Michael Skupin Accepts the ‘Survivor’ Power Rankings Challenge


Michael Skupin (CBS)

The Good News? “Survivor” legend Michael Skupin has accepted this season’s Power Rankings challenge! This fits perfectly with the season’s theme as Gordon is a huge “Survivor” fan and Michael is definitely one of his favorites.

The Bad News? Michael has a history of falling into the fire in Australia and smashing goggles over his face in the Philippines. Gordon has a history of being attacked by leeches in Africa, receiving a lump over his eye in Samoa, and getting into a boating accident in the Caramoan Islands. So, it is entirely possible that this is the first Power Rankings where both competitors don’t make it to the end in one piece.

The Rules: Each week Michael and Gordon will create separate Power Rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the two players will earn. For example, if Cochran is voted out this week, Michael will receive 4 points and Gordon will receive 6 points. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned the ‘Survivor: Caramoan’ Power Rankings champion!

Before we get started, let’s check in with this season’s competitor…

Gordon Holmes: Hey Michael, how’d you feel about last Wednesday’s premiere?
Michael Skupin: I must first say how painful it is to watch and not “be there” playing.  It had been so long since I played, I’d forgotten how much I love playing over watching. That said, I LOVED the fact that “Survivor” went back to two challenges per episode, it’s truly what we live for out there. The fact that the game opened up with one was iconic! If the first episode was any indication, the physical is back, and we love that! And we did get a sense of where the raw strength is…Bikal (returnees).

Holmes: The time for talking is over. The time for ranking is finally upon us. What strategy are you taking in this first week?
Skupin: My Power Rankings are based on where the contestants stand as they walk back to camp after Tribal Council.  There is an obvious lean towards the returning players as I know what an almost unfair advantage it truly can be (as long as you don’t play the exact same character from your previous seasons). There’s something about “coming back” that makes you a gamer even if you weren’t necessarily before.

Set Your DVR to Record ‘Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs Favorites”

Michael’s Current Score: 0

Any advice for Michael? Drop him a line on Twitter: @mikeskupin

Gordon’s Current Score: 0

Any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

 1. Dawn: Smart as a fox, playing hard without anyone realizing it which translates as playing hard with the right people. She has the mental and physical toughness to go deep. She orchestrated her and Cochran as swing votes which haunted me post-merge so we’ll see if it’s a trend. If she continues to play the sweet mom, who wants to vote their mom out?  1. Malcolm: My biggest fear for Malcolm headed into the season was that his tribe would automatically turn on him because he was an unknown quantity. Fortunately, he was able to show his skills (among other things) at the first reward challenge. So, that should keep him safe until the merge or the tribe swap that I would bet is coming.
 2. Malcolm: Challenge beast in the first challenge, challenge goat in the second one. I kept thinking clay pot, clay pots but Malcolm was put in or chose that spot again. Although extremely physical, the fine motor skills may not be his forte’.  If he can create a good story on why he’s there ie. early injury, he can go deep.  If he spills too much, he’ll likely make the merge but it’ll be up a creek after that. Don’t forget how almost unbeatable he was at puzzles. I liked his moxy out there but am concerned if he has the durability after only four weeks rest between seasons.
 2. Andrea: Whew…that was a rough first episode for Andrea. I didn’t hate the move. It’s safe to assume that the fans are wary of Phillip and Corinne based on their previous seasons, so Phillip’s crew is a smart group to be aligned with. And, of the four that weren’t in the alliance, Francesca was probably the least useful at challenges (although she did well in the reward battle). Like the move or not, you can’t argue with the results. Phillip now fully trusts Andrea and she’s safely in the middle of the majority alliance.
 3. Corinne: Surprise, surprise, Corinne does have a sweet side.  An almost Jerri Manthey Season 2, 8, and 20-type of turnaround. She went so far out of her way to be likable; I actually liked her and wanted her to stay.  Her ridiculous good looks now could easily sway many of the younger men out there (Cochran, Brandon, Erik, Malcolm). So far, she’s playing amazingly well.  3. Corinne: Everybody expected Corinne to be stealing people’s lunch money. Instead she’s helping soothe Cochran’s five-alarm sunburn. I can’t wait for the deleted scene where she helps rescue kittens from trees.

  4. Cochran: JC got a boatload of airtime. He was funny, non-threatening, smart, playful, and is letting everyone else play hard. As much as he tried to be the new “burn guy” on “Survivor” and as unlikely as it is he’ll be a factor in any challenge, his name never came up.  He even let Dawn lead the charge in their newly formed fragile (yet necessary) alliance. Maybe in the “Celebrity Survivor” Probst is shooting for, Cochran could play Woody Alle… OK, I won’t go there. 
 4. Erik: Yeah, Erik isn’t in the Stealth R Us Too Alliance. Yeah, Erik doesn’t have a sweet nickname. But he’s still the most valuable member of the minority alliance. People forget that Erik was killing challenges in Micronesia. And, if he’s smart, he’s not letting Phillip know that he hates his guts.

