Survivor: Worlds Apart

Episode 1 – Making Decisions

The “greatest social experiment on television” is back again and we were about to be introduced to the lucky idiots that will be keeping us busy for the next few months.

We had a close-up of Vince when Jeff mentioned “approach to life”.

Starting with the White tribe, Jeff mentioned that there was a Yahoo exec (Shirin) a media consultant and ex-professor (Max), and a retail buyer (So).  They are used to being in charge, calling the shots to get what they want. (We see Carolyn).

So had the first confessional, introducing us right away to the first person to be eliminated.  She won’t get the chance to make anyone cry in this game.

Next came Max: “…I taught a class on Survivor.  There are very few things in my life that I set my mind to that I didn’t achieve.  I step on the people whose assistance I need to get to the next plateau.” (Carolyn once more was shown on screen when Max said this).

Carolyn was next: “…I worked for some hardcore companies.  Everybody wants your job and it’s the same thing on Survivor.  Everyone is going for the same goal.”  (The last part was done in voice over while we saw Joaquin).

Moving to the Blue collar tribe, Jeff mentioned the State Trooper (Kelly), the barrel racer (Sierra) and the postal worker (Dan).  He added: “They are used to hard work and physical labor and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to get the job done.

Mike was first: “I work in the oil and gas industry. I’m the one who is usually the most covered in oil, the most covered in mud.  Same thing with this game: If you are not getting your hands dirty, you ain’t going to win. My hands are going to be filthy.”

Lindsey then introduced herself (was she wearing latex pants? That would be a first!): “I’m a single mom and I’m a hairstylist.  Having a little girl is hard but it’s made me who I am.  Mentally, there is no one on this Earth who is as strong as I am.”

Dan followed: “I’ve worked in the post office for 22 years and I am here to live my dream.  I’ve dreamt of being on Survivor since season one, episode one and I plan on being remembered.  One way or another, you will not forget me.”

Moving on to the No Collar tribe, Jeff mentioned the sailing instructor (Jenn), the YouTube sensation (Will) and the coconut vendor (Vince).  “They use their free spirit mentally to further themselves in life.”

Jenn was first to present herself: “I’m a searcher, an adventurer. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants and I do what I want to do when I want to do it but of course I want a million dollars.  Money makes your life way easier.  Have you ever seen an unhappy person on a jet ski?  No.”

Hali followed: “When people hear that I am in law school, they assume that I am a corporate dog-eat-dog girl but that is not who I am.  I’m in it for the poor, broken down people. I’m not anarchy, I’m the greater good.”

Vince ended No Collar’s opening segment: “As a coconut vendor, I seek truth; I’m a seer of real. I live life in a way where I am guided by my own decisions.  There are just no rules for me.  My life is like surfing a wave so let me surf this for a second.”

Try Surfing that! Try Surfing that![/caption]

Jeff explained the social experiment for this season:  Which way of life will prove to be most valuable in the game of Survivor.

The Blue collars were on screen when he asked that.

We then heard from three more players

Joaquin: “I always want to be the guy in charge and I am here to win the million dollars.  Fast money, loose women, lots of champagne!  Are you kidding me?”

Joe: “I don’t want them to think that I am a threat.  I want them to think that I am here to enjoy the beaches. No!  I want to beat you in Survivor.”

Rodney: “People look at me and think that I am just a meathead, but when it comes to competition, I am filet mignon and they are a bunch of steak-ums.”

Jeff said: “In the end, only one will remain to claim the million dollar prize” and right after, we heard a female voice saying: “Now it’s game on.”

 Who was that mystery woman?  Could it be a clue to the identity of our winner?  It sounded like Hali to me.

