Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Survivor: Worlds Apart Final Five Power Rankings

With the Survivor: Second Chances ballot being announed 12 days ago, Survivor 30 seemed to become an afterthought. A season that had been universally praised preseason as a great one. Heck, the buzz going into San Juan del Sur was that 29 was a fine season, but everybody was thinkng that Worlds Apart was a homerun on the level of Caguayan. How did this happen?

Part of it is the excitement of us fans getting to choose the cast. Kelly Wiglesworth! Jeff Varner! Sabrina Thompson! (Well, maybe not all of the choices bring out the same sort of passion.) But the other part of it is that the end of the season seems somewhat straight forward. Everything that the show is telling us is that Mike or Carolyn win. Especially when combined with the preseason hype; we have to assume that production would not be pushing how great this season is if they knew that Will or Rodney win. Sierra could be sold as a likeable winner, but the show hasn't done anything to really feature Sierra. If the season is so great, you would think that they would at least attempt to make the winner one of the stars of the season.

Working under the assumption that it is a Mike or Carolyn win, then we know the framework as to how it will play out. Mike or Carolyn will win out in immunity challenges, and then will laugh to the bank, as the two people who go to final tribal are disliked by the jury. The only intrigue is with a Rodney/Sierra/Will final, but nothing that we have seen would indicate that to be a possibility. With that in mind, here are my final five power rankings. Normally I would include what the ideal final 3 would be for each player, but that should be readily transparent (Mike does not Carolyn in the final three, and vice versa. The other three do not want Mike or Carolyn in the final three.)

5. Will

If there's anything transparently obvious, it's that Will has no clue how to play the game, and that there is a chance he has never watched an episode of Survivor prior to being cast on the show. His endgame is atrocious; my only guess on his thinking (assuming he is thinking about it) is that he thinks if he makes it to final tribal, the other people will be less liked than him, so the jury will give him the win. If he was thinking about that, his actions did not show it. His treatment of Shirin was terrible on a human level, but it was also horrendous on a gameplay level as well. Making a potential juror hate you is bad on it's own. Doubling down on it in front of the actual jury members who like your target is just writing off a bunch of votes.

He can't counter the unlikeability with his game play either. He is being carried to the end by his alliance; he doesn't win immunity (that was part of what made his "I want my letter, and I won't compete in this immunity challenge" gambit laughable; everybody knew that he wasn't going to win that challenge, so he would basically be getting something for nothing. Good on Shirin for stopping that charade.) The only play Will can point to is turning on his fellow no collar players; and even then it was a "Well, I'm just going to follow along with this alliance instead." He also made puzzling moves; when Mike showed his hidden immunity idol and said he was going to use it on Shirin while saying that Tyler would get a vote; Tyler panicked and voted for Dan in an attempt to save himself. Will also voted for Dan. Why? Nobody knows for sure. Will himself seemed to explain it by saying that he didn't know what was going on. If we take that at face value, then it's another example of Will not knowing what was going on in the game. If he was trying to protect some sort of secret alliance with Tyler, then why didn't he vote with Tyler the next week to at least attempt to force a tie with Dan?

Will is an awful player; possibly the worst to make it this far. If he wins, then Survivor will have jumped the shark.

4. Sierra
3. Rodney

I'm combining Rodney and Sierra because I oscilate between them when deciding who will win the game if Mike and Carolyn do not. Rodyney has been much more present in the show; he's been more active in playing the game, and has been arguably the driving force in the dominant alliance. That's why he ranks ahead of Sierra.

And to be honest, I think a Rodney win would be sellable because of that, and his apparent change in attitude when not playing Survivor. Many of the other players are complimentary of him outside of the game. Rodney's impressions are pretty funny and dead on as well. Would his win be ideal? Heck no. But it's something that can at least be swallowed.

But I'm not sleeping on Sierra's chances. She will be sitting next to Rodney and Will, who have managed to anger a lot of jurors. Her gameplay story is not that compelling; it's essentially Will's with a bit more anger about being betrayed by the Blue Collars. But she hasn't actively insulted anybody, nor has she acted in a mean way. If the jury is bitter enough, that could worth a million dollars.

2. Carolyn

Momma C is in a desperate situation. Even though there's a bigger target than her, she is still the second biggest target. She can only get away with not winning the final 5 immunity challenge if Mike also loses (and doesn't find a hidden immunity idol along the way.) Even if she manages to survive the final five vote, she must win final four immunity, or else she will be eliminated then. In short, she also much win out to win the game.

She also has a small hurdle to get over with the jury. Jenn, Joe and Shirin all seem to not like Carolyn. Their dislike of who she's sitting next to might be greater than their dislike of Carolyn, and Carolyn's moves in the last two episodes might make her more likeable in the eyes of the jury.

It will be interesting to see if she keeps Rodney along with her until the end. Her poor handling of whether to give him reward or not these last two weeks has probably made her less likely to receive Rodney's vote. So she has to wonder whether it is better to sit next to Rodney at the end, or to put him on the jury where his vote might be a lost cause.

1. Mike

On the most recent Survivor Know it Alls, Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach discussed whether Mike's game was the same as Tony's. They concluded it was; I think that it's actually closer to Tony 2.0. The thing with Tony's game was that when he was in the lead, he was still looking to mix things up and do what was best for his game. Sometimes that lead him to make plays seemingly against his alliance and then patch things up after. Mike went against a member of his alliance once, when he voted out Joaquin instead of Joe. That angered Rodney, and set into motion the events that would lead Mike to be on the bottom of his alliance (even if he didn't know it at the time.) Mike was also the one to recognize that it was important to keep his tribe tight, even after they had blindsided Lindsey and alienated Sierra. Rodney and Dan did not see this in the same way, and it left Mike to make amends and hope that Sierra would not flip.

Mike also was able to suss out when he might be in trouble, and then act on it. Tony "got lucky" at the merge when he thought he had outsmarted the other tribe by playing an idol on LJ (thinking that was who they were voting out.) When it turned out he had read the other tribe wrong, he was only saved by Kass flipping.

Mike is number one on these rankings because he's going to win if he makes it to final tribal, and he's the most likely to win out in immunity challenges. But even if he doesn't win, we will see him again on Second Chances. That's pretty well guaranteed.

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