Survivor Kaoh Rong

Episode 1 – Walking the Walk

The Introduction

These 18 strangers have volunteered to be marooned and left to fend for themselves for the next 39 days. They are cruising through the waters of Kaôh Rong in Southeast Asia, a beautiful but formidable part of the world. Scorching temperatures and stifling humidity punish the body?….Dehydration and heat stroke can bring down even the strongest. The smallest cut can lead to a life-threatening infection and if they last long enough, merely exerting energy (we saw Peter, Michele, Neal, then Scot) will become their biggest obstacle. This will be the most grueling 39 days in Survivor history.

They’ve already been divided into 3 tribes based on the qualities that they use the most to depend on in their daily lives:

The Brains Tribe:

Peter’s confessional: “Being an ER doctor, it’s going to be difficult for me to not show how smart I am, to just express humility but I can’t deal with ignorant people ‘cause they think they know what they are talking about.”

Debbie: “This game is largely a brain game, and in these challenges I am going to kick ass because puzzles lay down for me like lovers.”

The Brawn Tribe:

Scot’s interview: “I am a former professional basketball player. I was the guy that did what nobody else wanted to do. I could go knock people on the ground”

Man Overboard! “Man Overboard!”[/caption]

 

(we see Nick sitting beside him) “I’d push people out of the way, and I did it better than most guys. People I am going to get along with are guys that are strong and if you show weakness: (We saw Darnell then Alicia) Bye-bye. Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!”

Jason: “My bread and butter has always been bounty hunting. You kick in the door, you raid the house, you snatch up the guy, you hog tie him up like a pig, you throw him in the back of the pickup truck, and you take off. I don’t care; I just need to get my paycheck. And, you’re my paycheck.”

The Beauty Tribe:

Anna’s confessional: “I do try to use my looks to my advantage in poker. If I feel like a male is staring at my boobs then I might push them up a little more.”

Nick’s introduction: “My life has definitely been better because I am better looking than most people. That sounds terrible– it sounds awful, but it’s the truth. My looks will definitely help me. 39 days and a million bucks in my pocket at the end.”

Probst: “You are witnessing 18 Americans begin an adventure that will forever change their lives. They’ve been given 2 minutes to get everything off this boat….there are chickens, there are fruit, there are fish traps, there are pots, but there are not enough to go around…You don’t know anybody’s name; you may not like them…”

(Cydney and Neal were shown right then colliding with each other)

Get out of My Way

“Get out of My Way”

Caleb’s confessional: “People will probably recognize me from Big Brother, but being an outdoorsman, this game is totally for me. I don’t mind getting dirty at all.”

Joe’s interview: “It’s very hectic out here, I’m a retired FBI agent, and of course, there have been times in the FBI where you have those cases where everything is going a mile a minute…but this to me is going to be the ultimate challenge, so I am pumped for this, this is a real deal for me.”

Tai’s confessional: “I’m like running around like crazy… I’m protecting the chicken because I love all living creature.”
Jeff then told everyone to get in the water.

All jumped in but Nick was shown hesitating on the gang plank.

Probst: “It is the ultimate challenge….18 strangers forced to work together. They must learn to adapt or they will be voted out. In the end, only one (Kyle and Scot were shown standing up and paddling their raft), will remain to claim the million… (we saw Neal standing up paddling)…dollar prize (finally we saw Nick, Tai, and Michele standing up paddling).

Only One will Remain

“Only One Will Remain”

The players that had confessionals in the intro were Peter, Debbie, Scot, Jason, Anna, Nick, Caleb, Joe and Tai; therefore, Liz, Aubry, Neal, Darnell, Jennifer, Alecia, Cydney, Julia and Michele were left without early airtime. While it’s something to keep in mind, I don’t think we can put as much weight on this like we do in most seasons because it wouldn’t be long before everyone got some interesting screen time.

The choice of early confessionals seemed more like a way to describe the tribes than to define their characters. These confessionals made me think that the Brains tribe will have divisions as Peter’s words suggest, the Brawn tribe will be very unforgiving, even cutthroat while the Beauty tribe will have fun and won’t have too many worries.

Individually, my first impressions are that there will be conflicts between some players after a tribal swap. Scot will probably try to push Nick out of the game as was suggested by the words we heard from him in voiceover while Nick was on our screen. Will Nick be able to resist or will he hesitate again like he did when Jeff ordered them all to jump overboard? On the other hand, the fact that Nick had the first “winning quote” could be a very good sign for him. Cydney and Neal could collide once more if they wind up in the same camp. We have to note that Neal was shown standing alone when Jeff talked about only one remaining to claim the million. Was Jeff giving us a hint?

Walking the Walk

Brawn Day 1
The music was tense with heavy percussions, a sign of the tension this tribe will feel during this episode. Will it always be this tense for them? If it is then it will be very difficult for the members of the Brawn tribe.

Cydney’s confessional: “Paddling in and looking at my Brawn tribe, it feels like home. The story of my life is about being strong, whether it’s physically or mentally, it’s about being strong.”

Maybe it was a bad early sign for Cydney to be shown just sitting in the raft while others were pulling it to shore. They were the strong ones, not her. This portrayal wasn’t as bad as “Cleopatra” in Marquesas because no one commented on it but it wasn’t good either. When someone says that the story of their life is about being strong, you’d like to see her cutting down trees or lifting a heavy rock. The actions should match the words.

