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I Miss Survivor: Part 2

Another Survivor-less week has passed and I’m fully embracing how pathetic it is how much I miss this show. Last week I went over some of the game’s new twists and advantages and even proposed some new ones. Moving forward I’m going to start writing up more ideas for future seasons. Whether it be themes, casts, advantages, etc. I’m going to fill the void until we get some tangible Season 44 content.

Now as part of the “new era” of Survivor Jeff Probst has said the show is going to hold off on bringing in returning players for a while and that the three-tribe structure is here to stay. I think this is ultimately the right move for the foreseeable future for a few reasons. One, Winners at War was a monumental success and is one of the best season’s in the show’s history. Following up on that is no easy feat (more on that later) so the decision to switch up the format of the game and focus on bringing new blood to the show was the right call. Two: CBS has a relatively new diversity mandate on their non-scripted programming now in which 50% of the cast needs to be people of color. We’re three seasons into this, with a fourth one coming up in the spring, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the show is trying to build up its roster of players of color that viewers would want to see play again. So far, this has been huge success, with many of best characters in recent seasons fitting this bill. Ricard, Shan, Erika, Maryanne, Drea, Omar, Jesse, Karla, Owen just to name a few. Reason #3: There have been times in the show’s history where they become too reliant on bringing back players, making their returns less impactful. Even worse, sometimes the show isn’t always in touch with which players we want to see return (see Aubry three times in six seasons, David Wright twice in five seasons.) And finally: the fourth reason is that coming up with ideas for new themes each season is pretty challenging. Seriously, by the time the show had reached Ghost Island and Island of the Idols I think even Jeff knew they were scraping the bottom of the barrel.

This week I’ve got a new idea for a returning players season that isn’t entirely original but is probably one of the best out there that hasn’t been done yet.

Survivor Goats vs. Gamers

  • Number of Players: 18 (All Returning)
  • Number of Tribes: 2
  • Premise: A season of players who lost at Final Tribal Council. One tribe is made up players viewed as being dragged to the end or didn’t receive any votes and the other tribe is players who just missed out on the top prize.


To reiterate, those in the Goat tribe are certainly not the greatest of all time. These are players who made it to the end in their respective seasons but didn’t receive any votes at Final Tribal Council. This could be for a number of reasons, perhaps they were up against a fair superior threat, maybe they were dragged to the end knowing that they couldn’t win, or maybe some blew their chance in front of the jury. Being a goat isn’t always being indicative of being a bad player, it just means those who did win knew they could them.

Albert Destrade (South Pacific) – Classic example of a guy who probably played too hard. He made a lot of moves, won an immunity, and convinced Brandon Hantz to give him his idol. But he flipped on a lot of people and at the end the jury went with six votes for Sophie Clark and three votes for Coach Wade. This dude couldn’t even beat Coach at Final Tribal, that’s how bad he was with the jury.

Angelina Keely (David vs. Goliath) – One of the prototypes of the ‘therapist-who-needs-to-constantly-remind-us-they’re-a-therapist’ character that Survivor has been leaning into the last few seasons. Angelina ultimately lost because she was completely clueless to how the jury perceived her. While I didn’t like her the first time around, she does seem like someone that could learn from her mistakes in the first game and make a deep run if she works on her social game.

Dreamz Herd (Fiji) – Can’t have a season like this without some old school Survivors. Dreamz is another player who lacked the social game to succeed at the end. He does have a unique spot in Survivor history as one third of the only ever all-Black final three and enough time has passed that he would probably be a much different player than he was in 2006.

Laurel Johnson (Ghost Island) – Laurel would be a must-have for this season. She’s famously the only player ever needed to break a tie at Final Tribal Council after she lost to Wndell and Domenick 4-4-0 before she gave the title to the former. Laurel was actually a pretty good player during Ghost Island but her game was likely overshadowed by the larger personalities around her in the end. The biggest critique of her game was how she was too conservative in her gameplay so should she ever comeback you know she would be looking to build a resume.

