Archive for March, 2017

‘Survivor’ Castaway Ciera: “Sandra Is Literally a Wizard”

March 9, 2017

Ciera Eastin (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Gordon Holmes: Ciera played too fast, Ciera named names…it felt like there was something we missed. Were you setting up sub-alliances? Were you digging Spy Bunkers™?
Ciera Eastin: (Laughs) It was hard for me to watch back and figure out what really happened. But I think it’s a couple of things. I’d just come off of “Second Chance,” like less than a year ago. And the first day everyone hit the beach running. It was crazy. I thought this would be similar. So, when I came in I wasn’t even playing full crazy Ciera. I was pretty mild. But, compared to everyone else, I guess it was too much. But, when Malcolm said I was the only one throwing out names, that wasn’t true. I thought everyone wanted Tony gone. Tony was looking for idols. He had to go. The scene where I walked to the well, they were already talking about Tony.
Holmes: I was there for that. I can confirm that.
Eastin: Right. And so for me, I joined in the conversation. I didn’t walk in and say, “Hey, this is what we’re going to do.” I think what sealed the deal for me was I said, “If we think Tony has an idol, we can go for Caleb.” And I think there were people in that group like Malcolm who wanted to work with Caleb. And Tony and Caleb were so close those first days. Tony and Caleb were gone one night. We woke up one night and they were gone, we didn’t know what they were doing. And so, I thought it was obvious.

Holmes: What was it about Hali’s “loose lips” comment that tipped you off?
Eastin: It was because I was under the impression that it was Michaela and not for those reasons. Everybody was saying she wasn’t doing great in the challenges and in the water she wasn’t the strongest. She was an outcast. People thought she had a little bit of an attitude. So “loose lips” isn’t why we’re targeting Michaela.

Holmes: When the six of you were at the water well, Malcolm pointed out Tony’s Spy Bunker™ hole. Did you have any concept that he could’ve possibly been digging a hole that an adult-sized man could hide in?
Eastin: (Laughs) No! We thought he was digging for idols. It made me think he had a clue because it was a weird spot to dig.

Holmes: When you got you buff on day one. How did you feel about the tribe alignment?
Eastin: I thought I was in trouble. It’s so hard to describe. So much of my play is on gut and feeling. And looking around I didn’t think I was going to click with a lot of these people. And looking at the other tribe, I thought, “Damn, those are my people.” I already have relationships with Brad, I know Sierra, I know Andrea. So, I was super bummed out of the gate. And at camp, nobody was talking to me. I think Malcolm didn’t talk strategy with me one time alone. So, I knew I was in trouble. When nobody is talking to you, there’s usually a reason.

Holmes: Did anyone on your tribe see Sierra pick up the legacy advantage?
Eastin: Nope, that was the first time I’d ever heard about it.

Holmes: Sandra is someone who when you watch her on TV…it’s hard to quantify why she’s a two-time winner. If I were trying to explain it to someone, I’d use the moment last night where they were asking for her opinion and she said something along the lines of, “You tell me who you’re targeting and I’ll tell you my thoughts.” Did your opinion of her change when you were out there?
Eastin: It only got better. I’ve always thought Sandra was the queen, but getting to play with her it gave me such a greater perspective on why she does so well. Sandra is literally a wizard. She says the perfect thing. And if she doesn’t say the perfect thing, people take it as a joke. It’s this thing where you can be a total (expletive deleted) and I’m not saying Sandra is, but you can make a snide comment and people view it as, “Oh, Sandra!” And when she says, “You tell me what you’re thinking,” that’s so simple and so brilliant. When you’re living day-to-day there and there are so many conversations, Sandra is constantly on.

Holmes: Word association time. Let’s start with Malcolm.
Eastin: Witty.
Holmes: Sandra?
Eastin: Queen.
Holmes: Michaela?
Eastin: Strong.
Holmes: Tony?
Eastin: Funny.
Holmes: Troyzan?
Eastin: Genuine.
Holmes: Hali?
Eastin: Know-it-all.
Holmes: Caleb?
Eastin: All American.
Holmes: Aubry?
Eastin: Unique.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Jeff.
Eastin: Handsome.
Holmes: You’re not wrong.
Eastin: We’ve had this conversation before.

Holmes: Let’s jump back into that. You called Hali a “Know-it-all.” Was there something we missed? Was there tension there?
Eastin: I really don’t hold grudges, it’s a game. So, in the game, Hali, for someone who wasn’t really in my opinion a Game Changer. And I get that Ciera’s opinion is not gold. But from my perspective, I didn’t remember her. But, she came in and she knew what to do with everything. She knew what to do with the fire, she knew how to do the food, she knew the best strategy for the game. Everything. But, at the time I was thinking, “You know we’ve all done this before, right?” It rubbed me the wrong way out there, but out of the game I have no hard feelings.

Holmes: Dude, I lost so many bets on the challenge last night.
Eastin: (Laughs)
Holmes: I said to everyone, everyone, “Ciera’s done this puzzle. She’s gonna bring it home for Mana.”
Eastin: You know what? I think lesson learned, if I ever play again, don’t bet on me to win any challenge ever. I’m terrible. I get such bad anxiety. But, I knew the concept and how it works. It took forever for both teams to do the puzzle. It took so long. I can’t tell you what happened, but I can tell you that I sucked.
Holmes: The hardest part is getting all eight of the spokes even. The press ran it while we were out there and Parade’s Josh Wigler and I managed to beat the puzzle in about four minutes. And last night, a former Survivor named Laura bragged that she beat it in three.
Eastin: (Laughs) She would! My mom is a freak of nature when it comes to challenges and puzzles. She says she’s going to win and she does it. She says I have to be positive, and even when I am I lose. And I heard her voice in the challenge last night, she said you have to create a skeleton key. The key is to make one spoke that fits perfectly, then match it across all of them. The problem was I made a key and it was perfect and when I was making the rest, one of them had to be reversed because one end had a thing sticking out. And when I went back to figure it out, that’s when we got scrambled.
Holmes: I said to your mom, “If you’re so great, why don’t you teach your kid?” And her response was that you don’t listen.
Eastin: (Laughs) I really don’t. That’s very true. If I ever go back I need to get in better shape and practice my puzzles. The social aspect I can navigate, it’s those dang challenges that get me.

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

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Premiere Recap – Full of Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits!

March 8, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

I was on location for the first three days of filming. So, the first half of this recap will be jam-packed with behind-the-scenes tidbits. Unfortunately, the second half will only be filled with obvious jokes. You can’t win them all.

Let’s do this!

We start off with our castaways on a boat…so technically they’ve yet to be cast away.

Tony immediately breaks down his Game Changing resume. And it’s pretty impressive; spy shacks, special idols, etc.

Malcolm is next, he tells us about the big moves he’s made in the past. The Three Amigo double-idol stratagem being the one that is highlighted.

Sandra, the show’s only two-time winner, lets us know that the “Queens stays queen.”

Cirie getting Erik to give up immunity in Micronesia is also called out.

Man, these folks changed…the…game.

Then, Debbie tells us that she has the tenacity of a squid.

Brad follows this up by saying they’ve all change the game.

All? Like everyone there?

It’s then that a guy in a logo-riddled cap says something about…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog…

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Mana Tribe (wearing orangey-red)

Aubry, 30
Caleb, 28
Ciera, 27
Hali, 26
Jeff, 50
Malcolm, 29
Michaela, 25
Sandra, 41
Tony, 42
Troyzan, 54

The Nuku Tribe (wearing blue)

Andrea, 27
Brad, 47
Cirie, 45
Debbie, 51
JT, 31
Ozzy, 34
Sarah, 32
Sierra, 29
Tai, 52
Zeke, 28

The ship drops anchor and Jeff welcomes everyone to “Survivor: Game Changers.” He tells them that they all make moves, some big, some quiet. Fair enough.

JT thinks this season will crown the next two-time winner. Cirie disagrees.

After pleasantries are exchanged, Probst tells them that they’ll have a minute to grab what they can off of the boat. And in a fun twist, a large cache of tools is located in the water. The first person to reach it and untie it can claim it for their tribe.

Jeff sets them loose and Ozzy immediately dives for the tools. And, because it’s Ozzy, nobody bothers trying to compete with him.

Everyone else scrambles to grab what they can. In the chaos, Andrea uncovers an advantage, but doesn’t see it. Sierra eventually stumbles upon it and stashes it away. That’s gotta be rough for Andrea to watch after the fact.

As they dive into the water, Tai almost meets his maker when a chicken cage falls on top of him. Although, I imagine that’s how he’d want to go.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: I can make fun of that now because Tai is OK, but when it happened, everyone on the crew freaked out. It looked really bad.

Once the chaos has died down, the two tribes paddle off to their respective beaches.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The tribes paddling away with all of their goods is always a hilarious trainwreck. At one point Probst screamed, “(Expletive deleted), my kids paddle better!”

When the Mana tribe arrives at their beach, Tony immediately runs off into the woods to find the idol. He wasn’t trying to be subtle either, as he was screaming about it the whole way. Sandra is cool with that because he just made himself a target.

Tony claims that he was making a joke. But…you know…Tony.

Sandra and Caleb eventually catch up with Tony and tell him that he’s managed to upset everyone.

Over at Nuku Beach, Zeke tells us how excited he is to bathe in his opponents’ blood. I know that isn’t a literal statement, but c’mon.

The tribe finds a trio of goats, but Brad tells them not to bother because they’d have to kill Tai before they kill any goat. OK, that’s funny.

Also, nice to see that Brad isn’t the only goat on Nuku Beach.

Sierra sneaks away to check out her advantage. Apparently it’s a legacy advantage where she’ll be able to use it as an immunity idol when there are thirteen or six people left in the game. That’s oddly specific. She can also will the advantage to someone if she’s voted out.

Meanwhile, the Ozzy vs. Cirie narrative has immediately kicked off. They seem to make peace during a shelter building session, but Tai accidentally lets Cirie know that Ozzy might have it out for her.

The three quickest ways to spread info; telephone, telegraph, and tell-a-Tai. (Millennials will not get that joke.)

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Both tribes got a ton of food from the drop. The camps look like a WholeFoods produce section.

At Mana, Tony sneaks away so he can start building his Spy Bunker. And I was right! When I was on location I saw this weird hole…

Troyzan catches him digging and assumes he’s looking for an idol. Because you’d never expect a rational adult to dig himself a hidey hole.

Hali, Jeff, Ciera, Aubry, Malcolm, and Michaela meet at the water hole to discuss the latest development. Ciera wants to get rid of Tony or Caleb who is now considered Tony’s “Right-hand man.”

Quick Aside: While she’s talking, they show a cut-away of poor Caleb wiping out on the rocks at the beach. Dude’s trying to earn his second med-evac.

Jeff disagrees with this course of action because he wants to stay strong for challenges. This concerns Malcolm too because he wants to keep as many threats around as possible.

Ciera thinks she has an advantage because she has played with winners. Everyone who’s ever donned a buff has played with winners.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: I was totally there when this scene was shot. Apparently Sandra is a part of this clique, but she doesn’t want to get rid of Tony or Caleb either.

Oh…and by being the person to throw out names, Ciera has earned a target on her back. So sensitive these Game Changers.

Immunity Challenge Time: Seven players from each tribe will push a raft into the water. They’ll paddle out to a platform. From there, one player will swim to a second platform to retrieve a key. When the key has been obtained, all seven players will have to go over some obstacles on the way back to the beach. They’ll dig in the sand to retrieve two bags of puzzle pieces. Then one person will use the keys to unlock a third bag of puzzle pieces. The first tribe to complete the puzzle will win immunity and flint.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Debbie asked if they could play for a tarp, but Probst shut her down.

Debbie and Jeff will do the key portion. Zeke and Cirie and Sandra and Ciera will do the puzzle.

Before the game starts, Jeff tells everyone that tie votes will not lead to a revote. If there is a tie, a unanimous decision will have to be made amongst the remaining players. If a decision can’t be reached, they have to pull rocks.

The Survivors are ready…and they go.

