Archive for February, 2014

‘Survivor’ Castaway Garrett: David ‘Didn’t Know How to Play ‘Survivor’ at All’

February 28, 2014

'Survivor: Cagayan' (CBS)

NOTE: XFINITY TV is the place to be for all sorts of “Survivor: Cagayan” back-stabbin’, torch-snuffin’ fun. On Mondays we’ll have Power Rankings with “Blood vs. Water” competitor Ciera Eastin, every Wednesday evening we’ll bring you a recap of the most recent episode, and every Thursday you’ll be able to watch the previous night’s episode and read an interview with the eliminated contestant. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for immediate updates.

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It used to be the weak link was the first person who was sent packing from a “Survivor” tribe. If you were bad in challenges or were accused of smuggling beef jerky, you were a goner.

But today? Blow a challenge? No worries. Engineer a possibly dangerous shelter? Meh. Dump out the tribe’s entire supply of rice? Big whoop…

I spoke with the latest victim of this new “Survivor” strategy, Garrett Adelstein, the morning after his elimination and had a chance to ask him about David’s decision, Tasha’s gameplay, and J’Tia’s culinary skills…

Gordon Holmes: Last night was beyond crazy.
Garrett Adelstein: Yeah, I’m obviously really disappointed. I thought I’d be cool six months later, but reliving it all over again… I suppose if there’s one silver lining, it’s that the viewers had a solid couple of hours of entertainment.
Holmes: Yeah, I’m sure seeing it opens up old wounds. Also seeing scenes and testimonials for the first time.
Adelstein: I’m such a perfectionist in general, so when I fail at something, even when it’s out of my control, that can be tough. As you know, I worked really hard preparing to be there.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Cagayan”

Holmes: Right off the bat, David chooses you to leave the Brains tribe. I know you hadn’t seen “Blood vs. Water” where they got rid of Candice and Rupert immediately, but did you think you were out of the game?
Adelstein: No, I thought there was 0% chance I was out of the game. In pre-game there were 18 of us the entire time. So, you’d better believe they’re not going to eliminate three people on day one. They showed the confessionals where I was bummed about it, and there’s validity to that. At that point I’m concerned that I was isolated from my tribe. But, I also know there was something positive related to that, and knowing my “Survivor” history, I knew an immunity idol clue was the most likely scenario. So, I would say I had mixed feelings.
Holmes: David picks you as the “weakest player.” Looking at you, you’re built like a superhero.
Adelstein: (Laughs)
Holmes: You’re clearly not the weakest guy. Did you ever try to make peace with David and work together?
Adelstein: That’s something I would have been open to. David and I are good friends now. That might have worked out very well for me, in fact. But at the time, it was never an option. David was never open or warm with me. And he played his cards very face up.  I knew he didn’t want to work with me. David’s my guy, but he didn’t know how to play “Survivor” at all. He assumed alliances aren’t built until a couple of weeks in. He and Kass isolated themselves. They assumed everything was fine because J’Tia was bad in the challenges.
Holmes: David also said he didn’t know why you were on the Brains tribe. I’m assuming that meant you never told him about your occupation or educational background.
Adelstein: That was a tough sell. Being put on the Brains was just brutal. We had a lot of people playing the game, playing the game well, and playing very early.  Specifically Tasha and Spencer. So, I didn’t tell them I was a professional poker player. I wanted to lie as little as possible, but I thought that was one thing that was worth it. So, I just told everybody that I was a personal trainer. I said I didn’t know for sure why they put me on that tribe, but in casting they said I did really well on the IQ test. I think it’s actually called the Wonderlic test.

Holmes: I assume a big part of being successful at poker isn’t necessarily having the right cards, but being able to read the other people at the table. Did you have trouble reading your tribemates?
Adelstein: (Laughs) I certainly agree with that assessment. It’s so easy to be results oriented in this game, and for me to say anything other than, “I sucked at it” would be a poor answer. But, there were many instances where I knew exactly what was going on. I knew David was out to get me. I didn’t need to watch his confessional where he spelled that out. I didn’t have to watch Kass’s confessional to know that it was complete B.S. when we made the final-three pact.

