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Survivor: Heroes, Healers, Hustlers Cast Assessment (Part 1)


The Inside Survivor contributors draft their teams and assess the castaways for the upcoming season.

With less than one week to go until the season premiere of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers on September 27, four of Inside Survivor’s contributors got together to assess the castaways about to battle it out for the $1 million prize and the title of Sole Survivor.

The four contributors taking part in the draft assessment are:

Austin Smith: one of our Australian Survivor recappers who will also be providing episode reviews for Survivor HHH.
Rob Brodeur: Inside Survivor’s resident Stat man who will once again be on hand this season to deliver all the latest statistics following each episode.
Tillie Reilly: new to Inside Survivor, Tillie will be taking over Jacob Derwin’s Next Time On Survivor feature this season.
Martin Holmes: that’s me! Owner of Inside Survivor. As always I will be analyzing the edit this season in our weekly Edgic feature, as well as recapping the episodes over at YahooTV.

Taking turns in a snake draft, going in alphabetical order, Austin, Martin, Rob, and Tillie picked their winner candidates, big characters and personal favorites to assemble their teams. As Rob and Tillie were last to pick, they each received a fifth player for their team. Read on to hear their first impressions, deeper thoughts and predictions for the first eight castaways…

AUSTIN’S FIRST PICK
BEN DRIEBERGEN
LEVU TRIBE (HEROES)
MARINE | 34 | BOISE, ID

BenFirst Impression: Charming, affable, strong, non-threatening, enviable moustache.

Dig Deep! Ben had me charmed from the get-go. He’s a tough guy who’s lived and learned a lot, yet also a gentle soul with a bellowing laugh. His time in the military, Iraq and his recovery from war have clearly shaped his outlook, but even his stories about everything from a drive-through wedding to the rocking soundtrack to his son’s birth hints at a guy who has seen it all. There’s a maturity about Ben that could be a calming presence in his tribe, particularly with the husbands, wives, and parents of the group; but also a goofier, dopey side that will charm the younger players. Even if he gets saddled with leadership, he’s inoffensive enough to avoid making enemies. Nobody is going to want to get rid of Ben early, and that gives him a huge advantage.

The question is whether he can translate that advantage into a victory. Ben seems smarter than his heavily inked, country boy appearance might let on, but even though he raises the spectre of aggressive strategists like Russell Hantz and Boston Rob, I expect that he’ll play a far more subdued and friendly game. Nevertheless, I think he could surprise his fellow castaways with a ruthless streak lurking under that big dopey grin.

Why He’s Team Austin: I’ve got a good hunch about this Driebergen. Ben is a well-rounded and extremely likable player with the strength, determination, and motivation to hit the beach and get it done. I’m confident that he’ll be underestimated as just a loyal soldier or a country bumpkin, and it could give him the room to play. He’s definitely in the running for my winner pick, and that’s why he’s my first pick off the board.

MARTIN’S FIRST PICK
CHRISSY HOFBECK
LEVU TRIBE (HEROES)
ACTUARY | 46 | LEBANON TOWNSHIP, NJ

Chrissy

First Impression: Super mum and secret badass.

Dig Deep! As an actuary I expect Chrissy to exploit numbers-loopholes while avoiding the pitfalls of Brad Culpepper maths. But it’s not just her intelligence that I think is going to serve her well, Chrissy also seems very sociable and perhaps even unassuming. Judging by the first impressions section in her Hollywood Reporter interview, her fellow castmembers see her as “super sweet” and “the mother type.” For those reasons, I can see people gravitating towards her which will allow her to build bonds and trust early. Obviously, there can be disadvantages for the “mother” archetype – as Chrissy points out herself, “There are very few winners over 40.” But I see Chrissy as more of a Denise than a Dawn, someone that will be able to keep her emotions in check while playing a strong social and strategic game.

Why She’s Team Martin: Chrissy has high potential of winning this season or at least making a deep run. She’s starting on a tribe which will likely dominate in challenges and seems personable enough to form allies easily and clever enough to recognize when to make a move.

ROB’S FIRST PICK
COLE MEDDERS
SOKO TRIBE (HEALERS)
WILDERNESS THERAPY GUIDE | 25 | LITTLE ROCK, AK

Cole

First Impression: Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Dig Deep! Cole has got a lot going for him. Not only is he good looking and charming, but he’s physically fit, very level-headed, and just gives off good vibes. I have a feeling he’s going to be the challenge beast of this season and could single-handedly help his tribe stay far away from Tribal Council as long as possible. Overall, I think the Healers tribe is probably going to be the best original tribe this season, with very few weak links and a lot of strong players. Of everyone on the cast, Cole’s the one that I can most see winning, and as much as I try, I can’t pick out a negative thing about him. I think if anything, his physicality and friendly personality could be a downside, but only very late in the game, where he could be voted out as a jury threat.

Why He’s Team Rob: I think he has a very good shot at being not only a great character but someone that could make a very deep run in the game, which is why he was not only my first pick but also my winner pick.

TILLIE’S FIRST PICK
ROARK LUSKIN
SOKO TRIBE (HEALERS)
SOCIAL WORKER | 27 | SANTA MONICA, CA

Roark

First Impression: How do you say her name? Row-ark or Rork?

Dig Deep! Roark is the character who I’m most excited to see this season. She’s super sarcastic and quirky and has ‘all the fixins’ of an absolutely fun character and person to be around and watch this season. I predict her being a fan favorite. She describes herself like a combo of Sophie Clarke and Courtney Yates, which is pretty accurate. She has the humor like Courtney but brains like Sophie. She’s competitive, bossy, and likes to take charge – three qualities of a player who is not going to ride someone’s coattails to the end. She works with children as a school therapist and to do that you have to have really good social skills. Her strategy is to “insidiously” bring people down throughout the game, which is a scary way to put it. I think she is definitely one to watch this season.

