“Survivor: Winners at War” Power Rankings Round 1 – War’n Dakal Edition

“Survivor: Winners at War” (CBS)

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The Rules: Each week Malcolm Freberg and Gordon Holmes will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the players will earn.  For example, if Sophie is voted out, Malcolm will receive one point and Gordon will receive two. The person with the most points at the end of the season will be declared the “Survivor: Winners at War” champion.

Quick Note: The Power Rankings place the players in order of how safe they are heading into the next episode, not how likely they are to win the entire game.

Any Questions? Drop Malcolm a line on Twitter: @MalcolmWHW

Any Questions? Drop Gordon a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes

1. Sophie: Her reaction to Yul’s alliance proposal was everything, but more importantly, her recognizing him as a ‘nerd shield’ was on point. Perfect opening to WaW for Sophie. She’s safest in the short term. 1. Ethan: There’s a whole lot going on at Sele Beach. You’ve got Rob and Parvati leading the old-schoolers, you have Ben and Michele trying to rally the new-schoolers. Adam and Denise could go either way. Jeremy is debating whether or not to go to war with Rob over Natalie. And then there’s Ethan. He can do whatever he wants. I’m betting he sits back and sides with the winner.
2. Wendell: Alright, I see you kid. Commentary on camp construction/day one hustling aside (he was completely right about that being an annoying balance), he gauged the pace of play well — Amber’s shortcoming — and joined Yul’s group. That doesn’t just happen. That’s the sign of a solid social game. 2. Sophie: Yul’s naïve act is good, but it won’t last forever. Eventually, people will realize that he’s pulling the strings. The power behind the power, that’s who you have to watch out for. And right now, Sophie’s Nerd Shields are at 100% power.
3. Nick: See Wendell. Mirror images, both impressive. 3. Sandra: Yul can write his own dance card at this point. He can partner with anyone he wants. The question is; who’s more reliable? Tyson and Kim or the Game Changers? Either way, Sandra’s safe thanks to her bargain-priced immunity idol.
4. Sandra: You couldn’t have plotted a better first three days for the Queen. She’s always a target, but that idol keeps her safe for two more votes. She’s too socially savvy to go home with it in her pocket, so she can stay high on this list for a couple weeks — a pleasant surprise — then shoot straight back to the bottom when the advantage is gone. 4. Wendell: I’ve been to a lot of Tribal Councils in my day, but I’ve never seen one like Dakal’s. With the possible exception of Sandra, everyone was scared to death. But Wendell let Yul take the lead, he didn’t ruffle any feathers, and now he’s where he should be, in the middle. That’s a good place to be this early.
5. Ethan: I need to rewatch the episode, because I don’t really remember exactly where Ethan slotted in strategically. I was too busy making doe eyes at the TV whenever he spoke.

If the tribe unites against old school players, Ethan won’t be the first target. He’s liked and helpful and fit. Safe for a while.

5. Nick: He weathered the early storm and he should be safe within the Second Timers alliance. But, Dakal probably didn’t leave their Tribal Council as wound up as Sele did. Kim and Tyson are too smart to blow up. They’re going to try to find their spot. If I was Nick, I’d start turning people against each other. Tony’s probably a good place to start.
6. Yul: Twenty six seasons off ain’t no thing. Yul was the undisputed MVP of episode 1, and I’m loving it.

He’s below the other members of his foursome simply because he’s the boss. If their group is targeted, the dissenters will come for Yul first, but that’s not happening any time soon.

6. Danni: That moment with Ben might’ve been the best thing to happen to Danni for two reasons. First, it shows Rob that she’s a person who will be honest about the game she’s playing. And second, it’s a good reminder that she can’t really trust anyone and should watch what she says.
7. Jeremy: Taking a shot across his bow on day two was *not* the opening I expected, but might be for the best.

He’s no longer has a prior relationship. Players won’t presume Natalie’s sending him every advantage (unlike Rob/Amber). Any allegiance to Rob is shook, opening the door for an alliance against the old school. Some fighters need to be punched in the face to get fired up during a match — I think Jeremy’s about to get fired up.

7. Yul: Who doesn’t love Yul’s “Frozen Caveman Lawyer” bit? “I’m just a simple old-school player. Is now when we decide to vote someone off? Your new-school game is frantic and frightens me.” He’s got his three second timers, the Game Changers, and potentially Tyson or Kim. As long as he doesn’t rock the boat too soon, he’s in good shape.
8. Danni: Looked great on day one. Not sure if she’s always blunt enough to tell people she’s talking about them, or her read on Rob was just that good, but she handled Ben’s absurd flub perfectly.

Seems to be in good shape on the tribe. Only way she goes home is as collateral damage, if a new school alliance gets nervous about attacking Parv or Rob.

8. Denise: I know you should be in trouble because of your little jaunt with Adam, but I have to think there are too many warring factions now to worry about you. That, and I caught you and Parvati sneaking out to form a little sub-alliance on day two.
9. Tony: Asking Tony to stay at camp, play slow, and not look for idols is like asking Santa not to wear red. But my boy did it. He’s all grown up. #proudsurvivordad

He’s not in the featured foursome, and there’s always a chance Tony goes bananas at camp, but he shouldn’t be targeted in the immediate future. Sandra, Sarah, Kim, and Tyson are, incredibly, all bigger perceived threats.

9. Michele: Yeah, you were on the wrong side of the Natalie vote, but it’s the perfect time to be a small fish on the Sele tribe. With Ben and Jeremy all tempted to take a shot at Rob, you can sit back and pick your side. No need to rush anything.
10. Ben: Dude gave me traumatic flashbacks to elementary school, back when I was terrible at lying to my parents and stuttered through nonsensical explanations for why I didn’t pick up my legos.

