Well with about a month until the start of the new season of Survivor they finally revealed the full cast for its upcoming All Star season, Game Changers. Along with the cast, Jeff Probst revealed some new twists for the 34th season of the show. As with season 31 and season 33 the tribes will split from two to three at some point shaking up initial alliance dynamics. When it comes to immunity idols the twist is that there is no theme or consistency to them. They won’t all be hidden at the beaches or at challenges or found in the exact same way. So if you find one you won’t have any advantage over other people in finding others like David and Adam did last season. Now that the twist description is out of the way I am going to break down each player from the cast. I’ll give my thoughts on the person as a player and character, talk about what made them a game changer, describe what they need to fix to do well and then give my prediction for how far they’ll go. So let’s get started with the Mana tribe who will be wearing red.
Aubry Bracco (Season 32: Koah Rong)
I really enjoyed Aubry her first season and think she had a great case to win based on strategy alone. Her downfall came in the social game where she made very few genuine connections and hid how she was playing from the rest of the cast. I really think Aubry is set up well for this season because despite making the Final Tribal she is not as big of a threat as some of the other people on her tribe. She is also pretty good at challenges so she probably won’t be seen as a liability there. She is also going to have to play down the fact that there are three other players from her season on this season. That could be seen as a problem in some contestants’ eyes.
Why is she a game changer? She coined the phrase “emotional intelligence” and used her knowledge of other players feelings to get further.
What does she need to fix? Aubry needs to make more genuine connections in the game. In the end the jury mostly picks who they like the best and who they will feel good about giving the million dollars to. If she can do that she is well set up.
Prediction: Makes the jury and is cut late just before the finale
Michaela Bradshaw (Season 33: Millennials vs. Gen X)
I loved Michaela last season. She was funny, badass and all around great television. She actually had some pretty good strategy, but left it too much in the open. Her problem is that she has very intimidating vibe from her looks to her personality. Combine that with the fact that the other players know nothing about her and the season is called Game Changers and that could put a huge target on her back. I hope she goes far because more Michaela on our television is never a bad thing.
Why is she a game changer? She dominated challenges like no other woman before her.
What does she need to fix? She needs to get into a solid alliance right away and then lay low. Hide those emotions and do not try to lead. Just do your thing and perform in challenges.
Prediction: Makes the jury but gets cut late around 6 or 7.
Sandra Diaz-Twine (Season 7: Pearl Islands, Season 20: Heroes vs. Villains)
Sandra is a legend and the queen when it comes to Survivor. Its hard not to love Sandra and her no nonsense personality. You can always count her on explosive attitude to give you awesome confessionals. Her “anybody but me” strategy works and it will be interesting to see if others let her slide by this time. She probably has the biggest target on her back of anybody not named Tony Vlachos, but she is super loyal and maybe someone will want to take a chance on that.
Why is she a game changer? She won the game twice. Enough said.
What does she need to fix? Not much except attach herself to someone who is desperate to get to the end. Some of the questionable casting choices this season could take her on as a number and forget about her in their lust for the win.
Prediction: Pre-merge as one of the last votes right before the merge.
Ciera Eastin (Season 27: Blood vs. Water, Season 31: Second Chances)
Ciera is an interesting character. I like her a lot on Blood vs. Water when she was this meek, young woman who was fighting out from under the shadow of her mom. She made big moves that season and really impressed me, but then came her second game in Second Chances. In that season she annoyed me lot with her constant insistence that no one was playing the game. She was in a season of 20 seasoned veterans, that was not the problem, they were all playing the game. It was just not to her liking. I will be interested to see what Ciera comes out this time around because if the Second Chances Ciera comes out then she could be gone quickly.
Why is she a game changer? Voted out her mom, perpetuates the “big moves” mantra
What does she need to fix? Don’t be so out in front of everything. Play the middle and lay low. You do not have to lead the charge 24/7.
