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.
Ok, round one is out of the way. We’ve separated the sexy, feathered-hair wheat (Heidik) from the All-American meat-shield chaff (Colby). All four of the top seeds- Hatch, Tina, Rob C, and Heidik- cruised to easy victories in their first round matches. We did have some upsets, with pre-fat-suit Superman Colby losing to “villainess” Jerri, Lex taking down Big Tom, and Kathy toppling Vecepia in an upset so predictable it wasn’t really an upset.
But this round feels like the undercard before the main event begins in the next round. We had three lower seeds win in the last round; my prediction is that none of the lower seeds will win this round. Let’s review the match-ups:
1. Richard Hatch vs 8. Ethan Zohn
Jeff Probst once called Aras the most boring winner in Survivor history. I like to think he just forgot Ethan that day, partly because Ethan is so boring that he’s more forgettable than Aras. Yes, Ethan won Africa, a brutal season where the players faced horrendous conditions. Ethan seemed nice, was pretty well-liked, and managed to be remembered for having a positive attitude even when surrounded by lions and heaping mounds of elephant shit. He’s even beaten cancer twice post-Survivor. And I think maybe he married Jenna from Amazon or something? (I don’t know, Andy is the Survivor gossip expert around here.)
If I were forced to make a case for Ethan, it would be this: Hatch won the first season of Survivor, but does he deserve a lot of credit for winning a game almost none of the players realized they were playing? And when Hatch came back for All-Stars, Ethan outlasted him. Shouldn’t that count for something? (The answer is no. Hatch deserves your vote here. Talk to me next round, when things get more interesting.)
4. Tina Wesson vs 12. Jerri Manthey
These two have already competed against each other twice on the show, with Tina dominating in Australia and Jerri going further in All-Stars. And if you need a reminder of how much this show has changed from the old school days, keep in mind that Jerri was booed off the stage during the All-Stars reunion for the egregious offense of lasting longer in the game than Colby did.
Both of these women are three-timers; in addition to the two seasons I mentioned above, Jerri went to the final four in Heroes vs. Villains and Tina technically- through the “magic” of Redemption Island- finished fourth in Blood vs. Water. Each of them have impressive Survivor résumés, though Jerri’s lacks the seven-figure payday that Tina’s has (unless of course Jerri’s Playboy pictorial brought in more money than I thought). As I said, none of the match-ups in this round seem ripe for upset. But if there is a dark horse candidate here, I think it may be Jerri.
2. Rob Cesternino vs 10. Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien
Do you think when Rob interviewed Kathy on his podcast recently that he anticipated this match-up coming? Was he buttering her up so she’d never see the dagger coming? More importantly, how could Kathy not see the dagger coming? It’s so obvious that I almost Photoshopped a dagger into her back in that picture of her.
On paper, their resumes are fairly similar- Rob flipped on an alliance and nearly went to the end in Amazon. Kathy flipped on her cocky alliance and nearly went to the end in Marquesas, her fate sealed by our website’s namesake: a purple rock. In All-Stars, Rob was the first one sent home from his tribe, while Kathy made the merge and had the Amber-saving move backfire on her. Both Rob and Kathy have funny moments from their seasons and give enjoyable confessionals. So theoretically, this should be close. But this is the internet; it won’t be close. See you next round, Rob C!
3. Brian Heidik vs 11. Lex Van der Berghe
When we first conceived of this tournament, I suggested that we should make it very clear what exactly people were voting for. Were you all going to choose the best Survivor player? Your favorite Survivor? The sexiest Survivor? Fortunately, Andy stepped in as the voice of reason and said, “It doesn’t matter how you tell people to vote; they’ll vote the way they want to vote.” So when you all voted through noted archery enthusiast Brian Heidik, I can choose to believe it was not because you all hate puppies. Or maybe you are all fans of his films.
But how will Brian’s methodical win over the awful human beings of Thailand stack up against noted greenback-devaluer Lex? Lex nearly made the finals in Africa, and made the merge- though barely- in All-Stars after his attempt to curry Rob’s favor didn’t work out. My guess is that you’re going with Heidik, about whom our friend Emma once said, “I feel uncomfortable when I look at his face.” And that’s fine. You do you, internet. I don’t feel strongly either way on this one.
Don’t forget to vote in the other divisions:
The Age of the Returnee
This was a rough week for John, who first had to deal with the loss of his beloved Max and then followed it up with having to write up the ultra-predictable Old School bracket for round two. John does most of the tweeting for @purplerockpod, and occasionally live-tweets the episodes for the East coast crowd.
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia