'Survivor: Cagayan' Premiere Recap: Blindsides Galore
'Survivor: Cagayan' Premiere Recap: Blindsides Galore
Gina Pusateri
Gina Pusateri
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Hey there Survivor buffs (see what I did there?). I'm back to recap another season, and we can only hope that this new twist will be as successful as last season's Blood vs. Water, which was one of Survivor's best seasons in years. Season 28, Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty, here we come!

The Survivor Club

The tribes are separated into three groups based on the quality they think they utilize most in their daily life that falls into the brawn, beauty, or brains category.

The tribe members on the smart tribe have an average IQ of 130. Spencer is a chess master who claims to be a diabolical genius and David is the president of the Miami Marlins.

On the beauty tribe, unsurprisingly, we have a group consisting of a former NFL cheerleader, a male model, and a pageant queen.

Former NBA player Cliff Robinson is on the jock tribe along with two police officers and a hair stylist.

Our favorite host Jeff Probst wastes no time in getting the game started. He tells each of the tribes to pick a leader while knowing nothing about their teammates having just met them. The beauties choose L.J., the jocks choose Sarah, and the nerds pick David because he's wearing a blazer.

Then Jeff tells each of the new leaders to pick who they think is the weakest member of their tribe. But instead of being voted out of the game, the weakest players will get a chopper ride to their new camp where they will have to make a decision that will affect their tribe as well as their own personal games.


David chooses Garrett as the weakest member of their tribe, which is a questionable decision considering the fact that Garrett is by far the most buff member of their tribe and no doubt could help them win challenges. But David is already thinking about the end of the game where he might have to go up against Garrett. Okay David, well, you gotta get there first.

When he gets to camp, Garrett is already feeling bitter about being called out as the weakest. He then has to decide whether he wants to accept a second bag of rice for the tribe or if he wants a clue to the hidden immunity idol. Feeling betrayed by his tribe, he of course picks the latter option. He follows a pretty straightforward map to the waterfall where he strips down and gets in the water to look for the idol. And behold! He finds a hidden immunity idol on Day One. That has to be a new record.

When his tribe mates get back, he doesn't let any of them know that he had a choice to get them more rice. He says he was working on getting some fresh water for the group. He also doesn't indicate that he's holding a grudge, but he's definitely gunning for David for sending him out there in the first place.

They start to work on their shelter which J'Tia claims she has a plan for, because she is a nuclear engineer and the self-professed smartest person out here. But all J'Tia manages to do is ruffle feathers with her bossy, non hands-on approach to getting the shelter built. No one appreciates her attitude and it sets a bad first dynamic for this team. Not only that, but the shelter is a dud too, collapsing under just one person's weight.


Trish is not very surprised that she was considered the weakest player because she is the oldest and the thinnest of the group. She has a much harder time making the decision than Garrett did. She's a single mom and a Pilates trainer, but she's always considered herself a team player. She decides to take the second bag of rice instead of the idol clue, which her tribe members are all very glad to hear once they join her at camp. Although Tony says that if it were him, he would have taken the idol clue for sure.

The only person on the tribe to even recognize Cliff Robinson is Woo, a martial arts teacher. No one else even seems to care that there's a former NBA player on their tribe. Except they appreciate the fact that he's massive and can probably reach coconuts without having to climb the tree.

For some crazy reason, Tony makes the decision not to tell Sarah that he's a cop, even when she recognizes that he's a cop right away. Instead he goes into an elaborate lie about how he works in constructio,n which makes Sarah distrust him even more because she sees right through him. I'm beginning to think that Tony might have a screw (or two) lose. He seems like he might be a tiny bit bananas.


Morgan the former cheerleader was picked by L.J. as the weakest on their tribe. L.J. admits that it was Morgan's "hot girl" looks that intimidated him, while Alexis and Jefra were simply "cute girls." Funny how he didn't even consider that one of the other males might be even weaker.

