It's a new year which means a new season of "Survivor" featuring a Whitley Countian.
As I hope you all have already read in my article on Feb. 4th's front page of The Times-Tribune, Williamsburg's Nick Wilson will once again be appearing on the popular reality show in its 40th season. This year marks the 20th anniversary for the show and the producers decided to bring back 20 winners for an all-winners season, "Survivor: Winners at War".
During Nick's winning season, I wrote a review after each episode highlighting Nick's ventures on the show, and in season 39, which featured Rockholds' Elaine Stott, I did the same thing with a little more flavor of my opinions on the show to try to change it up a bit.
This time around I have rounded up the help of my new friend, Chris Harris, who is a staff writer at our sister newspaper, the Commonwealth Journal in Somerset, Kentucky. Chris used to write the Survivor Missing Intelligence Award column for the former website Reality News Online.
I figured you all wouldn't mind the change from my recaps, so I asked Chris to join me in producing a column after each episode. We're going to sort of have a running dialogue, it may evolve throughout the season, but this is what we're starting with at least.
We decided to practice using my interview with Nick for the Feb. 4th article and we decided to go ahead and make some way-too-early predictions that may eventually be embarrassing once we get to watch the show, but that's okay, I trust you all to not laugh too hard.
ERIN: Predictions I'm making from over-analyzing my interview with Nick:
1. Nick’s going to be a villain this season. I’m making assumptions, of course, but I felt like he wanted to make it clear in his interview that he was playing round two of Survivor for his own fun and to not carry the weight of representing Whitley County. He said his motivation was to prove he was the greatest Survivor player and should be considered a legend too. That means he has to be willing to do whatever it takes to win, as all the legends have shown. I think Nick is going to scheme, manipulate, lie, cheat and steal to win again if he has to. I’m okay with that in the game of Survivor.
CHRIS: I like the reasoning for why Nick could be a villain this year. But man, he's gonna have to stand out to pull that off. I'm not sure he has it in him. Nick seems like a genuinely nice guy, one who won with a solid social game last time around. But if he wants to be a villain in this cast ... up against Boston Rob, Parvati Shallow, Tony Vlachos, and Sandra Diaz-Twine? They put all others to shame when it comes to backstabbing and deception. If Nick wants to play a "No More Mr. Nice Guy" game, I'm all for it. He'd do better to be quiet about it however rather than making big movements out of the gate to show he's changed.
2. I think Nick will at least make it to jury. Nick said in his interview with me that this season is amazing and will live up to the hype. I don’t think Nick would say that unless he experienced a good portion of it. He also mentioned that he thought a disadvantage would be not knowing other cast members, but he later said that was an advantage because he didn’t have any ties to anyone. I think right there he was telling me that he did what he had to to get to the top.
CHRIS: Nick pointed out that one of his biggest disadvantages was that he didn't know anybody ... but he also knew that without many pre-existing relationships, he could be sort of a free agent. I think he's onto something there. Seasons with lots of returning players frequently see an overlooked diamond-in-the-rough come up and win it all. John Cochran went from the poster child for "liability" in the South Pacific season to a strategic and social powerhouse that no one saw coming in "Fans vs. Favorites." Sarah Lacina was an afterthought in "Cagayan" who finished 11th, and took very little baggage with her into "Game Changers." Nick can't hide under an early exit, or anything like that, but he's still someone that probably no one is going to be thinking about at the start of the game. Everyone will be gunning for the big names on his tribe, like Sandra and Tony and Tyson Apostol. So smilin' Nick should take advantage of that early on, lay low, stay out of the storm, play nice, and wait until later in the game to start cutting throats and breaking hearts.
CHRIS: Here are my predictions. Feel free to forget you read these after they're completely blown apart, ahem:
Kim will win.
Sorry, Whitley County readers. I like Nick. I'll be rooting for Nick. And I think he has a great shot, for the reason that he'll be playing comparatively under the radar. But I think Kim Spradlin is one of the most underrated Survivor contestants ever. She dominated her series, "One World." It wasn't even close. She was in control the whole time, just as thoroughly as greats like Boston Rob or Parvati were on their winning seasons. And yet, because she's only played once, hasn't been in the media spotlight, and was on a forgettable season, she won't have an early target on her back either. Like Nick, she can lay low as the initial bullets fly. And she's smart enough, socially skilled enough, and physically capable enough to take control of this game again before anyone realizes it's happened.
Sandra will be the first out.
Sandra Diaz-Twine is going to have a huge target on her back from the get-go. She's won twice. She's a "big name." People know what she's capable of, and that they shouldn't trust her long-term. And, sorry to say, but older cast members (particularly older women) tend to be among the first to go. Rightly or wrongly, the perception is that they're the weakest physically at a point in the game when strength is valued for winning team challenges. Sandra has never been a challenge dynamo anyway, but at 44, she'll be among the older members of the cast. I see her going from first to worst ... which is not a knock on her at all. If people really do distrust her enough to want her gone early, that's a sign of respect in this game.
Wendell will win Fan Favorite.
Or the "Sia Gives a Big Check" award, or whatever it is now. I actually think Nick has a good shot at this too, if he stays true to the Nick we know and love. But there's a surprising lack overall of warm-and-fuzzy types in this cast. People like big Teddy bear Rupert or "aw, shucks" J.T. who charmed America on their seasons. Wendell Holland is a smart player though with a great smile and fun personality. If he goes deep, I think much of the audience will find themselves rooting for him, whether he wins or not. Of course, he's from Philly, where I spent four years of college, so I may be slightly biased. (Southern Kentucky comes first though, so I'll still be rooting for Nick.)
ERIN: Nick will win.
I predicted after talking to Nick my first time around that he had won — I thought I was going to eat that one as it appeared he was going home in episode one before one of his tribe mates was injured and Nick was saved because no one was voted out then.
I may be a little biased and proud of our hometown guy getting to be on "Survivor" again, but I predict Nick will win again. I think the game has changed so much that the other players won’t be prepared enough. Nick has played the game in its latest form, but as we have learned there is a new addition of fire tokens this year that will be used to barter with people on the Edge of Extinction. So although Nick won’t have the ties some of the players have, I think the use of fire tokens will help him.
Sophie Georgina Clarke will be first out.
I’ve watched every season of "Survivor", but there have been some seasons that I didn’t watch as hard core as the others, especially when I was in college and didn’t have as much time to devote to the show. The season Sophie was on was one of those seasons. I don’t know anything about her off the top of my head, so I’m going with her.
"Boston" Rob Mariano will win Fan Favorite.
I struggled with this one. These players are the best of the best so I'm trying to gauge how Sia, who now just gives her favorite player(s) the award, will choose this. All I know is that Boston Rob has been on "Survivor" five times and each time he has been on it, he's been the best part, in my humble opinion. He is hilarious and a lot of times, that's who the fan favorite tends to be. So, I'm going to go with him because I feel like Sia might choose that way too.
Make sure to tune in for the first episode of "Survivor: Winners at War" at 8 p.m. Wednesday on CBS.