Season 26 of Caramoan is under a month away, so it’s time to look closely at who is playing and who is returning as we get ready to celebrate the second Fans vs. Favourites season! Our resident reviewer Jarryd Elliot is back to take a closer look at the castaways, with Ben also chiming in as well for his thoughts on the 10 new castaways and 10 returning ones! And for the first ever time, we present a special ‘preview episode’, as Ben is joined by his Ozlets (including some new ones for their debut appearance) to discuss their thoughts on the cast as well as what they think will happen in season 26 of Survivor!
It seems only the other day that I was sitting down to write about the Survivor: Philippines Finale and then began to wait patiently for the beginning of Survivor: Caramoan.
Well the new season isn’t quite upon us yet; however we now have a definite cast list that we can familiarize ourselves with before Survivor: Caramoan premieres on February 13th
As we all know, Survivor: Caramoan is another edition of one of the finest concepts Survivor has seen – Die hard “fans” of Survivor taking on a group of “favourites” who have returned from seasons past. As has been the norm in the past few years, Caramoan was filmed in the same location as the Philippines; so you’re not going crazy if you spot some familiar landscape. It’s not only previous castaways who will be returning, Hidden Immunity Idols will once again come into play in a season that Probst has said himself “is better than Philippines.”
We are back to the two tribe format this season. Like Micronesia, we’ll see the fans take on the favourites; although I’m sure they will through a tribe swap in their somewhere. The tribe colours will be the same as those used in Micronesia, with the favourite’s tribe “Bikal” (PURPLE), and fans tribe “Gota” (ORANGE), with both tribes being named after towns in Caramoan. Without further ado, I’ll introduce the favourites.
The Survivor: Caramoan cast – The “favourites” (purple buffs) and the “fans” (orange buffs).
Erik Reichenbach, 27, Comic Book Artist from Santa Clarita, California
Erik Reichenbach is back; this time as a favourite. Everyone’s beloved ice-cream scooper first played in the original Fans vs. Favorites season as a die-hard fan who idolized Ozzy Lusth. After making it through to the merge, Erik soon became a target of the Parvati Shallow led “black widow” alliance, however a run of Individual Immunities saved him from being voted out. However, the favourites outsmarted Erik when they convinced him to give up Individual Immunity on day thirty-six as a way of apologising for his lies and deceit, promising not to vote him out. At the resulting Tribal Council, a naïve Erik gave up Immunity to fellow ‘fan’ Natalie Bolton; believing he was safe from the vote. In what will go down as one of the worst moves and best Tribal Council’s in the history of the show, Erik was sent home by the four remaining women, where he finished in fifth place.
(Download our interview with Erik here)
Corinne Kaplan, 33, Clinical Consultant from Los Angeles
Corinne returns this season after passing up the opportunity to appear on Heroes vs. Villains due to work commitments. During her time in Gabon, Corinne appeared to be in the box seat, as she was in control of the dominant Kota alliance just before the merge. However, a twist in the game saw a third tribal switch; which shifted the balance of power. Immune from the vote, Corinne’s game was turned upside down when she learnt her ally; Marcus Lehman had been voted out after a member of their alliance had turned on him. Vulnerable, Corrine began to speak her mind, knowing her time in Gabon was coming to an end. She was voted out on day thirty-three, and joined her former alliance on the Jury. At the Final Tribal Council, Corinne ripped into the Final Three, calling for eventual runner up Susie to have her vocal cords removed; whilst telling Sugar to take a course of anti-depressants to make her stop crying about the death of her recently deceased father.
Brenda Lowe, 30, Paddleboard Co Owner from Miami, Florida
Brenda was a strategic and physical firepower in Nicaragua before she was betrayed by her alliance for being to powerful. Brenda got off to a good start, finding the Medallion of Power for the La Flor tribe just after the game began. Brenda began to develop alliances early, getting numbers on her side in an attempt to vote out Kelly Bruno, due to the fact she would receive the “sympathy vote” because of her artificial leg. Brenda and Sash became the power couple of La Flor; then Libertad. After controlling the La Flor tribe from early on, Brenda stayed in control of the game following a tribe swap and continued her rein of power in the early stages of the merge, where she was able to vote out two of her biggest strategic threats. However, the game changed when members of her alliance began to question her loyalty. After being told about a plan to vote her out, Brenda refused to scramble, putting all her trust in her alliance staying loyal to her; as well as the proposition of her ally, Sash, giving up his Hidden Immunity Idol. Unfortunately, Sash didn’t pull through, voting instead with a new alliance to remove Brenda from the game where she became the third Jury member.
