I Wanna Play Like You – Episode 9 – James & Ryan

How did the latest boots compare to their favorite(s)?

Photo: CBS

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.

This week’s first boot, James Jones, said the Survivor(s) he would play the game most like is Sandra Diaz-Twine and Russell Hantz, while the second boot, Ryan Medrano named Rupert Boneham as the player he’d like to emulate.


Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Sandra’s “anyone but me” will always be my strategy, as long as I see a path to the end and I am with people, or have people, in which I trust. If I don’t have that, I will be an agent of chaos Russell with charm. I am playing to win and not for 7th place.


Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Rupert. I like the way he provided food for his tribe, which helped them keep their strength for the challenges.

Double tribal councils, double the chaos. This episode had all the fixings, as arguments, big moves, and two back-to-back blindsides left the game up for grabs. As the post-merge is now in full swing and the jury is starting to fill up, every discussion, challenge, or advantage can make or break someone’s game, and as James and Ryan learned in this episode, nothing is guaranteed on Survivor until your torch is snuffed.

James and Ryan were the eliminated players this week. While both started the game on the Coco tribe, it was clear that one got a better edit than the other. James immediately aligned with the former women’s alliance at Coco, forming a majority alongside Karla, Cassidy, and Lindsay, leaving Ryan and Geo on the outs. As James went to work on his social game, Ryan concentrated on his role of provider, which started two different pathways for both players and culminated on day 17.

Coco enjoyed a brief immunity streak where James continued to bond with the women, and Ryan with Geo, though neither side knew that Karla was playing the middle. On day 9, Coco suffered its first immunity loss. Ryan and Geo decided to target Cassidy, thinking Karla and James were on their side, whereas the majority chose to go after Geo. Both players were spared when Lindsay started to spiral due to her paranoia, and she was instead voted out for being a liability to her alliance.

Photo: CBS

Ryan and Geo were blindsided by Lindsay’s elimination and finally realized they were the next on the chopping block should Coco lose again. Despite reaching this conclusion, Ryan still decided to throw the next immunity challenge as he was sure Cassidy would be voted out this time. Geo went on a journey and won the Knowledge is Powe” advantage, but it was ultimately fruitless, as James and Karla decided to vote Geo out, leaving Ryan again on the outs.

After these events, the merge finally came. At the merge feast, Ryan placed a massive target on his back by wildly exclaiming that the seven at that table should be the final seven, where he was met with non-comital agreements. Coming back to camp, several targets came up for possible elimination. Elie played the middle and threw multiple people under the bus, including James, but James took notice of this and spearheaded Elie’s elimination.

Both James and Ryan were continuously targeted for being social and physical threats, respectively. Afterward, when it was revealed that there was an advantage underneath the shelter, James retrieved it and found Geo’s former Knowledge is Power advantage. Dwight spread around camp about James having the upper hand, leading people with advantages or idols to swap them around with each other. After Dwight’s elimination, it was clear that the former “final seven” were spearheading the post-merge phase of the game, with Ryan continuing to establish himself as the leading provider for Gaia.

At the next tribal council, Sami decided to go after Ryan as he could potentially go on an individual immunity run. However, James agreed that it was too soon to flip on his alliance member, so the target shifted to Jeanine, sending her directly to the jury.

Photo: CBS

James had been having a continuous rift with Owen, as the latter had voted for James several times prior, which was only exacerbated after Jeanine’s elimination. Both kept bickering back and forth about trust and their mutual distrust for each other throughout the episode, hinting that, ultimately, one would prevail over the other. In the meantime, Ryan kept bragging about how he wouldn’t be voted out as he was the ultimate provider for his tribe and even went as far as saying that if his torch were snuffed, he would take whatever he recollected with him.

On day 17, the last ten players were divided into two teams of five to compete for immunity and reward, leaving Ryan and James on opposing sides. After the challenge, the blue team decided to target James, mainly through Noelle’s decision to use her steal a vote advantage. Sami then tried to convince James’ former number one ally Karla to align with himself, Noelle, and Owen in blindsiding James. At tribal, the plan went accordingly, and James was blindsided in a unanimous vote, leaving him fuming as he joined the jury.

Over on the red team, Jesse and Cody were the deciding voters, and with Gabler’s vote in their back pocket, and they went back and forth in deciding what would be best for them moving forward. They considered voting out either Cassidy or Ryan, depending on who would be voted out in the other team. Regardless of this plan, the men sided with Cassidy, and Ryan was the second consecutive blindside of the night in another 4-1 vote, giving a stunned Ryan and his bag full of freshly caught clams the third seat of this season’s jury.

As previously said, Ryan and James led opposing paths in the game and had they done a few things differently, perhaps their fate could’ve been different. James mentioned the queen Sandra Diaz-Twine and the villainous Russell Hantz as the players he would have liked to play the game the most. Sandra is mainly known for being the first player to win Survivor twice, her undefeated “anyone but me” strategy, and her social game, which allowed her to navigate several seasons despite being one of the most recognized players across the Survivor franchise.