Jason’s interview: “In the Brawn tribe there’s a lot of people that think they’re the greatest. I did six years in the Army; I don’t need to prove to you that I’m a badass. A lot of people find me intimidating. They judge me because of how I look. They don’t realize that I got two daughters and my youngest one has autism. I’ll be the girly-girl dad and then I also teach them how to be a badass,”

Partly due to his look, partly by the way he talked, I immediately got a Chris Daugherty vibe from Jason. He is much bigger than Chris but still Jason reminded me of Vanuatu’s winner and the feeling would only grow during the episode. We should also note that he gave us a very nice look into his personality and his family. He may be a badass but we also know that he has a heart.

While the players took turn talking about their jobs, Alecia had a confessional: “People will think Malibu Barbie– she’s not going to be in here long– but I’m a lot tougher. I’ve been bungee jumping…shark diving… I’m fearless, I’m daring and I’m opinionated. This is something I know I can do.”

Words, only words, but at least, it gave Alecia a role.

Scot told them immediately about his NBA career and that got a big laugh. They liked hearing that.
The tribe then set out to build a shelter in the shade.

Scot’s confessional: “I think all of us have a very similar mindset: We are not beautiful, we are not smart, but we are strong and I feel lucky right now. I know things change in this game really quickly…but right now, I think we have a great group.”

At this point, of all the Brawn tribe members, only Darnell and Jennifer haven’t given us a confessional. Jennifer will soon have a very nice role so being left out here doesn’t mean much. For Darnell, it is already too late!

Brains Day 1

An eagle soared above the Brains’ beach while we heard a melody that would make a good score for an adventure film.

Liz’s confessional: “The Brain tribe is definitely my tribe. That is the attribute that I actually think is valuable because we are able to look for new approaches and slightly different ways of thinking through the problems. (Neal was on our screen at that moment) So we’re off to an immediate advantage.”

Since they would win the first challenge, this confessional will prove to be accurate. Liz played a role in that win so we can say that she is more than talk: She can walk the walk.

That’s when Debbie asked what President Obama (Peter) was doing there.

Peter’s confessional: “Being called Obama is part of my daily life. It’s been like that for seven years. If Debbie is calling me Obama, I guarantee you that everybody else is calling me Obama. If they feel better being crushed by Obama then so be it.”

Debbie started singing her own praises, telling everyone that she was great at making fire and building shelter.
Debbie’s confessional: “I’m a chemist but I’ve been a supervisor, an electronics expert, a caregiver to nuns and, between jobs, I fill in as server at Red Lobster. At 49, I bring a lot of worldly experience with me.”

Debbie then wanted to show a trick to Neal about lighting fire. It didn’t work.

Neal’s confessional: “I have my own ice cream business and people think I’m a dandy in ice cream pants and they don’t know what to make of me. I’m original and eccentric but Debbie has a whole other level of craziness. Supposedly, Debbie has started a fire this way many times. Nobody made any guarantees about their abilities to be the savior of this tribe. If somebody says they are a fire expert and they come on this beach and when it’s really crunch time and they really need to make fire for their tribe but can’t do it? It’s a big concern. Looking back at past seasons, it seems that the really smart folks have some sort of kryptonite so I’m a little concerned about being on the Brain tribe. It could be complete and utter madness.”

Peter said that, from an evolutionary standpoint, they had to be the first tribe to make fire. Debbie wasn’t giving up but she didn’t make fire.

After their first scene, everyone in the Brains tribe but Aubry has given us a confessional. Like Jennifer, she would have a role that fit in perfectly with the theme of the season and she’d overcome her moment of weakness.

The Beauty Tribe

The music was light but quite rhythmic suggesting that things will go well for the yellow tribe. We even saw a colony of ants working together which is a great sign. Another good sign was that the first thing we heard was: “Good job, you guys.”

Nick’s confessional: “Life without a doubt is beautiful. Our tribe is beautiful; we are feeling beautiful; the island is beautiful. We are all excited, we are all happy, we are all smiles, and we work well together around camp. Right now, nothing can go wrong.”

While we saw him climbing a tree to get coconuts we heard Tai’s confessional: “Why am I here? Look at me: I’m bald, big ears, skinny little body. I’m thinking when I go home people will ask why they put him on the Beauty tribe… I think my personality will come out. We all have beautiful inside and outside.”

With the guys working on the frame of the shelter, the three women were getting some palm fronds together while talking about the guys. They figured Nick had to be a model, Michele adding that he shaved his arms and legs. That got a laugh.

Michele’s confessional: “Being a bartender is an extremely social job. You learn that personality types want certain things from you. So I was like OK: Who looks like I would get along with them? There’s Tai. He’s always moving. Caleb is super strong and Nick, the tall, dreamy guy of course. I was like: Ha! He’s on my tribe. I get to spend a lot of time with him and he gets to see me disgustingly dirty. Wonderful! Ha! Ha! So, I decided to build the relationship with the girls, you know. The signs were to go with the girls, build the palm fronds, and braid each other’s hair, whatever. The girls had to go with girls, so that alliance felt natural to me.”

Anna wondered if the three guys would align with each other. Julia said that they were too different for that.

Caleb’s confessional: “I’m looking around at my Beauty tribe and I’m sitting here, kind of wondering to myself: why in the world is Tai on this tribe? 50, 60 year old Asian guy who has eye brows 3 inches long, who’s got mister Miyagi glasses. Like I don’t understand, like maybe there’s a lot more than what people really see.”

This confessional proves that Julia was right about the guys not aligning.

