Rather than selecting returning players unilaterally and listening to fans complain about the latest return for Rupert or a confusing return for a castaway even superfans don't remember, “Survivor” has left the decision somewhat up to America to determine the 20 castaways for Season 31.
On Wednesday (May 6) at the end of the latest episode of the less-than-lackluster “Survivor: Worlds Apart,” CBS formally announced what had long been rumored across the Interwebs.
There are 32 candidates up for the “Second Chance” season. As the word “second” implies, this season will only be open to one-time former players who didn't win, so all of your Hantzes and Ruperts are out. Thank God.
Instead, this group of 32 includes contestants going back to original “Survivor: Borneo” runner-up Kelly Wigglesworth. And then there are five candidates from the current season, including two who haven't been eliminated yet, which is either an annoying spoiler or not, but I'm not going to list them here.
In addition to Wiglesworth, the contenders include a number of castaways who had near-misses in their respective seasons. You have Stephen Fishbach, who formed a powerful duo with J.T. back in “Survivor: Tocantins,” but got zero votes in a Jury decision that many fans think was particularly shameful. There isn't the same acrimony about her defeat, but Sabrina Thompson is gunning for a second shot after somehow taking two votes from Kim Spradlin in “Survivor: One World,” while Woo Hwang took a lone vote away from Tony as the runner-up in “Survivor: Cagayan.”
Terry Deitz finished third way back in “Survivor: Panama” and Natalie Tennerelli finished third in “Survivor: We Set This Season Up For Boston Rob To Win.” And “Kaos” Kass McQuillen was technically a third place finisher in her season as well.
Kass is one of three members of the “Brains” tribe from “Survivor: Cagayan” to be in the running to return, joined by Tasha Fox and superfans Spencer Bledsoe, who both won many more fans for their less successful escapes from a dysfunctional initial tribe.
And speaking of “Survivor” superfans who couldn't entirely overcome initial adversity, if you want to see Shirin Oskooi and Max Dawson ignore the other contestants to gush about previous seasons, they're eligible to return.
There are some people who were clearly presented as villains in their respective seasons, including Brad Culpepper, Abi-Maria Gomes and, although he started off depicted much more positively, Troyzan Robertson.
There are some people who were voted out in famously dramatic ways like Andrew Savage as part of the “Pearl Islands” Outcasts twist or people who instigated famous vote-outs, like Ciera Eastin, who validated the whole “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” twist by voting against her mother.
And then there are the mystery people and I'm not even talking about the people from the earliest seasons who might have been memorable in their time, which was 8 years ago. Sorry Kimmi Kappenberg.
I'm talking about people who I did exit interviews with, who I don't remember at all.
Jim Rice picked on Cochran during “Survivor: South Pacific.” I remember that. But he was also a kinda smug, kinda smart poker player.
Stephanie Valencia was a Russell Hantz groupie, but she was pretty funny and terrifically candid.
Mikayla Wingle caused Brandon Hantz to have uncomfortable feelings in his pants and his soul, but she was one of the stronger women the show has ever had.
Shoot, it was just last season, but I only remember Kelley Wentworth because Drew's paranoia about her was so great that he ended up voting himself out, basically. And she was smart in her exit interview.
So voting is now open and it will continue through the beginning of the “Worlds Apart” finale in two weeks. A problem pointed out by Reality Blurred and HitFix's Andy Dehnart is that the Rules read, “A combination of votes from CBS and the public will decide who from amongst the nominees presented will become the Fall 2015 Survivor cast,” which means that it's not so much the fans deciding at all. [NOTE: CBS has updated/changed/corrected/whatevered the official online rules and the network now says fan votes will be the absolute determining factor in selection.]
How would I vote? Honestly, as brilliant and “Survivor”-savvy as Max Dawson is as an academic and an analyst of the world of reality TV, he wasn't a good “Survivor” player and I'd just as soon not bring anybody back from “Worlds Apart.” Sorry, guys.
I can definitely see voting for Kelley Wentworth, Keith Nale, Jeremy Collins, Tasha Fox, Spencer Bledsoe, Vytas Baskauskas, Stephanie Valencia, Brad Culpepper, Jim Rice, Natalie Tenerelli, Stephen Fishbach, Terry Deitz, Andrew Savage, and Kelly Wiglesworth.
That'd be a reasonable mixture of people I liked and people I liked to hate. It's gotta be a balance. But I also wouldn't be upset if most of those people didn't make it. Stephen and Kelly and Natalie are probably the three I want back most, for different reasons.
Do you like the “Second Chance” twist? Who do you hope gets to return?