It’s pretty even up until the swimming for the keys portion. Ozzy swims for Nuku and Hali swims for Mana. No offense to Hali, but you can imagine how that turned out.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Probst couldn’t tell who was swimming for Mana at first and kept calling her Malcolm.

Nuku is the first tribe back to the beach, they maintain this lead through the digging portion.

Varner is having some trouble with the keys and he gives Probst some serious attitude when he mentions it.

Debbie is the first to open her crate, Jeff isn’t far behind her.

The two duos go to work with Cirie and Zeke figuring it out to give Nuku the win.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: During the press challenge, it took Josh Wigler and I four minutes to complete this puzzle. In the game it took about twenty minutes. I was so sure that Ciera was going to remember this puzzle and win it for her tribe. I was very wrong.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: It was pointed out that Jeff Varner hasn’t won an immunity challenge since October 2000.

Politicking back at Mana beach starts off with Tony, Malcolm, Caleb, Jeff, and Aubry wanting to target Ciera. Sandra approaches this group and tells them that she’ll do whatever they want. Classic Sandra.

When Tony pushes her for an opinion, she tells him to tell her who they’re considering and then she’ll give her opinions. So good. She’s like a “Survivor” master class.

Ciera sidles up on the group and they tell her that they’re targeting Michaela. As you’d imagine, this news does not sit well with our favorite Millennial challenge beast.

Michaela has a low-key freak out, which is enough to have Tony and Sandra wondering if she’s worth keeping around.

That night at Tribal Council, there’s some ritual about having fire in your life or something.

Tony thinks this cast is way tougher than Cagayan.

Caleb hopes that his game being a bit of a mystery will help him.

Michaela isn’t sure if she made a great first impression. She thinks she’d be too easy of a first vote on a big season like “Game Changers.”

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Malcolm’s torch blew out three times during this Tribal. I was freaking out.

Sandra calls Michaela a “pleasure” and says that everyone loves her.

Probst points out that voting out Sandra would make a big statement. Shut up, Jeff.

Sandra pitches herself as the perfect person to take to the end.

Hali wants to keep the tribe strong. She also says that “loose lips sink ships.”

Ciera is very concerned with Hali’s “loose lips” comment.

Voting Time: Ciera votes for Michaela, Michaela votes for Ciera, Sandra says, “Queen stays queen” for the fortieth time, and the rest of the votes are secret.

JPro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Michaela, five votes for Ciera, and the first person voted out of “Survivor: Game Changers” is…Ciera.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits:

• Aubry was worried that there was a target on her back because there are so many “Kaoh Rong” players in the game. She said that she doesn’t know Caleb and Debbie didn’t vote for her. Malcolm said that sounds good, but he’s not sure he believes it.
• Varner expected a fast game like in “Second Chance,” but that’s not happening.
• Sandra didn’t think she was responsible for the challenge loss because they never had a lead.
• Ciera rolled her eyes when Tony said the whole tribe was one alliance.

What Was Said In the Voting Booth:

Note: I was in a dark room, so these quotes aren’t verbatim.

• Caleb voted for Ciera and said that she should have never named him as a target.
• Michaela voted for Ciera and said that honest people don’t play with stinky people.
• Tony voted for Ciera and said if anyone appreciates aggressive gameplay, it’s him. But Ciera’s timing was off.
• Ciera voted for Michaela and said she’d rather play with the devil she knows than the devil she doesn’t.
• Troyzan voted for Ciera and said he was voting with the majority.
• Sandra voted for Ciera and said she would have rather had Aubry go home, but Ciera wanted to split up Tony and Caleb.
• Varner voted for Ciera and said, “You wanted fireworks, boom!”
• Aubry voted for Ciera because she went from 0 to 60 too fast and didn’t know the terrain she was on.
• Malcolm voted for Ciera and said he had no interest in playing with her.
• Hali voted for Ciera and said she talks too much about other people in camp.

Note: Check out what Jeff Probst had to say after this Tribal.

The next morning, Sandra, Aubry, Malcolm, Caleb, and Tony form an alliance. Oh man, Malcolm, Sandra, and Tony?! DREAMLLIANCE!

That night, Tony sneaks out to work on his Spy Bunker™ again. He literally crawls into this hole and starts burying himself. So good. However, he’s interrupted by Sandra and Troyzan. He manages to sneak out without them seeing him. The duo is talking about who to vote out next. Tony approaches them and they give him a story about a crate being too close to the fire. Tony does not buy this.

Oh man.

Sure enough, this kicks off a Tony vs. Sandra war.

NOOOOOOOO! Work it out, guys. Please?

Gah…Sandra immediately gets Troyzan, Jeff, Michaela, and Hali onboard with her plan to boot Tony.

Tony realizes that something is up and approaches Aubry with a counterattack. He thinks they have Malcolm and Caleb on their side, so they only need to pull one other person.

Caleb thinks he can trust Tony more than he can trust Sandra. That’s like saying you’d enjoy a punch in the face more than a punch in the groin.

In even more crappy news, Cirie is having some troubles over at Nuku. Ozzy and JT are getting really close and she is clearly their first target. Cirie tries to make inroads with Sarah, Zeke, and Debbie, but it doesn’t seem like she has anything solid.

Also, Debbie is concerned with Tai’s love of chickens. She thinks they’ll eventually start looking like angus cattle. Wait, why do they have to look like other kinds of food?

Immunity Challenge Time: Six players from each team will run across a balance beam and then climb into a cage. They’ll then have to untie a 400-pound snake and pull it out of the cage. They’ll carry it back across the balance beam and then place it into a cradle. The other three members will open the snake to find tiles that have the combination to a lock. Once the lock is open they’ll be able to retrieve a set of rings. The first tribe to throw all eight of their rings onto a series of paddles will win immunity and a fishing kit.

Cirie will sit out for Nuku.

The first half of this challenge is a disaster for Mana. In fact, Nuku has five rings in place before Malcolm throws his first ring for Mana.

Malcolm manages to gain some ground, but it’s too little too late. Nuku wins their second immunity challenge and Jeff Varner’s losing streak continues.

As you’d imagine, Cirie is ecstatic.

Back at camp, Michaela is bummed that she didn’t get a chance to throw rings when Malcolm was clearly getting tired.

Hali, Troyzan, and Sandra are trying to get Caleb to vote with them. Tony approaches them, and they tell him that they’re targeting Aubry.

Tony doesn’t want Aubry to go home, but he’ll do whatever he needs to do to stay in the game. Dude didn’t do all that digging for nothing.

Caleb and Tony decide that getting Michaela to flip is their best bet because Michaela wants to win challenges. Caleb makes this pitch to Michaela and Jeff and it seems like they’re into it.

That night at Tribal Council, Tony thinks they need to keep the tribe strong for challenges. Malcolm and Michaela agree with Tony’s assessment.

This freaks Sandra out a little bit, so she points out that they had the strongest players in the right positions and still lost.

Troyzan doesn’t want to have to worry about someone running off at four in the morning.

A giant bug then attacks Sandra’s hair and everyone freaks out. You sleep in the woods! One bug?!

Tony says that he hasn’t been scamming anyone. Varner, Caleb, and Malcolm believe him.

Varner finishes it up by claiming that they’re a round hole and they’re going to get rid of the square peg.

Voting Time: Sandra votes for Aubry and says that Tony is going home, the rest of the votes are secret.

Probst tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Aubry, one vote for Tony, one vote for Aubry, three votes for Tony, and the second person voted out of “Survivor: Game Changers” is…Tony.


And what’s worse is Tony and Sandra get into it as Tony’s leaving. Rewind this whole episode! Be friends and work together!

Verdict: Neither of the votes was much of a surprise. Everyone was wary of Tony and Ciera in their pre-game interviews. But, watching Sandra stick and move was a pleasure. All future players should be forced to watch her seasons and dissect her game.

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

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Host Jeff Probst Breaks Down the First Tribal Council of the Season

March 8, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Gordon Holmes: You haven’t seen the testimonials from the vote yet, but one of the themes was that Ciera was playing too hard, too fast.
Jeff Probst: Interesting…
Holmes: Right? In a season of Game Changers, the first person voted out was hindered by her desire to play too quickly.
Probst: Well, the players decide how the game is going to be played. I think the most interesting comment to come out of Tribal was when Ciera said, “Maybe the new school players can learn something from the old school players.” Because the game has been on a trajectory for quite some time of going up in terms of the game being amped up and alliances being even less and less clear. And what I felt like what she was saying is that they need to slow down a bit. Unfortunately, it sounds like she didn’t take her own advice. Or, she wasn’t aware early enough.

Holmes: It reminded me a lot of “Second Chance” where Shirin was accused of the same thing where someone is playing hard, but they don’t have the challenge prowess to give them that must-keep status in the tribe.
Probst: Yeah, absolutely. I like Ciera. I think she could win the whole thing. I even predicted that. And I like that she embodies game changers. And she got caught. She made a move at camp, she was talking about who she wanted to vote out when nobody else was talking about it yet. So, the fact that she talked, was enough. Sounds like there isn’t much wiggle room this season. If you make one mistake it could cost you. And that’s where a player like Sandra is so lethal. She doesn’t make many mistakes.

Holmes: How good is Sandra?
Probst: Sandra is great. I think you watch the first Tribal and you think, “She could win again.”
Holmes: She shushed you in the challenge. I’ve never seen that before.
Probst: She and Varner. I like that. My job really is to give the audience a play by play. But, I like it when the players are a part of it and talk back. It tells me they’re there and their head is in it.

Holmes: Michaela was the name used to throw Ciera off. She didn’t like that one bit. Her and Caleb were the most nervous up there.
Probst: Yeah.
Holmes: Michaela mentioned that her and Caleb are both challenge threats whose games are still unknown. She said something about Caleb getting a wider birth because he’s a guy. Was there anywhere to go to follow up on that?
Probst: I thought it was interesting. I think she felt like she was getting into deep water and wanted to get back out. I think what she was saying is that Caleb and I are both unknowns. You don’t know how Caleb plays this game, so why am I the one getting heat? Michaela’s in a tough spot, because if she isn’t gifted enough to turn the uncertainty into an asset, then it is scary. It’s scary to play with someone you don’t know. Everyone has a past or a question around them. Hers is, “Who are you?”

Holmes: As a journalist I’m supposed to stay impartial. As a fan I want Tony to find 37 idols and stay to the end.
Probst: (Laughs)
Holmes: Seems like we saw a kinder, more reserved Tony tonight.
Probst: I got a sense tonight that he is able to play another game and it’s a more understated game. He knows he’s in a season of true all-star players. He’s not going to get as many looks. He’s not going to get his hands on the balls as often. So, I’ve got to be quiet and go with the flow. He’ll have an opportunity. But, I think he has to change, because I don’t think that Cagayan personality can win. I think Tony wins by saying, “Look, I was playing with people I thought I could school. Now I’m playing with people I respect.”

Holmes: What did you think of Hali taking the swimming portion today?
Probst: Damn, I should’ve asked about that. I was shocked. In fact, my vantage point was so bad that I first thought it was Malcolm, then I thought it was Troyzan.
Holmes: They look a lot alike.
Probst: (Laughs) And when she got out of the water I realized it was her.
Holmes: We can fix that in post.
Probst: Thank you. I believe that when Hali played the first time, she came into the game as a smart lawyer type but was labeled a no-collar and tried to fit in. She hooked up with Jenn and it was a disastrous move. She’s a sharp woman and that’s the game she’s going to play now.

Holmes: How are you feeling about this season so far?
Probst: So good, I couldn’t believe I was talking to Tony, Varner, Sandra, Malcolm…it was great. Usually, that many people in one show is good and this is one tribe!

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

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Plays Align/Malign/Take to the End

March 8, 2017

‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Gordon Holmes: Alright, I hold in my hand a deck of cards that features all twenty of this season’s players. I’m going to hand you three random cards at a time. You tell me who you’re going to vote out first, who you’re going to work with and eventually eliminate, and who you are going to take to the end.
Jeff Probst: Oh, so it’s like (expletive deleted), marry, kill?
Holmes: Exactly.
Probst: Cool.
Holmes: If we have time we can play that too.
Probst: Oh man, I should not play that game with a cast.
Holmes: Yeah, cause I’m sure you’d (expletive deleted) all twenty.
Probst: (Laughs) Holmes…
Holmes: Alright, focus.