Francesca Hogi, 38, Attorney from Brooklyn, N.Y
Francesca, (or Francesqua if you suffer from dry-mouth like Phillip Sheppard), is easily the biggest surprise out of the ten favourites picked to return. Francesca was immediately on the outs of the Ometepe tribe as she struggled to cope with Boston Rob taking control. She rallied, speaking to the other members of the tribe outside of Rob’s control. However, Francesca put her trust into the wrong person as Phillip revealed the details of her plan to the Ometepe tribe at the opening Tribal Council. With nowhere or no one to hide behind, Francesca became the first victim of the “Stealth ‘R Us” alliance; as she became the first castaway to take up residence on Redemption Island. Francesca was finally eliminated from the game on day six after she was defeated in the first ever Redemption Island Duel.
Andrea Boehlke, 23, Entertainment Host and Writer from New York
Andrea holds a record in Survivor – she is the only female to ever return to the game via Redemption Island. Yeah, it’s not exactly top of the “Records Survivor contestants strive to hold” list; nevertheless, it’s a record. Andrea played a critical role in Boston Rob’s alliance in Redemption Island. After forming a close bond with Matt Elrod early, Andrea was shattered when Boston Rob took out her ally, thus eliminating a possible threat of a pair later in the game. After the incident, Andrea stayed loyal to Rob through until the merge; however her loyalty was then tested when Matt returned to the game. Andrea proved her loyalty to the ‘Ometepe six’ when she voted with them to once again blindside Matt. Andrea proved capable in both the physical and social aspects of the game after the merge, winning an Individual Immunity and making friends with the slowly dwindling numbers of Zapatera. Believing she had a Final Four deal with Rob, Andrea stayed loyal to her alliance until Rob blindsided her when he recognised she was a threat to win the game. In the final Redemption Island Duel of the season, Andrea beat Matt, Mike and Ralph and returned to the game. However, after failing to win Immunity, she was once again sent home by her former alliance for the second time; she became the eighth Jury member.
Phillip Sheppard, 54, CEO of Enter Software Sales from Santa Monica, California
Believe it or not, Phillip placed highest out of all ten favourites. Yep, everyone’s favourite Special Agent, who can connect with his ancient elders through feathers, starts racial wars over rice containers and sports pink underwear, is back! Phillip was the perfect “goat” in Redemption Island and it took Boston Rob a matter of days to figure out he was taking Phil all the way to the end. After exploding at Ometepe’s first Tribal Council, Phil cooled down and gave his word to Boston Rob that he was with him all the way. Through the guidance of Rob, Phillip worked his way to the Final Tribal Council, annoying everyone along the way, where he received one vote, enough to take second place over youngster Natalie Tenerelli. (Sorry guys, she’s not returning this season). Phillip endured a difficult time in Nicaragua with everybody finding him annoying; not only because of his tendency to fly off the handle for no particular reason, but also because many of his fellow tribe members saw a few areas of Phillip that nobody should have to see.
(Download our interview with Phillip here)
Dawn Meehan, 42, English Professor from South Jordan, Utah
Dawn took on the ‘Holly Hoffman’ storyline in her days in the South Pacific. Dawn struggled to fit in early; finding it difficult to connect with her younger tribe. After a slight breakdown, Dawn was able to pull it together and begin to play the game. In the tribal stage of the game, Dawn proved her strength in challenges elevating her standing in the tribe. Dawn, along with Cochran and Jim, bonded together in order to eliminate the possible ‘couple’ threat Ozzy was creating with fellow tribesman Elyse. After reaching the merge, Dawn won an Individual Immunity Challenge before opting to stay loyal to the Savaii tribe in the hope of taking out Upolu. Unfortunately, the Savaii ‘trojan horse’ plan didn’t go to plan and Dawn became a pawn to Upolu until she was voted out after trying her best to be-friend them on day twenty-seven. The following day, Dawn lost to Ozzy in a Redemption Island Duel, making her elimination from the game official. Dawn finished in tenth place, making her the third Jury member.
