It’s Monday once again which means another Survivor Oz Feature Article is coming your way! This week, Alex Morella, dives deep into the minds of some of the most notorious Villains to grace our screens on Survivor, to come up with a list of stereotypes that these Villains are portrayed as. From dictators, to assassins and even loveable underdogs, Alex discusses them all, along with plenty of examples of each! Read on to discover just what stereotype you favourite Villain fits into, then leave us your thoughts on the different types of Villains and who you think is the best below!
Twenty-six seasons has given us a chance to identify those who make heroic moves and those who make villainous moves. We generally cheer the heroes, hate the villains, and occasionally support the underdog style villain who ultimately we love. There are several types of villains that appear commonly in Survivor and apparently ten of the best were on a tribe together in Heroes vs. Villains… which provided debate at most as to who were the greatest villains. I thought it was worth having a look at the stereotypical villains seen, and what their role in the game is.
The Tyrannical Dictator
I thought I’d start with the most well known villain; Boston Rob and his strategy employed through his two most successful games; All-Stars and Redemption Island. Quite simply, it is the art of leading an alliance through the game as the spearhead, preventing any potential mutinies swiftly and without any remorse.
The tyrannical dictator generally makes for great viewing, as they are despised by those who are not within the group, yet they can be seen as fantastic allies for those who are so lucky to work with them. There’s a fine line between being a dictator and simply a heroic leader like Tom Westman, it’s that ability to manipulate those who are closest to you, before happily slicing their throats and sending them to the Jury. The biggest challenge besides spotting potential mutinies then, is the Final Tribal Council. Being able to justify to a potentially disgruntled Jury why you did what you did, and why it was necessary. The game and real life are two separate worlds in which you can see the prize at stake, and while friends are made, you must be prepared to cut their heads off without warning. This may lose you friends ultimately, but might have Jury members begrudgingly give you votes as you may be correct. It’s all about creating enough of a perception that all moves were done in necessity. Dictators should be thinking about their speech as each member is voted off, as a lot of the questions directed at the end of the game prove to be the biggest challenge. Coming off as sincere, not smug and not backing down is one of the best skills to master.
Some well known examples of this include:
Boston Rob: It took him four times, but he mastered it completely from Day One. In All-Stars, Rob showed how to play a great villain, but didn’t do enough to appease a disgruntled Jury. He tried the same strategy in Heroes vs. Villains, but got undone by a manipulator called Hantz. Finally, it worked in Redemption Island.
Russell Hantz: Ok it took him a while to ever get to this stage, but once he got there on Heroes vs. Villains, he wouldn’t let it go. Removed anyone who he deemed necessary, playing the same move on Candice that he did on John in Samoa, sending Danielle to breaking point but a poor Jury performance against Parvati and Sandra was what ultimately prevented victory.
Todd Herzog: Controlled the game in China from the start, and any evidence of thinking against him was swiftly dealt with, (Jean-Robert). Redeemed himself with an exceptional performance at the Final Tribal Council.
Marty Piombo: Had complete control of the Espada tribe in Nicaragua, removing those who had star power, (Jimmy Johnson), and those who were loose cannons, (Jimmy T), but ultimately was undone by a Tribe Switch, where he met someone with even more control, Sash.
Kim Spradlin: Villainous? Well her moves certainly were. Controlling an alliance was easy, but manipulating everyone into believing you were their closest rival was sheer genius and resulted in blindside after blindside. Jay, Kat and Alicia were three of these victims and it amazes me know one picked up on how Kim was doing this. She did it that well, everyone around her may as well been hoping for pot luck as to who went next.
Ami Cusack: A good example of a dictator gone wrong. Ami was in a fantastic position in Vanuatu where the men were almost gone and the numbers would be in her favour. An inability to recognise dissent with Twila and Scout was not addressed and it allowed a way for the tables to be turned.
Phillip Shepherd: The dictator who learned from his first time. Led a strong Stealth R Us operation and even fell on his own sword for the continuation of the team. Dissent was not tolerated though, seen by the swift removals of Julia and Corinne when anything was suspicious.