Tai’s confessional: “I love all living creatures, especially the plants. I’m a gardener so it hurts me when I see people cutting off branches. It’s like an arm: You cut it off, it cannot grow back the same way. Sometimes I can be very strong about it but this is Survivor: I have to be smart about how I say it.” Tai told the group he was from Viet Nam so that this was like his hood and he knew a lot of stuff. His confessional continued: “I’m from Viet Nam, I lived through the war and I survived. I went into a boat in 1979: 262 people in a 26-meter boat. We were just sitting there like this for 11 days. We had no food, just a little bit of water and we just float, and float and float and we end up in a refugee camp really close to here for a whole year and then we come to America. Through all my life, that’s a lot of things I survived through so I think I have an advantage. Adventure is excitement and I can’t sit still. This is Survivor: It’s once in a lifetime and I’m loving it.”

With Michele giving us a good comment about the tribe and her game while giving presenting a nice look into her personality, she joins the rank of the people with roles in the premiere. Nick, Caleb and Tai have now given us two confessionals so we have to consider that they will be big characters but it’s too early to say they will have longevity. Some big characters leave early. Julia is the only one that has been ignored up to now in the Beauty tribe. Her role in the challenge will soon fix that.

Brawn Day 1

Our return to the Brawn camp was greeted by music that had even more tension than the first. Everyone was working hard…well, almost everyone.

Working Hard

“Working Hard”

Jason’s confessional: “It’s a harsh sun. My shoulders are fried, my shins are fried. It hurts a lot but I give it my all, you know. Work physically hard first and start thinking about it as you go along. It’s the type of person I am.” In the middle of Jason’s confessional, Alecia did join them but she didn’t seem to accomplish much. “We need one of the guys to do this,” we heard her say. Jason continued: “Blondie…I don’t know her name. I’ll call her Blondie. I have zero faith in this girl. She doesn’t do anything. To me, she’s at the bottom. I have no sympathy for her. I have my own wife and kids to worry about.”

Talking to Scot, Jason made it clear that if worse comes to worse, Julia would go. Scot was on board adding that the plan should include Jenny, Jason and him. The two shook on it.

We went right back to Jason’s confessional: “The truth is that I want as many alliances as possible…” We saw him shaking Cydney’s hand after agreeing on a deal. “In my eyes, these alliances are only meaningful when I need them…” Jason then finalized the three-person alliance with Jennifer. “Potentially, they could all be truthful in a way. Every single one of them could be bull. I’ll make that decision when I need to make it.”

Yes, Jason definitely reminds me of Chris and not just because of his features and the dramatic way he talks. He has the same approach to the game, working with everyone but for his own good. It’s also interesting to note that Jason connected with the harsh condition theme by talking about how the heat affected him.

We saw Darnell working with Cydney and we heard him telling us his background story.

Darnell and Cydney made a deal to watch each other’s back. Darnell added that he liked Alecia but that didn’t sit well with Cydney. She wanted to get rid of the two girls first.

Beauty Tribe

This time, we had Caribbean music underlining this fun tribe. The chickens flew the coop but the tribe still had fun chasing them around the trees.

There must be a joke about how many does it take...

“There must be a joke in there about how many does it take…”

Nick’s confessional: “It wasn’t the best of starts for the Beauty tribe whatsoever. While we were building the shelter, the chickens get out. It was like: This really? Right now? We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off and we’re wasting calories but we definitely want those chickens. We got two of them back, and 66%, I’ll take it, but it wasn’t the best start.”

It looks like Nick will be the narrator of this group, a group that didn’t look too smart at the moment but one that made the best of the situation. We must note that Tai remained calm and figured a way to keep the chicken under control.

Anna’s confessional: “I love Tai’s approach to life. He takes his time with all of us and when there is something new, he tries to teach all of us and I absolutely love that about him. He taught us how to tie a little rope around the chicken and let them roam around. I love that! He respects all the little creatures that live here.” To contrast Tai’s respect for life, we heard Nick saying: “They are going to be dead in a few days.” Anna’s confessional continued: “Tai is definitely someone that I could work with. The three girls, we are pretty tight, but in order to have the numbers and to propel ourselves in the game, we need a guy and Tai is perfect to take along with us. We can use him for sure.”

Julia agreed with Anna about “the Asian guy.”

Julia gave us her first confessional: “There’s a little bit of a connotation with being in a sorority. People underestimate you and they think that’s all you do, that’s how you get by in life by the way you look, but I’m really not like that at all. I can pull my own weight and I’ll be able to make connections instantly with these people. I definitely want to stick with Anna and pull in Michele and I think the three of us could do very well.”

Her quick alliances and her performance during the puzzle showed that Julia can back her words.

Anna gave us another confessional: “Julia came up to me and said: “Listen, Caleb was on Big Brother and I trust her. That actually gives us a lot of information that he was on Big Brother. He had an alliance of nine on Big Brother and he kept it all the way which shows me that he is very loyal. That’s really important for us.”

Caleb was up front with Michele and Anna about being on Big Brother.

Caleb’s interview: “I’m Beast Mode Cowboy from Big Brother but I am more than that. I want to show everybody what I’m made of. I was in the military right out of high school; I was a prison guard in Baghdad, Iraq. I have been through a lot of things in life that people didn’t have to go through. If I’m going into a competition where I have to stand on my tippy-toes for three hours, I will stand on my tippy-toes for three hours until the last person gives up. Living my daily life on a farm and being an outdoorsman: This is home to me. I know what it takes to make a fire. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get what I want. I believe I am probably mentally stronger than anyone in this game.”

Caleb proceeded to make fire.