(Download our interview with Dawn here)
John Cochran, 25, Harvard Law Student from Washington, D.C
Everyone’s favourite “weasel” from South Pacific returns, ready to prove that he’s more than just “that guy” that helped an Upolu member win. Cochran gave himself a reputation on day one, asking Jeff to call him by his surname because “Jeff calls all the good players by their surnames.” Cochran is also a super fan, so it probably wasn’t the smartest way to start off because his tribe immediately saw him as a nerd. His lack of physical strength and difficulty in the social scene didn’t help him fit into the Savaii tribe. After surviving several Tribal Council’s, he was thrown a lifeline when he helped take out Ozzy’s closest ally. Cochran survived another Tribal Council when Ozzy implemented his “trojan horse” plan, hoping to rally the Savaii tribe. The experience of Coach saw right through the plan and then went about recruiting Cochran as the swing vote. At the first Tribal Council following the merge, the votes were locked a six-six. At the re-vote, Cochran flipped against Savaii and aligned himself with Upolu. It didn’t work out quite so well for him though. After helping to vote out his former Savaii tribe, Cochran was then sent packing by Upolu. On Redemption Island, Cochran came very close to beating Ozzy. He was unsuccessful and became the fifth Jury Member.
Brandon Hantz, 21, Chemical Disposal from Katy, Texas
The Hantz name continues to make the headlines in Survivor but it’s not Russell returning. His nephew, Brandon Hantz; the God loving, respectable Christian man from South Pacific returns to prove that whilst giving up Immunity might have cost him his place in the game, you can win Survivor playing the “good guy” game. Brandon struggled early on in South Pacific as he tried his best to hide he was related to Russell. He wasn’t able to conceal his secret though, filling in the tribe about his family; placing a huge target on his back. Brandon played the game very differently to his uncle; instead of burning socks and finding Idols, it was all about praying to God and keeping his word to his alliance. Brandon was a strong competitor in challenges, though let himself down in the strategy department, Perceived as a “loose cannon” for leaking valuable information, Brandon was kept on a tight leash by Coach during his time in the game. In the end, Brandon came undone when he gave up Individual Immunity to save his friend from elimination. Just like Erik Reichenbach before him, Brandon was voted out and sent to Redemption Island. Brandon took on Ozzy in the final Redemption Island duel, where he failed to redeem himself and was eliminated from the game on day thirty-six.
(Download our interview with Brandon here)
Malcolm Freberg, 25, Bartender from Hermosa Beach, California
Malcolm; who just missed the fan favourite award in the most recent season, returns after getting voted out by the people whom he thought had his back on day thirty-eight. Malcolm started out on the Matsing tribe where we formed a close bond with Denise. The pair stuck together as Matsing struggled; surviving four consecutive Tribal Council’s in the first ten days of the game. Reduced to a tribe of two, Malcolm found the Hidden Immunity Idol just before Matsing was dissolved, where he then became a Tandang member. His physical prowess further assisted Tandang as he made it through to the merge without visiting Tribal Council again. On the day of the Merge, Lisa discovered Malcolm’s Idol. After swearing to keep the information secret, she rallied her former Tandang tribe, hoping to vote out Malcolm and flush out the Idol. Her plan failed as Malcolm countered her plan with one of his own. Shortly afterwards, Malcolm was involved in the biggest power switch of the season, thus securing his position in the game. From there, he created a Final Four alliance to ensure his survival. After reaching the Final Four without the need to play his Idol, Malcolm made a Final Three deal, backstabbing his ally Denise in the process. When Denise questioned his motives, he avoided the question and Denise understood she was in trouble. After failing to win the Final Immunity Challenge (even with an advantage), Malcolm was double-crossed by his Final Three alliance as he was voted out on day thirty-eight, becoming the eighth and final Jury member.
There you have it; the ten returning “favourites”. Between the ten of them, they span from six different seasons; with Redemption Island offering up three (clearly it’s not the worst season in production’s eyes), three from South Pacific, one from Nicaragua, one from Gabon, one from Micronesia and one from the most recent season of the Philippines.
Overall, the ten players have a combined total of 311 days played, (down from 359 in Micronesia), only one has made it to the Final Tribal Council (compared to two in Micronesia), and three out of the ten returning players have played for less than thirty days, (zero in Micronesia).
