Pop CultureJuly 2, 2024

The Traitors NZ power rankings: A hard act to swallow


Tara Ward ranks a murderously good first week on The Traitors NZ. 

Welcome, my murderous little cherubs, to what promises to be a humdinger season of The Traitors NZ. Last year’s season looks like child’s play compared to season two, with its spookier setting, complex challenges and absolute cracker of a cast. 22 murderous players have arrived at Claremont Manor desperate to win the $100,000, and they’re prepared to do anything for it. In these first two episodes alone, we saw them lie, cheat, manipulate and deceive, with one traitor so determined to win that she repeatedly lied about her ability to drink water in public.

No water, as we live and breathe? Whatever next – Paul Henry in a dressing gown feeding a silky haired pup a fresh croissant for breakfast?  

That’s right, Paul Henry is back and he’s never been better dressed or with hairier pals. Everyone wanted to be touched by Henry’s hand this week, but only three players would be anointed by him as the lucky traitors: funeral director Whitney, diversity officer Jane and builder Mike. Every single player this year is a non-celebrity, and it’s brought a delicious sense of intrigue to the game. Everyone is on the same terms: it’s killed or be killed, and guilt reeks through every innocuous gesture.  

This week, we had one banishing, one murder and one faithful brought over to be a traitor. There was also a rude doll, an incredible hat, an exploding mine, a water-drinking scandal and a missing eyeball. “May your plans be deadly, may your enemies succumb,” Paul Henry declared as the game began, so let’s take a fatal trip into these corpse-like rankings to see exactly how the bodies fell. 

MURDERED: Janay (faithful)

Nobody wants to be the first one sent home, especially when you went to all the trouble of finding a missing eyeball in a room full of haunted dolls wearing no pants. “I have a small feeling that I did too much,” Janay admitted, having made the classic error of “being an all round threat” and “thinking about the game”. 

Gone too soon… or was she? You don’t have to be Jackie the Clairvoyant to wonder about the pīwakawaka who came inside and shat all over the pool table not long after Janay was murdered…

BANISHED: Terry (faithful)

“I’ve seen someone take three really deep swallows,” Terry announced on day one, thus sealing his fate in three bitter swigs. Everyone knows traitors don’t like discussing their digestive habits, and while Terry was dead right about Jane’s guilty gulps, it would have been little comfort on that cold, lonely drive back to Invercargill. Truly hard to swallow. 

21) Brianna (faithful)

Brianna came in hard for Terry at the round table, then bizarrely walked back her accusation quicker than Paul Henry could take his favourite brooch to meet his gin collection. “Someone might have said something or I might have dreamed it,” she later told the camera. No further questions, your honour.

20) Donna (faithful)

The information manager delivered the most New Zealand moment of the week when she realised she already knew one of her fellow competitors. “I’ve seen you around,” Donna told Jane, who probably wished she had three big glasses of water in front of her to chug down immediately. 

19) Cat (faithful)

Said “yeehaw” when she first arrived at the manor. More of this, please. 

18) Utah (faithful)

Utah secured one of the immunity shields in the second challenge, thus saving himself from being murdered in his sleep by one of Paul Henry’s freaky dolls. Sucks to be them. 

17) Bailey (faithful)

I really like Bailey’s bobble hat. What mysteries lie beneath, I wonder, and what tricks are hiding up her sleeves? How many croissants did Paul Henry’s dog really eat? The answers lie… somewhere under that hat probably. 

16) Noel (faithful)

In breaking news, this New York/Invercargill-based writer declared he’s not prepared to judge people based on them “breathing weird” or “batting their eyelids”. This is a revolutionary approach to the game. Steel yourselves. 

15) Molly (faithful)

As one of two players offered $5000 before she even set foot inside the manor, Molly could have pocketed the cash and immediately turned this game on its head. However, Molly selflessly put the needs of her fellow players ahead of her own desires and donated the money to the prize fund. Boring! Better luck next time.  

