Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
February 16, 2010
In terms of heroic game play, the first competitor to make an indelible impression on the show was Colby Donaldson, who won five consecutive immunity challenges to end the second season. Of course, he also had mommy issues that were exploited to maximum benefit by Tina Wesson, who let Colby carry her until the end then reminded everyone on the council what terrible strategy that was on his part. Viewed as the ultimate physical threat, Colby was never going to be a contender during the All-Stars competition. As the seventh player eliminated, he failed to outlast the woman who had been his enemy during his original season, Jerri Manthey. This feud is likely to continue during the Heroes vs. Villains season as Manthey clearly has issues about being rejected so profoundly on national television.
In terms of players who are the best combination of strength and savvy, Stephenie, JT and Tom lead the pack. Stephenie LaGrossa made her first appearance in season ten, where the editing demonstrated her to be a feisty battler stuck on a team of absolutely pathetic players. Her tribe, Ulong, lost eight out of the first nine immunity challenges that season. She was the last one standing after the "merge", but with the odds stacked against her so emphatically seventh place was a best case scenario performance. She improved dramatically in season 11 when she and previous tribemate Bobby Jon were allowed to return. Stephenie finished second that year, but she revealed herself to be much more ferocious in personality than had been displayed the prior season when the editing made her the heroic underdog. She is not the genteel sweetheart her initial press had indicated. For this reason, she got absolutely destroyed in the final vote by Danni Boatwright, who won 6-1. We went from loving LaGrossa in season ten to hating the very sight of her in season 11.
With regards to Tom and JT, we are talking about the winners of seasons 10 (yes, the same season where Stephenie's tribe was methodically exterminated) and 18. Tom made an early alliance with Ian the Dolphin Trainer (no, really) and remained loyal to the end. Ian was less firm with his commitment at first, manipulating events in order to betray Tom at the end. When Tom got word of this impending treachery, he exchanged harsh words with his former ally, who grew so remorseful over his actions that he retired from the game in order to let two more worthy contenders make the final vote. Tom is one of the most ethical players to ever win the game as well as one of the strongest physical contenders. JT , on the other hand, is arguably the most underrated winner in the show's history. The Alabama native masterfully understated his intellect while playing up the "stupid, well intended good ol' boy" stereotype. It was the male equivalent of a woman with an IQ of 160 acting like a ditzy blonde. His opponents did not have a full appreciation of just how well he played during the Tocantins campaign until the season was over. Some of their media interviews afterward indicated that they never could have guessed just how bright a player he had been the entire season. Among the returning heroes, we consider Tom and JT to be the best overall players in terms of complete skill set. As such, if they last more than five episodes, the other people in the game have made a huuuuuuuuge miscalculation. If either of these guys gains traction in an alliance, they'll win.