Now for the fans…
Alexandra “Allie” Pohevitz, 25, Bartender from Oceanside, N.Y
Allie describes her social game as her biggest asset. She hopes to fly under the radar because people will underestimate her; however she will do anything to win, including stirring up trouble if she needs to. Her pet peeves are dirty people, so chances are she might have a nervous breakdown at the sight or smell or her fellow tribe members.
Edward “Eddie” Fox, 23, Fireman/EMT from East Brunswick, New Jersey
Eddie hopes his physical ability will be a major reason his tribe keep him around early on. His goal is to fit in easily in the tribe by being the “happy and funny” guy. Eddie signed up to play the game for the adventure; he has an extremely driven personality and wants to get things done. This could see him clash with others if he becomes bossy. Eddie hates puzzles, which will come back to bite him in the challenge’s. Interestingly, a fire-fighter also appeared on the fans tribe in Survivor: Micronesia, Joel Anderson.
Hope Driskill, 23, Pre Law Student from Jefferson City, Missouri
Hope is a one time beauty pageant contestant who won Miss Missouri USA. She hopes her positive and focus attitude, combined with her outdoors background, will help her work well with the other members of her tribe. She is highly competitive and doesn’t like to lose. She states that she is similar to former contestants Andrea Boehlke and Brenda Lowe; who funnily enough, she will be competing against.
Julia Landauer, 21, Race car driver and Stanford University student from Stanford, California
Julia has one of the most diverse backgrounds of the fans. She is a female race car driver and also attends Stanford University. She hopes to combine her competitiveness from the track, and smarts from University to be a threat physically and mentally. Julia says she can turn aggression on and off quickly and will do everything to win. She likens herself to One World winner, Kim Spradlin, however to me, she’s more of a Danni Boatwright (Survivor: Guatemala), because she wants her fellow castaways to underestimate her so she is able to hide her strategy and fly under the radar until the time is right to show her true intentions.
Laura Alexander, 23, Administrative Officer from Washington D.C
Laura describes herself as extremely independent and confident. She doesn’t trust anyone, preferring to rely on herself than to trust others. Laura hails from a small town and hopes this will help her social game. She has traveled to over ten different countries and insists that even at the young age of twenty-three, she has an abundance of life experience. She states she is the complete package, minus the muscle and will go out of her way to push people’s buttons to cause trouble. Like Hope, she also likens herself to returning favourite, Brenda Lowe.
Matt Bischoff, 38, BMX Bike Sales from Cincinnati, Ohio
Matt screams ‘Rupert Boneham’ with Lex’s tattoos. From the beard; to his personality and the fact he admits he has a big heart; Matt could very well be the new friendly giant with a truck load of compassion. He describes himself as funny, yet sensitive, admitting that he might look like a “bad ass” with his hair and beard, but deep down he’s not afraid to cry. He believes he is the complete package but his emphasise will be on his ability to socialize with his tribe members. Matt has been preparing for the game for a few months and states that it’s a fantastic opportunity to play the game he’s wanted to play for a long time.
Michael Snow, 44, Event Planner from New York
Michael is an interesting character. He loves to challenge himself, is a bit goofy (hopefully he doesn’t have the same luck as Mike Skupin), and loves theatre and knitting. Like most of the fans, he thinks he has the best social game there is, as he’s willing to listen rather than speaking up. Michael has said he is willing to misrepresent himself in order to extend his time in the game but only if he needs to. Part of his strategy is to fit in, be a likeable tribe members and then step up and make the big move when the time is right.
Reynold Toepfer, 30, Real Estate Sales from San Francisco, California
Reynold is already a favourite in the Survivor Oz offices; not because he stands out, but because he’s spent some time living in Australia! Reynold plans to use this experience to his advantage, stating it will help him develop friendships quickly. He describers himself as “the guy you want to be around” but also the guy who will do whatever it takes to win, including crossing the line. He plans to enjoy the experience and make people like him by being a motivator with a smile on his face.
