CBS has officially announced the castaways for the next season of Survivor, Caramoan Fans vs. Favourites 2. The announcement includes both the returning players and the new competitors. The fan group seems to be a diverse bunch, and hopefully, we've got some great personalities like last season. But the fact is that I don't know who they are, and so I can't have much of an opinion until the season starts.
I do know all the returning castaways. Or "favourites" as the season would have us to believe. But I think it is best to keep the word "favourites" in quotation marks. I mean, really CBS, these were the characters you considered "favourites"? I was always under the impression this word means you really liked something, and that this something usually stands out. You'd think that the majority of the players would at least have almost won the vote in the player of the season thing they hold. There are some players that were liked, but for the most part, it is players from only a few seasons and not really too many players that captured the viewers' imagination.
Despite that, here are my thoughts on each returning player.
Andrea Boehlke (Redemption Island): She was responsible for sending Matt off to Redemption Island, and the only person on her tribe that even contemplated voting off Rob. But she failed, and didn't end up doing anything too memorable. She showed some small moments of strategy and she is a threat in challenges. If she can join a strong alliance, I am sure she will go deep again.
Brandon Hantz (South Pacific): I realize we didn't need Russell back for a fourth season. This really isn't the Hantz we were looking for. The only plus side of Brandon is the potential for a meltdown again. There is also a strong chance he'll just keep thinking of great moves, but then feel guilty right before implementing them, over and over again.
Brenda Lowe (Nicaragua): The best part of her season, and it was a bummer she went out as the third tribal council member. This is one of the players I'm looking forward to seeing again, because she was incredibly strategic and was willing to play a deceptive game. Plus she is pretty, or at least will be until about 10 days straight of no bathing. Hopefully, this time around she will learn that she needs to scramble and fight when her head is on the chopping block. She is one of the early favourite to go far, and out of the returning players, definitely one of the best all-around players.
Corinne Kaplan (Gabon): In this case, "favourite" means hated villain that was a bitch to half the cast of her season. I love villains, but Corinne wasn't really even strategic. She was just cruel. She also has the huge downside of not having anyone else from her season, and likely having a personality that will rub people the wrong way. At least, there is a good chance there will be a few fireworks before she is sent packing. She'll also be a stronger player than Abi, at least.
Dawn Meehan (South Pacific): If this was a real "favourites" tribe, there is no way there would ever be more than one player from South Pacific. It wasn't that great of a season. I'm guessing they wanted the kind and older lady character, but you could get that from several different seasons. Dawn has the advantage of actually being really strong at challenges, but I don't remember her really being strategic. She is likable, and could sneak into a strong alliance, especially since there are a few players from her season.
Erik Reichenbach (Micronesia - Fans vs. Favourites): Last time, he was a fan. He also is immortalized as the player that maybe did the stupidest move ever in Survivor history, or at least until JT handed his idol over to Russell. Hopefully, Erik has learned you don't trust an alliance that is against you, and he'll try to actually make some big moves this time. He was another person great at challenges, but he also has the disadvantage of being from the earliest season of the group and not having any clear allies right off the bat.
Francesca Hogi (Redemption Island): How can the first person voted off a season ever be considered a favourite? We had one episode to get to know anything about her. The only memorable thing was that Phillip couldn't pronounce her name.
John Cochran (South Pacific): I really liked Cochran for the first few episodes of his season. Then he spent most of his remaining time whining about how he didn't want to get voted out and it wasn't fair that people wouldn't keep him around even if he sucks at challenges. I don't want to fault the guy, because I'm sure my insecurities would jump out in a game like this too. He then made the biggest play of his season by double crossing his tribe, but then proceeded to do absolutely nothing after that huge move. He at least understands the game, and as a huge fan himself, I'm sure he really does want to do a memorable blindside or massive play.
Malcolm Freberg (Philippines): He was one of the highlights from what was an awesome season. He is fantastic at challenges and is an incredibly strategic player who wants to make big moves. He also has the advantage of being the only player from his tribe that no one saw play, because this was taped before Philippines aired. That could also be a detriment, since the same thing happened in Russell's second season, and so players may be more cautious in trusting the unknown player. He is also far more likable than Russell, and I think he should be able to get into a strong alliance.
Phillip Sheppard (Redemption Island): The Secret Agent had returned. You knew he'd be back eventually. He was one of the best things from his season. It had nothing to do with the game play, because he was horrible. The man was a nut job his season. The only way he has a chance to go deep is if a player decides they want to pull a Boston Rob and drag him alongside for the easy win. I hope Phillip sticks around, because he is one glorious train wreck.
These are the "favourites". Probably the most misleading title ever, even if there are a few who are legit beloved players like Malcolm and Brenda. I do appreciate that all these returning players are only coming back for a second time. But there are way too many players from the same season, and kind of disappointing they are almost all from relatively recent seasons. Speaking of recent seasons, why did One World completely get the shaft? No Troyzan love? It would have been nice if they picked players from a variety of seasons and a few from a little farther back. It is an interesting tribe and should create a unique dynamic. You already have a few players that won't get along like Francesca and Phillip (though they may unite since they could join Andrea as an alliance from their season).
It should be a fun season. The previous Fans vs. Favourites is one of the best ever, and really only ranks below Heroes vs. Villains for unpredictability and big plays/blindsides. I hope that repeats here.
What do you think about the returning players?