Which 20 Survivor Second Chance contestants do I want to return to play? Here is my answer, which I’ll warn you is probably unsatisfying. It reveals things about the way I watch and engage with the show that I’m not necessarily proud of, but that are most definitely true.
I’ll admit right now that this is an irrational list. I’m not weighing objective criteria or trying to act like casting would and assemble the best group of players. There are several reasons for that:
- I recognize but do not remember the majority of those on the list. I don’t have a terrific memory when it related to things that happened on individual episodes years ago, nor can I even remember everyone who appeared on the show last fall. Just seven of the non-S30 cast are people who truly stand out to me: I can remember their actions and/or game play, and those aren’t always positive memories (Culpepper, ahem).
- When I looked at those I did remember and those I did not, I realized that they are not, as Jeff Probst tried to claim, “a group of really good players who didn’t last in the game long enough to warrant being put on an all-star type of season.” Many of them made it very far. They aren’t a group of people who got screwed, either. Some made bad choices; some were victims of twists in the game. It is, ultimately, an odd list.
- With five options from season 30, I realized I do not want to see any of them back in the fall. With all due respect to all of them, I’m done with Survivor Worlds Apart and have no interest in rehashing it again this fall. Yet I found it impossible to construct a list of 10 women and 10 men without them.
- I chose way too many people from recent seasons because their game play is fresh to me. I am ashamed. I am a recency bias hypocrite.
- This list is not a prediction; there are people I left off who I’m pretty confident will be voted in by the masses (e.g. Joe).
- I didn’t watch their pleas before assembling this list because I didn’t want to be affected by their storylines.
- Selection 10 men and 10 women was so hard.
With those disclaimers aside, here’s one more: I’m breaking my list into three parts because I just cannot commit.
The top 10
These are the people that I chose immediately. It dismays me that so much of even this list is from recent seasons, but they really are people I would like to see play again.
- Kelly Wiglesworth, Survivor Borneo. Unquestionably number one. In season one of Survivor, she established a certain way to play the game that lost–by one vote!–to the now-standard way to play the game.
- Jeff Varner, Survivor: The Australian Outback. Jeff’s mostly on my list because he’s from season two and I’d rather have that whole cast return than season 30, because I think it’d be more interesting to watch them play the game again.
- Kimmi Kappenberg, Survivor: The Australian Outback. Ditto.
- Andrew Savage, Survivor Pearl Islands. He was screwed by the outcasts challenge, which is pretty universally reviled for good reasons. He deserves a chance to re-play the game, even if it means having to suffer through Probst’s inexplicably over-the-top Culepperish love of him.
- Peih-Gee Law, Survivor: China. Without recalling specifics, I remembered that Peih-Gee fought very hard against what turned out to be a strong, dominant alliance led by Todd. A+ for fighters on earlier seasons.
- Stephen Fishbach, Survivor: Tocantins. I’ve been a fan of Stephen’s since I first met him. Since he’s become a Survivor pundit recently, I think it’d be interesting to see his ideas put to the test. Also, I’d rather see him play Survivor than write about it.
- Woo Hwang, Survivor: Cagayan. Whether it was his niceness or his naivete that screwed him over, I’m fascinated to see if he’ll play a more ruthless game next time.
- Ciera Eastin, Survivor: Blood vs. Water. I’d love to see how Ciera plays without her mom, with all due respect to Laura.
- Kass McQuillen, Survivor: Cagayan. Kass is interesting, smart, and has a bonus wicked sense of humor. She’s either volatile or more willing to take chances than most, and I’m in for both of those things.
- Spencer Bledsoe, Survivor: Cagayan. Another smart player, and smart players go to the front of the line.
4 early season free passes
These are people from early seasons who I honestly didn’t remember, sometimes even after I looked them up. But since they appeared on early seasons and weren’t that memorable, it’s kind of like getting brand-new players. Also, all had moments or extended streaks of strong game play, so I’m down with them getting second chances.
- Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper, Survivor: Africa
- Terry Deitz, Survivor: Panama
- Monica Padilla, Survivor: Samoa
- Shane Powers, Survivor Panama. Almost excluded for being so much of a jerk on his first season that he was up for the Heroes vs. Villains spot that Russell Hantz took. But he had a little redemption at the end and he’s also no Russell Hantz. Or Culpepper.
The Oh, Okay, Fine 6
My reluctance here is mostly because of how recently they appeared on the show, but they seemed like better choices than the others.
- Tasha Fox, Survivor: Cagayan
- Jeremy Collins, Survivor: San Juan del Sur
- Kelley Wentworth, Survivor: San Juan Del Sur
- Vytas Baskauskas, Survivor: Blood vs. Water
- Shirin Oskooi, Survivor: Worlds Apart. She’s admitted in exit interviews that her enthusiasm trumped her early game, yet she impressively managed to stick around and fought a good fight against the awful people. I’d be glad to give her $1 million just to shred and sprinkle over Will and Dan’s heads at the reunion. So, yes, give Shirin a second chance.
- Max Dawson, Survivor: Worlds Apart. A presumably smart player who didn’t show it at all. Whether that was the editing or not, he gets a second chance from me. I met Max when I visited his Survivor class and discovered then that he’s the kind of Survivor super-fan I’ll never be but who should get another chance to test whether or not knowledge of the game–and knowledge of his mistakes–can translate into results.
Done. Phew. That was seriously difficult. You may now proceed to tear apart my choices.