiserate on the loss of Sandra. Key part of that phrase is of course “after Purple Rock”

          2. In general, there was a lot of support for him in the comments there when it happened. But it shouldn’t have happened.

          3. Hey, not a big deal since it’s not boot order related but maybe something to keep in mind in the future: I chose not to look under the spoiler tag because well, didn’t want the spoilers, but your first reply gave me an idea about what it was about and then this one and the one below confirmed it. So if there’s anything more spoilers, try to use the tags because comments might not be as vague as you think they are. Obviously what you said wouldn’t give anything away to someone who had zero idea, but considering the Internet sometimes people glean a little bit of intel on accident while otherwise trying to avoid spoilers.

          4. No problem, will do, and sorry about that. I’ve just gone back and added spoiler tags to entire posts as well, instead of just portions.

    3. Wait when you say “Jeff,” do you mean Probst or Varner? Both are bad, but somehow I feel like one might be more bad than the other. To reiterate, they are both bad. Outside of violence or abuse, being forcibly outed is one of the most terrible things that can happen to LGBTQ people because it robs us of our agency as individuals. If there’s a good thing in this, it’s that Zeke seems to be doing okay now, though his Twitter presence is basically zilch compared to MvGX. Could be battening down the hatches, a lack of Twitter presence in general, or an aversion to this season.

      The one thing I worry about (SERIOUS MAYBE SPOILER AFTER THIS, I can’t double up on spoiler tags) is if Zeke quits over this. He’s a fan and a player, and he can certainly do very well in this game, which has to be a major dream of his. But between his edit this episode (reintroducing him to the season narrative) and Tony possibly knowing about this incident (which could be explained by Zeke showing up at Ponderosa), I’m worried for Zeke in the sense that this would be a horrible experience for him in every aspect.

      1. Varner, and by all accounts i’ve heard (but don’t quote me on this) both Zeke and Jeff have talked it over and are good with each other now

  18. This week, I’ve sorted my thoughts into positives and negatives:
    [Positive] Aubry got a bit more screen time this week, which I think could be the beginning of a bigger edit and a more full narrative, or maybe not…

    [Negative] Debbie was all over my screen, creeping out Cochran, getting luxuries and rewards, and generally wasting what could have been an amazing and entertaining scene had it been most of the rest of the cast.

    [Positive] Debbie got an extra vote reward, which has never been used effectively, and has resulted in the boot for 2 of 3 people who received it.

    [Negative] In the 3rd of those instances, that player made it to the final as a goat, which could mean a terrible amount of Debbie scream-time. Also, all 3 of the other instances, the tribe was fully aware that player had an advantage, whereas no one knows Debbie has it…

    [Positive] Cochran

    [Negative] The exile island boat twist. Just in general, I’m not a fan. I mean, I guess I get that, in return for losing that time with a team, you get some rewards, but in this case, Debbie lost ‘time with tribe’ and gained ‘immunity, reward, comfort, unprecedented advice from a previous winner, and a reward.’ I’m not going to denounce twists as awful, because they have to be, by there nature, unfair. But this one hit me as being more unbalanced than usual.

    [Positive] Little Cirie time. Here is why: Thus far, with the exception of Debbie, everyone who has gotten big, huge screen time has gotten the boot. Essentially, the case of using the best narrators and characters as much as we can before we lose them. If so, that fact that we barely even heard Cirie in this episode would seem to say that she’s probably safe for a bit?

    [Negative] In order for Cirie to be safe, and thus we get more joy out of seeing her, we have to not see her, and if we do see her, which is what we want, it may instantly mean she is no longer safe.

    [Positive] Zeke got a great edit, and essentially complete credit for voting out Sandra. There are certainly worse people who could have gotten credit, and while I’m mad at him, I wouldn’t mind Zeke doing well going forward.