Let’s pause the video to analyze this important first segment: While we didn’t hear from everyone, the introduction was very rich in information about these characters.  It must be noted that we didn’t hear from Shirin, Tyler, Sierra, Kelly, Will and Nina.  I also noticed that the players Jeff used as examples didn’t all get a chance to talk to us.  Those that were introduced by Jeff and given a confessional were So, Max, Dan, Jenn and Vince.  Let’s start with them:

  • So’s inclusion in this group tells us that these aren’t all long-term players but there could be one or two that are here for the duration.  
  • Dan would fit the bill of a short-term player. Rodney made an alliance with the women and Sierra already distrusts him so Dan is in early trouble and he certainly has the characteristics of an early boot: He is physically unfit and an outcast.
  • Max and Jenn had very interesting roles in this first episode. They both look like important players.
  • This brings us to discuss Vince. I noticed that when he compared his life to surfing a wave, the camera showed us a crashing wave, the kind that would wipe-out any surfer. In his confessional, Vince mentioned his job as a coconut vendor but those words were heard in voice over. There was a slight break before we heard the rest. We know that, in addition to selling coconuts, Vince is also a personal life coach and wouldn’t that fit more with what he said next? A personal life coach would seek truth and would have to see what is real, but how does that apply to a coconut vendor? I think Vince mentioned both jobs but that the editors and Jeff decided to focus only on the coconuts to make him look even weirder.    


Of the other players, the camera work suggested the conflict in Masaya which centered on Carolyn.  She was on our screen when Max talked about using people to advance and then Joaquin was seen when she talked about everyone going for her job.  This montage could be telling us that So’s elimination hasn’t resolved the problems in Masaya. 

In the Blue Collar tribe, we can say that Lindsey has a very high opinion of herself.  I wonder if the mentally strongest person on Earth will suffer a mental breakdown at some point.  Mike’s introduction was very interesting, especially since his words about getting his hands dirty echoed what Jeff said.  If Blue Collar proves to be the best way of life for Survivor (and wouldn’t that be exactly what production wants?) then Mike has to be considered as a main contender.

It was amusing to hear Joe and Rodney using the same approach, saying the others will underestimate them.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, Joaquin thought he’d be the main man on the tribe.  We quickly saw which tactic worked best.  Rodney and Joe could very well outlast Joaquin… and many others.

Making Decisions

Surround and Drown Probst!

Surround and Drown, Probst!

Jeff delivered his speech in the middle of crashing waves and he looked like he could be stranded there for a while.


(Un)Fortunately, he made it to shore in time…

We then heard from Shirin: “As a Survivor fan this is my life’s dream. I’ve wanted to be on Survivor since I was 16 years old.  Ten years of applying, and yet I’ve never been better prepared to play this game. This is fierce!”

Jeff told them about the “Worlds Apart” twist adding it would show which way of life would prove best for Survivor.

Thank you, jerks...

Thank you, jerks…


When Jeff turned to the Yellow Tribe to tell them they were White Collars, the camera focused on Shirin’s expression.  She was telling us that this twist wasn’t to her advantage.  

Jeff turned to Tyler who agreed with the host’s premise: “I enjoy setting team goals and usually, the best way to see those through is to take the lead.”

Tyler in confessional: “I worked in the largest and most cut-throat talent agency in all the world.  I don’t believe that there is going to be any problems going from the urban jungle to the actual jungle.”

Asked about being a Blue Collar, Dan embraced it: “We built the heart of America.  Blood, sweat and tears, calluses on our hands, sore at the end of the day, but a smile on our face knowing we accomplished a good day’s work.”

Right Dan.  Where would we be without postal workers? Oh Wait...emails.

Right, Dan. Where would we be without postal workers? Oh, wait…emails.

Shirin wasn’t buying Dan’s salad.

Asked if she agreed with Dan, Lindsey said with confidence: “The winner of this show is on this mat.”


When Jeff labeled them free spirits, Vince embraced it, telling our host: “As soon as I saw these people, I knew that I was with my family.”

Asked if he felt in the right tribe, Rodney said he moves office stuff for the lazy people sitting at the desk.

Rodney in confessional: “I used to move furniture, but I don’t do that no more. Now, I use my mind to outwit people.  I don’t want them to know that I’m a hustler, that I am a salesman. This is what I do every single day:  I got to sell myself to get money.”

