Survivor Fan Friction – Sophie Clarke

We’re keeping Fan Friction going, our series of essays where one of our columnists writes an ode to one of their favorite Survivor players while defending them against any potential naysayers (both real and imagined). The series has proven so popular that it’s drawn a lurker out of hiding to sing the praises of Sophie Clarke.

Why She’s Great

You’d be hard-pressed to find a winner who polarizes the Survivor fan community more than Sophie Clarke. To many casual fans, she’s one of the worst winners ever. But to me, and to many others, she’s a freakin’ badass, and her win (almost) redeemed a pretty lackluster season.

From the beginning, Sophie had a firm grip on the game. She was a part of a Day One alliance with four men, and instead of riding coattails, as women in male-dominated alliances are often accused of, she was the strategic mastermind that kept the alliance together throughout the whole game. When they wanted to make “big moves” for the sake of it, she shut them down. She wasn’t about to let anyone mess up her plans, least of all friggin’ Cochran.

One of her best strategic moves was convincing Coach to get rid of Brandon, who, believe it or not, was well-liked by the others. She also pointed out that, at Redemption Island, all the jurors would be influenced by their stay at “Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome”, which…is not what it sounds like.

Pictured: Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome

Sophie was also a surprising powerhouse at challenges when she needed to be. In fact, she was the immunity beast of her season, with three wins overall. Sure, Ozzy was on Redemption for most of that time, but look what happened when he came back – she beat him in the Final Four challenge and took him out of the game for good. Not only that, but she was the first Survivor contestant to win two immunities in one day.

But it was at Final Tribal where Sophie shone the brightest. She called out Survivor’s sexism, she undermined Coach’s massive ego (by basically calling him Natalie Tenerelli), and she gave the jury the honest answers they wanted. Her performance rivals Todd Herzog’s as one of the best Final Tribal Council performances of all time.

You know, I HAVE heard him referred to as a little man.

Finally, despite her slight edit, Sophie was entertaining to watch. She was blunt and sharp-tongued and didn’t suffer any fools. There’s a reason her nickname among many Survivor fans is Sophierce.

See, Sophie tells it like it is. She doesn’t care about your fragile ego. If your strategy is bad, or if your acting is unbelievable, Sophie will let you know in no uncertain terms. Even Probst found himself on the receiving end of Sophie’s candor. Probst: “This has been a bit of an eye-opening tribal, hasn’t it?” Sophie: “No.” Jeff, you are dismissed.

Sophie also does not care about your cross-promotion. If you’re going to “reward” her by making her watch a terrible movie, she will not even crack a smile. She will instead give a picture-perfect unimpressed face shot that is funnier that the entirety of Jack & Jill.

Sophie is us.

Sophie Clarke was a diamond in the rough that was South Pacific, and a way more deserving winner than many believe her to be.

Haters Gonna Hate

She’s “Condescending”

That’s what Whitney called Sophie at Final Tribal. We all know what this means, yes? It means she’s a bitch. Is Sophie a bitch? You bet your stack of wooden cards she is. She’s a badass bitch and she is not here to play.

Here’s the thing. Your reaction to Sophie probably depends on how you view assertive, outspoken women. Society tells us that women are supposed to be nice, which sets women up to fail no matter what: if you’re a “nice” woman, you get steamrolled; if you’re a “bitch”, you get punished. You see this play out on Survivor all the time: assertive, outspoken women rarely make the merge, and even more rarely go on to win. The South Pacific jury, however, respected Sophie because her blunt honesty was refreshing next to Albert’s obsequiousness and Coach’s…Coachiness. Sophie winning not just in spite of her assertiveness but maybe even because of it should make her a feminist icon, at least in the Survivor fandom.

Sure, Sophie is “condescending,” but she comes by it honestly. She probably is smarter than you, and if you can’t handle it, that’s your problem. As sheetcake-eating problematic fave Tina Fey once famously said, “Bitch is the new black.”

“Coach Should Have Won”

Well, he didn’t, so there.

Okay, fine. Coach was the one primarily responsible for flipping Cochran to get that post-merge majority, so you could argue that this is an important enough move to give him the win. But Coach tanked his own game by 1) being Coach, and 2) rubbing the jury the wrong way with his blatant hypocrisy over “honor”. Using religion to manipulate others really rubbed devout jurors like Dawn and Brandon the wrong way; using “God’s will” as an excuse to betray Brandon was a particularly bad look. Anyone who’s been on the jury twice before should have a good idea of how to manage one. And his Final Tribal performance couldn’t hold a candle to Sophie’s. Frankly, I think a lot of fans who think Coach was robbed probably just like Coach better than Sophie as a TV personality, and I’m not sure I have anything to say to those people.

She Cried at Tribal That One Time

Yeah, that was rough. After Ozzy attacked Sophie for her poor social game, Sophie did what anyone who’s spent 37 days stuck on a beach with Coach and Brandon might do: she broke down and cried. At first, it seemed like it might be the moment that would undo her game. Ultimately, though, and Sophie herself has said this, it ended up helping her game by humanizing her to the jury. Just watch Dawn tear up in sympathy for her. Not that it takes a lot for Dawn to get emotional.

Here’s another time she cried.

