Survivor Edge of Extinction cast assessment: Eric Hafemann is a shy firefighter

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Despite all the reasons in the world to be confident ahead of Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Eric Hafemann presents himself as quite bashful.

There have been many first responders across numerous Survivor seasons to compete on the show. Of such players, two police officers (Tony Vlachos and Sarah Lacina) and two firefighters (Tom Westman and Jeremy Collins) have gone on to win their season, showing the gamut of personalities CBS has brought onto the show. Eric Hafemann might lean decidedly toward to JP Hilsabeck side of first responders.

I’m personally a pretty shy guy but open up once people get to know me, so I understand how I can come across at first glance. However, Eric Hafemann seems to lean into his calm, quiet “everyday guy” shtick in his ET Canada video, describing himself as the player someone at home can connect with due to his incredible regularness. I’m tempted to say he has a vanilla personality, but I feel like that would be a great disservice to the flavor vanilla, to put it in Survivor terms.

That’s what makes Eric’s Survivor muse so interesting, as he claims to take after Tony Vlachos’ game. It’s more of the drive to be 100% on at all times, be thinking of strategies and work all angles of the game that Eric sees in himself, as he looks to be one of the more driven players in Edge of Extinction. Still, seeing how Eric looks down and to the side so often in conversation, it’s hard to see shades of the direct, in-your-face style of Tony Vlachos within.

Having a strong drive is very important in Edge of Extinction because of the new twist coming to the game, as it will test players’ physical, mental, emotional and survival skills all at once. His strength is enough to carry his tribe through the merge phase, as his firefighter skills should make him a provider early on. It’s just I think he will be a bit milquetoast on the journey.

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If you do see a bit more of Eric Hafemann throughout this Survivor season, it might be due to his very rootable story. As noted in his CBS bio, his older son Levi is his inspiration for playing, as Eric learns from the challenges his son has in life as part of being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. No matter what persona comes off on the television screen, he will have that story help humanize his character.

To me, Eric Hafemann comes off as one of those Survivor players you most medium suspect of winning Edge of Extinction. The advantage heavily favors the returnees, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those players does grab the majority of the attention all season long. However, he has a good head on his shoulders, he’s levelheaded, he doesn’t want to raise too much attention to himself, and he wants to go about his business.

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Pretty much everything you would expect out of a regular dude, Eric’s your guy. However, everyday guys and girls get things done, and players like Sarah Lacina prove that you don’t need a flashy persona to be a first responder and win Survivor.