It’s another series of Survivor, and not one I’ve been particularly looking forward to. After an excellent season with all new players, it feels like a step backwards to have a returning players season, especially with some of these players coming back for their third or even fourth time.
Let’s meet the players:
On Mana Tribe:
- Tony – Urgh.
- Malcolm – In a tie with Joey Amazing with contestant most likely to actually be the Son of God.
- Sandra – The only person to have won twice. I remember neither time.
- Aubrey – Yay Aubrey! Nerds represent! Aubrey number one pick to win!
- Michaela – I’m glad Michaela’s back. I hope she’s able to learn from her mistakes last season and maintain a better poker face.
- Troyzan – Troyzan is back?! Really? Troyzan.
- Hali – Was Hali a game changer? I remember her as a perfectly nice person and adequate player who got booted halfway.
- Caleb – Tai’s doomed lover. Fate has intervened once more as these star-crossed lovers are on different tribes. Oh, the tragedy.
- Ciera – Sigh. I would have much rather had Kelly Wentworth back; I think she played a much better and more interesting game last time, but Jeff/the producers seem slightly in love with her and the fact that she voted out her own mother.
- Varner – There are quite a few big boofy alpha-male types whom I suspect are here more because Jeff likes them, rather than because they actually fit the game changer brief.
Nuku (isn’t that a Pokémon?) Tribe:
- Cirie – She was such a nice lady. I remember once she had to check a fellow contestant’s downstairs department for infection.
- Debbie – The woman who can list her occupations to the tune of ‘We didn’t start the fire’. In her own words, she has “the strength of a gymnast, and the tenacity of a giant squid.”
- Ozzy – bloody Ozzy. I am so sick of Ozzy. Is he just going to keep coming back until he finally wins?
- JT – Fishbach’s white whale. Why do I remember no one from Tocantins? Did the black hole of Coach’s personality just absorb everything else into a singularity?
- Zeke – Zeke is back with a whole new wardrobe of fabulous shirts. I hope he’s brought is dinosaur shorts with him too.
- Sarah – Wait who? I’ve never seen this woman before in my life. Are we sure she’s even played before?
- Culpepper – Another person who I suspect is there just because Jeff Probst loves the alpha males. He has the word ‘heart’ tattooed over left pectoral. Do we think this is just to remind him where his heart is located?
- Andrea – Oh, yes, I remember Andrea. She’s very pretty… I remember Andrea.
- Sierra – Who? *Checks the Survivor wiki* Ahh, she’s from Worlds Apart. I think I must have blotted that season and its cast of bullies from my memory.
- Tai – Oh Tai. I always forget that you’re bald in real life.
The season begins with the customary ‘Jeff Probst standing in a precarious location while he states the rules of the game’ shot. This season he’s balanced on the overturned hull of a sunken ship in the middle of the ocean.
After welcoming everyone, it’s straight to the traditional scramble for supplies. There’s a secret advantage amongst the booty, which is picked up by Sierra. Incidentally, we have Sarah, Sierra, Ciera, and Cirie. This could get complicated.
The mad grab for supplies is mostly too chaotic to keep track of who has what, but of particular highlight is when Tai is nearly drowned under a crate of chickens in what would have been the most ironic Survivor injury ever.
At camp, Tony doesn’t waste any time running off hollering into the jungle like a “big bald maniac” (©Malcolm Freburg) allegedly to search for idols in an attempt to psych out his tribemates. When no one follows him, he decides to look for the idol anyway. I can’t see this early aggressive game play endearing him to his teammates.
Stop everything! A baby goat nearly lost its footing on the rock! Permission to d’aww!
Cirie is just about as pleased as I am to see Ozzy back, seeing as she voted him out eight years ago. An awkward conversation ensues, in which they shake hands, but this obviously hasn’t resolved any underlying tension, as both go to Tai to talk smack about the other.
Incidentally, I’ve worked out who Tai reminds me of.