Carolyn was shaking her head at the bad reputation they were getting: “We work just as hard and we have just as much free spirit as anyone here.”

Joaquin was happy with his tribe, adding: “My 9 to 5 doesn’t define who I am.”

Jeff liked that saying: “Judging a book by its cover can be a very costly mistake.”

That ties in nicely with Joe and Rodney’s confessionals.  Both said that the others will have false impressions of them, that they are much more than they appear.  Taking either one to the end could turn out to be a costly mistake for someone.

When he heard Jeff asking for tribe representatives, Max had a confessional where he went back to teaching Survivor 101 (Does he think we don’t know?!): “Jeff asked for someone to step out front and take on the weighty decisions.  One thing that I’ve learned from studying this game is that the biggest mistake you can make is putting yourself in a leadership position.”

Joaquin raised his hand to tell Jeff that he’d be the tribe’s representative.

After his opening confessional, we expected Joaquin to step up, but maybe he should have attended Max’s class!

Dan agreed to do it for the Blue tribe, telling Jeff that it was a double-edged sword.

The No Collars huddled and took so long to decide that Max spoke up saying that, as a White Collar, he could help them decide.

(Hey, Max!  Acting like a jerk to the other players isn’t much better than being the leader!)

Will, the tribe’s representative, said he would let Max’s remark roll off his back.

Will in confessional: “Last year, I had a video that went viral…Just live in the moment, just let your guard down and have fun.”

Yeah, Will, that may work with Leno but not in this game.

Jeff then asked the representatives to pick a second player. Mike, So, and Jenn stepped forward.

So explained: “I’m with someone else, so if I’m falling, he is falling with me.”

Dan told Jeff that Mike volunteered.

Will said that he trusted Jenn and that she would make the right decisions for their team.

After Jeff told them to head out for their camps, Carolyn had a confessional: “I could see the other two tribes going: “Those White Collar people who work in the offices: We want to kill them.  To me, class has nothing to do with it.  It’s Survivor Warfare.”

Maybe Carolyn thinks that class has nothing to do with it but the other tribes have different opinions.  The White Collar tribe is doomed.

No Collar

Hali gave us a confessional: “I love being in No Collar. I could just see it in people’s eyes that they were fun kind of people, so as a tribe, the game plan right now is to be really laid back and let it flow. I kind of live life that way.”

Nina told the tribe that she was deaf and could only hear because of the implants.  She gave us a confessional: “They were all extremely shocked when they found out that I am completely deaf.  I know that I am going to be at a big disadvantage but the only thing I can do is to go in at 110% and give it everything I got.”

Will responded to Nina’s revelation by saying they were a team.

Jenn next said they had to go out to make the decision for the tribe so she asked what the tribe wanted if they were offered different items.

In confessional, Will explained the choice: “If we choose to be dishonest, we could have a clue to the immunity idol and take a small bag of beans, or we could be honest with the tribe and take a humongous bag of beans.”

After making the decision, Jenn explained it in confessional: “Ultimately, we are making a decision for our tribe so, obviously, the choice is the big bean bag. It’s not in the individual game: We are doing what is best for us as a crew.”

It seems that Jenn’s decision was well-accepted by the tribe.  Jenn and Will managed to surf over their early predicament.

We then went to the Blue Collar camp where Dan and Mike were already at the crates.  Mike presented it as a choice between being good guys or bad guys.  Dan said that it was too early to be a villain.  Mike agreed.

Dan in confessional: “My inclination is to go with the honesty simply because, at this stage in the game, to throw deceit, I personally think it’s stupid.  You have to focus on trying to build that camaraderie.”

When Mike explained their choice to the tribe, he made Lindsey very happy but Sierra wasn’t buying it,

Sierra’s confessional: “I don’t believe this is a full bag of beans.  I think they chose the other one.  That is not a big bag. What was the other one?  Four beans?  If you’ve given us a reason to believe that you are lying and not being honest then you have to live with that.”

