Outwit, Outplay, Outblog: The Survivor Premiere Dispells Doubts, For Now

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by Benji Glowinsky

The wait is over, Survivor is back, baby!

As excited as I am for Survivor‘s return, in all honesty, prior to Wednesday’s premiere I wasn’t all that hyped up for “Blood vs. Water 2.” I didn’t the idea of so much stunt casting (see John Rocker, former The Amazing Race-ers, etc.), nor was I all that excited for Survivor to bring back a twist we had already seen just a year ago. However, credit where credit is due, the premiere was definitely better than I was expecting it to be, so I’m definitely more bullish on this season now.

The first episode of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur (my goodness that’s a mouthful) started out with the still meaningless “Day Zero” twist, if you can even call it that, where the pairs of loved ones spend one night stranded together before the games starts and they are ultimately split onto different tribes. Again, this is a meaningless addition to the game and actually in my opinion wastes a bit of time in the episode I’d have rather devoted to confessionals or even more time on camp life, but I guess CBS found it interesting from when they incorporated in into the first Blood vs. Water, and figured since it was such a “success” they’d have it once again. The only thing this contributed to the episode was a cute moment from father-son duo Wes & Keith revealing that they broke their flint and lost their steel during their time alone. After all of the duos gathered in, what I guess we’re calling “Exile Island Arena” until dubbed otherwise, Jeff started his usual round of questions to the castaways getting first impressions from everyone. After this, they were divided into tribes.

On the orange tribe, named “Coyopa”, were:
Alec Christy, Dale Wentworth, John Rocker, Jaclyn Schultz, Nadiya Anderson, Josh Canfield, Baylor Wilson, Val Collins, and Wes Nale.

On the blue tribe, named “Hunahpu”, were:
Drew Christy (Alec’s older brother), Kelley Wentworth (Dale’s daughter), Julie McGee (John’s girlfriend), Jon Misch (Jaclyn’s boyfriend), Natalie Anderson (Nadiya’s twin), Reed Kelly (Josh’s boyfriend), Missy Payne (Baylor’s mother), Jeremy Collins (Val’s husband), and Keith Nale (Wes’ father).

The tribes, strength-wise, seem to be divided evenly, but the personalities on the Coyopa tribe, specifically controversial former MLB pitcher John Rocker, are set up for implosion.

Day_0_sjds

Once the tribes were divided, Jeff announced that they would be playing their first Reward Challenge. Each tribe had to elect a member to play round of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Hunahpu elected Reed, who won against Coyopa’s representative. Because Reed won, Hunahpu got first choice at picking who would play in the Reward Challenge for their tribe. Jeremy volunteered, saying “[he] should.” Once Jeremy had volunteered, Jeff revealed he would be playing against his wife, Val, as a part of one of this season’s twists. Each Reward Challenge will feature a pair of loved ones facing off against one another. Winner gets reward for their tribe. Loser goes to Exile Island. The winner also must pick a member from their own tribe to accompany their loved one at Exile Island. Once Jeremy realized he’d be squaring up against his wife, his expression dropped, and after he won the competition, he was emotional and speechless over sending his wife to Exile Island. He was then required to choose one of his own tribe-mates to join Val, and chose Keith, the 53 year-old Louisiana man because, in Jeremy’s words, he’d know how to take care of Val and get a fire going (yes, this is the same Keith who mentioned  he had lost his steel and broken his flint just a little while ago). When Keith and Val got to Exile Island, it had a similar setup to the iteration of Exile used in Survivor: Tocantins, where there are two earns, and each player chooses one and opens it. One contains a blank parchment, and the other contains a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. Val got the clue, and lied to Keith about the contents of the paper, saying it contained information about her tribe. Interesting decision by Val to lie about the clue, but good on her for keeping up the lie. Val told Keith that her husband, Jeremy, was a firefighter, which Keith was overjoyed at because HE is a firefighter! Keith lucked into that one because when you’re isolated from you’re tribe off the get-go, you need any way you can to get in with the tribe, and the firefighter connection can absolutely be used to Keith’s advantage.

