Survivor 42: Cast Impressions and Burning Questions

So Survivor 42 starts next week, and I plan to consume, analyze, and joke about everything going on in this new season weekly! Before the first episode starts on Wednesday, I’m gonna take a look at the cast photos and subsequent interview content published about them (go look at the Entertainment Weekly interviews on Youtube. Hearing these people speak is big for making judgements about them), and various trailers to speculate on who will go far, who will make a fool of themselves, and what twists and turns we might see this season. Let’s get to it!

MAKING JUDGMENTS ON EVERY PLAYER BASED OFF THEIR OFFICIAL CBS CAST BIO IN ONE(ISH) SENTENCE

Chanelle — Feels like an influencer-esque personality type to me

Daniel — Bit of a nerd, but shoutout to beating cancer.

Drea — Her pet peeve is dishonest people so Survivor may not agree with her…. Seems like a Straight-shooter type.

Hai — Seems smart but has a big personality… he labeled himself as aggressive but also calls himself non-threatening.

Jackson — Seems like he is too nice to be a power player.

Jenny — Bragging about emotional intelligence as the reason she can win… I’m too use to the Bachelor where arrogant people put that label on themselves hahaha

Jonathan — Wearing shirts is his pet peeve! What a bro…

Lindsay — Wrote an essay for her cast profile jeez… seems like a LOT to handle.

Lydia — Liking her profile seems like a normal person… seems like a dedicated fan of the show pointing out someone like Tom as her favorite player.

Marya — I have zero read on her… feel like she won’t mix with her fellow players

Maryanne — Canadian. Erika was Canadian so she’s got the winner’s pedigree.

Mike — Looks the No-est of Nonsense

Omar — Seems like someone with a long, interesting backstory. Also he put 5 survivors as the 1 survivor he would play most like. I think that’s cheating the question. Also Canadian.

Rocksroy — Is his birth name actually Rocksroy?

Romeo — Once again cheating the “Which Survivor?” question. You can’t say your game will be like no one then name 5 people?? That’s not the question!

Swati — She’s 19 years old but looks like she’s in high school. How many 2000s babies have played Survivor so far?

Tori — Mentioned she’s a former pageant girl, also the most Christian in the cast based on her bio.

Zach — Speech and debate guy… he’s gonna use big words.

AFTER CONSUMING THE ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY INTERVIEW CONTENT AND HEARING ALL THE CASTAWAYS SPEAK ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THEIR GAME, HERE’S MY SPECULATIVE PRESEASON RANKINGS

18. Omar — Guys, he’s gonna win Survivor because… he’s the biggest fan of them all!!! Wasn’t impressed by his interviews at all. Seems like someone who may be a bit too naive to play well. His speaking mannerisms turned me off to him too. Lots of head bobbing. A bit harsh in judgment (I’m sure he’s a nice guy IRL), but that’s what this whole article is about.

17. Marya — Being the oldest woman in the game doesn’t do her favors, and she doesn’t give off the energy of someone who can gather the numbers to lead a blindside. Seems like an early casualty on these small early game tribes.

16. Romeo — He mentioned wanting to be remembered in the history of the game, but had the charisma of a dead fish in his interviews. Seems like an easy person to pin the first vote on if his tribe loses early, because he doesn’t look like he offers much from a physical standpoint.

15. Jackson — According to one of the Entertainment Weekly YouTube videos, his favorite player is the iconic CeCe from Millennials vs Gen X who did… absolutely nothing in that season. It’s a favorite player pick that makes me worry, to be quite honest. I felt the same way with Naseer in 41 when he said Phillip Sheppard was his favorite player. Naseer ended up being a fun personality, but he was no strategist.

14. Drea — I’m just not getting anything interesting from her bio or her interviews. Maybe she’ll surprise me in the actual show, but for now I feel like she won’t stand out.

13. Rocksroy — Didn’t really present confidence as a player but I’ll leave the door open for him to surprise me.

12. Maryanne — I like her positivity, but out of the younger castaways here she looks like the most gullible young player on the season. Worried she’ll get taken advantage of strategically by a more “experienced in life” person. I think I’ll be cheering for her success though.

11. Jonathan — He’s too big and strong to be left alone for too long. I like the surfer vibes from this dude though, and if this ranking was more about the entertainment of a castaway rather than predicting success, he would be much higher for me. I will say at least that if he has the mental game to back up the obvious physical abilities, then he could go far.

10. Tori — She’s speaking a lot (and I mean “a lot”) about how her psychology and therapy experience will get her the victory. I’m worried that will be seen through. I could see her being voted out first or second, or making it very far. If she does do well, she’ll probably turn this 15 minutes of fame into a respectable influencer career though.

9. Zach — The nerdy youth of the season. Seems very smart and he could be ranked higher, but I worry he’s going to stand out a bit too much as a character that people will want to blindside him early.

8. Daniel — An interesting amalgamation of character traits. Cancer backstory, background in law, very eccentric, Survivor superfan, and yet he says he’s going to play completely honest about who he is (except that he worked alongside republican politicians lol). By far the biggest wildcard of the season.

7. Swati — Only 19, but completely aware that her age is a detriment to her. That speaks well about her intelligence and self-awareness.

6. Jenny — Getting some serious Erika vibes from her. Maybe trying too hard to paint herself as this social mastermind. But I was a bit impressed, and she seems like she could be a hard working strategist.

5. Lydia — I get the feeling that if she finds herself on a successful tribe early, then she can kinda float her way to the end with a strong social game. I can see her being sought after by aggressive players as someone approachable enough to make big moves with.

