Spoilers ahead for Season 42 of Survivor!
In this touted new era of Survivor that Jeff Probst and CBS have developed, a lot of new twists and advantages have been afoot. It was initially kind of confusing when Survivor 41 introduced them all into the game last year – from the summit to the controversial Shot in the Dark to the amulet to the Do-or-Die and more. But as viewers acclimate to things more in Survivor 42, it comes with a bit more clarity regarding the endgame. Ahead of the imminent 3-hour finale night, I actually have two contenders in mind who are most likely to win Season 42 – and the picks might surprise some fans.
The Final 5 include contestants Jonathan Bailey, Mike Turner, Maryanne Oketch, Lindsay Dolashewich, and Romeo Escobar. It was a mad dash in recent episodes to get to that lineup – what with the back-to-back blindsides of Drea Wheeler and Omar Zaheer. The latter was perceived by many fans (including myself) as the clear frontrunner to win, given his impressive social strategy. Alas, as the saying goes, the game happens. Keep that in mind, too, as we talk about these next two individuals who I believe have shuffled closer to the top of the deck.
Why Mike Turner Has The Best Shot At Being Sole Survivor
Out of all the remaining cast members, I think Mike Turner might just win Survivor 42. Actually saying it sounds odd even to me – the guy who famously misplaced his hidden immunity idol early in the game!? Well, hear me out. For starters, he’s been in a subtly powerful position pretty much since the merge. While others were obvious ringleaders (i.e. obvious targets), Turner operated mostly as a backseat player that bolstered the majority’s ability to take out people like Rocksroy Bailey, Hai Giang and the more recent blindsides. One could even argue that the credit for the Omar Zaheer blindside (who had in fact just previously saved Turner from elimination) more so goes to Turner than even Maryanne Oketch. He came up with the original idea, and she followed through to spectacular effect.
Another huge feather in Mike Turner’s cap happens to be something people forget about too often in Survivor: likeability. He easily comes across as more likeable than the other finalists, which makes jury votes in his favor more possible. Heck, Drea Wheeler even hugged the man after her elimination, despite knowing full well that he had just played her! It was an unprecedented moment of sportsmanship in Survivor’s history that even host Jeff Probst took note of.
Only Lindsay Dolashewich might give him some competition in the popularity department, but it feels like she’ll have an uphill battle of making it to finale night with no more allies in the game. And Romeo Escobar has already burned some bridges with jury members, which is the same with Jonathan Bailey. Whereas Maryanne Oketch, well, her huge personality has rubbed both fans and players wrong the entire season. So in theory, Turner’s path to the end is clear – if he doesn’t mess anything up going forward.
Why Survivor 42’s Maryanne Oketch Could Still Win
Barring Mike Turner not making it into the final three, the next potential Survivor 42 winner on my radar is Maryanne Oketch. To be fair, she did ultimately push for the Omar Zaheer ouster in the last vote, going against Turner’s wishes to play it safe with idol talk floating around. It was a big move, which is more than any of the others (besides Turner) can possibly say. She also has found two hidden immunity idols in her time on the show.
Those boons in her resume could help Oketch argue her case to the jury in the end, if she's clear on how it differentiates from being just a comp beast like Jonathan Bailey or Lindsay Dolashewich. Sure, Dolashewich survived the Do or Die twist and then inherited the amulet idol, but the first was chance and the second was wasted when she didn’t try to save an ally with it when she could. And Bailey hasn't proved much strategy-wise, either.
The only cause for concern is, again, personality. I found Maryanne Oketch’s high energy (and penchant for admitting a little too much about her love life) kind of endearing, personally. And in all likelihood, several on the jury might have as well, but it's a big if. In order for her to have that shot, I think for her a final 3 would need to include the likes of Jonathan Bailey and Romeo Escobar. Then, it should be a cakewalk because they aren’t exactly the most well-rounded players.
But again, it’s not set in stone. Perhaps Jonathan Bailey and Lindsay Dolashewich’s physical domination in the game will sway jury votes. Perhaps Romeo Escobar argues an underdog story. Perhaps the jury is saltier at some people than they’re letting on. Anything can happen in Survivor, after all.
Find out who takes home the $1 million prize and the title of Sole Survivor during the Season 42 finale on May 25, 8 p.m. EST on CBS. Or you can stream it via a Paramount+ subscription.
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.
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