Survivor 42 - pre-finale thoughts
This season of Survivor is almost over and as I feared early on, I couldn’t find the time to write about it. How did I manage to write weekly about Survivor back in the day?
However, today, I do have time for a few thoughts and a few words about it just before Survivor 42 season finale.
First and foremost, I think that the consensus is that it was an amazing season. If I was to rank all the seasons one day, there’s a good chance that this one would be in my Top Five. Probably next to Heroes Vs Villains, David Vs Goliath, Micronesia, and Tocantins. (yes, this is probably my top five, in no particular order)
What made this season so good is the cast. It was a stellar cast, really.
Note to Jeff Probst: it’s almost always the cast that makes a season good or bad, never the number of twists.
In retrospect, I think that almost any of these 18 contestants winning the season would have been a satisfying winner one way or the other. Even now, this final five is one of the best final five ever. Whoever wins, the winner will be a deserving one.
And because it’s all about the cast, and if you know my way of writing about Survivor, I also write about the players and mostly the players.
So let’s do that.
A few words about each player this season.
Jackson Fox: He seemed so promising. I really loved everything about what we saw of him. And I’m sad about the whole situation. What exactly happened, we’ll never know, but I’m afraid that he wasn’t totally honest about his medication and he probably thought that he could get away with it. I also think production had no choice (because of Covid restrictions? because of no alternate on-site?) but to let him start the season fully knowing they’d had to pull him out of the game two days in. I don’t know if he’ll get a second chance. I want to see him actually play. Not sure production will ever allow it.
Zach Wurtenberger: I’m sad he left so early. He seemed like a pretty awesome guy. Oh well, we still have him on social media where he’s quite hilarious. (wait, I thought he was on Twitter but I can’t find him anymore… I hope the toxic crowd didn’t make him flee. I’m hearing he’s on TikTok, but I’m not using it)
Marya Sherron: She seems like a great person, but I’m not sure if she was there for the “right” reasons. I mean, yes, they probably were the right reasons for herself, but probably not for the audience. Yes, she needed such an experience, but was Survivor better than just going away on a faraway island for a little while? Not sure. Of course, there’s a lot we didn’t see, there’s always a lot we didn’t see. Maybe she was there to play and it’s just not the story we were shown?
Jenny Kim: She had the potential to go really far. Social, level-headed, and likable. And the victim of a crazy tribal council too. I’m always sad when such players leave pre-merge, but that’s part of the game.
Swati Goel: I think that there are two Survivor “rules” that are not talked about enough.
Don’t play too hard too fast if you don’t have to.
Don’t underestimate your tribemates.
She did both. She was voted pre-merge.
Daniel Strunk: I wish Daniel had lasted longer, but he was just too all over the place for this. He was a great character. Too bad he didn’t last. However, to be honest, I’m afraid that if he had lasted longer, he would have brought a bit too much chaos and I’m not sure if the season would have been as good with more chaos.
Lydia Meredith: Her confessionals were great. She’s hilarious on social media. But the truth is that she didn’t have much of an impact on the game. Oh well, at least now, we can follow her on Twitter.
Chanelle Howell: Honestly, I’m not sure if I understood Chanelle. I just can’t figure out if she was just a train wreck of a player (like the one time she lost her vote because… what was she thinking?) or if she actually had a strategy. Yes “what is she thinking?” was my own thought most of the time I was watching her play.
Rocksroy Bailey: He seems like a great guy. Not exactly a great player, though. He belongs to Survivor of the early 2000s, not the early 2020s… He would have done great in the Australian Outback or Africa.
Tori Meehan: She had the potential to be the new Angelina, and she delivered most of the time. I love a villain like her that you can’t really dislike because they’re so funny at the same time, although often unwillingly, and they’re not a bad person either. I’m hearing she’s actually very likable and a great therapist when she’s not playing a crazy game on a deserted island.
Hai Giang: He was a bit of a frustrating player. Great strategist, and an interesting character overall. A guy you want to root for, but he was too controlling to be able to make it to the end.
Drea Wheeler: She’s one of those players that I really love watching, that I’m kinda rooting for, but at the same time, I’m not sure if I would like them in real life (yes, I always ask myself this question when I start getting invested in a player). She played an amazing game though, and if she hadn’t made the fatal mistake of trusting Omar, she could have won.
Omar Zaheer: Omar, Omar, Omar… You could have won that thing… Or could you? That’s a problem many great players have been facing over the years. At some point, they become too good and they get noticed and they get voted out before reaching the end because they’ll win for sure otherwise. Omar is the latest victim of that trend, although, he almost pulled it. He managed to keep most of his shenanigans under the radar and he would have possibly gotten away with it if it was not for this meddling kid… Maryanne… (more on her later) Still, Omar clearly was the “star” of this season, and he’s pretty much a lock-in for the next All-Stars (but he’ll have a gigantic target on his back).
The Final Five
I’m listing them here according to their chances to win… in my opinion.
Romeo Escobar: What happened to Romeo? He seemed more or less in control of his tribe before the merge, and he became such a non-factor after the merge that he’s been seen as expendable by pretty much everyone since. I never really seemed to know who the target was, he always was the backup plan in case an idol was played. Why? I feel that we’re not seeing something. It’s a shame because I like him and early on, I thought he’d be a threat to win this game. Now, he’s pretty much sure to be the third member of the final three, the one no one has questions for and who gets zero votes in the end.
Jonathan Young: He’s an interesting player. He seems that he’s the stereotypical muscle man, except that he also has a social game, he seems to be liked by most of the cast. Sure, things were a bit better for him pre-merge. I think the lack of food is really getting to him. Or could it just be that, at first, we were not being shown flaws that were there all along? You know which ones: his terrible strategic skills, a possibly complicated relationship with women (have you noticed how he never listens to their ideas?), getting defensive when racial issues occur (the tribal where both Drea and Maryanne had to play their idol), etc. So, yeah, he’s much better and more likable than most “challenge beasts” but he’s not perfect, far from it. Also, I don’t really see a situation where he can win. He can get Rocksroy and Mike (if he’s not in the final three) votes, but beyond them, I’m not sure who else would be willing to vote for him to win.
Concerning the next three ones, I’m really not sure in what order to put them, as I feel it will be very close. I don’t imagine the three of them being in the final three (one spot is pretty much reserved for Romeo), but it could be the closest final council if they were.
Mike Turner: Out of the three, I think Mike has fewer chances to win, and I say that solely based on his edit. I have to be careful with that. The way the show is edited has changed quite a bit since Season 41. For example, the winner edits clearly were Drea and Omar this season, and look where they are. I thought that Tori and Daniel would be the biggest characters, and they both left early (Tori lasted long enough, but her character was less “over the top” after the merge). So yes, Mike has been one of the main characters this season, he probably had the most screen time out of the five remaining players. But he also often was depicted a bit negatively. Not as a villain, but you know… Sometimes being played by people, these kinds of things we don’t usually see with winners… Also, I’m not sure what his “winner story” can be. That an older man playing with integrity can win the game too? I mean, don’t get me wrong, he can win and he’ll sure win against Romeo and Jonathan, but I think both Maryanne and Lindsey beat him in the end.
And now…. And now, it’s really a toss-up. I think that either Maryanne or Lindsey will win, but I really can’t tell who… And I love it… So often the winner was easy to predict just before the season finale… I love that it’s not the case at all this season.
Lindsay Dolashewich: Maybe she has fewer chances to win than Maryanne, solely based on the fact that she was not a prominent character at all before the merge. Sure, Erica wasn’t last season either and Survivor has a history of not knowing how to properly edit its female winners who don’t have a flashy game. But a flashy game she kinda had after the merge. She was a challenge beast (she probably would have won most of them if Jonathan wasn’t there), she was part of most conversations that mattered, she seems well-liked by everyone, and she had a very positive edit overall. So, yes, winner material. She has to make it to the final three, though. Can she?
Maryanne Oketch: It’s really hard to judge Maryanne objectively. She has had such an over-the-top edit, but… she seems to have an over-the-top personality. It would have been easy to edit her as simply that. However, she also has a “complex personality” edit (damn, I tried not to talk in Edgic terms, but I can’t help it, sorry). And it was overall very positive. Now the question is whether she has the résumé to win and if the jury will respect her gameplay. Sure, Omar’s ousting was one of the best, sneakiest and smartest moves in the history of the show, but apart from that she rarely was a deciding factor in the other votes. She even was a target or at least a decoy target a few times. Never a good position to be in. However, she managed to find advantages. Her playing her immunity idol, so that no one thinks she’s playing the race card commands respect. She’s the first person who uses an extra vote in an impactful way, and she still has a hidden immunity idol that’s actually hidden and that no one knows about. When she plays it at the final five tribal, there will be some impressed people on the jury.
Yes, I think that she’ll win if she makes it to the end, unless Lindsey is in the final three too, and in that case, it’s a toss-up between the two of them.
So yeah, that’s pretty much it for this season finale preview. And probably it for this season too unless something happens in the finale that I can’t remain quiet about.
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Also, don’t hesitate to tell me who you think will win and why in the comments.