Round One: Aubry, Troyzan, and Hali
Probst: I’d vote out Troyzan, I’d work with Aubry, and I’d take Hali to the end. Aubry is a really good player and I believe that I could convince Aubry that we could work together. But, I know she’s going to come for me at a certain point. I’m going to trust that it won’t be early. I’m thinking that we’re going to keep looking at each other and when you stop looking at me, I’m in trouble…and vice versa. I’d love to sit next to Hali at the end.
Holmes: Sitting with a lawyer?
Probst: I just think she’d be fun to go against. I think she’s super well-spoken and I love the way she can turn an argument like she did with flippers. And Troyzan is out because he offers me the least and he’s a threat to me physically.

Round Two: Malcolm, Ciera, and Debbie
Probst: I hate to do this, but I’m voting out Malcolm. I can’t beat him in anything. And I’m going to need to at some point. I’m going to work with Ciera and then try to blindside her and hope she doesn’t get me first. Which…is a big question. She could probably beat me to the punch. I’m going to take Debbie to the end and I’d make her look like the most crazy, whacked-out nutjob by the time I’m done with her.

Round Three: Tai, Sierra, and Sandra
Probst: I hate to do this, because I love her, but Sandra is going home. She is a lethal weapon. I’m going to work with Sierra because her biggest asset is that she has shown loyalty. I’m taking Tai to the end because I don’t think he can pull it off in the end.

Round Four: Michaela, Caleb, and Brad
Probst: This is a tough one. I’m actually getting rid of Michaela first because I think she could win. I’m going to work with Brad, but I don’t trust him at all. And, I’m going to take Caleb to the end because I think I can outtalk him in the end.

Round Five: Andrea, Zeke, and Ozzy
Probst: I’m going to roll the dice and get rid of Andrea, she’s trouble. I’m going to work with Zeke knowing full well that he will probably take me out. It’d be hard for me to take Zeke out because I like him so much. I’d take Ozzy to the end because I can beat Ozzy. I can outtalk him easy.

Round Six: Jeff, JT, and Tony
Probst: Holy moly.
Holmes: These are the best games because I just sit here and you do all the work.
Probst: (Laughs) I’m in trouble on this one because I don’t want to go to the end with any of them. I think I lose against all of them.
Holmes: You’ve gotta play the cards you’re dealt, Jeff. That’s how life works.
Probst: OK, then I’m saying up front that I lose to all three of them. My best shot…is against Tony. I’m going to take him to the end. But, he’s a winner. I’m going to work with Varner and get rid of JT. That’ll allow me to get rid of one big threat early. He’s likable, he’s physical, he has a massive chip on his shoulder. Varner, I think I can find an alliance with the catty side of him. I think I can play that catty side as well. And I think he might trust me a little bit.

Holmes: Alright, we’ve got two left, so align one and malign the other.

Round Seven: Cirie and Sarah
Probst: Well, just because I love her so much, I’m working with Cirie. And if I lose to her I’m OK. That’s a great story. And I’m voting out Sarah because she’s up against Cirie. Nothing against Sarah.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X’ Champ Adam Klein Accepts the XFINITY Power Rankings Challenge

March 8, 2017

‘Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X’ Champion Adam Klein (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

The Rules: Each week our two combatants 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 players will earn.  At the end of the season, the person with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Game Changers” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

Quick Note: The pre-season rankings are for exhibition purposes only. No points will be awarded based on their content. Ideally, the players are being ranked based on their likelihood of being named Sole Survivor.

Adam Klein’s Pre-Season Rankings

1. Brad: So many people want to take him to the end and think they can beat him. But that perception is based on public bursts of rage directed at him that weren’t totally warranted. That reminds me of someone… By most accounts, Brad is actually a nice guy, and has shown that he has the chops to be in strategic control. From experience, I know that once someone decides you’re beatable at final Tribal Council, it’s hard to shake that idea, even when the evidence in front of you says otherwise. I’m looking towards those that are underestimated to do well on this season. 2. Sarah: Sarah is coming into this game with a very low threat level, and almost no one is talking about her. That’s a great place to be, especially when you actually are strategic, physical, and social. If Sarah can keep a low profile early, and then strike towards the end game, she has a great chance.
3. Zeke: Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I know from experience how good Zeke is at working people and building great connections. He’s very likable and very strategic. A powerful and winning combo. But with Russell’s legacy on “Heroes vs. Villains” in the minds of the others pre-game, he may have a bigger target as an unknown than he would have had otherwise. 4. Andrea: Andrea is my highest rated known ‘schemer’ in the cast. The others seem to understand that she is strategic, but they aren’t quite sure how threatened they are by her. All someone like Andrea needs is a window, and she seems to have that with this group. She’s got the charm to get them to drop their guard even when they know they shouldn’t.
5. Troyzan: Troyzan is similar to Brad in that he is wholly underestimated and people seem poised to want to take him far. This is the perfect kind of season for him, with a plethora of people that ought to be targets ahead of him, giving him time to build the strong bonds he needs. But he’s been blindsided to his real place in an alliance twice before (One World and the Durham Warrior Survival Challenge) – he’ll either learn from that or maybe he just doesn’t have that killer instinct. 6. Michaela: Michaela has all the tools. She is smart, likable, loyal, and insanely valuable in challenges. I think a significant majority of this cast will want to work with her. My only worry is that she hasn’t had enough time to learn from her mistakes: namely, keeping her thoughts and plans closer to the chest.
7. Ozzy: Ozzy’s stock has jumped the highest for me since the cast was announced. I used to think his social game would never allow him to win, but it does appear that Ozzy is more humble and soft-spoken than I would have guessed. If he can connect in a real way, he has everything else he needs to do well. 8.Hali: Hali is similar to Sarah in her pre-game threat level and that she has the potential to be a social, strategic, and physical threat, but also has the most refreshing humility of the whole cast. She knows she didn’t really do much to change the game last time out, but she is excited at the chance to change that. My worry is that she will swing too hard as a result, and that she has not done her homework and knows very little about the people she’s up against.
9. JT: JT is my highest rated winner. Everyone is looking at Sandra and Tony, which is great when you also happen to be a flawless winner. Don’t get me wrong, JT still has a massive target, but he is easily one of the best players out there and has a chance to overcome it. 10. Aubry: Aubry comes into this game with a massive target, having just been a strategic force on the most recently watched season. Her best bet would be to rally the other strategic threats together and then slide into their shadows. Plus, how epic of a season would that be?
11. Cirie: Cirie’s threat level is as massive as anyone’s, but I’m counting on her incredible charm to somehow still find a group of loyal allies. Even if she manages to go far, she’ll have a hell of a time getting all the way to the end. 12. Malcolm: Malcolm was my winner’s pick when I first heard the cast. He is social, strategic, and athletic, but not too much of anything to be an immediate target. But after reading pre-game interviews, I don’t think he has the humility to let the other huge egos around him shine. Sure, a lot of what he says is in jest, but it doesn’t always come off that way, and I don’t think this cast will stand for it.
13. Sierra: Sierra played a loyal game last time and I think a lot of people will want to work with her here. In my opinion, that will be a mistake for many of them. She knows that loyalty and not making a move was her downfall, so I’m looking towards Sierra to be the unexpected throat-cutter of the season. I think there’s a great chance she makes the final 3 with a solid game behind her, but I have a hard time imagining the jury awarding Sierra the win in a season entitled “Game Changers.” 14. Tai: Tai is lovely and adorable and someone I would love to see do well. My worry is that he has a hard time articulating his thought processes, something that you have to do not just at final Tribal, but throughout the game, in order to inspire confidence.
15. Jeff: Don’t be fooled into thinking Varner is old-school. He is as new-school as it gets, and is probably a bit too over-eager to ‘play the game.’  Patience is key, and I’m not sure Varner has enough of it to win. 16. Debbie: In a sea of competing egos, I’m not sure Debbie has it in her to fade into the background like she will need to in order to reach the end game. Her best bet is to entertain and stroke the egos around her, something I do think she is capable of.
17. Sandra: I actually think that Sandra could do very well with this group. She doesn’t have the perception of being as much of a ‘schemer’ as Tony, and could be seen as a loyal ally. The problem? Without a loss on her record, only the foolish are going to be willing to let her reach day 39. 18. Ciera: She is talking a huge game and underestimating virtually all of her competitors. She’s known as a ‘schemer’ and I don’t see many out there who will look to Ciera for steady loyalty.
19. Caleb: Anyone who goes into the game thinking Sandra doesn’t deserve the title of Game Changer but thinks they do even without going to Tribal Council doesn’t have the kind of reads or honest self-perception that are necessary to win “Survivor.”  20. Tony: This breaks my heart, but Tony’s target is massive entering the game and he is not doing anything at pre-game Ponderosa or planning on doing anything in the game (#SpyBunker anyone?) to lower that threat level. I will be the first to celebrate if I eat my words, as so many did over and over again every time Tony survived when Cagayan was airing.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

Gordon Holmes Presents His Patented Terrible ‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Pre-Season Rankings

March 7, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Alright, you all know the drill; I go out on location. I interview everyone, I hang out for a few days, I get a sunburn. Then I come back and rank the players from most-likely-to-win to least-likely-to-win. Inevitably these rankings are horribly wrong. Let’s all ignore that mathematically, I probably should have picked a winner by now.

Note: Betting on Gordon Holmes’ Patented Terrible ‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Pre-Season Rankings is frowned upon.

1. Malcolm: I’m not just picking Malcolm because he batted his eyes at me. I’m picking Malcolm because it looks like he has matured and learned from his mistakes. The “Boston” Rob who won “Redemption Island” was much different than the one who alienated everyone in “All-Stars.” And, with challenge threats like JT and Ozzy around, Malcolm’s going to have room to maneuver after the merge. Read Malcolm’s Interview 2. Sarah: There’s something really dangerous about someone who has a reputation for being honest but is totally prepared to lie. Sarah could shock us all. Read Sarah’s Interview
3. Sierra: In a season of big swingers, it’s the quiet threats that you have to keep an eye on. Nobody expects anything from Sierra, so she’ll have plenty of time to plot out a move that could win the whole thing. Read Sierra’s Interview 4. Zeke: Anyone who’s worried that Zeke is Russell Hantz 2.0 is in for a rude awakening. Zeke’s worse. He pairs Hantz’s ability to sway people and make moves with a social game that would have won Hantz at least one…if not two…final Tribal Councils. Read Zeke’s Interview
5. Aubry: Aubry…you were…the hardest person to rank. You’ve clearly got the skills to get yourself out of sticky situations. But…everybody knows that. So, I’m going to put you relatively high on this list because I don’t think you’re tops on anyone’s hit list. Read Aubry’s Interview 6. Brad: You’d better get used to seeing Brad on your TV screen, because he’s going to be around for a looooong time. Everyone is viewing him as the perfect goat to take to the end. That might not be the safe bet everyone assumes it is because Brad is actually a likable guy. Read Brad’s Interview
7. Troyzan: I’m putting Troyzan in the same boat as Brad. A LOT of people want to take him to the end. And remember, even Phillip Sheppard received votes at final Tribal. Read Troyzan’s Interview 8. Andrea: Andrea’s biggest weakness in Caramoan seemed to be that she was always going a mile a minute. I think that kind of activity can rattle your alliance-mates. She should take a page from Tyson’s playbook and hang back a bit. Read Andrea’s Interview
9. Michaela: I don’t think the show has done a great job showing how likable Michaela is. She is a sweetheart. If she can get to the end, she can beat almost anyone. Read Michaela’s Interview 10. Jeff: I’m putting Jeff right in the middle of the pack because he has the highest ceiling and the lowest floor. He could keep his wits about him and take the whole thing, or he could panic and be one of the first people out. Read Jeff’s Interview
11. JT: Soooo…JT totally won “Survivor.” It was like a hundred seasons ago and it was before Tyler Perry idols and voting blocs, but it totally happened. This is a guy who dominated challenges and charmed a jury. I feel like everyone is forgetting that. Read JT’s Interview 12. Ozzy: “Boston” Rob finally picked up the big win on his fourth trip. Rupert didn’t even get to see his tribe’s beach. I’m guessing Ozzy’s strategic game won’t make up for what a big threat he is and he’ll end up somewhere between them. Read Ozzy’s Interview
13. Hali: I don’t know what it is about Hali. She seems to have all the tools to get the job done. She’s likable, she’s fit, she’s smart. But for whatever reason, I don’t see it in her. Don’t get me wrong, she could do it, but it’d be like a Fabio-level event. Read Hali’s Interview 14. Debbie: Puzzles lay down for Debbie like lovers. But will jurors lay down their ballots? I just can’t see it. Read Debbie’s Interview
15. Sandra: I’ve been doing this for a long time. I don’t fangirl over returning players. Strike that, I have only ever fangirled over one returning player; Sandra Diaz-Twine. She is SO much more than you see on TV. Likable, real, and super smart. It would take a miracle for her to get to the end. But if she got there, she’d win. Read Sandra’s Interview 16. Cirie: There is never a bad time to get rid of Cirie. From day one to day thirty eight, there’s always going to be a reason. You don’t need her at the beginning because she isn’t strong in challenges. You don’t want her at the end because she’s savvy enough to cut your throat. Read Cirie’s Interview
17. Ciera: Ciera and Cirie are in the same boat. There just isn’t enough upside to keep them early in the game. And if they do find allies, they might lose them during the day-six swap. Read Ciera’s Interview 18. Tai: Everyone is afraid to work with you, Tai. You have a reputation for spilling the beans, working with whoever talked to you last, and befriending dinner. You might go far, but you won’t win. Read Tai’s Interview
19. Caleb: Whenever newbies square off against returning players, the newbies almost always get squashed. With his zero lifetime Tribal Council visits, Caleb is basically a newbie. Read Caleb’s Interview  20. Tony: I put Tony last in Cagayan and he won the whole thing. I’d love (ahem…LOVE) for him to make me look stupid again, but I doubt the others will give him the chance. Read Tony’s Interview

