Welcome to my first Survivor blog for 2017! Game Changers starts in two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited! Over the next two weeks the wonderful Phoebe Timmins from Australian Survivor is joining me to assess the Season 34 cast, starting with the Mana Tribe. Agree or disagree with us? I can guarantee we wrote these separately and had no idea what each other was writing! Some are similar than expected. Here we go… (P.S. We love Aubry!)

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LYNDZ

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Initial reaction to casting: Excited! Aubry is a unique character and I love how someone like her has left an impressive mark on the game.

Thoughts on previous season: A dominant female player behind the scenes and one of my personal favourites of the season. Aubry had a shaky start, but it seems the panic attack is just what she needed to get over her initial fear of being on the island. From then on her game grew stronger, developing the appropriate bonds and alliances along the way, positioning herself well with other tribe members (namely Tai and Joe) and ultimately making it to the Final 3. Sadly, her downfall being the other players didn’t see her as someone who could actually pull strings; but we did! It still baffles me at how she did not sway more votes that season!

How will they go in S34: She’s starting on a tribe with strong physical players like Caleb, Malcolm, Michaela and Tony. She showed us in Kaoh Rong that she’s great in challenges and because of this I don’t see her going home early. This is turn will give her time to build the types of relationships she made in her first season and help her see out at least the merge. For someone who had a lot of control in Kaoh Rong, will she be able to handle someone like Vlachos and even Michaela’s fiery personality? If there are clashes early on she may be seeing Ponderosa sooner than expected. Overall I look forward to see how she enhances her game this time around.

Expected Placing: Post-merge/Jury

PHOEBE

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Initial reaction to casting: Excited! She definitely deserves another shot.

Thoughts on previous season: Okay so unfortunately I never got to see the finale of her season. They flew us to Samoa literally the day it was airing and so I am really glad someone on the island managed to see it because coming home to the news that she didn’t win, as well as Brexit, would have been too much. I am still trying to understand how she didn’t win. We all know Aubry was robbed. #ROBBEDQUEEN! She played an interesting game. Her ability to create bonds is what I believe sets her apart. Aubry managed to establish an unwavering loyalty in Joe and then successfully flipped Tai. I think she really shone in the later stages of the game because she did find herself in a somewhat precarious state before then. Obviously she had some early adjusting to do when she had a panic attack, but from memory she was also in a bad spot when Neal got evacuated? I can’t remember. I do vaguely recall her once voting and then crossing someone’s name out. That wasn’t so good, but it was early. My point is, she grew into a very strong character with a lot of control however she did have some early moments of fickle play (did this lose it for her?). This time, she’ll be hitting the ground running which will be very interesting to watch. Can we also just acknowledge that amazing moment where she literally ‘spat off’ against Jason. Damn I like her. One thing I do wonder is, how is it we could all see the strength of her game as an audience and yet the jury weren’t convinced? Was she too subtle? Did we have a bitter jury? Did her edit make her seem like a more favourable winner? At the end of the day, getting to the end with the people you can beat is the goal and she must have evaluated that wrongly. I should probably watch that finale.

How will they go in S34: I think people will find her useful early and want to keep her around. There are some bigger threats on her tribe including two former winners and I’ve already suggested she’s a good relationship builder. Throw in the fact that they look like they’ll actually be winning challenges and she should have more than enough time to ingratiate herself. Numbers will mean everything to this lot and I do feel she’ll be in the numbers.

Expected Placing: I’m thinking post-merge jury.

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: Happy enough. I liked Caleb in Kaoh Rong, but only for his friendship with Tai!

Thoughts on previous season: We didn’t really get to see much of Caleb before the medevac because of the Beauty’s winning streak. However, I do feel like he had potential of going further as he seems to be very likeable and he hadn’t pissed anyone off from what we saw.

How will they go in S34: I’m hoping he gets to redeem himself this time around. He seems like he has a very good social game, and will be a physical force earlier on so they should keep him around, unless he gets heat stroke again! We are yet to see his strategic play and with all those heavy weights returning it will be interesting who he aligns with and how he handles them. In his pre-game press interview he’s already throwing shade at the likes of Sandra, asking how she is a Game Changer. I don’t think this guy has watched her seasons! I expect him to make at least the merge, with the help of someone who is more of a strategist on his tribe. Who knows, maybe he’ll align with Tony!

Expected Placing: Post-merge/Jury

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Great! Glad he’s coming back.

Thoughts on previous season: I really liked him of course! We don’t have a lot to go off, but I think that’s to his advantage in a season like Game-Changers.