Neal’s earlier comment needs to be remembered here: “If somebody says they are a fire expert and they come on this beach and when it’s really crunch time and they really need to make fire for their tribe but can’t do it? It’s a big concern”. Seeing Caleb seemingly make fire with ease, we have to consider that Caleb doesn’t only talk the talk. He also walks the walk. The Beauty tribe made fire which means, according to Peter, that they are more evolved than the Brains tribe! It’s particularly damning considering that Caleb didn’t exactly have the reputation of being smart.

Brains Day 2
There was again a sense of adventure in the musical theme.

Is that a Hint

“Is that a Hint?”

Joe had some interesting words to say to Aubry: “It gets exciting when you get to the end.” He was talking about getting through the bamboo with the saw but it certainly could have a deeper meaning. It could be a clue that Aubry will feel the excitement of making it to the end of the game. It’s something to keep on the backburner for now.

Joe’s confessional: “I’m 71 years old and I was a hostage negotiator in the FBI. We were on some dangerous assignments at times but I have street sense. I tend to see things before they actually happen kinda. I have this intuitiveness about things. I think I can make it through this gauntlet, to be the Sole Survivor.”

Debbie once more showed she was a know-it-all that didn’t really know much when she tried to cut a piece of bamboo with an axe instead of the saw. The funniest thing was that the editors changed the caption under her name.

A New job

“Already a New Job!”

It didn’t read “chemist” as it first did but “waitress” as if they realized it would be much less dangerous for everyone if she was working in a restaurant instead of a laboratory!

Debbie’s confessional: “Joe and I are workhorses. We’ve got the wisdom to know that before we go strategizing about winning the game, we have to stay alive. This is Survivor. You actually have to survive here. So, I’m going to make this camp as comfortable as I can mostly for me and Joe. Because Joe and I plan on sticking around a very long time.”

While Debbie and Joe were working on the shelter, Liz and Neal were working on an alliance. She asked him what he thought of the group. They both agreed that Debbie talked way too much. Neal added that she and Joe, the “geriatric team”, would be too slow. Liz thought Joe was the most likely to be “medevaced”. The two agreed that the four “children” would hold together well. Liz added that she didn’t think any of the four would flip.

That should sound some alarm bells for this tribe. When someone is sure that no one will flip then someone will likely flip (OK, it didn’t happen when Jeremy said they would be stupid to flip but that was an exception!)

Liz’s confessional: “Debbie talks, talks, talks. She talks so highly of herself that I’m starting to think she may annoy everybody to death.”

The Biggest division factor in Survivor

“The Biggest Division Factor in Survivor

Neal’s confessional: “When you have six people on a tribe and you know that four of us are going to be quicker both physically and mentally, it makes a lot of sense to try to keep the four younger ones together.”

Peter agreed with Neal that it would be the best plan.

Peter’s confessional: “In our group, we’ve got four young people and two old people. The fact that I say they are old people means that they already stay back. Debbie and Joe are low-hanging fruits so they are going to be eaten first.”

In the old days, a confessional like this meant that Joe and Debbie would probably outlast Peter but nowadays? The editors have lost a lot of their subtlety since Burnett has turned over the direction to Probst.

Beauty Tribe Day 2

In case the viewers had missed the memo that this is the fun tribe, we were greeted by a ukulele strumming a happy tune.

The group was hard at work collecting wood for the shelter but Tai had other ideas.

Tai in an impromptu confessional: “I’m going to look around, try to see if I can find some signs of the idol.”

Tai now in a real confessional setting: “This morning, we were walking along the beach and everyone turned around and bring the bamboo back. I have to look for the idol. I have no clue but this is Survivor so there has to be an idol somewhere near here.”

He spotted three dead trees in the middle of the trail so he uprooted them.

(Didn’t he say he loved all living things, especially trees?!)

Tai’s actions were quickly noticed by the group. They all realized that he was looking for an idol so they went out to catch him in the act. Michele and Julia agreed that it painted a target on Tai’s back. We cut to commercial just when Anna spotted him.

When we returned from the break the music had lost its innocence and we heard the same tension that was heard in the Brawn camp. Nick was with Anna this time when they spotted Tai. It suggests that Tai ran out there alone more than once, pushing his luck a bit too much.

Anna’s confessional: “I was walking along and there’s Tai. As soon as I walk up, he kneels down so that was really weird. I see him patting the floor so, OK, this guy is looking for the idol and I’m just right away: Sketched.” Walking over to Tai, Nick asked him if he had been lucky but they realized he didn’t have a clue. Anna’s confessional continued: “Yesterday, I felt comfortable with him but now I don’t trust you for a freakin’ second.”

Tai made it worse by asking them to give him five more minutes to look for the idol.

Tai’s confessional: “I screwed everything up. It’s not good for me at all. The fact that I went away for half an hour to look for an idol and I got caught.”

Tai had already told them that he’d be looking in the jungle for food, so why didn’t build on that? It would have been so easy to go out for a few minutes, look quickly for the idol, bring back some edible roots then go back an hour later, stay a bit longer, bring back some coconuts and then repeat that charade as often as necessary, stretching the outings each time. To lose trust is terrible but maybe Tai can fix it somehow. He does have charisma.

Michele’s confessional: “I just don’t trust Tai at all. I think that he’s bringing a lot of anxious energy. He made his bed and right now Tai is number one for me.”

The five agreed that they were good, meaning that Tai would be the first to go.

Brains Day 2

A wind instrument was playing a sorrowful melody which ended with a gong. The image we saw of the beach gave the impression of desolation.