She Made the Season Boring

Was South Pacific boring, or was it just pretty unpleasant to watch? I mean, there is no doubt that South Pacific is a bottom-tier season. It was a season built off of two returnees with, shall we say, limited charisma, and they were given most of the airtime, which means everyone else either got under-edited or they were casting duds. South Pacific also features bullying, creepiness, misogyny, religion being used as a weapon, terrible strategy, and some truly stomach-churning challenges. To me, it was often more appalling than boring. Either way, none of that was Sophie’s fault.

Here’s what was arguably her fault: she was the brains behind her alliance, and not only did she not make big moves, she kept big moves from happening. Sophie is the anti-Ciera, if you will. No, watching a dominant five-person alliance bulldoze its way to the end of the game isn’t as fun as watching Tony create chaos from week to week, but who could have pulled that off and win besides Tony? Sophie played the hand she was dealt, and really, what should she have done differently? I mean, if you had a Day One five-person alliance, would you give it up for a more interesting story arc?

Embrace Debate

Love her or hate her, Sophie is one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dreadful season. She established a new female Survivor archetype beyond “bikini model”, “mom”, “alternative chick”, and “woman of color who’s probably not making it to the merge”. Arguably, popular nerdy-girl players like Aubry Bracco and Hannah Shapiro, and the viewers who love them, owe at least a partial debt to Sophie. Just imagine if Sophie had answered her phone when Natalie Anderson dropped out of Game Changers. We could have had her and Aubry on the same season. The sheer amount of nerd-girl sarcasm might have caused the universe to implode.

Let’s hope the next time Sophie gets a call to come back to Survivor, she answers the phone. I think she could give today’s big-moves-obsessed players a run for their money. Now DROP YOUR STACK AND PICK UP HER PIECES, ALBERT.

 

Dubious Rob
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Dubious Rob

Dubious Rob saw Borneo and Australia along with the rest of America, but drifted away from Survivor until Guatemala pulled him back in. He’s been a frequent lurker on Purple Rock for a while but only started commenting recently.
Favorite Seasons: Cook Islands, Guatemala, Millennials vs. Gen X, China, Heroes vs. Villains, Cambodia
Favorite Players: Sophie, David W, Rafe, Cydney, Cirie, Andrea, Denise S, Fishbach, Adam K, Yul
Dubious Rob
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Latest posts by Dubious Rob (see all)

  • indescribable hat

    I loooooooove Sophie. This makes me so happy.

  • BadPlayer91

    Ooooooo, a lurker post. Intrigue!

    From the small parts I read, this looks like a great post. However, I tried not to read everything, because I haven’t seen South Pacific yet. I’ve been spoiled on Sophie’s win for a long time, but I’ve been trying to avoid too many details for the seasons I haven’t seen, as I want to keep something unknown for when I watch it, particularly when I already know the winner. Once I’ve watched South Pacific, i’ll probably come back and read up and then appropriately @ you in case I have to rage….

    Tangent: Still slogging through All-Stars. Adding TAR watch-along to my list has slowed that down, plus as we approach the new season (1 month yo) I want to take a bit of a Survivor break to get ready. By which I mean, beginning my trek through Game of Thrones, lol

    • Maritimer

      Once you start GOT, we’ll see you in two days when you’re finished binging the whole thing

      • BadPlayer91

        idk, i’ve seen a few episodes and it didn’t fully consume me. I’ve read the books, which I think really made viewing the show weird for me. When I finally finished the books, I had no desired to watch the show, because I didn’t want to go back and relive all the terrible things, particularly given almost nothing good ever happens in the books. If I binge, it will be more out of desire to catch up to the non-book seasons, rather than an interest in what’s next going to happen next. I’m also semi-spoiled on some big things. ICE DRAGON

        • Maritimer

          That’s fair. I’ve watched it all live, and read the books, so I don’t know how binge-able it is. But I know my friends who started late binged it seriously fast. Having read the books certainly changes things though

          • BadPlayer91

            Yeah, that makes sense. If anything, i just want to binge some of the more awful things to get them out of the way. But I am excited to see how they bring to life a lot of things!

          • Taako From Teevhii

            It is extremely binge-able. I didn’t watch the first four seasons live, so I tried to catch up when the fifth season aired. Within a few episodes, I was doing a full season per day.

          • prettyboyprobst

            It’s very binge-able and I believe it’s hard not to binge through the seasons once you start. German basic cable TV used to show an entire season on a single weekend and I think that’s still how they do their premieres (months after the fact, pay-tv is in lockstep with the US airings). That’s how I watched the first one or two seasons.
            But I always try to keep people who ask me from binging too fast, especially a few seasons in. Now there is so much happening in a single episode with all the plotting, deceptions and characters on collision courses that I think it would be a shame and wasteful to just go through these one after the other. Give it room to breathe, speculate, read, listen to a podcast etc. is always my advice, but of course nobody listens. I’m not sure I could keep myself from binging if I had a stack of unseen GoT-seasons before me.

        • sharculese

          I read as many of the books as were out when I was a junior in high school, which was holy shit almost 15 years ago at this point. By the time the show came out I had lost my ability to care and didn’t want to re-engage.

          • BadPlayer91

            lol, that’s fair. From what i’ve heard, the shows are more rewarding. In like 5,000+ pages of book, almost nothing rewarding ever happens. The characters you like just get shit on endlessly. Supposedly the final books (whenever if ever that happens) will be more enjoyable, mainly because he can’t make things anymore awful and depressing.

    • Super duper fan

      I want to watch GoT in the future, but I think I will read the books first, and after I will watch all the seasons of BB and TAR.