Sierra told Lindsey that she thought the guys had screwed them.

Since we know that they were telling the truth, Dan and Mike find themselves in the position of Victims while Sierra is our early Villainess and Lindsey is her little sidekick.

White Collar

The tribe went with formal introductions.

Carolyn’s confessional: “I’m in training, so the first thing you do in training is introductions… We are not ashamed of being white collar. They all knew what to do.  It was like clockwork. ”

So and Joaquin didn’t hesitate before taking the clue.  They worked on their lie.  So told Joaquin that this meant they were in an alliance.

Joaquin in confessional: “So, she’s a real cutie, but come on!  Who the hell is honest?  Are you here to make friends or are you here to win the million dollars?”

So told us what she thought of Joaquin, saying that he didn’t want to work for the tribe.  She felt like she was making a deal with the devil.

We then saw Joaquin and So walk back to camp, ready to tell their lie.  So knew this could put a target on her back.

Carolyn in confessional: “When So and Joaquin come back to camp, they have this bag that is tied shut.  I don’t trust So and Joaquin and I think they have the clue to the immunity idol. I would have done the same thing.  I can’t be pissed off at everybody else.  This is a game.”

Shirin and Max came to the same conclusion.

Shirin in confessional: “As a Survivor fan, I knew that it was Honesty or Deception.  They clearly chose deception, so I immediately wanted to start connecting with people.  I wanted to see what they think about me.  I want to see if anybody there is willing to engage.  Carolyn said she was just really happy to be here. So am I, girlfriend! She was down.  Also, I get a really good vibe from Max based on looks.  He’s like a hipster academic type.  From that point, I had a great bond with Carolyn, I had a great bond with Max.  That’s three of us in a tribe of 6!”

The White Collar scene mostly served to prepare us for the vote but it did reveal two interesting players in Carolyn and Shirin, two very smart women who know Survivor.  Despite the terrible hand that was dealt to the White Collars, this alliance of Carolyn, Shirin and Max is extremely interesting, especially considering that Max will prove that he is not fully in with the two women.  The evolution of this trio will be as interesting to watch as the one that we were soon to discover in Nagarote.  I had the feeling that Max could still prefer to roll with Tyler and Joaquin, use the “big guy” and the “leader” to help him remain in the background.   

Blue Collar

Sierra and Lindsey were out hunting for crabs while the guys were working on the shelter.

Dan in confessional: “We are blue collars.  We saw what had to be done; we all jumped into it because we will find a way.  That’s what we do.” Right then, we saw Rodney, Mike and Sierra making fire.  Dan’s confessional continued: “We got a fire built within the first two hours.  In one sentence: Blue collar kicked ass.”

Next, we saw Rodney and Lindsey talking about their numerous tattoos.

Rodney in confessional: “When I saw my tribe, I was really happy. You have one girl all tatted up and I like that because…they want to express themselves.  It’s easy entry to talk about something.”  Rodney then told Lindsey the poignant story of his sister’s death.  “Coming into Survivor, I knew that I could get into any girl’s heart with that story. It solidifies that with the tattoo I have on my arm. It’s saying that I am telling the truth, that I am being honest with them.  My strategy from day one: Get the girls.  Girls, they want to sit back and let the man take the leader role, so I want to get the girls; I want to be their leader and I want to take them to the merge with me.”

That’s when Mike found a scorpion and thought it would make a nice, light snack.  It didn’t go down too well.

Mike in confessional: “I grab this piece of bamboo…I see this scorpion… It was big enough that, if it stung you, it would do some damage.  First instinct is: Protein.  So, I cut its tail off and bam! Down the hatch.  It tasted like crap.  I knew that, if I came out here and there was an extra chance to get protein, that I was going to take that chance.  It just so happens that it might not have been the greatest decision that I ever made.” We heard someone calling him a sick bastard and we saw him throwing up.  Mike added: “Maybe not the best decision to eat a scorpion on the first day of Survivor but I am the type of person that, if I see an opportunity in front of me, I am going to go grab it. So, I am going to run as fast as I can, clench on as hard as I can and ride that bull as long as I can.  I saw the scorpion, I seized the opportunity, and I paid the consequences.  That’s your boy, that’s just weakness leaving the body.”