Shamar Thomas, 27, Iraq War Veteran from Brooklyn, New York
Shamar is a war veteran who fought in Iraq and he feels that Survivor is something that he can undergo because of what he has endured during his military career. Based on his intro videos, he’s got a great personality, someone who is very likeable. In saying that, his military background might work against him because he is too trusting. There’s no doubt that physically and mentally he’ll be capable, it’s his social game that is the worry – Shamar doesn’t wasn’t to fall into the “military leader” role and end up being the first to go because he’s to bossy. Shamar also says he wants his fellow tribe members to suffer and therefore has no hesitation in making the experience as horrible as possible for them. (Believe it or not, he doesn’t liken himself to Russell Hantz, instead to Rupert Boneham).
Sherri Biethman, 41, Fast Food Franchise Owner from Boise, Idaho
Sherri is the oldest female on the fans tribe, which could cause her some problems fitting in with her much younger female tribe members. What will work in her favour is that she manages sixty teenage children who work at her fast food chain; meaning she should find it easy to relate and talk to the girls. Another negative for Sherri is that she’s leaving her family for longer than a week for the first time in her life; therefore I can easily see her falling into the ‘Holly Hoffman’ role. Sherri isn’t going out to the Philippines un-prepared though. She’s been training physically and mentally for three months, even going as far as recreating challenges at home. She’s a true lifelong fan of the show, naming her eleven year old son after season two heartthrob Colby Donaldson.
Season 26 is here! How time flies!
Jeff Probst is adamant that this season is one of the best, should we believe him? Well he did say the same for Redemption Island, but he also did say Philippines was pretty good too. So who knows. The casting is certainly very very interesting to say the least. The fans to me all look the same, and all look like a blend of former castaways. The favourites are littered with some good choices and some real ‘WTF’ choices. It’s going to be some interesting viewing.
Nobody on the fans really shine for me as a clear winner. Mind you, last season I didn’t put Denise up there as one of my tips, so who really is a ‘clear winner’? I swear Laura, Hope and Allie are all the same person and have just been cloned in order to bring in the ‘three blondes’. Having said that, Hope is very very easy on the eye so she automatically gets my vote as somebody I want to see go far. But really there isn’t a stand out amongst them as anyone who screams “I WILL DO WELL”, so it’s a fine line to discovering a new Natalie White or a new Angie Leyton. Julia stands out to me just because she is a race driver. That to me is one of the coolest Survivor professions yet! She looks like a mixture of Sophie and Alexis, so I think she has the potential to do well if she can play like either of them (or both). Sherri screams a ‘hotter Kim Johnson’ from Africa, but obviously is a super fan having named her son Colby. Somebody like that should know the game well, but how much can you know about the game without playing it? I feel as though she will be an early boot or an older woman who makes it far but goes just before the end. It’s actually really disappointing not to see many older people this season, with Phillip Sheppard being the oldest at 54. But back to the fans. Matt is easily the one person that screams “FAN FAVOURITE” before this game has started. He looks like Ralph Kiser and Zane Knight had a love child with a bit of Rupert and Lex as well, and if he is as entertaining as any of those four then the audience will love him. But will he play well? I hope so, as he just seems like somebody who could go far. Eddie is the ‘Pete’ this season, looks like a buff young man who should do well but usually doesn’t. He is a fireman though, so harking back to Joel in Micronesia, who knows what will happen. I know a lot of people here at the Survivor Oz offices like him, but I don’t get the big deal. Michael, or as I like to call him ‘the gay Ace’ or ‘gayce’ (no disrespect intended) I think can go far. I hear a few people saying he could be the villain this season, which would be great. I usually like bald men in Survivor, and I feel as though he can do well if he can fit in well enough. Another I like the look of is Shamar. Strong, outspoken and ‘willing to do what it takes’, I think he will either end up as the ‘next Russell’ or ‘the next Zane’. All in and all out, or he will just fizz out. I hope it’s the former. And finally Reynold, who loves him some Australia. He gives me a Amazon Matt vibe, and let’s hope he is just as entertaining!
The favourites? Well let’s go through the decent folk first. Phillip, glad to see him back. I think he is entertaining and has the potential to go far and be the ‘goat’ again. Interestingly he is the only returning player to have made the final tribal council before, so that could work for him if he makes it deep again. Erik, super excited to see him back. I think there is so much more to him than just the guy who gave up immunity, and I hope he gets a shot at redemption a second time around, something I think he can do. Dawn is a lovely woman who people will be drawn too and underestimate, and I think she will go far and possibly to the end. Corinne is also somebody I’m glad to see back and I hope she brings out more of the ‘evil’ that apparently wasn’t seen as much in Gabon as we would’ve liked to see. Believe it or not, I’m glad to see Brandon. He is entertaining, a loose cannon and somebody who will create drama. Already looking forward to the favourites first tribal council to see how he puts his foot in his mouth again! Although I wasn’t the biggest Malcolm fan in Philippines, I still like him, so I’m glad he is back for a second shot. Given nobody knows him, and given back to back players always do well their second time around, he’ll easily make the merge and possibly even the final tribal council based off that alone. And finally Cochran, who I love. I think he has the smarts a second time around that can take him far. He’s played one, he knows what is different about the game instead of just writing about it, and that should work for him. The ones I’m not that excited to see? Well Andrea, I don’t even know what to say. Yeah ok she did well in Redemption Islands, but I only know of her as some cult figure amongst fans. She seems like a nice woman and easily could be the ‘Amanda or Candice’ of this season and go very deep again, but I doubt it. Francesca is clearly the biggest WTF of the cast. Nothing against her as a person, as it’s not her fault she was brought back, but surely if they wanted to bring back a first boot there were better options? It’ll be great to see her go up with Phillip again, and I think the fact she was a first boot will mean she will go far, merge easily, and if she teams up with her fellow Redemption Island crew then that will work well for her. Brenda, meh. Not a big fan, never got the big deal about her in Nicaragua, and there are plenty of other Nicaragua contestants who deserve a spot over her. I think her arrogance and cocky attitude as well as the fact she thinks she is hotter than god (and she really isn’t that special) will work against her.
Overall I can see why some people were brought back and why some weren’t. I’m bitterly disappointed not to see any One World contestants brought back. There are easily 10-12 people from that season who would be great to bring back, and I think CBS have missed a great opportunity to bring some of these people back a second time. Imagine Colton up against Phillip or Brandon? Kat being kooky with Corinne? Or even Tarzan having conversations with Phillip? The mouth waters at such a prospect and whether you love or hate One World, you can’t deny it had a great cast.
Who is my tip for the win? And first boot? I’m going out on a limb and saying Dawn, Malcolm or Cochran will win from the favourites and from the fans if I had to choose, Julia, Reynold or Matt. First boot will either be Phillip, Brandon or Brenda from the favourites and from the fans it’ll either be Laura, Hope or Allie, whichever one is blondest. No matter what though, bring it on! I can’t wait for it to kick off!
After twenty-five seasons, Survivor still has the power to get me excited for the beginning of a new season.
I’m really looking forward to this season. Micronesia is my favourite season for a variety of reasons and not just because Parvati won. I loved the concept of seeing some of my favourites return to play again, coupled with a fresh batch of new kids who were trying to overthrow their experienced counterparts.
One thing I’m not to fond of is the fact that the tribes are using the same colour scheme as Micronesia. I feel that they are trying to be symbolic, keeping the option open to use the same colours if a third fans vs. favourites season occurs. I don’t like it, I think they needed to have different tribe colours to differentiate between the two fans vs. favourites seasons – especially when they both carry the “FvF” tag. I’m hoping the merge buff isn’t green because it will defiantly feel like they are trying to recreate Micronesia.
One thing that I hate is the new players all likening themselves to the greats of the game. I’m sorry but not every single one of you is going to play like, or be the next Parvati Shallow, Boston Rob, Cirie Fields or Rupert Boneham! Liken yourself to a completely random former castaway and I might take you seriously. (Note to future contestants: Don’t liken yourself to a completely useless player, then I really won’t take you seriously.)
As for the retuning players; there is no way known that they are equal to the favourites from Micronesia. However, brining back castaways for their third or fourth shots at the million, (such as Tyson Apostol, Danielle DiLorenzo etc.) would have been ridiculous; so I like the fact they have gone with a bunch of one time players.
In saying that, there are definitely some surprises choices in the mix of ten. I have to say that there are a number of castaways I would have asked back ahead of some of the ones that got the nod. In my book, Taj Johnson, Erinn Lobdell, Sierra Reed, Laura Morett, Alina Wilson and Ashley Underwood would have been up there to return ahead of the likes of Dawn and Francesca. As for the men, Shane Powers, Marcus Lehman, Stephen Fishbach, Marty Piombo and Jim Rice, are all strong strategic players, (well, Shane more for just the comedic value), that could easily classify for a second chance over Cochran and Brandon. Alas, I’m not a casting producer so I’ll have to live with it, or get a job with CBS before the next All-Stars or FvF season.
So by now you know that I don’t think Francesca, Dawn, Cochran and Brandon deserve to return; but I do think the remaining six do. Seeing Erik back as a favourite is a fantastic choice. It’s a real shame they didn’t cast/couldn’t get Alexis Jones or Natalie Bolton to come back because it would have been fantastic viewing. Erik has a reputation going into the season; the bonus for him is that it’s mostly a negative view, people think of him as an idiot. Compared to someone like Brenda, who comes into the game a huge power player, I think Erik will have more time to plan his game because of his mistake last time around. I think almost everyone will have a soft spot for Erik this season. I really hope he goes well; thus proving that the move by the ‘black widow’ alliance in Micronesia was truly brilliant.
For me, Corinne could go either way. I’m not a fan of Gabon but I honestly don’t think she did that much in the season. Sure, she was leading the ‘Onion Alliance’ but I felt she made some questionable decisions in Gabon that resulted in her alliance failing. All I really remember about Corinne was her Final Tribal Council speech to Sugar. I think she showed enough in Gabon to warrant a spot, yet I won’t be surprised if she doesn’t go to well.
I never liked Brenda. I don’t know what it was, probably the size of her ego. She was very confident about herself and her decision not to scramble upon her impending exit was terrible. She was definitely a good enough player to justify a return; however I think she’ll struggle this season with the reputation she’s brining into the game.
Francesca… I’m calling it now; she’s the worst two time player ever. There is no way she can win this season. To get the nod ahead of so many other deserve players who could have returned this season is a joke. She lasted in the game for three days before spending three on Redemption Island! Three Days!!! I hope she’s the first boot this season just to prove to production that there was nothing special about her at all.
As a Redemption Island fan, I’m thrilled that Andrea is coming back. True, I would have preferred Ashley Underwood, however I’m not complaining. For those who don’t think Andrea is deserving; she lasted until day thirty-seven, beat three males to get back into the game and was a strong enough physical, strategy and social threat during the game to make Boston Rob, (arguably the game’s best ever player), to want her gone. I hope Andrea can make it deep into the game, preferably getting to the Final Tribal Council.
Phillip isn’t exactly a great player, whilst I think he’s back from comedy reasons only, I’m not worried about the selection. It will be interesting to see how or if Phillip changes the way he played the first time; if he doesn’t, he’s guaranteed to make it to the end as the ‘goat’ and if he does, I can’t wait to see what he has in store!
Dawn is back for one reason; they needed an older woman as a favourite. Whilst I’m glad it’s Dawn over Holly, Jane or Lisa, I honestly have no idea why she was given the chance to return. Sure, she was strong in challenges, but other than that she wasn’t very memorable.
Cochran. Where do I start? Firstly, I just want to point out to all you “Savaii-lovers” that Cochran wasn’t the entire reason they were ‘Pagonged’. Jim Rice, Dawn and Cochran can all equally be held responsible; whilst Keith and Whitney can also shoulder some of the blame. The night some of the Savaii tribe decided to save Cochran and vote out Ozzy’s girl Elyse, was the reason Savaii were Pagonged. Why Cochran is returning is obvious, his flipped screwed five other people; however, I don’t feel the move was good enough to warrant a return. Looking at it logically, Cochran’s flip made him finish in seventh spot instead of sixth.
I’m not even going to talk about Brandon. There is only one reason why he’s returning and that’s because his last name is ‘Hantz’. I hope he fails this season because he was dead boring in South Pacific.
Finally, Malcolm deserves his second chance. He dominated the game last season and to come so close and lose it was heartbreaking. Malcolm doesn’t exactly have the odds on his side. After Russell played back to back in HvV, everyone will be on notice to make sure they don’t have another evil mastermind on their hands.