      • BadPlayer91

        I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but it is quiet a task. They are long, and he starts with like 10 POV characters, and it’s roughly 30 by the end of the last book. It is so many that the 5th and 6th books are the same timeline, each 1,000 page book being one half of the characters during that time. Also, as noted below, it isn’t conducive to watching the show (unless maybe done together). By the end of reading, I had no desire to go back and relive a lot of the terrible things, knowing it would be awhile before anything even remotely enjoyable would happen, lol.

      • Maritimer

        As BadPlayer91 alludes to below, this is possibly the one and only time where I would say screw the books, just watch the show. I had read the first 5, but now that the show past the books, I don’t expect I will go back to the books when (if?) GRRM ever gets around to publishing them

        • BadPlayer91

          I’ll definitely end up reading the last ones when (if?) he publishes them. I think they will determine how I feel about everything in general. If he does it right, it could be an epic and satisfying conclusion that really puts this in with the best fantasy novels. But if not, he could end up with 1,000s of excess pages to tell a story that is just depressing in the end.

          • Maritimer

            I feel like knowing the ending will keep me from getting through the last two books, which I expect will be long and all over the place. As someone who put up with the whole Wheel of Time series, I’m not sure I want to do it again (even though the WoT ending was really good once Brandon Sanderson took over)

          • BadPlayer91

            Yeah. Given I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the pace of the show with only a season left, I’m thinking it might at least give a bit more background and info that the show will be missing.

          • Diego Armando

            Honestly, I feel the opposite, since these last three seasons felt fairly haphazard in regards to plotting and story arcs. I really want to see how these things play out as intended.

          • BadPlayer91

            I agree, to the degree possible by not having actually seen all the show. It will be very interesting because what he writes for the last 2 will probably be greatly affected (even if he won’t admit it) by the show. I hope he stays true to his original intent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some things have greatly changed since he’s seen how they would play out in a live-action since.

          • Maritimer

            That’s fair. If the show didn’t exist, I’d read, but I feel like knowing the ending won’t make the journey worth it

        • Super duper fan

          I appreciate the advice! I’ll think about whether I’ll begin with the show or books, but I won’t jump on the bandwagon most likely for a long time, because I will most likely finish BB and TAR in the next year. But if I feel that I need a break, I will do so by reading or watching GoT.

  • Blurry Denzel

    Yes!!! Badass Sophie is a Survivor hero of mine. I feel that let she played a perfect game for her season. She became Coach’s closest ally while he played cult leader. She also kept Albert in line (let her fucking finish talking, Albert) and best Ozzy at his own game. I admire her ability to deal with all the shit and stay the course. Plus, she is absolute favorite RHAP guest. A super intelligent mind for the game.

    • Kemper Boyd

      I think this is what’s important about Sophie. She plays the only game that wins her that season. She was at a huge disadvantage being 22 and female going in to a cast that was older than you see these days.

  • Blurry Denzel

    I mention this in the past but if there was ever an All Winners season, I put my money on Badass Sophie. Denise and Earl are also top contenders.

    • Dubious Rob

      I absolutely agree. She wouldn’t have big target on her back like Tony, Kim, or J.T. But she also wouldn’t feel like she had to prove something by making big moves early on, like maybe Michele would, and draw unnecessary attention to herself. Denise and Earl, same thing. Another one who I bet would do surprisingly well the second time around is Natalie White.

      • Taako From Teevhii

        As if Probst would let Michele and Natalie back on his program. Though seriously, Sophie would be a great contender on All-Winners because she cold genuinely play under the radar without people perceiving her as that. Someone like Cirie (I know she didn’t win, so you could use Cochran for this example, bu it works best with Cirie) has a persona and playing style that is infamously under the radar, to the point that everyone knows it and blows up her spot. People just seem to forget about SoPa a lot, and Sophie would absolutely take advantage of that.

        • BadPlayer91

          I could see Probst letting Michele play again, if only with the hope she gets walked all over and thus proves him (and a lot of others) right that she wasn’t very good at the game. That being said, I have NO idea how other winners would view her in an all-winners season. Could she be an early “she doesn’t deserve to be here” boot or would people try to just use her as a number and go after bigger targets? It makes me worried she could skate by and make it to FTC similar to how she did in KR. But I would assume someone better at the under the radar game would move on her earlier given that potential. Also, it seems a lot of returnee season FTCs are marred by a great deal of bitterness, and bitterness and a friendly smile was a large part of how she walked away with a million in the first place. However, I would hope an all-winners FTC would reward the best game, and she’s not likely to get a million for that unless she returns as a drastically different player…

          ANYWAYS….

          • the sky is falling

            I don’t think there was a winner in Kaoh Rong, Why would they bring back Michelle?

      • Kemper Boyd

        I just commented about Natalie White before reading your reply, she would have a good shot to get deep. I think Cochran would be gone so early because he’s too big a star to keep around to eat the air time.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        Natalie White generally doesn’t get enough credit. Like Sophie, she found basically the only path to victory available to her in her season and stuck resolutely to that path. However, I think that if you dropped them into a different season (i.e., Game Changers; Sophie, answer your damn phone!) or the all-winner season, Sophie would be more adaptable than Natalie W. (Natalie would at a minimum go deep as a number, though)

    • Kemper Boyd

      In an All Winners season one of the smarter players who sits back will be a good bet. Denise, Sophie, Danni Boatwright hell Natalie White would definitely get far.