Prediction: Early boot pre-swap
Hali Ford (Season 30: Worlds Apart)
For me Hali was one of the few head scratchers on this cast. She is not super memorable for me and all I remember is her being kind of weird and best friends with the infinitely more memorable Jenn Brown. She fits the under the radar type that these All Star seasons make stars of so she could do well, I just don’t have much commentary because there is not much to say.
Why is she a game changer? She was a quirky attractive girl and they needed to fill a casting type?
What does she need to fix? Get in the majority alliance and give them the appearance you are being dragged to the end. Then pounce for the kill.
Malcolm Freberg (Season 25: Philippines, Season 26: Caramoan)
Malcolm is great. Though he can be a bit cocky at times, its hard to not to like the guy because he is so damn charming. People seem to love Malcolm and its easy to see why. I could easily see him doing very well this season because he is good not great at challenges and has a fantastic social game when playing from the top. If he gets into a good alliance then he is dangerous. He was one of the castaways who I was happy to see coming back because I think playing back to back screwed him last time and now that he has had some time in between I think he will do better.
Why is he a game changer? Was one of two people left on his tribe and made it to final four and finds idols like they are just flowers on the side of the road
What does he need to fix? Don’t let the cocky side come out like in Caramoan. Play the hero and not the villain.
Predicition: First or second boot after merge
Caleb Reynolds (Season 32: Koah Rong)
Caleb is an interesting case because we did not get to see much of him before he was medevaced last time. He was playing a pretty good social game and seemed to be in a good spot heading into a possible swap. He seems to be able to win people to his side easily and has that southern charm working for him. The problem is that he is a very obvious physical threat and that could turn people off come merge time. It will be interesting to see if he can put together a good Survivor game or go down in flames.
Why is he a game changer? Pushed himself in a challenge to the point of heat stroke
Why does he need to fix? Stay social and do not make himself more of a threat than he already is. Get in a good alliance and stay loyal.
Prediction: First or second boot after the merge
Troyzan Robertson (Season 24: One World)
A lot of people hate Troyzan because he came off like a cocky asshat last time, but in a way that’s why I like him. He was up against a wall and fighting against one of the best players this game has ever seen. His egotistical personality gave some life to a boring season and to be honest he actually seems like a smart guy. That is what excited me about seeing him come back. On a level playing field where he is not playing with morons could he be convincing enough to make moves? We will have to wait and see.
Why is he a game changer? He told the greatest player of all time Kim Spradlin “Dont f*** with me. This is my island”
What does he need to fix? Tone down the abrasive personality. Make good alliances and stick with them. Don’t let your mind race with possibilities and make smart decisions.
Prediciton: Gonna go bold here and say he makes the final four.
Jeff Varner (Season 2: Australian Outback, Season 31: Second Chances)
Jeff is just plain fun. He is a great narrator and just knows how to tell a story well. He needs to let those fun sides out and hide the more strategic ones. The strategy is what gets him in trouble and if a social person like Jeff just makes relationships and relies on others than he can go far in the game. The Jeff of Australian Outback that just laid low was only undone by a tie vote while the Jeff of Second Chances was undone by too much conniving. Its pretty obvious which Jeff should come out for this season.
Why is he a game changer? Part of the first merge deadlock in history, jumped off the pole for peanut butter, made waves in Second Chances
What does he need to fix? He needs to be less strategic and more social. Be friends with people and do not think of them as pawns. Enjoy yourself and have fun.
Tony Vlachos (Season 28: Cagayan)
Tony is best and most awesome madman in Survivor history. He is legitimately crazy and his imagination has no bounds. He is already talking about some new tricks he wants to do including an underground spy shack, finding an idol and then framing someone with it and using stones that represent his family to gain people’s trust. Even if Tony flames out this season it will still be spectacular to see him on our television again. He will make those two or three episodes worth it and if he lasts the whole season then all the better for us. Plus he is on a tribe with Sandra and that dynamic will be wondrous to behold.
Why is he a game changer? Why isn’t he a game changer? He won despite bold faced lies to every single juror, he made people think Jeremiah had an idol when he didn’t, he lied so someone else would lie so that he could vote them out for lying, the list goes on and on.