This happy tribe feeling won’t last but it did give us quite a funny introduction to Mike.  He will prove that he is able to seize an opportunity in the immunity challenge so this confessional could be quite telling.   

No Collar

We heard Jenn saying: “This is our first coconut, you guys.”

Of course, it was served by the coconut vendor.

Jenn in confessional: “No Collar is a wonderful little community that is happening right now.  Everything is going great, we are meshing and it’s flowing smoother than hot butter.”

Vince also gave us a confessional: “There is something about Jenn: She just seems real and that makes me comfortable, completely.  Emotionally secure, physically secure, and it’s wonderful.”

The two walked to the ocean, joining a pair of birds who were also enjoying the surf. They were commenting on their connection when Vince proposed going all the way together.

Jenn had another confessional: “The guy with the feathers, right off the bat, he pulls me aside and tells me he thinks we have a kindred spirit. I like your smile; I want to go to the end with you.  He is everything that I expected him to be and more maybe.”

Vince had another interview: “One of my greatest weaknesses is my intense attraction to women.  Jenn brought an element of herself here and so did I and I want to play with somebody that is like that.  When I want something, I get it.”

Survivor Season 30: Home Plumbing

Survivor Season 30: Home Plumbing

While they were talking, I notice that Survivor has made an upgrade and replaced the usual water well.  Now they have running water, a tap and everything.  I wonder if it comes with a water heater.  Maybe they’ll add a washing machine and a full kitchen for next season.

Jenn had the last word: “He is playing this game a little harder than I would have seen coming from someone with feathers. I’m wondering if it is worth it to play whatever he thinks I am to him but right now it is worth it to have allies, to have people on your side. So smiling a lot is my approach with Vince right now.”

Like the other two opening segments revealed Carolyn, Shirin and Mike, we discovered a smart player.  Jenn will be someone to watch in Nagarote. 

Back in camp, the whole group was working on the shelter.

Joe in confessional: “Vince said he wanted to build the shelter a certain way and I said: “Hey, man! Whatever you want to do.  You know, very no collar of me but in this situation, I have a lot of skills that I bring to the table.  I’ve worked in construction; I’ve built a lot of things. I’m not a big fan of someone telling me to do something that I know is wrong because I know what we need to do to get it secured.  So, at some point, politeness goes away.”

Vince talked about this in his interview: “Watching Joe bulldoze project and say he wants to do it his way and only his way, it’s brought up a huge red flag. We are the No Collar tribe; we need to have collaboration.  If we don’t have that, it’s going to be a problem.”

It seems that the problem will be Vince himself.  While we knew before the season started that Vince would be a big character, I don’t think too many expected him to become the Villain.  His opposition to good-guy Joe is making him look really bad.  As for “MacGyver”, the fact that he considers himself as at least a part-time Blue Collar could be a key to the season.  The conclusion of the experiment could very well be that the winner needs to cross-over from one class to the other, to be a free-spirit who knows how to make decisions and to get his hands dirty.  If that is the case, then Joe is our best contender.

Blue Collar – Day 2

Working on the shelter, Mike pointed out that they were missing somebody to make the decisions.  “Let’s make a decision” he said.

Lindsey proposed a plan and was immediately shot down by Dan who exclaimed: “That’s stupid. That is the dumbest thing that you could do.”

OK, maybe the opening segment put Dan in the Victim role but we have to admit that he can put a target on his back by himself.  That had to be the one of the dumbest remarks ever heard on this show.  A little tact would have gone a long way in this discussion.

Lindsey had an interview: “Dan gets under my skin because he says things that are just over the top and dramatic.  He’s the one person that doesn’t belong.”