    [Negative] Jeff Varner was shown saying “I’ve never made the jury.” People saying this kind of thing is usually a kiss of death. Sandra said “This is the first time I haven’t felt confident” in this episode. Caleb said “I’ve never made it past nine days.” I don’t think this bodes well for him, particularly because the preview seemed to suggest his tribe will be back at tribal next week.

    [Positive] Michaela, ultimate BAE, finally won a challenge.

    [Negative] All the above is 100% meaningless, because Sandra got voted out. My heart will never be the same, no will be pick 4 team. The edit even tried to give us hope, but all hope is lost, because the episode boils down to two events: Sandra gets the boot and Debbie gets a boat….

    1. It’s important to note that for those incidents of vote shenanigans, Dan and Stephen were booted in large part due to idol plays. So with Debbie’s advantage, three idols, and the Legacy Advantage all still out there, I’m hoping for a maximum chaos tribal in the coming weeks.

      1. Yeah, that would be great. My main point was, because each tribe knew that Dan, Stephen, and Tai had those advantages, they could at least attempt to plan for them. And in the case of Dan, they knew exactly what the advantage was too.

        But Debbie’s advantage is a 100% secret, only she and Cochran know about it. Thus, the tribes will be completely surprised when she decided to use it, and there is no chance anyone will target her because of it.

        This is, of course, assuming she doesn’t reveal that she has the advantage in an angry, crazed screaming spree/amazing acting performance of genius.

        1. It’s true that a she might not be targeted for having the advantage. But depending on who she uses the vote on, she might not be able to take out her target. She would still have to announce to Jeff that she was using two votes, and that may tip people off to use their idols. I agree though that she has a better expected outcome that the three previous players with a similar advantage.

    2. But didn’t also Michaela got that Varner-type of confessional one and a half week ago in which she said that she hoped to get past that point cause it’s the same challenge where she lost last season and got voted out? It didn’t boil down to anything there, so it may not with Varner.

      1. I don’t remember that, but could have slipped my mind. And it’s possible, particularly cause he didn’t get voted out in that episode. Usually when someone says something like this, if it’s going to go bad it does that episode. So maybe this is really just a good Varner edit, showing us how he could get some sympathy from Zeke and forge a gay alliance *crosses fingers and begins to weep* that carries him to his first jury. I hope so.

    3. About Cirie, I agree much more with the negative than the positive. Okay, her not appearing on the show does mean she is safe in the short term, but if we are not going to see her on the screen, what is the point of her staying on the island anyway?

  19. Aubry Talk: I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but im sure Aubry got a lot of attention. She got the opening confessional this episode. This could mean nothing but I’m cautiously optimistic that this could be the beginning of a long term storyline for her. She also badly needed this swap and could turn this to a real benefit. As for the ongoing lack of camera time, I don’t think this means she can’t win. I will be more worried if it is after merge and it’s still quiet on the Aubry front. Same goes for Andrea.


    2. I am also thinking (hoping) that Aubry’s confessional means she pulls off some awesome moves before her exit.

    3. I mean, this next episode should really be where the season starts putting its cards on the table with most of the players. If some people were hidden due to the show wanting to give Sandra her due respect, then episode 7 will be where the show will begin in earnest for those players.

    4. I think this is basically plausible, but I’m struggling to come up with a solid comparison from a previous season that has happened in just this way. Have there been previous seasons where a player has gotten as quiet an edit as, say, Aubry or Andrea in the entire pre-merge and still won in the end? And I guess similarly, has there ever been a character who dominated the edit and screen time as much as Sandra did in the first handful of episodes only to wind up being a pre-merge boot? I guess Varner in Cambodia is comparable for the second part but I wouldn’t say Jeremy was anywhere near as invisible as Aubry or Andrea. Not saying it’s not possible, just that this particular combo might be unprecedented?

        1. No way. Sandra was shown often as a B Rob supporter in the early portion of the game. She had dialogue, and even a few confessionals. She absolutely was not ignored to this degree.

