Feature Articles are back again to brighten up your Monday! This week, Ozlet Noah Groves discusses his ideal cast for a second chance season of Survivor. With so many contestants to choose from and only twenty making the list, Noah is sure to select some controversial players! Don’t like his list? Think it’s the best thing since Ben’s “these listener questions are brought to you by” joke, then leave your opinion in a comment below!
The twist of a second chances season, inviting those players who on the first time they played, for one reason or another failed to show their full potential, has long been something fans have yearned for. The season, which has also been suggested as being branded as “unfinished business” or in Jeff Probst’ eyes “A what if season”, (sound familiar?), could give us a glimpse at those players who we were upset about leaving the game. Be it through a pre-merge vote, a med-evac or some other form of harsh blindside. For this article, I decided to compile a list of twenty contestants who I feel would make an entertaining second chances season. I have not limited my choices to contestants who were voted out in the pre-merge phase of the game, but to focus on all aspects of the game and the idea of unfinished business. I have also tried to balance the casting out taking into consideration age, race and seasons. While I have not designated tribes for the twenty contestants, I have divided the cast members into women and men to make for a simpler read. So sit back, take a read and tell me which contestants I have completely miscast. Feel free to post your own cast in the comments section or even dived my cast into two, or even four tribes.
Tina Scheer – Panama
Timber Tina represents the first boots for this theme. How can you have a second chance season without someone who showed great potential and was voted out first in their season. On the DVD box set for Panama, in a special feature roundtable of media journalists previewing the season, almost everyone predicted Tina would make the Final Four. Tina actually did receive a second chance after she chose not to participate on Guatemala due to the recent death of her son. Tina proved to be a smart, funny and capable contestant who was unfortunately placed on a tribe of just four people and was voted out for being a threat. She certainly has more to prove in Survivor!
Michelle Yi – Fiji
Although I would personally argue that Jenny received a more unfair departure than Michelle did one season later, Ms Yi wins a spot on this season for being a fan favourite that no doubt someone more fans wish to see. Michelle was in a good position in the game when the Merge came around until a ridiculous twist, (something very familiar in Fiji), put her out of the game. The Merge tribe was divided in two for the Immunity Challenge with the losing group being the only five to go to Tribal Council. Unfortunately Michelle made the losing journey to Tribal with little allies on her side and departed before her expected time. The inclusion of Michelle in this season not only provides a more racially diverse cast but also gives the viewers an opportunity to see Michelle take on a second chance at staying on a platform!
Sierra Reed – Tocantins
Sierra made a decent finishing position in Tocantins but never got to fully expose her potential. Sierra managed to fall sick days before the game began and as a result was voted the weakest player in a twist at the start of the game. This would continue a haunting that she would struggle to escape. Despite only having one true ally and attempting to work a cross tribe alliance, Sierra still managed to make it to the Jury and created an underdog story that many people were rooting for. Jeff Probst has voiced his positive opinions on Sierra in the past and she finished second in the now extinct ‘Sprint Player of the Season’ award.
Betsy Bolan – Samoa
Betsy, like Marisa before her, was one of the first victims to be taken out by Russell’s original reign in Samoa. She was a glowing personality who also fell victim to the ‘cop’s doomed to fail in Survivor’ curse that was present at the time. Betsy proved in her short time that she could join the tough older women of Survivor club, who was physically capable, a strong social player and showed signs of a strategic game. With evil Russell out of the picture, Betsy could potentially show what we missed out on in Samoa and just how awesome she really is!
Stephanie Valencia – Redemption Island
Taking the female villain role in the archetypes needed for the season is Russell Hantz’ protégé Stephanie. Like Betsy, without Russell in the picture, Stephanie could well improve with a second chance. If not she is sure to at least cause some drama! Stephanie was a villainess in the making whose time was cut short due to falling on the wrong side of the numbers. Leaving the Zapatera tribe behind, Steph could either rise to be an ultimate villain or on the flipside show that she is a capable player who has been underestimated based on her allegiance with Russell.
Christine Shields-Markoski – South Pacific
It is a true crime that Christine Shields-Markoski will probably never be brought back to play Survivor again. She is the ultimate queen who doesn’t back down to anyone and doesn’t hesitate to voice her opinion. Not to mention she was a force to be reckoned with in the Redemption Island Duels, and had she made the Merge, potentially the Individual Immunity Challenges. As she revealed in her Survivor Oz interview, even Jeff Probst agrees that she is a strong competitor. Christine was entertaining as hell and was an underdog who fans felt it easy to root for. Unfortunately Ozzy came in and duelled her out of the game last minute and thus taking the spot in the Merge that she truly worked for and deserved. A second chance season wouldn’t be complete without Christine and she also joins Betsy in the ‘older lady’ archetype of the season.
Dana Lambert – Philippines
Dana represents the medical evacuation side of a second chances season; or as many would say a justified quit based on injury. She also gives us the ‘alternative’ female archetype to give depth to the season and thus representing Kourtney Moon and “Flicka” Smith who both nearly made the cut. Dana was a true competitor in the challenges and survival aspects of the game. She showed that she is independent and didn’t rely on the men of her tribe, (creating an all-female alliance), to look after her. Dana was an entertaining character whose time in the game was unpredictably cut short and as she said to Probst during the Philippines Reunion, never attended Tribal Council and therefore has more to prove in Survivor.
Laura Alexander – Caramoan
Laura, the popular self-confessed geek and one of the only true fans on the Caramoan Fans tribe was sent home way before her time. At least that’s what the majority of Survivor fans agree on. Initially, Laura seemed as if she would just blend in with the other blondes on her tribe and would be someone who wouldn’t make an impression on the season. As her short time went on, we discovered that she was a strategic player who had positioned herself in a good spot to make it deep into the game. Unfortunately due to alliance member, Shamar’s med-evac and her poor challenge skills, Laura was voted out in the fourth episode and the brilliance that we thought we would see of Laura was never fulfilled.
Marissa Peterson – Blood vs. Water
Our African-American representative for this season, Marissa was as popular as her uncle Gervase in Blood vs. Water. Many predicted that she would make it deep in to the game. Due to her uncle’s ignorance and the loved ones all-male alliance, Marissa became the first person voted out of the game at Tribal Council. Thankfully Redemption Island allowed us to see the lovably volatile side of Marissa, represented in her classic quote “F**k you Brad Culpepper!” quote. Marissa proved that she was a loveable character and a competent competitor in the Duals and is just the type of light hearted fun character the season needs.
Sarah Lacina – Cagayan
The most recent competitor in this cast, Sarah is one of the biggest female characters of recent seasons. This caused shock when she was voted out first after the Merge based on her substantial edit. Sarah was a strong social player and was a competitor in the challenges, but did lack in the strategy aspect of the game. Blindly following buddy cop Tony, when she did leave him, she found herself in a position between two alliance that no matter what decision she made would probably lead to her losing the game. If given a second chance without Tony and being placed in a near impossible position, Sarah could excel in the game and learn from her past mistakes.
Jeff Varner – Australian Outback
Representing the older seasons of Survivor is Jeff Varner, who on multiple times has been rumoured to play a second time. Jeff was the funny man of his Kucha tribe and was one of the most amusing characters of the early years. It appeared that Jeff would make it to at least the final six in the outback until Mike Skupin was medically evacuated and in result, lead to Jeff being voted out first after the Merge; Just missing out on what could have been an entertaining Jury member. Varner clearly had a game play that was never fully executed in Australia and with over ten years of life experience since the season, could excel in a return.
Hunter Ellis – Marquesas
While many would argue that Silas is the first big unexpected vote out from a strong male in Survivor, Hunter certainly was more of a shock. Perhaps one of the biggest alpha male contestants to play the game up to that point and probably the strongest member of the tribe, Hunter was blindsided by Boston Rob and voted out in the third episode. He is one of the quintessential names that comes up when a second chance season is mentioned and would be intriguing to see if he can make it far in the game or be seen once again as too much of a leader.
Brian Corridan – Guatemala
Moving away from the alpha male and in to the territory of the nerdy student of the game, represented by Brian Corridan. When Brian started out in Guatemala it looked as if he could have become the second coming of Rob Cesternino or a precursor to the nerd success in John Cochran’s win. Brian clearly knew what he was doing in the game and had a strong understanding of the game and looked likely to go far until he landed on the wrong side of the numbers. It has been long overdue for us to have a Guatemala contestant returning and Brian Corridan would be the perfect candidate. Given the circumstances were better, Brian would most likely be a favourite to win the season by the fans.
Cao Boi Bui – Cook Islands
Cao Boi is the kooky character to return for the season. The Coach or Phillip of Second chances! Cao Boi is easily one the most entertaining players to compete on Survivor. From his bad wind headache cures, his light-hearted jokes and his bizarre but effective fire making methods. Cook Islands was damaged when Cao Boi left and a vital piece to what made the season great was missing. But not only was Cao Boi an amusing character, he was also an underrated player of the game. Inventing the method of flushing the Idol out of the game, which would have worked, had he not been in an alliance with the possessor of the Idol. Cao Boi could well suffer an early finishing position like in he did on Cook Islands but wherever he finishes he would sure to bring entertainment and humorous moments.
James ‘Rocky’ Reid – Fiji
Joining Stephanie as a past villain coming on to this season, Rocky is sure to bring drama along with him. It is almost amazing that Rocky did last to become the first Jury member based on his common conflicts with other tribe members. Rocky was easily one of the biggest and most entertaining characters in Fiji so it is surprising that he did only end in twelfth place. Rocky could be kept around for his strength or may suffer similar consequences and be voted out early. Either way he is sure to bring entertainment, drama, conflict and a whole host of brilliant quotes along with him!
Ace Gordon – Gabon
Another villain, albeit much more subtle than Rocky was. Ace went in to Gabon ready to play the game and he sure did play hard, potentially too hard. A good all round player who had holes in many aspects of his game but still managed to perform well. Ace was one of the biggest characters in Gabon who many thought would make it deep into the game and not to be voted out seventh. Without Kelly to fight with and his model Sugar to give him the Idol, get it back and vote him out, Ace could perform well given a second chance. Not only is he a great villain and a good player, the bumbling brit is entertaining to watch and deserves another shot at the million.
Marcus Lehman – Gabon
Another Gabon contestant, Marcus seemed to have it all in the game. He was physically strong, strategic and had a core alliance that looked like it would go all the way to the end. He was the odds on favourite to win the game until a surprise second Tribal Switch came about and put him on the bottom of the numbers. Gabon is notorious for its twists and this particular one could well have lost Marcus the entire game. Marcus joins Hunter as the second alpha male on the season and could either follow his initial success like in Gabon or be deemed too much of a threat to win and voted out early.
Stephen Fishbach – Tocantins
When casting a second chances season I wanted to include some who made the finals or deep into the game deserving a second chance and who most likely wouldn’t be added to a full all-stars season. Fishbach encapsulates this wholeheartedly. Stephen went in to Tocantins perceived as a weaker player but proved himself worthy in strategy and the social game. He attempted to create the cross tribal alliance, formed a strong duo with J.T. and even won an Individual Immunity Challenge. Unfortunately in the Final Two, Stephen was deemed a worse player than the elusive J.T. who received every single one of the Jury votes. Stephen was a worthy player who deserves a second chance out of the limelight of his buddy J.T. He is a great representative for a finalist who should be given a second chance and it would be interesting to see if he would receive the same attention the winners did in Survivor: All-Stars; he made the finals while many of these other cast members are pre-merge contestants. Would Stephen suffer from this?
Matt Elrod – Redemption Island
If there is one contestant who fits in to the theme of second chances or unfinished business then Matt Elrod is the one! I know Matt has declined a chance to play Survivor again but if we assume that he would be willing to play again, he makes it in to the cast. Matt, who was one of the physically strongest players on his tribe, was voted out second for being too close to tribe mate Andrea. He was sent to Redemption Island where he bet every single other player in the Duals and was brought back into the game at the Merge. It was there that he was blindsided once again and sent back to Redemption just three days later. He continued to dominate until the anticlimactic final Dual of the game where he was finally sent home for good and putting an end to his turbulent game. Of the thirty-six days that he was in the game, only eight of them were actually a part of any tribe, the rest at Redemption Island. Matt deserves a second chance at the game without Redemption in play to see whether or not he would have become a great Survivor player.
Jeff Kent – Philippines
Jeff Kent’s story arc is far but finished in Survivor and this makes him a perfect candidate for the theme in question. When Kent first played he was all about getting rid of the returning players who would eventually vote him. He also made sure to hide his identity as a Major League Baseball player to everyone in the game. What makes a return from Jeff Kent intriguing is that this time around he would become one of those returning players that he once loathed and would be playing with nineteen other returnees. His secret identity would be known to everyone in the game as well. Would he immediately be voted out because of this or will the others look past it. There are just so many opportunities with a return from Jeff and along with this we would get another subtle villain and someone ready to play the game hard.
Listed below are the next twenty contestants in consideration for the season. Some of these players made it very closely to getting on but were ultimately left out. The closest two males in consideration were Joel Anderson and Brad Culpepper. Jeff Kent was placed instead of Brad for the older male role and Joel was left out to include more variety in archetypes and characters. Dawson and NaOnka were both close to making the list for the females but Dana overshadowed her and NaOnka just missed out due to her being a quitter when the time came for narrowing it down to the ten.
Women: J’Tia Taylor – Cagayan, Sarah Dawson – Philippines, Kourtney Moon – One World, NaOnka Mixon, Jill Behm – Nicaragua, Ashley Massaro – China, Jessica “Flicka” Smith – Cook Islands, Amy O Hara – Guatemala, Tammy Leitner – Marquesas, Gretchen Cordy – Borneo
Men: Brad Culpepper – Blood vs. Water, Shamar Thomas, Matt Bischoff – Caramoan, Shannon Elkins – Nicaragua, Joel Anderson – Micronesia, Billy Garcia – Cook Islands, Bruce Kanegai – Panama, Ian Rosenberger – Palau, Bubba Sampson – Vanuatu, Silas Gaither – Africa