How will they go in S34: I think he will do very well. He comes across very sociable and genuinely likable. I imagine he’s one of those rare people that are inherently good at Survivor. Every now and again you see players that really just need to be themselves to get far. They’re not even really playing; they just have an endearing personality. Kinda like a JT (although he does play) or a Lee or an El from our season. I think if Caleb gets on the right side of luck and aligns himself with either a challenge meat-shield or a reliable strategist (or both) he’ll go very deep into the game.

Expected Placing: Either an early juror for being a challenge threat or a late player, but still jury.

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: I love Ciera, don’t get me wrong. But honestly, I think it’s too much, too soon.

Thoughts on previous season: Even though she pretty much outcast herself in Cambodia due to her wanting everyone to “play the game”, I was very entertained by the whole “Witches’ Coven” narrative. So game wise her style is risky and for the most part unachievable, due to the people she’s playing with being more risk averse. For entertainment purposes and shaking up the game, fantastic!

How will they go in S34: I’m hoping we see the more subtle Ciera with the moves she makes, but her past may haunt her. Though she bloomed much later in Blood v Water, Ciera has a lot of game and if she plays her cards right she can make it far again. Sadly, I do see her going home early. A few people may see her as a weaker player early on and if she ends up at tribal she could also be booted as a strategic threat.

Expected Placing: Pre-merge

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: I’m not sure. I like Ciera, she comes across lovely, but I don’t know if there is more to see from a game perspective.

Thoughts on previous season: She voted off her mum. I mean, ‘MOM’! I like that she’s willing to take risks, but for me, there has always been something missing in the execution.

How will they go in S34: Hard to say. I quite liked her in Blood vs. Water but was underwhelmed in Cambodia. I think she needed to be more creative. Ciera plays hard and I appreciate that, I just don’t think she can win. That said, maybe her competitors will also underestimate her and give her too much room to move. If I were out there I’d probably vote her out early because there is something a little unpredictable about her which is really dangerous. I think it’s tricky because on the one hand she doesn’t exude trustworthiness and on the other she comes across reasonably transparent. That seeming transparency is one reason why she may be kept around.

Expected Placing: I really just don’t know. I’m stuck on this one. I’ll go out on a whim and say pre-merge blindside.

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: Underwhelmed, but potentially promising. Didn’t see this one coming!

Thoughts on previous season: My favourite part of Hali’s time on World’s Apart was actually the surfing scene with Jenn; so nothing to do with actual game play! Starting on the right side of the numbers on No Collar to fading in the background at the merge, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Hali so I give her kudos for making the jury.

How will they go in S34: Because she was pretty quiet in her previous season, she doesn’t have that automatic target on her back. I actually see Hali getting along with many people well, and probably the likes of Malcolm, Caleb and even Michaela. She’s a smart girl, so she should have no problem fitting in and possibly floating her way to the final. I definitely think she will fight harder this time. I might be going out on a limb here, but I’m putting her in my Final 3.

Expected Placing: F3

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Interesting.

Thoughts on previous season: What a babe! Every time she’s on camera she hurts my self esteem. In all seriousness, I thought she was a little quiet. She’s obviously very intelligent and she did get a little unlucky last time in that she was in the minority at the merge. It didn’t help that the blue collars were so adamantly sticking together either (I’ve been there, and it’s much harder than it looks to break those ranks). I’m not sure there was much she could do about her fate last time.

How will they go in S34: Ohh she’s our dark horse, I expect. Hali will do really well. I think she will be underestimated and people will try and collect her vote rather quickly. She doesn’t have her history counting against her like some others do in her tribe. I wonder if the best strategy for the bigger players in her tribe would be to align together really quickly and take out the Hali’s. That’s the only way I see her out early, but I don’t see it happening. Funnily enough, I believe she’s a threat for the title.

Expected Placing: F3.

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: I absolutely adore this guy! Varner is so full of joy and sass. But at the same time I’m thinking it’s so soon after Cambodia.

Thoughts on previous season: I loved Jeff in Cambodia and after two seasons I don’t think we’ve seen his full capability in this game, or even close to it! Unfortunately, the tribe switch up to Angkor really hurt him and being stuck with the likes of Abi ended his Survivor run.

How will they go in S34: This guy is obsessed with Survivor and knows all the other old school players. Third times a charm for ol’ Jeff and IF he can lay a little low and not cause too much chaos, hide behind the ‘bigger’ name players and just go with the flow (which he kind of started in Cambodia), he will make the jury. But will he be able to hold back all his feelings?? #youbitch

Expected Placing: Post-merge/Jury

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Yaaaaaas!