          1. It’s not 1 to 1 and Sandra probably had more presence in camp life, but she also had 6 straight episodes with no confessionals while Aubry has had an average of 1 per episode and gets a lot of reaction shots compared to other underedited contestants. I have paid less attention to Andrea though so I don’t really know about her. Let me have hope!

          2. Don’t agree. Sandra got a couple of key strategic confessionals early on in HVV, otherwise he visibility is on par with Aubry’s so far. Aubry has not gotten a lot of dialogues but she has been very visible in reaction shots etc. I refuse to believe anyone other than those spoiled had Sandra as a winner contender up until the Rob boot. Her edit took off like a rocket after that boot for sure.

      1. Maybe Heroes vs Villains, which focused heavily on Rob vs Russell before pivoting to Sandra vs Russell and the humiliation of the heroes.

        Sandra was still more present than Andrea and Aubry though.

        1. Sandra got almost no confessionals for quite some time till Rob was there. The most exposure she got was in TC Q&A.

      2. There is not a single example. Michele is the only one that’s even close, but she got a reasonable amount of pointless confessionals in the pre-merge. Andrea may be a bit more on the borderline, but Aubry is invisible.

    5. I have an incredible amount of hope from her learning from Sandra confessional and what it means for her game. Like more than I probably should, but I’m rolling with it

    6. I love Aubry as much as anyone, but I don’t think there’s any way she even makes FTC. The show doesn’t care about her at all. She doesn’t even get pointless Michele confessionals.

      1. I’m with you. When a quiet pre-merge player has won, there have been reasons reasons to tell the early parts of the season’s story with the eventual winner as a background figure. Natalie A and Sandra 2.0 had dominant shields, and the post-merge story was them emerging once those shields had been knocked out. Michele…Michele is boring TV. Her story literally was “and also Michele was there”, from start to finish.

        Aubry is an entertaining player who wasn’t just been denied time, but has been given no STORY despite going to lots of tribal councils. There’s just no reason to edit an Aubry win this way.

        1. I am afraid that Aubry (or Purple Andrea) are going to get rocked or idoled out.

          Yes, I’m cranky about this season… trying to keep my expectations low.

    7. Let’s keep the Aubry hope alive. I think it’s unlikely that she can win, because what an underdog story she has (so similar to last time: every man she aligns with gets taken out of the game!) but they haven’t touched on it until now. As I said earlier, I think the ‘I’m going to learn from Sandra’ is really good content for a story and while it would have been better to hear from her post-swap, I think she can take off on an arc now.

      There’s definitely female winners who have quiet pre-merges (like Natalie A + Michele or Sandra 2.0 as people pointed out) but they both had scenes or confessionals where there was more of an emotional story or sense of what their strategy was – I’d be really surprised if either Aubry or Andrea wins this season, but not writing anybody off (well, probably Debbie!) and I am hopeful that now that the Queen of the Pre-Merge has gone, sob, it’ll be a chance for others to shine.

      But if there’s another scene of Troy + Brad next week instead of Aubry, Michaela and Cirie doing anything together than it might be screaming at CBS time.

      1. But in the three cases you pointed out, we at least knew where they stood. As Andy and John pointed out, we have had two interesting Aubry storylines revealed in the exit interviews that did not make the show. That, right there, is the most damning thing. Aubry is going far but not FTC.

        1. The people she had stories with have been voted out so the show may have thought they were irrelevant to the long term.

          1. Maybe, but I think that would put Sandra in too unfavorable of a light to casual fans since Aubry is so beloved right now. It still might make sense to do that, but I try not to write anyone off completely by the edit (other than Debbie) because I think the editors are willing to switch up their style as shown with Adam Klein.