14) Siale (faithful)

As a dedicated teacher, Siale is obviously highly skilled at working out when his students are telling porkies, which explains why he was one the first to guess that Whitney was a traitor. See? Education really is the passport to the future. 

13) Brittany (faithful)

Might be murdered, might not be murdered. Who’s to say? 

12) Wiremu (faithful)

 “I think he’s dangerous,” Mike said of the council manager, who nominated Wiremu to be considered for the next murder. Wait until the traitors start discussing the impact of rising rates, the price of parking, and whether the rusty old pipes in the CBD should be replaced. Danger everywhere!

11) Jackie (faithful, traitor)

What a wild ride for Jackie, who was spitting tacks when she wasn’t chosen as a traitor (“if I was a two-year-old I would have had a tantrum”), only to be tickled pick when the traitors bought her over to the other side. Is this where we say that we’re surprised clairvoyant Jackie didn’t see it coming? No? Fine. 

10) Joe (faithful)

“I really didn’t sign up to this running thing, if I’m honest,” Joe shouted, as he jogged towards some sort of haunted public loo that featured a doll’s leg hanging from the roof. Good luck to one and all. 

9) Mark (faithful)

Game master Mark popped up on everyone’s traitor radar this week, mostly because he strolled around with a tiny notebook and openly recorded everyone’s name, job, favourite colour, first kiss, secret shame and cheese preference. Mark calls this approach “tactical game play”, we call it the unexpected sequel to the greatest love story ever told. 

8) Ben (faithful)

Ben believes his close pal Jane is a traitor, but instead of publicly pointing out how much water she drinks, is determined to keep her close. A wise move. Until there is a drought. 

7) Jason (faithful)

“I’m a professional weed puller,” the ex-police and navy officer told everyone, before secretly revealing that he was actually “skilled in the art of war”. It was Jason who noticed Jackie was slumped in her seat after being picked as faithful, and he also deduced the pulsating nerve in Mike’s forehead that screamed “TRAITOR” with every fulsome pump. No weed nor vein is safe. 

6) Andrew (faithful)

Andrew earned points for name-dropping Macbeth in week one, thereby adding a touch of class to what was otherwise a treacherous nightmare of rogue eyeballs and weird dogs. Sadly, he then ruined it all by proclaiming Jackie was his guardian angel, which seems like a real slap in the face to this little guy:  

5) Stephen (faithful)

Incredible week for Stephen. The only thing he did was open a drawer, and the only thing he said was “they’re a lovely bunch of people, shame I’ll have to slaughter them all”. Underestimate him at your peril, for Stephen is playing a game of stealth and silence. Stephen doesn’t need to say anything. He lets his hat do the talking.  

4) Lucy the Doll (hard to tell)

3) Jane (traitor)

Look, if you ever bump into Jane in real life, whatever you do, DO NOT accuse her of taking three big swallows.

2) Mike (traitor)

Once Jason pointed it out, I couldn’t stop looking at that throbbing vein in Mike’s forehead. Perhaps that’s because I am too scared to look Mike directly in the eyes, given he appears to be undertaking a reign of quiet terror. He’s sharp, he’s competitive and on the rare occasion he does speak, he utters deep and meaningful things like “an informed minority will always outsmart an uninformed majority”. Run for your lives.

1) Whitney (traitor)

How Whitney escaped being voted out in week one is a true miracle, given her face is the subtitles to her heart. “I’m very expressional,” the funeral director admitted, as she proceeded to express every expressional there was. She bloody loved murdering Janay (“the feeling in my body was indescribable!”), is happily using Jackie as a human shield and can’t stop grinning. She’s loving life! She’s drinking all the glasses of water! May she walk in the valley of the shadow of death and fear no eyeball, forever and ever, amen. 

The Traitors NZ screens on Three on Monday and Tuesday nights at 7pm and streams on ThreeNow. 

Keep going!