Survivor: Island of the Idols – Lairo Tribe Assessment

Survivor U.S. returns for it’s 39th season which sees 20 all-new castaways compete for the title of Sole Survivor and one million dollar prize. The twist? This time former Survivor winners Sandra and Rob are mentors to the cast!

With a continuous and successful run for almost 20 years, Survivor has changed the way Reality TV appears on television, and each new edition brings something new and exciting to the format.

Sandra Diaz-Twine and Rob Mariano, both former winners, returning to act as mentors to this year’s group of Survivor contestants.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Four-time player and former winner, Rob Mariano, and three-time player and two-time winner, Sandra Diaz-Twine (both pictured above), will live on their own island where castaways will individually visit to gain advice and maybe an advantage, if they’re lucky. The 20 competitors are split into two tribes. Below is my pre-game assessment for the Lairo tribe.


AARON MEREDITH, 36 – GYM OWNER

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Aaron is super keen! Like, really enthusiastic about getting out here. He talks fast, and he holds a lot of energy in his voice. With a family waiting at home, Aaron’s got a lot of life in him that’s going to make him likeable, and being a fan will hopefully keep him aware of what’s going on. My only problem is that because he’s so excited to play, he might come in way too hot and rub people the wrong way for playing too hard. He’s a big guy, and while we often see the bigger men last a while in Survivor, I’ve got a feeling he might be one to fizzle out early. Although if he can control the energy, he might be alright.

CHELSEA WALKER, 26 – DIGITAL CONTENT CREATOR

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

I am so excited for Chelsea! The fact that someone sits in a certain spot for the cast photo, only because it has often been the spot where a winner has been pictured, is amazing. She is a true fan. She’s ready and raring to go and I truly hope she doesn’t let all her pre-game work to be an effective player go to waste. She says she’s going to keep a low profile in the beginning, and as long as she sticks to that there’s no reason why she can’t be an incredible player. Prediction: Blindsided at the merge. Someone’s gonna figure out she’s ruthless, and it might just come at the ultimate price.

RONNIE BARDAH, 35 – PROFESSIONAL POKER PLAYER

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

With a World Series of Poker bracelet back at home, Ronnie’s got to be a lock for someone who can grab a good read on social interactions. Will he catch people lying? 9/10 times, surely. He comes across as interesting and persuasive, and I think he’ll be a great social player. He isn’t overbearing, which likely will put him a bit further behind on the target list against someone more abrasive. But eventually, Ronnie might find himself left in the minority and without an ally. I’ll go on record saying I don’t think he’s going to be a giant player this season. But I don’t think he’ll exit the season too soon.

ELAINE STOTT, 41 – FACTORY WORKER

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Cool, calm and collected, Elaine’s got a unique personality that draws a lot of people in. She’s definitely got a great vibe about her that shows she’s got a big heart and an even bigger strategy. While she says she wants to, “hit the ground running,” I think it’s the right strategy for her because of her intentions to be useful around camp. It’s not strategically that she wants to jump the gun, it’s about being a critical player and providing a solid work ethic that actually moves the attention away to someone else who isn’t doing that. I actually think Elaine might manage to win the game, she’s hitting every aspect of Survivor effectively enough, at least in her pre-season strategy.

VINCE MOUA, 27 – ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

When Vince was asked to describe himself in three words, not one was a single word, but hyphened-words-that-made-sense. Like, “not-afraid-to-flip-tables”. Anyone who’s blatantly ready to ignore rules for a simple question is going to be a risk taker on Survivor. He’s got a small/precious personality and engages in conversation well. He’s been compared to Donathan from Survivor: Ghost Island, and in terms of placement I have to agree. There’s a lot of similarities, and either he might go very far or go out very early. If he manages to bond with enough people, he might be able to fly under the radar for a while.

MISSY BYRD, 24 – AIR FORCE VETERAN

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Going into analysing Missy, I thought I wouldn’t be a fan. Her bio questions were paired with small answers, and I thought maybe she wouldn’t fit for Survivor. But I was so wrong! After developing a debilitating brain tumor earlier in life, and surviving that with an incredible story of hardship and heartbreak, she’s here and ready to survive this game. She does talk a lot, but I definitely think her gameplan to be social will work for her. Forming a solid alliance would be extremely beneficial for her, and I think she’s loud and proud enough to call some shots, yet not be seen as too big of a threat because of it. I’m excited for Missy.

TOM LAIDLAW, 60 – FORMER HOCKEY PLAYER

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

The very first Canadian person to play Survivor, Tom is assertive, bold and fierce. He’s got a big personality, and to me is a splitting image of Paul from Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X. A guy who is so big, he calls the shots on his tribe, until he’s blindsided for…calling the shots on his tribe. I do not predict Tom will last too long, and will be one of the later pre-merge boots this season. I just think he’s gonna dig his own hole too quickly and won’t recover from rubbing people the wrong way. If I’m wrong, I think his alliance will keep him around as a shield for as long as he can, and he’s taken out earlier within the merge.

KARISHMA PATEL, 37 – PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Karishma is a huge fan of Survivor, and often lawyers tend to play pretty successfully on the show, whether they win or not. They’re at least recognisable players, and I don’t disagree Karishma won’t be one. She doesn’t rush her words, she takes time to assess every sentence and what comes out of her mouth. This hopefully will be an essential tool to Karishma, so she can watch what she says before she does and it might see her take a path all the way until the end. She says taking the risk of playing is the easiest decision she’s ever made. Wanting to explore herself and what she’s capable of, so why not play a 39-Day game without food or comfort?

DEAN KOWALSKI, 28 – TECH SALESMAN

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

With a bright smile and a jovial personality, Dean admits he isn’t a superfan, but a big fan of Survivor. The immediate archetype of likeable and personable is evident, he’s just got the look of someone you wanna align with on Day 1. If I’m right, Dean’s gonna find himself in the numbers and probably coast through to the merge unscathed. Once there, if he can fulfill his perceived goals to outwit, outlast, and outplay, Dean might be able to maneuver between alliances and see a deep run into the season. If there’s a few threats in front of him on his path, I can see Dean making it to the end and winning.

ELIZABETH BEISEL, 26 – OLYMPIC MEDALIST

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Loud and enthusiastic, Elizabeth has the makeup of a great physical competitor. After competing at the Olympics for swimming three times, Elizabeth is trying her turn at Survivor, where we’ve seen some unsuccessful swimmers before (Katrina Radke, first boot, anyone?). But I think Elizabeth might turn the luck around because of how vocal she is in conversation. She’s extremely invested and prepared to play, and with a self-described, “positive attitude”, she will probably play a key role in some votes. But do I see her winning it all? Not really. Maybe she’ll make it pretty far, but I think other personalities on this cast might overshadow Elizabeth herself.


That’s the Lairo tribe! Click here to read my assessment of the Vokai tribe.

Survivor: Island of the Idols premieres in Australia on 9Go! at 7:30pm, Thursday, the 26th of September!


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