          2. I feel as though i sit in the middle of your two POVs. Like, i don’t want to believe Aubry or Andrea or even Cirie are just out of the running given how little we have seen. But i’m also so skeptical, mainly because they haven’t presented us with any of the Aubry stories we learned of from exit-interviews. For Malcolm to say he and Aubry were ‘tell each other everything’ tight, and that not even be mentioned by the show is pretty damning. Then again, maybe this is just a new edit or a unique edit. There could be some factor we don’t know that is coloring this, or it could just be that when editors considered all the screen time they had to dedicate, these stories got squeezed out. But then, if you think proportionally of where you would use your edit, the final 4 or FTC would certainly be highly weighted, so to have 2 ‘things aren’t going well for Aubry” stories and not even mention them seems pretty clear that Aubry isn’t getting a good proportion of the edit pie for a reason…

            The facts seem to point that things won’t go great for Aubry, but my heart wishes it wasn’t so…

    8. Have a feeling Aubry’s edit and screen time is gonna pick up now. Her edit so far means she has no shot of winning but she could be still be a big character post merge for some time ala Ciera in Cambodia

  20. I really am blanking on anything great in the pre-merge that didn’t heavily involve Sandra. The best I can come up with is Michaela being upset about being the decoy. I don’t even know if there’s been a great episode (maybe Tony’s boot), because everything not involving Sandra has been dragging it down. I do think it’s been a pretty decent pre-merge because that’s just how enjoyable Sandra has been, but we better see someone else step up in the entertainment value. My new plausible hope for the season is that Zeke fucks things up for everyone else in the most entertaining way possible.

  21. I mean I accidently got spoiled after last weeks ep so I’m not intending on voting anymore

  22. You guys have to remember that the general consensus before the season was that Mana was stacked with talent and all stars while Nuku was the tribe that was more mixed with the lesser tier returnees. However, the way this season with the original Nuku pagonging Mana means that all the great all stars are going home early. This is not helped that Nuku’s two biggest all stars, JT and Cirie, where in danger early on.

  23. Alright, this is for my Drag Race peoples; here are Taako’s Totally Subjective RPDR Power Rankings, this week measured by fairy tale runways, previous rankings, and personality in the werkroom/confessionals.

    1. Nina Bonina Brown (-)
    2. Shea Coulee (+1)
    3. Peppermint (-1)
    4. Valentina (+3)
    5. Alexis Michelle (-1)
    6. Sasha Velour (-2)
    7. Charlie Hides (+1)
    8. Trinity Taylor (+4)
    9. Eureka (+1)
    10. Farrah Moan (-2)
    11. Aja (-2)
    12. Kimora Blac (-3)
    13. Cynthia Lee Fontaine (-1)
    14. Jaymes Mansfield (-)

    I’ll note that due to the weight of previous week’s rankings, Valentina should probably be ranked higher than she is (but that’s reflected in her +/-). God, ten months. TEN MONTHS!

    Other notes:

    I definitely got this week what @sharculese:disqus was saying about Sasha in Week 1. With her princess storyline, she came across as trying too hard to be clever or intelligent. She undoubtedly talented, but I’ll be very disappointed to see her turn into S9 Max.

    Kimora during critiques: It’s so hard being this pretty. I only wish the judges had read her for those comments with her on stage.

    Here some adjectives just for Kimora: ignorant; entitled; clueless; grating; filler.

    And holy shit, Aja won that lip sync before they hit the middle of the first verse. Everything after that: ICONIC

    Also, shoutout to @purplerockjohn:disqus for throwing a “Not Today, Satan” in on the podcast. I think there’s a chance that he was referencing Chance’s tweet following the grammy, but I’m going to take it as a RPDR reference.

    1. Oh also, the lip sync song was Holding Out For A Hero, and I can’t believe I forgot to link to this:

      I highly recommend everyone watch this, even if you’re 100% unfamiliar with drag.

    2. I thought Peppermint deserved the win over Trinity, but it was a battle of inches. Both turned in fully realized looks and fun sidekicks. I can’t complain about most of the decisions this week. I loved Charlie and wished she had been in the top 3 so she could have gotten more praise, but oh well.