The Opinionated Blurter
The opinionated blurters in each series are generally well known, they get a lot of confessionals, a lot of air time and generally get invited back to play against as they were so entertaining the first time! There’s a lack of a filter over what many of them think, so they must be held in check in alliances and can get themselves into hot water if not careful.
On that note however, the blurter is generally considered an inferior strategist, generally associating with dictators or tribe leaders, to ensure safety in numbers, which can save them from being voted out for the verbal tirades unleashed on other tribe members. This also leads to some glorious blindsides, or simply leaving this member until last if their alliance is slowly whittled away to nothing. They generally don’t hold back once on the Jury either, knowing one great insult is the difference between returning to their frustrating day job and another shot at the big time, no matter how little strategy was ever displayed by these word vomiters.
Corinne Kaplan: Need I say much? Attacking almost everyone in every confessional you are ever given and earning more than normal despite offering little strategy in Gabon. Followed up with a scathing attack on Sugar regarding her deceased father in a Jury rant, which, while entertaining, is so morally wrong it is unbelievable. Invited back due to nothing else but these outbursts, the regular attacks on her own alliance continued and it was simply a shame when Corinne did try to make a strategic move… it wasn’t well thought through but it cost her a spot on the Jury, where she was unable to have a good crack at Cochran, Dawn or Sheri, (which we would’ve all loved).
Randy Bailey: Another Survivor: Gabon player who really offered little strategically except ditching the dead weight of his tribe when moving to a superior one. His confessionals were entertaining and his misery was well-documented. He was even humiliated with Bob being forced to give him a fake Idol to rub salt in his wounds. Invited back for Heroes vs. Villains, Randy showed he was still inept at making alliance, and was promptly voted out after an entertaining Immunity Challenge loss to James.
Brandon Hantz: Again…not a lot needs to be added. Strategically clueless, playing somewhere between a religious game and a loyalty-based game, in which he was mentioned in many other player’s confessionals, not due to any type of good strategy, but simply for wacky behaviour around camp. Showed his strategic prowess by giving up Immunity to the obvious vote out in Albert, so he in turn could be voted out. Somehow invited back a second time, to only further justify his mental instability with a display in Caramoan that wouldn’t have been out of place on Jerry Springer.
Coach Wade: A lot of talk, a lot of sayings, many, many confessionals, as well as three solid appearances. Without the Coach antics though, Mr. Wade was an average player who showed a lack of prowess to stick with a dictator-type alliance in Tocantins, and an inability to stop Russell Hantz from sealing his fate, despite only having an alliance of three. Sorted this out the third time and still lost…unlucky Coach…well…not really.
Judd Sergeant: Obnoxious and loud, Judd was one of several outspoken villains on Guatemala. Blatantly lying to your alliance over an Idol is one thing, but the continual outbursts were just ridiculous. The touch of calling everyone “scumbags” when blindsided further justified his status. Surprised he’s never been brought back due to this.
Mia Galeotalanza and Shannon Elkins: The lesson is…don’t go to an early Tribal Council where numbers are tight and shoot your mouth off. I’ve seen better tactics employed by the Melbourne Football Club.
Phillip Shepherd: Mentioned above, this is from his first appearance…which was actually a solid second place to Boston Rob, but can also be used as evidence as to why these people are invited back…they create great television. The second time around, are, (generally), determined to show they’re more than a nutcase, whether successful or unsuccessful.
There are so many more, both Alicia from Australia/All-Stars and Alicia from One World could qualify, as could NaOnka from Nicaragua and many others. In short…they’re not uncommon, they don’t add a lot strategically, but are damn entertaining to watch, so be prepared for many more of them.
The villain we all route for… so, a hero that does villainous things would be the simple way to put this. They are the bad guys we love so much, they’re good guys and generally come from losing positions to turn their fortunes around, before gloating and becoming mad with power once it is attained. They don’t come along as often, because they have to be an “underdog first”, but they generally become favourites… or hated depending on your original view to them.