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Aubry: “I’m Not Going to Change Who I Am. I’m Proud of the Game I Played”

March 7, 2017

Aubry Bracco (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Aubry Bracco
Age: 30
Hometown: Cambridge, MA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Runner Up
Best Known For: Almost quitting early, then rallying to make it to the end.

Gordon Holmes: The popular opinion seems to be that you should have won “Survivor: Kaoh Rong.”
Aubry Bracco: I get that a lot.
Holmes: And you’ve had to live with this for a year before the world knew.
Bracco: (Laughs)
Holmes: The jury awarding the game to Michele over you…does that affect how you approach this second go-around?
Bracco: I’m not going to change who I am. I’m proud of the game I played. I’d never say I was robbed. Michele gave that jury what they needed at that moment. I’d never say she didn’t play a great social game. She had relationships that were deep enough, but not so deep that it really hurt when she turned on people. That was a great read on her part. But, there are many layers to it. It was a wild year. When I first got home I was staying at my parents’ house and I would wake up and I would be like, “Where’s Cyd? Where’s Michele?” And I knew the vote when it happened. I knew that it was five to two. I could tell by the body language of the jurors. I could let it bury me or I could make changes for the better. I decided to try to look at the positives and what I learned about myself. And when this second chance came along, I could really try to ground myself and realize how I was perceived. I did get a lot of conflicting messages from a lot of people. I was told to be confident by Nick at the final Tribal, yet Scot, Jason, and Julia in their final videos before Tribal said I played a fear-based game. They said they didn’t see my game. But, Scot and Jason also said they recognized my game when I was in a position of power. So, it really taught me how dynamic “Survivor” is. I always said when I watched the show, “I wish people would take responsibility for their actions.” And I always take responsibility for my actions. I don’t blame the end of the game on anyone but myself. Yes, there were factors, but the biggest lesson I got was the opposite of what everyone else got. You can’t control everything. You can play your cards as hard as you can and it still might not work out.

Holmes: Are you worried that people might not align with you for fear of getting injured?
Bracco: That’s my strategy. If I want someone gone, I’ll align with them so they’ll be med-evaced.
Holmes: Probably the unluckiest player of all time. Well, the people who got taken out were probably less lucky.
Bracco: Yeah, Neil wasn’t dealt the best hand.
Holmes: Caleb almost died.
Bracco: Yeah, that little detail. That was horrifying. And Joe ate too much meat.
Holmes: That’s how I want to be med-evaced.
Bracco: He gorged himself. He was like a Roman emperor. He just gunned that meat like it was nothing. And he hadn’t eaten meat in twenty years. His girlfriend, I don’t remember if she’s a vegan or vegetarian, but they don’t eat meat.
Holmes: The lesson is; you need to babysit your alliance members.
Bracco: I love Joe and Tai is wonderful, but I did spend a lot of time and emotional energy with the people I was with last time to keep them in line. You can’t control people, I understand that. But, there was a lot of effort put into having a balance between someone being on my side and not thinking I’m in control of them. I think this time I’m going to look for people who are stable threats to pad me. Like a Cydney. She was my rock out there.
Holmes: I would never think of the energy expended keeping someone who is wishy washy in line.
Bracco: You have to have a mix of stable and erratic and it has to be the right combination. And after my last season I think I know the kind of erratic I can work with and the kind I can’t. There’s very different kinds of erratic. There’s Debbie erratic, there’s Tai erratic, there’s Joe erratic. You have to know which ones you can work with.

Holmes: What was your first thought when you heard the subhead “Game Changers”?
Bracco: I was totally flattered. To me the experience was so deeply personal and I grew with the game. So, it was really cool that a game that so profoundly changed me, I was considered someone who changed it. It was awesome. And the reason I was a game changer is that I brought an authenticity to the game. I played with an emotional intelligence. I think other people play social games, but I think there was a different level to what I was playing where I think sometimes the best strategic move isn’t an emotional one. I don’t think people always get that. When I voted out Debbie, and I can finally say this now because it isn’t coming out until after this game is played, I made the move to vote out Debbie because emotionally I knew that Tai would never work with her. I knew that Tai held all the power in the game at that moment. I had to get rid of her to break things up so I could get to Tai.

Holmes: How do you feel about this cast?
Bracco: This is a killer cast. I’m flattered to be with some of these people. It’s like the Hall of Presidents at Disney for “Survivor” players. I can’t believe I’m sitting here and Tony is sitting next to me. And he’s exactly how he is on the show. I’m like, “Is this guy real?” There are players I really respect. I have a lot of respect for Malcolm’s game. Sandra, she’s won three times. She’s doing something right.
Holmes: Two times.
Bracco: Oh yeah, sorry. We’d be idiots to let Sandra win again. These people are powerhouses in different ways.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Bracco: I could see myself working with Malcolm. I really respect Denise as a winner.
Holmes: I love me some Denise.
Bracco: Me too. And I think Malcolm is kind of a well-rounded player in the social, physical, strategic sense. I think of myself in a similar way. We’re different, but we’re rounded the same. I think it’s cool that Sarah is here. I think she had a lot of potential as a player, but she found herself in a funky situation in Cagayan. It isn’t very different than what happened with me. I got lucky that it didn’t completely bury me.

Holmes: Any early targets?
Bracco: I’m wary of Sandra because she’s won twice. She has a formula that works. I already see her scoping the room, looking for tension in between people that she can pick at. She’s good at identifying where there’s a weakness. She’s scary. Debbie is always going to be a wildcard because there’s history there. I don’t hold a grudge. I’d be open to working with Debbie. But, we know each other very well and that can sometimes be difficult.

Holmes: You’re one of four Kaoh Rongers…
Bracco: I know.
Holmes: That’s a fifth of the cast. Does that concern you?
Bracco: Yeah. I’m flattered to be here. When opportunity knocks, you have to take it. But, this is right after our finale and a lot of people say I was screwed at the end. The other thing is, there are four of us here. I’d be psyched if I was the only one. I’d much prefer that. But, once we get out there, people will see that we’re all incredibly different. Debbie is Debbie, Tai is Tai…he truly loves all human beings. I think he’s going to have that inner turmoil again because he’s such a wonderful person. Caleb…I don’t know. And then there’s me. I’m hoping people see that even though we’re from the same season, we’re not playing together.

Holmes: How about the newbies? What do you do with Michaela and Zeke?
Bracco: They have an opportunity to duck early bullets. But, there’s also a way to make people paranoid about them. As much as people think they don’t have beefs or connections, but it’s a chance to say, “Well, this person told me that. And now they’re gunning for you.” And because these people don’t know Zeke and Michaela, who are they to say what their tendencies are?

Holmes: Even though you’re not allowed to do Power Rankings, which I’m furious about…
Bracco: (Laughs)
Holmes: I came up with a game to help you. I’ll give you a reason someone might use to get rid of you. I need you to counter it.
Bracco: Oh, this is cool.
Holmes: Aubry was a part of the Brains tribe. I saw her on Kaoh Rong. I don’t want someone smarter than me around.
Bracco: You don’t want someone smart around here? There are a lot of wild cards around here. And if you want to get to the end you need someone who is stable and will play in a strategic way.

Holmes: Aubry turned it on at the end. She won rewards, she started fires, better to get rid of her early while we can.
Bracco: I think people are going to see me as a physical threat, but I didn’t win immunities when they were clutch.
Holmes: Weren’t you the second to last person standing a lot of the time?
Bracco: Yes, but it doesn’t matter unless you win
Holmes: Fair enough.
Bracco: So, maybe I’m a choker. I’m not the best at puzzles.
Holmes: They don’t lay down for you like lovers?
Bracco: No, they don’t lay down for me like they do for Debbie.

Holmes: I’m a big believer that the last season a cast saw before they head out sets the tone for their season.
Bracco: I agree.
Holmes: The popular opinion of the last season we saw was that Aubry was robbed. I don’t want to get to the end and have this jury reward her for Kaoh Rong.
Bracco: Yeah, people might think I was robbed, but just because my season aired doesn’t mean that these other people didn’t have seasons. We all have stories. I might get jury sympathy, but I’m not the only threat here.

Holmes: I don’t want some big four-person Kaoh Rong alliance after the merge.
Bracco: You think those people are going to merge together? Spend five minutes with them and you’ll see that that’s not going to happen. Tai has an axe to grind with Aubry because he feels like the wool was pulled over his eyes. Debbie went up there at the end and said, “Aubry, you were amazing, blah blah blah” and then didn’t vote for me. Tai went to Caleb’s wedding. They get along like peanut butter and Jelly.

Holmes: Talking about “Survivor” being a product of the last season the cast saw; the jury is going to vote for their reasons. The perception could be that the Kaoh Rong jury voted based on social game over a strategic game. Whether that’s true or not, do you think that’s something that could carry over?
Bracco: I think people will be looking at the Sierras and Halis and not underestimating them. I’m going to use that as an argument. You can’t take all the threats out, because if you’re at the end with someone who’s kind of chill…those people can win. It happened to me, it can happen to you.
Holmes: It can’t happen to me. Because I’m not on this season. And then I couldn’t do the Power Rankings.

Holmes: Are you a part of any pre-season alliances? Have you heard any rumblings?
Bracco: I have heard rumors that my name is on the block.
Holmes: How so?
Bracco: I’m not going to get too into it, but I’ve heard that people want to put my name before them. But hey. I’ve had some people reach out to me and I’m staying chill. For someone who has a sixth sense like I have and a gut feeling about people, as you saw on 32, there’s something to be said for getting on the beach and figuring things out.
Holmes: Are specific people putting your name on the block?
Bracco: Yes…perhaps…
Holmes: Liiiiiike?
Bracco: I’m not going to say who.
Holmes: Fair enough, but how does that change your approach to those people?
Bracco: It’s a little bit scary. But, there’s a lot of chatter. And you can tell in pre-game that certain things you thought were true are going to unravel in a different direction. It’s just not that simple. A name is easy when the person isn’t in the room with you. In 32, I knew if I could work with someone based on how I felt sitting in silence with them. My senses calm down, and my sixth sense picks up.
Holmes: Your Spidey sense.
Bracco: It really is a Spidey sense.

