'Survivor: Nicaragua' Premiere Recap: Young at Heart
'Survivor: Nicaragua' Premiere Recap: Young at Heart
Ben Watson
Ben Watson
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
Season 21, Episode: 1 Young at Heart

All is right in the world; Survivor is back! Tonight, 20 castaways begin their quest for $1 Million and/or reality TV stardom. 39 days, 20 people, one Survivor! Follow me for a recap of tonight's premiere episode of Survivor: Nicaragua.

In the Beginning
The first episodes of Survivor are always manic. It takes a good episode or two to really get a feel for who you are rooting for to win. That being said, I kind of dug tonight's episode. I loved that when the tribes landed on the beach they had no idea they would be split up by age. It was funny to hear contestants dogging the other tribe having no clue that they may soon be on the same team.

Probst tells the group about a new element to the game: the Medallion of Power. Hidden somewhere on the beach is a medallion. The castaway who finds the medallion first claims it for their tribe. All we know about the "MOP" is that the tribe who uses it gains a huge advantage in an immunity challenge.

In the end it was Brenda, the former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, who spotted the MOP. I have to give props to Brenda for climbing up the tree, Mowgli-style, to snatch up the MOP. When the contestants return from their hunt Probst drops a bomb shell on them. The contestants are told that they are not in their right tribes just yet. The tribes will now be divided by age. In the wake of the shock, the look on the contestants' faces was priceless. The younger tribe members seemed overjoyed while the older tribe members simply looked depressed. How about the look on Yve's face when she found out she was in the 40+ tribe; it was so funny.

Back at camp things were very basic for a first episode of a Survivor season. I probably won't go in too much detail here because we were only given a taste of the cast. My opinions haven't really been formed on the cast members yet. Everyone gets a pass for now. For the most part, everyone was on their best behavior trying not to ruffle too many feathers. The tribe found out that Kelly B. has an artificial leg and predictably were kind to her face but ready to throw her under the bus. They are worried that if she made it to the end she would win because of the dreaded "sympathy vote." However, she found a clue to the hidden immunity idol, so she might be safe if she finds it.

I didn't get much out of the pre-challenge sequence. In the next couple weeks we will get a better feel for the contestants. As for now, let's move on to the challenge.
The Immunity Challenge: Steady As She Flows
No reward challenge this week. We're going straight to the immunity challenge. But before the challenge Jimmy J. felt the need to give his tribe a pep talk. I don't want to sound too condescending but his little chat was cute. It was cute that he thought that his tribe would appreciate him taking on the role of coach but you could tell it didn't go over very well with the other Type A personalities in the tribe. What was he thinking? There is no way they bought his line about "I'm here for you." I did laugh, however, at the producers inserting the sound of snare drums during Jimmy J.'s huddle. The La Flor tribe made their embarrassing entrance and like I said yesterday, Probst's response was perfect. After Probst's snub, the two tribes exchanged pleasantries and the challenge began.  

The challenge consisted of one person on top of a tower pouring water down a gutter. Five other tribe members will use sections of the gutter to redirect the water into a barrel. Once the barrel fills, a large bag of puzzle pieces will drop. The four remaining contestants must race to put together the puzzle. The first tribe to get it right wins the immunity idol. (Quickly, what's the deal with this season's idol? The weird conquistador bust they used looks more like a bookend than it does an immunity idol.)

The Espada tribe was given the option to use the MOP. Jeff further explains that once the MOP is used then it is given to the other tribe and they will have the opportunity to use it at the next challenge. Pretty neat wrinkle to the game. I have a feeling I'm going to like the MOP. If Espada chooses to use the MOP they would gain the advantage of having one complete bucket filled before the challenge starts. After deliberation Espada decides to keep it. Crazy Jimmy T. had a pretty solid point when he said in the huddle, "let's make a statement." Unfortunately, that is exactly what they did.

By the time Probst drops his hand to begin the challenge, Espada is in trouble. Their bucket of water seemed to be going everywhere but the in the gutter. What was Holly's deal with the bucket? It should not be that difficult. (How funny was it when Probst kept shouting about each tribe's flow; it killed me.)

The challenge went by very quickly. La Flor was able to get their puzzle completed with time to spare. The women putting together the puzzle for Espada seemed hopelessly lost. It made me wonder if it would have even helped if they used the MOP; I'm guessing not. Either way, La Flor lives to see another day and Espada has a date with Probst at tribal.

Now, about that challenge: it seems that this week the word "challenge" is used rather liberally. It looked pretty easy; all they had to do was direct water into a barrel then complete a puzzle. It surely wasn't the knock-down-drag-out challenges that have opened previous seasons. This week's weak challenge left me wondering if most challenges this season will be this easy. Think about it. You have 10 older players. If producers are interested in making this season any bit fair, then they surely cannot make every challenge super physical. No disrespect to Espada - I'm just saying.

Scuttlebutt before Tribal
This is my favorite part of the show each week. I love watching everyone running around like rats trying to save themselves. It is in this segment where the "outwit" part of Survivor takes place. This being the first episode of the season we aren't thick enough into things to really make much of an impact.

From the looks of things Wendy and Jimmy appeared to be the only two in trouble. Wendy was on the chopping block because everyone thinks she is the weakest member of the tribe. Jimmy J. is in trouble because he coached the Cowboys. I didn't really understand the rational for wanting Jimmy J. off. He is a likeable enough guy and even though he was coughing up a hairball the other night he still seems somewhat capable. Wendy, on the other hand, doesn't seem to add too much unless there is a challenge involving goats.

Espada's First Tribal
Going into tribal I was sure that it was going to be a tight race between Jimmy J. and Wendy Jo. In fact, I was leaning towards it being Jimmy J. to have his torch snuffed. I felt like the episode consisted of a ton of Jimmy J. bits. I assumed producers were trying to get their money's worth before he is gone for good. My assumptions that it was Jimmy going home came to a screeching halt when Wendy interrupted Probst and said, "can I say something?" She then seemed to drive the nail further in her coffin by running her mouth. It is not like she was saying anything important; she was just rambling. The look on everyone's faces when she complained that no one asked her age told me that Wendy is going to be a goner.

In the end Wendy Jo, the goat herder form Montana, received 9 out of 10 votes and was sent packing.

The scenes from next week promise to bring the drama. Does anyone know whose shoes were filled with sand and sent off to sea? I don't know how I feel about that but I do know that I am stoked that Survivor is back!

(Image courtesy of CBS)