Survivor: Heroes, Healers and Hustlers - Season Preview 2
Part 2 - The Healers
By Jim Van Nest
September 26, 2017

Well, if anyone needs medical help, at least these guys are available.

Hello good people and thank you for joining me for the second in my 3-part series previewing the 35th season of Survivor. In case you missed it, you should really go back and check out Part 1 of my preview - an in depth look at the Hero Tribe!

Ok, now that we're all on the same page, I'm here today to talk about the Healers tribe, called Soko. They will be wearing the yellow buffs to start the season. Everyone on this tribe has a job that in some way, benefits other people. Whether it's the extremely obvious, like a urologist and nurse practitioner, or physical and/or mental therapist or the more abstract wilderness therapy guide and probation officer - one thing that can be said about all 6 members of this tribe, they spend a large bulk of their time putting other people first. They work with other people to make their lives better. Until now - now, they're taking time for themselves and don't let their giving nature in real life fool you. This group won't have any problem doing what it takes to come home a new millionaire. As always, we'll preview players in alphabetical order.

Cole Medders (24 - Wilderness Therapy Guide) - Oh boy. Watch out Malcolm. Step aside Joey Amazing. Cole is in town. And if you're to believe all of the other players, Cole has basically been sent down from Olympus to participate on Survivor. A chiseled Greek God, of sorts, with muscles on his muscles. Everyone is already crushing on Cole. And then you find out that his job, what he does for a living is he takes troubled kids out into the woods and helps them live and thrive without the comforts of home and helps them work through all sorts of mental and emotional trauma. The only way he could be more perfect is if he ran a no kill rescue shelter on the side. I have to say, in everything I've seen and read about Cole, he is pretty much the perfect example of a Survivor player too. He definitely has winner upside. Normally, I would think him the perfect merge boot, but unless he turns into a complete asshole on the island, everyone wants to play with this kid, so even when the tribes merge, I'd expect people to be climbing all over themselves to be his #2. I'm not sure he'll be my winner pick, but he's in the discussion. Cole is also a Season 1 Survivor fan, so he understands the game. Having to deal with troubled teens who are always out to manipulate him, he feels that he'll be able to suss out the BS and know when people are lying to him. My only worry for Cole is that he might fall under the spell of one of the ladies in the cast. He strikes me as a guy who just might blow his game over a cute girl.

Desiree "Desi" Williams (27 - Physical Therapist) - Speaking of the cute girls, Cole is gonna have his work cut out for him within his own tribe. Temptation - thy name is Desi. Desi has a background in the pageant world and according to everyone else is in incredible shape. And, if you sleep on her because you think she's the pretty girl who doesn't pay attention to anything, then you are in for a major surprise. Desi is a recruit, meaning that someone in casting saw her and invited her to try out for the show. But, in preparation for playing the game, she did binge as many seasons as she could and she feels like she has a pretty solid handle on things. And considering all of the other players are intrigued by her (in a good way) - she's in for a long run on the show. Like Cole, everyone wants to work with her, hangout with her and be her friend. That bodes well for Desi. Her fear is that she's used to being in control of things. She's a physical therapist and her job is to make people do things they don't want to do or think they can't do. You can't be a pushover in that kind of job. She's worried that if she gets out there and starts bossing people around, she could find herself in trouble quick. Given the fact that she recognizes this, I think she'll be ok in that regard. My fear is that the rest of the cast may decide that she is too well rounded and too much of a threat and that they'll send her home because of it. That's my fear, though, not what I think will happen. She's going far.

Jessica Johnston (29 - Nurse Practitioner) - Jessica, Jessica, Jessica. I don't know what to think about her. I know some are making her their winner pick, but I don't think I'm seeing it. She is a nurse practitioner and a HUGE fan of Survivor. We've seen many huge fans of the show come through lately and it's really been a mixed bag of results. Adam Klein wins a couple seasons ago and then Max Dawson and Shirin Oskooi flamed out big and bad. One thing that I think will help Jessica is that the Healers tribe seems to be the most well rounded tribe and I would wager that they do not lose a challenge prior to any swap in the game. And with a good draw there, it could actually be many days before Jessica and Co. even have to light their torches. If that's the case, I could see her building some decent bonds that will carry her deep into the game. I'm really going to be interested to see what happens with all of the "cute girls" in the cast. There's like 6 of them vying for that role and I wonder if they'll be able to put it aside and work with each other, or if the claws will come out. If so, Jessica could possibly be in some deep trouble. I feel confident she'll make the merge. After that, all the alpha males will become targets and you just never know, when all the dust settles, Jessica could be sitting in that final 3.