Desolation

“Desolation”

Aubry’s confessional: “It’s so hot out here that I don’t think you even realize in the moment how hot it is. You realize it when you start moving slower. It kind of scrambles your brain, it slows you down and you can’t escape it. I think this heat may be one of the biggest factors in this game. I mean, look at me. I went to a prep school and I work in social media so coming from Boston in the middle of winter to being marooned here, it’s like going from black to white. It’s intense. I started feeling a little bit wobbly and discombobulated and your thoughts stop moving in a linear pattern.”

It was interesting to see that out of the five other people on the beach, the two that took care of Aubry were Joe and Debbie. He offered her water and she gave her comfort. Of all the jobs that Debbie listed, it seems that she is best suited to be the mother out there! This makes me realize that Aubry was never heard agreeing to the four-person alliance. Hmm! Will she be the one to flip to the older group?

Debbie (back to being a chemist) had a confessional: “Aubry comes to me and immediately I knew she was dehydrated, heat exhaustion and anxiety ridden. She was also absolutely overwhelmed by being thrown into a jungle with five strangers.”

After thanking Debbie for her help, Aubry gave us another confessional: “I care about this game; I love it so much that maybe I worked it up too much in my own head. This situation I am in isn’t even about the environment; this is about my own head. I’m a thinker; I get stuck in my own head. I know that I brought this upon myself.”

Liz in confessional: “Aubry wasn’t ill, dehydrated; she hadn’t gotten to the point of chapped lips so for her it was more of an anxiety attack. She was just freaking out about freaking out. Whatever impression she is giving up on day two, I do think that there’s a significant risk that she cracks again if something doesn’t go well.”

That’s twice that Liz talked about people cracking or needing to be evacuated. Could it mean that she is the one that breaks instead? She seems strong, though, but who knows in a week or so. Some viewers will say that Liz was being insensitive but Aubry herself said that it was mostly in her head.

Neal’s interview: “With Aubry being weird and freaking out, I think there could be a repeat of the first Brains, Beauty, and Brawn where Brains was just nuts and got shellacked.”

Brawn Night 2

The soulful wind instruments had moved to this beach. Here, it was Jennifer that was in trouble.

Jennifer’s confessional: “I’m actually worried. I’m not sure but I think I’ve got a bug in my ear and I thought it would be fine: It would crawl out and it isn’t a big deal but, instead of crawling out, it is getting deeper in my ear. I can’t sleep, I can’t get comfortable. It’s just disgusting hearing these little legs crawling around in your head. It’s digging deeper in my ear canal. I don’t know what that does to a person. Emotionally, it does a lot, but physically? What kind of damage is it doing? I feel there is blood coming out of my ear…It’s so painful. I prepared for so much out here but I didn’t prepare for some bug to munch me from the inside.”

The morning didn’t bring her immediate relief, but it did bring tree mail…

…and I had a pleasant surprise:

11 Hoodie

Cydney was wearing a hoodie so maybe production finally realized that it wasn’t smart to let them freeze to death during the colder nights.

Jennifer explained in confessional that the critter was digging deeper instead of crawling out. Her tribemates became worried that she could be pulled from the game.

Alecia in confessional: “It is a concern going into a challenge thinking we could be losing one of our tribemates because she has a bug in her ear. I think she could be on the chopping block because they want a stronger team so hopefully Jenn is going to be OK for the challenge because I don’t want to go to the challenge with five people.”

Scot’s confessional: “Poor Jenny. She is bleeding and she is in some pain but, selfishly, I’m worried about the challenge today. If we don’t win this, it’s going to hurt all of us. So, quite literally, failure is not an option.”
Since they did fail we have to expect that things won’t go well down the road for this tribe.

Jenn laid down for a while and we saw that a little worm was starting to crawl out but it went back in. Cydney was the first to see it and, finally, Scot was able to grab it and kill it. Jenny recovered almost immediately and she was really pissed off about the incident.

Cydney’s confessional: “I didn’t know how big it was but it turned out to be this big. It’s pretty long for an ear canal so I could see how she was in pain.”

Jenny’s confessional: “I feel amazing. I’m back to where I was before: Ready to take on all these challenges. I got this. Thirty nine days: No problem.”

Did Jenny just punch her ticket to the finale? It wouldn’t surprise me at all that this confessional was shown to underline just how determined the incident made her and how it will carry her to the end.

The tribe let her have the honor of carrying the tribe flag to the challenge.

The Flag Bearer

“The Flag Bearer”

It’s usually considered more a chore than an honor but this time it felt different. The tribe usually lines up according to height so seeing Jenny at the end of the procession told us it was deliberate. Either the flag proved too heavy or the producers didn’t like the idea of her bringing up the rear because Scot was later seen carrying the flag to the challenge arena.

The Challenge

Julia was wearing the same knee socks that Sally famously wore. Will she become a favorite like the former Bayoneta tribe member?

Knee Socks Julia

“Knee Socks Julia”

It was nice to hear the players choosing their tasks, something that the edit often neglects. Anna and Julia volunteered to do the puzzle for Beauty, Darnell was positive he could dive for the Brawns, Alecia was assigned to the puzzle for Brawn even if she clearly said she wasn’t good at them. Aubry was designated as the primary diver for the Brains.

Aubry had a very significantly placed confessional: “It hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time. I could be going home tonight, but I’m not going home without giving this one everything I have.”

I noted that Debbie, the self-proclaimed excellent swimmer, didn’t volunteer for the job. If we remember her first confessional, she should be doing the puzzle then, right?