Holmes: Tasha flipped it. How do you feel about her gameplay?
Adelstein: Tasha is a skilled “Survivor” player without question. That’s something that was left out of the episode that’s really critical. Spencer and I realized on day one that in a three-tribe format that it was optimal for us to pull Kass in. Because if we got rid of Kass, then we’d be deadlocked two-two and then I could no longer trust Spencer because our interests would no longer align. I’d been working on Kass since day one. We had many conversations because I knew it was going to be important to pull her in. And I wanted Kass to be closer to me than to Spencer. But, Tasha appreciated what we were doing with Kass. All of the sudden she starts being very close with Kass. She clearly had the same thought that we did. So. what you saw with her being shocked that the four of us were no longer in an alliance or that she was upset that we strategized as a group, that’s complete B.S. It was all to pull in Kass and get her to flip on me and Spencer.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Latasha.
Adelstein: Strategy.
Holmes: Kass?
Adelstein: (Laughs) Random.
Holmes: Spencer?
Adelstein: Brilliant.
Holmes: David?
Adelstein: Based on what he did on the island…naïve.
Holmes: And we’ll finish with everyone’s favorite rice cook, J’Tia.
Adelstein: Unstable.

Holmes: Kass almost seemed to blame you for leaving J’Tia alone with the rice. Were you supposed to know that J’Tia was going to go all Hantz on your food supply?
Adelstein: J’Tia had proven that she was not mentally stable at all. But, what you didn’t see was before J’Tia dumped all of our rice out, literally 30 minutes before, she burned our fire out. She took a bucket of water and burned our fire out. So, it became more of a risk. But, that being said, I’m not a security guard.  My goal was to play “Survivor.” So, of course once I see Latasha try to pull Kass down to the beach I immediately went down there.
Holmes: Wow.
Adelstein: Yeah, J’Tia is already one of the most infamous Survivors ever and she’s still there. It’s easy to hate myself playing Monday morning quarterback.

Holmes: I feel like you’re being really hard on yourself. In a post-“Boston” Rob/Phillip Sheppard world, people who do destructive things or things that are bad for tribe morale are being dragged to the end.
Adelstein: I totally agree. And unfortunately it looks to the viewer as though me wanting to have an open forum is the reason I went home, while I’d argue in the opposite direction. If her dumping the rice out still wasn’t enough to get Kass to vote with Spencer and I, then I think approaching it as a typical blindside wouldn’t have worked as well.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Castaway David Samson: J’Tia ‘Is the Mayor of Crazytown’

February 27, 2014

David Samson (CBS)

NOTE: XFINITY TV is the place to be for all sorts of “Survivor: Cagayan” back-stabbin’, torch-snuffin’ fun. On Mondays we’ll have Power Rankings with a “Blood vs. Water” competitor, every Wednesday evening we’ll bring you a recap of the most recent episode, and every Thursday you’ll be able to watch the previous night’s episode and read an interview with the eliminated contestant. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for immediate updates.

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Last night, it looked like Miami Marlins President David Samson made the mistake of playing the game too hard, too fast. When given the task of getting rid of his tribe’s weakest player, he sent real-life WWE action figure Garrett packing. When asked why he made this decision, David said it was because Garrett would be a threat down the line.

To put this in baseball terms; it seemed like David was preparing his closer while his starter was getting shelled in the first inning.

I spoke with David the morning after his elimination and had a chance to ask about what was really behind the decision, how nuclear engineering ties into shelter construction, and the dysfunctional Brains tribe…

Gordon Holmes: Now David, I’m not a nuclear engineer, but I’m going to do my best to conduct this interview.
David Samson: (Laughs) Neither am I, but we can get through this together.