But Morgan, who says she's a grudge holder, is out to prove that she isn't the weakest. She takes the hidden immunity idol clue, but doesn't have any luck finding it. When her tribe gets back, she sneakily tells them she decided to take the necessities (that were actually provided to them) instead of comfort items for the good of the tribe. It seems to win them all over, but L.J. is regretting his decision because he suspects that not only might she have an idol, but that she's a "hot girl with a grudge."

Brice also suspects that Morgan is a woman scorned, so he approaches her to form an alliance. Meanwhile, Jeremiah the model starts a fire without flint, the only person on any of the tribes to start a fire thus far.

Immunity Challenge I

For the first immunity challenge, the survivors have to maneuver a cart through an obstacle course. They have to retrieve three keys at three separate locations to unlock three chests to put on the cart. Then they have to dissemble their carts to get it and the chests through a barrier. Once everything's through the barrier, the have to re-assemble their carts and then load the chests back on them. Then they have to unload the chests, which are full of puzzle pieces, and solve a puzzle. The first two tribes done win immunity and fire-making tools.

Cliff is dominant at retrieving the keys for the Brawn tribe because he is a giant, so that helps them off to a fast lead. The Brains are off to a tough start because they keep getting caught in their own chains that are attached to the chests. Brawn and Beauty are the first to start their puzzles while Brains can barely get their chests over the barrier. They keep falling and the puzzle pieces keep falling out. Jeff repeatedly calls them "a disaster" and even calls it "one of the worst performances out of the gate in Survivor history." Ouch.

Brains make a lot of progress on the puzzle, but they are just too far behind to catch up. Beauty pulls ahead for the win followed shortly by Brawn. So Brains are going to Tribal Council.

Loser Camp I

David and Kass talk to each other, and though David really wants Garrett out, Kass insists that it has to be J'Tia to keep their tribe strong. David admits that not knowing what Garrett did to get on the Brains tribe really scares him.

In all of her education to become an attorney, I guess Kass didn't take Survivor 101, because she tells J'Tia right away that it's going to be her tonight and that she'd better start scrambling. After having her pride hurt for a hot second, J'Tia decides to take Kass's advice. She talks to Garrett and Tasha, who would both rather see her stay and get rid of David instead. However, Spencer is worried that David is sneaky and he might have an idol, though he does agree that David is the biggest strategic threat.

Tribal Council I

Right away, J'Tia tells Jeff that she knows she's in trouble. She kind of apologized for being bossy at camp, saying she just wanted to do what she could to help her tribe succeed. Garrett admits that he wasn't crazy about being labeled as an outsider right away in the game. But David is cocky and assures Garrett that while he may have targeted him before, he's definitely safe tonight. It's cute that he thinks he's the one calling the shots.

J'Tia makes a case for herself, and tells the tribe that they should vote David out tonight if they are thinking about their long term positions in the game. And Spencer pipes in, saying that they have to keep their tribe strong.

The first vote is a blindside, as the Brains prove they might be smarter than they look by sending home the swarmy David. Poor guy never saw it coming. Oh well. Bye David.


Garrett does some whining about not having fun playing Survivor. He wants to outwit and outplay, but he doesn't want to actually physically have to survive. Sounds like baby needs a nap.

Spencer thinks that the two of them should get Kass on their side right away so they can vote Tasha and J'Tia out next. Kass knows that she won't be able to split the boys or the girls, but realizes her power as a swing vote. Now she's in a position to make whatever decision is best for her.


Even though they might be some basketball haters, everyone on the strong tribe rally likes Cliff. Everyone, that is, except Crazy Tony who thinks that Cliff's a big threat to win the game, and probably also to his masculinity. But Crazy Tony might be right about at least one of those things. Cliff has especially taken to Woo, who is the Robin to his Batman, or more aptly, the Pippen to his Jordan. Also Cliff capsizes their fishing boat because, in case I hadn't mentioned this, he is enormous.

Trish gets into a bit of a spat with the dread-locked hairstylist, Lindsey, who Trish says doesn't contribute enough around camp. Sarah tries to diffuse the situation by telling Lindsey to let it go, while Trish hurries off in a huff to get more firewood. I have to say, I think the Brawn tribe did the best job picking their leader. Sarah is smart, strong, and has great social skills. She has Alpha Female written all over her.