Holmes: You’re in lockdown now, you’re not allowed to talk. But, people smile and nod. Are you doing any of that?
Bracco: There are certain people I feel comfortable around.
Holmes: Do they have names?
Bracco: (Laughs) Well, it kind of changes based on the day. When I first got here Malcolm and Ozzy seemed kind of stable. Sarah seems like she could be someone I could work with. It’s really cool to be in Cirie’s presence. I’m not sure which way she’s going to go. She’s got a game face on. Ciera has a really good game face on, you can’t read her. Hali is cool. I get a good vibe from her.
Holmes: Have you caught anyone else trying to communicate?
Bracco: Oh my gosh, JT with the winking. JT is such a flirt with everybody. Brad Culpepper can’t keep it in his pants…with the wanting to play.
Holmes: I wasn’t sure where you were going with that.
Bracco: (Laughs) No, I mean with the wanting to play. I have to be careful with that analogy. Certain people, I’m trying to see if they’re trying to undo something they did on their season or are they trying to get revenge? What are you trying to do? Ozzy was kind of America’s hero when he played, but in South Pacific he wasn’t the same Ozzy. I’m wondering if he wants to align with a Sophie to undo that. Or, is he wary of a girl like that.
Holmes: Are you a Sophie?
Bracco: I think Sophie is an easy person to jump to, but I’m my own beast.
Holmes: There’s no shame in that. I adore Sophie.
Bracco: Me too. She is whip smart. She’s got great observations. And when she said “Coach played like a little girl.” Oh my God.

Holmes: Alright, all of your opponents are in this deck of cards except for Michaela and Zeke, because we don’t know anything about them. I’ll give you three at random. You tell me who you vote out first, who you work with and eventually eliminate, and who you take to the end.
Bracco: This is amazing.
Holmes: Right? They’re laminated and everything.
Bracco: I’m impressed.

Round One: Tai, Sarah, and Caleb
Bracco: Align with Sarah…because she’s that kind of person who’s a stable strategy sounding board. She’s like a Cydney. Take Caleb to the end. He’s loyal to a fault and I think I could verbally beat him. I love you Tai, but I’m voting you out. I think you have a bone to pick with me.

Round Two: Cirie, Debbie, and Malcolm
Bracco: I’m voting out Debbie because the same thing as Tai. She has a bone to pick with me. I’ll align with Malcolm because I think he’s well-rounded. This is hard.
Holmes: Good, you need to flex those strategy muscles.
Bracco: Taking Cirie to the end, although we’re kind of the robbed goddesses. One of my regrets in 32 is that I had two people sitting next to me and neither of them were like me. They didn’t have the same strategic drive. So, when I spoke it came off as abrasive. I think Cirie is like me in a lot of ways.

Round Three: Troyzan, Ciera, and JT
Bracco: Voting out Ciera…I have a lot of respect for her as a strategic player. She’s scary. Aligning with JT, I think I could be his Stephen, but Stephen is going to beat him this time. I’ll take Troyzan to the end because I think he’s going to rub some people the wrong way.

Round Four: Brad, Tony, and Jeff
Bracco: (Laughs) Voting out Jeff because I don’t trust him not to flip. He’s acting like he’s very zen. And I love Jeff as a person. He’s trying to be yoga chill, but when he gets hungry he’s going to lose it. I don’t want to get Shirin’d. Align with Tony, then I’m going to beat the master at his own game before it’s too late. Go to the end with Brad. He’s going to piss people off. This is so fun!
Holmes: Good. It’s bad enough you have to talk to me, you might as well get some enjoyment.
Bracco: It’s like going to therapy. I couldn’t talk about it for a year, and in the interviews I knew I was coming back so I had to watch what I said. And, it was as dual interview.

Round Five: Sandra, Ozzy, and Andrea
Bracco: I’d vote Sandra out. But, part of me wants to align with her. OK, I’m going to vote out Andrea. She has a lot of game in her. I’ll align with Sandra, then smoke her post merge. I’ll take Ozzy to the end. We’ve both been to the end and I think I could verbally make a better argument than he could.

Holmes: Alright, we’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other. Oh, and look who it is.

Round Six: Sierra and Hali
Bracco: That’s weird. I think these are the two most terrifying people in the game. I’m going to kill you. Not really.
Holmes: Oh, not really?
Bracco: (Laughs) I’ll vote out Sierra. I think she’s less predictable. I felt like I got less of a vibe on her game. I’ll work with Hali because I think she’s smart and will be a strategic sounding board.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Malcolm: “I’m Still Snarky, and Talking Trash, and My Ego Is Somewhere in the Stratosphere”

March 6, 2017

Malcolm Freberg (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Malcolm Freberg
Age: 29
Hometown: Hermosa Beach, CA
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Philippines” – Finished 4th and Jury Member
“Survivor: Caramoan” – Finished 9th & Jury Member
Best Known For: Asking a bro to, “Hold up.” Then using two idols to eliminate Phillip Sheppard.

Gordon Holmes: You know the deal, everything you say here stays here until next winter.
Malcolm Freberg: Right.
Holmes: I only share information with people I’m rooting for.
Freberg: (Laughs)
Holmes: (Whispers) Malcolm’s targeting you.
Freberg: Right, everything stays here except for the sexual innuendos.
Holmes: My wife…she described this trip as “Gordon’s going to see his boyfriend.”
Freberg: (Laughs) And that’s how I got my third case of syphilis.

Freberg: Hey, I’m mad at you.
Holmes: Why?
Freberg: The Power Rankings have me freaking out because I talked a lot of (expletive deleted) about Brad in the Power Rankings.
Holmes: You think he can read?
Freberg: Well, we know he can’t count.
Holmes: I think of it this way; the Power Rankings gave you an unfair advantage. You’re in the trenches, you really have to study the game.
Freberg: You could say that being on “Survivor” twice, being on one of the worst tribes ever, being on the bottom of Stealth R Us, these things would battle harden me. They’d prepare me for “Survivor: Game Changers.” When people ask me what really prepared for this, I say the Power Rankings.
Holmes: I’ve got bad news for you, you’re not the only Power Ranker out here. You’ve got Ciera, you’ve got Andrea…
Freberg: Oh yeah! You’ve got a lot of…ugh…
Holmes: You’re screwed.
Freberg: It’s true.
Holmes: The playing field is even. Which is good, you’ve got to earn this million.
Freberg: Instead of just having it handed to me…which I was hoping for.
Holmes: Instead of Sia storming the stage to write you a check for taking care of a chicken.
Freberg: I tell you, I’m going to be the biggest animal advocate this season. (Laughs) I’ll take the sure hundred grand.
Holmes: Sia is the new Sprint.

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since we saw you on Caramoan?
Freberg: Working, I’ve been working in editorial for the last couple of years. I’m a managing editor for a start-up pop-culture website. And honestly, it plays a big role here. I haven’t worked in an office since college. It hurt my soul to do it. And when you can deal with managing creatives, you can deal with any egos on the planet.
Holmes: That’s very true.
Freberg: I think that will help out here. Living in the same place, a couple of relationship came and went. But, from that you learn a little emotional maturity that wasn’t there the first time around. It’s been four years and a lot of stuff has happened.

Holmes: Your bio says your hair is two inches longer. How is that going to help you?
Freberg: Did I write that?
Holmes: Yeah, I circled it. Seemed important.
Freberg: I write such nonsense that I can’t remember everything. It keeps the flies off of your back like the tail of a warthog. (Sings) When I was a young wart hog.
Holmes: This is a pretty bad interview.
Freberg: (Laughs) No, I got it cut before I came out because my mom said I had split ends. So, it looks good. It’ll flow very gracefully.

Holmes: Let’s see here…you also claim to be more mature. I do not believe you.
Freberg: To be honest, this is weird, almost a fifth of my life has gone by. It’s been four years… so closer to a sixth. A lot of stuff goes by. I was talking to Probst about this and I said I feel like an older, more mature guy. I’m still snarky, and talking trash, and my ego is somewhere in the stratosphere.
Holmes: Obviously.
Freberg: From an emotional intelligence standpoint, I’ve been through some relationships that didn’t work out. This time around when you talk about people you want to model your game after, I want to incorporate a little Penner and Denise from the Philippines. Like Penner with Lisa Whelchel and Denise with everybody. I want to make more human connections this time.

Holmes: You’re no longer with So?
Freberg: Right, it ended three months ago. We’re on good terms now.
Holmes: Sorry to hear that, and that’s great that it ended on a positive note. However, she was a member of the “Worlds Apart” Dirty 30.
Freberg: A couple of the clowns from the Dirty 30 are here. And I know them due to my relationship. I don’t approve of any of their hashtags or shenanigans. But, they’re here and you have to deal with them. But Hali and gargantuan Sierra, I don’t really know what to expect from them. Hali is wandering around the beach, she’s giving me Brenda vibes from Caramoan. Just wandering aimlessly in her own little world. And Sierra…she’s a literal big flirt. I don’t 100% know how they’re going to play it this time. I have to keep them at arm’s reach because I don’t know what they’re going to do inside the game.

Holmes: What do you make of all this “Game Changers” business?
Freberg: I used to work at a bar called Game Changers. It was three months and my boss was a drug addict and evil. So, I had flashbacks, but I was excited once I calmed down.
Holmes: Was this a sports bar?
Freberg: Yeah, and they’d have murals of various icons. And all the dishes had names like the Jerome Burger Bettis or something. Terrible puns. But yeah, I’ll take it.
Holmes: How are you a game changer? How did you change the game, Malcolm Freberg?
Freberg: (Laughs) I hope you ask everybody this question.
Holmes: Don’t you worry.
Freberg: Cause I’m shaking my head at some of these people. “Tall Sierra, how did you change the game?” I think I’ve earned it.
Holmes: Handsome challenge studs have played before, Malcolm.
Freberg: Yeah, but my short answer is; Probst new favorite term is “Live Tribal Councils.”
Holmes: Meaning the vote hasn’t been decided yet.
Freberg: Meaning everyone is trying to figure it out in the moment. I think I can take the lion’s share of credit on that one. Throwing out idols at Tribal, I did that multiple times. And since then, once a season someone tries to pull something that I think I influenced. I think I’m the generator of live Tribal Councils. And that didn’t exist until I had some half-cocked idea to start waving idols around. Now it’s a mainstay.

