The Eyes– Survivor: Palau Cast Pre-Analysis

And so we begin! SURVIVOR: PALAU is only one week away, and I am anticipating an exciting season.

According to Jeff Probst, the primary theme for this season is war. As I’m sure most of you know by now from watching the previews, Palau was a famous battleground site during WWII. Relics from the war still remain scattered throughout the jungles of the island. Basically, Palau is an island of history. Not to mention many people consider it to be the 8th natural wonder of the world.

This is quite obviously the PERFECT Survivor locale. And war is the perfect theme for a game like Survivor. Jeff has told us that some of these relics will serve as backdrops for numerous challenges, which are supposedly much more physical. They will also help decorate this season’s Tribal Council set. (The voting urn is an old ammunition box! How cool is that?)

However, all of this is blown out of the water by what appears to be the “big twist” we have been promised.

From what I understand through the articles I have read in magazines like TV Guide and the previews I have seen on television, this new crop of castaways will be abandoned quite literally. Jeff has said that he will talk to them for approximately 20 seconds, and then take off. You’re on your own. No division into tribes, just all 20 of them left on the beach to fend for themselves.

Does this mean they’re all one merged tribe competing in individual challenges? Boy, I hope so! This would be such an interesting thing to see play out, especially since this is a twist I’ve used before, and have wanted to use and experiment with more publicly. (If anyone is familiar with my work at the old Survivor-Central, they will be familiar with my summer project Canary Islands. I almost pulled this twist on the castaways there before I decided against it.) So, I’m really looking forward to see it all play out for real!

However, I am not going to make any assumptions. The twist could actually be something quite different, but one big tribe right at the beginning would be a lot of fun!

So, we have a great theme, a perfect location, and what looks to be an interesting and dynamic cast. Now do you see why I am extremely excited about getting this season underway?

Before we can do that, of course, I need to offer you my personal (and more often than not flawed) pre-analysis of the new castaways.

Now, once again, for those of you who read my previous columns for other seasons, you will know that I am usually pretty inaccurate in my predictions. I have learned that I will never again make a chart that lists in which episode each person will get voted out. Why? I attempted, just for laughs, such a chart before Pearl Islands.

I got the laughs I wanted, all right. I chose Lill and Sandra as the first two people voted off. Laughs, shame, whatever you want to call it.

I’ve learned my lesson. For each season following that, and now for this one, all I have done is offer you my impressions of each person one by one. Where exactly will they fall? Your guess is as good as mine, especially since I absolutely despise spoilers. I enjoy the element of surprise. Then, at the end of the season, we can all gather around and laugh about how horribly inaccurate Patrick was when he made his pre-season predictions!

Or, who knows? Maybe we’ll all be patting me on the shoulder for a job accurately done.

Who am I kidding?

So, anyways, I always like to divide my predictions based on who is in what tribe. Um, problem!

They’re all, as of right now, in one tribe. And there’s 20 of them. I’m sorry, but I do have a life beyond writing this column, and if I was to put all 20 of them into this one column, we’d be here until next week.

So, I decided to divide my predictions by talking about the 10 men this week and the 10 women next week. It’s called compromise.

So, without further ado, we shall begin:

BOBBY JON DRINKARD— The first thing I notice right off the bat is that this cast is full of very young, good-looking people. Very few “older” people. Bobby Jon is the type of guy who will use charm on all the young ladies. And in this cast, he’s got plenty to choose from. However, I saw a preview where he states that he is a very religious individual who plays that way. He describes himself in his CBS bio as being “determined, bold, and righteous.” He’s going to have to learn to play dirty real fast if he wants to win this game. Only one openly religious person has won this game before, but by no means did she get to the million by living up to the values she preached. This is just a game, and I hope Bobby Jon can overcome his morals and be willing to separate game from life. If he can’t, then he’s doomed. If he can, then his charm and looks should bode well for him in this type of younger cast. We’ll have to see how he does.

COBY ARCHA— If you read his CBS bio, you’ll realize that this is a guy with a hard past. He apparently had some very rough teenage years, between dropping out of high school and being jailed for numerous offenses. Now, naturally, that has no bearing whatsoever on the kind of person he is today, because he says those same experiences forced him to make a conscious decision to turn his life around, which he says he feels he succeeded. Now, this can, however, have an impact on the type of player he is. It would make sense that a difficult past would help toughen you up. And if you’re a bit of a tougher person, you’d handle the island conditions very well. Adversity helps contribute to growth, as well. According to Jeff, Coby gets you laughing as soon as he walks into a room. This could be a natural consequence of his teenage years. Jeff also says that because he’s around people so much as a hairstylist, he has a good read on people. If all this holds up, I think Coby can do well in this type of game. He’s already faced the worst kind of adversity: he’s already faced (and conquered) himself.