We Aussies especially love the battler, the underdog who has to do it the hard way and comes out with the big win… or potentially goes for too much and gets brought back to earth; in any case, we want more of them. I guess we also don’t see as many as if there’s a dictator-type presence, it’s that much harder to actually penetrate an alliance. If chips had fallen certain ways, I’m sure I’d talk about players like Peih-Gee and Shii Ann as great underdogs, but if an alliance isn’t willing to budge, your tribe sucked early and you’re not that fantastic at challenges, there’s not that much more you can do.
Some great examples have played this well though, and gone on to win or crash and burn spectacularly:
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Two-time champ…that should be justification enough. Both times in alliances that she was either at the bottom of, or outnumbered against the majority, yet weaseled her way to the end in spectacular fashion. She flipped when necessary as all good villains do, gave great angry confessionals that made you understand the frustration she was going through and there was always that underlying hope that she’d win; even if she spoke smack about her alliance and you weren’t quite sure which side she was on.
Courtney Yates: Tied with Sandra for most useless player in challenges who has played more than once, it was remarkable this girl could survive in China and was willing to do it all again. The one-liners were great, the hate towards Jean-Robert was entertaining, yet the constant complaining and bickering definitely shaped her as a villainous style player. (she was on the villains tribe…duh). She was fun to watch and a win would’ve completed a fairytale storyline.
Ken Hoang: Ah Kenny, my second favourite Survivor ever. The gaming nerd who was nearly always on the chopping block as Fang showed how to be woefully inept in challenges. Scraped through aligning with a miserable model to somehow become a power player, turning Sugar and then Susie against their former tribe mates. He even got to the tyrannical point of making deals with Bob and feeling overly comfortable, but unfortunately as he put it, he got “cocky” and he ultimately fell short. It was some story though…
Danni Boatwright: If your tribe’s losing, keep the strong guys so they get voted out first… nice Danni… and it worked a treat! The ability to turn the quite nuts cast of Guatemala against each other went well and Danni slinked to the finish line for a deserved win. Truly an underdog, but not in a heroic way a lot of the time. Danni did what she needed to, and when it works, you definitely can’t complain.
Russell Hantz (Samoa only): You bury your tribe’s machete, you set fire to your tribe mates socks and generally make life miserable, so you can have control. You then come to a Merge and become an underdog against what seems like a dominant force and you get love for this… sometimes. The Idol moves made us all excited each week, and the turnaround was fun to watch, I certainly rooted for you Russell as you turned the tide on Galu!
Rob Cesternino: Okay, underdog might be a bit much, but villainous? Definitely! Change when it suits, one of the true original strategists, who was a pleasure to watch. Go here, now I’m with these guys, now I should be with these people, it just worked, and the fact he’s so charismatic just made you believe everything he said was perfectly justifiable. In other seasons he’d probably be seen as a villainous flopper. We all wanted to see the way he’d approach the Final Tribal Council and I am shattered we won’t ever see it.
The Beautiful Assassin
They’re gorgeous, they’re perceived as naïve and if you’re not careful, they’ll be your downfall. There may not even be much of a game plan, I mean, mooching off strong guys or manipulating them with looks probably wasn’t originally in the Survivor handbook, but my god it works. Apologies if this sounds sexist and seems directed at female Survivors, but I mean… can you think of a male Survivor that used looks to his advantage? I can’t. They generally come up against a smart woman or group of men and that’s the end of that, (Jay from One World springs to mind). Some of the great female players though, are able to use stereotypes that the naive males don’t appear to think beyond and basically…assassinate them.
Russell Hantz didn’t think the dumb-ass girls would ever pose an issue, the boys of the Amazon were smitten when they were finally allowed female company and anyone with Brenda just went with her in Nicaragua, it’s all about psychological manipulation, and Survivor truly brings out the true nature of part of the game that has evaded many men… not pissing everyone off.
Those who (kind of) mastered this craft
Parvati Shallow: No doubt about this one, she used the flirt in Cook Islands… Yul and Ozzy fought through it, she used it in Micronesia and it worked. She used it in Heroes vs. Villains, and with a bit of dumb luck and later on with a smitten Russell, it worked again… up until she met an underdog at the very end. No doubt one of the most beautiful and crafty to play the game… that’s just a common line on any Survivor discussion these days. She out-psyched her opponents and took control in vital situations.