When the challenge started, we heard the following comments:
– Darnell, struggling to get in.
– Michele in the water looking for that first paddle, Aubry in the water. Darnell in the water for Brawn.
– Darnell lost the mask only seconds in the challenge. That was an absolute disaster for the Brawn tribe.
– Jenny jumps in without a mask.
– Beauty has their 4th paddle. Start paddling! Beauty doing a great job and have a nice early lead.
– Aubry with the 4th paddle for the Brain tribe. She did it all herself.
– Beauty is struggling to get the boat into that cradle.
– The Brawn tribe is still in the water.
– We got a challenge with the Brawn tribe making a comeback here.
– It is the Brain tribe now in the lead.
– The Beauty tribe has slipped off the track which makes putting these wheels on tougher. The Beauty is now in dead last.
– It is Liz and Aubry (NOT Debbie) doing the puzzle for the Brain tribe with a big lead right now.
– The Brawn tribe…are now in second place despite taking forever to get their paddles.
– Beauty has blown a big lead but is quickly gaining on Brawn.
– The Brawns are picking the puzzle…Jenny and Alecia have some work to do to catch the Brain tribe. (Jenny had to tell Alecia to get the pieces)
– Liz and Aubry doing a nice job working together. Jenny doing all the work for the Brawn tribe. Alecia’s out, Scot is coming in.
– Brains tribe wins immunity and reward.

Another Hint

“Another Hint?”

When Peter told Aubry: “You are the best” I wondered if that is what this season will show us.

– It’s neck-and-neck right now. Beauty has it! Beauty wins immunity.

At one point Jason said: “That’s why we’re the Brawn tribe!” I know he meant that they had used their strength to get back in the challenge but, in the end, it underlined the fact that they couldn’t do the puzzle.

Alecia’s confessional: “It is risky at tribal because I am not a puzzle wizard, you know, but Darnell dropped the glasses and he totally screwed up the challenge. So, the only way for me to stay in this game right now is to try and get them to vote out Darnell.”

Considering the outcome of the vote, it must be noted that this confessional wasn’t given to the player about to be eliminated or the one making the decision, a change from the usual pattern.

The Brawn Tribe Scrambling before Tribal Council

Alecia started by apologizing for being unable to do the puzzle. Darnell said it was his fault.

He told us he was surprised to see how murky the sea water was. He realized that the others weren’t talking to him because they were talking about him.

Scot and Jason told him they were voting Blondie.

Scot’s thoughts: “…The two people who are on the chopping block. It’s Darnell and Alecia but really there’s just one in my opinion. Darnell loses the mask. He apologized but he was a dead weight in the challenge. It was just unacceptable.”

Scot told Alecia that Darnell was going home, that she was safe.

Alecia’s confessional: “I don’t think that I can trust Scot but if I can try to be a master manipulator and then vote Darnell; that’s the only option right now.”

She showed that she wasn’t convinced that Scot and Jason were honest with her. She even tried a bluff about having an idol. That angered Scot but he calmly told her that he didn’t like her constant scheming.

Scot’s confessional: “That just blew my mind. I threw her a freaking bone. You are pushing yourself out of this game. We are trying to give her blatant hints to just calm down because the only thing you are doing right now is killing yourself.”

Scot and Jason told Cydney and Jenny that they were voting against Darnell. Cydney told them that Alecia was pissing her off. Asked if she was OK with the plan, Cydney said that it didn’t matter.

Cydney’s confessional: “…I do prefer Alecia to go just based on the simple fact that she doesn’t do anything. I prefer for Darnell to stick around because of our initial alliance. The more numbers I have, the better it is for me. When I get to Tribal, I’m going to make sure people know who needs to go home.”

Tribal Council

Asked about his first impressions of the tribe, Jason said he was satisfied, that they had some people who matched his high expectations.

Jeff noted that he said “some people”, not everybody.

Jason wasn’t afraid to say that Blondie and Darnell were the two that didn’t meet his expectations.

Alecia said it didn’t feel good to hear that. She said she had good intentions and that she didn’t see herself as the weakest one.

Darnell admitted he was the key reason for their loss. He said he tried his best.

Scot said Darnell flat out told them he could dive, so he didn’t volunteer even if he has been snorkeling for most of his life.

Alecia told everyone that she was a mental giant and that she wasn’t going to break down.

That comment surprised everyone, especially Cydney.

Cydney felt that what Alecia was saying was just for show.

Alecia countered by saying she was honest and told them she wasn’t going to do the puzzles anymore.

When Alecia said he didn’t fight during the challenge, Darnell countered by saying he rowed and pushed the boat while she did nothing.

Jeff gave Darnell an occasion to present his life story.

Since Jeff knew his tough background, this was obviously his attempt to sway the tribe in Darnell’s favor.

What is happening

“Why is this happening?”

Alecia looked lost for words when Darnell got sympathy from everyone.

It looked like Jeff was going to get his way:

Whispering, Jason asked Jenn if they were doing the right thing. Jennifer answered by saying she didn’t want to vote against Darnell.

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Jenny told Jeff that Darnell’s words touched her deeply. She added: “I lost a lot as well and you get tired of losing.”

Jason wondered if they were making the right choice.

Scot said that the players were doing what they had to do at Tribal Council.

It was time to vote.

Alecia (who had a dumb blond moment when she tried to write without removing the cap), Scot and Jenny voted against Darnell.

Darnell, Cydney and Jason voted against Alecia.

Jeff left us hanging during a commercial break.

On the revote, we had three votes against Darnell.

Alecia thanked the guys.