Holmes: When I heard that subhead I looked around…
Freberg: Yeah, not everyone fits that description.
Holmes: But I wondered if maybe he thought these were people who were going to change their personal games.
Freberg: Oh…I imagine that’s the interpretation some people are going to have to go for. Because I can’t see Hali Ford saying she changed the game.
Holmes: She did jump all in with the naming of the Merica tribe.
Freberg: I take it back. That’s wonderful.
Holmes: She should have named it after her mother.
Freberg: That’s the hardest thing. When people find out you’re going back, they say, “Will you name the tribe after me?” Everybody wants me to do it. And I have like eighteen suitors for this thing.
Holmes: The name is always something like, “Oh, it’s the Fijian word for harmony.”
Freberg: I was going to go with “The Noble Warriors.”
Holmes: I want something like “The Thunder Fire All-Stars.”
Freberg: (Laughs)
Holmes: I just want to hear Probst say it.
Freberg: “Team Lightning Force Voltron.”
Holmes: I wonder if I bring it to all of you today, someone will remember it twenty days from now.
Freberg: “Holmes wanted it.”
Holmes: Anywho, back to the point of this, are you going to change your game?
Freberg: You have to if you’re 0 and 2. I think if you asked me right after the first times I played, I would’ve been defensive about people saying I was more social than strategic. I would’ve been defensive that my big moves were not always at the best time. But once you’ve had more distance and you’re more self-aware, you realize that I’m not the cold-hearted…I think I told you I was going to be like Brian Heidik.
Holmes: Oh yeah, before “Survivor: Philippines” you were telling me how you were going to be the biggest villain ever. And I was like…get outta here…you’re adorable.
Freberg: (Laughs) And that’s just not how it works out here. You can’t fake anything. You’re going to end up being who you are. Brad’s going to end up being Brad…unfortunately. So, now knowing that I’m a dominant social player who has a creative mind for strategy, rather than a dominant strategic player, I know that making a big flashy move at the wrong time isn’t the best strategy to play the game. That self-awareness has to be applied or we’re going to be commiserating on the phone about this. And you won’t break your string of not picking the winner, because you know who you have to pick.
Holmes: Everyone I pick to win “Survivor” loses. I can’t do that to you again.
Freberg: We’re going to do this together.
Holmes: I can’t have this on my conscience. You’re my favorite human being on this planet…and I’m a married man
Freberg: Let the record show that we’re spooning right now. We’re going to break this together. Or…you’re not going to pick me and I’m going to win and I’m going to laugh at you so hard. You’re not even going to get an exit interview. I’m just going to laugh for ten minutes.
Holmes: I hate your dumb face.
Freberg: (Laughs)

Holmes: Alright, what do you think of this cast?
Freberg: A lot of strong players, which is good for me. Camouflage…meat shields is Jeremy’s term for it…which is clever. There are a lot of people who fit the definition of “Bro.” And you remember the Three Amigos, I can bro-down when I need to. If I can get a lot of meat shields, it works well for me. It’s fun to have JT and Ozzy around. A couple of old legends.
Holmes: You don’t get as much credit for this as someone like Cochran, but you’re a “Survivor” geek. You know your stuff. So, to be out here with those guys has got to be cool.
Freberg: Oh yeah. These are the guys I grew up watching. I used to love JT. I never loved Ozzy, but I loved JT. And so you see people and you get excited. But, you see someone like Cirie, who you also liked as a strategist, and you remember what she wanted to do in “Heroes vs. Villains” where she wanted to get rid of targets early. I loved watching you on my TV, but you might be an early target for me.
Holmes: Who else are some early targets?
Freberg: Cirie and normal-sized Ciera.
Holmes: Classic Ciera.
Freberg: Yes, Ciera Classic. I loved watching her on TV. She swings for the fences. But when I see someone who’s like me and knowing that I wouldn’t want to play with me. So, she’s a target.

Holmes: Anyone you’re excited to align with?
Freberg: Caleb might be a fun one. He looks like a big old puppy dog. He’s only played for nine days, he’s never been to a Tribal Council. Of everyone out here he’s got the least experience. JT…he’s a good ol’ boy from the south. He’s every guy I went to high school with. And weirdly, if Brad Culpepper doesn’t hold my Power Rankings against me, he’s an ex-football guy and I’m an ex-football guy. I grew up with guys like that. I know how to make them happy. He could be my Phillip this year. Like with Stealth R Us…ow…hurts my heart to talk about it….
Holmes: What was your nickname again?
Freberg: I don’t talk about it. I’ve literally cauterized that part of my brain so I don’t think about. But, if I could get into that position with Brad, I’d do it. I know how to play a guy like that.

Holmes: You’ve played with Andrea before…
Freberg: Yeah, I voted for her a couple of times. She sat on my idol and got me booted. And it’s funny because outside of this we’re friendly. Inside of this we’re very mistrusting of each other. I tried to get her out many times in Caramoan. And she’s aware of my scheming. I’d imagine her alert is high.

Holmes: You were in the same position as Michaela and Zeke. They’re playing before anyone has had a chance to see their season. How do you handle them?
Freberg: That could be an easy early bond for me. Zeke looks like a little English villain and Michaela is really cute, really athletic. I have no idea what they did, so it’s a little bit of arm’s reach. But, if they’re wandering around and they don’t know who to go to, that could be a connection. “I’ve done exactly what you’re doing.” It’s a very easy way to start a conversation.

Holmes: We’ve got four people from Kaoh Rong.
Freberg: I know…it’s a little cringey in my book. There’s a couple of Brains, Aubry and Tai worked together. But, everyone knows to keep an eye on it. Nobody here is a dummy. In this case it’s a blessing because nobody is going to let them get away with it. I’m not going to sweat about it as much as you are in this heat.
Holmes: Joke is on you, smart guy. I can edit that little comment right out.

Holmes: Are you a part of any pre-season alliances? Is anyone dumb enough to hitch their wagon to you?
Freberg: (Laughs) It was very quiet. I didn’t reach out to anybody. I got a lot of messages, but I kept them at arm’s reach. When I was on Caramoan, I wasn’t contacted because nobody knew who I was beforehand. I was out of it. But I knew what happened afterwards. Here, I was expecting it to be like Caramoan with people calling at all hours, and from what I understand it didn’t happen. I’m hoping I’m not outside the loop.
Holmes: If you don’t know who the mark at the table is…it’s you.
Freberg: (Laughs) Exactly. That could be the situation. But, I’m hard to get rid of early. My reputation is likable, useful, rational.
Holmes: Well, that’s your reputation to your face.
Freberg: Exactly. That’s what I tell myself in the mirror every morning when I do my daily affirmation. So, I have to hope that if everyone is talking, I can float long enough to figure out what’s going on.

Holmes: People are always winking and smiling in the pre-game. Are you doing any of that?
Freberg: You have to. If you’re not doing that, you’re throwing the wrong signals. Poor Aubry, who I hope I like out there. I like Cochran a lot and she’s like Lady Cochran. She has resting bitch face. She sits there, she colors her coloring book, and she snarls at it. Not intentionally. But she is snarling.
Holmes: Extreme coloring.
Freberg: Just grinding that crayon into the paper. If you’re not smiling and winking then you’re setting yourself up for trouble because everyone else is doing it. But you have to find a balance so you’re not doing it too much.
Holmes: Who’s doing it too much?
Freberg: As you’d expect, Brad is the loudest person in pre-game. He’s yelling about his bags at the airport. Classic temper tantrum from Brad. Nobody else is talking like Brad is talking. Who knows what’s going through his head. I just assume his skull is three times the density of everyone else’s.

Holmes: I’ve been doing this for a long time. I think the highlight of my career as a
“Survivor” journalist was when you, Cochran and I were at Comic Con and the reporter from TMZ called Cochran…
Freberg: Colton! (Laughs)
Holmes: Has he given you any advice?
Freberg: Not advice, so much. I talk to Cochran, I talk to Denise. It’s not game advice so much as trying to be very positive.
Holmes: Denise is a sex therapist, is that why you’re calling her?
Freberg: No, I’m fine there. I can give you her number though.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you a reason someone might use to get rid of you. I need you to counter it.
Freberg: Got it.
Holmes: Malcolm has got some challenge skills. Let’s bounce him before he makes a run for it after the merge.
Freberg: Did you watch the end of Philippines? The ball was supposed to stay still for half an hour and two minutes into it it was a hundred feet above my head.
Holmes: Didn’t you get a second chance in that one?
Freberg: Yeah, and I lasted about thirty seconds.
Holmes: Oh, now who needs the sex therapist?
Freberg: (Laughs) Well played. But when it comes to the individual immunity challenges, I’m not Joe, I’m not Ozzy. I can’t stand in one place for a while. I’m not going to win the carnival games. I’m not that good. And I plan on Keyser Soze this thing. Maybe come up with a little limp early on.

Holmes: Malcolm’s way too crafty. He pulled that business with the two idols. Can’t trust him, let’s send him home now.
Freberg: I did pull a thing with two idols. But remember, I gave away my idols to save my alliance. I’ve gone all the way to the end with someone. I’ve rode and died…that doesn’t sound right.
Holmes: Rode and dode.
Freberg: I’ve rode and dode with the Three Amigos until I crashed and burned. When I have an idol, you’re going to be aided by that.

Holmes: Malcolm’s good at finding idols. I don’t want to worry about that. Let’s get rid of him.
Freberg: If that happens…there’s no defense for that. I’ve even thought if I do find it early, I’ll act really panicked like I can’t find it. If I’m not looking for it, they’ll assume I found it.

Holmes: If there is a twist, what could it be?
Freberg: I hate twists.
Holmes: Too bad. That’s not the game you signed up to play.
Freberg: Just have immunity idols. Swaps are always a problem. After a swap, I’m easy pickings. But, these days you have to count on it. Please no Redemption Island. I’m OK with Exile Island. Redemption Island, those aren’t the games I’m good at. They have to match for girls and guys, so it’s not speed or strength. I can do puzzles, but balancing and cards and holding a ball between your toes…I’m never going to win.

Holmes: I’ll give you a twist, you tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols?
Freberg: Awesome.

Holmes: Redemption Island?
Freberg: Awful.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Freberg: Awesome.
Holmes: Medallion of Power?
Freberg: Awful. (Laughs)
Holmes: Extra vote?
Freberg: Awesome because it never works out and makes me laugh.
Holmes: If you got it, would you just burn it?
Freberg: I wouldn’t burn it. I’ve thought about this. I think it’s better use is as leverage.
Holmes: Steal a vote?
Freberg: Awful.
Holmes: Eliminate a juror?
Freberg: Awesome. I loved that. I thought that was a fun twist.

Holmes: Alright, I have in my hand a deck of cards…
Freberg: It’s all games with you.
Holmes: It’s just gimmicks. I don’t have the energy to ask anything insightful.
Freberg: You just want to go run your challenge.
Holmes: You win eight challenges in a row, then you come talk to me.
Freberg: (Laughs)
Holmes: OK, I have seventeen cards in my hand. Everyone is in here except for you, Michaela, and Zeke. I left them out because we don’t know anything about them. I’ll hand you three cards at random. You tell me who you vote out first, who you work with and eventually eliminate, and who you take to the end.

Round One: Sierra, Caleb, and Ozzy
Freberg: We’ll get rid of Yeti Sierra. It’ll make me feel more confident because I won’t feel so short. Ozzy…align with him as a meat shield. And I’ll take Caleb to the end because how can you vote for a guy whose picture looks like that.

Round Two: Andrea, Ciera, and Sandra
Freberg: You get rid of normal-sized Ciera first because she’s too much like me. Sandra can come to the middle, but you can’t let her get too far because she’s going to win. Andrea to the end because I can outtalk Andrea. I won’t say that about everyone out here, but I can outtalk Andrea.

Round Three: Troyzan, Cirie, and Tai
Freberg: This is a good game. You’ve gotta go, Cirie out first. She’s a problem. Tai is my alliance. Even though I’d love to play with Tai and do a Penner/Lisa Whelchel situation because he’s so emotionally turbulent. And Troyzan at the end because I can’t see the jury awarding a man who amended his name for “Survivor.”
Holmes: Your final argument could be, “This guy takes pictures of women in bikinis for a living. He’s won enough.”
Freberg: He’s won life.

Round Four: Sarah, Brad, and Debbie
Freberg: I think Sarah first. She looks scared. Her eyes are always moving quickly, she doesn’t seem sure of herself. Everyone else I have a read on. Debbie…I’d team up with Debbie. I can play with Lady Coach. Brad to the end. His demeanor plus NFL money…he can’t win.

Round Five: Jeff, Tony, and Aubry
Freberg: I get rid of Jeff first. He was so all over the place last time. I’d like to play with Jeff, but with these cards… Aubry can’t go to the end again. We’ll align. I’m an inner-nerd and she’s 100% nerd. And Tony is a little scary, if I get to the end and it comes down to me and him, I’m more well-spoken.

Holmes: Alright, two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Hali and JT
Freberg: Hali to the end because JT’s has got that charm.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Ciera: “Day One I’m Going Zero to Sixty and I’m Staying at Sixty the Whole Way Through”

March 3, 2017

Ciera Eastin (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Ciera Eastin
Age: 27
Hometown: Salem, OR
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Blood vs. Water” – Finished 5th and Jury Member
“Survivor: Second Chance” – Finished 10th  and Jury Member
Best Known For: Voting out someone. I don’t remember who.

Gordon Holmes: We’ve been out here together three times in four years.
Ciera Eastin: That’s a lot.
Holmes: Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
Eastin: The game is really fresh in my mind and coming off a season like “Second Chance” that was so fast paced…I think it gives me an advantage. I think I’m a little ahead of the curve. I’m ready for anything. “Second Chances” went from two tribes to three tribe to two tribes to voting blocs…I think I’m the most prepared.