      As for the bottom – correct decisions all around. Farrah needed to be called out for half-assing the performance part of the challenge, but I loved her runway and she deserved to be saved for it. Steely Dan looked like shit and Kimora looked like she didn’t give a fuck. I agree that Steely Dan sealed the LSFYL pretty quickly, but I don’t think she had to do a lot. It was clear Kimora doesn’t belong there, they just needed a good reason to cut her.

      1. I think Charlie was a very close third alternate. My opinion on Peppermint’s look changes each time I look at it. I go from loving the body contour (esp. in latex) to thinking that there’s too much going on without being fully realized thematically to loving literally everything above her shoulders.

        Also, “I loved Farrah’s runway and she deserved to be saved for it.” You did? She did?

        1. Yeah, at the end of the day I think Trinity produced the more realized product and that’s how she got the win, but both did a lot of impressive things this week.

          Also, yeah. I see how it’s too busy for some people’s taste, but I thought it was fun, and certainly leaps and bounds over the other members of the bottom 3.

          1. I feel what you’re saying about Farrah, and I agree that she did the best out of the B3. But just because two other students got Fs and somehow ketchup on their tests shouldn’t dismiss the fact that you’re not … um … what’s the word … proficient. If there was ever a time to have three queens lip-sync…

      2. Btw, I think you were right in your initial assessment. I’m starting to worry about the season. The challenges have felt off already. Hrm.

    3. I finally watched episode 2! I still love Nina, and now I’m way higher on Peppermint and Valentina as well. I actually didn’t mind Cynthia that much. Other thoughts: Kimora is a total yawn, and seriously what is wrong with Aja’s face??

    4. Do you and have you watched this weeks Untucked? I wonder if this changed any of your preceptions. It certainly made me like a few more and some less than I would have imagined from the episode itself.

      1. Yes, always, even after they changed the format (btw, some people say they like the new format better, but honestly, didn’t Untucked make S6 great? Some Most of the best moments of the series were in the old Untucked). If I only saw Kimora in Untucked, I’d like her a lot, but there’s still everything we saw in the regular broadcast. Also, she didn’t practice her lip sync, oh at all. Given her age and her personality, I don’t know if it’s likely that she had the song already down. It certainly didn’t look like she knew the lyrics at times on the main stage. If this was her just throwing in the towel, my positive opinions of her change. Aja lashing out was whatever, I don’t know that I’d expect anything else from a first critique. I thought Valentina came across as overconfident in Ep. 1, but I like her positivity in Untucked. Alexis seems bitchier than they let on in normal broadcasts.

  24. A lot of the casting issues come from having one all-returnee season three seasons after another, preventing it from being an actual conglomeration of some of the biggest names from recent seasons plus a few legends, like HvV. Even though I loved Cambodia, I probably wouldn’t have minded if Survivor just went with an HvV sequel-like season. Since I’m currently bored in a hotel room, I figured I’d put together my list of an ideal season 34-ish returnee season, using players from Cambodia and Game Changers:


    *I’m no fan of Savage or Ozzy, but Savage at least proved somewhat fun to mock in Cambodia, and Ozzy is enough of a legitimate Survivor legend that I have no real problem having him back.

    1. Fun list! And interesting question: who do you think wins this hypothetical season? I could totally see the Survivor supernerds teaming up and taking out the muscle early to even the field. I would be all in on a Spencer/ Stephen/ Zeke/ Aubry/ Shirin mega alliance, though at some point they would no doubt turn on each other.

    2. I don’t want to say thus, but i must: I’d have kept Abi-Maria in there. I don’t like Abi, not at all, but she is such Production-bait. High drama, stirs shit up, and makes huge, emotional choices that drive everyone nuts. Basically, she’s good TV. Plus, I would argue Abi is more of a game changer than some of the people on the current season. Not “she decided to change the game and resulted in a new way of playing” but more “she is such a wildcard she changes the game simply by making unexpected moves that both her alliance and her enemies have difficulty predicting” Plus, getting to see how Cirie or Sandra handle Abi would be a treat, imo.

  25. I love that you feel the need to reiterate how much you don’t care about Caleb every single time his name comes up.

  26. Have we talked about Archer at all around here? The premiere was perfectly fine, though I can’t say that I’m excited for “I know what you meant” as a recurring joke.

        1. I’ll admit that it’s not gut-busting laughs every half minute, but I think it’s definitely funny and smart. And it has actual jokes, whereas Venture Bros. has been rendered to complete circle-jerky fan service.

          I also like this question: what are the top tier TV comedies currently in production (or at least between seasons)? In no particular order, I’d say Veep, Broad City, Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rick and Morty, and Review (though technically speaking, Review is over and Curb is back in production). I think Archer falls right outside that zone.

          1. I’ve only seen 99 and Bobs Burgers (because my aunts family is literally I kind you not,them)

          2. Imean thw one or two episodes of Archer I saw reminded me of Austin Powers without the self-awareness or charm, and written by the people who write faimly guy

          3. The Good Place might be up there. Does Nathan For You count? Because I think it’s #1 if it does.

          4. I’d add Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to that top tier. Plus there’s a whole bunch of comedies that aren’t necessarily joke-joke-joke, but I still consider top tier for various other reasons: BoJack Horseman, Louie, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Atlanta, etc.

          5. I love BoJack and Atlanta, and if we make a Dramedy category then they’re 1 and 2. Though simply based on B.A.N., Atlanta probably deserves entry into that top comedy tier. And who am I kidding, Bojack does too.

          6. I didn’t have Netflix until November (yes, I got it just for Gilmore Girls, and then we cut cable so I kept it), but the first things I binge-watched was Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Being a broadway-musical lover, I knew I’d love Crazy Ex Girlfriend (and was told many times) but it was 3/4 through season 1 by the time I caught wind of it, and I wanted to see it from the beginning. GOD it was worth it.

            I know it’s not current, but I just started watching “Breaking Bad”. In general, I get into things WAY after the rest of the world, and hope not to be spoiled too badly (I binged Game of Thrones last fall, but it was hard to avoid the big spoilers there).

          7. I tend to get in late on shows as well, simply because I don’t have a ton of TV time and for the past couple years what time I have has mostly been filled with old Survivor seasons. I’ve heard enough good things about Halt and Catch Fire, Rectify, and The Expanse that they’re all high up in my Netflix/Amazon queues, but with a bunch of my shows starting up again (Archer, Fargo, The Leftovers, Better Call Saul, Orphan Black, plus I’m going to watch Handmaid’s Tale and GLOW from their premieres), I doubt I’ll get to them before summer.

            How great for you to be watching BB for the first time. Season one is fine, but I don’t think the show really hits its stride until the second season. The writers’ strike that cut the first season short was a blessing in disguise.

    1. I need to rewatch it because I was still reeling from the loss of Sandra, but I remember thinking that all of the scenes in Mother’s office were gorgeously drawn.

  27. It’s often said around here that you shouldn’t play the post-merge game, pre-merge. However, that rule kind of goes out the window when you have too many swaps and merges. In that case, everyone just starts playing for the final, one tribe, merge. Even with this casting, I think a lot more of our favorites would be around if they had a merge like HvV, or if they started at 18 and did 3-2-1.

  28. I wish there was more time to talk about things other than Sandra (this does not mean you guys should have talked less about her, I just wish the podcast was an extra 30 minutes). I feel like you guys barely touched on exile.

    Also how good was that secret Brad/Troyzan scene:

    (APOLOGIES I will tone down the arrested development clips for a while now)

          1. Maybe not as much as other shows, but I think there’s a perennial Ann joke for whichever female with an invisible edit is on that season. Also, the comment at the bottom of this comment section.

          2. Oh, did you mean you don’t see it around PRP or you haven’t watched much of the show? I think I misunderstood your comment.