      • Hornacek

        In that season, who is targeting Natalie White?

        • Kemper Boyd

          Exactly.

  • Super duper fan

    Great article, and I hope you will stick with us here in the comment section, with us crazy people!

    Sophie is great, and I’m glad that she gets the credit she deserves in the super-fan community finally. She played a great game in SP, and is very entertaining, and is way smarter than most of us can ever dream to be. I hope she will come back, hopefully in the legendary “winners’ season”. The only opinion that I have a bit different, is that I’m actually a fan of South Pacific. It’s not in my top half, but I was really intrigued by the “darkness” it had, and it is one of the better seasons which shows the “social experiment” of Survivor, alongside seasons like Palau. But to be fair, if it didn’t end up with a Sophie win, or it had more of the dark side of Survivor, I would almost definetely like it much less. But still, it was a great post, plus everyone who has Adam as one of his favourites is good in my book ;).

    • Maritimer

      I thought I liked SoPa but I tried to rewatch it a little while ago, then Ozzy and Coach both talked and I had to quit. I just couldn’t do it

      • Super duper fan

        Completely fair. Like I said, if Sophie didn’t beat them, I wouldn’t probablt be that high about SP. But for me they were fun to “love to hate” (and I would even argue that SP Ozzy is the best Ozzy, but that’s just me).

        • Diego Armando

          I like Sophie, but she isn’t enough to salvage a season. Even Rob couldn’t save Redemption Island and that season had nowhere near problems SP had.

          I think everyone has their own criteria for love to hate/hate to hate villains.

        • Maritimer

          If they weren’t shoved down our throats, I could have done it. But they are and I couldn’t. I may take another stab

    • Dubious Rob

      Thanks for the compliment! I’ve been keeping my Survivor love hidden under a bushel, and it’s time to let it shine. 🙂

      Adam was really interesting to watch. I called him as the winner after the first episode (I couldn’t tell you why, I just had a feeling about it). So I was invested in watching him scramble, tank his own game, and climb back up again, and that’s without the personal story. I bet Adam would be a total wild card on a winners’ season.

  • Maritimer

    Sophie is amazing. Can you imagine GC if she had answered the phone and then teamed up with Cirie, along with Aubry (as you say), Andrea and Michaela? Because she would have, and it would have been much more fun than the Sierra alliance of nobodies. She could easily have been the second two time winner (and still could be!)

    Her defeating Coach at FTC after taking down Ozzy in the FIC is possibly the most satisfying arc SoPa could have had. I also think its remiss to fail to note the role that Sophie (and Brandon and maybe Albert?) played in swinging Cochran. Coach may have been the driver, but they put the social work in to make him feel comfortable

    • Super duper fan

      Her FTC performance was amazing. One of the all-time best along with Todd, Chris, JT, Sandra and Kristie.

    • Dubious Rob

      This is a great point – it wasn’t just Coach that flipped Cochran, it was a team effort. And after that, Coach kinda coasted for a while to the endgame.

      Also, a Sophie/Cirie/Aubry/Andrea/Michaela alliance would be AMAZING. Could you imagine the wreckage of alpha-male egos left in their wake?

      • Hornacek

        The others probably helped, but I think Coach-chi and wearing Coach’s jacket had a lot to do with getting Cochran, a superfan, to flip.

        • DrVanNostrand

          That just lowers my opinion of Cochran.

          • Hornacek

            For a superfan super-duper-fan like Cochran, I don’t blame him for geeking out on not just meeting Coach, but getting to hang out and play with him

      • Maritimer

        He coasted, while Sophie had to play constantly to keep herself in the game.

        The alpha-male egos of Culpepper, Troy, and Ozzy in particular. It would have been spectacular

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        Does Sophie know Zeke and/or Andrea outside of the game? If so, that would be the more natural core alliance on Nuku until it all went sideways (and as you said, it would be way more fun than FFSTD’s alliance).

        • Maritimer

          I feel like she’s an occasional part of that New York Survivors club, so maybe

          • Taako From Teevhii

            They all played Survivor: Brooklyn together. Whenever people mention that in the context of Zeke and Andrea, Sophie was there too.

        • Max_Jets

          What others said, and I think Sophie and Andrea are pals to a degree too. They had good friend chemistry on Survivor Brooklyn and I think I’ve seen them tweet each other.

  • Hornacek

    “Brandon, who, believe it or not, was well-liked by the others.”
    Once again, my favorite South Pacific post-season anecdote (it’s a very short list). Many SP jury members that have appeared on RHAP have told Rob that if Brandon had made it to the finals, he would have easily won. Each time it happens Rob is confused and flummoxed.

    “There’s a reason her nickname among many Survivor fans is Sophierce.”
    Is this a thing? I’m not for or against this, but it’s the first time I’ver ever heard this.

    “a picture-perfect unimpressed face shot that is funnier that the entirety of Jack & Jill.”
    When I saw Sophie’s reactions watching J&J, that’s when I realized she was the audience surrogate. Also, her eye-rolling reactions to the religious talk and praying to find the idol.

    “Coach Should Have Won”
    I started that season dreading having to see Coach again. But he won me over as the season went on by how he played the game. The religious stuff bothered me, but he was (appeared to be) controlling that season. Then he got to the end and and talked about honor and lost me (and the game). For a long time I thought that Coach lost the game there and Sophie won by default. But over the years I’ve come around to agree that Sophie won on her own and deservedly so (although I still think that if Coach had owned his game at FTC, he probably would have won).

    “Haters Gonna Hate”
    You left out one of her most egregious sins: she lost Reality Gamemasters!

    • Dubious Rob

      I probably overstated how often “Sophierce” is used, but I’ve definitely seen it from time to time.

    • Max_Jets

      Sophierce is definitely a thing. I know I’ve used it before and I think it shows up on Sucks a lot.

    • DrVanNostrand

      I could never, at any point, take Coach seriously in that season. Maybe I just knew too much about what an absurdly silly person he is. Sophie was seriously the only rooting interest I had, and she was vastly under-served in the edit.

      • Hornacek

        After the first 5 minutes of the first episode, I was convinced Coach would be gone in a few episodes, if not that same episode. The fact that he not only survived but formed a majority alliance on his tribe in that episode impressed me.

  • Hornacek

    God, Rick look so happy in that picture. Where was that guy the rest of the season?

    • the sky is falling

      What they were hoping for w Rick was finally realized with the incomparable Keith Nale

      • Hornacek

        That was Rick’s problem – he didn’t keep burping!

    • DrVanNostrand

      I’m pretty sure there was no ‘Rick’ in that season.

      • Hornacek

        I got a chuckle reading the episode description of the recent RHAPCON in Seattle. Not only is Rick there (can’t wait to listen to it and hear Rick reminisce!) but everyone is listed by their Twitter handles … except Rick.

  • Hornacek

    First time I’ve seen Guatemala listed as a season that got someone back into Survivor.

    • Dubious Rob

      Honestly, I think it was Rafe’s storyline that really kept me hooked. After his disastrous performance in the first challenge, I thought he’d be toast. Instead, he outmaneuvered the alpha males and turned golden girl Stephenie into his personal goat. And somehow, he was both a gentle, kind soul and a cutthroat strategist at the same time. Man, I’d love to watch Rafe play again.

    • Taako From Teevhii

      Also the first time I’ve seen someone clarify which Denise was their favorite.

    • Diego Armando

      Guatemala is good. Why is it the season the show wants to forget?

      • Hornacek

        There’s a reason it’s the only season without a (new) player to ever return.

        • DrVanNostrand

          Fucking nonsense. Judd has been snubbed!

          • Hornacek

            Some talk in the RHAP Second Chance campaign discussions about how Judd deserved a second chance. Although I think it may be that they just want one person from that season to return.

          • corndogshuffle

            Judd isn’t the player I would pick, but I so want Guatemala to have a returning player. Rafe or Danni could be fun to have back.

          • Hornacek

            Bring back Gary Hogeboom Hawkins!

          • corndogshuffle

            If Probst doesn’t bring back Gary I will beat him down!!

          • Hornacek

            Probst said that plans to bring back Gary were totally, absolutely on the ground.

  • Diego Armando

    I brought her up in my Zeke article, so I will give my complete thoughts on Sophie here: Sophie is a player I respect a lot. I think she would do really well in an All Stars season. I can easily identify with her. I also think she did everything she needed to do to win. Unfortunately, that was preventing anyone from altering the day 1 final three plan. She is proof that great strategy yields great tv.

    Honestly, my issue is mostly with the season as a whole. Every problem Rob listed was true: Coach and Ozzy were at their most insufferable and had no reason to be there, the new cast was awful, Redemption Island nearly broke the season, the religion stuff was unsettlingly weaponized, bullying was everywhere, and the gameplay was basic Pagonging.

    Great article and glad to have you. Feel free to comment here.

    • Dubious Rob

      Thank you! I think the producers really dropped the ball by going all-in on Redemption Island. No tribal shuffles, almost no individual reward challenges, really nothing to mix up the dynamics and keep a full Pagonging from happening. I bet almost any combination of players would have produced a similar result.

      • the sky is falling

        Redemption island is a bad twist. I’ve said it a million times, it would only work if you came back immediately after winning, and duels end after merge

        • Taako From Teevhii

          I’m confused by that. There’s two ways that would work. Either the winner immediately goes back in while the loser has to wait for another challenger at Redemption Island. But then you’re stuck at 20 as no one is ever truly eliminated. Or duels are happening every other challenge (after one person is eliminated and the other is resurrected), which seems like a bad proposition because you might encouraging a tribe (let’s say, one with someone like Ozzy) to throw every other challenge as a way of putting a closer out there to eliminate the other tribe’s tribute.

          • the sky is falling

            No the loser goes home, winner has immunity For next vote
            In short, the twist mostly sucks because the end of show moves to the middle.
            but RI should def end before merge

          • Taako From Teevhii

            Still losing me at how that can happen and have a duel every episode, but I agree that RI should be something that disappears before the merge. At the very least, it should be before F6, but that’s such a minor distinction that it might as well go away before the merge.

          • the sky is falling

            My idea was duel every other episode, which would allow for reward challenges. It more bothered me because first edition of RI was obviously just shenanigans to give Russell or Rob extra chance to stay in game.

          • sharculese

            So you’re talking about someone reentering the game every other episode? How do the logistics of that work? You’d either have to make the pre-merge drastically longer, start with a tiny cast, or merge at 15, and I don’t think any of those things sound fun.

          • the sky is falling

            My overarching point is that RI is a much less interesting twist than Exile island. It changes a basic fundamental of game, torch snuffed, you are out.
            RI was almost as terrible as outcasts or medallion of power.