Natalie Tenerelli (Redemption Island) – She was the first teenage woman to ever compete on Survivor and was ultimately dragged to the end by Boston Rob and received no votes in the end as he cemented his place on Survivor Mt. Rushmore. In other words, she’s a poster child for what a goat really is. It’s been a while since she’s been on the show but it’d be interesting to see her get a second shot.

Noura Salman (Island of the Idols) – Perhaps one of the only players the show would ever consider bringing back from a controversial season. Noura is another example of someone brought to the end that people thought they could beat and they were certainly right. She’d be one of the more entertaining characters in my fake cast and the unpredictable nature of the modern game feels like it’d be something where she could constantly fall forward.

Owen Knight (Survivor 43) – The wounds from his recent loss are still fresh but out of all the players from this past season I think Owen would be the most fun to see get dealt a new hand. Either he could finally play the game from a position of power or everything could constantly go wrong for him and we’d be treated to one of his meltdowns. He’s a solid physical and strategic threat but he just needs to align himself with the right people.

Tai Trang (Kaoh Rong/Game Changers) – Tai is one of the more polarizing characters in the last decade or so. While extremely likeable and entertaining for viewers his gameplay has got to be among the worst in Survivor history. He’s made big moves, famously leaving Scot Pollard hanging without the other half of his super idol, and aligned himself with plenty of powerful players over the years but despite the fact that he’s spent 77 days playing Survivor the only vote he ever got at the end was from Sia.

Xander Hastings (Survivor 41) – Xander always fascinated me because he was constantly involved in almost every twist or advantage on his season and seemed like he received a favorable edit and a fair chance at winning 41 but by the time Final Tribal Council rolled around he was on the end of a 7-1-0 vote for Erika. He’s a physical threat and would have been one of the only players on his tribe to have experience in the new game format.


For the Gamers I’m going with players who received votes at the end and had a legitimate shot at winning before taking home the silver medal. Some of these players were probably favored going into Tribal but suffered a tough performance or suffered from a bad break in the game. Some of them just lost to better players. Regardless, these nine all know the feeling of being a handful of votes away from the million dollars.

Aubry Bracco (Kaoh Rong/Game Changers/Edge of Extinction) – She spent 76 days in the game in her first two seasons and technically is a member of the 100-day club if you count her time on the Edge of Extinction but there’s not denying that Aubry has been one of the show’s favorite players of the last ten seasons. Incredibly cerebral and someone who constantly finds a way to make it work, she’s a big threat to win anytime she plays, as seen by her being booted third in her third season.

Cassidy Clark (Survivor 43) – Another player where the ink isn’t dry yet on her lone Final Tribal vote. Cassidy emerged late as a physical and strategic threat and will probably go down in Survivor history as the one Gabler pulled off the greatest upset in the history of the show against. The played well in all three phases of the game but I believe she didn’t get a fair shake from the jury after Karla allegedly tried to swing them all on Ponderosa following her exit. Cassidy deserves a second chance.

Chrissy Hofbeck (Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers) – The first person to ever be truly screwed by the Fire Making Challenge. I consider that season extremely controversial as the introduction of the twist at the time felt very much like a play for production to give Ben one more chance at his improbable run to victory. Chrissy won three of the last four immunity challenges and was a strategic force during her season so to see it all come crumbling down when Ben made it to the end by making fire had to have been a tough pill for her to swallow as she likely would have walked away with the million, potentially unanimously. She’d be a must have for this season.

Deshawn Radden (Survivor 41) – Another player whose social game was their downfall. Deshawn was moody at points and made several late mistakes in the game en route to giving Erika a clear path for one of the more anticlimactic seasons in show history. Still, if Deshawn were ever able to keep it together at the end he would have had a better chance.

Domenick Abbate (Ghost Island) – Hands down this season doesn’t work without Domenick. Nobody has come closer to winning the million than him, famously falling after the first ever tie-breaker vote at the hands of Laurel. Just to see him and Laurel reunite at some point would be worth it alone. Domenick is loud, aggressive, incredibly smart and would for sure be one of the biggest threats in the game.

Gavin Whitson (Edge of Extinction) – Another must-have player as I fully believe that no runner-up in Survivor history has been screwed they way Gavin was. He famously lost to Chris Underwood who only spent 13 days in the actual game and the rest of the time living with the jury on the Edge of Extinction. Gavin was an incredible social and strategic player who went the entire game without receiving a vote against him. Turns out his biggest downfall was never getting voted out. Give this man a chance!

