Going into Cagayan with three tribes distinctly divided, there's a lot to be predicted and a lot that these contestants will need to live up to. I'm going to come out and say it - I don't think it will be either a Brain or a Brawn that will win, but a Beauty.
Before I address my thoughts on what the Beauty tribe will bring to the table, I'll address comments on the Brain tribe and the Brawn tribe. Both of these tribes have something that the Beauty tribe really doesn't - something to live up to. The Brawn tribe will expect themselves to win every challenge and they'll be immediately labeled as challenge threats from Day One throughout the entire game; they're looking like Tambaqui right now, a tribe that might get too cocky but then blow it. In a three-tribe format, as seen in All-Stars and Philippines, it's easy for one tribe to get decimated (and I think it's a fair assessment that Matsing probably wasn't the tribe initially expected to get decimated until it happened). If the Brawn tribe loses one Immunity challenge, not only will all of the expectations they'd been riding on come crashing to the ground, they could also psych themselves out and subsequently Matsing themselves. While this theory and possibility is hypothetical, what is concrete is that the Brawn Tribe has been labeled as just that - the Brawn tribe. The brawniest of the bunch might be kept while they're still six people strong in their tribe, but when an absorption inevitably happens you can definitely expect them to be singled out as threats by the Beauty tribe and the Brain tribe, and if any of them end up making the merge they'll be singled out undoubtedly as big challenge threats. I put the odds of a member of the Brawn tribe winning the game as the weakest out of the three, and I also think the Brawn tribe will be the one to have all of its members extinguished first; one, maybe with slim odds two, could slip through the cracks, but there is literally no way that you'll see many members of the Brawn tribe make it deep into this game.
The Brain tribe will suffer the same initial psychological issue as the Brawn tribe in that they've also got something huge to live up to. You'll have people like Richard Hatch and Rob Cesternino, I believe, brilliant strategists and most likely huge super-fans in the vein of Colton (not relevant, but as much as I despise Colton, I do think that he is an amazingly brilliant strategist, and his game performances are partially what influences me to believe that there will be super-fans on this tribe, or at least super-fans who are public about their status as such). You'll look to the Brain tribe to have all of these strategies and be huge plotters and probably to be really good at puzzles (which I would consider to be more of a trait of the Brawn tribe due to puzzles usually being an important element in challenges, but look to the first challenge of The Amazon once more to see the rocket scientist and computer genius selected and ultimately failing to do a puzzle; the high IQ's, which also might not necessarily be coherent with the Survivor definition of a brain, are typically singled out as puzzle people) and if they can't live up to any of these reputations, they could also just as easily psych themselves out and begin to flounder aimlessly. I'm throwing this in because I neglected to do so before, I predict that the Brain tribe will be the most self-aware tribe, which will definitely help them out as they'll be able to know where they stand, who stands with them, and where the others stand. I definitely expect the Brain tribe to fare decently well in the tribal portion of the game and I predict we'll be seeing a few of them make it deep into the game, most likely featuring one in the Final Tribal Council, and while I predict that the Brain tribe will be the odds-on favorite to win the game, I don't think that they will. They might play good games, but...
There's the Beauty tribe that will ultimately stop them in their tracks. The main thing that the Beauty tribe will initially have going for them is that unlike the other two tribes they've got no huge expectations of them. You expect the Brain tribe to be brilliant and the Brawn tribe to win challenges, but what do you expect the Beauty tribe to do? Look pretty. The Beauty tribe isn't just people who are pretty though; I saw some comment that the Beauty tribe most likely represents the social element of the game and I use this to back up many of my initial expectations of this tribe. Yet another comparison to the Amazon, I believe that our Beauty tribe will be like the younger women of Jaburu, people that you don't expect much from but will ultimately chameleon themselves and outplay you (the Beauty tribe will probably play a much better social game, I hope). Of the ten seasons that I've seen, I would rank Jenna Morasca as the weakest and perhaps most undeserving of the title, but I've got to hand it to her in that she used her status as just another unassuming pretty young girl and rode it deep to the game. You've got Heidi Strobel who is smart as hell and athletic as hell but ultimately consistently bookmarked as just a dumb blonde with a pretty face. The Beauty tribe is going to be likable as hell and they're all going to have a huge advantage over the other two tribes in that their individual strengths, be it brilliance or athleticism, aren't going to be showcased and flaunted and will be able to remain well hidden. The Brain tribe might have some really sociable and likable people, the Brawn tribe might have some really attractive and likable people, but these traits will ultimately just be in supplement to their perceived brilliance and athleticism, respectively. The Beauty tribe will be able to successfully navigate themselves deep into the game by masquerading their skills, being unassuming pawns in what could end up as a huge power struggle as the Brain tribe and Brawn tribe duke it out with each other, viewing their rivals as the largest threats. Nobody will assume that a Beauty will be the biggest target out there or that they will win the game, which is exactly why they will. I predict that you'll have more members of the Beauty tribe enter the merge than any other tribe, and you'll see more of them go deep in the game than members of their rivals. Beauty is my hands-on tip to win right now, and I'm going to stand by this assessment even though there have been no cast reveals or interviews yet, and even when those are revealed, I'll stand by my guns.
I drew several parallels to The Amazon; the Brain tribe is your Rob Cesternino and Dave Johnson association, the Brawn tribe is your run-of-the-mill Tambaqui, and your Beauty tribe will be Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel with amazing likability and social games. Like how these different fractions eventually merged into the Jaburu Alliance, just watch the Beauty tribe have their pick to determine the fate of the game in either siding with the Brain tribe or the Brawn tribe - nobody is coming after them.
I'll close this post with my assessment of what I think entails a Beauty, a Brain, and a Brawn in the Survivor sense of the terms, although the way actual casting broke down might disagree with my point of view:
- Beauty: Very likable people that will play great social games, and will appropriately be attractive as well; Cagayan is basically tailor-made for these people to not have targets on their back at all until it comes clean that they're actually huge threats and targets, but by then it'll be too late.
- Brain: Master strategists and great commentators, in the vein of Cesternino, Cochran, and Penner. LIke Stapley they'll be able to figure you out in a heartbeat.
- Brawn: Amazing and excelling at challenges, be them water-themed, endurance-themed, or fantastic at puzzles. They're going to be all-around challenge beasts, not one-dimensional obstacle course winners.
And last but not least, if this season was all-star themed, who would I have wanted to be cast?
- Beauty: Natalie Bolton, Jay Byars, Malcolm Freberg, Brenda Lowe, Hayden Moss, Heidi Strobel
- Brain: Andrea Boehlke, Caleb Bankston, Rob Cesternino, Sophie Clarke, Stephen Fishbach, Eliza Orlins
- Brawn: John Cody, Bobby Jon Drinkard, R.C. Saint-Amour, Kim Spradlin, Reynold Toepfer, Kelly Wiglesworth
With these picks, I've only seen ten out of twenty-seven seasons and some were definitely hard to place, but this would be my dream list and I'll defend and of these wanna-be selections if need be. (Note: These selections are based on my personal preferences, which includes my dislike for four-time players and discludes whether or not these players would actually return to the game or not.)
If you actually read all of this, thanks.