          • sharculese

            Sure, RI is bad. The solution is to get rid of it, not to make it more convoluted.

          • the sky is falling

            Yes, problem solved. although we did get a nice middle finger from Candace to Culpepper.

      • Diego Armando

        If a season devolved into Pagonging and early unchanged alliances, the season will be entirely reliant on the strength of the cast. South Pacific (along with RI and One World) did not have enough good finds to offset the monsters and the filler players.

      • Max_Jets

        I think the Pagonging actually makes South Pacific better and is the only season this is true for (well, other than Borneo). It gives everything the perfect narrative. Super religious cult recruits the other tribe’s outcast not through their ideals but by being more welcoming and then spits him out when he’s no longer useful. They stick together to the end and the person who was faking it to save herself rather than using religion to manipulate the other “cult” members is rewarded and the others are punished. It couldn’t have been scripted better. Someone else could have probably written my comment better though…
        South Pacific’s real problems are that Ozzy doesn’t have much charisma and that Sophie and Albert aren’t shown enough. The bad cast members also aren’t shown much, which is appreciated.

        • Hornacek

          Sophie is like the Leah Remini of that season, although she was always faking her “faith”.

    • the sky is falling

      My memory of South Pacific is hazy, but my general feeling is that there’s no need for Sophie to return. she should rest on her laurels, I feel same about Denise.
      I’m not actually sure an all winners season is even a good idea. Michelle would have to come back, bleh

      • Maritimer

        The best part about Michele coming back would be all the other winners asking a) who are you? b) What season did you win? then c) But you’re not Aubry?

        • Hornacek

          d) I thought Aubry won that season.

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          And then she’d win again the same way and it would be hilarious

    • DrVanNostrand

      That’s a pretty good summary of why Jesus Island was the worst. The introduction of Sophie and Cochran are literally the only thing the season has going for it.

      • Hornacek

        What about Rick’s moustache?

  • Mike Hirsch

    When I watched South Pacific, I didn’t really notice Sophie for a good portion of the season. Like, I knew she was there, but she didn’t stand out for me. Then after I watched it, I come online and find out everyone *LOVES* Sophie. And so I realize that clearly I missed almost all of her little moments that endeared her to so many (possibly a result of watching South Pacific while working). So I find myself in something of a Sophie paradox: I understand that she’s great, but would need to watch South Pacific again to be able to prove that to myself.

    I’ll just have to trust you all until she gets to play again.

    • Alkanarra

      Same. I tried doing SP again just for Sophie. Made it about 30 seconds. It’s a barrage of horrible right out the gate.

      I will say that Sophie is probably someone who would do real well on a returnee season since she plays such a different game from all the showy, need-camera-time players.

    • sharculese
      • Max_Jets

        I’ve watched this too many times and I’ll watch it again. It’s really all you need.

        • Kemper Boyd

          ME TOOOOOOOOO.

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          It’s missing the movie reward.

      • Kemper Boyd

        This is too short a video but it’s amazing.

  • the sky is falling

    Great post, for some reason I tend to mix up Sophie and Denise. Now I want to rewatch South Pacific. I remember it being a pretty meh season that got better as it went along. This was one of those seasons where I lost interest after my fave, Cochran left.
    Cowboy Rick would have won if he didn’t join the cast well after the merge, he was at a disadvantage…

    • Kemper Boyd

      Amazing to mix up the 2nd youngest female winner with the oldest female winner! But I get what you mean, they were UTR players.

      • the sky is falling

        I blame the season more than the player. South Pacific just wasn’t one of the more memorable seasons to me. having read the post, it might be worth a Rewatch. My main takeaways at the time were Brandon’s weird infatuations, Ozzy being Ozzy, cochrans flip, and a lesser version of coach.

    • DrVanNostrand

      That’s funny because Sophie and Denise are two of my favorite Survivor women of all time, and for totally different reasons.

  • Max_Jets

    Thank you for writing this! Sophie is my favorite player (along with Natalie Anderson), my favorite Survivor personality, and by far my favorite Survivor commentator and I’m happy to see her get her due. She deserves so much credit for integrating herself into a religious cult, when she is the last person that would want to be a part of one.

    • Kemper Boyd

      SHe is a great Survivor pundit. She is a really great addition when she fills in on KIA. She played the perfect game for that season and I will always adore her.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    Great post! I love Sophie! And I think I’m actually a touch higher on South Pacific than other superfans, mostly because of sentimental reasons – it was the first season I watched after taking a break for a few seasons while I was in grad school. It was also the first season I watched after moving in with my now husband, so not only is it a symbol of me no longer trying to act ~cool~ around him, it’s also the season that introduced him to the fandom.
    Anyway, Sophie is awesome and I have no complaints about her game. She saw a path to the end that would be difficult but she made it work and ultimately pulled off an impressive win. I’d say of the winners who’ve been covered in this series, Sophie and Denise probably had the highest difficulty/highest skill wins. And they’re both women I aspire to be like. Denise is kind yet so strong and assertive when she needs to be, and Sophie is such a snarky superbrain, which I love.

  • DrVanNostrand

    Sophie is the best, and I can’t argue with any post praising her awesomeness. However, I can see below that I am able to argue endlessly about how terrible South Pacific is.

  • Super duper fan

    The cast for Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is up!

    Here is the link:
    http://www.cbs.com/shows/survivor/cast/

    • prettyboyprobst

      Lol, was just about to post that.

      Here’s Mike Bloom’s article: https://parade.com/598284/mikebloom/meet-the-full-cast-of-survivor-heroes-v-healers-v-hustlers/

    • Blurry Denzel

      I’m trying to convince myself Lauren isn’t Denise from China. Also, Desi is absolutely gorgeous and I already see myself jumping on the Roark bandwagon.

      • Taako From Teevhii

        Or you could lean the other way and think that Lauren is Denise, and she’s about to Stephanie LaGrossa this season.

        Also, if Five-Team leagues are back for fantasy, are we pulling in @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus , @disqus_eZAEfHymmj:disqus , and @gouis:disqus for another round?

        • Blurry Denzel

          I hope so. Free on Tuesday Morning rides again.

        • I am in.

        • Mike Hirsch

          Same.

      • Purple Rock Emma

        Desi is so pretty that it’s borderline upsetting.

        • the sky is falling

          She’s gonna be a little confused when there is no rose ceremony or cocktail party on the first day.

      • the sky is falling

        Is Katrina actually Kristen Wiig?

    • Max_Jets

      Early favorites: Joe, Roark, Desi…Ben?
      Early crush: Joe

      • Taako From Teevhii

        I’m going to assume you meant Cole and not Joe and that autocorrect is making you look bad here.

        • the sky is falling

          He meant Mike, this seasons David Wright

          • Taako From Teevhii

            I thought that was Ryan.

          • the sky is falling

            Based soley on the pictures, Ryan has kind of a ‘Resting Sneaky Face’ There will be trust issues. Mike looks more approachable at first glance. Secondly, Mike is a GOT fan.

          • corndogshuffle

            Ryan just looks devious. I guess maybe that won’t be a big problem on a tribe of hustlers, though.

          • the sky is falling

            May as well have made the theme Hustlers vs. Rustlers vs. Wrasslers

          • Taako From Teevhii

            Ryan looks that way, but Patrick and Simone act it. And they’re not very good at hiding it.

          • corndogshuffle

            I’m really high on Ryan for this very reason. He has a bit of a “supervillain” look but he seems to have a good handle on what might be important to be really good at Survivor. As of today I am buying a lot of stock in Ryan.

        • Max_Jets

          Hell nah, Joe is a stud. This cast is not lacking in eye candy though.

    • corndogshuffle

      Alan was a pro athlete. Given the track record of pro athletes I think it’s a safe bet he goes real far.

      In addition to the people Max_Jets posted, I’m also interested in Ryan.

      • Max_Jets

        Alan also says he can’t stand liars, which…isn’t promising.

        • corndogshuffle

          Not good. Maybe he’ll go Jeff Kent and work his way into the merge before getting knocked out? I think he has a lot of potential to last a while but maybe not a good chance to win.

          • the sky is falling

            I’ve been burned too many times by choosing favorites before the first episode. Need to see these folks in action.
            Very unlikely Alan goes out first at any rate. Big athlete types never go out first.

          • corndogshuffle

            Yep. The only athlete I can think of (I’m ignoring Jimmy Johnson by the way) who didn’t go reasonably far was Uncle Cliffy. And he wasn’t voted out because he was playing poorly. I’d be shocked if Alan didn’t make at least the merge.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            Rocker.

    • Maritimer

      I don’t have videos to go by yet, since nobody has uploaded unblocked ones yet, but based on bios:

      Cole picked Spencer as Survivor he’s most like because he’s kind of nerdy and athletic and I think I’m in love. Ryan, Desi, and Katrina (for her Denise pick) are probably other early favourites. Devin’s also really cute, but he’s probably going to be more a Taylor than a Jay. I feel like Roark is pandering too hard with her Sophie/Courtney child thing.

      Also, I think these people got Cagayan and Game Changers to watch based on their answers, though I was impressed with a couple of deep pulls (JENNA MORASCA).

      • Blurry Denzel

        Yeah, Roark is probably pandering a bit there. It will most likely work on me.

      • Super duper fan

        You can use this site to watch the videos: https://www.proxysite.com/

        Put the url of Survivor You Tube channel, and set the server for one of the US ones, and you can watch the videos.

      • Taako From Teevhii

        Video links are now up on Youtube ( https://www.youtube.com/user/SurvivorOnCBS/videos ). Also, Cole is everything.

        • Maritimer

          I’m gonna be really disappointed if I end up having to not like Cole for some reason

          • Taako From Teevhii

            Yeah, like I’d normally be all about Patrick, but I know extratextual stuff to not be. Cole doesn’t raise any red flags for me rn, but I guess when you say “forces underprivileged youths into the wilderness for 6 months,” it doesn’t sound great. That’s what he does, right?

          • Maritimer

            I’ve pretty much already settled on calling Patrick “Archie”. I only caught vague wind of the extratextual stuff. I’ve no red flags for Cole either, but I could easily see him being arrogant in the annoying Ozzy/Drew way rather than the charming Malcolm/Jay way. He is a wilderness guide, not sure of the details

          • Taako From Teevhii

            I’d settle for a Jay Byars-like showing from Cole. I just hope he’s not Taylor; I have Devon pegged for that role.

          • Maritimer

            If he’s Jay 2.0 I would be totally thrilled and you’ll all have to hear me talk about him all season. I agree with you on Devon.