Why She’s Team Tillie: Main reason? She compared herself to the infamous Courtney Yates. And it’s not like some people who compared themselves to players like Russell Hantz when they’re more like Russell Swan. I can honestly see similarities between Roark and Courtney. Overall, I believe she is going to play a really smart, analytical game. I think everyone will love her and want to align with her. I predict Roark will go really deep by playing ‘insidiously’ but towards the end, she will have to hope that nobody starts to catch on.

PickPete

TILLIE’S SECOND PICK
RYAN ULRICH
YAWA TRIBE (HUSTLERS)
BELLHOP | 23 | NORTH ARLINGTON, NJ

Ryan

First Impression: Crouch Jr.’s doppelganger from Harry Potter.

Dig Deep! Ryan is the nerd who listed ‘watching sports’ as his hobby. Ryan may not be the most physical on the cast, but he has a lot of things going for him. He’s extremely self-aware and has great social skills. He interned for both houses of Congress and the British Consulate which obviously points to him being pretty intelligent and probably even one of the smartest on this cast – minus the guy who got a doctorate in urine… but even that is questionable. Ryan is a small guy, which goes for him and against him. He may be a liability to his tribe if they lose, but by being a small guy, he may not be seen as a threat early on either. Ryan is definitely an interesting character that I’m excited to watch.

Why He’s Team Tillie: Last year I was dead set on thinking David was going out first and as the season progressed, he surprised the heck out of me. Ryan gives me the same vibes as David gave me but I feel as if Ryan has more set up for him going in this game being more sociable than David. I predict that if Ryan manages to slide past the Hustlers first Tribal unnamed as a potential target, he will make a run for everyone’s money in the game.

ROB’S SECOND PICK
JESSICA JOHNSTON
SOKO TRIBE (HEALERS)
NURSE PRACTITIONER | 29 | LOUISVILLE, KY

Jessica

First Impression: She seems very sweet and down to earth.

Dig Deep! I believe that Jessica will be the female counterpart to Cole. She’s strong, friendly,  and ready to play the game hard. If the Healers do end up losing pre-merge challenges (which I highly doubt they will), she will more than likely be low on the list to vote out with outcasts like Mike or big threats like Joe being higher on the pecking order. Jessica seems as though she will easily integrate with anybody she ends up on a tribe with, whether it be her starting tribe, a swapped tribe, or the merged tribe. Like Cole, I could see her only speed bump being that she’s physical and extremely likable, thus making her a threat to win near the end.

Why She’s Team Rob: She’s probably one of the most well-rounded females on the cast. I can see her doing very well in this season.

MARTIN’S SECOND PICK
DESI WILLIAMS
SOKO TRIBE (HEALERS)
PHYSICAL THERAPIST | 27 | NEWPORT NEWS, VA

Desi

First Impression: Triple Quadruple threat!

Dig Deep! On paper, Desi seems to have it all: smart, strong physically, stunning looks, and socially aware. She also has the most welcoming smile and an engaging presence which already seems to be winning over her castmates in pre-game Ponderosa. The worry is that she might be too threatening and therefore targeted as the merge approaches or just after. But if she can form a tight alliance early it could be enough to take her deep into the game. Desi is a higher achiever in both academic pursuits and physical competition, so I expect her to be able to use her brain when she has to and likewise pull out a challenge win when her neck is on the line. Being so in charge in her daily life might make her seek control in situations when she should just lay back, but I have faith that she will recognize when to be the passenger and when to be the Desi-gnated driver (wah wah!).

Why She’s Team Martin: Desi has such incredible upside that I had to pick her for my team. Maybe she will be too much of a threat to make it to Final Tribal Council, but if she doesn’t make the merge I’d be very surprised.

AUSTIN’S SECOND PICK
SIMONE NGUYEN
YAWA TRIBE (HUSTLERS)
DIVERSITY ADVOCATE | 25 | NEW YORK, NY

Simone

First Impression: Intense. Perceptive. Definitely not going to let ‘fetch’ happen.

Dig Deep! If we were to pigeon-hole the castaways at this point (which let’s be honest is totally what we’re doing), Simone certainly seems to be cast in the role of the Mean Girl. In her jaw-dropping observations of her fellow castaways recorded through Josh Wigler’s pre-game press, Simone has been aggressively harsh and judgmental. However, she’s not been entirely off-base in her assessments. Simone is witty, smart and perceptive, and such traits could serve her well in the game.

The question is whether her tribe will see her snark, or whether she’ll be able to save the cutting remarks for confessional soundbites whilst playing the innocent little sister in camp. If she’s able to hide the harsher side, she could have a lot of success in the game, but my fear is that Simone’s intensity will not be able to be contained.  There’s definitely first boot downside with a player as extreme as Simone, but given she’s on the Hustlers tribe, which seems ripe for chaos and in-fighting, she might be just able to weasel her way in.

Why She’s Team Austin: Whether it’s an early exit or a deep run, Simone is going to make her mark on the season. Unfiltered and divisive personalities often struggle to gain the social influence needed to pull out a victory, but there’s high Courtney Yates upside for an entertaining villain to emerge, and that’s good enough for me.  That said, I would have no qualms with seeing a Nguyenner’s Edit either.

Check back tomorrow for Part Two of our draft and assessment of the remaining ten castaways!


Martin is a 29-year-old writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing, and recaps/reviews TV shows, currently for Yahoo TV and ET Canada. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. When not writing Martin can usually be found attending Wrestlemania events.