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'Survivor': My official 'Second Chance' ballot (complete with shocks and snubs)

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Monty Brinton/CBS

I’ve already gotten intel from all 32 contestants vying for 20 spots on Survivor’s next “Second Chance” season. I spoke to host Jeff Probst to get his thoughts on the season (as well as an explanation as to why two current players who are still competing on Worlds Apart were eligible on a non-winners season). I looked into the suspicious fine print on the Terms and Conditions page that made it seem like the voting was all a sham. And I told you what to expect when the voting results are revealed live on May 20 during the Worlds Apart reunion show. There’s only one thing left—to actually cast my own ballot. The time has come to do just that. But before I do, I thought I would reveal my voting choices for you all right here and right now.

While making my choices, I tried to do it not as a fan or as a friend. The natural tendency is to vote for the people you like the most. Makes sense. But that’s not always the best way to cast a TV show. If you’re involved in actual casting, you also want to try to select a well-rounded cast (both people to root for and against), and think about how certain people may be good merely because of how people will react to their presence. You may not think someone is great on their own, but if they impact others in a positive or negative way, that improves the season as a whole. I tried to do that in places. This is not a “Dalton’s favorite people” list. There are cases where people I actually like or think are better players I left off my ballot for other people with more potential to move a story in an interesting way.

I will readily admit to one very big bias, and that is toward players from older seasons. It’s not that I think they’re necessarily better, but I do think it will be intriguing to see how they play after so much time away from the game. Plus, there’s an undeniable “where are they now?” nostalgic appeal to seeing them again.  I’ll explain more a little bit later about why a few shoo-in males did not make my final cut, as a result of both this bias and the desire to have a bit of distance before seeing so many of the same people over again—even if their performances do merit another shot at the million bucks.

Okay, enough disclaimers. Let’s get to the lists. Ladies first…

MY TOP 10 WOMEN (in no particular order)

Kelly Wiglesworth

Season 1

Survivor: Borneo

Runner-up 

The “rat” lost the very first season by a mere vote to “snake” Richard Hatch. If she had just guessed better on Greg’s wacky “thinking of a number between 1 and 10” question, she would have won. How can you not want to see how she plays again 30 seasons later?

Kass McQuillen  

Season 28 

Survivor: Cagayan

Previous Finish: 3rd place                                                                           

Her moves were often incomprehensible, but they were always interesting. And at least she was bothering to make moves. Love her or hate her, Kass makes great TV. And for those that say they can’t stand her, remember: The best seasons always have people to root for and against.

Shirin Oskooi 

Season 30 

Survivor: Worlds Apart

Previous Finish: 8th place

Unfortunately for Shirin, most of her first season stay was dominated by the sideshow that became Dan and Will’s tactless behavior toward her. But don’t cast a sympathy vote for Shirin just because she had a tough time the first time around. Cast a vote for Shirin because she knows the game inside out and can put that knowledge to use in the right setting.

Kimmi Kappenberg

Season 2

Survivor: The Australian Outback 

Previous Finish: 12th place

DON’T EAT HER CHICKENS!!! I’m always fascinated seeing how players from the earliest seasons fare after a decade-plus away from the game. On one hand, Skupin and Gervase made it all the way to the end in their returns. On the other hand, they got destroyed in the finals once they made it there. I’m also curious to see how Kimmi has changed as a person after so much time away.

Carolyn Rivera

Season 30

Survivor: Worlds Apart

Previous Finish: ??? (still in game)

Judging by the EW.com message boards, I like Mama C more than most. She was anything but static—bobbing and weaving from side to side without once (yet) becoming a target herself. She found the idol without a clue and has been a beast in challenges. The woman is a flat-out gamer.

Stephanie Valencia 

Season 22

Survivor: Redemption Island

Previous Finish: 14th place

She’s trouble, this one. She was content to simply be Russell’s soldier last time around, but she could be capable of stirring up mischief this time. Curious to see what she can do on her own.

Tasha Fox

Season 28

Survivor: Cagayan

Previous Finish: 6th place

She had moments both good and bad in her first go round, but I think Tasha is a strong competitor and has earned a second shot.

Kelley Wentworth

Season 29   

Survivor: San Juan del Sur

Previous Finish: 14th place  

Let’s face it: She kind of got screwed over by having to play with her dad. Unlike most of the cast from her season, Kelley knows the game and her under-the-radar finish in San Juan del Sur could serve her well here.

Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper

Season 3 

Survivor: Africa

Previous Finish: 5th place

Gotta get another old-school pick in here. The scrappy T-Bird was constantly in the minority, yet still managed to get all the way to fifth place. Plus, she pissed Lex off with her vote—hilarious.

Ciera Eastin 

Season 27 

Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Previous Finish: 5th place

She voted out her mom and had the guts to draw rocks. She earned a second go-round.

DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

Abi-Maria Gomes 

Season 25

Survivor: Philippines

Previous Finish: 5th place

Seeing Abi-Maria and Kass on a tribe together is tempting, but not quite tempting enough.

Peih-Gee Law

Season 15

Survivor: China

Previous Finish: 5th place

China had a pretty amazing cast, but I’d rather see Jean-Robert again than Peih-Gee.

Monica Padilla

Season 19

Survivor: Samoa

Previous Finish: 7th place

I’m totally cool with her making the cast if she does. She tried to take down Russell her first time out, but it was too little, too late.

