It’s a rainy Thursday here in Midtown, providing a nice rest day between periods of non-stop action for Tech sports where the morale has been high.
After the baseball team kept their undefeated streak alive yesterday afternoon, the evening started sadly with the women’s basketball team’s season ending after a first round loss to Boston College. They made a late run after only scoring six points in the second quarter, but it was not enough as BC took the 62-57 win.
But, our evening in the Georgia Tech world was not over. The famed television show, Survivor, aired its 44th season premiere last night, featuring current Georgia Tech Aerospace Engineering student, Carson Garrett. The 20-year old, who since turned 21 after the season finished filming, is the youngest on this season’s cast. If things pan out right, he could be the youngest ever Sole Survivor in show history.
As for me, I’ve been watching the show since I was five. I remember watching Boston Rob and Rupert go at it during Survivor: All-Stars even though I had no idea what was going on. I loved how the buffs served as team uniforms and the challenges were a brand new type of sport to my young self. While growing up, the show was one of the true constants in my life that has managed to stick around, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
So, with my beat of the women’s basketball team coming to an end for the 2022-23 season yesterday, my attention now shifts to Carson Garrett (who easily could play Harry Potter if they ever did a reboot) and his gameplay on one of the greatest competitions created by man. Please oh please Jeff Probst read his name at least five times at final tribal in a couple months!
Up front, our man Carson has the “smart nerd” typecast. He’s young, well spoken, smart looking, probably because of the glasses. He has the innocent energy your generic Georgia Tech engineering student has who just came to campus as a first-year and doesn’t yet have to face that their academic life is about to go up to a level they’ve never experienced. He talks about how he 3D printed puzzles and had spreadsheets going to prepare himself after receiving the call he made it on the show last March. “I was so ready to see my hard work pay off,” he said in his opening testimonial.
At the first challenge, we see Carson speedily crawling through mud and fetching puzzle pieces in the first phase of the opening reward challenge. His tribe, Tika, sadly would finish last out of the three tribes even after Carson also sped through the middle portion of the challenge, a small table puzzle. This forced them to do another puzzle back at their camp in order to earn flint for their tribe.
Back at Tika camp, Carson notes in the episode that he didn’t want to push the agenda early that he is good at puzzles and strategy, which could easily make him a target to be voted out. He gets pushed by his tribe to solve the puzzle at their camp, which he successfully does, earning Tika’s flint.
To me, this move to not jump at the puzzle but still knock it out of the park is a smart move early on. People don’t really know who he is yet in this very early stage of the game, but he proves early on that he is competent and can be trusted in a pinch. This moves strikes the middle ground of earning brownie points with his tribe without immediately painting a target on his back by showing how hard he could be playing the game early on. Laying low in the early days has been a successful tactic for previous finalists, and may be a smart way for him to go considering his aerospace engineering background would immediately frame him as a player smarter beyond his years.
On the other hand, past winner Tyson Apostol and finalist Reiman Bledsoe on Apostol’s podcast, The Pod Has Spoken note on their recap episode that this kind of move generally isn’t a necessary strategy in the first days because as a tribe, you need every advantage you can get early on to avoid going to tribal council and win rewards.
In casual conversation at camp, the poor guy reveals he’s never been on a date, which spawns this hilarious tweet:
Carson then mentions that he bulked up 30 pounds once he found out he was casted, starting at 115 pounds. “When I had found out I had been casted, I had never been to the gym in my life,” he says in a testimonial. He entered the show at 145 pounds, which surely will help him with his stamina throughout the game. Apostol and Bledsoe lauded this about him, noting they hard a hard time gaining much weight before going on their respective seasons. If Carson did any of his workouts at the CRC, it might be the most important use of their gym equipment ever.
In terms of his early alliance, he pitches Helen and Sarah on working together, which they confirm with a pinky handshake. This became critical as one of Carson’s Tika tribemates, Bruce, became the 17th player in show history to have to leave the game for medical reasons. With Tika reduced to five people, Carson has himself in an early voting majority.
The rest of the two-hour episode did little focus on Carson while other contestants were highlighted in the midst of an injury laden episode where the medical team came out a record four times within the single episode.
For those that want to follow along with the show, episodes air on CBS at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, and episodes can also be found on Paramount+. If you’re looking for a new show, I couldn’t recommend one more.