Dan’s voice had a condescending tone when he told Lindsey and Sierra that the structure wouldn’t be strong enough to support him.  That tone made Sierra laugh: “The way he is talking right now… I can’t handle it,” she said, making Lindsey laugh right along.

Laughing at the Fat Guy

Laughing at the Fat Guy

Kelly commented on the situation during her interview: “Dan, with his age and being a male, he wants to prove himself and show that he knows what he is talking about but he is dealing with 20-year-olds and he is twice their age, so he’s going to have to listen to them but he doesn’t have the social skills to just work it out.”

When Lindsey asked for his opinion, Dan proved Kelly’s point by refusing to answer. Of course, that also got him in trouble.  “Don’t be wishy-washy… don’t be freaking quiet,” said Kelly.

Dan’s interview: “The whole thing started with Lindsey then I saw Sierra’s reaction. I saw Kelly so now I try to change tactics. I’m going to lay back; I am going to shut my mouth.  I am in a no-win situation because no matter what I do now, everyone is giving me grief.  I’m really in a bad position fast with this tribe”

That new tactic also made Lindsey, Sierra, Kelly, and Rodney laugh.  We then saw the foursome talking about “the guy with the beard” being bossy.  “We need to get Harry Potter’s grandfather out of here,” said Rodney, causing more hilarity.  “Dumbledore!,” said Lindsey, getting more laughs from Sierra.

Down by the ocean, Dan talked to Mike about his predicament.  Realizing he was taking some heat, Mike told Dan that he had a friend.

Dan’s interview: “Mike is great. He really wants to stay positive.  That man is a walking ray of sunshine.  He is absolutely the glue that is holding this tribe together right now.”

Mike had a comment that must have touched the fans: “There are probably a million people that wanted to be here.”  That got Dan to say: “That means it’s the best day ever.”

While this scene laid the groundwork for an eventual vote, I think the most important point was the praise that Mike received from Dan.  We always hear positive comments for the eventual winner and this fits in nicely, especially since Mike could find himself alone against the other four.

No Collar – Day 2

Jenn asked Joe how he knew to make fire without flint.  Joe explained that he saw how it was done on YouTube and had done it every day before getting out here.

Finally we have someone that prepared properly for the island.

When Jenn brought him coconut husk, Joe said that was prefect and he thanked his “princess” as he called her.  That comment made her laugh.

She asked him if he needed help to blow on his wood which also made her laugh.  Someone who wasn’t laughing was Vince.

Joe inserted coconut husk between two pieces of wood that he rubbed hard against another.  He quickly got smoke and then fire.

Jenn, who is quickly becoming Nagarote’s narrator, gave us an interview that was divided into segments spread throughout the scene: “Joe says: “I can make fire”, so Joe, go make fire. You say you can do it without flint. I’m going to sit here and watch you do that. I like Joe a lot. I think his personality is great and he’s a good looking dude. He is tall, he’s muscular… he should be on the cover of a romance novel.”

Like Mike, Joe is receiving some very positive comments from his tribe’s narrator.

Before making fire, we heard the start of Joe’s interview: “This game means the world to me and I have been such a huge fan my whole life. I said I could make fire, so I have to back it up and make fire.  For me, getting the fire was the best feeling in the whole world.  It was really good. It scored me some points with the tribe.”

When Jenn offered to get Joe some water, Vince’s look told us that Joe hadn’t scored points with everyone.

 Vince in confessional: “I already have something going on with Jenn, but it seems like she wants to ride the wave that Joe is making. That worries me because I don’t trust him, so I have to further explore this relationship with Jenn, feel out who she is as an individual, as a person.”

Vince asked directly if Jenn felt more of a connection with Joe.  She told him no, that she wasn’t attracted to him.  Jenn’s interview started here while we heard her saying to Vince that she liked Joe as a human being. “It’s not that I prefer him over you” she added.

Jenn’s interview: “I think Vince is jealous.  One of the first things out of his mouth is: “So, do you think Joe is attractive?”  What?  He apparently has those puppy dog feelings that apparently he had for me, hurt but I know how to handle him, though, I think.”

Jenn told Vince: “It’s still me and you.” She asked if he still wanted that because he was freaking her out.  Vince said: “I do.”

Vince’s confessional: “I would really like if Jenn were an honest person, but I just don’t feel that.  I just feel like she is being fake.”

When Jenn asked if he was feeling less stressed, Vince said he needed a hug which turned into a clench.

We returned to Jenn’s confessional: “Vince is the most paranoid person out here.  Dealing with him is a lot.  Calm down, you know.  He is driving me nuts.  And don’t hug me forever after.  We smell bad, okay? We smell bad so do not get this all over my face. ”

It’s rare that Survivor’s social experiment includes the sentiment of jealousy.  The only example I can recall came after the merger in Micronesia when Amanda felt that Alexis and Ozzy were getting a little bit too friendly. That triangle didn’t find a solution on its own because Cirie intervened and ended it early.  I wonder how Vince’s jealousy will interfere with the game.  Normally, Joe and Vince should be cruising in this tribe because it has two outsiders but Vince could screw himself royally.

White Collar – Day 2

We had almost forgotten about them.

After So said that the shelter wasn’t too bad, Tyler gave us an interview: “The shelter is very average.  It was probably the worst night of sleep that I’ve ever had in my life.  Our tribe is white collar people who run the show, but the reality is that we got to grab our lunch boxes and grind things out with a blue collar like work ethic.”

Tyler and Joaquin started working on making fire but weren’t successful.  Max also tried but didn’t get any embers (or is it Ambers?!)

Joaquin in confessional: “Who would have thought it would be that damn hard to make a fire?  Nobody knows how to make a fire. None of us do.  Why would we?  White collar.  We hire a blue collar to go make us a fire.  We are not getting fire but it’s all right. I’m going to look for that immunity idol.”

That confessional sounded a lot like a hint that the White Collars won’t win.  Fire is life in this game and Joaquin just told us that making a fire is incompatible with being white collar.  He could also be telling us that the White Collars would more likely vote for (hire) a Blue Collar in the end.

When Joaquin walked out of camp, Carolyn followed. We heard her interview: “When So and Joaquin came back to camp with that bag of beans, I kind of figured that they had a clue, so I watched them like a hawk because if they are looking there then maybe it’s over there.  So made it so freaking obvious:  She was searching in that freaking tree like there is no tomorrow. I kind of know from watching seasons past the types of things you have to look for.  It’s got to be something that is different, that looks different.  I saw this funny looking tree and I’m like: OK, this is the perfect place for a freaking idol. Oh! My God! I open it up and I’m like: You have found an immunity idol!  Woo! Woo!  The magical part of this is that everyone thinks that So and Joaquin have the clue and they are still looking.  It’s hilarious.”

While this scene consolidates our impression that Carolyn has good skills for this game, it made me wonder if all the airtime she received in the premiere was simply due to her find.  The editors always show us the player who finds an idol so maybe Carolyn’s big role in this episode was only circumstantial.  We will have to see if she continues to get a big role in episodes where Masaya doesn’t go to Tribal Council.

The Challenge

When Jeff asked if they were ready for their first challenge, Dan showed that he was more like a contestant from “The Price is Right” than a Survivor.  “Bring it on” he hollered as if it would make a difference.

Jeff told them that they had choices to make:  Take keys to open locks or untie knots and, later, choose between three types of puzzles by picking between bags that had either 5 hard pieces to figure out, 10 easier pieces to assemble or 50 simple pieces to put together.  “If you put the right person on the right puzzle, you can finish faster than average” he explained.

Hearing Jeff’s comments, I realized that “Making Decisions” was the main theme of this episode.

The challenge was also for reward with the first place finisher receiving a massive fire-making kit while the second place finishers would get their flint a few hours before the losers.