  5. Brenda: Funny, gorgeous, strategic, and smart, she’s just flat out built for this game. She knows what her reputation is and she seems to be working a different angle (the only way she could go deep in the game).  She strikes me as a person in life who gets what she wants. When it didn’t go her way last time, she threw the towel in. I bet she won’t this time. 
 5. Dawn:  Yup, everyone wants to work with Dawn. The dues she paid in “South Pacific” are paying dividends now. (Is that how dues work?) Everyone thinks they can trust her. Her challenge will be finding the right combination of alliance members to get her deep into the game. Then she needs to play against type and betray them. If she doesn’t she’s playing for the jury because nobody will want to go to the end with her.
 6. Reynold: Although he is a founding member of the Cool Kid Lunch Table Alliance (CKLTA) (which I believe will haunt him more than help him) he needs numbers and he just drew a line in the sand against the other six (who likely aren’t smart enough yet to jump on this gift of an opportunity). Here’s where newbies fail, A.) They telegraph their alliances (KOD=kiss of death in many cases) and B.) Newbie’s fail to seize the moments that usually come in small doses on “Survivor.” So Reynold is safe for now. As he pounds his chest caveman style at his new conquest, he fails to realize that all two-person show-mances are one castaway too big in size, one has to go…the other forever labeled (unless your name is Malcolm). I’d like to be a fly on the wall as Reynold watches this with his wife.
 6. Cochran: I’ve been trying to think of something more embarrassing than being evacuated from “Survivor” due to sunburn. Hang nail? Ice cream headache? All kidding aside, that had to suck. And credit where credit is due, Cochran tore his way up that tower in the immunity challenge. I was impressed. Right now, Cochran has a ton of options and everyone seems to like him. If Bikal can stay out of a prolonged losing streak, Cochran’s going to make a run for this.
 7. Phillip: Wow! Right out of the gates. Senior Specialist, please don’t try to be Boston Rob and come out of the chute so headstrong.  Be Phillip, it worked well last time. Although he didn’t get a single vote, his name was mentioned often (although mostly by the first boot). I like Phillip, he’s entertaining and he’s for real. I’m impressed he’s playing and playing hard…all respect for the challenge beast! BR Rule #4 … don’t copy BR Rules unless you’re BR.
  7. Phillip: Is Phillip really in change of the Caramoan branch of Stealth R Us? Probably not. The fact is, now that Francesca is gone the others don’t need to keep Phillip around to have a majority. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have Phillip along to take to the end, but if his quirky ways get to be a little too much, it isn’t the end of the world to cut him loose.
 8. Allie: By allowing her rear end to be the next test model for the new Charmin commercials, Allie made a huge mistake, putting herself to be a candidate for the first parental discretion warning since I fell into the fire on season 2. It wasn’t so much the PDA as it was the moaning that stuck out.  This will literally be her KOD or kiss of death.  She won’t be seen as the biggest threat in the (CKLTA) but she’ll always be attached to it. Jumping into an alliance with an alpha male is smart, telegraphing it is dumb.
 8. Michael: It’s still too early to have a clear picture of what’s going on over at Gota. I’m thinking you’ve got the cool kids’ alliance at one table, the less popular girls at another, and Shamar is…well I have no idea what Shamar is doing. Then you’ve got Michael and Matt. A pair of misfit free agent Gary and Wyatts who are about to find themselves as the most popular kids in school.
 9. Sherri: At 41, she is smart enough to see she’s obviously odd-man out in the kiddie pool of the under-25 females on her team. She was strangely quiet which is a sign that she understands the game and isn’t going to play her hand too soon. She was given the Monica Culpepper shot at being team mom because in Dawn’s females, there is only one under 25. She looks fit and is used to being the leader in life.  That won’t sit well with the alpha males if she tries to exercise control. She can quietly play an amazing game if she could see it as easily as we can.
 9. Reynold: Two big rookie mistakes from Reynold in episode one. First, being obvious about your showmance? That’s just a dumb move in a post Team Mariano world. And second, four people can’t dominate a ten-person tribe. Fortunately for you, your tribe will keep you because of your challenge prowess. It might work out so well for poor Allie though…
 10. Shamar: A leader in life, a leader in the tribe, but military leadership dictates respect, “Survivor” leadership dictates a long lonely walk to a nice meal and a hot shower. To my knowledge, Shamar is one of only three people in the history of the game to start a fire without the assistance of anything (Boston Rob on “Heroes vs. Villains” and Russell Swan/Malcolm on “Philippines”), although impressive, it won’t get him any votes.  His social game is on a thin thread here. As potentially a challenge beast and a survivalist, they may keep him to keep numbers strong but the CKLTA may be too cocky to care which breaks many “Survivor” rules of strategy.   10. Eddie: See Reynold.
 11. Hope: She could come out of this season as a new favorite, and I’m not normally this generous in early rankings to the young guns. As a founding member of the CKLTA, I’m hoping (pun intended) that she diversifies. At least she was smart enough to escape the late-night follies.     11. Shamar: C’mon, Shamar. Starting fights after being on the beach for 15 whole minutes? That’s not even “Survivor” 101, that’s more like Intro to “Survivor.” But, good on you for mending fences with Matt after the blow up. There are already fractures in Gota, it’s up to you figure out which side works best for you.