Tony sees Trish is distraught so he shows her what he's been working on. His "spy shack" behind the shelter where he plans on sitting and listening to Cliff and Woo's conversations. Once you get past the initial, "oh man, this guy's crazy," it actually seems like a genius plan if he can pull off effective eavesdropping. However, that remains to be seen.


Nothing very interesting is going on at the Beauty tribe, except Morgan's boobs which are extremely huge. Brice is trying to size up his competition, and he sees Alexis as a dumb flirt, and Jefra as just dumb. He also thinks he can manipulate Jeremiah into falling in love with Morgan (and her chest) for his benefit.

Immunity Challenge II

For the second challenge tonight, the tribes have to swim to a bamboo cage, climb up and over the outside of the cage into the center of it. Then they have to dive down and untie knots to release a gate and move giant fish traps out of the cage and back to the beach. Once they're at the beach, they have to take the puzzle pieces out of the traps and finish a puzzle. First two tribes win immunity and fishing gear.

J'Tia is a slow swimmer so the Brains are off to another unfortunately slow start. Brawn gets their gate released first, but they're slow to move the traps. The Brains release their gate and make fast work on moving their traps back to the beach, with no help from J'Tia who backstrokes the whole way back.

But she gets a chance to shine because she's doing the puzzle for her tribe. Meanwhile the Brawn tribe are making their way slowly but surely up the beach, while the Beauties seem to be at a complete standstill. Eventually, Brawn makes it to the beach where Sarah starts in on the puzzle. J'Tia has managed to only find the proper place for one puzzle but the time Sarah starts, and Sarah quickly catches up and then passes her. The Beauties even drag their pretty faces to the beach and L.J. starts the puzzle, all the while J'Tia still has only one piece!

Brawn finishes way ahead of everyone else, and wouldn't you know, J'Tia blew the huge lead for the Brains, and the Beauties win immunity once again. The Brains are simply devastated.

Loser Camp II

When they get back to camp, Garrett tries to put a grinding halt to any strategy talk and demands that they have an "open forum" and no side conversations. Then he says they all need to vote J'Tia because she done messed up the challenge, and that's that. Of course J'Tia is not amused by this, because she has proved to be someone who is not just going to roll over and die. And Tasha isn't happy about it either, mostly because she's in J'Tia's alliance and she wants to consider other options before her alliance gets chopped in half.

So Tasha and Kass sneak off to the water to talk. Tasha tells Kass that they can take control of the game, but they'd have to do it now when they have the numbers. Just a few seconds later, Garrett and Spencer come by to make sure they're not talking strategy.

In the few moments they're all down at the beach, J'Tia pulls a Brandon Hantz and dumps all of the tribe's rice in the fire. When Kass comes back and asks what happened, J'Tia says "I don't know," even though she was the only one not at the beach. Kass is frustrated because she claims she was going to approach J'Tia when she got back to the shelter, but now she can't consider allying herself with someone so unpredictable and untrustworthy.

Tribal Council II

Jeff can tell that everyone is even more bummed than usual, considering that it's Tribal Council. J'Tia admits to throwing the rice in the fire, although it wasn't her best moment. Tasha said it was a direct result though, of Garrett insisting on his "open forum" and calling J'Tia out like a little kid being punished in front of the whole tribe.

Kass blames Garrett too, for being too paranoid to leave her and Tasha alone on the beach thus leaving J'Tia to throw the rice away. Garrett makes the mistake of confirming Kass's position on the bottom of their alliance with Spencer, which obviously Kass isn't too thrilled to hear about. But Garrett assures everyone that after tonight's vote, for J'Tia, the four of them will be equal. Again, sounds like the same over-confidence that got his buddy David into trouble in the last TC.

The Brains pull off the second blindside of the night and send Garrett packing, with the hidden immunity idol back at camp, not even in his pocket. As Kass said earlier, maybe we should see the data on how this Brains tribe was assembled. Because right now, they're not really representing their stereotype. Not only that, but they kept the girl around who threw their rice in the fire! What are they going to eat for the next 30 days? Sticks?

(Image courtesy of CBS)