Photo: CBS

On the other hand, Russell is mainly known for being a chaos maker, finding immunity idols without clues, going to the final tribal council on back-to-back seasons, and ultimately losing the game for his inability to make the jury respect his game.

Everyone perceived James as a social threat and someone who (aside from Owen) generally got along well with everyone else, similarly to Sandra. She had social bonds with many, though she also had her nemesis in Russell and Johnny Fairplay, for instance, in Heroes vs. Villains and Pearl Islands. James also had a majority alliance for most of the game and was one of the ringleaders in most of the tribal councils he attended, similar to how Russell was in Samoa.

Unlike Sandra or Russell, James did not have a core alliance that helped him get to the end, and instead of being seen as an asset, he was deemed too notorious for taking to the end. One of the main things James could’ve done would’ve been to manage his threat level as soon as the merge started, as his target kept growing with each passing vote, which added to his social capital and could’ve prevented his early elimination.

Ryan played a much more straightforward game, almost to the point of seemingly being on Survivor exclusively to enjoy the experience. Most fittingly, Ryan chose Rupert Boneham as his past player he would’ve liked to play the game most like. Rupert is notorious for his pirate persona that began in Pearl Islands, his loyal-to-a-fault gameplay, and his being a provider for his tribe. Rupert was never seen as a strategic threat, nor was Ryan, and both were mainly considered as an extra vote for their respective alliances.

As James should’ve played more under the radar to advance, Ryan could’ve been a more proactive player, unlike Rupert. After his first blindside, Ryan should’ve infiltrated the majority alliance, and that, plus his provider role, could’ve been enough insulation to continue in the game. Ryan’s biggest mistake was to follow Rupert’s game to a T, and seeing as Rupert never won, that should’ve steered Ryan in the other direction.

Quick Facts

James Jones

  • Survivor 43
  • Original tribe(s): Coco, Gaia.
  • Placement: 10/18

Sandra Diaz-Twine

  • Pearl Islands, Heroes vs Villains, Game Changers, Island of the Idols, Winners at War, Survivor Australia: Blood vs Water.
  • Original tribe(s): Pearl Islands (Drake, Balboa); HvV (Villains, Ying Yang); Game Changers (Mana, Nuku); Winners at War (Dakal); BvW (Blood).
  • Placement(s): Winner, winner, 15/20, mentor, 16/20, 19/24.

Similarities and Differences: Neither won individual immunities, both were able to find advantages (James has the Knowledge is Power and Sandra has two idols in HvV and Winners at War). Despite Sandra playing on several seasons, she’s never been part of a jury as she won twice and was eliminated pre-merge on three seasons. James reached the merge and jury. Both participated in blindsides and both were considered as “under the radar” threats, social, and strategic players.

Russell Hantz

  • Samoa, Heroes vs Villains, Redemption Island, Champions vs Contenders.
  • Original tribe(s): Samoa (Foa Foa, AIga); HvV (Villains, Ying Yang); Redemption Island (Zapatera); CvC (Champions).
  • Placement(s): 2/20, 3/20, 17/18, 23/24.

Similarities and differences: Both reached the merge (James in Survivor 43 and Russell in Samoa, HvV). Russell reached the final tribal council twice, whereas James only reached jury. Russell is most known for his ruthless and cutthroat game, for finding several idols, winning individual immunities, and his inability to win over the jury. James was known for being a social and strategic threat, having the Knowledge is Power advantage. James was also unable to win individual immunities.

Ryan Medrano

  • Survivor 43
  • Original tribe(s): Coco, Gaia
  • Placement: 9/18

Rupert Boneham

  • Pearl Islands, All Stars, Heroes vs Villains, Blood vs Water.
  • Original tribe(s): Pearl Islands (Drake, Balboa); All Stars (Saboga, Chapera, Mogo Mogo, Chaboga Mogo); HvV (Heroes, Ying Yang); BvW (Galang).
  • Placement(s): 8/16, 4/18, 6/20, 20/20.

Similarities: Both were considered as the providers of their tribes. Both were seen as physical competitors and both lacked the social awareness when they were at risk. Both participated in blindsides, and were both blindsided in their eliminations (Ryan in Survivor 43, Rupert in Pearl Islands and All Stars). Both were considered as “extra numbers” when it came to their alliance rather than strategic players. Both reached the merge and jury (Ryan in Survivor 43, Rupert in Pearl Islands, All Stars, and Heroes vs Villains). Neither found an advantage or idol while playing the game.

Differences: Rupert won two individual immunities in Pearl Islands, whereas Ryan didn’t win any in Survivor 43. Rupert created a fake immunity idol when he sensed he was in danger, Ryan wasn’t able to find any advantages.

Written by

Mariana Loizaga

Mariana is a lawyer and a writer from Mexico City, Mexico. She has a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Surrey. Her hobbies include reading, blogging, and of course watching Survivor. The first season of Survivor she ever saw was Survivor: Philippines and she became so fascinated with the game and its many layers that she went back through the archives and watched every single previous season.

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