Jeff sent them back to camp after giving them flint (I’ve always found that to be a cheap way of getting it) and telling them that there was a theme to this Tribal Council: “If you are going to talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk.”

The Story

The best thing about the 90-minute premiere with only one challenge is that everyone had a confessional and an opportunity to connect with the audience. Contrary to most seasons, I don’t think I could call anyone a spectator or an extra because they all played a role. We still had some players that were featured more than others– some because of their strategic input, others because of their struggles. Our job will be to see if the same players continue to have the strategic roles and if the players who struggled will be able to rebound while keeping their airtime.

The three tribes had equal numbers of scenes before the challenge but they had fairly different stories as indicated by their musical themes:

In the Beauty tribe, it was mostly fun and games and everyone got along until Tai’s search for the idol broke the harmony. Still, this tribe looks like it won’t have many visits to Tribal Council. Despite the knuckle cracking in the Brawn tribe and the intelligence of the Brains tribe, the Beauty tribe seems to possess a more even distribution of the skills required for these challenges. Since second place is just as good as first then the Beauty tribe should fare well. They work well together and they were the only ones that had fire on day 1. If a swap happens in the fifth episode as it did in the first version of this format then the six Beauty tribe members could all make it there. The fact that they had 4 of the 9 opening confessionals is certainly a good sign for them.

The Brains tribe had more ups and down and a clearer division along the age groups. We didn’t get a good look at their shelter but it looked like the smallest. Of course, winning a tarp will change all that but one has to wonder if they will keep their momentum. We’ve already heard them talk about being as bad as the first Brains tribe so maybe they will get to visit Jeff soon.

The Brawn tribe dove into a tense atmosphere from the very start. Jason is a schemer and it appears that Alecia is also. Add Cydney who is trying to get the numbers on her side and this tribe seems really divided. However, some of that was due to the edit. With Jason first voting against Alecia, Jenny saying she didn’t want to vote against Darnell while Scot had no problem writing Darnell’s name, it looked like they weren’t on the same page. I believe that was never an issue. I think they entered Tribal Council with a plan to split the votes in case one of the two targets had an idol and then vote against Darnell on the second ballot. For the two guys, it may be better that way because they don’t have to worry about the Cydney-Darnell alliance. For Jenny, it’s great because she still isn’t the weakest of the group, something that could have happened if Alecia had left and Darnell had stepped up nicely in the next challenge. How will the tribe react from this loss when we heard Scot say that failure wasn’t an option? It’s even more troubling when we consider that this challenge was built for Brawn. The key element was pushing the boat/cart up the hill and while they did well there, it wasn’t enough. They have to wish that the other challenges will be equally physical.

Looking at the overall story, I think we will have two main themes. This season it will be all about the “Harsh Conditions” and the “Need to Prove Yourself”. The first was presented in the promos and in Jeff’s introduction while the second is derived from Jeff’s last words at Tribal Council and his comments before the challenge when he said they had to choose the right people for the different tasks. Another way to look at that second theme could be that “Actions Speak Louder than Words”.

As for narrators, I think we are off to a good start. Nick was definitely the narrator for the beauty tribe suggesting he lasts at least until the swap. While Jason talked a lot, it was mostly about his game so Scot turned out to be the reporter for the Brawn tribe and we know he isn’t going anywhere soon. For the Brains tribe, we seem to have two narrators: Liz and Neal often had back-to-back confessionals relating the events of the tribe. Liz was a little more positive while Neal expects disaster. It’ll be amusing to see if these roles are maintained.

The Characters

They were all Talk: These three players haven’t backed their claims

Alecia: It’s not very good when you describe yourself as a “mental giant” and everyone rolls their eyes. To understand Scot’s frustration just before Tribal Council, we have to imagine that the episode didn’t show all of her scheming. She could very well push herself out of the game if this tribe returns to Tribal Council in one of the next 2 episodes. She needs to show that she can be a docile ally, not a scheming one. Maybe Tribal Council will have shocked her into it.

Debbie: I found it funny when the editors switched from “Chemist” to “Waitress” as her job description. It wasn’t as hilarious as Phillip’s famous question mark but it seemed to tell us that even the staff didn’t quite know what to make of her. For all her boasts, she didn’t do anything during the challenge and she didn’t get into the tribe’s main alliance.

Cydney: She told us that she would get her tribe to see the light during Tribal Council. She wasn’t able to deliver on that promise and she didn’t do much during the challenge either. With Jason, Scot and Jenny forming the main alliance, Cydney has to worry that Alecia may become the easier one to drag along, especially if they avoid the next Tribal Council or two and Blondie has time to show her loyalty.

The Undetermined: Any of these players could prove themselves in the next episodes but they could also become secondary characters

Joe: He seems to be there for the adventure, a player on a journey instead of a real contender. His introduction told us that he considered this the ultimate adventure and not much more.

Nick: I really liked his grand entrance, sitting on the prow of the ship as if on top of the world. Unfortunately, that kind of body language doesn’t go unnoticed and Nick seems set up for a confrontation with Scot who mentioned knocking people to the ground right when he was shown sitting next to Nick. It’ll be very interesting to see if those two wind up on the same tribe and which one comes out on top. We can’t forget that Nick had the first winning quote and that there weren’t as many of those this time as we had last season. It could be meaningful. Despite the women’s alliance and Tai’s big role, I don’t think the tribe would risk losing one of their strongest members in what looks to be a very physical season.

Peter: Despite an opening confessional, Peter had a very bland episode. For being compared to Obama, he didn’t show any leadership skills and he certainly didn’t act as a unifying character for the tribe. He mostly talked about their division, already splitting this house in two.