Thoughts on previous season: Love, love, love. Every time, love.

How will they go in S34: Winner’s pick! Just kidding. He has a tendency to overplay, but I am hoping he has learnt his lesson. He needs to be less of a schemer and focus on social integration, which I am not sure he can do. Having played Survivor, I will testify that schemey-ness can be very transparent (*cough Evan, Nick, Andy* and *cough…love you all*). If you’re going to play multiple sides, you have to execute with subtlety. If you can’t do that, you really need to pick a side. Hopefully he will pick the right side and can just get in the numbers and bring full throttle schemey-ness to the post merge. Looking at his tribe there are quite a few contestants I could see him joining forces with. If he plays it right, we might get to see a lot of him this time.

Expected Placing: I really hope he makes jury. If he doesn’t I am boycotting (for like, at least three minutes).

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: There’s no denying that Malcolm is exciting to watch and has the charm to boot! So, there are no complaints from me seeing ‘the better Ozzy’, back!

Thoughts on previous season: Malcolm played a similar game in Caramoan to that in Philippines, which worked a treat! Though this was a back to back season and no one knew his game play yet, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks to his old ways or changes it up for S34. Malcolm is a great social player and loves the big moves; I think it’s expected we see Malcolm finding and playing idols for himself, and others!

How will they go in S34: I don’t think Malcolm can just sit back this season, he has to go all out this third time around. He’s likeable, great in challenges and able to provide for the tribe. I think his best move is to align with someone people wouldn’t see coming, just like his Matsing alliance with Denise. I can see Malcolm bonding with the likes of Michaela, Aubry or even Varner (to throw people off). I expect Malcolm to be around for a while.

Expected Placing: Post-merge/Jury

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Happy!

Thoughts on previous season: It has been a while so I don’t necessarily remember the ins and outs, besides the three amigos and the double immunity idol play. I do remember how I felt though which was that I was absolutely rooting for him!

How will they go in S34: I think Malcolm will do well. I’m a big fan! He’s got a fun energy and he is dynamic enough to give effect to good hard strategy. Admittedly, he does come across a little cocky at times so I hope he gets that under wraps because it really doesn’t help his case. I could see him being instrumental in some of the early boots of the big threats in this tribe such as Tony and Sandra.

Expected Placing: Jury.

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: Amazing! What a character and you know she will bring her A-game in Game Changers.

Thoughts on previous season: Her outward strategy, her one-liners and facial reactions; what’s not to love?! Michaela brought another level to Millennials v Gen X, despite her premature exit. There was enough brilliant content from her to bring her in for a back-to-back season.

How will they go in S34: Bring the FIERCE. There is no reason why Michaela shouldn’t go about Game Changers the same way she did in MvGX, but obviously a toned down version. Michaela will have to hold back her vivaciousness, albeit awesome for TV, if she wants to make it further than 14th place. I’m also going out on a limb here saying she makes the F3, potentially aligning with Hali to the end. Even if she does go early, imagine all the entertainment she’s going to be gracing our screens with? Totally worth it.

Expected Placing: F3

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Happy!

Thoughts on previous season: Okay I will be honest here, I wasn’t wowed. I had so many people engage with me when she was voted off just one vote before merge. I didn’t actually watch her season in real time as I needed a little break from Survivor at the time. When I did tune in, I was waiting for it. I was waiting for her to do something big and it just never happened for me. She dominated challenges, gave us a bunch of amazing sass and then she was gone. I love her character and I am glad she’s back. She was definitely gone too soon.

How will they go in S34: I think she will do really well. I can’t imagine how it was to effectively go straight from one game to another though. That would have been tough! In a way, I think it’s an advantage because she’ll likely find her stride quicker. She’ll have learnt from her first experience too. Michaela is a challenge asset so she’ll be kept around in the early days and she’s a low level threat considering she went pre-merge last time, so the prospects of her going deep look strong. I’m excited for the explosion of sass we’ll enjoy with Michaela and Sandra on the same tribe!

Expected Placing: Post-merge jury.

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: OVER THE MOON! I’m ready for SDT 3.0. All hail the Queen of Survivor!

Thoughts on previous season: There’s no denying that Sandra is one of the best Survivor’s to play the game. With two seasons in her back pocket of course the queen is back for her third million pay packet! She served us the same under-the-radar main with a side of cunning and sly. Her “anyone but me” strategy may not be popular with everyone, but it has worked a treat both times.

How will they go in S34: There is no hiding for Sandy Dee, and there really is no option for her, but to play even more aggressively than before. It’s pretty much known that many of the returning players are out to get her, because who wants someone to win a THIRD time?! I will be VERY impressed if she is not the first boot, or first booted from the Mana tribe. If she makes the merge, I think she could potentially ride it to the end, but it will be a slippery slope. And if she made it to the end, I’d give her the title. As much as I want Sandra to win this damn thing, I see her going early.

Expected Placing: Pre-merge.

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Fun! It’s always nice to see the characters we love. But I don’t think we will see her for very long.

Thoughts on previous season: I don’t really enjoy her strategy. I like bold players and big moves. However, there is no denying it works. Really, how can you not have anything but praise for someone who has won the game not once, but twice. She is the Queen!

How will they go in S34: If they don’t vote her out first, they are foolish. Sandra is lucky because this tribe does look challenge strong. If they win a few immunities and she gets enough time to find her footing, she’ll be dangerous as usual. If they lose, she’s gotta go. Surely! There is literally zero reason to keep her.

Expected Placing: Pre-merge, please!

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: It is hard to not be on #TeamTV. The loud mouth, llama talking, go hard or go home, cop is back and I really am excited to see him!

Thoughts on previous season: I’m going to be honest here and say I wasn’t the biggest fan of Tony on my first Cagayan watch. He just seemed like a cocky bastard, but he definitely knew what he was doing for the most part. Tony’s game wasn’t flawless, but he pulled out the right tricks at the right time and there is no way anyone can say he is not a deserving winner.

How will they go in S34: Like Sandra, I see Tony being targeted early. He will need to create some new tricks this time as people will be very cautious of his antics (and I don’t think a spy bunker will cut it, ha!) I can potentially see some animosity between him and Sandra which will be great on camera, but could be detrimental to both their games. Tony will be pulling out the stops and he already said in his pre-game interview that he wants to be the new two-time winner with an unblemished record. I just don’t see this happening, but if he proves me wrong all power to him.

Expected Placing: Pre-merge.

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Insane excitement!

Thoughts on previous season: It’s no secret that Tony is one of my all time favourite players. He is such good value TV! I love his strategy and killer instinct. I like that he used value-sets to establish who to vote off. I drew some serious inspiration from his game mantra before I played. I think for someone who is seemingly highly emotive, he rationalises his play really well and that is what I love. His game was by no means flawless but I have so much praise for Tony!

How will they go in S34: Sadly I think he is in trouble and I don’t know how he’ll overcome the blazing target on his back. It breaks my heart, but I think he’ll be out early. I’m happy to just see him out there again though, irrespective of how long he’s there for. Look at me being all pessimistic about his chances! I wish I didn’t have to be, but I think this is my own self-protective mechanism, I’ve got to manage my expectations or it will hurt more when I see it!

Expected Placing: Pre-merge

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LYNDZ

Initial reaction to casting: TROYZAN, THIS IS NOT YOUR ISLAND!! But I know he is a massive Survivor fan and am happy he gets a Second Chance.

Thoughts on previous season: I’ll be honest and say One World was not a favourite of mine, albeit Kim Spradlin playing an impressive social game. Unfortunately for Troyzan, he was always on the outs with the women toward game’s end and wasn’t able to show us his full strategic capabilities out there.

How will they go in S34: With so many big characters on this tribe, it will be best for Troyzan to kind of sit back and let them all destroy their own game and then pounce on whoever’s left to make a move. I think Troyzan can make it deep into this game again, he just needs to remain level-headed, and hopefully not be stuck with a bunch of women again!

Expected Placing: Post-merge/Jury

PHOEBE

Initial reaction to casting: Cool. I’m happy with the entire cast.

Thoughts on previous season: I can’t recall too much about Troyzan’s season but I think he did show us some strategic prowess? I only remember Kim because she is a weapon and one of my all time favourites.

How will they go in S34: I don’t have much to say about Troyzan. I don’t remember his game that well in all honesty. I think he’ll do well though. He has so much to prove. Not only because he’ll want to redeem himself, but also because he’s tried to come back before. This is his second chance and I don’t think he’ll waste it. I see him going quite deep into the game.

Expected Placing: Late juror.

Next week on Reality Ramblings, Phoebe and I assess the Nuku Tribe. Til then…


ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE COPYRIGHT CBS. THIS IS A PERSONAL BLOG AND ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN.