CBS’s “Survivor: Game Changers” is set to premiere on March 8 featuring a cast entirely composed of all-stars and, thematically speaking, players that in their past seasons changed the way the game of “Survivor” is played. One of those players is Andrea Boehlke, back for her third time following a fifth place finish on “Survivor: Redemption Island” (Season 22) and a seventh place finish on “Survivor: Caramoan” (Season 26). Andrea has always been her own worst enemy in “Survivor” — can she reel in her aggressive style long enough to win this time? Read my analysis of how her past performance is likely to impact her game and then make your own “Survivor” predictions ahead of the first episode.
Most contestants to play “Survivor” multiple times make a shift in their second attempt in order to correct the mistakes they made the first time around, but not Andrea. Much like her initial appearance on “Survivor: Redemption Island,” Andrea’s performance on “Survivor: Caramoan” was hindered by an inability to recognize and then minimize her own threat level. On both seasons she was in a long-term alliance with the eventual winners — Rob Mariano and John Cochran — each of whom blindsided her because she was, like them, smart enough to be thinking about how she was going to get to the end. The problem being that Andrea laid all her cards on the table for everyone to see rather than keeping her plans hidden until the right time.
On “Survivor: Redemption Island,” Andrea’s biggest mistake was playing up her relationship with Matt Elrod, an alliance member that her tribe had actually voted out twice already — once on Day 5 and again on Day 21 after he briefly returned to the game from Redemption Island. Matt continued to win challenges for a second return to the game, posing the threat that he could rejoin Andrea to build an alliance against Rob’s. So, Rob voted her out to make sure that didn’t happen and then when Andrea won the challenge to return from Redemption Island he voted her out again.
Andrea’s “Survivor: Caramoan” story is almost too similar — Cochran silenced her desires to turn on their alliance by blindsiding her before she could take out one of his strongest allies, Dawn Meehan. One of the reasons Cochran won that season unanimously is because he realized his belief that “Survivor” is a game of timing, managing to strike against your threats before they can attack you. This is a lesson hopefully Andrea learned and will bring with her to “Survivor: Game Changers.”
There’s no denying that Andrea is a game changer — she’s been very close to being one of the best strategic thinkers on both of her previous seasons. In many ways she’s a lot like Parvati Shallow, winner of “Survivor: Micronesia” and runner-up to Sandra Diaz-Twine on “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains,” because she plays aggressively, is a skilled manipulator and sees the value in flirtation. But to win this time I hope she marries those qualities with the more low-key, humble strategic approaches that Cochran and Todd Herzog (“Survivor: China”) were able to employ in their wins.
Get a closer look at the Season 34 contestants by clicking through our cast photo gallery. In our “Survivor” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions before each episode airs on CBS every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET.:
Who will win “Survivor”?
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Who will win Immunity?
Will a hidden idol be played?
Will anybody quit or be medevaced?
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Survivor” in our reality TV forum.