Next Time is back! This is a blog all about decoding previews and commercials in order to predict what’s coming next on Survivor.
As always, this blog is 100% spoiler free speculation, and I look forward to reading your predictions as well. Comment below or tweet me @JacobDerwin!
Part One: Drop Your Buffs! That was fast!
Somewhat expectedly, our two game-changing tribes are getting swapped and switched around. And thanks to the clips in the “next time” teaser and commercial spot, we can figure out who is on one of those tribes, and confirm that there will be, in fact, three tribes. Here is who will be on the new Nuku, or, blue tribe.
On a personal note: I adore this tribe configuration. Pre-Game Changers, players like Malcolm, Sandra, and JT, were some of my all-time favorites. To see them all on a six-person tribe with three other fantastic personalities makes my nerdy heart very happy.
Since we don’t know who the other tribes are made up of, it’s difficult to determine who has the edge in the coming challenges and who will have the smoothest or most trying social atmosphere. If the new Mana tribe has Caleb, Ozzy, and Brad, for example, they’re going to be hard to beat. That said, there’s no need to speculate without evidence, so I’ll leave that alone for now.
Not only was the new Nuku tribe the only one revealed, but its players also made up most of the preview materials. Outside of a shot of an idol clue and Probst’s “Drop your buffs,” all the time in the teasers is dedicated to JT’s idol hunting strategy, goat hunting and ethical decisions about goat slaughtering, all on Nuku beach. I assume we’ll get ample time to learn about the interpersonal dynamics on each tribe, but with such dramatic events as JT actually catching a goat and abandoning his tribe on a raft to go idol hunting, I expect most of this week’s episode to be focused on Nuku. Possibly concluding in a tribal council.
Let’s go into some more discussion about JT in our next section.
Part 2: A JT With Something to Prove
JT has quite the chip on his shoulder. Despite a perfect victory in his first season, he seems to have spent more time internally reliving his memorably disastrous play in Heroes vs. Villains. And I don’t totally blame him! JT is a competitor. The guy likes to win. I still clearly remember the Tocantins slingshot challenge in which he lost a tooth in the process of almost single-handedly bringing his tribe to victory. It must suck to come back, ready to become the first two-time winner, and then lose in a blunder because of Russell Hantz.
It’s this motivation to prove that he can play the modern game as well as anybody that has worried me regarding JT’s chances. Don’t get me wrong, the raft scene in the commercial is incredible, and I’m very excited to see if JT can find an idol clue after he sets his tribe a sail. Despite being original and hilarious, it’s an awfully obvious ploy. JT is already a target, being a former winner, charming Southern boy and strong challenge competitor. Dramatic scenes like this could act as a final catalyst for his tribe to take him out.
It also appears that JT actually somehow managed to catch one of the wild goats seen roaming around the campsite. Having been a cattle rancher, I doubt JT has any real problem with slaughtering the goat and providing the meat for his tribe. But, in the preview, we see Varner talking to his tribe in regards to whether he’s willing to kill the goat. “I’m hungry but I can’t.”
On top of all the other focus on JT, I’m worried that his attempt to provide considerable sustenance may come across to other players as brutish or too intense. I can absolutely see a scenario where the people who want to kill the goat and those who don’t end up socially dividing themselves within the tribe. It may be an all-star season, but any opportunity someone can take to put another player on the chopping block will be taken. Maybe instead of JT, Varner will be in trouble for putting his own squeamishness above the group’s hunger.
Frankly, I don’t think they’ll kill the goat. I think they’ll find enough reasons (sanitation, squeamishness, morals, general discomfort with blood or death) to spare its life. I also think this will be to the detriment of JT’s status on the tribe.
Part Three: A Tidbit On Idols
According to the previews, someone on the new green tribe is going to find a clue to a hidden immunity idol placed skillfully at the next immunity challenge. Obviously, we didn’t get to see the face of the clue finder, but the hands holding the parchment look male and rugged to me. My guess is that Ozzy found it while climbing a tree.
Probst mentioned in the preseason press that production would constantly be changing up the look of the idols, as well as the locations and ways in which they are obtained. My hope is that there is variety, but that the producers don’t get super carried away with hidden advantages for the sake of making the game extra complicated.
For example, Sierra found the new-and-improved Legacy Advantage, but I would argue that it’s nearly useless. The note attached to it implies that the merge is coming at 13, which is a nice bit of information to have, but one-time free immunity at one of two specific moments makes for a potentially unnecessary advantage depending on who’s holding onto it. It also makes for really boring prediction blog posts because, well, she’ll either play it at 13 or six. Or she’ll pass it on to someone else who will. Woohoo!
Don’t get me wrong; it’s better than only being able to use it at one moment in the game, but not by much. Hopefully, there aren’t too much more advantage-centric twists on their way to over complicate an already very complicated game.
Part Four: Who’s Gonna Win, Gonna Win, Gonna Win?
For this season’s blog, I’m deciding to add a new section dedicated to winner picks and final tribal council predictions. There’s a lot of speculation about these things, often using the power of Edgic or looking for editor hints. I’m not gonna do any of that. I’m simply looking at the cast and determining who I think has the best shot of making it to the end based on their strategic, social and physical chops, and how they prove those chops during the season. Maybe with a dash of how the show is presenting them. I welcome your winner picks as well and look forward to discussing them!
For the first blog of the season, I’m going to keep it simple. My original winner pick still looks great to me, so I’ll stick with him. I think this is Malcolm’s season to lose. With so many huge threats all around him, even without Tony, Malcolm will consistently have the ability to hide in plain sight. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a really smart, charming dude who almost saved the Mana tribe from tribal council in the last moments of the second immunity challenge last week.
That said, I also liked how Andrea and Hali were framed in the two-hour premiere, and think they could end up playing a major role in the story arc of the season. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter! Hit me up @JacobDerwin.
Part Five: Wrap-Up
A three-tribe switch-up is incoming, and the new Nuku has the coolest group of people ever.
The new Nuku tribe will catch, but not kill a goat. The goat hunting in tangent with JT’s “abandon ship” plan to find an idol, will put him in hot water with the tribe.
Whoever finds the clue to the immunity challenge hidden idol will absolutely go and grab it during the challenge.
It’s hard to predict who will be going home as we don’t know the new alignments for two tribes, nor did we see what anyone outside of Nuku was doing. Based solely on the previews, I would guess that JT will be voted out, but that feels like too obvious a pick.
Malcolm will win Survivor: Game Changers.