Holmes: You have a reputation as someone who won’t just sit back and let things happen. You’re always swinging. Is that something you can play into or do you have to hold back?
Eastin: This time I have to switch it up a little bit. I really want to learn from both seasons. And I think one thing I’ve learned is if you’re on the bottom you have to fight and fight and fight. That Ciera will never change. I’ll create my own destiny. What will change is I want to cater more…I tend to get too emotionally invested in one character or one way of thinking, and then I close doors. So, when that way of thinking is gone, like Kass, I was close with Kass. When she was voted out I looked around and all of these doors were closed. I hadn’t been working on those relationships. So, this time I want to make sure I’m spread all over. So, Ciera is everywhere. You’ll still see the same Ciera, I’m here to win. I’d rather go home first then end up in third.
Holmes: Ciera, just win the thing.
Eastin: I know!
Holmes: Quit (expletive deleted) around.
Eastin: (Laughs) I’m really focused this time!

Holmes: What’s your take on this whole Game Changers thing?
Eastin: I feel like it’s a season for me. I look at some of these people and I don’t see how they fit in as a game changer. I kind of embody that. I adapt. And I feel like this season the game is going to be constantly changing. The pressure is on and everyone wants to live up to that title. Who’s the ultimate game changer?
Holmes: “Second Chance” was big move after big move. And I don’t think everyone who made it to “Second Chance” was an all-star. I don’t think everyone here is an all-star. There’s got to be something about, “I’m lucky to have this chance. If I don’t swing for the fences I’m not going to get another one.” Is that something you can play against? They’re zigging so I need to zag?
Eastin: I think one of my strengths is reading people. And you’re right, there are people here who have something to prove. I think it’s navigating through it. It’s knowing when you want someone close to you and when they’re a liability. I’m not threatened by anyone out here. I don’t think anyone is a bigger player than I am. I’m so confident.
Holmes: You seem very zen.
Eastin: It’s the calm before the storm. I know we’re getting close, so I’m really reeling it in and getting ready to explode. Day one I’m going zero to sixty and I’m staying at sixty the whole way through.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Eastin: Besides “Blood vs. Water” this is my favorite cast.
Holmes: Well, you’re biased because your favorite player was on that season.
Eastin: (Laughs) That’s right. My favorite player. But this cast is amazing. Such a variety…all the winners…people I’ve never seen play, the two random players we haven’t seen. I have no preconceived ideas of how they’re going to play. The legends like Ozzy and Sandra? And then people I’ve played with like Jeff Varner and Brad Culpepper. Last time I was looking around and Vytas was the only person. But now I’m looking around like, “Damn all these winners and Ozzy and Cirie!”

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Eastin: I really like Tai. He is…
Holmes: Adorable?
Eastin: He is adorable. But I also think he’s malleable. I can use that to my advantage. I’d like to sit with him in the end because I can say, “Hey, I brought this guy here and he played a role for me. I was the caller of the shots.” When you’re aligned with an Ozzy or a Malcolm it’s hard for me to be like, “No, it was really me. Believe me.” With Tai it’s easier to believe. I love Andrea. But, I’m trying not to get too…girly. I got in with Kass and was linked with her and Katie Collins in my first season…I don’t want it to be like Ciera and Andrea. But, I do really like her.

Holmes: Any early targets?
Eastin: I would love to see someone like Tony go early. Maybe even Caleb. Somebody big. I want to start the season with a big message. Like, Tony won one season, but big deal. We’re all big players and you don’t have an advantage over all of us. Everyone is here to play so you’d better up your game. I don’t want to get rid of a Cirie or like an Aubry. Well, kind of…I don’t want to send a message of, “Let’s send the weaker people home,” because I fit into the weaker category. But, I’d like to see someone big go home first.

Holmes: You mentioned the new players. How do you deal with Michaela and Zeke?
Eastin: They need to go home really early. They say it’s better the devil you do know than the devil you don’t know. And I’m kind of going off of that. We saw on “Heroes vs. Villains” when Russell Hantz came in and nobody knew how he played. He was a great actor. He got to say, “I don’t know why I’m a villain.”
Holmes: That is a terrible Russell Hantz.
Eastin: (Laughs)
Holmes: It’s more like “I don’t know whyyyy I’m a villain.”
Eastin: That’s better. But they could pull the same thing. “I was America’s sweetheart, I was really true to my alliance.” So, I’d rather get rid of them.

Holmes: A fifth of this cast is from Kaoh Rong. How do you play that?
Eastin: I know Caleb and Tai are close. Aubry and Tai went to the end together. It’s not a relationship like me and Varner where we didn’t really meet until our finale. These are people who spent time together. The only reason it doesn’t scare me is I think people who play with first-time players are a little naïve to the game. I think they’re going to come in thinking they can fool us. No, we’re second and third time players. We know this is fast-paced, so buckle up. I think they’re at a disadvantage with those relationships. They’re going to be early targets.

Holmes: You and Brad Culpepper were on the same tribe in “Blood vs. Water.” What’s your relationship like now?
Eastin: I hope I can work with Brad. I really do. I’m so iffy on him. I’m not sure if he’s going to want to work with me.

Note: At this point, a CBS representative and Jeff Varner walk by.

Holmes: Let’s hold up.
Eastin: Yeah, I definitely don’t want him hearing what I have to say.
Holmes: He does have pretty eyes though.
Eastin: Oh…he’s just handsome in general.
Holmes: I interviewed him in Cambodia and didn’t notice. I never thought I’d be flirting with Jeff Varner.
Eastin: (Laughs) You end up doing the craziest things out here.
Holmes: OK, back to Culpepper.
Eastin: We worked really well together on our tribe. We got along fine. The only reason he went home was because of that Caleb vote. And that wasn’t by my means. I’d love to work with him. I think he’d be great to work with. Not only does he have (expletive deleted) tons of money, he’s also not the smartest guy and he can rub people the wrong way. But, I have to feel it out because I haven’t talked to him in a long time.

Holmes: Alright, let’s make sure you’re ready for this game. I’m going to give you a reason someone might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to counter it. I’d hate for you to get caught by surprise.
Eastin: I appreciate that.
Holmes: Can’t trust Ciera. She voted out the woman that brought her into this world. Let’s get rid of her ASAP.
Eastin: That was dedication to my alliance. At that time my mom was on Redemption Island and I was part of a five-person alliance. I wanted to show that alliance how loyal I really was. I don’t think that was me being disloyal. And my mom knew she was going home. And she loves me no matter what, so don’t worry about us.

Holmes: Ciera is fearless. She could’ve hung out for a few more days, but she chose to pull rocks rather than coast. I want someone that’s going to follow my lead.
Eastin: I love that argument. I am like that. But, I want to play that way with you. I want me and you…you’re my person. I’ll fight tooth and nail to get us to the end. We’ll be the final three. And you pick the third person.
Holmes: So generous.
Eastin: But, I’ll make sure we get there.

Holmes: I don’t want to go to Tribal early and Ciera is not the strongest challenge competitor.
Eastin: I love that one. And that’s the one that worries me. But, I want you to know that if you can help me out early on, you’re going to be a big target after the merge. Everybody is going to be looking at you and trying to get you out. I can protect you. You take care of me now, I’ll take care of you later.

Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-season alliances in returnee seasons. Are you talking to anyone?
Eastin: I’ve definitely talked to a bunch of people. I really tried to stay away from, “Me and you to the end,” or “I don’t like so-and-so.” It’s been very generic. “I’m excited to see you.” I think Andrea is the one I’ve talked to the most, and I think she thinks we’ll work together. But, I’m not tied to any one decision.
Holmes: Have you heard of anyone else?
Eastin: Just the obvious ones like Tai and Caleb. Tai was just at Caleb’s wedding. Tony and Sarah are close. But nothing I’m not used to. And honestly, pre-gaming doesn’t get you far. You could be on different tribes.

Holmes: Is anyone trying to communicate during this pre-game lockdown?
Eastin: Troyzan is a total talker. And Brad Culpepper, his first season, the guy couldn’t keep his mouth shut. But, this time he’s being really good. I can see improvement in his game in that aspect. He’s very self-aware. I’m impressed. I smile at people when they smile at me. I don’t want to give anyone a reason to think I’m with someone.

Eastin: Are we going to play “Align or Malign”?
Holmes: Kinda. I hold in my hand a deck of cards. In this deck are your seventeen opponents. Michaela and Zeke have been left out because we don’t know anything about them. I’ll hand you three cards at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll align with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end. It’s basically next-level “Align or Malign.”
Eastin: Sweet! I like it better. Way to step up your game.
Holmes: The game evolves and so do I…and my gimmicks.
Eastin: (Laughs)

Round One: Tai, JT, and Hali
Eastin: First out is JT. I don’t want to make a Stephen Fishbach mistake. I don’t want to take the good guy to the end. He can charm a jury. He’s a good old country guy. And he’s already won. But, I think the jury will give someone a million dollars twice. Look at Sandra. I’ll align with Hali. I don’t want to take her to the end. She’s a sweet, likable girl. We’re competing for the same spot. She has a lot to prove because nobody remembers her. I’ll take Tai to the end because I can manipulate him and call his shots. And I think I’m a better speaker than him. I’d kill him. Murder him.
Holmes: So violent.
Eastin: Yes.

Round Two: Brad, Caleb, and Ozzy
Eastin: Caleb early. I want him gone early. I played with a “Big Brother” guy and he actually won “Big Brother.” And, I want to make a big statement early. Ozzy I’ll work with. He doesn’t seem socially savvy. I think he plays an old-school loyalty game and I like that in someone I’m aligning with. And I’ll take Brad to the end. Nobody wants to give someone who’s rich a million dollars. And he’s cocky and rubs people the wrong way.

Round Three: Sandra, Sarah, and Troyzan
Eastin: Sandra early. She can win for a third time. She has a personality that people don’t think she’s playing. She’ll go wherever the tide is going, so I can’t rely on her. She’d throw me under the bus. I’ll align with Sarah. I don’t know much about her. I’ll take Troyzan to the end for the same reason as Brad. He plays the opposite role. He has a lot of money. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Round Four: Debbie, Jeff, and Sierra
Eastin: Debbie goes first. She reminds me of Monica Culpepper in the sense that she’s not very socially in it…if that makes sense. And, she’ll be someone that somebody wants to float to the end rather than myself. She needs to go. I’d align with Sierra…I love Sierra. I don’t want to sit next to her. And there can’t be two Sierras for too long. And then, I’ll take Varner to the end…out of these. But, he scares me. But, these are the cards I have.
Holmes: You have to play the cards you’re dealt, Ciera. In “Survivor” and in life.
Eastin: Thanks, Dad.

Round Five: Malcolm, Tony, and Aubry
Eastin: This is a hard one. Oh shoot…I’ll get rid of Tony first because I want to make an early statement and he’s kind of crazy and obnoxious. I’d align with Aubry, but coming off a season where she made it to the end says a lot for her. I don’t want to sit next to her. And I guess I’ll take Malcolm to the end…even though I wouldn’t want to. We play such opposite roles. So, I might have a shot in that regard.

Holmes: OK, we have two left so give me an old-school align or malign.

Round Six: Andrea and Cirie
Eastin: I malign Cirie. She’s too old-school for me. They don’t like the strategy talk. They like to shut it down. I don’t work that way. And I’ll align with Andrea because our brains work the same and we like the same people. And, I think I can trust her.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

‘Survivor’ Caleb: “I Feel Like I’m the Most Loyal Player on this Season”

March 2, 2017

Caleb Reynolds (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Caleb Reynolds
Age: 28
Hometown: Hopkinsville, KY
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Kaoh Rong” – Medically Evacuated
Best Known For: The first person to play a second time who didn’t attend Tribal Council his first time.

