Tonight’s episode of Survivor is the best yet in a season that appeared to be doomed for mediocrity in the beginning, but has benefited from some key players and a significant twist: tonight’s separation of the two rather static tribes into three dynamic ones. As a result, the fight between the Gen-Xers and Millennials took a backseat to a more individualistic style of play, which is refreshing after the dull introductory episodes. David’s discovery of a second immunity idol is also significant, especially if even more idols are put into play as a result of this twist. He contributed greatly to his tribe, Vanua’s, terrifically terrible display in this episode’s immunity challenge; I’d even argue that it was among the worst challenge performances on record. But the biggest surprise of the episode was Chris Hammons’ emergence as a power player in his new, severely handicapped tribe of four. As a result of his big move, it was CeCe, who has really been on the bottom throughout the game, that ended up going home. I’m not sure if this will benefit Chris’ game in the long-term, but his connection with Zeke, who was also at the bottom of his original tribe, could be something to watch. Below, I’ll provide the new tribe rosters and then rank every player left in the game in order of who I perceive to be the least-likely to win based on everything we’ve seen up to this point, to who I think has the best chance of walking away with the million.
5th voted out: CeCe
This tribe is easily the weakest of the three, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back at Tribal Council next week. However, David’s immunity idol and Chris Hammons’ powerplay will be interesting to watch in the days ahead.
I think this tribe is in a decent position to kind of fly under the radar, but should they lose, I predict that Taylor and Figgy’s relationship will be split. Ken has proven himself to be a good, steady player throughout this season, and if he comes together with Adam as teased in this episode, they could become dangerous, especially if Ken gets reunited with David and brings him in to make a viable triple threat.
With Michaela and Jay leading the charge, this tribe is easily the strongest and the most likely to go on a challenge run. Everybody seems to be getting along so far and Michaela continues to be one of the most interesting contestants of the season.
15. Michelle Schubert
*Although Michelle has proven to be a manipulative player, she is in a tough spot right now in her depleted tribe of four. If they lose again, I can’t see a situation where she doesn’t go home.
*Figgy is in a stronger tribe than Michelle, but if she wasn’t she would be at the bottom of the list. This girl is no Amber Brkich, especially since her prince charming seems to have all of the mental prowess of the one in Shrek.
13. Taylor Stocker
*Speaking of Figgy’s foolish loverboy, Taylor is in a position that is almost as bad as his fling’s. Unlike Figgy, however, he does have the benefit of his significant athletic prowess. The rest of his tribe may elect to keep him over Figgy if they think he can aid them in the more physical challenges that lie ahead.
12. Sunday Burquest
*In the unlikely event of Escabula losing an immunity challenge next week, it seems as though Sunday will be the one to go. Bret isn’t much better, but at least he didn’t completely blow his portion of the challenge like Sunday did.
11. Bret LaBelle
*I’ll be honest, I haven’t liked Bret from the beginning, but he seems to be in a relatively safe position with a weaker member of his generation available to be deposited.
10. Jay Starrett
*Jay’s a star in the water, but he may be more Jason Siska than Ozzy Lusth. He’s an asset to his tribe right now, but it’s only a matter of time before they start seeing him as a threat rather than an asset.
9. Jess Lewis
*She almost totally blew it last episode and it took a generous David Knight to save her, but after the tribe swap she’s in a much better position than she was at her original camp.
8. Hannah Shapiro
*This girl is the hardest to read because I’m not sure exactly where she stands. I don’t think she’s getting voted off anytime soon, but I also don’t see her as a big threat to win the game as of now.
7. Will Wahl
*Will hasn’t been a big player this season, but he has been a likable one. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes in the days ahead.
6. Zeke Smith
*Perhaps the one individual that benefitted the most from the tribe swap, Zeke seems to be in a good position in his alliance with Chris Hammons. I think it’ll be a while before we see him leave the island.
5. Chris Hammons
*Chris is in a power position in his tribe right now, but I’m not sure how viable he’ll be as a potential winner in the late game. If he even makes it that far.
4. David Wright
*The man that will not go down, David may be the luckiest player in the game right now. Either that, or he’s the most perceptive. He’s already played one hidden immunity idol and with another in his possession, he isn’t a bad choice to go all the way. But could he win in front of a jury that perceives him as a weak player? That I don’t know.
3. Michaela Bradshaw
*Probably the fan favorite right now, Michaela has been a winner for me since the beginning. She’s the strongest member of her tribe, she is very likable, and has spent a lot of time on camera, which tells me that the editors think she’s somebody in whom we should be invested.
2. Adam Klein
*Probably the biggest fan of the game going in and clearly a big thinker, Adam is in the power position of his camp right now. Whether he goes with Figgy and Taylor or Jess and Ken remains to be seen, but I think I have a pretty good idea which way he’s leaning. He’s probably going to need to make it to the end without Ken, though, if he wants to emerge as the winner.
1. Ken McNicle
*Ken has been the favorite to win for me ever since he linked up with David. I wasn’t sure how well he would fare in the swap, but he seems to be in a good position provided Adam chooses him over his annoying millennials. If that happens, Ken has the temperament and the suave nature to make him my pick for most-likely winner thus far.