Kelly Wiglesworth – Borneo – Season 1 – I am so happy she is back. If anyone deserved a second chance it is the runner up from Season 1. The woman who lost her season because she guessed the wrong number from 1-10. Honestly, go back and watch that last Final Tribal. Sue Hawk’s speech gets all the attention, but it was Greg’s cop out question that decided the game. Kelly ran the challenge table at the end to stay alive and almost win. She may be rusty – and her strategy game needs to be better – but she is a dark horse, and one of the people I am rooting for.
Jeff Varner – Australia – Season 2 – He would not have been my top choice, but I’m cool with this one. He was in great position to win Australia – or at least compete to the end. Then Skupin fell in the fire, and their 6-4 merge advantage became a 5-5 tie. And then he and his allies got outwitted by Colby. Donaldson. Really. That tiebreaker vote got Varner out and enabled us to see the first Final Three decision that cost a guy a million (Colby and Wooooo! – hello, Amazing Race producers!). Like Kelly, let’s see the rust on this guy.
Kimmi Kappenberg – Australia – Season 2 – Really? Should I break out the season rosters and find 10 better choices for a return engagement than Kimmi? OK – Gretchen, Teresa, Kim P, Neleh, Lill, any of the 500 Lindsays, Fiji Michelle, Twila, Sundra, Becky, Cassandra, and I’m not even halfway through the seasons! All Kimmi ever did was get yelled at by Alicia and get voted out early. Now watch she wins.
Andrew Savage – Pearl Islands – Season 7 – No love for Seasons 3-6. Sigh. Regardless of that travesty, Savage is a good add. He was a tough player that season that was poised to go pretty deep in the season. He had the sliced up Armani suit and had a Probst crush fueling him through. And then the Outcast twist happened. Go back and watch that episode again – they knew they were screwed when the Outcasts returned, having not been in the game and with a fire in the belly. Savage was doomed the minute they walked in. A dumb twist that screwed him and a few others. Now he is back – good call, fans. Let’s see what he can do in a season full of alpha males.
Terry Dietz – Panama – Season 12 – Again, we skip past Seasons 9-11 (no Chad, Ian, Judd, Rafe, oh, I can keep going) and head right to Exile Island. Terry finally gets another crack. The other members of that season’s Final Four have all returned, but one of the two dominant forces that season (Cirie being the other) has never been back. Now here he is – and his challenge monster rep is on the line. Has age slowed him down? It may be a lot of fun to see if he and Savage clash or if they bro-bond.
Peih-Gee Law – China – Season 15 – No big deal skipping by 13 & 14 – Cook Islands has been well-represented in the past and Fiji is considered one of the worst seasons. Here in China – we get Peih-Gee back and I am thrilled. I loved her that season – my first recapping Survivor – and I would love to see her go far. She got to the Final Five that year even though she was constantly in the minority. That’s a tough thing to do on this show. Imagine what she can do with an actual alliance that doesn’t suck! And easy on the eyes, I might add.
Stephen Fishbach – Tocantins – Season 18 Another great choice – he and Rob C are probably the two best strategists to never win the game. He navigated a season that gave us Coach 1.0 and got to the end. Sadly for him, he was seated next to Captain America JT. Would the Golden Boy have gotten there without Stephen? Not a chance. The brains behind the brawn and the charm, Stephen also would never have given that idol to Russell two seasons later. A personal favorite of mine this season – I hope he wins.
Monica Padilla – Samoa – Season 19 – Some really good eye candy here for the male fans. She was part of the embarrassing tribe that blew an 8-4 merge advantage to Russell. She got far, but really did nothing for the game other than really, really, really, really rock a bikini. So she’s got that going for her, which is nice.
Abi-Maria Gomes – Philippines – Season 25 – We shoot forward, passing a couple of underwhelming seasons, and jump right to the Madness of Queen Abi. I would have given good money for RC to be there again to clash with the Brazilian maniac, but alas, RC has more class. Her whole purpose here is to be nuts and rabble rouse. She did not do anything at all in the way of strategy or challenges – just crazy. Sigh.
Ciera Eastin – Blood vs. Water 1 – Season 27 – Ciera begins the second half of the contestants – because 11 of the 20 all came from seasons 27-30. She is not a bad choice – in fact, she was very fun to watch that season. I mean…she voted out her mom! I said at the time that she deserved another shot – and here she is. I think she’s going to be tough to beat.
Vytas Baskauskas – Blood vs. Water 1 – Season 27 – Ciera could have a built in ally here. Vytas was another standout that season, and was a whole lot more interesting to watch than his brother. I liked him and thought he’d be fascinating to watch in a season where he didn’t have a Season 12 Winner in the family – will he be his own man on the show, or will he be further defined by that sibling rivalry? I think he will be an interesting contrast to Savage/Terry – a yoga alpha male. Hmmm.