Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Season Preview
Part 1 - The Brains Tribe
By Jim Van Nest
February 16, 2016

For the last time, I'm not taking my shirt off, so stop asking!

Hello, good people! Can you believe it's that time already? We are only a couple days away from the premiere of the 32nd season of CBS's reality trailblazer, Survivor. For this season, Survivor is going back to the well that brought us Cagayan, one of the most fun seasons in a while - Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn! Last time out, Brawn member Tony Vlachos stormed the beach, grabbed hold of the game on day one and never let go. With idols, spy shacks, a bag of tricks and Tyler Perry's help - Tony dominated the game and eventually took home the million dollar prize. Cagayan was so popular that four of its players were voted back onto Survivor for last season's Second Chance. So, it stands to reason that CBS wouldn't wait too long to go back to this format.

Over the next couple days, I'm going to do three preview columns for this season - one for each tribe. I'm going to make predictions as I always do. This is probably the time for me to point out that I've nailed the last two winners in Mike Holloway and Jeremy Collins - so you can start calling me Jim-stradomus! Without further ado - let's say we get to the frickin' preview!

We're going to start the preview with the Brains tribe, called Chan Loh. They will be wearing the blue buffs to start the season. As always, we'll preview players in alphabetical order.

Aubry Bracco - Right off the bat, I have to talk about someone I think has no chance of winning the game. She describes herself as weird, and I agree. One of her hobbies is crayon art and she wishes she could bring a big box of 64 crayons to Survivor with her to help everyone by introducing them to art therapy. On Survivor island. Also, she wants to bring a book on astrology - that will always make friends, especially on a tribe with a bunch of "brains." Aubry could last a little while if she can tone down the quirk and just get to work. But right off the bat, if she's talking crayons and "what's your sign" - she's a possible first boot. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a med-evac here as well. This is the most brutal physical season ever and I could easily see Aubry as a casualty of those conditions. Sad to say, but I don't think Aubry will be datable and she'll be a pre-merge boot, possibly first out.

Debbie Wanner - I really have no idea what to think of Debbie. On one hand, she's a scientist with a very logical mind, she's in fantastic shape and she's worked helping to diffuse bombs, so she can handle stress. On the other hand, she compares herself to Coach and wears a bathing suit with the close up face of a tiger on it. She's one part badass and another part Wanda Shirk (look her up, you'll remember her). Even her bio is tough to gauge. As all of the brains are wont to do, she uses "Word of the Day" words where she could use something else, but she has a ton of survival training and seems like she'll be a natural out there. I think a large part of her game will be if people find her interesting. If her stories interest people, she'll become part of the group and will do okay. If she has too much of a Coach factor - she'll be ostracized and an early boot. She's the typical age (49) to be the Tribe Mom - but that doesn't seem her style so she'll have to work to fit in. I think she'll do it and make the merge.

Elizabeth (Liz) Markham - Okay, I think I could really like Liz. First off, she is wicked smart. Jeff has said that she's the only player ever to get a perfect score on her IQ test. Further, her background and work all involve numbers and odds and statistics. She spent time in Vegas counting cards and destroying the blackjack table. She definitely has the strategic mind for this game. The worry with her will be whether or not she can turn that off for long enough to have a social game. Shirin was also crazy smart and a numbers genius. But she couldn't play well with others and it doomed her game. Liz is attractive and that might buy her a little time at the beginning of this game, but she needs to have a personality if she wants to stick around long term. My bet is, she will definitely make the merge and could have a deep run in this game.

Joseph del Campo - Joseph is now tied with Rudy as the oldest person to ever play Survivor. He's 71 years old, but you'd never really know it by looking at him. Dude is ripped. Let's see, the new Joey Amazing is a former Navy Officer and a 25 year vet of the FBI. So, we have a for really real, verifiable federal agent on the show. The worry for Joseph is the same as it is for the "old guy" on the season. Will he be able to mesh with the younger people and not try to tell them all what to do? I think he will. I also think he's on the perfect tribe for success. These are smart people. Debbie, Neal and Peter - I think - are old enough to know not to discount him due to his age. I think they'll recognize that this guy is a wealth of knowledge and that they'll all be better off if they tap into it. I don't expect him to be a slouch in challenges either. Joseph makes the merge easily and will probably be able to stay out of the "alpha male purge" of the immediate post-merge game. I'm gonna predict that this Joey Amazing tops our other Joey Amazing and makes a deep run into the game.

Neal Gottlieb - Neal seems like a pretty cool guy but he has a huge red flag - the longest bio in the history of ever. Someone who is that wordy in their CBS bio could run into problems with that wordiness on the island. He created and runs an organic ice cream company that is sold nationally by Whole Foods - so he has some savvy to him. He's a pretty fit guy, but not the in your face bro, like we'll see on other tribes. He wants to wait in the wings and let the alpha males take each other out, while he just chills and prepares to take the game over. Again, I could hang out with Neal, but I don't have a lot of hopes for him in the game. He seems very prone to talking, AND he's used to being the boss. I worry that on a tribe full of people who think they're smarter than you, trying to be the boss is a death blow. I worry that Neal will be an early boot. But, on the bright side, he'll get to enjoy the awesome pre-merge vacation!

Peter Baggenstos - Wow, this dude is a piece of work. One minute into his video and I could see him as a potential first boot. Peter is an ER doctor, which makes him the bestest kind of doctor, it would seem. He watched a couple videos about making fire and determined that their best bet is to win a challenge and get a flint. I admit, he does favor President Obama, but he doesn't want to hear about it. His bio is pretty thin, so we don't get too much of a peek inside. From that tiny bio and 150 seconds of video, I've learned that this dude is pretty smart and he knows it. He seems to think that he has a knack to get people to follow him and that he'll be able to be the leader out there. Hate to break it to him but on Survivor, the last thing you want to be is a leader and on a "Brains" tribe in particular, you don't want to come off like you think you're smarter than everyone else. I don't have a lot of hope for Peter, but his size and strength probably guarantee him a spot the merge - but don't forget about the inevitable tribe swap that will disband one of the three original tribes. If the numbers warrant it, Peter could be the alpha male vote out right after a swap.

All righty, kids, that'll do it for the Brains tribe. Overall, I worry that this tribe will perform like the last Brains tribe and find themselves at Tribal early and often. If that's the case, then anything can happen. If they're able to spread the wealth on challenges a bit and can avoid Tribal Council, some of these brains might make it far. I see Aubry and Neal as the possible pre-merge boots with Joseph and Elizabeth poised to make deep runs in the game. Debbie and Peter could go either way, but seem to be right around merge time boots.

Thanks so much for checking in with me for this Survivor Preview - be sure to check back tomorrow as it'll be time to talk about the Beauties! ‘Til then, take care!