Holmes: So, you hit the beach. Probst tells you you’re on the Brains tribe. I’m thinking that puts you at an immediate disadvantage because one of the benefits of being smart is when people underestimate you. What was going through your mind at that point?
Samson: That I was wearing a blazer.  That I was the older male on a tribe that was labeled as “smart.” I thought, “Uh-oh.” Then he said the worst words you can hear early on in “Survivor,” “Choose a leader.” You can’t run and hide in a six-person tribe. Five people unanimously looked at me and I had no choice. They thought I was a threat, chose me as a leader, then got rid of me.
Holmes: Now I understand why you wouldn’t want Garrett in the game, he’s going to be an immunity threat down the line, but did you worry that you’d come off as playing the game too fast by picking him as the weakest?
Samson: No, because if I had to choose first I would have chosen Kass. But when Morgan and Trish were chosen I went with Garrett because I thought there’s no way these people are leaving. He’s not switching tribes because he’s wearing green and so is everyone else in the tribe except for me. Maybe I was going to be moved. I thought there was going to be a day one challenge between Garrett, Morgan, and Trish.
Holmes: Did you ever try to make peace with Garrett?
Samson: Absolutely. I certainly didn’t want to take him far in the game, but I didn’t want him out first. I wanted J’Tia out first. It should have been five to one. She wasn’t doing anything around camp, she was bossing people around. We were a group of six leaders with no followers. We ended up getting nothing done. It cost us. As far as Garrett was concerned I figured having him around for a while would be fine. But after watching that second hour, the brainy tribe doesn’t seem very brainy.
Holmes: My mom made the point that a tribe of six dumb people couldn’t have done much worse.
Samson: Oh, I think that’s giving us way too much credit.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Cagayan”

Holmes: Was there any kind of clue that J’Tia would be the kind of person that would dump the rice in the fire?
Samson: No, the only thing I thought she was capable of was that level of laziness and entitlement. Dumping rice to me isn’t good gameplay. It’s not good TV. It’s not good anything. If she had dumped it and I was still there it would have taken some serious security guards to stop me.

Holmes: A lot of people were coming up with alternate back stories. You said you work in marketing for the Marlins.
Samson: I didn’t want to hide that I was with the Marlins, but I didn’t want someone to know I had money or power.
Holmes: I’m a huge Cardinals fan. I could probably recognize Bill DeWitt III. Were you worried a Miami baseball fan could have outted you?
Samson: Yes. But, it wasn’t going to stop me from playing. I’ve wanted to play this game since 2000. That’s a risk I was willing to take.

Holmes: Did Garrett ever tell you what the decision he had to make was?
Samson: No, he didn’t tell any of us. I sort of had a feeling that he had an idol. But, it didn’t matter to me because I thought he wouldn’t think someone would vote for him anyway because he was so big and strong. I figured he wouldn’t play the idol, and he didn’t.

Holmes: What was your take on Latasha?
Samson: I thought she was very insecure. A great girl, but she wanted to play so badly. She wanted to strategize and I wanted to focus on getting water and building a shelter. There’s a time for that, but I don’t think day one or day two is when you need to do that.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Garrett.
Samson: More abs than brain cells.
Holmes: Latasha?
Samson: Insecure and a grudge.
Holmes: Kassandra?
Samson: Much smarter than she wants you to think she is, but much less evil than she wants you to think she is.
Holmes: Spencer?
Samson: Young.
Holmes: J’Tia?
Samson: Crazy as a loon. She literally is the mayor of crazytown and I love her for it.

Holmes: What’s been the reaction from your friends at the Marlins?
Samson: They’re definitely stoked that I did it. They know me well. And they know that I like to do interesting things. I think a lot of them thought I was going to go first or go last. There’s no middle ground with me. I’m very honest, consistent, and driven. The upside is you accomplish a lot. But, you fail too.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ Episode 1 Recap: Brain Dead?

