Last week, I offered you my pre-game analysis of the ten men who will be competing for the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollar prize on SURVIVOR: PALAU.
Today, it’s the women’s turn!
I’m going to jump right into it, and then afterwards, offer some general predictions on the cast as a whole, just in time for Thursday’s big premiere!
ANGIE JAKUSZ— Right off the bat, the biggest challenge you can see Angie needing to overcome is her obvious difference from the rest of her competitors. I’m not saying that differences are bad, but in our society, we tend to judge too quickly based on appearances. And, whether you like it or not, on SURVIVOR, you are creating and building your own little microcosm of society. Angie is definitely a stand-out because of the tattoos. Then again, so was Lex. However, if she is surrounded by people who conform to societal viewpoints, Angie could find herself isolated very quickly. However, if she has a strong character and a likeable aura about her, then she will be able to overcome her outward obstacles. I’m going to be very interested to see how Angie does, because I have a feeling her success will not be determined by her own personal skills, but by how well the others receive her. I wish her the best of luck!
ASHLEE ASHBY— Oh, no. A 22 year old Mormon female. Does that sound like anyone else to you? If you’re thinking about Marquesas’ Neleh, then you’re correct. If Ashlee is anything at all like Neleh, then hopefully, she will leave soon, because I was not a Neleh fan (no offense to her as a person of course). She’s not from Utah, though, so hopefully not a single “Oh, my heck” will be uttered from Ashlee’s mouth. If it does, I’m running away. On a more serious note, Ashlee does not give me a true “Neleh” vibe in terms of the blondness and the inability to play the game and defend it. I think Ashlee will have a more level head than Neleh about what it requires to play this game, and that does NOT involve offering the other players your breath mints.
CARYN GROEDEL— The instant I saw this woman’s picture, I liked her. She seems like a very nice lady, and even though she’s only 46, she is one of the older ones in a very young cast. I would say that she has an immediate disadvantage because of that, but that’s also what I said about Twila and Scout last season. If she becomes a mother figure and doesn’t push too hard, she can do very well for herself in Palau. If not, and ageism does indeed play a part within this group, then she’ll find herself going home earlier rather than later. I’m looking forward to seeing her in action, and hope for a relatively long stay for Caryn.
JANU TORNELL— Is she the first showgirl we’ve seen on this show? I think so, but don’t quote me. In a very young, attractive female cast, who will all probably try to use sex appeal as weapons in this game against all the younger men, Janu has an immediate advantage over the others because this is her profession. To top that off, she is also apparently intelligent, what with being fluent in four languages (French, Spanish, Italian, and English.) I don’t know what language they speak in Palau, but I see Janu having an early advantage. Why? Because if her biography speaks true, she has it all: looks AND brains. I think she has what it takes to do well in this game, barring she has any survival skills. No indication of that, but regardless, I see her doing well.
JENNIFER LYON— Jennifer comes across to me as being the sweetheart. She obviously adores kids, because she works with them all the time as a nanny. Her smile is warm and bright, and she seems like a very nice girl. However, this is a game where lying is a requirement if you want to do well, and hopefully, she’ll have what it takes to be sweet and hold a knife behind her back all at the same time.
JOLANDA JONES— Immediately, Jolanda is a favorite of mine. I can tell that she has what it takes to do well in this game. Why? Just read her CBS bio. You would not believe what this woman has overcome in her life. Her childhood is just riddled with painful experiences. Just to summarize, when she was very young, her father committed suicide when she was in the room with him. She became the primary caretaker of her siblings while her mother worked. Their house burned down, and they sometimes went without heat and electricity. Two uncles committed suicide, her aunt and brother were both murdered, and several family members are in jail and/or on welfare. Despite all of that, she has become a successful lawyer. Jolanda has exactly what she needs to do well in this game, simply because she has handled REAL adversity all throughout her life. 39 days starving on an island with 19 strangers won’t be anything compared to what she has been forced to endure. Jolanda is quite obviously a very resilient woman, and the fact that she is a lawyer only convinces me more she can do this, providing that side of her doesn’t overpower her better judgment. I see Jolanda doing very well in Palau.
