From now through April, we’ll be pitting Survivors head-to-head in match-ups to determine the Ultimate Survivor. How will we decide the winner? The same way Survivor does it: with a vote. This is our Tribal Council, and you’ve all made the jury. It is… time to vote.
Polls close on Sunday, March 29.
There weren’t many close calls among this group in round one, but round two brings us some much tougher match-ups. Spencer’s loss in round one proved that not even the love of the internet is enough to advance you in this bracket, and the nerds of the internet will face a tough choice in the final match-up this week. Speaking of those match-ups:
1. Kim Spradlin vs 9. Jonathan Penner
Kim, arguably the greatest first time winner ever. Penner, one of the great storytellers (it’s what he does) of Survivor. Kim, a master player from a bad season. Penner, never all that great a player despite being a key character of three top-ten seasons.
Since the announcement of the Ultimate Survivor Bracket (patent pending) we have said that the voting criteria is up to you. Never will that be more obvious than in this vote, the ultimate player vs. character matchup. It’s up to you.
Sidenote: Wow, could they have picked a less flattering opening credits photo for Kim? The woman is stunning, but that picture is unfortunate. Penner’s isn’t great either, and I admit to having a slight old man crush on him.
4. Tyson Apostol vs 5. Denise Stapley
A less extreme character versus player matchup. Sure, Tyson won too, but it took him three times and that’s not why we (well, John at least) love(s) him. Denise’s win, and Philippines as a whole, kicked off a much-needed Survivor hot streak after the terrible season 21-24 era. Denise is the only Survivor to ever go to every tribal council, but you knew that. She was part of the greatest Survivor odd couple since Stephen and J.T., except she was able to get rid of the charming young athlete. Speaking of athlete, holy shit. Denise is stronger than I will ever be. Also, she made Abi-Maria cry and it was kind of awesome. Or mean, I guess. If you want to be like that.
From an early jury blindside to an embarrassing blunder to an obvious winner, Tyson has experienced just about everything Survivor has to offer in his three seasons. He’s the comic relief and the athlete. He’s the asshole and the loving boyfriend. He’s the assistant coach and the strategist. He’s also friends with Spencer Pratt now, so do with that what you will.
2. Tony Vlachos vs 7. Natalie Anderson
Twinnie versus Tony. The two most recent winners going head to head. If you like quiet, unassuming players, this is not the poll for you. If you like bold moves and brash behavior, good luck choosing between these two.
Tony’s game was so wild that Andy infamously put him in the zero percent club in the premiere of Cagayan. Natalie was a bit of a late bloomer but played the long con to avenge Jeremy. Every time we thought Tony blew his chance, he patched things up and sailed through the next vote. When we thought Natalie was an idiot for saving Keith, it helped set her up for the end. Tony used mind tricks not seen since Tom Westman to get Woo to take him to the finals. Natalie saved Jaclyn and blindsided Baylor so that everyone who could win final immunity would be sure to take Natalie with them to final tribal council.
For me, it’s a coin flip. But the choice is yours.
3. John Cochran vs 6. Malcolm Freberg
This matchup is just cruel. The defining stars of the newest generation, pitted against each other. My ultimate Survivor crush versus Malcolm, who is pretty cool. Any readers who were not hanging around the AV Club during Cochran’s seasons think I’m joking. I’m not joking. If I were single, I would be driving around different parts of the valley until I found Cochran on Tinder.
Right. Anyway. Roughly the same age, Cochran and Malcolm are both students of the game. Much like his other half, Denise, Malcolm injected much needed life into the show. He was the breakout star that people actually liked, unlike Russell. Young, attractive (apparently), athletic, intelligent, and unbelievably charming, Malcolm would be the total package if his hands weren’t so shaky. Malcolm is what happens when a computer is asked to create the ultimate Survivor contestant.
Cochran, on the other hand, is all of us. A huge Survivor nerd who couldn’t handle the social aspect of the game the first go around, Cochran came back with more confidence and more social bonds to wipe the floor with the competition, becoming only the second contestant to win a perfect game (unanimous victory after never receiving votes).
In his first season, Malcolm became the classic “would’ve won if they had won final immunity” contestant of yesteryear, joining the likes of Lex van den Berghe, Rob Cesternino, Kathy Vavrick O’Brien, and Cirie Fields. In his second season, he was all sizzle, no substance. But it was still a delight to watch! Cochran started as a disappointing player, but a character highlight in a terrible season. In his second season, he metamorphosed into an impressive winner. He also voted Malcolm out.
It’s the classic case of the nerd vs. the jock, except the nerd already has more success and the jock went to Dartmouth and references Harry Potter.
Don’t forget to vote in the other divisions:
The Age of the Returnee
Emma is still crying over Courtney losing in the Age of the Returnee bracket. She has yet to forgive Andy for voting for Todd. Follow her Survivor thoughts on Twitter at @emmapurplerock. Follow her other thoughts at…well, that’s really none of your business.
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Micronesia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, China, Philippines
Favorite players: Courtney Yates, Parvati Shallow, John Cochran, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Kim Spradlin