Survivor Game Changers Cast Assessment: Hali Ford

With questions about if she belongs on Survivor: Game Changers, Hali Ford has the chance to earn her keep by ousting some of the game’s best.

Hali Ford was the first member of the jury her first time as a castaway, ultimately casting one of the six votes that named Mike Holloway the Sole Survivor and $1 million winner of Survivor: Worlds Apart. Ford was likable and humorous throughout her run up to the second vote following the merge. However, one could rightfully question why she’s being included as a part of Survivor: Game Changers.

Frankly, Hali is not a game changer. Throughout the 22 days that she has played the game, there is maybe one move of note that she made—and it was hardly a big move in any regard. On the first vote after the merge on Worlds Apart, Ford was savvy enough to let Jenn play her immunity idol on herself rather than ask for it in return when it was clear that she was a likely target. If not asking someone to play their idol for you is your most memorable move in Survivor, though, that’s not saying a great deal.

However, Ford is not alone in being questioned for how much she actually played the game. The likes of Sierra Dawn Thomas, Debbie Wanner and Brad Culpepper all come to mind in that regard, among others. With that said, don’t let that fool you into thinking that she can’t be a factor in the 34th season of the show.

Throughout the pre-game interviews that have been released in recent weeks, Hali has noted that even she feels she doesn’t belong. Most notably when talking with Gordon Holmes of Xfinity, Ford noted that she thought she “played a bad game” on Worlds Apart and ultimately felt she didn’t belong in a season entitled Game Changers. However, she also told Holmes that she’s ready to change that and use her previously poor performance to here advantage.

Because of her personality, the notion of Ford rubbing people the wrong way on the Mana Tribe seems immediately dismissible. She’s going to be liked and going to make friends. Even though we don’t know that, we know that. However, that still puts Hali in an interesting position where should could wind up in the same boat that she was in on Worlds Apart. Being friendly and well-liked only gets you to the merged. Then you become a threat because of that and get booted.

Subsequently, the most important aspect of Ford’s game on season 34 is going to be figuring out that next step. That ultimately leaves her with a couple of options as to how she could change the game.

On the one hand, she could opt for trying to still remain unthreatening by simply staying out of everything. In that interview with Holmes, she agreed with him as he suggested the notion of her trying to play “under under the radar.” That’s certainly something that could work. We’ve seen those types of players have success in all types of seasons, those with returnees and with all new players.

In the case of the latter, Jud “Fabio” Birza took home the $1 million by remaining unthreatening and well-liked and then turning on his game at the very end to get the win on Survivor: Nicaragua. Even as a one-time winner entering Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, you could argue that fellow Game Changers castaway Sandra Diaz-Twine employed the same strategy to topple Russell Hantz and Parvati Shallow.

Then you have the other hand, which would involve a complete turn of character early in the game from Hali. If likability gets her to the merge, that could be the point where she dials the aggression up to 11, looking for strong alliances and/or voting blocs to start making moves against the strongest remaining players. It’s difficult to say if that would happen considering that she has no track record of such a strategy. With that said, that’s a strategy at her disposal assuming that she can make it to the merge once again.

Ultimately, the first strategy appears to be the one that Ford would more likely employ. That seems more in-line with how she’s talking in the pre-season interviews and with how she’s played in her 22 days in the game previously. So, where does that leave her in terms of her chances of winning?

Despite being a bigger threat than some might realize heading into Game Changers, the likelihood of Hali winning still seems minimal. However, it would not be a shock to see her make it much farther than she was able to on Worlds Apart. Ford could very well get to the merge and remain a friend to many throughout several votes. But when it gets down to the final five (or around there), this is too experienced of a cast for her to not be seen as a target and taken down.

Expect a better showing from Hali Ford this time around—but don’t expect her to be the Sole Survivor at season’s end.