February 26, 2014

'Survivor: Cagayan' (CBS)

NOTE: XFINITY TV is the place to be for all sorts of “Survivor: Cagayan” back-stabbin’, torch-snuffin’ fun. On Mondays we’ll have Power Rankings with a “Blood vs. Water” competitor, every Wednesday evening we’ll bring you a recap of the most recent episode, and every Thursday you’ll be able to watch the previous night’s episode and read an interview with the eliminated contestant. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for immediate updates.

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The season kicks off with a trio of groups making their way to an undisclosed location using different methods of transportation. The “Brain Tribe” is all packed up in a helicopter, because that’s how smarties travel.

We’re introduced to Spencer first. He immediately lets us know that he once tied for first in a big-time chess tournament and is a diabolical genius. So evil! If only he was old enough to grow a handlebar mustache.

Next up, Miami Marlins president David tells us that “Survivor” is like baseball because there’s only one winner in the end. OK, so it’s not like Spencer’s big-time chess tournament? Got it.

Kassandra then brags that she’s undefeated in a court of law. Hey, me too!

We then cut over to the “Beauty Tribe” as they zip along a river on a stylish speedboat. Sorry, Probst. I don’t buy that this is how pretty people travel. It’s totally messing up their hair.

We get to meet Morgan. She doesn’t want to sound conceited, but she can usually get what she wants from a guy. Ironically, the one thing a guy can’t give her is a way to have that statement not sound conceited.

Jefra tells us that she’s come in second place three times in the Miss Kentucky pageant. Was it second to the same girl all three times? Is it possible that girl tied Spencer in chess? This could be like “Lost.”

Also, people call Jefra, “Pageant Girl.” That’s the best nickname they can come up with? Sounds like her friends don’t belong on the Brains tribe either.

And finally, the “Brawn Tribe” is traveling in a bumpy truck. Cause they’re super rugged.

Cliff immediately wins me over by saying he’s playing, “For bread and meat, I don’t win, I don’t eat.”

Sarah loves MMA because she gets paid to punch people in the face. Ooo…that’d totally take away the Beauty tribe’s advantage.

Finally, our fearless host greets us from atop some hugenormous structure and says something about…

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at these brainy, brawny, beauty…y tribes.…

The Appari Tribe (wearing orange)
Cliff – Former NBA Star, 46
Lindsey – Hairstylist, 29
Sarah – Police Officer, 29
Tony – Police Officer, 39
Trish – Pilates Trainer, 48
Woo – Martial Arts Instructor, 29

The Luzon Tribe (wearing green)
David – President, Miami Marlins, 45
Garrett – Pro Poker Player, 27
J’Tia – Nuclear Engineer, 30
Kassandra – Attorney, 41
Latasha – Accountant, 37
Spencer – Economics Student, 21

The Solana Tribe (wearing purple)
Alexis – Student, 21
Brice – Social Worker, 27
Jefra – Miss Kentucky Teen USA, 22
Jeremiah – Model, 34
LJ – Horse Trainer, 34
Morgan – Ex-NFL Cheerleader, 21

Quick Aside: How are Miss Kentucky Teen USA and Ex-NFL Cheerleader occupations? Also, how are you Miss Kentucky Teen USA when you’re 22?

The three tribes arrive via their various transportation methods and are greeted by “Two and a Half Men” star Jeff Probst. Are they disappointed that he’s fully clothed? Probably, but nobody is admitting to it.

Morgan again doesn’t want to sound conceited, but she’s pretty sure she’s on the Beauty tribe. She’s bad at not sounding that way.

Through process of elimination, Spencer realizes that he’s on the Brains tribe.

Before the game gets underway, each tribe is going to have to choose a leader.

The Beauties go with LJ because…he’s wearing a black hat? Maybe?

The Brawnies go with Sarah. Trish says they picked her because she seems confident.

The Brains go with David. Kass says it’s because she likes him. I’ve heard worse answers.

Next up, Probsty tells them that the leaders have to get rid of their weakest player. Whoa, Tocantins flashback.