Moving onto the fans, there isn’t anyway that immediately leaps out at me. Personally, I don’t think Matt and Michael will last too long. Matt is very different and Michael seems like an easy target. Reynold and Eddie will be assets physically to the tribe, but I don’t think they are smart enough or social enough to lead an alliance. They both scream “Jason Siska” and judging by his reputation, I don’t think these two will be around very long.
I like Shamar. I don’t know what it is but he seems interesting. He’s got a decent back story, seems smart enough to know what to do and friendly enough to be liked. As I said in the recap, his biggest worry is not taking on a “sergeant” style role and ordering everyone around.
As for the females, I think Hope, Allie and Julia have potential. I think Hope and Allie are smart enough to work their way into an alliance, then work their way to the end. The odds that will happen aren’t high, however if they do make the merge, then the favourites take control like they did in Micronesia, two young, skinny blondes won’t be the biggest threats to get rid of ahead of the “buff” guys.
Julia is an interesting one. She reminds me somewhat of Sophie (South Pacific), however I don’t know if she’ll fit in. For me, she’ll either be successful and make the merge, or be an early boot because she won’t fit in, (think Kourtney Moon).
Laura is touch and go. She’ll either be an early boot or find herself in an alliance and be picked off towards the end. I can see her fitting into a “Purple Kelly” role; I just can’t see her living up to what she says she will do, so I won’t be surprised if she’s the “Artis” of this season – plenty of potential, but offers nothing.
As for Sherri “Tracey Hughes-Wolf” Biethman, I can’t see her going anywhere. She fits the “mother” role and I can see her breaking down early because she’s missing home. I don’t expect much from her at all, so it will surprise me if she makes the merge. She is a huge fan of the show though, so that will work in her favour. Oh and if you didn’t get my little joke, I’m referring to the “work” she’s had done on her face.
As for my tips, I’m not going to predict a winner, but I’m hoping Andrea, Erik, Malcolm can make it deep into the game for the favourites; whilst for the fans I’d like to see Hope and Shamar succeed. I’m hoping Francesca gets booted out first again; she doesn’t deserve to be there so I’d hate to see her outlast a favourite that does deserve their spot on this season.
I’ll see you all back here in about a month for the premiere recap!
Bring on season 26 and go Andrea!
In our first ever ‘preview episode’, Ben is joined by his Ozlets, including several newbies making their debut appearance on the show, to talk about their thoughts on the cast members as well as how they feel the 26th season of Survivor will turn out! Everything is discussed, from ‘pulling a Trish’ (from Pearl Islands) through to Marcus’s penis, you won’t want to miss the zaniest and funniest season preview around!
There you have it; your twenty castaways competing in the twenty-sixth season! Hopefully Allie, Hope and Laura wear name tags out there, because otherwise it might be tough to tell them apart!
By the sounds of things, we’re going to have another fantastic season on our hands. Jeff Probst has really stuck his neck out and talked this season up; as well as hinting we’ll see evacuations and possibly a “showmance” blossom. (Maybe Malcolm will follow Ozzy’s storyline and declare his love for Andrea at the Final Tribal Council?).
Once again, castaways will be dressed according to tribe colour, which seems pointless this season considering it’s obvious for any Survivor fan to distinguish between the new kids on the block and the returnees.
It will be interesting to see how this season plays out. Even though Probst has talked it up, (keep in mind he talked up Redemption Island), I’d hate to see it fall flat on its face, especially when it carries the “fans vs. favourites” tag line.
Just before we sign off, we just want to address the issue of how some of the returnees have been selected. Obviously they aren’t all ‘household names’ like the favourites in Micronesia. Probst has explained this is because production wanted to create the “new era of All-Stars.” Whilst this batch of ten don’t exactly set the world on fire like names such as Parvati Shallow, Boston Rob, Amanda Kimmel, Ozzy Lusth, Cirie Fields and Russell Hantz, we have faith that they will be able to add firepower to a successful season!
One last thing… Phillip’s pink underwear is returning; so you may want to have some eye drops handy during episodes.
Survivor: Caramoan premiers on February 13th with a two hour season premiere! Remember to check back to survivoroz.com after each episode to read about everything that happened; as well as hearing from an ex-Survivor to get their thoughts on the season!
Until then, stay safe and remember to check out our interviews with Erik Reichenbach, Phillip Sheppard, Dawn Meehan and Brandon Hantz in the lead up to Survivor: Caramoan!