Survivor Ghost Island cast: Chelsea Townsend might be the season’s biggest wildcard

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor Ghost Island player Chelsea Townsend has garnered mixed review from Jeff Probst and fellow castaways. Will she be an early boot or surprise us all?

Survivor is all about first impressions. As we’ve seen time-and-time again, the way your fellow castaways perceive you makes or breaks your chances of taking home the title of Sole Survivor. For L.A.-native Chelsea Townsend, the uncertainty surrounding her could be the kiss of death for her game on Survivor: Ghost Island.

The fiery redhead pulls double duty as both an EMT and a professional cheerleader. A long-time fan of the game, Chelsea is no stranger to the ins and outs of Survivor. In her preseason interview with Josh Wigler for The Hollywood Reporter, Chelsea explained some of the insights she’s gained after watching the show for years. “One of the biggest things about this game is you have to keep the target off your back,” she said.

Unfortunately, the target might already be painted for Chelsea. When asked for their thoughts on Chelsea, her fellow castaways weren’t quite sure what to make of her. “She can’t even hide the fact that she’s going to stab you in the back. She can’t even hide it. She’s here to get her hands dirty and get blood on her hands. I can just tell. I can see it in her eyes. I’m a good reader of people,” fellow Naviti tribe member Desiree Afuye said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Libby Vincek said, “She’s very athletic. She’s sweet. She smiles. She doesn’t give off this ‘I’m better than you’ vibe. If I’m going to be in an alliance with girls, I’d want her to be one of them.”

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Host Jeff Probst also expressed uncertainty about Chelsea’s chances in the game, saying, “If she flamed out fast, I would be bummed for her, but not surprised. If she ran an alliance, I also wouldn’t be surprised. It comes down to this: how much of her EMT training and experience can she apply to this game?”

After watching Chelsea’s introduction video, I believe she has the ability to make it deep into the game. Chelsea has a certain social sensibility that will serve her well if she can figure out how to leverage it without painting herself as too obvious of a target.

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I consider Chelsea a blend of former winners Parvati Shallow from Micronesia and Michelle Fitzgerald from Kaoh Rong. Both women, while physical enough, played dominant social games that got them to the end and resulted in them earning enough jury votes to win. Despite the controversy over Michelle’s win, she and Parvati proved the importance of playing a strong social game focused on building relationships and alliances.

For Chelsea, it’s all going to come down to aligning with the right people as soon as the castaways hit the beach and proving she is a loyal ally. Once she builds that trust, she’ll then be able to manipulate other castaways using her social savvy.

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While the “Big Moves” area has made it harder for strategic players to fly under the radar and make it to the end, Chelsea has the potential to be one of the top female castaways in recent seasons, with a real possibility of taking home the million-dollar prize. As Chelsea said herself, “I want to be the person no one sees coming.” I predict this will come true and we might have the makings of a great Survivor villainess on our hands.