Brenda Lowe: The Hispanic beauty that first graced us in Nicaragua had Chase whipped from the first few days, causing him to flip and taking control for a long period of the game. With a dictator in Sash to work with, Brenda went far until… well, the game turned on her and Chase and others saw through her traits. In Caramoan there was a much more subtle, social game, but ultimately led to another spot on the Jury.
Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel: Being beautiful helps when the men on the other tribe can’t contain their excitement at joining your tribe. Stripping naked for peanut butter and chocolate probably helps too. But ultimately, the two played strong games to keep themselves in one of the seasons with the most alliance switches going around. They both had strong brains behind moves, and Jenna was ultimately rewarded with the win.
Dawn Meehan: Definitely older, but definitely still considered beautiful, Dawn’s emotional side in Caramoan masked a ruthless streak. She was approached by many who wanted to make moves, and pretty much countered them all. It was definitely the calm persona that made everyone believe she was on board, and then… bam! You’re out! I guess it was similar to Kim Spradlin in the way everyone approached her over potential moves, except without the emotion that ultimately clouded the opinions of everyone who played with Dawn.
Pretty simple, changing alliances as it seems to benefit you, potentially angering both fans of your old alliance, as well as resulting in many people rejoicing at your eventual demise. How the flip-flopper differs to the underdog is that we don’t like the flip-flopper, they annoy us and we don’t want them to win. They come across as evil rather than battlers and we don’t like that. They generally have tried to turn on some of the favourites of the seasons, or to avoid the dreaded purple rock.
John Cochran: “A spineless coward”, that was how Mr. Cochran was described after betraying Keith to save himself, even openly admitting it at the Tribal. As a result, I never really warmed to Cochran for the rest of the season and was not disappointed when his plan pretty much achieved nothing and he exited as the weakest member of his original tribe. He redeemed himself in Caramoan, but his first game will show why I don’t rate him as highly as some others.
Candice Woodcock: Everyone’s favourite, Candice’s Mutiny was mildly disappointing as she left the awesomeness of Yul and Ozzy behind… and then turned to satisfaction as she was regularly sent to Exile Island, and then eventually voted out to put her out of her misery. It shows traitors don’t prosper and that should’ve been the end of it. Until she was bought back as a HERO! …Because turning on her alliance is a very HEROIC thing to do? So when she turned on her alliance in Heroes vs. Villains to work with a majority that was already in control… it wasn’t that much of a shock, a true villain finally works with villains, even if by that point it was too late. But wait… SHE’S BACK AGAIN!
Jonny Fairplay”: The greatest flopper and traitor of them all. When in doubt, just keep changing the direction of the game, taking out a number of players in a confusing order when examined on paper, especially Rupert, Tijuana and Christa. He went from one alliance to the other and back again with best mate Burton. It almost worked too, unfortunately another, (pretty much forced), traitor, Lil, kind of redeemed herself by voting him out and taking the underdog Sandra to the end. I won’t mention the Grandma thing much, but it does kind of justify the reputation. I definitely won’t mention the second time present.
Chase Rice: Turn on your alliance in the first Tribal for a girl. Turn against the girl later on… then turn on the much loved Southern dog trainer, definitely not cool. I will admit the Final Tribal Council performance was exceptional and almost justified everything to the point of being an underdog, except you were in control pretty much the entire game and really never seemed to justify it in front of the Jury.
So there you have it, what I see as the typical Survivor villains. What I’ve learned from writing this is when you look at it, you can classify anyone as a villain in some way or another. Tom Westman was a dictator who controlled his tribe from Day One; Yul Kwon acted in the same way. Amanda was a beautiful Assassin with a bit too much heart that made it hard to justify and so on and so forth for all Survivors. You can scheme and act as heroic all you like, ultimately this is a game for a million bucks. I would not like to sit there and do nothing about it, I would at least provide enough to encourage producers to bring me back for a second, third, fourth or fifth, (if they get desperate), time.
Do you agree or disagree with Alex’s assessment of Survivor villains? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!