Cringe aside, he seems to be involved in all the conversations at the beach. Hopefully the day-one jitters are gone and he can settle into a rhythm moving forward.

10. Tony: Tony, buddy, you know I’m a card-carrying member of the Tony Vlachos Fan Club. So, this comes from a place of love; this llama don’t need no early drama. Tyson wants you out? You’ve got the numbers. Relax… Not only that, but you’ve got two significant shields within the Game Changers alliance.
11. Sarah: She’s done nothing wrong, and was an absolute monster in the first challenge.

But scenario: Yul’s gang lands on Sandra as the next target, then somehow, word gets out that Sandra’s got the idol. Vote would shift or split to Sarah, who’s been attached to the Queen at the hip (that sounds like a stretch as I type it, but still…)

11. Kim: Yikes, Kim without allies was like sad, little Voldemort before Wormtail brought him back at the end of “Goblet of Fire.” (That reference was for you, Malcolm.) Just laying there, helpless. It seems like the easy move would be to bounce her next, but I don’t think this will be a season of easy moves.
12. Parvati: Watching her frustration with the new schoolers inability to make a decision was hysterical, but possibly not the smoothest. I’m definitely making something out of nothing here, but my point is, bonding with the newer players is her best chance for a deep run.

If there’s a split vote between her and Rob, and Rob gets an idol — not an absurd scenario — she’s out. Otherwise, she’s got enough shielding in the short term.

12. Sarah: I really don’t think Sarah will ever be safe. She’s a triple threat who’s proven to be a whiz at deception. And if the Second Timers decide to partner up with the remnants of the Poker Alliance, Sarah could be the next to go.
13. Michele: I know she was on the outside of a vote, but she’s smart enough and social enough to recover. That’s not why she’s low.

She’s low because she keeps insisting she wants to prove herself. To me, that sounds like a recipe for overplaying, trying to make something happen too soon or too aggressively. Michelle could be a surprise boot.

13. Jeremy: Jeremy is way too smart to start a war over losing Natalie. That doesn’t mean he won’t eventually target the Rob/Parvati alliance, he’ll just do it because it fits his strategic goal. That being said, with his ally out of the game outliers will try to pull him in and his “allies” will be watching him like a hawk.
14. Tyson: Props for the scramble. It looks like, after twenty years, everyone on WaW is seeing the value of Sandra’s ‘anyone but me’ strategy.

There’s a high chance Yul’s gang chooses not to rock the boat, in order to keep Sandra, Sarah, and Tony happy going into a future swap. If that’s the case, its 40/60 between Tyson and Kim. Tyson has an edge for challenge prowess, but that doesn’t make him a lock.

14. Parvati: Oh man…I love me some Robati…Parobti…Shallow Rob? (Help!) But, talk about creating the biggest conceivable target. These two are never really going to be totally safe. And my fear for Parvati right now is that even if Rob reverts to his Robfather ways, he’s attractive to keep around due to his mega challenge prowess and he’s likely to get an advantage from Amber.
15. Adam: I think I’m ethically required to support him now? And it’s deserved. Getting the target shifted before first tribal was well played.

I don’t for a second believe he’s only hanging out with Denise at camp, but it worries me that the situation’s being portrayed that way. The convos about uniting against old school players should help them, but what was that clip after the episode about Ben knowing something..?

15. Ben: This is where we’re going to learn about Ben. He dropped the ball big time when he told Rob someone was targeting him, but wouldn’t name a name. Is he going to double down and try to fix it, or get revenge, or who knows what? Or, is he going to pump the brakes and move on? I think the smart move is to let that momentary mistake pass. Because if he makes too much noise, I could see Jeremy throwing him under the bus to get back into Rob’s good graces.
16. Denise: SHE’S ONLY TRYING TO MAKE HER VICTORY MORE DRAMATIC, I scrawl on the wall in red paint, wiping away nervous tears with shaking hands.

Everything said about Adam goes for Denise. What tf does Ben know?

16. Adam: Awesome rebound from Adam last week after a terrible, horrible, not-very-good start. My only concern is; how valuable is he to Ethan now that Ethan seems to have a wide variety of people to work with?
17. Kim: That was genuinely jarring, watching Kim’s lack of tact from the bottom — which is why this season’s going to be so good. We get to watch legends forced into positions they’ve never experienced before.

I don’t think the situation’s necessarily dire. Yul’s gang could swing a lot of different directions, and she’s clever enough to shift the target… but you’ve got to believe she’s on the bottom of her tribe on the morning of Day 4.

17. Tyson: If the Second Timers and the Game Changers decide to maintain the status quo this week, it’s going to come down to a question of Tyson or Kim. And honestly, I don’t know what the right answer is. I think that Tyson is slightly better in challenges and was quicker to turn on his Poker Pals. But, I also think Tyson has more of a reputation for deception. (Dibs on “Reputation for Deception” for a band name.)
18. “Boston” Rob: In a word, impressive. Didn’t expect Rob to go full mob boss in the first hour at camp, nor that he’d be able to physically perform at that level. You could practically hear Probst’s erection through the TV.

Problem is, Amber stuck on EoE is terrible for his chances. Even if the fire token dynamics aren’t completely understood by all players, they will be soon, and no one’s going to let his wife feed him advantages for the next month.

18. “Boston” Rob: What an emotional roller coaster this episode is going to be for Rob. His wife is voted out, she sends him seventeen idols from the Edge of Extinction in exchange for a handful of magic beans. He gets voted out because actual voting has been replaced by a game of duck-duck-goose.

In all seriousness, I wonder if the Natalie move was too soon. He would’ve had a nice thing going with the old-schoolers and the Second Chancer.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes