Survivor Palau kicked things off with a few surprises, which have been reported and analyzed to death already. But what about the contestants themselves? Is there anyone there who is really ready to play the game?
Before delving into the remaining 17 Survivors and their various strategies, let’s take a quick look at those already eliminated.
Wanda prepared for Survivor. She studied the game, conditioned herself physically, and planned out where she would fit into her tribe. She knew who would be targeted first (the leader), and she was right. Wanda wanted to be someone people could turn to, someone who would listen and understand and be sympathetic. According to the Survivor Insider (available at CBS.com), she planned to approach a strong player and explain that they were a target – and then offer herself as a partner. The idea was then to pull in a few other people and form a strong alliance of five, which would help her get further in the game.
While there were no guarantees that this plan would work, you have to give Wanda props for her preparations. Could she have become a serious contender? It’s hard to say; but it’s always a shame when someone who knows how to play the game and is ready to give it their all is eliminated so early.
As for Jonathan and Jolanda, really, there are no excuses. I admit to being puzzled by the reasons Jonathan was never picked to be on a tribe. He’s obviously a strong guy, so why was he passed over for the older and less buff men? As Jeff Probst has pointed out on more than one occasion, the game begins as soon as he tells them it’s on. So whether Jonathan was a victim of Coby’s plotting, or rather just a victim of his own inability to secure himself a place in the game, it really doesn’t matter.
Then there’s Jolanda, who wears the strange and contradictory title of “first individual immunity/ first person voted out of Palau”. Jolanda has a fascinating life story, and it’s no wonder that she’s a strong and outspoken person. In life, that has gotten her far and she is to be admired. However, this is Survivor, and one only needs to watch a few seasons to know that those who come off arrogant and overbearing from the get-go are among the first people escorted to Loser’s Lodge. ‘Nuff said.
It’s difficult to decipher the strategies and game plans of 17 other contestants after only one hour of Survivor, but there are a few glimmers of hope among this crew already.
Coby got a lot of face time in the first half of the show, and he’s shown himself to be a gamer. Thinking that there would be an immediate, large Tribal Council, Coby took charge and targeted a strong challenger in Jonathan. He then made an alliance with Angie, but failed to choose her in the pick ‘em tribal split. Coby will end up using his ‘charm’ and wit to keep himself in the game, all the while plotting his next move and next target.
As atarus pointed out in his recap of episode 1, Tom knew right off the bat that “fire was a loser job”, letting the audience know that he has indeed seen the show and knows his way around sticky situations. He approached Stephenie and Ian about an alliance, knowing that getting together with a strong male and a strong female would put him in a great position early on in the game. Even though they didn’t all end up on the same tribe, it wouldn’t surprise me if these three end up aligning after the merge.
Ian is another one to watch. He’s strong, quiet, and always observing – but gets involved and seems to be having a great time. He’ll be able to win people over and form solid bonds along the way.
Angie took a hit when alliance-buddy Coby left her standing on the mat instead of choosing her to be on his tribe. Being picked last for Ulong has left her feeling pretty insecure. If she could get over the pity-party and start looking for ways to divide the tribe she might have a chance – sadly, I don’t see that happening.
Stephenie also sends out strong vibes, but more in the same style as Ian. She’s not going to be a drama queen, and she won’t be relying on her looks to get her farther in the game. She’s got a strong alliance in Tom, and she’s athletic. She also wasn’t afraid to make her opinions known before TC, but didn’t push when Ibrehem disagreed with her. If Stephenie isn’t seen as an early challenge threat, she will do well.
The only other person who made an impression (as far as strategy goes), is Janu. When the tribe was building their shelter, she thought twice about showing her climbing abilities before jumping in to help. Although it’s only a spark, it’s a hint that she knows the game and realizes what makes someone a threat – and therefore a target.
As the season progresses, of course, we’ll get an opportunity to see more of the others and be able to determine how their strategies will help or hinder them. It’s an interesting and diverse group this season, with potential for a great deal of drama.
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