What the heck are those great big fish we keep seeing in between scenes? Are they sharks? Will Tai befriend them? #MarktheShark2017
Tony starts digging an underground bunker, but is interrupted by Troyzan. Tony tries to cover his back, but unfortunately he’s already covered his back in leaves and sand from the BUNKER HE WAS DIGGING. Soon, word of Tony’s activity makes its way around camp. Ciera starts suggesting they vote Tony first, but it looks like it might backfire as her throwing names around so early attracts the suspicion of Malcolm
At the challenge, Jeff makes two reveals. One is that this season’s tribal immunity idol is a wicked cool old-style diver’s helmet.
The second revelation is that at Tribal Council the revote is dead. In the event of a tie, they will either have to unanimously decide or face the dreaded white rock. I wonder why they chose to reveal this twist now. Wouldn’t it have been more dramatic to wait until tribal council and watch the chaos unfold live?
Anyway, I tend to zone out of challenges at this point in the game, because I haven’t decided who I want to win and who I want to go, so the stakes aren’t that high. In any case, an early lead courtesy of half-fish man Ozzy results in victory for Nuku.
Back at camp, the plan is to unanimously vote out Ciera, but tell her that they’re voting Michaela. Michaela is not thrilled by this plan, and everyone gets all worked up about Michaela’s reaction, but I thought it was pretty reasonable. She just sort of pouted and expressed her displeasure when asked. I think Michaela might become a victim of the angry black woman stereotype – they’re expecting her to be unstable, and are extrapolating a fairly undersized reaction.
Tribal council is pretty uneventful. There’s a bit of talk about it being an easy boot first time around, and Sandra makes one of the earliest bids ever for ‘take me to the end, I’ll never beat you,’ based on the fact that no one’s going to give her the triple-crown. Still imagine if they’d reserved the twist reveal to tribal. It might have rustled a few feathers. As it is, Ciera goes 9-1. Goodbye, Ciera. You never know, fourth time might be the charm.
Tony’s getting restless. For God’s sake man, calm down, it’s only day 4. Did the man drink forty energy drinks before he came out here?
Tai is practicing his chicken whispering again. He’s the chicken guy. It’s a role he describes as a burden. It seems like a lot of effort for a bunch of birds they’re only going to eat/lovingly hand rear and then abandon after the final tribal where they will die of starvation having become accustomed living off human scraps (delete as applicable)
Tony is really getting on my nerves now. He goes off to build his spy shack in the middle of the night, and is interrupted again by Troyzan, this time accompanied by Sandra. The ideal thing to happen would be they catch him, but he wriggles away like a SNAKE (it seriously has to be seen to be believed) and overhears them talking about him. Luckily for me, he does spoil it for himself, by going up and confronting them about it. But for the love of all that is holy, Tony. CALM. DOWN.
Debbie Job Watch: Pilot in the Civil Air force. Paid not in dollars, but in experience. She’s the hero Survivor deserves, but not the one it needs.
Malcolm keeps making reference to Tony’s baldness. It feels like a low blow coming him – we can’t all be born with shampoo ad-ready hair.
None of the contestants really trust Tony. Unfortunately for me, they fear Sandra more than they distrust Tony, and it looks like they may end up making a Faustian pack with ‘the po-po’.
The second immunity challenge involves a giant snake puppet, and I think it might be my favourite challenge prop ever. For a moment, it looks like Mana might win, but at the last minute Nuku claims a come from behind victory.
Alert! Alert! Aubrey’s name has come up. Aubrey might be in trouble. Why? Because she and Tony are allegedly super tight. How is that my favourite and least favourite people ended up in an alliance together. In a strange twist of fate, Tony might come to Aubrey and my rescue, by convincing people to vote out Sandra instead.
After Jeff reads the votes in the most dramatically arranged way possible, Tony is voted out. I told you, boy, too hard, too fast. He goes out warning people to beware Sandra, and Sandra rather loudly replies “The Queen stays Queen.” OK, her cockiness is annoying me now. Now that Tony’s gone, she’s next in my sights.