GREGG CAREY— Reading his CBS bio, nothing really jumps out at me as being out of the ordinary, such as what jumps out of Coby’s bio. He just seems like your average Joe, which every season of Survivor has. These people are always big question marks for me. He kind of reminds me of Pearl Islands’ Burton Roberts. If the castaways start off as one tribe, he could be taken out early for being physical. Or, maybe he’s super-good at strategy and won’t be eliminated. He’s one of the ones I’ll have to wait and see in action before I make any additional judgments on how well he’ll fare in Palau.

IAN ROSENBERGER— Now this guys seems instantly likeable. He’s wearing a huge smile in his picture that automatically draws you too him and you want to get to know him better and become friends. He’s a dolphin trainer, so maybe he’s a parallel to the dolphins he trains. Dolphins are always happy. They’re energetic and they’re fun to be around. Ian seems like the type of person who people will find difficult to vote off the island, just because he’s so darn likeable. However, if he wants to win, there needs to be some strategy in there, too. We’ll see if he has it. If he does, he might have a pretty good shot at winning.

IBREHEM RAHMAN— He seems like a genuinely nice guy. He’s the only minority person in the entire cast, with the exception of Jolanda. I can see the two of them hitting it off right away as friends. (Hopefully not Ted/Ghandia-style friends, but friends and possibly even allies). He also mentions in his CBS bio that two of his hobbies are eating and cooking. If he can cook, then he could make himself a valuable asset to his tribe. We’ll see how he does. (BTW, good luck to anyone who does cast a vote either for or against him in spelling his name right!)

JAMES MILLER— He is a self-proclaimed redneck. He has stated quite clearly in the previews that he will be the first redneck to win this show. The closest any redneck has come to winning is Sue Hawk in Borneo, coming in fourth. Now, if he does get voted off, I hope it’s during the Jury phase, because if he has even a trace of Sue Hawk inside of him, we can look forward to seeing him shred the Final Two to pieces! He should be an interesting character to watch unfold, so stay tuned to this channel!

JEFF WILSON— I told you, this cast is full of younger people! This kind of eliminates the pretense that young strong guys will be knocked out right away in an individual game because there’s so many of them! Jeff seems like quite an active individual, but like some of the other younger guys, I don’t get any vibe as to his strategic capabilities. Physical prowess is great for this game, but you need strategic thinking abilities most of all. This is another question mark for me until I see him in action on the show.

JONATHAN LIBBY— Yet another young guy! However, Jonathan is different than the others because something jumped right out at me when I was reading his CBS bio, something that gives me a little more to work with in terms of predictions. Jonathan was diagnosed with and survived earlier in 2004 testicular cancer. He is only 23 years old, and he has conquered one of the biggest obstacles in anyone’s life when they are diagnosed with it. He’s one of those Survivor contestants who doesn’t need the million bucks to be called “Survivor.” I think he will do very well because he is a young, strong guy in a predominantly young, strong cast and has proven that he is one determined son-of-a-gun who has what it takes to do the impossible and overcome obstacles.

TOM WESTON— As Jeff Probst put it, there is no way this guy is going to be the villain of this season. He’s an NYC firefighter and a father, which makes him a true-life hero. He has the advantage of being one of the older men, which gives him more experience than some of these young kids who could easily end up coming out to Palau for a party. The disadvantage to that, of course, is that he is surrounded by a LOT of younger guys and girls who could possibly align with each other and take out the older ones. Plus, because he is a real-life hero, he is also the type of person you don’t want to make the Final Two because he’ll blow the vote right out of the water. He is the type of person who is Final Two Kryptonite, and in a game that is largely decided by numbers, I believe he has his work cut out for him. But I wish him the best of luck.

WILLARD SMITH— He is the oldest guy on the cast by far at 57 (Tom is in second at 41…quite the jump). That does not, however, by any means prove he can’t do this. Quite the contrary. He has a lot of life experiences that some of these younger guys can’t bring to the table…..according to his CBS bio, he contracted rheumatic fever when he was five and spent the early years of his life in a wheelchair. He has been in the service, worked as a postal worker, and is now a lawyer. The most intriguing piece of information I gleaned from a TV Guide feature article on Survivor is that Willard plans to tell everybody that he is still a postal worker. BRILLIANT. Why? Because if he hides the fact he is a lawyer, then he can surprise everyone at the final Tribal Council if he makes it that far by being incredibly adept at arguing his case. If he reveals that, the others could view that as a threat and/or become much more aware of any arguments he makes at camp and chalk it up to his back-round. By making them think he is still a postal worker, it allows him to fly a little more under the radar and hide his true abilities. Watch out for Willard, he could be an early male favorite of mine to be the winner. (Notice I said COULD BE…this is what is called insurance for when he is the first person voted off. ;))

So there you have it. The 10 males who will be competing for the million bucks on SURVIVOR: PALAU in just one short week.

Next week, it’s on to the females!

“See” you next week!