Back at the Hunahpu camp, Jeremy hit the ground running. He immediately had everyone feeling bad that he was forced to send his wife to Exile Island, which put him in an already decent position within the tribe. Jeremy also decided to try to get an alliance together. Individually, he approached Kelley, Natalie, and Missy to align with him. Now, you might be saying, “But Benji, don’t you need five people to vote with you for a majority in a tribe of nine?” and I would respond “Yes reader, Jeremy is silly.” Jeremy continued to note that he owed Keith for sending him to Exile, which I thought meant that he was going to make Keith the fifth and final member of his alliance he was forming. However, when Keith finally returned to camp after the Immunity Challenge, Jeremy pulled him aside and said something along the lines of “I’ve got you.” He didn’t mention a word about this four-person alliance he had already formed. Not anything like “Hello would you please fill out this form to be our fifth alliance member,” and really no indication to Keith at all that he wanted him in his alliance. It was more of something you would say to someone who’s in the minority alliance and is scared they’ll be the ones voted out at the next Tribal Council. I actually really like Keith, and I think having Jeremy on his side keeps him safe longer than he would’ve been, given how the older contestants typically perform on Survivor. But, all that said, basically, I’m not exactly sure where Jeremy’s head is at in terms of this alliance and Keith, but I hope we find out next week, because if Jeremy is just planning to string Keith along as an outsider vote he can use, I don’t see that ending well for him, especially in a tribe of nine members where Keith can easily swing to the other four.

Jeff Probst voice: “Hunahpu, wins immunity! Safe from Tribal Council!”

On to the Coyopa tribe, things got interesting leading up to their Tribal Council. I’ll be honest, I was completely ready for the premiere to be “The John Rocker Show” and we’d see him blow up and make an ass of himself like he always does, but he didn’t, so to save us time, I’ll hold onto that rant for when Rocker inevitably blows up. Over on Coyopa the dudes bonded quickly, notably Rocker, Wes and Alec. Dale seems to be with them, but I think he’s their scapegoat if anything ever goes wrong and for now he’s just a number for them. Then there’s the female alliance that Val tried to jump-start upon her return from Exile Island, consisting of herself, Nadiya, Jaclyn, and to their knowledge, Baylor and Josh as the fifth. What Val didn’t know is that Josh wasn’t set on being in their alliance, and nor was Baylor. Baylor approached Josh saying she’ll vote wherever he does. The breakdown of who could’ve been going home on Wednesday was this: Nadiya wanted Dale, the older male on the tribe, voted off to keep the tribe strong, and Dale wanted Nadiya gone based on her game-play on The Amazing Race which Dale convinced people was deceitful. It looked as if Josh would side with the guys approaching Tribal Council, and I was expecting a 6-3 vote off of Nadiya. However…

By a Vote of 5-3-1……

Nadiya-Anderson-voted-off

Nadiya, The Tribe Has Spoken

Baylor, as expected, voted with the guys, but Josh for unexplained reasons voted for Baylor. Many reasons are circulating on why he would’ve done that. I’ll riff off a few:

  • Josh promised Nadiya he would never write her name down, and told this to Baylor. Baylor allowed Josh to vote for her in order to keep his promise.
  • Josh chickened out of “getting any blood on his hands” and instead of opting to choose a side, maintained his slot as the swing vote for next week by throwing away his vote.
  • Josh wanted to make sure Baylor was voting with him, and by voting against Baylor, he could evaluate whether Baylor stayed with the women or voted with the men.

Those are a few of the many possible reasons, and quite frankly, I couldn’t tell you why Josh did what he did, but I’m sure we’ll find out next episode.

Good on Dale for getting the guys on his side, because again, as I mentioned in regards to Keith, the older male archetype usually does poorly on Survivor, so putting himself in a position where voting against him is also voting against the strength on the tribe is a solid move by Dale.

Nadiya pretty much dug her own grave in terms of trying and failing to align with Josh. The constant “he’s just like one of the girls” lines thrown at Josh, while with lighthearted intent, came off as a little insensitive, which Josh even noted. Not only that, but at the very least Nadiya could have tried to get some of the other makes on the tribe to get Dale out and strongly pitched the challenge aspect to them as opposed to fully banking on Josh voting with her. I do feel for Nadiya, because she was first out with her sister on The Amazing Race: All-Stars and just under a year later she’s the first off on Survivor. I won’t necessarily miss her because I wasn’t really looking forward to her and her sister being on Survivor, but I do feel bad that she was the first boot.

The man at the center of it all.

The man at the center of it all.

Things to Note:

  • Dale interestingly ripped some knick-knack off of the Treemail area, citing that although its not an Idol, he may need it later. How crazy would it be if he eventually uses it to his advantage by giving it to someone else to play as a fake-Idol! I can only hope…
  • Drew Christy is a douche. No chance he makes the merge, especially since his tribemates are already noting his cockiness and annoying way he carries himself.

Do you think Josh made the right decision? How will Natalie react to her sister’s elimination? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

NEXT WEEK ON SURVIVOR: The awesome bean bag wrestling challenge returns.

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