Survivor: One World: Stephen Fishbach Sizes Up the Contestants

Survivor: One World Premiere - Who to Root For: Stephen Fishbach's Take
Stephen Fishbach
Monty Brinton/CBS

02/15/2012 AT 05:00 PM EST

"I was just trying to observe, as carefully as I could, to determine what people were here for and what they were doing." – Richard Hatch, Winner, Survivor: Borneo

Survivor is back for a new season, and after two years of Redemption Island and the Medallion of Power, we finally have a twist worth getting excited about: One World puts both tribes on the same beach, and opens the door to a whole new evolution of strategic play. I can't wait!

The twist this season divides the tribes by gender. But, while they will remain distinct tribes, both groups are going to live on the same beach. Note to CBS: shouldn't this have been called One Beach?

On a normal season of Survivor, tribes feel an intense bond of team loyalty before the merge. Not only are you relying on your new friends to stay warm and find food, but you're competing against the other tribe for your life in the game. You've never even met the other tribe. And unless Jeff Probst talks to them at a challenge, you may not even know their names. In Tocantins, we knew Tyson only as "Man Panties," so dubbed because of his scandalously sheer underwear choices.

Now, living together, the traditional tribe loyalties get upended. Will flirting with the opposite tribe mean flirting with disaster? Or will the sneakiest sneaksters create cross-tribal alliances to undermine their supposed allies? We could even see a tribe throw a challenge to save a friend on the opposing team.

Moreover, a new rule for the hidden idols means that you must share your idol with a member of the other tribe. That's a smart move by CBS that guarantees hot inter-tribal action.

You Only Get One Shot

Ding, dong, Redemption Island's dead! Now when contestants are eliminated, the only way back into the game will be on an all-star season. So remember, players, talk a lot of smack, make pointless big moves, and ham it up for the cameras!

Pre-Season Standouts

As a whole, this group is ridiculously attractive. Jay alone seems to have more abs than the entire cast of South Pacific. I'm actually rooting for a few of the beach beauties just based on pure eye candy appeal. Maybe adorable moppet Kat will turn out to be a strategic mastermind? Probably not, but a boy can dream!

It's really hard to guess pre-season who's going to do well. The guys all say they'll play with honor, but backstab when they need to. The girls will flirt and stay under the radar. And everyone has some trivial secret to hide that they think could make them a "threat" (I was a cop, lawyer, whitewater rafting guide, I once rode a pony, etc.).

That's why my early favorite has to be Alicia. I loved her nervous energy, and she is literally the only girl who even mentions backstabbing in her intro video.

I'm also rooting for Colton. He adds a little super-fan flair to a male tribe composed mostly of square-jawed dudes with rippling abs.

I like Kim, too, whose combination of athleticism, intelligence and self-awareness suggests she could go far. And then there's Leif – a bit of stunt casting. He's the first contestant ever who can't form a complete sentence.

This might be a particularly bad season to be a dbag. The mixed-up tribal structure could be bad news for banker Michael, lawyer Matt, and pinhead Jay. Cross-tribal scheming could replace challenge prowess pre-merge, and they could find themselves early targets.

But the match-up I'm most excited for may be the Battle of the Geriatric Delusional Monkey-Men. There's Tarzan and Troyzan – and only one can claim the title of Sole Lunatic!

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