Mike Turner (Survivor 42) – One of the more surprising players in recent memory. This retired firefighter was one of the best social and strategic players in a season stacked with them. His downfall was a ghastly Final Tribal performance in which he boasted that he played a game with honor and integrity despite constantly flipping allies and making everyone feel he was their number one. That combined with Maryanne finishing strong and delivering one of the best FTC performances of all time. If Mike could learn to just own his game, he would have walked away with that season.

Sabrina Thompson (One World) – People tend to forget about Sabrina as she lost in the shadow of Kim Spradlin who played one of the best games in history at the time. She was the first Black woman to receive votes at Final Three (Vecepia won Marquesas back when there were only two in the finals) and she’s had plenty of time to think about how she could have done more to stand out in her season.

Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau/Guatemala/Heroes vs. Villains) – An old-school bad ass lady would be the perfect final addition to this season. Stephenie is perhaps more famous for run on Palau as the only person to ever have their tribe completely decimated at her own hands by becoming the first person to have a hand in eliminating every member of their original tribe. However, her second go-around took her further in the game and established her as more of a strategic threat, even though she eventually lost to winner Danni Boatwright.

Final Thoughts

While we likely won’t see anything like Winners at War until season 50 (though something tells me the bulk of that cast won’t be returning again) the closest thing we’ll see to that is something like this: a common thread of former players from different eras. Here’s what I’d be looking forward to the most:

  • There’s two reunions I’d love to see this season and that’s Domenick and Laurel and Aubry and Tai. Domenick and Laurel obviously have some awkward history with her being the swing vote in his FTC loss. Domenick doesn’t seem like a guy to forgive and forget and Laurel feels like someone who learns from her mistakes so I could easily see those two gunning for each other should they both make the merge. Tai and Aubry played twice together, both making the finals in Kaoh Rong, though neither has pulled off a victory. The two worked together and Aubry potentially fell victim to a controversial twist on her season so if they were to ever play again it’d be interesting to see if they would rekindle that relationship. New school players like Owen and Cassidy and Deshawn and Xander could reunite but there isn’t necessarily any interesting storylines between them.
  • How ‘Old School’ and ‘Old Old School’ handle the ‘New School’ game. The way I’m defining this would be anyone from the first 20 seasons (Stephenie and Dreamz), anyone from seasons 21-40 (the bulk of the cast), and anyone from the last three seasons (Deshawn, Xander, Mike, Owen, & Cassidy.) Obviously the New School players have the advantage of playing with the new twists, lack of food, and pace of the modern game. However, the other 13 players all had to play the game for 39 days. Perhaps they have a physical and mental advantage on how to prepare their bodies for almost two weeks less of gameplay. I feel the show as whole hasn’t really changed much since the change, people are still hungry and tired after all.
  • How players learn from their previous mistakes is often one of the more enjoyable reasons to bring back returning players. Tyson, Boston Rob, Cochran to name a few players who’ve come back and won. All these players were a few moves or less away from winning their game so it would be interesting to see who comes in with a different approach (likely Angelina, Laurel, and Owen), who comes in sticking to what’s worked (Domenick, Gavin, Chrissy, and hopefully Noura), and who takes a wildly different approach (Albert, Dreamz, Natalie, Sabrina.)
  • Revenge. If you’re Aubry or Chrissy or Gavin or Domenick you have to walk in to this feeling that the first time around you did everything you possibly could to win only for something out of your power to take over. If you’re Cassidy or Stephanie or Dreamz or Laurel or Mike or Deshawn you have to feel like you were just a few moves away from making a real run at the title. If you’re Owen or Sabrina or Angelina or Albert you’re probably just wishing for a different hand to be played your way. If you’re Natalie or Noura or Xander shouldn’t you be embarrassed how nobody took you seriously during your season? If you’re Tai, you probably need another payday from Sia, right?

Anyway, I took this way too seriously and put too much research into it. that being said, I’m gonna do this every Wednesday until season 44 comes out.

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