Time for the next edition of Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette, where the authors of this site are randomly assigned contestants from the upcoming season of Survivor: Game Changers and must give an honest assessment of what to expect from them. Next up: Sarah Lacina.
Editor’s note: Since six entries didn’t feel like enough for this series, we invited some more regular contributors to the site and put them through the randomizer. Black Dynamite drew a loaded chamber.
When I was asked to take part in Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette, I was full of excitement. I could have a platform to praise and boost up entertaining personalities and innovators of the game. Even better, I could completely attack and destroy the major douchebags *cough Troy cough* and subpar players of the game (Editor’s note: *cough Troy cough*). The possibilities were endless!
I was then informed that I have received Sarah Lacina and drew a blank (Editor’s note: Not a blank. A live round). In Cagayan, she never popped on camera but received enough time on screen that I felt that I couldn’t just wildly speculate and make up shit like I could with Fan Favorite Sierra Dawn Thomas. At first, I thought Sarah held the distinction of being the bland person in Cagayan not named Jefra. Then I began to think about Sarah for this piece and strangely became more enamored of her. I think buried deep- ridiculously deep- we have the prospect of an intriguing character that has a chance to be prominently visible in a season of big names and Hali.
Sarah immediately hit the beach in Cagayan and had the label of “leader” foisted upon her, one of Survivor’s more annoying gimmicks. With Sarah though, the distinction felt natural and she seemed to embrace the role. Sarah is a good person to have in camp to make sure the tasks of building shelter, gathering supplies and other mundane camp stuff get done so there is more time for spy shacks, climbing things and talking about basketball careers. This is an often overlooked aspect, but it is valuable and can help keep players around. Sarah was really the prototypical “Brawn” player with her strong camp work and solid to great performances in challenges. With Sarah on your side, the physical portions of Survivor are a little bit easier for the tribe.
Sarah’s most memorable moment on Cagayan was her quickly figuring out her Brawn tribemate, Tony, was a fellow police officer. While Tony was less than forthcoming about his cop status, Sarah was confident and persistent that Tony was actually who she thought he was. This came off as an impressive case of superb observational skills that Sarah seemed to be equipped with. Her strength and intuition made Sarah feel like a contender to make it far, and a player not to be messed with. But sometimes one impressive feat is not a harbinger of things to come.
Decision-maker is a role that Sarah experienced, or thought she did, often in Cagayan. A swap put her in a position of being the lone Brawn member in a tribe surrounded by Brains and Beauty. This is the story of my high school life, only without the brawny part. She navigated that situation well enough, but always had aspirations of getting back together with her Brawn family. Then came “Top Five, Baby” and the first occurrence of Utterly Confused Sarah Face.
Her wonderful facial expressions is one compliment I can actually give her throughout the entire game. Sarah realized that the road to riches did not involve sticking together with Tony (if only Woo knew this) and that swearing on a badge or supposed dead family member are just words and hold no actual weight/value in Survivor. Sarah needed to find a new path, preferably one not filled with chaos.
The merge saw Sarah placed in a familiar position in Survivor, the swing vote. The swing vote is difficult role to do well. You could come across as the betrayer in people’s minds, or you could become too big of a threat as you are now are perceived to be an impact player. Sometimes the swing voter gets power hungry and flaunts the position to the point where others get annoyed and just decide to cut their losses immediately and get rid of the swing voter. What does Sarah do in this position? She gives a confessional where she refers to herself as “the President.” This will end well for her.
Her game starts going to hell after a conversation in which Kass- not really known for subtlety or leaving things unsaid- reveals that she is suspicious of Sarah. This rubs Sarah the wrong way. But Sarah is smart enough to not side with the people who have a top five that doesn’t involve her, so she plans to stay on Kass’ side. Sarah also stubbornly demands they target LJ or Tony, as those two are threats and Jefra is not. She eventually agrees to the Jefra plan, but it’s too late- Kass has switched sides. And not only does she clip Sarah, but she does the swing vote better than her in an all-time great tribal council that saw both of Sarah’s targets play idols for each other.
Sarah’s time in Cagayan showed that she had tools that could work for her in the game. She has the strength, she can be observant, and she is open to making the right strategic decision. She needs to improve on the social aspects of the game. Being able to handle all the egos and chaos around her is vital for her to have a long journey.
Sarah finds a way to plant in the background and remains valuable in the team phase, as the bigger names all target each other quickly and she floats along to the merge. Once there, her strength and analytical skills shine. Add in an improved social game, and Sarah becomes the Game Changers version of Kelley Wentworth. Maybe she even pulls out the surprise win.
She clashes with a tribemate that has the numbers, and suddenly her challenge skills are actually threatening, leading to an early boot. Or perhaps she is betrayed by someone who swore on a coconut or something that they would stick together, and she gets booted early. Or perhaps she is the easy swap boot for people that don’t really have a read on what she can offer. I don’t know what it says about me that the worst case scenarios are so much more fun to speculate about. (Editor’s note: The assignment was worst case scenario. Singular.)
Most likely scenario
I think Sarah can improve from Cagayan and will make it further this time around. She’ll stick around for a while due to her physical value and find the right alliance to play with. Eventually, people will have an “Oh shit, Sarah is playing hard” epiphany and she will be voted out post-merge.
Favorite Seasons: Heroes vs Villains, Palau, Philippines, Cagayan, Pearl Islands
Favorite Players: Cirie Fields, Parvati Shallow, Stephen Fishbach, Natalie Anderson, Earl Cole, Jerri Manthey