          3. You don’t have to apologize, Barbara. At least, not to me. But to yourself for missing out? Perhaps.

          4. I have seen some of Season 1 and some of Season 3. It is fine. I never need to see the Banana Stand episode again, though (that seemed to be the episode that I always walk in on).

  29. Until the season ends up with Brad dragging along his goats with their billion advantages and idols to an easy win, I’m still holding out hope and I’m still gonna defend the pre-merge episodes despite all the big stars we want to go far getting booted. I think every episode except the Caleb boot was great. Of course it will put a damper on the season if the Brad+goats+advantages alliance prevails but we ‘re not there yet.

    The reason I’m foolishly holding out hope and don’t yet believe the edit arguments that Aubry, Andrea or anyone has 0% chance is the very unbalanced cast thing you guys talked on the podcast. I recently re-watched HvV and the spotlight on the stars tha go pre-merge was nowhere near as big as it is this year. Tom and Cirie didn’t have half the screentime that Malcolm and Tony got in their few episodes in GC. Even Boston Rob who had a “god of survivor, how dare you vote him out?” edit, it was significantly smaller than the spotlight Russell and Parvati got from the start. Of course that’s easily explainable because that cast was filled with stars but that’s my point, this years cast isn’t. The four people that got like 70% of the screentime until now have gone home after 6 episodes. I think this is unprecedent. Maybe that’s the reason we haven’t seen anything from Andrea or Aubry and very little from Zeke. Maybe Brad and co are set up as the mega alliance that will eventually go down in flames. I don’t see GCSDT, Troy or Sarah (if they allign) turning on him, but Debbie and Tai are two people that can easily fuck up Brad’s game without even realizing they ‘re doing it. At least I hope so.

    That said I already made peace with the new and improved Brad winning Survivor. The real nightmare scenario tho is Brad getting booted at final-4 and then the one, the only FFGCSDT wins Survivor.

    1. There would be a certain poetry in this being the season where Sandra definitively proves the haters wrong by losing, and than FFGCSDT wins be ACTUALLY BEING what the haters thought Sandra was.

        1. As someone who has compared the two, I can confirm. (Though I do not consider myself a hater)

          1. Michele is not fit to look at Sandra. Sandra is the best example of what that game looks like. Michele is if Sandra never tried to do anything, had more luck, needed to rely on Immunities, and was incapable of talking.

          2. I think Sandra is a great player and Michele is a decent player. I just think her HvV game has a lot in common with Michele’s game, in that they both had great social game that won them jury votes over the bigger movers and shakers and they were both set to go far regardless of whether the Villains/Aubry alliance or the Heroes/Jason alliance made the endgame while being on the fringes of each alliance.

    2. Gotta disagree with this. Rob got a big edit in HVV. Only person pre-merge who got a bigger one up until his boot was Russell. Parvati got her fair due but it was mostly Rob and Russell show until their battle was decided.

      1. I had the exact same opinion from memory until I re-watched the season for the first time a few weeks ago.

  30. Hi
    I’m a brand new survivor fan and love this podcast. Was wondering tho. Do you think you will do peoples survivor blog again?

    1. There will definitely be more People’s Survivor Blogs. It’s just a matter of me having time, motivation, and good stuff to make fun of.

  31. I want to posit the theory that the reason why we have kinda of reverting back to “old school Survivor” is because of the caliber of who is running the game. These are people who want to take out people who make big splashy moves.

    1. Is that meant as a ciriticism or grudging praise of their “caliber”?

      In the abstract, I feel like “taking out people who make big splashy moves” is a good strategic approach, if you can rally a bunch of dull plodders around that idea and aren’t yourself splashy.

      Of course the problem is that it’s bad for the audience.

        1. I can understand the idea of “maybe there is a hidden star here” which was basically central to Cambodia. Can’t fault them for trying to find the next big name, but i’d revert back to the ‘all or nothing’ argument. If the idea is to try to find some hidden gems form your past casts, that should be the theme, and leave Sandra/Tony/Cirie/Ozzy out of it.

