Credit: Image Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS[/caption]

I was embedded with the contestants before filming began on Survivor: Cook Islands, and after seeing the way the players reacted to each other in that environment (even without speaking) I was sure of one thing: that Sekou Bunch and Jonathan Penner would be the first two people voted out. Well, turns out I was half right. Sekou was, indeed, the first person eliminated, but Penner not only had a nice run — finishing in 7th place — but he even became a Jeff Probst favorite and was asked to play again in Fans vs. Favorites and the upcoming Survivor: Philippines.

Now, Penner reveals that he was close to appearing in Heroes vs Villains as well…until a new face with a similar affinity for headgear burst upon the Survivor scene right before filming commenced. After Russell Hantz showed up in Survivor: Samoa (which filmed right before Heroes vs Villains), Penner got a call informing him that his services (and Alan Alda sound-alike voice) would no longer be required. “They said, ‘There’s a guy out here that the producers say has to come back,” Penner says the folks in casting told him. “‘He’s the ultimate supervillain.’”

So it would seem Penner would have been on the Villains side had Russell not come along. But wait, wasn’t fellow mutineer Candice Woodcock a Hero? How could Penner have been a Villain if Candice was a Hero? The returning player and I mull that over in the video player below. Also check out some in-game footage of Penner on his new Survivor: Philippines tribe. Is he already looking for hidden immunity idols? It would seem so! And for more Survivor news and views, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.