The confessional is an effective viewing technique for the audience to get insight into the mind of the player. It also establishes the general sense of the player and the character. Over the years there have been a wide array of winners, ranging from very strategic players to the social butterflies. All have left their mark on the history of the show in one way or another, their confessionals play a role in that legacy. Certain winners like Richard Hatch dominate the screen time where as some like Natalie White fall victim to a quiet edit. Either way, the manner in which they conducted themselves during their stay in the game can often be easily summarized by their first confessional. In today's feature article American Ozlet Anthony Rossi breaks down the first confessional by the season 1-10 winners and looks at how it demonstrated their path to victory. Read on to find out how these opening confessionals work as a marker for how they played the game.
Richard Hatch – Borneo
“I’m good to go, survival wise, people wise, it’ll be a little more challenging, but I’ve got the million dollar check written already, I’m the winner. And it’s that kind of cocky attitude that makes people really hate your guts, so that’s kind of thing I’ve got to keep under wraps, but it’s just how do I get there from here?”
Richard Hatch is often labeled as the man that made Survivor what is is today. Some claim that show would have gone on a different trajectory if he lost. Either way, Hatch made a large impact on the history of the show, aside from being the first winner. Some would argue that he was the show’s first villain, because he would do whatever it took to win. In the end, his strategic, forward thinking is what allowed him to win the title. Richard was very bold in the very first episode, not only in side confessionals, but brazen in the camp as well. He is well known for sitting up in the tree attempting to corral the tribe, but ultimately does not form this cohesive unit that involves his plans.
His confessional clearly dictates not only the way he wants to play the game, but the struggles that he will face along the way. Richard notes that the game is based off the social interactions and how well people can think and work together. He’s aware of the most important part of the game, the social game and how that dictates his time on the island. He wants to form these bonds that would allow him to make it to the end. Hatch also alludes to his strategic brain by talking about navigating through that people and how they are needed for his plans.
Tina Wesson – Australian Outback
From the tropical islands of Borneo, we make our way to the Australian, not so outback. We also come across the first female winner of the show in Tina Wesson. The humble mother from Tennessee was able to outwit the others to claim the title. Tina possessed a different set of skills from Richard, but both shared the same mentality about how to approach the game. Like Richard, she was able to compartmentalize the game from real life while still holding her same life values.
In her confessional she talks about the conditions the contestants face in the wilderness. She comments on how the game is not going to be easy, in fact it’s going to be a real challenge. It one particular comment that Tina makes that really gets at her attitude and game plan. Even though she was mainly thinking about the conditions, she addresses the key part about everything is part of the game. She is fully aware of what she signed up for, facing the elements to play a game and she played hard.
Ethan Zohn – Africa
The nice guy can finish first and that is the case with the third season as Ethan Zohn was able to beat Kim Johnson for the prize. Ethan was the first winner that utilized the social game to keep people in his back pocket. He was socially able to work with anybody and maintain these bonds that work well within the game and outside, evident with the jury vote.
His first confessional is mainly discussing the situation at hand rather than the game at large. It makes it difficult to pinpoint this confessional at the epitome of his game. I can say, however, this confessional does note the shift of mentality from Richard and Tina to Ethan. The past two relied on their strategic game to make it to the end, not to say that they neglected the other aspects of the game, where as Ethan relied more on his social game. Here, he shows his game by remarking on the social navigation of the game. He is conscious of how the current situation is not happening in the most effective manner, but decided not to make waves and let the situation just flow.
Vecepia Towery – Marquesas
“Sarah has a very cute body. She paid a lot for it and if you have it, of course, flaunt it. I do not think that Sarah is using her body to get through this game, but I do think that if she connects with the right individual then that will definitely help her get through.”
Vecepia is known as the first winner to utilize shifting alliance groups as a tactic to make it to the end. She used the alliance outsiders to create the first big power shift in the show’s series. The ever famous moment of the “Fall of the Rotu Four” was a major event that allowed Vee to win the game. Her flexibility of alliances is what makes her such a memorable (in terms of strategy, not so much legacy) (although, I think she is very memorable) winner.
Her first confessional stands out as a real marker for her game, because even though she is talking about Sarah’s game, it really speaks to her sneaky strategies. She is outlining the values in the game that she is attune to, the alliances and how they are tools to make it to the end. It shows a basic strategy that she implemented for her own personal game, in regards to aligning with the right individual. At certain critical points during the game, Vecepia connected with the right individuals and was able to make it another day, whether that be the Rotu alliance, Neleh, Kathy, or others.
Brian Heidik – Thailand
Mr. Freeze is in the house, the used car salesman used his manipulation and strategic brain to make it to the end. Brian is known as the calculated, cold thinker that was able to function without his social game. His calm attitude coupled with his determination allowed him to win the title.
Much like his entire, his first confessional demonstrates how he came to play the mind games and be as ruthless as needed. Brian’s reference to the business trip was very present through the entire 39 days, from his management of Ghandia, all the way to the move to eliminate Helen in the final four. The clever salesman wanted to sell one thing, himself in front of the jury, as to why he should win. Mission accomplished!
Jenna Morasca – Amazon
The first season that featured the twist of battle of the genders was going to have clear tensions between the tribes. Jenna was able to defeat the guys; despite being relegated as someone that would never win the game. Between her tenacious attitude and skills in both the challenges and the strategic game, she was able to be the clear winner, in a landslide vote.
Jenna’s first confessional clearly articulates her struggle that she faces throughout the season, facing the uphill battle against the boys. Their cocky attitude was present from the get go and that was carried throughout the challenges and the strategic game. It narrows down her game in a very simple manner, showing her determination to beat the guys. The men were never gracious in the first few days, faulting their strength and superiority over the women. Jenna was able to overcome this battle against the cocky guys in the most weighted win at this point in the series.
Sandra Diaz-Twine – Pearl Islands
The start of the legacy began on this very season. In the first of her two wins, Sandra showed that she would not back down. She can get loud too. The lippy mother was the one of the most flexible winners that we have seen so far and that was key to her winning the season.
As we progress in the seasons, the confessionals get harder to narrow down. Sandra’s first confessional is no different, as it details a specific moment rather than her game overall. We can think about her game in relation to this confessional, when thinking about her preferred strategy, “As long as it ain’t me”. Pearl Islands is notorious for starting differently than the other seasons with the surprise marooning, Sandra is a very adaptable player and can change her plans on a moment’s notice and that is a reference to the way that the season started. It was unexpected and she needed to adjust her gameplay, like the season overall, having to make changes all across the board.
Amber Bkrich – All-Stars
“We just got our tree mail, our first tree mail and it seems to be an immunity challenge, but we’re hope within the immunity challenge, we can win some fire, cause our tribe is, we’re hurting pretty bad.”
With the debut of returning players, All Stars featured the best of the best fighting against their friends and allies to win. Amber was able to face this additional battle and emerge victorious, in a season with the best of the best competing, the level of competition was greatly elevated. Many players underestimated Amber and she was able to use that to her advantage.
Many people did not expect the most insightful confessional from Amber to start off the season, but it’s quite difficult to get the best confessionals when her tribe hardly went to tribal council. She did point out the increased intensity that the season brought compared to the ones that preceded it. Whilst this confessional does not illuminate some key component of Amber’s strategy, but it does reference additional battles that faced the contestants this season. Being the first All Star season, the players had to deal with being friends with the other players and had to deal with less survival gear provided. These two components demonstrate the shift that the game has taken at this time and eventually we will see how Amber was able to conquer these elements.
Chris Daugherty – Vanuatu
“Men against women, it’s perfect. I can outsmart 8 men a hell of a lot quicker than I can outsmart 8 women. Women stick together, they’re thick as thieves. Men are deceiving, mischievous, untrusting human beings. Men, I can manipulate.”
A large part of Chris’ story involves the battle against the women. It originally starts out as an all out brawl against between the two groups, but eventually becomes Chris plague against the women. With his back against the wall, Chris was able to overcome the odds against him to emerge victorious. He used his set of skills to appeal to the women on an emotional level, but also on a strategic level as well.
This confessional lays out a summary of how his season will go, a constant battle against the women. He notes that women are smart individuals that will not hold back. Chris’s ability of outsmart the men was put to the test early on when he single-handedly lost the first immunity challenge, but was able to survive that tribal council. His game was later put to the test once he was the last remaining male in the game and had to work some magic to survive the votes.
Tom Westman – Palau
“You know, it was funny, I mean, everyone was walking around in different directions. Let’s get the water, let’s build a shelter and you just gotta watch that, you know. I had a few people try to wrangle me into doing the fire and I’m just like, that’s a loser job, man.”
Before the season had really started, there were a few people that could be pegged as a winner; someone that would not shock the general public if they ended up being the sole survivor. Tom was one of those players. He was a strong, likeable guy that was very level headed, he never made any rash decisions. His approach was methodical, because he was thinking about each individual course of action he could take and what the outcome would be.
He exemplifies that within his first confessional when he speaks about the unusual conditions that they faced at the start. Tom noted that the “fire job” was a “loser job,” meaning that he wouldn’t want to be responsible for something that he could not deliver on. He was confident that they could not start a fire, so instead he chose responsibilities that he was capable of, maintaining a strong image. Tom was able to play the game while holding onto his good guy image and he was able to do so through his thoughtful choices.
What are you thoughts on these winner’s first confessional? Do they set up the type of player they’ll be well? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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