          If there goal was legit something like “hopefully all these duds will rule the game” i’d be a bit more confused. Like, what does the show have to gain from that? What goal does that accomplish for them as a franchise moving forward, and why bother bringing back fan favorites if your aim was to show the real skill of some less popular people.

          1. I’ve already started thinking through this (end of a Monday, what can I say) and it what if what we are getting is sort of, the mutant baby of two different attempted themes? Like, let’s say they start casting for two different seasons. Season A is more all-star. ala the Winners vs. Jury vs. Pre-Merge that Barbara mentioned. But they also had Season B, which is kinda like another go of Second Chances, maybe even it’s Second Chances 2. But casting isn’t very successful at either, so they mesh them and come up with a new concept to match. In this case, the All-stars of Season A could be like the frosting for a second chances ‘look at these duds succeed’ kinda season.

            I mean, this probably isn’t true, but it’s an interesting though, which i’m all about…

          2. You could also postulate that they threw in the duds as fodder to help the stars shine, but everything went horribly wrong and they took charge.

          3. Yeah, but as Andy noted, if you have enough Duds that they can form an entire team, than you have a problem. Them taking over the game is one thing, but the hope is that them doing so is the result of a new outlook on the game or a newly revealed set of skills which proves they weren’t duds after all.

            Personally, I think we have more of a ‘duds inherit the earth’ kinda deal. Everyone can see the logic in removing big threats, so that’s an easy rallying cry. There aren’t enough huge names to make people think twice that they might be next, so that works, but it isn’t the duds rising up, its more just them keeping their heads down. Then, big threats are gone and the cast left is over half people most of us were scratching our heads about 3 months ago. Your narrative becomes ‘leader of the duds rises up to win it’ but it is not ‘unexpected star shows their survivor chops’

            That being said, I still think we could have a lot of surprises down the road. I’m not convinced this season is hopeless and I’m also not convinced that we won’t see some excellent game play.

          4. I don’t disagree that they added too many D-list players.
            The thing about the big threats though, they had to lose the challenge to end up at tribal.

          5. And I also don’t disagree. That I think is another issue, if you made a list of all the top challenge players, the majority are on original Nuku, while the
            majority of our favorite players were on Mana. So whether chosen or luck of the draw, challenge players kept sending favorite players to tribal, and no matter the “vote early, vote often” mantra, there is only so far that can go. 4 (maybe 5, depending) favorites in 6 votes, including all previous winners, that’s a rough start.

          6. This has been a large problem in recent returnee seasons. Both Cambodia and Game Changers had the largely fan favorite tribe of Ta Keo in Green and the super challenge team of Bayon in Magenta. Sure, they tried to balance it by giving Ta Keo Terry and Wiglesworth, but they also had more of the challenge duds than Bayon did.

            Production even tried to do this with Heroes vs. Villains. Look how stacked the Heroes are in regards to strength and puzzle ability, then look at the Villains. The problem was that Production forgot how good Boston Rob was with puzzles, especially aided by decent at puzzles Sandra.

          7. They definately didn’t have enough stars who wanted to come back because they ended up with a cast that less than half would qualify for a real all-star season. I also think they didn’t have enough memorable non-winners from recent seasons because Cambodia got too many of them a year ago. And I doubt if they were aiming at a season similar to Second Chances they would pass up the opportunity to engage the fanbase in voting.

            The most logical explanation is they asked around and when they had Sandra, Ozzy, Tony, Malcolm, Cirie and JT worked backwards from there and filled the cast with whoever they could find from the last 5 years. It is pretty telling that the only people in the cast that have more than 10 seasons between GC and their last appearance on the show are all big stars. There’s no Kimmy or Terry this season.

          8. THAT makes soooo much more sense! But I do think there is something to be said that Production was probably hoping a dud or two would rise up, they just got a lot more rising up then they were expecting, and it wasn’t an exciting ‘player turns out to be great’

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