          • Taako From Teevhii

            I mean, I’ll probably end up talking about him all season anyway. Even after he’s voted out.

          • Super duper fan

            I disagree with you that Devon seems more like Taylor than Jay. Devon seems much more interested in winning to me than Taylor. My first impressions are that Cole is the Malcolm of this season, and Devon is the Jay of this season (which of course is the best case scenario). Of course there is a possibility that they are both Taylors, plus it’s only pre-season, so we can’t properly judge anyone yet.

          • Maritimer

            I am quite hopeful to be proved wrong on Devon. Having a Malcolm and a Jay would be amazing, especially if they teamed up. That said, I agree he seems interested in winning, he just may not be very good at it

    • Super duper fan

      I read all the bios and watched all the videos, and my early favourites are:
      -Roark
      -Jessica
      -Ryan
      -Chrissy
      -Desi
      -Simone

      • prettyboyprobst

        Now that I’ve also watched and read everything, the people I expect to like, or at least stay interested in for a while, mainly are:

        – Simone
        – Desi
        – Lauren
        – Cole
        – Mike
        – Joe
        – Katrina
        – Chrissy
        – Ryan

        extended circle:

        – Roark
        – Ben
        – JP
        – Patrick

        Jessica reminds me way too much of Whitney to list here.

        • Super duper fan

          I get the comparison. For me Jessica just pops out of my screen, and one of my pre-season worries for this cast is that most people didn’t appear to me as very charismatic, even people who I like, for example Simone (of course it’s only pre-season, and I don’t have a lot of things to base that on, but that’s my first impressions). But I could see a Figgy-like tragectory for Jessica (and I actually liked Figgy, so even that wouldn’t most likely cause much problem forme).

    • the sky is falling

      Great theme….

  • corndogshuffle

    So how is Alan a hero? He played for the Dallas Cowboys. Doesn’t seem very heroic to me.

    • the sky is falling

      Ready to discuss this theme on a more formal post. They need to drop that theme asap.
      Just in case…
      On the Hustlers you have a Small business owner, celebrity assistant, diversity advocate?, surf instructor, fisherwoman, and a Bellhop. Not a single gambler, con artist, pool player. or triple career millennial? None of them even have a second job.
      I get that they wanted some alliteration in the title but they missed the mark on the Hustler category.

      • corndogshuffle

        I think in general the theme itself is a whiff, but that’s a whole different discussion. This is definitely the weirdest tribe. The biggest stretch of a tribe name/theme since calling the tribes on Caramoan “fans” or “favorites”.

        Ultimately as long as we get a good mix of characters and gameplay I don’t care what the theme is.

      • I think the heroes tribe is also a hot mess. An actuary?

        • TheForRealDeal

          I had the same reaction, but judging by her video, the hero angle is having a career in the M part of STEM, which is satisfactory for me, especially given the recent goings on at Google.

          • I thought they were going to try for the fact that she’s a cool mom-aren’t those heroes?

          • TheForRealDeal

            Maybe it’s a function of the number of exclamation points in your bio.

          • Yeah, heroes tend to use way too many.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        According to Josh Wigler’s interview with Probst, the term “Hustlers” is meant to evoke people who’s job is in some way entrepreneurial or reliant on constant effort; they’re not just punching the clock. It’s not meant in the used car salesman or pool shark sense. Also, they evidently came up with “Heroes”, then “Hustlers”. “Healers” was the H they were stuck on.

    • Maritimer

      I think the short answer is basically “because sports”. Long answer: athletes are role models

      • corndogshuffle

        The most honest answer is “corndogshuffle is from Washington, DC and hates the Dallas Cowboys more than a normal person should hate any sports team”.

        • Maritimer

          I get what you’re saying. I was just taking a general shot at the “this random football player is a hero” thing and the whole stupid theme

      • I mean, we have two athletes but at least Olympians can be seen as heroes

  • Taako From Teevhii

    Are gonna discuss this season’s marooning advantage? Because it’s bad and not good. The odds are 1:2 that someone will be handing the idol off to another person on the losing tribe, and then you’re taking the worst bits of the J.T. idol exchange from HvV and actively forcing it into the first episode of this season. This might work if you weren’t forced to hand it off if you don’t go to tribal, but I’m not sure that’s the case.

    • Assistant Dragon Slayer

      I know “let’s wait and see” is my jam, but let’s wait and see. The question to ask when there’s a new twist is “what problem is this supposed to solve?” In the case of the Legacy Advantage, damned if I know. But in this case, I think they’re trying to solve the problem of the perceived weakest member of the tribe (and let’s get real, that means the oldest WoC) habitually getting voted out first, so I’m definitely willing to give it a chance. I do like that it expires after the first vote.

      • Taako From Teevhii

        I also like very much that it expires after the first tribal.

    • Max_Jets

      I really don’t understand why they would make it a super idol. A one tribal regular idol might be interesting and it already removes the timing element, but as is it almost just gives one person free reign to dictate the entire first vote because they don’t have to guess who to play it for. I think the Kaoh Rong super idol kind of just happened to work out perfectly in its season, but it at least added some interesting wrinkles either way. This doesn’t seem to add much of anything as players can’t even work around it. I’m pre-emptively bitter for whoever gets the first boot.

    • Maritimer

      My first thought is “this is how Colton got an idol.” That said, I think our feelings on it will come down to who it saves. In other seasons, it could have saved Darnell or So (but lost Alecia or Carolyn) so who knows.