Natalie Tenerelli

Season 22

Survivor: Redemption Island

Previous Finish: 3rd place

Was one of the lambs brought to slaughter by Boston Rob. Did nothing the first time around to warrant a second shot.

Mikayla Wingle 

Season 23

Survivor: South Pacific

Previous Finish: 14th place   

In the sense that she was ultimately done in by a bizarre Brandon Hantz stalker vibe, I suppose she technically does deserve a second chance. But she still doesn’t make my top 10.                                          

Sabrina Thompson

Season 24

Survivor: One World

Previous Finish: Runner-up          

No One Worlders, thanks.

MY TOP 10 MEN (in no particular order)

Shane Powers

Season 12

Survivor: Panama

Previous Finish: 5th place

Fun Fact: I watched Shane chain smoking and guzzling coffee the day before the game began for Panama. No wonder he went crazy a few days in. But he was more than mere entertainment, making a deep run. Shane was this close to being brought back for Heroes vs. Villains. Hopefully fans are not the ones passing him over this time.

Jim Rice

Season 23

Survivor: South Pacific

Previous Finish: 12th place

I loooooooove Jim Rice—as a player and character, that is. Jim is one of the guys that got screwed over when Cochran was too scared to pull rocks, and I have been hoping for his return ever since. Because he has a forgettable name and went out early in what many consider a forgettable season, he likely will not make the final cut. But that would be a mistake. I say it here and I say it now: Vote Jim Rice!!!

Spencer Bledsoe

Season 28

Survivor: Cagayan

Previous Finish: 4th place

First off, I would bring him back just for the epic temper tantrums alone. They were truly spectacular. But Spencer brings more than just great annoyed facial expressions. Put him back in and he is once again an immediate threat to win. Which is why I want to put him back in.

Terry Deitz

Season 12

Survivor: Panama

Previous Finish: 3rd place

Call him Tom Westman Lite. Just two seasons after Tom dominated challenges all the way to the end, Terry went on another epic winning streak. However, a final immunity test that many deemed unfair ultimately did him in.  Call the Whambulance, because I’m ready for another round of TD!

Andrew Savage

Season 7

Survivor: Pearl Islands

Previous Finish: 10th place

The leader of the Morgan tribe came up big in some challenges, but was doomed when Lillian flipped after the merge. He’s a Probst favorite and was deemed worthy of last-name-only status, so it’s shocking he hasn’t been invited back sooner. The time is right for his return.

Stephen Fishbach

Season 18

Survivor: Tocantins

Previous Finish: Runner-up

I considered leaving him off the list just to mess with him, but the truth is Stephen deserves another shot. His tactical game was strong the first time out, except for one major flaw—he allowed JT to set the narrative of who had played the best game. I mean, there was also the fact that JT played the best game, but still…

Jeff Varner

Season 2 

Survivor: The Australian Outback

Previous Finish: 10th place

Oh, you’re a sneaky one, Jeff Varner—sneaky enough to cause that big blow-up between Kimmi and Alicia, and sneaky enough to get my vote to come back for a second try.

Jeremy Collins

Season 29

Survivor: San Juan del Sur

Previous Finish: 10th place

He was my pick to win last season, and could have if he had done a better job of locking down his alliance.

Vytas Baskauskas

Season 27

Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Previous Finish: 10th place

The chat I did with Aras & Vytas before Blood vs. Water may have been the most impressive pre-game one I ever had—right up there with Yul from Cook Islands. The dude is smart and the dude is smooth, but can he keep his emotions in check?

Woo Hwang

Season 28

Survivor: Cagayan

Previous Finish: Runner-up

Okay, hear me out on this one, because I can already hear the screaming. I want Woo back in for one reason and one reason only—to find out if he really does stand by the move he made to bring Tony to the end, thereby costing himself a million dollars. To see him once again presented with a scenario involving having to choose between the right move (in terms of strategy) versus the right move (in terms of staying true to his moral code) would make for great drama no matter what he decides. So this is less a vote for the player than a vote for the opportunity his casting could present.

DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

Mike Holloway

Season 30

Survivor: Worlds Apart

Previous Finish:: ??? (still in game)

I actually would like to see Mike again because he plays a million miles an hour, even if sometimes—like at the food auction—to his detriment. But this season has been so Mike-heavy that I would prefer a bit of a break before we see him go at it again. Which brings us to…

Max Dawson

Season 30

Survivor: Worlds Apart

Previous Finish: 14th place

I also like Max, so this is not a vote against him but rather a vote against having so many Worlds Apart folks so soon. (And yes, I realize I did not follow that same logic with Cagayan players, but Cagayan at least aired a year ago…and was awesome.) Being a huge longtime Survivor nerd himself, I’m sure Max can appreciate that.

Joe Anglim

Season 30

Survivor: Worlds Apart

Previous Finish: 10th place

Same logic as for Mike & Max. The guy is an absolute lock for next season, though. Doesn’t matter what I say or how I vote.

Brad Culpepper

Season 27

Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Previous Finish: 15th place

Seemed to display some questionable attitudes toward women in his tribe. After Worlds Apart, that is the last thing we need more of. But if you want fireworks, than Brad’s your guy.

Troy “Troyzan” Robertson

Season 24

Survivor: One World

Previous Finish: 8th place

I just can’t with that nickname.

Keith Nale

Season 29

Survivor: San Juan del Sur

Previous Finish: 4th place

The guy was completely clueless his first time around. Why reward that?

What’s your Survivor ballot look like? Give your picks in the comments. And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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