Survivor Edge of Extinction cast assessment: Chris Underwood is the show’s melting pot

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

Seeing what Chris Underwood brings to the table in Survivor: Edge of Extinction, it’s hard not to see a lot of modern character archetypes within him.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I started my professional writing career covering video games for our sister site. I made it a point of pride not to compare video games I was writing about to other video games that have been released because each one is different and marches to the beat of its own drum. Despite that, it’s hard not to compare Chris Underwood to past Survivor players; especially those that ran deep in the game.

Chris isn’t afraid to make comparisons, though, as his CBS bio suggests he’s the most similar to the best representations of the core Survivor skills. He says Malcolm due to his charm, Rob due to manipulative leader skills, Spencer in terms of strategy and Ozzy’s water skills. Though that might seem boastful, he seems to mean well and have that confidence come from a place of achieving his goals.

He also notes that he went from a barista to managing a top sales team at a solar company as a district sales manager within a year. You wouldn’t expect that from the way he carries himself in his ET Canada video, as he shows more of a laidback, calm, cool, chill demeanor. He has the makings of a well-built surfing instructor, yet he has the mind of someone who can subtly manipulate you to make the sale.

Chris talks about how his preparation for Survivor has pretty much carried through his entire life; he’s an outdoorsy person who can swim like the best of them, climb like a champion and can fish, make fire, build shelter and cook for his tribe. However, he knows the game is based on manipulation, so he won’t be as one-note of an archetype as you saw from early game legends.

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Each time I read or see more about Chris, the most it’s hard not to ignore his charm. He talks himself up a bit, but there’s nothing that suggests he isn’t capable of backing that up (and even suggests he’ll be more modest once the game starts). His career as a sales manager backed by his natural charisma will carry over to Survivor very well.

When I see him carry himself and talk himself up in a bashful, charismatic way, it’s hard not to see the Malcolm Freberg comparisons. However, if he can talk himself down to a more chill, non-nuanced way, I can also see the mixture of Devon Pinto; a surfing guy that’s easy to become friends with. Him, Chris and Malcolm all have that sneakily smart mentality that can be hidden (strategically) behind the laissez-faire persona.

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The problem with out-and-out players with this talent set is that eventually they are figured out or, if they don’t show their strategic side, they don’t get the credit. However, just like Malcolm showed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris goes deep in his Survivor: Edge of Extinction run only to be cut near the end (after Extinction ends). Still, a deep run is a hell of a baseline for Chris Underwood.