KATIE GALLAGHER— Katie seems like another sweetheart, but unlike Jennifer, I see more of a gaming gleam in her eye. For crying out loud, the woman traveled cross country with nothing but a gas card! I can’t really say too much else about Katie except that I don’t really see her going home early.
KIMBERLY MULLEN— According to her CBS bio, she learned Arabic after September 11 to gain a better world view for her studies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Arabic is exactly an easy thing to pull off. This gives me a clear indication that Kimberly is intelligent and determined. She is also physically attractive, which gives her some definite advantages going into Palau.
STEPHENIE LAGROSSA— Just from looking at her picture, I get the feeling that Stephenie has a lot of spunk. I like her right off the bat, and think she will be a lot of fun to watch. I can’t really say too much about her, because nothing leaps out of her biography as incredibly unique like several of the others. All I can say for now is that I like her from the aura she gives off in her picture; further judgment will be reserved until we see her in action on the show.
WANDA SHIRK— Wanda is an immediate favorite of mine. Not necessarily because I think she will do well in this game (maybe she will, maybe she won’t), but I see a dynamic, interesting person who will be a lot of fun to watch. She’s an English teacher (the profession I want to go into) and she served as a foster parent to 25 children and exchange students from Norway, Germany, and the Ukraine. That shows a lot of patience on her part. Now, Jeff Probst has also said, and if you watched the Early Show cast announcement last month, you’ll know this is true, that Wanda has written numerous songs about SURVIVOR. And, she sings them. While this may become another Sonja with her ukulele, I think it will be a riot to hear some of these songs. She is the oldest female castaway (second oldest castaway period, second only to Willard), so again, she could be in trouble if all the young people band together to vote out the older people. However, even if she does get voted off, I think she will be a lot of fun to watch!
So, that does it for the entire 20 person cast of SURVIVOR: PALAU. Obviously, first impressions mean very little on this show, because all I have to work with right now are cast bios and photos. The show will bring to light a lot more information about these people, and their individual strategies. That will give me more insight as to who has the potential to do well and who does not.
REMEMBER: these are only preliminary reviews. I thought for sure in Vanuatu that Scout was going to be an early boot. They truly mean nothing, they are just mere tradition. I enjoy looking at the cast before the show starts, because it helps me get to know a little bit the names and faces of the new castaways. But who will really win in the end? Beats me.
One of the biggest complaints viewers had about Vanuatu was that the cast people were all very similar. There weren’t too many standouts. Granted, there were a couple, but very few.
This new crop of castaways, however, appears to be exactly the opposite. I’ve mentioned it before, and it’s obvious just by looking at the cast photo: this is the youngest cast we’ve ever seen. Will this become a battle of the ages? Possibly; in Vanuatu, the older men banded together to vote out the younger ones, which is what caused Chris to recover from his balance beam slip-up in the first episode. Will there be an opposite situation this time, with the younger people ruling the roost? It’s possible, but it also may not happen. I have no idea, and I can’t wait to see it play out.
Most importantly, however, there are some dynamic personalities coming out of this group. I will be looking for Willard’s “tell them I’m a postal worker” strategy. I’ll be watching for Wanda’s self-composed SURVIVOR songs.
I’ll be watching for people like Jonathan and Jolanda, who have overcome real-world adversity, to compete in this game.
The only real prediction I can make right now is that this season is going to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get it started.
Here are some of my early favorites going in:
When it comes to predicting a winner, I really can’t make a clear-cut decision. There are a lot of strong-willed, interesting people in this group that I think can do it. However, it’s a tradition for me to pick one person every episode. So, as I look at my list I made of favorite players, and look over the castaways one more time, I keep finding myself drawn to one person that I am going to pinpoint right now as the eventual winner of SURVIVOR: PALAU.
I am going to say that the tenth million dollar winner will be KATIE GALLAGHER. I’m getting some strong vibes from this one right now. Only time will tell if I’m correct or not.
“See” you next week and enjoy the premiere!!!!