Survivor 43 — First Impressions and Wild Speculations
So The NEW ERA of Survivor is right around the corner from starting, 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, subsequent video content published 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 in this new shortened format. Let’s go!
MAKING JUDGEMENTS ON EVERY PLAYER BASED OFF THEIR OFFICIAL CBS CAST BIO IN ONE OR TWO SENTENCE
Mike — Hello fellow kids vibes.
Owen — Low floor high ceiling type of player? Could see him go far or burn out fast.
Sami — He’s called himself insecure and indecisive in his bio. At least he’s self-aware about how sloppy his gameplay will probably be.
Elie — She compared how she would play the game to arguably the four best female Survivor players in the show’s history hmmm.
Morriah — One of her biggest accomplishments is opening a selfie museum. Doesn’t feel like she’s trying to be a strategic threat.
Jeanine — I had to look up what a UX designer was. She makes websites.
Geo — I feel like his social game could get sloppy. Feels like he has a lot of confidence.
Lindsay — Kinda feels like budget Chrissy from HvHvH, but I don’t think we will see the same success.
Cassidy — Major hippie vibes
Karla — She kinda screams pre-merge boot to me. I think others will put her into the unathletic female box and will hinder her game.
James — Reads like an intellectual and analytical thinker. Like mixing Cagayan Spencer and Jamal from IOTI.
Ryan — I want to cheer for him. I’m worried people will dismiss him or not see him as a threat.
Cody — He’s the real life version of Paul Rudd’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. We will have to see if he has any strategic chops, because on the surface he seems like a lovable idiot.
Justine — Her bio screams personality to me. I feel like she could get far, but I don’t see her leading alliances.
Nneka — Feels like pre-merge boot to me. Feels like she gets shoehorned into the mom role.
Noelle — If she can move past the immediate shock of her tribemates seeing her prosthetic leg, I think she can go far. Feels like a well-rounded Survivor player.
Jesse — Has potential in my eyes, if he can make a good first impression.
Dwight — Could fall prey to “young person who thinks he has the social game on lock” syndrome.
AFTER CONSUMING INTERVIEW CONTENT AND HEARING ALL THE CASTAWAYS SPEAK ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THEIR GAME, HERE’S MY SPECULATIVE PRESEASON RANKINGS
18. Nneka — She falls into an unfortunate category of Survivor castaway: the unassuming oldest woman. Unless her social game is on point, or another castaway in her starting tribe makes a mess of things, I see Nneka being an easy early boot option. There just isn’t anything about her that is standing out to me personality wise.
But hey, don’t feel bad Nneka. My lowest ranked Survivor 42 castaway preseason was Omar. That probably means Nneka is the next Omar.
17. Cody — A character of the purest form. He feels like the type of guy who burns so hot day one that his tribe doesn’t want anything to do with him. He needs to prove himself vital for challenges early on to protect his spot, because his personality looks like the type to get him into trouble.
16. Karla — She’s said it herself in her intro video that she is not one to shy away from drama. I think it will be impossible for her to keep a low profile unless she has the game by the throat in her first tribe. But let’s be real, there’s no way she avoids social game trouble within the first few days of the season. Definitely the most likely to say something on the show that will pit Survivor’s conservative and liberal fan bases fervently against each other.
15. Sami — The teenager of the cast. I think that may translate to having one of the weakest social games of the season. His youth and bro-eyness will leave older castaways dismissing his game and his gullibility will be at exploitable levels.
14. Morriah — Is she going to wear the rainbow dress on the island? That seems to be the worst piece of clothing to wear at a makeshift camp in Fiji. There’s a lot of similarities in her bubbly personality to Maryanne’s, and off the back of Maryanne’s Survivor 42 victory I think castaways will be more wary of players like Morriah. But she’s most likely to blindside her castaways with color and stab them with smiles!
13. Cassidy — While she believes the universe is manifesting her Survivor 43 victory, she looks to be a castaway that will struggle to command power in the game. She’s really gonna have to channel her inner fox spirit animal to align the chakras and will her way to the merge as Mother Nature intended.
12. Mike — Politely, looks are doing no favors for Mike, but hearing him speak gave me a bit more confidence in Mike’s chances to find a strongish position early on. I think on age he could still be seen as weaker and sent home early if he’s on a flailing tribe.
11. Geo — Survivor 43’s confident gay male castaway feels like he could go the Hai route and confidently lead votes, but I’m worried his journey may look a bit more like Romeo. He wants to come out aggressive at the start so as long as he doesn’t trip himself up, he could do some damage at the merge, like Ricard.
10. Dwight — Clearly a smart guy if he’s interviewing senators and politicians. I still feel like Dwight may be lacking that dog in him to come out on top in a tense pre or post-merge vote. Feeling like he’s the “young guy who isn’t socially aware enough” type of player.
9. Lindsay — She projects a smidge of HvHvH Chrissy and could be surprisingly good at challenges, but her personality looks to be quite vanilla. I think Lindsay will do fine, she just will be a low impact character in the greater story of Survivor 43.
8. Owen — The most outward superfans in the past few seasons have seen mixed success. The big question will be if Owen can move past the allure of being on the show and move into the political capital-building to set himself up well for the future. I think he can.
7. Jeanine — A castaway that I feel more confident will have a deeper social game beyond the outward bubbiness of someone like Morriah. Was getting a lot of Erika vibes in her interviews, which could help or hurt her given (like Morriah and Maryanne) the recent Erika victory. I think if she sticks to a more under the radar game people will be more keen to sniff it out and remove it before the final third of the season.
6. James — Chess players, both real and fake, have seen strategic success in the past. My only worry is that James was lacking charisma in his interviews, and that makes me worry he won’t have an influential social game to work with.