Neal: While we have to remember that he was shown on screen alone when Jeff mentioned that only one will remain to claim the million, Neal was a very pessimistic character. He vividly remembers Luzon and expects this new Brains tribe to follow the same path. Will the win change his mood? That will be something to watch in the next episodes. It’s rare that an eventual winner is heard talking negatively about his tribemates so Neal isn’t off to the best start.

Tai: The charismatic gardener had it made. The three girls had fallen for him and he seemed assured to make it far in the game. Now, we aren’t so sure because he lost their trust with his little escapade in the jungle. Tai is so likable that we have to think no one would be dumb enough to keep him around to the end but that’s what I thought of Jeremy and look what happened there… For now, we have to say that Tai’s actions don’t measure up to his words. Yes, he climbed up a tree to get coconuts but he can’t be called a provider yet. He certainly didn’t bring back food from the jungle. He also failed to find the idol. He’ll need to fix the damage that his search created.

Proving Themselves: Whether by their role in the challenges, their position in their group’s alliance or their survival skills, these players are our front runners, the ones that already fit the themes of the season

Liz: She was definitely not as negative as Neal but, like him, she has doubts about her tribe. Still, she backed her words by helping the tribe win the challenge. She’s in a four-person alliance or so it seems. I’m not convinced that all the children will want to see their “parents” leave. Keeping her alliance together could be Liz’s biggest challenge.

Caleb: He had a great episode, making fire and using his strength to push the boat up the hill. Better still, he saw his history in Big Brother turn into a positive for the women. They remembered him as a loyal ally and seemed to have forgotten that he had a creepy crush on one female player, falling in love with her practically overnight. Caleb isn’t a smart strategist but he could go far if his social game holds up. If he gets close to the end, he could become a threat to win the remaining challenges. He seems much more relaxed in the jungle than in the house.

Jennifer: Since the cameras were able to catch the little worm coming out of her ear then the whole scene about her distress was definitely going to air. What I liked was that she was given a confessional afterwards, showing her resolve. Her goal is to make it to the end and she already got over a big hurdle. The viewers will say she did her best in the challenge but didn’t get the right help from her tribemates. All this connected her to the audience and many will be pulling for her. We will have to see if she carries that momentum in the next episodes or if she disappears behind her tribe’s two big guys.

Aubry: Despite not getting a confessional in the opening, Aubry still gave us a good first impression with the way she plunged into the sea and into the game. Her anxiety attack could be an indication that she won’t be able to cope with the harsh conditions but I saw it the other way around. It wasn’t the conditions that affected her as much as it was her own worries. That victory will do wonders to her morale so I think Aubry will be fine. Peter already told us that she was the best. That could be a hint of what to expect from her down the road. For now, Aubry has to be considered a top contender.

Scot: The mountain man had a terrific first episode. He proved to be likable and a strategist, a much better Survivor than Cliff, Rocker and Culpepper. I’m not convinced that he’ll go as far as Hogeboom, though! He may be making a mistake putting so much trust in Jason but right now they need each other. With Darnell’s elimination, these two will certainly remain in control of the tribe. What piqued my interest were his words about knocking people to the ground. How will that apply when he has to deal with members of the opposing tribes? I’m expecting sparks!

Jason: I think he was the big star of the evening and quickly became a top contender. He is a strategist and a very entertaining character in confessional. If I add those traits to a vague resemblance and a red t-shirt then Jason made me think of Chris. Jason’s main problem could come from a collapse of the Brawn tribe because no one would let him skate by if he doesn’t have the numbers. That’s where the comparison to Chris fails. If the swap falls just right, giving him an opening to make new allies, then he could be a force down the road. Like Chris, he certainly knows how to make quick and varied alliances.

Julia: I was very impressed with all three women of the Beauty tribe and it certainly wasn’t only due to their looks. All three understood the social aspect of the game and quickly bonded. That makes them all contenders for the end game. Of course, the real test will come when they are confronted by members of the other tribes. As for Julia in particular, I liked her approach to the game. Despite being the youngest one out there, she understands it. She quickly made a bond with Anna and they aligned with Michele. They both liked Tai but more importantly, Julia told Anna about Caleb and saw a way that they could use him. The challenge looked lost for the Beauty tribe until Julia and Anna saved them in extremis. Julia didn’t boast about her puzzle skills; she just did it which fits nicely with the theme of “actions speaking louder than words”.

Michele: Like Julia, she had a quiet episode but it wasn’t without interest. Even if Anna and Julia appeared to be closer, it was Michele that got credit for forming the women’s alliance by simply being the first to talk about it in confessional. She also gave us a good assessment of her tribe and added a fun comment about being seen by Nick when she is “disgustingly dirty”. It adds a nice layer to her character. She is on the Beauty tribe but she isn’t caught up in her looks. It’ll be important to see if she can play an active game but for now it was enough to see her inside a tight alliance.

Anna: With Aubry, Jennifer and Jason, I think Anna has to be considered a top contender. Most viewers will make a big deal of her introductory confessional, saying that “pushing up her boobs” isn’t a way to play the game, even less of a way to present an eventual winner but I think she showed that she was much more than a beautiful woman. She had an important confessional in each of her tribe’s segment, she formed an alliance with the other two women, forming a close bond to Julia and she is in a good position to choose which way the tribe would vote if they have to go to Tribal Council. Her performance at the end of the challenge connected her to one of the two themes so we just have to see how her story evolves from here.

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