LJ goes with Morgan because she seems like the least physical.

Later, LJ tells us that he got rid of Morgan because she’s hot and he doesn’t trust hot. He is right. She is hot.

Sarah decides to bounce Trish.

David decides to get rid of super strong Garrett. He says he made the decision for the last third of the game. Not loving that move. Now everyone knows how hard you are playing on day one.

Fortunately for the weaklings, they’re not out of the game. They’ll get a chopper ride to camp and will have to make a decision when they get there.

The weaklings are greeted by a note that lets them know that they can choose between a second bag of rice for the tribe or an immunity idol clue. Garrett, feeling like he’s already on the outs, goes for the idol. Trish goes for the rice because she’s a team player. Morgan goes for the idol and says LJ was probably intimidated by her looks. I get it, happens to me all the time.

So, I’m torn on this decision, I feel like the people who share rewards end up paying for it.

Garrett digs around in the water…and finds an idol. That’s got to be a record. Seventeen minutes into the first episode.

Morgan digs around in the rocks…and is caught searching by her tribe. Uh-oh.

However, Morgan shows some skills by saying the decision she had to make was between an idol clue and the food and shelter materials they were given. Not bad, but she’d better hope the other weaklings keep their mouths shut.

LJ doesn’t buy it, he thinks Morgan is too calm for someone who was just voted out. Ooo…he’s smart too.

Eventually the Beauties manage to create fire. Color me impressed.

Over at Camp Brawn, Trish lets her crew know that she chose the rice over the idol clue. Tony’s happy they have the second bag, but he wouldn’t have given up the clue.

Later on, Sarah asks Tony if he’s a police officer. He denies it. Bad move. That’s such a specific question to ask. I think at that point you’d have to own it.

At Casa de Brainy, J’Tia says she has a plan for a shelter because she’s a nuclear engineer. Wah-huh?

Sure enough, J’Tia is made the foreman (foreperson?) for the shelter project. And true to “Survivor” form, people aren’t loving how bossy she’s being.

Tasha tries out the shelter, and it immediately collapses. Glad to see our nuclear technology is in such capable hands.

Immunity Challenge Time: Teams will maneuver a cart through an obstacle course. While on the course they’ll unlock and retrieve three chests. They’ll then take the cart apart and fit it through an obstacle wall. Inside the chests are puzzle pieces. First two tribes to complete the puzzle will win immunity. The first tribe to finish will receive a fire-making kit. The second tribe will receive flint.

The challenge starts off and the Brawns jump out to an early lead, they’re the first ones to and through the obstacle wall. The Beauties are doing a solid job too. The Brains? Not so much.

How bad was it? Probst called it “one of the worst performances out of the gate in the history of ‘”Survivor.’” Does he remember Gabon?

LJ and Alexis manage to pull head and win for the Beauties. Sarah and Lindsey aren’t too far behind and give the Brawns second place. Kassandra and J’Tia never came close.

Back at Brainsylvania, David and Kass seem to be bonding. David wants to get rid of Garrett because he’s a threat and because he hasn’t said why he’s on the Brains tribe. Kass wants it to be J’Tia for tribe unity. She also said, “J’Tia, See ya.” Which is hilarious and awesome.

J’Tia asks who Kass thinks should go, and Kass admits that she’s gunning for J’Tia. Snap! Kass then tells J’Tia that she’s going to need to scramble.

Garrett, J’Tia, and Latasha have a pow-wow and Garrett wants them all to vote for David. Man, it’s tough when you’ve got these teeny tribes.

Spencer is worried about voting for David because he thinks he might have the idol. Garrett does not admit to already having it.

That night at Tribal Council, fire represents their life. And when their fire is gone, so are they. Unless there’s a Redemption Island or they’re brought back for another season.

As they’re sitting down, Garrett sees a spider and freaks right out. Ha! He’s been sleeping in a jungle for days.

J’Tia thinks Probst will want to talk to her because people want to vote for her. Hmm….she’s seen this show.