 12. Eddie: Swinging for the fences way too fast, very clever and a survivalist of sorts but c-o-c-k-y on steroids. Cocky doesn’t translate to late-game finishes. He’s athletic and scrappy but his ego will prevent him from advancing far. He’s most likely to experience an epic blindside by his own alliance. He’ll have to start a new club CKAP…Cool Kids at Ponderosa.   12. Matt: Nice to see Matt and Michael buddying up, but getting into an early fight with Shamar is a pretty big red flag as far as Matt’s social game goes. Hopefully their burying of the hatchet was legitimate and they’ll be able to move on.
 13. Michael: Seems nice enough, smart enough, likeable enough but doesn’t seem to understand the game. “Thinking” about forming alliances with a guy (Matt) that is obviously not in one isn’t a bad strategy if you have others already. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that way.   13. Sherri: We didn’t get to see much from Sherri, Julia, and Laura this past week, but we do know they’re aligned against the cool kids. Since Shamar has admitted that he likes the ladies, it shouldn’t be too hard to get him on board. Then it’s going to come down to Matt and Michael as the swing votes.
 14. Brandon: It’s so hard to put him any higher than this after seeing “scenes from our next episode.” There’s Russell Hantz “save yourself with strategic play” at any cost and there’s Willie Hantz (“Big Brother”) “when in doubt, go out memorable.” Brandon made it far and could have even won had he not made one of the top five blunders ever in the game by giving away his immunity necklace. Because of the Hantz name, a carefully crafted pre-strategy strategy was in order. If the “scenes” are any indication, I believe the fame and experience Brandon experienced on his last appearance will cause more tornados than strategic maneuvers.   14. Julia: There is someone on this show named Julia.
 15. Erik: He’ll always be a challenge threat and likely makes the merge because of it. His young, innocent looks could buy him additional time but (unlike Corinne who went from villain to hero) he’s gone from sweet to a developed callousness since his last appearance in “Fans vs Favorites,” or he just doesn’t like Phillip that much. I like his story, once a fan, now a favorite. He’s throwing Phillip under the bus maybe a bit too early. As owner of arguably the dumbest move ever on “Survivor,” he’s likely to make another blunder before the seasons over, costing him the seven figures once again.   15. Laura: Really? Making out with Reynold on day one? That’s like “Survivor” suicide these days. Oh wait…that was Allie? Yikes…can’t tell these two apart. Here’s hoping they receive some kind of distinctive swimwear in the next episode. Honestly, I’m hoping for nametags.
 16. Julia: Although at 21, she’s at a huge disadvantage from a life experience perspective, her Danica Patrick race-car career may give her more experience than we see. She’s possibly the least social in an over-the-top social game.  Making alliances with the right people is the only thing that can save her from the early Ponderosa adventure.   16. Brandon: Here’s a fun fact; when Brandon’s uncle (a guy named Russell) used to wreak havoc around camp, he didn’t tell anybody. He just went about his business and socks were burnt and machetes vanished. From the previews, it’s clear that Brandon tells Cochran what he’s up to. That’s probably going to be a problem for Lil Hantz.
 17. Laura: I had to go back and look up who she was as she was virtually invisible (and pretty blondes don’t get that treatment often), no significant moves (or they would have showed them), no alliances formed (repeat), insignificant in challenges (repeat). If under the radar is her strategy…she played brilliantly but it doesn’t appear that way. I hope she latches onto someone quickly.   17. Brenda: Oof…I hate to see Brenda in such a bad position so early in the game. From everything we’ve seen, it looks like she just ended up on the wrong side of the numbers. And if the faves lose again they probably won’t be able to get rid of two solid challenge performers like Erik and Brandon.
 18. Andrea: Although I like her a lot and am not picking her to go home early, she was one vote away from a purple rock and starring at trees for 36 days.  She played too hard, too early with the wrong people.  Rules here A, (you wrote some of them) …align yourself with people that are as good as or better than you. You didn’t follow that rule like you did last time with Matt and Boston Rob.  I bet she wiggles her way back in, who can resist those eyes, but it’s costly nonetheless. Andrea will never go down without a fight.   18. Hope: There aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules on “Survivor,” but they always make sure the prettiest girl is aligned with the most handsome guy. That’s why they put them on the same tribe.
 19. Matt: Rule #1: Don’t get in a fight on the first day.  Rule #2: Don’t get into a fight with the potential leader of your tribe.  Rule #3: Don’t get in a fight with the biggest player out there. Rule #4: All rules get broken eventually.  The Rumplestiltskin look works for you appearance-wise but play smart, bro. Mike asked you into an alliance and you said “wait.” Huh? What? Really? …How Penner-esque of you. 
  19. Allie: Of all the fans, I had the highest hopes for Allie. But, that night-one groping session is probably going to come back to haunt her. Just ask poor Elyse Umemoto. Her relationship with Ozzy Lusth was platonic and the others still felt the need to send her packing.

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