Jeff Probst, Benjamin "Coach" Wade
[SPOILER ALERT: This article reveals key plot details from the season premiere of Survivor: One World.]
Survivor: One World, which premiered Wednesday, is going to be very different. Here's why: For the first time in the show's 23-season history, both tribes will share one camp from the get-go. They're free to share, barter, form alliances with their rivals — pretty much anything goes. The tribes have been divided into men vs. women, and they've done away with Redemption Island. We, of course, have our own opinions about what went down during Wednesday's premiere, but we thought it would be insightful (and fun) to get feedback from a Survivor veteran, one of the most notorious, controversial competitors to ever play the game. Benjamin "Coach" Wade has participated in three different seasons of the show, and while he's never won, he was last season's runner-up. Read on to see what Coach thinks of Survivor: One World.
What was your initial thought when you found out the tribes were sharing a camp?
Coach: One World on the same beach? Amazing. What a great twist. With that many people on the same beach, it's bound to be two or three times the drama.
Probst also announced the teams would be split men vs. women. Do you think the women are at an extreme disadvantage?
Coach: They have strength and brains, but what the women have against them right now is unity. When you're not unified, you're not going to win challenges. At tribal, they got so catty.
What do you think of the men's team?
Coach: It's a "Tool Academy" alliance with Matt and his boys. That one scene of them walking toward the camp — the smug looks on their faces... You can tell they're all talk. It's common sense to be friendly with the girls and not make war. That macho front, the whole "we don't need the girls" attitude? The moves you make early on in the game will be remembered by both tribes. And the men have drawn a pretty strong wall down the middle.
Check out photos from Survivor: One World
Tarzan, who by the way is a plastic surgeon (never would have thought!) says that you are the Survivor contestant most similar to him because you are "a romantic, adventurer, poetic and creative." What are your initial impressions of Tarzan?
Coach: Flattery will get you everywhere! He was interesting because there are so many levels of ego on the male tribe, and even though he came off very strong in the beginning, he's got a couple feathers in his hat. First of all, he likes me. Second, he works really hard, and third, he seems smart enough to sit on the back burner. Also, he doesn't look like a plastic surgeon.
Would you have given the girls fire?
You need to play nice and give them some fire. Share the fire, share the chickens, try to play nice... and then stab them in the back.
Should the men have taken immunity or finished the competition?
It was a cowardly move. I don't want weak players or weak moves out there. They were cowards when they said to the girls, "You would have done the same thing," trying to justify it. Just don't say anything!
What advice do you have for the players based on what you've seen so far?
For the men's team, the misfits should bond together and start voting off someone that is a cancer from the Tool Academy. Colton -- with that much testosterone around, he's lucky he got that idol. He would have gone home if he hadn't been given immunity. You have to be a lot more subtle. I really hope the women get it together. I'd like to see girl power.
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Is there anyone you see as a stand-out competitor at this point?
For the guys' team, I think the front-runner is Jay. He's an alpha male, but he'll have sense enough to subtly weave his way into the girls' side. For the girls... Chelsea, the way she caught those chickens! That was crazy. I couldn't believe she did that. She's tough. Also, Monica — I can tell she's going to be subtle and not get into the arguments.
What's it like for you, watching now that you're not playing?
I totally said after this last time, "I'm never going back," but you start to watch the new season and you're sitting on the outside and there's such a strong sense of nostalgia. It's surreal. It's such a cornerstone of the reality TV market and to have been a part of it three times. I feel pretty lucky.
Survivor: One World airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.