David thinks it was smart to listen to J’Tia about the shelter because she has the word “nuclear” in her title. They keep saying this. I’m worried that I don’t know what “nuclear” means.

Garrett didn’t like being cast as the outsider, but he trusts his team.

David then says that Garrett isn’t going home tonight.

Quick Note: It is pouring and Jeff’s hair looks ridiculous. What a trooper.

Voting Time: David votes for J’Tia, J’Tia votes for David, and the rest of the votes aren’t shown.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for J’Tia, one vote for David, one vote for J’Tia, two votes for David, and the first person to be voted out of “Survivor: Cagayan” is…David.

Wow, didn’t see that coming. Poor David was cast aside when he felt safe. Now he knows how Jose Reyes feels.

The next morning, Garrett lets us know that manual labor and starving aren’t fun. Thanks, Garrett.

Later on, Garrett and Spencer decide to bring Kass on board. Wow, whittling down the numbers so quickly.

At Brawn Central, Cliff and Woo take the boat out for a spin. That lasts for about two minutes before they tip over. Although, in their defense, that thing probably wasn’t designed for an eight-foot-tall dude.

Tony lets us know that he isn’t thrilled with how starstruck everyone is with Cliff. Well, it’s not like he can blend.

Anywho, apparently Tony is building a “spy shack” into the shelter so he can listen in to all the conversations. Um…kay. I wish it was two tin cans on a string.

In other Brawn news, Trish and Lindsey are getting on each others nerves.

At the Beauty Shop, Brice is sick of Alexis flirting and Jefra talking about her bathroom habits.

Also, Morgan thinks that Jeremiah has the hots for her. She didn’t preface this statement with, “I don’t want to sound conceited.”

Immunity Challenge Time: Teams will swim out to a bamboo cage. They’ll retrieve four fish traps and bring them back to shore. Then one tribe member will use the pieces inside the traps to complete a puzzle. First two tribes to finish the puzzle win immunity. The winning tribe will receive a fishing kit. The second-place tribe will receive a smaller fishing kit.

Cliff will sit for Team Brawn, Brice is out for the Beautiful People.

The challenge starts off and the Brains fall behind again. Apparently having “nuclear” in your title doesn’t make you a strong swimmer.

The Brains manage to make a comeback and are the first ones to get their traps back to the beach. J’Tia takes puzzle duty.

The Brawn are the second team back. Sarah (who has a nasty cut on her finger) gets to work on their puzzle.

Beauty is way…way behind. They’ve got to dig deep.

Sarah plows through the puzzle to give Brawn the win.

The Beauties eventually make it to the shore. LJ attacks the puzzle and manages to beat a clearly lost J’Tia.

“They’re still working on their puzzle? I think I’m on the wrong tribe.” – Sarah

Wow…just wow.

After the challenge, Tony smartly digs through the reward basket to find the immunity clue. He reads the clue, figures out the location…and finds himself an idol. Well done.

Things aren’t quite as cheery at Brainy Beach. During a group gathering, Kass again tells J’Tia that she should be the one to go. Spencer and Garrett both agree. Latasha would rather not talk about this out in the open. Garrett doesn’t want them to split up and have side conversations. Tasha does not take this well, telling him to quit if he doesn’t want to play the game.

Eventually Kass and Tasha do get an opportunity to talk outside of the community forum. Tasha pushes for them to vote for the guys.

WHOA! Then J’Tia goes all Brandon Hantz on their rice supply! She dumps it right in the fire. Hope there are a lot of pineapples on their beach.

Kass says she was going to talk to J’Tia about teaming up, but that’s out the window now…and into a fire.

That night at Tribal Council, J’Tia says she threw the rice on the fire to hurt Garrett. Well, mission accomplished.

Latasha then says that the reason she wanted to talk in private is because J’Tia is volatile. That’s probably our winner for understatement of the night.

Kass then kind of blames Garrett for leaving J’Tia alone with the rice.

Garrett then slips up and outs his alliance. Oh boy… this is the Brains tribe?

Voting Time: Garrett votes for J’Tia, J’Tia votes for Garrett, Spencer votes for J’Tia, and the rest of the votes are secret.

Probsty tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for J’Tia, one vote for Garrett, one vote for J’Tia, one vote for Garrett, and the second person to be voted out of “Survivor: Cagayan” is…Garrett.


Verdict: Two genuine blindsides, dumped rice, two idols found, one person voted out with an idol. This was definitely one for the books.

Who’s Going to Win? It’s early, but Sarah’s looking like a champ.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Official ‘Survivor: Cagayan’ Pre-Season Rankings

February 24, 2014

'Survivor: Cagayan' (CBS)

NOTE: “Survivor: Cagayan” starts this Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET and XFINITY TV is the place to be for all of the back-stabbin’, torch-snuffin’ fun. On Mondays we’ll have Power Rankings with a “Blood vs. Water” competitor, every Wednesday evening we’ll bring you a recap of the most recent episode, and every Thursday you’ll be able to watch the previous night’s episode and read an interview with the eliminated contestant. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for immediate updates.

[xfinity-record-button id=”7054975368782091112″ program_type=”series”]

It seems like only yesterday that “Survivor” fashion plate Tyson Apostol was awarded the game’s biggest prize. But, here we are months later getting ready to rank a new batch of contestants who are hoping to fill the “Blood vs. Water” champion’s cupcake buckled belt.

And I know what you’re thinking, “Gordon, doesn’t the person you pick to win always lose?”


“Didn’t Malcolm Freberg ask you not to pick him before ‘Survivor: Caramoan’ because you jinxed him in ‘Survivor: Philippines’?”

He may have said something like that. My memory isn’t so good.

“Didn’t you pick Michelle Chase to win ‘Survivor: Gabon’ and then she was the first person eliminated?”

Yes. Yes I did. Maybe I should do these rankings after the season airs…

Anywho, as always the views expressed by the “Survivor: Cagayan” pre-season rankings do not necessarily reflect those of XFINITY TV. Betting on the “Survivor: Cagayan” pre-season rankings is strictly prohibited. And, please keep your hands, feet, and personal items inside the “Survivor: Cagayan” pre-season rankings at all times.

 1. Latasha – Sophie Clarke, Kim Spradlin, and Denise Stapley have proved that strong, smart women can win “Survivor.” And, Latasha is a strong, smart woman. I also have a hunch that this season’s tribes aren’t going to get along very well. So, people who are able to blend into the background are going to have a real advantage.  2. Trish – I think it’s very possible that the Brawn team could get to the merge without losing a single player. We saw Tandang do it in the Philippines. The problem with that is; every tribe wants to get rid of someone. If they don’t get that opportunity, they can break apart. I have Trish this high in the rankings because I don’t think she’s that person. She’ll get to the merge easily and won’t be viewed as an immunity threat. She’ll have tons of room to maneuver.
 3. LJ – Anyone else getting a “Young Mike Rowe” vibe off of LJ? He seems like a good mix of strong, but not too strong, likable, but with an edge, young enough to hang with the kids, but old enough to relate to the elder tribe members. He’ll go far.
 4. David – David’s got the brains and the physicality to make a serious run at the Sole Survivor title. But, if his day job gets out, he could find himself taking the long, lonely walk from Tribal. First of all, it’s pretty safe to assume that the president of a MLB franchise is rolling in dough. And second, most baseball fans don’t think very highly of the Marlins’ business practices.
 5. Jeremiah – If the tribes embrace the Beauty/Brains/Brawn gimmick, the Beauties could find themselves with a bit of an advantage. After all, people have been voted out for being too strategic or for being too much of an immunity threat, but has anyone been voted out for being too attractive? Jeremiah makes me nervous with his talk of wanting a relationship, but hopefully he’ll forget all of that when everyone hasn’t brushed their teeth for a week.
  6. Sarah – Sarah is as sharp as a tack. She’s already figured out that Tony is a cop, which is bad news if he decides to lie about his job. She’s also very tough and seems to have a level head.
 7. J’Tia – I could truly go either way on J’Tia. She could be the silent assassin of the Brains tribe, or she could drive everyone nuts and be the first person out.
  8. Jefra – I like that Jefra has some outdoor skills and isn’t interested in flirting her way through the game. But, after that she’s a huge question mark. Does she have the stomach to stab people in the back? Can she build a resume of strong moves? How well can she relate to older members of the tribe?

