Survivor Power Rankings
By Ben Willoughby
October 11, 2012

I once guest-starred on The Tick. I matter.

Previously on Survivor, there was some flirting at Kalabaw but Jeff Kent wouldn’t let Jonathan go all the way to five fingers. Tandang started preparing for what is shaping up to be the season’s first blind-side, while Matsing continued its dismal challenge performance and decided with a heavy heart to keep Russell around for just one more episode.

Now that we are three weeks in and have a feel for the castaways - or at least the ones who have been interviewed more than once - it is time for some Survivor rankings. At this stage of the game, power within your tribe is the most important part of the game, so I’ll rank each castaway according to how I perceive their position within their tribe (and not the broader group).

Obviously, if there’s a tribe switcheroo or a merge, everything changes, and at this point it’s worth looking back to the last time there were three tribes, – in the All-Star season. In Episode 5, the tribes faced off in a reward challenge, and the losing tribe was split up, and absorbed into the two winning tribes. We will see if something similar happens again.


While Kalabaw has been the Jonathan and Jeff Kent show, they also seem to be the tribe that has it together. We haven’t seen any fighting or personality clashes at camp, at least among their core group of five, and when they’ve been behind in challenges, they’ve been able to recover. I’m looking forward to seeing how things will change now that Jonathan has the idol and is not afraid to leverage it.

1. Jeff Kent Kalabaw hasn’t been tested by Tribal Council yet, but I’m ranking Jeff Kent as #1 since it seems like he is doing the talking and the other Kalabaws are doing the agreeing. Maybe this is all creative editing designed to highlight the tribe celebrity, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest the tribe isn’t following his lead.

2. Jonathan Jonathan may have a hidden immunity idol and a clue or two about how to play the game, but he doesn’t have any people behind him. But in a three-tribe game where one tribe is a perennial loser, time will be on his side while he develops alliances. The alliance he has chosen to cultivate is with Jeff Kent, a much safer move than wooing the two or three Kalabaws at the bottom of the tribe.

3. Dawson Dawson is #3 solely because it was her and Carter that Jeff Kent talked with about the hidden immunity idol when they were suspicious that Jonathan had found it, and of those two, Dawson is the one with a clue.

4. Carter See Dawson.

5. Katie Has Katie said anything yet? I can’t remember a single interview with her in it. Even if Kalabaw hasn’t had any Tribal Council scrambles yet, when hasn’t Survivor given face time to a beauty queen?

6. Dana I’m putting Dana at the bottom of her tribe, just because she seems like the outsider of the group. Sorry Dana.


We haven’t seen Tandang go to Tribal Council either, but the divisions in the tribe are shaping up nicely. Abi and RC have a core alliance with Pete and Michael as their sub-alliance. But what RC doesn’t realize is that Abi’s core alliance is actually with Pete, who wants to bring along Lisa and Artis and get rid of Michael. I can’t wait for all these Chekhov guns to go off.

1. Pete Pete is a surprise #1 pick for me, but he is the one setting Tandang’s direction at the moment. He has forged an alliance with Abi, and is building a sub-alliance with Lisa and presumably with Artis. And his end game is all mapped out, because the other people in his alliance are either unlikeable or not into Survivor game play. All Pete needs to do now is ensure his alliance gets through the Pagong phase and not be a total jerk.

2. Abi With a hidden immunity idol and a core alliance with Pete, Abi’s spontaneity has worked well for her so far, but what keeps her out of the #1 slot is that we haven't seen much of her plan going forward. It seems to be all Pete’s plan, not hers, and it is Pete making the bonds with other castaways, not Abi. Also, for someone who talks a lot about how likeable she is and how she will inspire everyone, she’s not very pleasant. I suppose that people who go on and on about those things never are.

3. Lisa Remember two weeks ago, where the storyline was all about Lisa giving up hope and wondering whether she could play Survivor? Well, now she’s taking on the “just tell me what to do” role, which I think is the best one for her going forward, and if the alliance sticks, should take her well into the merge. The bad news for Lisa is that she will have no chance of winning unless her competitors at Final Tribal are universally despised.

4. Artis We haven’t seen much of Artis yet, despite his hyper-competitive personality. All we know at the moment is that he is gunning for Michael, which means he will probably be on board the Pete-and-Abi train. But Artis is going to be less pleasant and less convenient to keep around than Lisa, so he’s #4.

5. RC We haven’t seen RC express any real doubts about her alliance with Abi, so for the moment she's unaware of being #5. It’s a shame, because the more RC has been unknowingly on the outs, the more I have come to like her. Her best hope is for Tandang to keep away from Tribal Council and for Abi to tip her hand by blowing a fuse.

6. Michael Michael seems pretty secure in the knowledge that in the unlikely event of Tandang losing a challenge, Lisa will be the next to go. Think again, Skupin! We haven’t seen Michael do much except hurt himself in a variety of ways, and he hasn’t bothered to do anything with Lisa because (a) he thinks she is on the chopping block and (b) he can’t be seen to be forming an alliance with the person everyone says is on the chopping block.


Obviously Matsing is the weakest of the three tribes, having come last in all three immunity challenges and being down to three members. It’s a shame, because I think Denise and Malcolm are two of the better Survivor players this season, and I’m hoping they can stick around for the merge and then use divide-and-conquer tactics to make it to the end. Hoping, but not expecting.

1. Denise Denise has a good combination of skills to take her to the end. She’s athletic, she has a great camp work ethic, she relates well to people and she can step outside herself to understand what others are thinking and then use that knowledge objectively to get herself ahead in the game. It’s a real shame she is stuck on Matsing.

2. Malcolm Is #2, because Denise is #1, and while they are working well together as a team, Denise seems to be doing more of the thinking. Their partnership reminds me a little of J.T. and Stephen from the Tocantins season – a good-looking schemer who came up with a lot of ideas, and a more grounded type who thought things through and kept things from getting too crazy.

3. Russell He’s the obvious #3. Denise and Malcolm have a strong alliance that’s not going to break tonight. If Matsing loses again this week, Russell is gone and be prepared for the most boring pre-Tribal Council intrigue session ever.