Survivor Nicaragua Preview: The Castaways
Author: Patrick Hodges
published: 2010-09-06 13:45:55
We're just over a week away from the premiere of the 21st season of Survivor (Wed, 9/15). I have been an ardent fan of this show since Season 2, and I really have to credit CBS and creator Mark Burnett for keeping the show fresh and interesting. They’ve made numerous tweaks over the years, adding little nuances (like Exile Island and hidden immunity idols) and never been afraid to change things up at a moment’s notice.
On most occasions, the tribes are an equal admixture of folks from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. Sometimes, they’ve been allowed to pick their own tribes. Sometimes, they’ve been separated by gender or racial persuasion. This time around, it’s a “battle for the ages”, where youth will square off against experience.
One tribe, La Flor, will consist of ten contestants aged 30 and under; the other, Espada, will be comprised of ten contestants over the age of 40, including one very familiar face, if you’re a sports fan. The Hidden Immunity Idol will be back this season, but it is reported that they will be hidden differently this time around, presumably so they won’t be found in less than an hour by another Russell Hantz clone. There will also be a new addition called the Medallion of Power: the tribe that possesses it may use it to gain an advantage during a challenge, but as soon as they choose to use it, the Medallion immediately transfers to the other tribe. Interesting.
Here is a brief description of the twenty people many of you will be getting to know very well over the next four months:
La Flor Tribe
Alina Wilson, 23. She’s an art student at Cal State Fullerton. She’s very athletic, and compares herself to Stephenie as being “super-competitive.” (Let’s hope she fares better.) From her interview on CBS.com, she appears to have her head on straight, and that could serve her well.
Ben “Benry” Henry, 24. He’s a club promoter from L.A., and once was a cameraman for “Girls Gone Wild.” (Lucky sonofa…) He’s ruggedly handsome, and could be a force during challenges, but he’s a self-confessed “party boy” with a temper, and guys like that are usually gone before Top Seven.
Brenda Lowe, 27. She owns a paddleboard company in Miami, FL. Her claim to fame is winning a Hispanic beauty pageant. (Right on, Survivor casters.) She says she’s good with people, and obviously should shine in water challenges. I’m hoping that she’s also as smart as she is gorgeous and shows it.
Chase Rice, 24. From Fairview, NC, his occupation is listed as “Pro Race Car Jackman.” He is this season’s J.T. On a tribe full of eye candy, he could go really far with his Southern drawl and soft-spoken charm. He seems to be the youngster the least likely to rub his tribemates (and viewers) the wrong way. My one hope is that he’s got a wily side and not easily duped.
Jud Birza, 21. He’s a student from Venice, CA, and looks every inch the stereotypical surfer dude. He intends to play that role to the hilt in the hopes of being underestimated (good luck), says he’s a better swimmer than Ozzy (fat chance) and will also be the camp goofball. If this guy makes it to the jury, I’ll be shocked.
Kelly Bruno, 26. She is a medical student at UNC in Durham, NC, and is easily this season’s “inspirational” contestant. She lost her leg as a baby, but it hasn’t slowed her down, since she’s an Iron Man triathlete. On top of THAT, she recently lost her father, who was working with Food for the Poor when he was killed in the Haiti earthquake. Yikes. It’s lucky Survivor doesn’t use viewer votes. I’ll root for her, of course, as I’m sure will most of America, but the rest of the castaways are nuts if they let her anywhere near the Final Three.
Kelly Shinn, 20. From Mesa, AZ (represent!), she’s currently a nursing student at the University of Hawaii. The baby of the group, she lists “winning homecoming queen” as one of her greatest accomplishments. She intends to “use her looks to her advantage”. Oh dear, oh dear. Has she ever watched this show?
NaOnka Mixon, 27. Tall, Amazonian, she is a P.E. teacher from L.A. On the surface, she seems like one of the few truly genuine people on the La Flor tribe. She’s majorly athletic, so she could easily bond with Kelly B. She’s the only African-American on this tribe, so it’s probably in her best interest to play the game the way Vecepia or Cirie did.
Matthew “Sash” Lenahan, 30. He is a real estate broker from NYC, and has quite possibly one of the biggest egos in Survivor history. He prides himself as being “one of the fastest distance runners in the country, and one of the youngest brokers ever on Wall Street.” He looks like Jeff Donovan (damn him), is rich, successful, and will go out of his way to let you know it. And because he lists “dating beautiful women” as one of his hobbies, I instantly hate him.
Shannon Elkins, 30. He owns a pest control company in Lafayette, LA, is a father to three kids, coaches sports, and seems like a very likeable regular Joe. He probably brings more to the table than most of his tribe, and I hope he outlasts all the other stuffed shirts and pretty boys. Plus, he says his #1 pet peeve is “dumb people,” so I instantly like him.
Dan Lembo, 63. He is a real estate exec from Watermill, NY. He is in hella shape for his age, and judging by his tan, spends a lot of time outdoors. He calls himself “Mr. Connected.” He looks like a typical New York tough guy, but I’m hoping that his age has mellowed him, because I really want to root for him.
Holly Hoffman, 44. She is from Eureka, SD, and has coached a swim team for 16 years. A mother of three, she works a ranch with her husband and prides herself on her toughness. Well, she’ll need it… She is very congenial and instantly relatable, and I can easily see her being a fan favorite.
Jane Bright, 56. She is a dog trainer from Jackson Springs, NC. A self-confessed tomboy, she grew up on a farm and also speaks with a drawl. If she survives long enough to get to the merge, she’ll bond with Chase easily. Trouble is, she’s also the oldest woman of the season, and they tend more often than not to be the first ones to go. She talks a good game, but she’s got an uphill climb.
Jill Behm, 43. She is an ER doctor from Erie, PA, and that profession takes a special kind of person. I would imagine she will be very good at dealing with stress and adapting to her new surroundings. She also looks very fit, and could easily become this season’s wild card. Of everyone on Espada, she seems like the one most likely to fly under the radar all the way to the end.
Jimmy Johnson, 67. He is… well, you oughta know! Apart from having coached the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories, he is a Survivor fanatic. He elucidates that he’s not there to win – being who he is, he realizes that there isn’t a jury on earth that would award him $1,000,000 – but he says that that is what makes him the perfect ally. It will be amusing to see one of Texas’s most famous coifs beaten down by the elements!
James “Jimmy T” Tarantino, 48. A commercial fisherman from Gloucester, MA, he could become this season’s Rupert, who he claims to be “just as loveable” as. He says he will show all the other contestants respect and hopes to get it in return. Long-haired and broad-shouldered, he could be a force to be reckoned with.
Marty Piombo, 48. He is a technology executive from Mill Valley, CA. His passion is rock climbing and actually once rescued an injured climber off of Mt. Whitney from 13,000 feet in the dead of winter. Wow. He also claims that his style will be a mix of Boston Rob and Russell, and the devious glint in his eye tells me that he could be the Espada tribe’s snake.
Tyrone Davis, 42. He is a fire captain from Inglewood, CA. He is a triathlete, and probably the tribe’s most natural leader apart from Jimmy J. He is God-fearing and prides himself on his integrity. He actually looks forward to taking charge, which makes me dubious of his chances.
Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff, 48. She is a goat rancher from Fromberg, MT, which isn’t that far from Eureka, SD, so she’ll probably ally herself with Holly. She is also a nurse and a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, but states that she is nothing like Shambo. She’s also quite talkative, which is something she’d better rein in if she hopes to make it to the end.
Yve Rojas, 41. She is a homemaker from Kansas City, MO. Well, there had to be a soccer mom in the mix, and she is it. She is very physically fit (her hobbies are dancing and yoga), and is the youngest member of her tribe. She seems likeable, but apart from being a parent – something she shares with everyone on Espada – I’m not sure what common ground she’s going to find with her tribemates. On the surface, she doesn’t seem as tough or gritty as the rest of the bunch.
So that’s it. Twenty contestants, all in extremely good physical shape, and all with fairly dynamic personalities. Who will take the early momentum? Logic would dictate that La Flor’s youth will serve them in challenges, but Espada will probably also mesh better right from the get-go, and that could make a big difference. Youth vs. experience… who will be the Sole Survivor?
Survivor: Nicaragua premieres Wednesday September 15th (8:00 - 9:00 PM ET/PT) on CBS.
CLICK HERE to view the 2010 Fall TV Premiere Schedule.
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