 9. Kassandra – I love that Kassandra intends to downplay her abilities. That’s very valuable in a game with so many alpha personalities. My concern for her is that since she’s on the Brains tribe, people might have a hard time believing her story that she’s an animal handler on the family ranch. She might just want to fess up to having a brainy job. Something like a “Survivor” correspondent. (Ahem.)
  10. Brice Brice’s time in this game is going to depend greatly on how well the Beauty team does in challenges. If they can hold their own, he could get to the merge and make some serious noise. He’s likable and doesn’t seem threatening. However, if the Beauties get Matsinged, he could be an early boot.

 11. Garrett – Garrett’s a smart, good-looking fellow. But, what if the Brains tribe thinks he’s a spy? They’re probably going to think someone with abs like that isn’t spending a lot of time in the library. (Note: Garrett may very well be doing that, but who’s going to believe him?) Also, Garrett seems a little intense for a slow-moving game like “Survivor.”  12. Alexis – I think it’s really interesting that Alexis wants to start an all-woman alliance. I wonder if she’ll change her tune once she realizes that she’s on a tribe of six. If she’s smart enough to see that that kind of division might not work well in a three-tribe system, she could go far. If she’s someone who can’t adapt, she won’t last long.
 13. Woo – Finally, a guy named after a pro wrestling catchphrase. But seriously, why is someone who’s so athletic, good looking, and seemingly nice so low on this list? Because most people are going to immediately view this kid as a threat. He’s giving off Ozzy vibes left and right.
 14. Cliff – NBA players don’t wear hats or helmets, so it’s much more likely that Cliff is going to get recognized than someone like Jeff Kent. In fact, David has already pegged him as a former NBA star.  Well, he’s a professional athlete, maybe he can go on a challenge streak? Doubtful. “Survivor” always has a balance challenge or a crawl around a low-to-the-ground post challenge. So, if the tribe wants to get rid of him, they’ll have several chances.
 15. Lindsey – Lindsey certainly seems like the odd person out of the jock tribe. She wants to manipulate people, but can you see her partnering with Tony, Cliff, or Sarah? Her best bet is if the Brawnies can make it to the merge without taking a loss.   16. Morgan – Oh, Morgan. The red-blooded American male in me wants you to go the distance. To keep gracing us with your presence on your way to a final-three appearance. But, the “Survivor” historian in me thinks you probably don’t have the life experience to pull this thing off.
 17. Spencer – Boy genius, chess grand champion, “Survivor” mega fan, self-proclaimed “John Cochran who doesn’t suck.” Now, I appreciate that Spencer may have written that comment before everyone saw Cochran win “Survivor: Caramoan,” but Cochran has a vital skill that I’m not sure Spencer has; humility. To sit and talk with Cochran, you wouldn’t know he was a Harvard graduate unless you brought it up. If Spencer is going to do anything in this game, he’s going to have to tone down the super villain vibe.   18. Tony – Holy cow, I didn’t realize the Incredible Hulk was based on a real dude. He is massive. Someone call Vince McMahon. My big concern for Tony is; how is he going to deal with the lack of food? Also, how is he going to deal with it psychologically when he sees his hard-earned muscle mass start to dwindle away? I think the actual act of surviving is going to be toughest on the Jersey cop.

Don’t miss “Survivor: Cagayan” this Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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