Joe Mena (34 - Probation Officer) - Do not be afraid. Do not adjust your screen. Tony Vlachos is NOT back on Survivor. This is probation officer Joe Mena. I realize he has the bald head, the tattoos and the New York/Jersey accent. But I swear, this is someone different. Ok, with that out of the way, let's talk about why Joe things he can win Survivor. As a probation officer, his job is to help these convicted felons after they are released from prison. He says that in his job, he hears every lie and excuse ever created, so this will give him a leg up on the competition by being able to tell when they're lying. Normally, I would chuckle at this and suggest that this is a game and is totally different. Of course, then Tony went out and won his season as did former cop Sarah Lacina, just last season. Maybe there's something to this. That being said, though, almost every person in the cast has made the Tony comparison. If he comes into this game loud, looking for idols or even close to acting like Tony, he's toast. I think he's smart enough to know this, but I worry that he's just too similar. He is considering this a business trip and is prepared to do whatever it takes to win. I think Joe has major "good TV" potential, I just worry that should the Healers hiccough in a challenge, he could be the first one gone. Overall, I don't have high hopes for Joe and I fear that he could be a pre-merge boot, depending on how long they go before the merge. By my count, if they merge at 12 - after 6 votes, he should be good. But he could very easily be dropped if they merge at 11. Sorry, Joe. I'm just not seeing it for ya.

Mike Zahalsky (43 - Urologist) - Dr. Mike. What to say about Dr. Mike. Well, he is a doctor. A urologist to be precise. He has a very successful practice that he has left behind to play Survivor and he's SUPER excited to be here. Mike is very smart, very funny and he very much knows who he is and what he brings to the table. He knows that on his tribe, if they falter and lose it will probably be his fault and he'll likely be the one to go home. Think David Wright from Millennials V Gen X mixed with Cochran and you have Dr. Mike. As I keep touting though, I don't see the Healers losing many challenges, which will only play into Mike's favor. He's a very likable guy and I think if he sticks around long enough, he'll be able to make a solid alliance that could carry him deep into the game. I'm not so sure Mike can win, but I think he'll definitely make it interesting. I wouldn't be surprised to see him be a final 4 or 5 boot with the caption, "too dangerous to leave in the game". The cast already has him pegged as a super smart super fan. Some are concerned about that. Some, like Cole, are very intrigued by that. Could we have the bro-mance of the season on Healers beach? Cole and Mike? Stranger things have happened.

Roark Luskin (27 - Social Worker) - Our final Healer is 27 year-old Roark Luskin, a therapist from California. Roark was an old school Survivor fan who gave up the show through college and has come back to it in recent seasons and renewed her obsession. Roark is a former department store buyer who spent weekends volunteering with an organization working with kids. It didn't take long before she had WAY more passion for her weekend hobby than her daily 9-5. So, she quit. And started working as a therapist. She is now working on a Masters of Social Work and plans to make helping people her life's ambition. Well, after Survivor, that is. Roark feels like she is in a perfect place to psychologically manipulate everyone else to propel herself to the win. Overall, the cast opinion of her ranges from pretty positive to thinking that she is very unsure of herself. She's really hard for me to predict a fate for as I don't feel like she's giving us a lot to work with. I have a feeling that if this tribe loses, it will come down to Roark v Joe for the first Healer to go home and I expect Joe to have made better relationships in the game. While she may well make the tribe swap, I think she's set up to be a pre-merge boot. But hey, I've been wrong before. Go prove me wrong, Roark!

And...that will do it for the Healers Tribe. I keep saying it, but overall, I fully expect the Healers to dominate in the early game. I also wouldn't be shocked to see the winner of the entire season come from this tribe. Everyone on this tribe comes off as pretty likable and even though I picked some of them as pre-merge boots, I could make an argument for why all 6 of them will go far in this game. Ultimately, I expect Cole and Desi to have the most winner upside on this Tribe, with Mike a dark horse to make a deep run. Jessica has potential, but I just haven't seen enough of her to make that kind of prediction for her. We'll probably know more after Episode 1.

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

Like the column? Hate it? Think you have a better handle on the Healers? Well don't just sit on it, give me a holla on the Tweet box: @vannestjc