5. Justine — She has committed to playing a “slow burn” style of game where she keeps a low profile early and rises to take control late. If she can avoid painting a social target early (she’s my “Most Likely to be Parvati-ed” vote for the season) and back it up with good challenge performances, Justine could build the foundation for a good season.
4. Ryan — Off first impressions Ryan seems to be a very genuine soul, which will be great to build trust in the early game and pretty much writes him into the merge if the day one numbers fall his way. The question will be if he is cutthroat and aware enough to translate that into resume moves?
3. Elie — I continue to get “Student of the Game” vibes from Elie, and I think she will have success both strategically and socially as long as she comes off as genuine to people. Tori’s failure in Survivor 42 was an overlying aura of “game move” to her interactions, so Elie’s success or failure will hinge on that as well.
2. Noelle — If Noelle can get past the initial shock from tribemates seeing her prosthetic leg (which given the modern day cast I think will be an easy hurdle to get over), then I like her chances for a deep run as someone with a strong competitive edge. She’s simply my “I have a good feeling” player of the season. I have a good feeling about Noelle.
1. Jesse — The former gang member turned PHD student impressed me the most out of this cast, who combines the best parts of the social game and strategic game. He felt very nuanced when answering questions in his interviews. I wonder if he will be open with his rough past or if he will choose to hide it? Survivor definitely hasn’t hid it. The fact that as I was sitting in a Buffalo Wild Wings watching football on a Sunday afternoon and the Survivor promo I saw flashing on my screen every five minutes was just 15 seconds of Jesse’s life story makes me think he’s gonna be the star of the season. Like, the trailer isn’t even a Survivor trailer: it’s just a Jesse trailer. Apparently the draw to bring new people into Season 43 is the pure name value of Survivor, and “Look at Jesse! Isn’t he interesting!”
MAKING 5 GUESSES ABOUT WHAT COULD BE IN STORE FROM THIS SEASON
Self-Kept Advantage Secrets Will Be Back in Vogue for Survivor 43
Two seasons of advantages and beware idols that put any piece of jewelry or parchment you earned in the game of Survivor out in the open, the one advantage that has the most lethal impact was Maryanne’s idol, which she found on her own and kept hidden all the way to the final tribal council which she could flash for clout in front of a jury. Also, this cast probably watched Survivor 41 and 42 and saw that two people held one of the most powerful advantages in the game’s history in the “Knowledge is Power Advantage Steal” used to complete failure due to castaways sharing the information with people. I think this cast of superfans will take that knowledge and use it to power themselves, with keeping advantages secret from even their closest allies. It is the secrecy of an advantage that allows it to be used to its fullest potential: when no one is expecting it.
As a side note: I think this season if someone finds a beware advantage somewhere in the game (if they exist), that they will choose to leave it there. The beware idol was not an advantage, but a curse last season and I think someone will be wise to that.
ALL Twists from 41 and 42 will be either Scrapped or Reworked
The New Era of Survivor had its biggest moment of controversy (from a game perspective, not a social commentary perspective which is a minefield in itself), was the wild twists the show introduced. Many of these twists fell flat in the game itself, or were heavily scrutinized by fans. What we do know about the new era is that the show is ready to experiment with itself, and the show won’t shy away from new twists: but I do think the show will listen to the fans a little bit and scrap the big twists from 41 and 42. That means no prisoner’s dilemma, no beware idol funny phrases, no hourglass, and no Do or Die twist. They will 100% be replaced by something else, or at least be heavily tweaked.
Sidenote: I wrote this before Jeff said in an interview that hourglass and do-or-die have been scrapped. I wonder what the new controversial and broken twist will be?
The First New Era Tribe Swap Will Happen This Season
The first tribe swap in Survivor history occurred in Season 3, so it seems only fitting that Season 43 will have the first New Era tribe swap. I’m sure Survivor production will find some crazy way to implement this. Maybe they have to take a secret survey? Maybe they will have to search for a new buff like a game of hide and seek? Maybe just split the tribes by race? Wait wait wait, don’t do that one.
Castaways Will Not Let Other Castaways Float to the Finish Strategically (Translation: The Big Move Era Returns)
The last two winners, Erika and Maryanne, were players who floated their way through the first 75% of the game and took command in the final 25% (Erika with an established political game, Maryanne with a big blindside). Both were players that got a bit overlooked by the other castaways because on first look they weren’t seen as threats. I think in Survivor 43, the more outward personalities will band together more to go after these “under the radar” strategists or social capitalists, leading to more castaways in the post merge who will be dying to make the big more or the epic blindside. That can be a blessing or a curse for this season: players who make big moves don’t stick in tribal based cliques which could spice up numbers and alliances often in the post merge. Survivor 41 struggled late because of how tribal the alliance lines ended up being which made the late votes dull. However, there is a risk that these big move players will also be sloppy, which makes for bad gameplay. Survivor 42 was great because the strategy was so clean and dynamic. Long story short: we want more Survivor 42, less Survivor 41.
Some Sort of Novel Exile Island Style Twist will be Introduced
I’m going off of pure, unadulterated speculation from the trailer, which essentially gave us nothing about the season except action shot close ups of castaways and generic hype building confessionals since Survivor is done with themes and is relying 100% on elevator pitch style stories of strangers to promote the upcoming season. There were a few shots of a lone silhouetted castaway with a machete and while sane people may write it off as just generic Survivor stock footage I think it’s a very subtle hint of an exile island mechanic this season.
Survivor 43 starts this Wednesday! I’m planning to write recaps possibly to be posted after the episode, but on Thursday evening at the latest barring a crazy busy week. I’m excited to see how the game is pushed forward now that we are really in the new era!