During the pre-season, each contestant is asked several questions in their CBS bio to gather more information for the public to get to know them. The castaways are all primarily asked about their hobbies, pet peeves, accomplishments, why they think they will win Survivor, and which past Survivor players they’re most like. It’s that last question that is the focus of this new weekly feature.
After each player is voted out, I will compare their gameplay to the past Survivor player they mentioned they were most likely to play like. Then, based on that, see if they played like that particular past player, or if they didn’t, could that have helped them improve their overall placement in the game.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? I think I have the natural ability to lead a group to the end in the same way Kim Spradlin did, but I also realize she had a lot of luck and circumstance on her side during her first season. Kelley Wentworth is an example of how I will play if I find myself without such luck. I am scrappy and crafty and would be fighting up until the last minute to find idols and sway votes in the same way. I can also see myself playing a social and strategic game like Cirie Fields. People see me as caring and nurturing, so I will be afforded more room to subtly manipulate and push for my best interest without turning people against me. I’d also feel proud to play and grow in the same way that Sarah Lacina did across her seasons.
This “mergatory” was just the right amount of chaos the season needed, as half of the remaining players earned their merge buff by winning the immunity challenge. In contrast, the other half had to survive another vote to officially say they were in the next phase of the game.
As usual, when a player boasts about how great they’re doing, how it’s much easier than they thought it was going to be, or in this case, when they say, “I feel like I was made for Survivor…but I’m way better than I even thought,” the fans know that they’re practically announcing they’re promptly getting voted out. This case wasn’t the exception, as no sooner had Elie made this pronouncement, she was the last player voted out before the official combined merge began.
Early on, Elie was part of what seemed to be a solid all-women’s alliance alongside Morriah and Jeanine, the latter with whom Elie formed the strongest bond within Baka. Elie and her allies also considered working with Owen or Sami, opting for Sami and leaving Owen and Gabler on the outs. Baka then lost the first two challenges, and Gabler was sent to a Summit where he risked his vote for an immunity idol. With Gabler now protected, the target shifted to Owen, but Elie wanted to “keep the tribe strong,” and Baka proceeded to blindside Morriah unanimously.
As the days went on, Gabler and Elie’s differences kept driving a distance between them, which Sami used to pull Gabler closer to him, and to some extent, Owen as well, by proposing an all-men alliance. As Baka went on a winning streak, there was more time to ponder and scheme. Elie suspected Gabler didn’t know precisely how his idol worked, so she and Jeanine decided to look into his bag and see for themselves. Owen and Sami were aware of this and later told Gabler, who ultimately turned against the women.
Jeanine later discovered alongside Elie how to gain an immunity idol through the beware advantage. Jeanine managed to collect everyone’s beads, but she and Elie were caught by Owen when they were discussing no one would know about this. Elie later shared this information with Sami, believing he was a number for her. Sami also relayed this information to Gabler, putting the last two on edge when it came to the Jeanine and Elie duo.
Baka was safe again until the infamous “mergatory,” when all three tribes dropped their buffs and started coexisting. As it is with every merge, all players started gathering and collecting info that would help them advance, with Baka members seemingly in an alliance with Vesi’s former members.
Being on the losing team, Elie became an OTT player by working with Baka and Vesi members to split the votes between James and Cassidy while telling Coco to vote out Cody. Info started leaking that Elie was overplaying, and to add insult to injury, Gabler spilled that Elie had searched through his bag. As no one trusted Elie anymore, she became the main target, and while Jeanine tried to rally the original Baka in her favour, Elie was voted out in a 7-2-1-1 vote after Jeanine failed to play the idol for her.
In her exit interview with EW’s Dalton Ross, Elie confessed that her grip on the game slipped so much that even though she didn’t know for sure if Jeanine would play the idol for her, Elie was the one who told Jeanine not to use it, believing her plan to split votes between Coco and Vesi would work. Elie did have the complete package to go further in the game, as she had allies, especially a solid relationship with Jeanine, was good at challenges, and seemed to be the one calling the shots at Baka. However, her eagerness to play both sides at the beginning and at the final 13 cost her the long-term vision she needed to make the official merge.
Elie mentioned several players she would’ve liked to play the game the most like, including Kim Spradlin, Kelley Wentworth, Cirie Fields, and Sarah Lacina. Though very different players when it came to how each became a notorious Survivor player, what they all had in common was that they were willing to do whatever it took to get ahead on Survivor, with Kim and Sarah ultimately winning the game.
Kim is notoriously overlooked as a winner due to her season not being one of the best, but it’s unquestionable how much Kim controlled the game from the moment she hit the beach. Wentworth was able to learn from her first season and go far in her other seasons. Fan fave Cirie is such a beloved player due to her social game and only went home in Game Changers due to being the only one without an advantage (this one will always hurt). Sarah also learned from her mistakes and became a much more cutthroat player than in Cagayan, earning her the win on her second try and reaching the final four in Winners at War.
Elie possessed enough savviness to play like Kim or Wentworth. Though she prided herself on having a solid social game because of her career outside the game, Elie lacked the “nurturing” aspect that characterised Cirie, allowing her to fly under the radar while being the true puppet master. However, I could see Elie becoming a much stealthier player if she ever comes back, learning just enough of the game’s technicalities and becoming proactive when needed, and letting things flow whenever possible to not place herself in the same position she was in this time.
Several players, including Kim, Wentworth, and Cirie, were able to use every tool in their arsenal in their favour to gather as much social capital as they could to pull off the moves they did throughout their seasons. Perhaps the same could be said for Elie, but we would have to wait and see if she comes back in maybe another “Second Chance” season.
- Survivor 43
- Original tribe(s): Baka tribe
- Placement: 13/18
- One World, Winners at War
- Original tribe(s): One World (Salani, Tikiano); Winners at War (Dakal, Koru)
- Placement(s): Winner, 9/20
Similarities and differences: Both formed an all-women’s alliance, though Kim’s was successful. Both were considered social and strategic threats, and both participated in blindsides. Kim reached the merge on both of her seasons while Elie technically reached the merge, she was unable to survive the vote to get her merge buff. Kim was able to tame her threat level, while Elie’s threat level kept increasing until she was voted out.
- San Juan del Sur, Cambodia, Edge of Extinction
- Original tribe(s): SJDS (Hunahpu, Coyopa); Cambodia (Takeo, Bayon, Orkun); EoE (Manu, Lesu, Vata)
- Placement(s): 14/18, 4/20, 10/18
Similarities and differences: Both were voted out pre-merge (Elie in Survivor 43, Wentworth in SJDS); both were physical competitors and good with puzzles; both had social connections within their tribes, however, Wentworth was seen as trustworthy, while Elie was seen as sketchy, Wentworth used her hidden immunity idol when she was at risk (in Cambodia), and Elie failed to use Jeanine’s idol to save herself (which Wentworth also did in EoE).
- Panama, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains, Game Changers
- Original tribe(s): Panama (Casaya, Gitanos); FvF (Malakal, Dabu); HvV (Heroes); Game Changers (Nuku, Tavua, Mana, Maku Maku)
- Placement(s): 4/16, 3/20, 17/20, 6/20
Similarities and differences: Both had social connections within their tribes; both participated in blindsides; both were blindsided at their eliminations and were voted out pre-merge (Elie in Survivor 43, Cirie in Heroes vs. Villains). Both were part of an all-women’s alliance, yet only Cirie’s was successful. Elie performed better at challenges, while Cirie compensated with an under-the-radar yet efficient social game.
- Cagayan, Game Changers, Winners at War
- Original tribe(s): Cagayan (Aparri, Solarrion); Game Changers (Nuku, Tavua, Nuku, Maku Maku); Winners at War (Dakal, Yara, Koru)
- Placement(s): 11/18, winner, 4/20
Similarities and differences: Both were physical competitors; both had a trusted ally within their general connections (Elie with Jeanine in Survivor 43, and Sarah with Tony in Cagayan and Winners at War). Sarah played an advantage that prevented her elimination at the final 6 in Game Changers, whereas Elie didn’t use Jeanine’s idol.