It’s the 27th season of Survivor, and this premiere marks the 400th episode. Boy, it seems like only yesterday when we were watching Richard Hatch get naked and Sue Hawk deliver her infamous final tribal council speech. Time flies when you’re enjoying the the best (if you ask me) competition based reality show on TV.
The 10 veteran players arrive in the Philippines, where the last two seasons have also been filmed, with their loved ones that they don’t yet know they will be competing against on separate tribes. Gervase is playing with his niece Marissa, who was only nine when he was on the first season of Survivor.
Kat from Survivor: One World is determined to beat her boyfriend Hayden (a previous winner of Big Brother). Rupert, fourth time player, however, is worried that he might at some point have to write his wife’s name down.
The 10 pairs of survivors are brought to different locations on the island to spend the first night with just each other as a “welcome” experience onto the show. But then they meet Jeff Probst at sunrise the next morning where things get serious.
Jeff drops the first bomb, telling the contestants that they won’t be competing with their loved ones but against them. He asks Brad Culpepper, Monica’s wife and former NFL player if that affects the way he will approach the game. Caught off guard, he says it definitely affects him because it may make him want to give up a reward, like a tarp, so he can make sure his wife is okay. Obviously, that ruffles his new tribe members’ feathers, especially Marissa, who is having absolutely none of that nonsense.
Then, Jeff tells them that each of the tribes, Galang (the vets) and Tadhana (the newbies) has to vote off a member right then and there.
Everyone is rightfully ticked about this impromptu beach tribal council that is happening before anyone can even start playing the game, including yours truly. I think this really put a damper on the celebration that usually is the first episode and the normal elation I personally get watching.
The rookies unanimously voted out Laura, Rupert’s wife. Rupert feels relieved because now he knows he won’t ever have to vote for her, but sad because he can’t protect her. The votes on the vets side are split between Candice and Laura M. (I have seen every single episode of Survivor, and I can honestly say that I have no idea who this is) but in the end Candice gets more votes.
But wait, another twist! Remember that old pesky friend Redemption Island that Survivor tried out for a few seasons but then got rid of because it was kind of a headache? Well it’s back. Now the people who get voted off, starting with Laura and Candice, will have another chance at getting back in the game based on duel competitions each week.
BUT WAIT, ANOTHER TWIST! Jeff tells the loved ones of the people just voted out, that they can take the place of the people just sent to Redemption Island. Of course Rupert immediately volunteers, before Jeff even finishes his sentence and so Laura re-joins the game on the veterans tribe. Candice’s husband, John, however, elects to keep playing the game and urges Candice to beat Rupert on Redemption Island.
Phew. This was as complicated a beginning to a season that I’ve ever seen.
Laura knows what a big target she has on her back as soon as she gets to camp because she is the only rookie on the veteran tribe. Not only that, but a lot of the vets are irritated that they aren’t getting a chance to play with Rupert, but instead have to settle for his wife.
Tyson immediately starts a fire with a little help from Kat and they are all very productive about making the shelter.
Monica, who played with Colton before on Survivor: One World, is obviously already wary of his shady-ass presence, though he swears he’s changed since last season. He says he was playing the first time around with “a mask to hide his own insecurities.” He breaks down as they’re all talking around the fire about how hard it’s been for him being gay in the Deep South. It all might be very moving if it wasn’t coming from Colton, who as we saw was one of the most mean-spirited, awful people to play the game. Monica’s not sure if she’s buying it either.
Almost right away, Brad calls his tribe together to make it clear to them that he is “all in” with his tribe, unlike his previous on-the-spot answer would indicate. He also wastes no time at all establishing himself as the alpha male on the tribe and his first order of business is to start up a five-man alliance with him, John, Hayden, Vytas (Aras’s brother), and Caleb (Colton’s fiance).
All of the men smile and go along with it, but make it clear that they don’t have any problem sticking with a different agenda if need-be. Especially Vytas who wants to stay close with the women in his tribe as well.
Vytas and Ciera open up to Brad about their troubled pasts. Ciera, Laura M.’s daughter, talks about being a teen mom and how it was really hard on her family, but how they’ve grown so much because of it. Vytas talks about his struggles with addiction as a young adult and how it even landed him in prison. He still thinks he and his brother’s relationship is rocky to this day because of it, and he hopes playing the game will bring them closer together.
Candice’s feelings are hurt (awww) about being the first one on her tribe sent to RI. She’s also irritated at Rupert who has decided to do absolutely none of the work around camp.
Rupert’s reasoning for his laziness is that he’s never won an individual immunity challenge in the past because he was too busy busting his ass around camp, a mistake that he has no intention of repeating when it comes to saving his energy to beat Candice.
For the first immunity challenge, the contestants have to go through a series of obstacles in the water to reach a row boat. Once they reach the boat, they have to untie the knots so they can paddle the boat, and the puzzle pieces inside of it, back to shore. On the shore, three designated puzzle makers have to construct a wheel to raise the flag of their tribe to win immunity.
Tadhana is off to a quick start working really well together as a team. That and the fact that Gervase looks like a dead fish in the water, and has to ask Aras to help him swim when he’s too exhausted to continue.
Tadhana’s extends their lead when the vets on Galang can’t figure out how to steer the oars on their boat. Colton screams viciously at Kat, like the whole thing is her fault. It was an ugly moment from Colton, and I’m sure there are many more to come.
But things quickly even up at the puzzle where Tina, Monica and Laura M. are working against Katie (Tina’s daughter), Caleb and Ciera. In the end, the veterans’ experience on the puzzle pays off and Galang wins immunity.
The veterans are excited to win, especially Gervase, who was extremely vocal in his smack-talking, especially considering the fact that he had just floundered all over that challenge. Colton, however, gets emotional at the thought of his fiance Caleb being in danger of going home.
No one is disgusted more at Gervase’s behavior at the challenge than his niece Marissa. She says to her tribe, “a lion shouldn’t roar after he’s eaten his prey.” But the tribe members, especially Brad, are hung up on Gervase’s “sore-winning” and they can’t stop whining about it. I hate to break it to you guys, but it doesn’t change the fact that you lost.
Katie and Ciera are both worried that they might go home tonight because they were on the puzzle team that lost them the challenge.
Brad meets with the five-man alliance and they all agree that it, obviously, has to be a girl that goes home, and that it’s probably between Katie and Marissa. You see, Brad really wants to stick it to Gervase by voting off his loved one.
Hayden says the hardest thing about being on the show so far has been living without fire. Ciera agrees, and says despite what her mom told her, she never thought she’d be so hungry in her life.
John is still struggling with his decision to let Candice compete on RI. He says he’s feeling a lot of guilt about it, and hopes that he didn’t let her down.
Of course Brad brings up Gervase’s behavior at the challenge and how it reflects poorly on his loved one, Marissa. Marissa pleads to her tribe that they judge her based on her actions and her character, not her uncle’s.
Unfortunately, they do just the opposite and vote Marissa out. She stops to give them the death glare on the way out, and not a single one of them can meet her gaze.
See where Colton, Kat and Monica’s Survivor journey began by catching up on Survivor: One World for free today. Sign up for for the 30 day risk-free trial on Amazon Prime>>>
(Image courtesy of CBS)