Survivor Power Rankings
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 15, 2011

He should have been the new star of Two and a Half Men.

Jim and his family leave for a well earned vacation in a few days, so they are out shopping for their trip this weekend. In his absence, we offer our power rankings for the Survivor finale. Stating the obvious, this is Boston Rob's game to lose. Also stating the obvious, the primary goal of all remaining players should be his elimination. So, the deck is stacked against him as he tries to stop being the Best Survivor Player Never to Win and become the second person in his marriage to win Survivor.

1) Rob Mariano

In the baseball vernacular, Rob Mariano is taking a perfect game into the ninth inning. He only needs to get three more outs to finish what would be the most dominant performance in the history of the game. Jim, Kim and I had a preseason discussion about our expectations for the upcoming Redemption Island. At the time, we had an extended debate.

The conversation focused upon whether a tribe would be smart to lose an early challenge in order to eliminate Russell/Rob. We agreed that doing so with the latter player would be a mistake. A savvy tribe would let Rob carry them on his back until such a moment as they were in complete control of the game. At that point, they would execute him, having maximized his usefulness to the tribe. We are…still waiting for that to happen.

At this point, Rob has two more votes to the final and he still has an immunity idol. He is so much in control of the game that we have started to wonder whether the first time his Ometepe tribemates found out he had an immunity idol was when they watched that episode when it aired. It’s no certainty that Rob plays the idol tonight since doing so could create currently absent mistrust among his peers. This statement in and of itself exemplifies how dominant Rob’s run has been. He may not even need to use a hidden immunity idol he has possessed since episode four/day nine. If Rob wins Survivor tonight, the other members of Ometepe will have a lot of explaining to do during the live program afterward. Either way, Rob has reaffirmed his status as one of the greatest competitors in the history of the game.

With regards to the other half of that debate, the complete extermination of Zapatera will stand indefinitely as a cautionary tale about the dangers of throwing a challenge. Russell’s dual extended runs were a total fluke anyway. Zapatera worried far too much about one player, and their obsession was to their detriment. We fully expect Russell to gloat about this during the post-game conversation, assuming they let the 16th place finisher speak much. Based on performance, he should get about 20 seconds of air time.

2) Natalie

The person we have slotted in third place is trying harder to win the game, but Natalie has managed to make the final days of the season without alienating anyone. Part of this is because she’s so young and inexperienced that everyone else has naturally adopted a parental relationship with her, even Rob. What Natalie has going for her is that Grant will not hold his elimination against her the way that he will against Ashley or Rob. What she has going against her is that for the body of the season, she has been Interchangeable Ometepe Female #1, aka the pretty one. Rob had a plan from day one to make sure that nobody else did enough to threaten his status as the dominant player. That mission has been accomplished. The difference between Rob’s play this season versus everyone else’s is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.

3) Ashley

The good news for Ashley is that she survived the last vote, which was not the original plan. The bad news is that we learned from the discussions that Rob and Grant both dislike her and even Natalie wouldn’t become a fan of hers on Facebook. Interchangeable Ometepe Female #2 is trying to play the game, and that makes her Rob’s biggest remaining threat on the island, at least in terms of him getting to the final vote. The doomsday scenario for Rob would be him not winning the final immunity challenge as Ashley, Natalie and That Nutjob all have to understand that if they take Rob to the end, he wins.

4) Mike

In spite of the vote in the prior episode, Mike is still better positioned to win than any of the other players at Redemption Island as well as That Nutjob. We originally had the person in fifth place slotted here but after a bit of debate, we came to this conclusion. Everyone on Zapatera respects Mike, who has comported himself as well as any player in the history of the game. That’s four jury votes right there. In addition, Mike has bonded with Matt during their time at Redemption Island. Matt is a wild card in a lot of ways, but the one thing we feel confident forecasting is that he will vote for Mike if he can. That tips the scale to the point that even though he was voted out, Mike has a solid chance at winning Survivor if he wins his way back into the game at the end.

5) Grant

Grant has earned the respect of his peers over the course of the season. He is also a former NFL player, which means he is a freak of nature athletically. Plus, he has demonstrated a deft touch at the strategy aspect of the game as well as a few of the puzzle challenges. We deem the players ranked from fourth to sixth as the most likely to win the challenges at Redemption Island required to re-enter the game. Out of those, Grant offers the best combination of accomplishments prior to being vote off and challenge skills to win re-entry then make a case for winning the game. What hurts Grant is that we are not sure he has done enough to stand out from the other players on Ometepe who did not get voted out. In order to win a jury vote, he would need Phillip and one of the women to be his opponents at the end. It’s a narrow set of parameters required for him to achieve victory.

6) Matt

Think of Matt as the Boston Rob of Redemption Island. For all of his disastrous attempts at playing the game of Survivor in terms of strategy, Matt has accomplished the one imperative to maintain his presence in the game. He has survived each and every elimination competition. Think of Matt as an action hero in a movie. There have been bullets fired at him from every possible direction yet none of them has even winged him yet. The only damage he has taken in the game has been due to his personality. His devout nature and steadfast honesty have proven to be a terrible fit with the other contestants this season. For this reason, we have trouble finding enough votes for him to win the game, which is the way it should be. After all, Matt has been voted out of Survivor twice. Even scoutmaster Lill only got voted out once. Even *LILL*!

As Jim has mentioned over the course of the season, Matt has gotten a winner’s edit, though. What we presume has happened is that when the producers and editors of Survivor got together after the season to discuss how to frame the episodes, they had the problem that Rob/Ometepe had been so dominant that it made for bad television. Matt’s perseverance in the face of historically unprecedented circumstances is an interesting side note in a season otherwise devoid of quality storytelling and is worthy of recognition. If not for that, we the viewers would have been subjected to even more nonsense from That Nutjob. Do we think Matt can win Survivor? It’s unlikely unless everyone at Zapatera is holding a grudge, a vibe we haven’t gotten from them, and Oemetepe turns upon one another at the last moment, something they haven’t done yet. Do we think Matt should win Survivor? Absolutely not. That would be an abomination.

7) Andrea

Interchangeable Ometepe Female #3 was by far the most annoying of the Ometepe members. She is also treacherous and rather mean. She gets our vote for Jury Member Most Likely to Head-bob and Finger-wag. Other than that, she doesn't have a lot going for her. Of course, if she did win re-entry into the game by beating strong players such as Grant, Mike and Matt, that would change the equation somewhat. Do we envision that happening? Hell. No. (Sorry about the bad language, Matt.)

8) That Nutjob

The psychotic has deluded himself into believing that he will be carried to the Final Vote. At that point, he will do his finest Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee impersonation by manipulating Colonel Boston Rob Jessup into admitting that he ordered the Code Reds that eliminated all of the other players. This...will not happen. The gaping logic flaw in That Nutjob's dream scenario is that the other players would have to like and respect him enough to listen to anything he has to say at the end. He's comedy relief and nothing else. And he's not even that since he's not even in on the joke. That Nutjob is a blueprint example of how reality show producers have started targeting people who should be in mental institutions as potential contestants. We don't care if That Nutjob turns out to be an actor or a Survivor producer or Jeff Probst's long lost father. His presence on Survivor this season has negated our enjoyment of the show. All we are left to hope is that a future iteration of Survivor All-Stars does not involve a meeting of the minds between Coach and That Nutjob.