“Survivor” is back! The longest running prime-time game show around is in its 25th edition and even before the first frame of footage is shown, I know this is going to be an interesting season.
For starters, we get three “Survivor” veterans who had to leave previous games for medical evac. Michael Skupin, who fell into a fire in season two of “Survivor,” has always been one of my favorite players from the past and I am eager to see him get a second chance. Jonathan Penner showed off plenty of personality and willingness to make crazy moves the two previous times he was on the show. As for Russell Swan, well… he was sorta interesting when he was on in Samoa. Welcome back!
But, the reason I am really excited for this season is two of the newbies. Jeff Kent was an elite pro sports athlete, one of the finest offensive second-basemen in Major League Baseball history. He earned tens of millions of dollars playing baseball, so he isn’t here for the money – he’s here to compete! I like that. And, as a child of the 80s, I grew up with “The Facts of Life.” To have Blair, Lisa Welchel, on Survivor is a blast from the past. Blair was always snooty and self-important, but was fiercely loyal to her friends on “Facts of Life.” If Lisa plays Survivor that way, she is going to be fun! It is worth noting that Lisa is known to be fervently proud of her religious passions, something that has led to conflict for other Survivor players in the past.
Well, enough background for me… time for the recap!
The show begins and they promptly introduce us to Jeff and Lisa, both of whom vow to keep their famous identities secret. Smart move. We also get quick recaps of the 3 former injured players who are back for another shot at the game.
There are 15 players, divided into 3 tribes. Host Jeff Probst wastes no time bringing the three returnees into the game, putting one on each tribe meaning we will have 18 total players in the game. It takes Michael Skupin about 2 seconds to recognize Lisa and he admits he almost called her “Blair.” But, he holds off, perhaps realizing that his knowledge could be of strategic importance.
Probst tells them to get as many supplies as they can off the boat and load it onto rafts. I love this part! I think one tribe accidentally drowned a chicken in the frenzy. But, what really matters is that Jeff Kent hurts his knee. He says he heard something pop and worries that he might have torn his MCL. Not a good way to start the game!
We start with Russell’s tribe, Matsing. Russell tells them all that he has no desire to be the leader, but he starts ordering folks around like a leader. One guy on the tribe, Malcolm, seems to really know what he is doing and, with his advice, Russell manages to start a fire by rubbing sticks together. That is impressive! You rarely see tribes get fire on the own. Strong start for Matsing.
We next spend some time with Jonathan Penner’s tribe, Kalabaw. Jeff Kent is here and he can tell his knee is in bad shape. But, bad knee or not, Jeff Kent is plotting. He gathers the new players together and they all seem to agree that they will vote Penner out as soon as they get a chance. The returning players always seem to face prejudice against them because “they already had their chance.” It looks like Penner landed in a bad place.
Skupin’s tribe, Tandang, is up next. Skupin looks really buff. His face has aged, but he is in great shape. Almost immediately, three of the younger members of the tribe form an alliance and come to Skupin to be their fourth. Good for Michael… bad for Blair/Lisa as she seems to be the first person the alliance is targeting.
Back at Kalabaw, Jeff talks about not wanting to reveal his identity and the fact that he made millions playing baseball. But, one of his tribe mates, Dawson, says her boyfriend is a big baseball fan and she recognizes him. She doesn’t reveal this to anyone yet… but says she will use it at some point.
Lisa is also trying to keep her fame secret. But, in doing so she may be giving off a deceptive vibe. Members of her tribe seem to sense that she is hiding something. Skupin approaches her privately and tells her he knows who she is. She says she is no longer the Hollywood star that she was in the 80s and Skupin agrees not to tell anyone anything.
At Matsing, we spend some time getting to know Zane, who looks a little freaky with tons of tattoos. We hear a little bit about how interesting he is and then we see him making alliances with everyone on the tribe. He says, “I am perfect for this show” and brags about how he has pulled the wool over all their eyes. Zane, Zane, Zane… dude, that is wrong! You need to be really smart to pull off the multiple alliances thing and I don’t get the feeling Zane can do it.
A clue to the location of the immunity idols is hidden in each tribe’s bag of rice. Jonathan finds his. So does Russell. Zane sees Russell do it and vows to take Russell out if they lose the challenge.
It has been a while, but it is finally time for an immunity challenge! It involves paddling, swimming, and putting a puzzle together. Three tribes compete and the one that comes in last will have to vote someone out.
Skupin’s Tandang tribe takes an early lead. Skupin still seems like a BOSS in the challenges. Jeff Kent is doing well despite his bad knee and his Kalabaw tribe is in 2nd but then passes Tandang while solving the puzzle to take first place in the challenge. Matsing is well back in 3rd place throughout most of the challenge and ends up losing. Someone from Matsing is going home tonight. Russell, despite pledging not to act like a leader, admits that he was ordering people around in the challenge and takes responsibility for the loss. He could easily be the one voted out.
Back at camp, Zane says he is cramping and is just not in shape to play the game. He asks them to vote him out. He secretly admits that this is all strategy to see how much everyone likes him. He is pretending to be weak because he thinks they all like him so much that they will take Russell out anyway. Ummm, this seems really, really stupid to me. Like monumentally stupid.
Other members of Matsing practically beg Zane to stick around, but he is still waffling about it and pretending to be weak. I don’t even begin to understand this strategy. It is clear that his tribe likes him and wants to keep him in the game, but he is making it easy for them to take him out instead. He seems to think he is making some brilliant move. I don’t see it. I don’t get it. Playing the “I am weak and not a threat” card at the start of the game is dumb. That is a card you play after 10+ players have been taken out, not at the start. This makes no sense. I think they are going to vote Zane out.
There is a funny moment when Zane calls himself a master at chess and says, “King me!” Uhh, Zane, you “King” someone in checkers, not chess. So, not only does he not know how to play Survivor, but he does not know how to play board games either. I am laughing at his so-called “strategy.”
At tribal council, Zane again admits that he is weaker than most of the other players. Russell admits that he forgot his own advice about not coming on too strong and that he had no right to seize the leader role. He seems to be apologizing. I am not sure if his tribe bought Russell’s contrition, but they vote out Zane. His stupidity is rewarded! Zane is the first player sent home.
So, fellow “Survivor” fans, what did you think of the first episode? Does Zane go down as one of the classic idiots in Survivor history? Can Lisa and Russell change some of the bad vibes sent their way and last a while? How hurt is Jeff Kent and can he last once his tribe finds out he is a millionaire baseball player? And, the question I want to know, can Super-Skupin make a deep run? Leave a comment below!
Source: Wall Street Blog