4. Chanelle — Two things are really clear from her interview: she is VERY confident, and she has put in an INSANE amount of prep into the game. It feels like she will simply not let herself be voted out early. On the flipside, she comes off as way too intense about Survivor and I think it will intimidate people and paint a big target on her back.

3. Mike — His demeanor is of a guy who can win people over with a genuine energy that people will feel they can really put their trust into. That plays really well in setting up the right pieces in the early game.

2. Lindsay — I found myself a bit shocked that I ended up putting Lindsay at number two. The way I see it, she presents herself in the interviews as someone with the right combination of self-confidence, knowledge of the game, ability to gain social capital, and killer instinct.

1. Hai — Dare I say he gives me Todd Herzog vibes. Gives off a calculated intelligence that plays perfectly into Survivor success.

Btw… 5 of my Top 6 in the Vati tribe on Day 1…

FOUR BURNING QUESTIONS LEADING INTO SEASON 42…

What twists will stay in the game, and what twists will disappear from Season 41?

So writing this article (on Wednesday, March 2nd), other than the cast bios and interviews, there really hasn’t been any concrete trailer dropped for the next season, beyond the teaser from the finale of the previous season. Rewatching that, the only thing that can for sure be gleaned from the preview is that Survivor 42 from a format standpoint will be very similar to the previous season, dare I say the same. This makes sense, given that the two seasons were filmed basically back to back, but shown on TV months apart. That means the shortened days, the limited access to food (and flint?), and the beware advantages are once again in play.

The twists will be the most interesting thing to watch this season, given that they caused the most controversy. We know the “funky phrase three way activation idols” are back in some form, but will the conditions to unlock them be made easier (or less cringey (or more cringey???)) since the phrases essentially told everyone that you have an advantage in your pocket? Will the highly controversial hourglass twist come back as is, or will production either tweak it or remove it completely, given the reception from both castaways and fans? What about the “prisoner’s dilemma” ship wheels? What about advantages that we didn’t even get to see, since nobody found them? I’m very interested to see where production learned its lessons from 41, and how it is implemented in 42.

Will backstories and storylines stack up to the Survivor 41 cast?

One of the biggest strengths of the new era Survivor 41 season came from a cast that had plenty of interesting backstories, came to play really hard, and were willing to be honest and speak on the issues they cared about. What happens this season if the cast just isn’t as interesting? Survivor 42 castaways did not see what Survivor 41 castaways did, so how will they open up to the cameras without 41’s visual precedent? And if there isn’t as much to take away from the castaway’s personalities and stories, will we find Survivor 42 spending a ton of time on twist mechanics? Those episodes where 20–25 minutes were spent on a twist were the weakest last season, so I hope we can avoid that and the strangers arriving on the beach will be more than willing to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

From reading the cast bios, I think they have definitely made it a point again to cast plenty of interesting people and, for lack of a better term, people with “sob stories”, so they have the content to dive back into that well. It will hinge on how much the castaways play into their background, or if they are at least encouraged by producers to talk about it.

How will production balance the edit, learning from Season 41?

The tonal shift in Survivor 41 was very noticeable compared to seasons past. More focus on cinematic storytelling. Using flashback photos for castaways. Spending extended time for social commentary and discussions about issues outside the game like the pandemic or about race (most notably around the blindside of Shan and the balancing act of a black castaway’s desire to individually win, but also to be a “team player” and represent for the culture). I wonder, first off, if similarly weighty discussion will be as prevalent as Survivor 41 for this cast. Then, if real-world topics enter the game again, will Survivor spend the same time and energy for discussion that we had already in the previous season. If the discussions tread the same water as things we already unpacked in 41, will Survivor production choose to put the focus on that again, or will that take a consistent secondary role for the more traditional strategy talk and game moves. It should be noted that this diverse cast enters Survivor 42 without the knowledge of Survivor 41, and with the pandemic and social unrest of 2020–21 still in their minds.

On a less serious note, will the edit choose to go into such depth explaining new twists, or will the assumption be that you know this from last season and less time will be spent explaining things. Survivor production now has input from the fans given reception from 41. People don’t want half of an episode to be explaining some twist that ends up being inconsequential in the end. I’m interested to see how the presentation is adjusted and how the balance in content is decided.

Wild Predictions?

I’m really gonna have to pull something out of my ass here: for now I don’t have much to work with lol.

Really Wild Predictions? Like REALLY Really Wild?

Since I think the hourglass twist will be a one season thing, they have to replace it with something new. So… here’s my merge twist:

Bring all the tribes to a new merge beach. Jeff says you have to earn your way into the merge this time. He tells the castaways that there are merge buffs hidden around the island, enough for half the people to find one. If you find a merge buff, you gain safety and get to be in the merge feast (like Survivor 41). If you don’t, you compete in the immunity challenge and you can be voted out (like in 41).

However, two of the buffs have a BEWARE advantage where you can choose to open it or you have to put it back and just take the buff. One advantage allows you to keep the buff and go to the feast, BUT you have to replace one person at the feast with someone who doesn’t have a buff (a smaller version of the hourglass twist). If you find this advantage but someone took the buff already, then you just take someone’s merge buff and feast spot. The second beware advantage forces you to forgo getting your merge buff, but you get a hidden immunity idol instead (or at least an obvious clue to one). Therefore, if you can get through the next vote without needing to use it then you get an idol in your pocket, but can still protect yourself just in case.

Can’t wait for the next season of Survivor to begin and I hope you come back around weekly to read these recaps! I’m going to attempt to post Wednesday night after the episode, but if there’s too much to dissect then you can expect it by Thursday night.

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jfish

Reality TV connoisseur writing about the shows I like, especially Survivor. I also watch the Challenge, the Bachelor, Love is Blind, and more.