What does he need to fix? He needs to try his hardest to stay low and not get into huge arguments with people. He needs to shift his massive target elsewhere and soon as possible.
Prediction: Sadly I think Tony will be one of the first four out
Now its time to go into the Nuku tribe!
Andrea Boehlke (Season 22: Redemption Island, Season 26: Caramoan)
Andrea is not someone I would have picked out on her first season as someone who would play three times, but here she is. Andrea is a pretty good player. She has a good read on people and seems to know how to make the right alliances. Her first two times though she seemed too naive and did not see how big of a threat she could be so hopefully she recognizes that this time. I like Andrea a lot and if she finds the right allies she could go far.
Why is she a game changer? She stood up to Boston Rob and is one of the few females to find multiple idols.
What does she need to fix? She needs to be more on top of the inner workings of alliances. Have a little more foresight of her position in the game.
Brad Culpepper (Season 27: Blood vs. Water)
This was my second “huh?” moment of this cast. I know production loves him because they put him on the Second Chances ballot, but I never really saw it. He seemed pushy and just annoyed me the first time around. This time around though with all of these legends around he may be just obscure enough to fly under the radar until the end. As long as he resists that urge to want to be the leader then this is very possible.
Why is he a game changer? His pushiness lead to him being flipped on at tribal council. Also Marissa Peterson’s “F*** you Brad Culpepper!” moment.
What does he need to fix? As I said above, just lay low and make strong bonds. Resist the urge to take charge and wide the wave of backstabbing by others all the way to the end.
Prediciton: The more I think about it the situation I describe above seems more and more likely. I say he makes the finals.
Cirie Fields (Season 12: Exile Island, Season 16: Fans vs. Favorites, Season 20: Heroes vs. Villains)
I was so excited to Cirie was back. She is a legend among legend and can play as many time as she wants in my book. Her biggest issue coming into this is her legendary status as well as relationships from other seasons. In other seasons she has had bad blood with both Ozzy and J.T. so that could come back to bite her. If she can smooth things over with them then she might be set. The only reason she was eliminated in Heroes vs. Villains was because of Tom’s idol and J.T.’s flip. She had that game on lock if not for J.T.’s paranoia. If she sets up a strong alliance like in the past then she is free and clear. I cannot wait to have Cirie back on my TV again.
Why is she a game changer? Created the 3-2-1 plan for a vote of six, led the Black Widow Brigade, came up with the plan to convince Erik Reichenbach to give up the immunity necklace
What does she need to fix? Nothing really, just let Ozzy and J.T. know the past is the past and that she has no beef with them so they do not come after her.
Prediction: Makes it to the finale but is cut at 5 or 4.
Sarah Lacina (Season 28: Cagayan)
I am pretty excited to see Sarah back. I think she had a lot of potential back in Cagayan, but she just ran into the buzz saw that was Tony Vlachos. She also let the power get to her head to much at the merge there. If she could have kept it cool and just chosen a side then they would not have gone with the “shoot the hostage” tactic and voted her out. She had a pretty good strategic mind and we know she can read people because she did it her last time playing. Sarah could be dangerous if she finds herself in the right situation.
Why is she a game changer? Figured out Tony’s shtick before anyone else
What does she need to fix? Do not ever get too cocky and power hungry. Put herself in a powerful alliance and stick with it.
Prediction: Makes it to the finale. Going to go out on a limb here and make her my winner pick.
Ozzy Lusth (Season 13: Cook Islands, Season 16: Fans vs. Favorites, Season 23: South Pacific)
I’ll be honest, I was not excited to see Ozzy back. I loved him in his first season, but since then he has become more arrogant and more self righteous and frankly more annoying. His refusal to see his own flaws really grinds on me and the fact that he seems to think he is god’s gift to Survivor also pains me. Yes I love seeing him compete in challenges because he is a freak, but he does not ever seem to evolve or change in his game and that is just not exciting TV for me. The casual viewers love him, but I just do not see it anymore.
Why is he a game changer? He dominates challenges like no one else and is an aquatic freak. Also purposely got himself voted out at one point
What does he need to fix? He needs to become more strategic and not rely as much on his physical gifts. Use his natural charm instead of being defensive all of the time.
Prediction: Gets cut right before the merge
Zeke Smith (Season 33: Millennials vs. Gen X)
I love Zeke. He is hilarious, heartfelt and a really great narrator. His love for this game is infectious and was one of the best parts about last season. Unfortunately for Zeke he is an unknown quantity for these people and the name of the season Game Changers does him no favors. They are going to be afraid of him and J.T. could be having Russell flashbacks. He says he wants play quick and fast. That is another thing that could hurt him. I think these people want to play slow out of the gate and get a feel for each other and people who want to move to fast will get cut early. This means people like Zeke, Ciera and Tony. Hopefully I am wrong, but we will see.
Why is he a game changer? Successfully convinced his alliance to draw rocks for him when there was no benefit in them doing so
What does he need to fix? He needs to be subtle and under the radar. Let other people doe the heavy lifting until he needs to cut them.
Prediction: Pre-merge, likely third or fourth gone.
J.T. Thomas (Season 18: Tocantins, Season 20: Heroes vs. Villains)
I love J.T. and I will never understand how he got people to fall on their sword for him in Tocantins. He is a great physical competitor and a real charmer, but his one weakness is his strategic game and what he thinks of his strategic game. J.T. thinks he is a good strategic player, but when he strategizes too much and lets his mind run wild then he gets himself in trouble. As a winner he will also have a big target on his back. What he needs to do is partner with some of the legends on his tribe like Ozzy and Cirie and form a legends alliance so that they know they are protected. He also needs to forget whatever he thinks about Cirie because in this environment I think she will eat him up if he targets her.
Why is he a game changer? Played the first perfect game in Survivor history
What does he need to fix? He needs to mend any bad blood with Cirie and then not try to strategize too much. Do the grunt work in challenges and leave the strategizing to others. Find a new Stephen to reign him in.
Prediction: Pre-merge boot
Sierra Thomas (Season 30: Worlds Apart)
The biggest WTF moment of this cast came with Sierra. She was the least memorable person from the final six in Worlds Apart and I honestly cannot remember a single thing she did. Unfortunately this makes her a prime candidate to go far in this game. Like Amber before her, she might be so forgettable that even the other contestants will forget she is there while she silently slips by.
Why is she a game changer? She isn’t.
What does she need to fix? Be more memorable
Prediction: End game probably around 4th or 5th place.
Tai Trang (Season 32: Koah Rong)
Tai has an infectious personality. He really makes people around him feel better and that is probably his best asset. His appearance also helps because people write him off and figure they can get rid of him later. Tai’s best area of game play is his physical game. He is really good in the challenges, but socially and strategically there is a bunch that’s off. I could seem him going far as people will probably think he is a goat. He just needs to avoid hooking back up with Aubry because they were so close last time. If he does that then he might be seen as a threat and eliminated.
Why is he a game changer? He saved a chicken from being eaten for a whole season
What does he need to fix? Don’t be so emotional over the little things. Have more of a killer instinct and build bonds with people.
Debbie Wanner (Season 32: Koah Rong)
Debbie is an interesting case. I think she has a good mind for strategy if she can just calm it down. I like Debbie, but don’t love her. Her weirdness can be a bit much for me sometimes and I can never seem to get a good read on her. She needs to come into this not having any grudges against the Koah Rong people and having an open mind to working with anybody. She also needs to fly under the radar and make sure her wackiness does not make her a target like last time.
Why is she a game changer? For being a total weirdo
What does she need to fix? Tone down the wackiness and think before she acts. She also need to be a little more cutthroat.
Well that is my thoughts on the big cast reveal today. If you want to watch all of the meet the cast videos click here. If you want to follow along with Josh Wigler’s pregame interviews click this link daily and the same goes for Gordon Holmes and this link. Keep an eye on this blog as I plan to release a few feature articles between now and the premiere breaking down some Survivor stats. Cannot wait for this season!
Survivor starts us off with a two hour premiere on March 8th at 8 p.m. on CBS