Gordon Holmes: I understand you’re now a married man. Congratulations.
Caleb Reynolds: Thank you. I married my best friend.
Holmes: Does it feel different?
Reynolds: We walked a straight line. We didn’t live together, even when we were engaged. We waited until marriage. About eight months before we got married we made the commitment to not have sex until we got married. We committed that to one another. Those things are different. I get to sleep at the house and I get to cuddle with her. I get to spend all night with her. We get to have the intimate moments with each other and not have to worry about that sin in the back of my mind. Or my mom yelling at us or her mom yelling at us. That’s pretty much the big difference.
Holmes: I got married last August and…
Reynolds: Nice!
Holmes: Thank you. But I assumed it would just be kind of like super dating. This is the person I date forever. But, it’s very different. Every decision I make takes two people into account.
Reynolds: Yeah. The big difference is I have never put anyone on my bank account. When I put my wife on it…wow…she has access to everything.
Holmes: Yeah, I own a house in Delaware that I’ve been trying to sell, and now she owns a house in Delaware. You’ve got this partner in everything. It’s awesome.
Reynolds: Yeah, now it’s two of you talking through everything. Heck, I can’t even buy cologne without her feedback. Or like buying a car, I’m the one saying yes, she’s the one saying no.
Holmes: Is she the one winning?
Reynolds: Yes! I don’t think I’ve grasped that just tell her she’s right stuff. Everyone tells me, “Just tell her she’s right.” That “Happy wife, happy life,” stuff. I just have a hard time being like that.
Holmes: Like “Survivor,” you need to pick your battles.

Holmes: I’ve been coming here since “Survivor: Gabon” and we run a lot of challenges. For my money, digging is the most exhausting thing. I think that’s because you don’t know where it ends. If I’m running to a post, I know how much I’ll have to push to get there. Is there any fear of pushing yourself too hard again?
Reynolds: Yeah, I guess in the back of my mind a little. In a way, that’s a good quality. That’s just me. When I’m out here I want to be myself. I just want to win. I think everyone does. There’s going to be come a point in time where I realize I can kill myself. I almost lost my life that time because I wanted to push that hard. But, in the heat of the moment you don’t think. I think the big thing from me is separating reward challenges from immunity.

Holmes: What was your first impression when Jeff told you the theme was Game Changers?
Reynolds: Oh man, I thought to myself, “Why am I that? What have I done?” Many of these people, they know why. The winners, they know why. People who made big moves, they know why. I was just nice to everybody. I treated everyone with respect. I worked around camp and I busted my butt in challenges. We had interviews with Jeff and he explained it as, “There’s only been one of me on this show in the history of ‘Survivor.’” He said, “We’ve never had someone go out leaving it all at the challenge. And you did that at every challenge. That’s why you’re a game changer.” So, I just accept it.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on this cast?
Reynolds: We’ve got some great winners. We’ve got one or two winners who I don’t think should have gotten the title. And we’ve got a few people who I think should have gotten it.
Holmes: Who shouldn’t have won?
Reynolds: I think Sandra. In “Heroes vs. Villains” when she was playing with Russell Hantz and “Boston” Rob, it should’ve been Russell Hantz. She floated through, she may have done something here or there. She didn’t win any challenges, but the jury was so bitter. They were so mad at Russell that they gave it to her. And I know Russell Hantz, so I want to ask her, “What makes you a game changer?”
Holmes: Did Russell give you any advice?
Reynolds: He just reached out to me and said he liked my character. He told me some people that he thinks I can trust. The ones that he’s played with that stabbed people in the back. He gave me his opinions on each one of them. He loves Tai and thinks we should stay close even though people are going to want to separate us. But he didn’t give me any gameplay advice. I haven’t watched “Survivor” from way back. So, the people he spoke to me about, I said, “I don’t know anything about them,” and he gave me some tips. But heck, I wish I had more info.

Holmes: Anyone you’re hoping to work with?
Reynolds: Maybe Sarah, she’s a really strong girl. She was faithful to the people she gave her word to like Tony. She kept that on her badge, that means something to her. When she says, “I swear on my badge,” she meant it. And of course Tony didn’t. You can’t play this game alone and if you play with all the guys it’s going to get picked up really quick. As far as the guys, possibly Ozzy or Malcolm. They’re strong, physical players like me. I think two or three strong competitors can go a long way. Heck, I might make an alliance called “The Athletes” at the merge and win them all.
Holmes: I’ve always said the one thing “Big Brother” does better than “Survivor” is the naming of alliances.
Reynolds: I might pull one of those up this season.
Holmes: The Bomb Squad.
Reynolds: That’s right! All of us pretty much made it to the end except for Devin because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
Holmes: Anyone else you want to work with?
Reynolds: Cirie, she might be the best strategic player to ever play this game. So, with that being said, I’m not the biggest strategic player. But, I bring some cards to the table. I think we could get together. I’ve heard she likes me. She likes that I’m a veteran. I think I’ll reach out to her and let her be the strategic mind.

Holmes: You’re one of four Kaoh Rong people out here. Does that work to your advantage? Does it put a target on your back?
Reynolds: Tai’s my buddy and everyone knows that. He was at my wedding. I went out so early with the heat stroke that not a lot of people realize what I’m capable of. And I think that unknown is better than what is known about a lot of these people. Everyone that’s playing right now they’ve shown their cards, they’ve stabbed people in the back. I think I have one of the smaller targets.

Holmes: We don’t know anything about Michaela and Zeke. How do you approach them?
Reynolds: Neither one of them looks physical. Which for me kind of scares me because that’s needed at the beginning of the game. Yeah, you’ve got to set up your pawns right, but all of that is unnecessary if you’re not winning challenges. So, if they’re not bringing much to the challenges, they may get picked off early.

Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-game alliances in returnee seasons. Have you done any of that?
Reynolds: As far as calling people…a couple of people have reached out to me. And I just said, “Sounds good.” I didn’t get to play much last time and the last thing I want to do is jump the gun and align with people I don’t know.
Holmes: Who reached out to you?
Reynolds: Am I supposed to say?
Holmes: Nobody’s going to see this until January, so it won’t hurt your game.
Reynolds: Sandra, go figure. Andrea…and Sierra Dawn. They all heard we were playing again. And I’ll say this, they didn’t pre-game with me. Sandra did. But the thing they said was, “If you got the call, let’s chat.” That’s the last time I heard from any of them. But, I was really surprised. I figured a lot of people would. I feel like I’m the most loyal player on this season.

Holmes: You’re under lockdown, but people smile and wink at each other. Have you been doing any of that?
Reynolds: Oh man…Brad Culpepper winked at me. Troyzan did a little thumbs up thing. I think that’s it. I winked back and gave a thumbs up back. I play the game. But I don’t know any of these people. Well, Tai. Of course I wink at Tai. We do everything.

Holmes: Alright, I came up with some reasons people might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to defend yourself.
Reynolds: Oh, OK.
Holmes: Caleb almost died in Kaoh Rong. He’s going to have a lot of people’s sympathy if he gets to the end.
Reynolds: I’m definitely not going to get sympathy. I did that to myself. I pushed myself harder than anyone there. I think as far as challenges, you don’t want to get rid of me early. I’ll get you to the merge.

Holmes: There are four people from Kaoh Rong here. There’s no way they’re not working together. Let’s trim their numbers and get rid of Caleb.
Reynolds: Two of those people were in the end of the game. And if you don’t think they can get there again, you’re mistaken. Tai stabbed his own alliance in the back more than once. He’s a flip flopper, you can’t trust him. And Aubry, she’s probably one of the smartest people here. And Debbie, you’ve got a fruit loop there. You’re not going to find anyone that’s more loyal and as physically fit as me.

Holmes: Caleb is a challenge machine. I don’t want him to go on a winning streak after the merge.
Reynolds: Getting to the merge is the first thing you’ve gotta do. Why would you get rid of the person you need the most this early? If you have to get rid of me at the merge, I understand. But right now I’m an asset. And it’s true, I am a challenge beast, but you also have Malcolm, Ozzy, JT, Troyzan and others. Ozzy has won five out of six. Go after him first. I’m not even that big of a threat. Last time I was in a challenge I ended up under IVs.
Holmes: You probably never had to defend yourself in Kaoh Rong because you never went to a Tribal.
Reynolds: No. Not once.

Holmes: Any guesses for possible twists?
Reynolds: Um…heck man…you never know. They may throw in Redemption Island. There may be three tribes, two tribes…they may have a final two, they may have a final four. In “Big Brother” they throw in something different every year. It could be anything. I’d like a loved one visit with a lot of people.
Holmes: More than one loved one per person?
Reynolds: No, with more people left in the game. That gives me a better shot at seeing my wife.
Holmes: She’d love Fiji.
Reynolds: She would!

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards featuring your opponents. Well, everyone except Zeke and Michaela because we don’t know them yet. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who gets voted out first, who you’ll work with but eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Ciera, Ozzy, and Troyzan
Reynolds: I’ll work with Troyzan he’s kind of a cool guy. He seems down to Earth. And, he’s a strong guy. And I don’t think people would think we would work together. Ciera, I’ll vote her out because I don’t know her and because she’s a girl. The last thing I want is an all-girl alliance. And on this cast there are quite a few who have tried to start one. Ozzy to the end. Let’s he and I win every single immunity challenge.
Holmes: How do you beat him at the end?
Reynolds: Because I set up the alliance.

Round Two: JT, Sandra, and Debbie
Reynolds: Sandra, I want to vote her out. Watching her season, she’s just kind of rude. She’s just a mean person. She threw Russell’s hat in the fire. That’s someone’s personal property. That’s too far. I’ll go to the end with Debbie. She’s an easy beat when we get there. Her standing next to me with her trying to tell the jury why she should win, I don’t think it’ll hold a candle to why I should win. And I’ll work with JT. He’s a country boy, I’d think two country boys can stick together. And he’s a good physical challenger.

Round Three: Brad, Jeff, and Sarah
Reynolds: I’ll send Varner home. I don’t have a reason, a big reason. I didn’t watch his season. I don’t know him. But, I know he didn’t make the merge either time. Maybe he doesn’t bring a lot to camp and doesn’t bring much to challenges. I’ll take Sarah to the end. I know she’s loyal. She’s a police officer, so I can benefit from that with me being a veteran. We both wore uniforms. We have something in common. I’ll work with Brad. He’s another strong guy. He works at camp. And I know he’s cool with veterans. I’ll show him a little southern hospitality and win his heart over.

Round Four: Andrea, Malcolm, and Cirie
Reynolds: I’ll work with Malcolm because he’s like me. He’s a likable guy, he has a great personality, he’s funny. I think he and I will click well. He’s a strong physical player. I’d get him to a certain point, but he’d be a tough person to beat. I’ll take Cirie to the end. She’ll be hard to beat. She’s the best strategic person we have. She’s likable. And if you win her heart, she’ll be loyal to a fault. You can hide under her wing while she’s putting all the pieces down. She’ll protect you. And I’ll vote out Andrea because she’s gotta go. The times I’ve watched her, she seems like a snake in the grass. I think it’s her way or the highway. She’s always attracted to the good-looking guys. She’ll snuggle with them and try to win them over, and if you don’t buy into that, you’ve gotta go.

Round Five: Tai, Hali, and Aubry
Reynolds: I’ll take Tai to the end. He’s just a good soul. He deserves to be there. He fought his way last time, he started working on day one. And we were talking about voting him out on day three. It doesn’t matter if the palm tree is a thousand feet tall, he’ll get to the top to get you coconuts. And I think he’ll be loyal to me. Our personal connection trumps everyone else out here. I’ll work with Aubry. We’ve played before and going in, maybe I could have that advantage over everyone else. She was pretty much loyal to the people she was loyal to. She’s the type that guns for strategic players first. I don’t think she’d see me as a threat. I’ll vote out Hali because she’s sort of in the ballpark of Andrea. She’s down with all-girl alliances. She’s down to go against the guys.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: Tony and Sierra
Reynolds: Oh man…these are tough ones. I’ll work with Tony, he needs a safehouse. He’s got a big target on his back. I believe that he’s going to be looking for a home. I think he’ll try to stay as close as he can to those people. I’ll vote out Sierra because I see her with the all-girl stuff. I hear her saying, “Yeah, girl” and staring at the girls. On Instagram I see her at the reality events and I know she’s friends with everyone. I know this is a game, but a relationship outside of the game makes it hard to cut someone’s neck.

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

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