We saw Lindsey and Nina taking falls on the first obstacle.

Lindsey, Joaquin, and Vince all went for the locks but all three soon realized they had made the wrong decision.  So, Mike, and finally Joe took over and attacked the knots.  So was “whipping through” her knots, but Mike had problems which let Joe finish in second place.

Nina took some more falls as the No Collar tribe started making ground on the White Collars.  With Jeff urging the tribe to make a decision, we heard a female voice telling Vince to go for the 10-piece bag.

Surprisingly, the White Collar women told Joaquin to grab the bag with the most puzzle pieces.

Jenn and Shirin were the first to assemble their puzzles.  Max looked at the No Collars’ puzzle and said: “They are not, in a million years, getting that.”  Jenn did have her problems with the “Tree” puzzle but she switched over to Joe who had no problems getting one piece after another to complete his tree, proving that Max had underestimated him.

While this was going on, the Blue Collars were still trying to figure out how to use the ladder to get their bag!

Joe won immunity before Sierra even got started on her puzzle and before Shirin gave way to Max on hers.  After she put a first piece, Sierra gave way to Mike who managed to complete his puzzle before Max.

It was interesting to note that Joe, Jenn, and Will all encouraged the Blue team, proving that the White Collars have no friends in this format.

Spoiling the ending, we heard So’s confessional: “The challenge today was a disaster. A disaster.  We were in the lead until the very end and it was definitely Shirin and Carolyn.  They were the weakest links on our team.”

White Collar – Day 3

Vultures were feeding on a big carcass when the White team returned to camp.

Carolyn’s interview: “We were in the lead. We started our puzzle first and it went downhill from there.  Shirin said from the start that she is great at puzzles, but we lost the challenge which is fine because you have to step up, right?  It’s going to be a girl tonight; we all know that because everyone is going to see the girls as weaker than the guys.  I know we all like each other but one of us is going home tonight.  Plain and simple.”

Max congratulated So for doing a good job on the puzzle.  When So asked him what he thought they should do, Max asked: Where did it fall apart?  So said she wasn’t considering Shirin because she stepped up.  She pointed the finger at Carolyn who did nothing to help them.

She explained it to us in confessional: “Shirin was weak physically today and she didn’t perform during the puzzle, but Carolyn is playing the safe role.  She is not volunteering to put herself out there.”

So seemed to get Max and Tyler on board, the ex-football player recognizing that Carolyn could get far by just floating by but Carolyn saw her little game.

This segment and the images we had seen at the start of the episode add up to make us consider that Masaya’s conflicts aren’t over.  Max and Tyler both seemed ready to get rid of either Carolyn or Shirin, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a switch of alliance if they go back to TC.

Carolyn in confessional: “I’m worried about So.  She’s gone off with everybody. If they want to keep the tribe strong, you got to go with the weakest link.  They might vote me out because I am the oldest person on the tribe.”  Carolyn asked Joaquin and So who they were voting for and they told her that her name hadn’t been brought up, but Carolyn saw through them: “White Collar people have interpersonal skills to know when people are lying and I think So lied about the clue to the hidden immunity idol.  I don’t trust her; she is playing me just like she is playing everybody else and, right now, I don’t feel comfortable.”

Tyler confirmed Carolyn’s fears, telling her that her name was mentioned.  When Tyler asked her what she knew about idols, Carolyn was very direct: “I don’t think any of them have the idol.  I know that they don’t. I got the idol.”

It’s interesting to note that Carolyn told Tyler about her idol but not Max and Shirin, at least as far as we know.  If Tyler tells Max what he knows, the professor may change his mind about who was less trustworthy.

In confessional, Carolyn told us she wasn’t going home, but that she didn’t want to use her idol.

After hearing what Carolyn and Shirin had to say, Max gave us a confessional: “Carolyn, Shirin, and I have been true to each other since day one but most of all, I want to make sure that I am with the numbers.  The names on the table tonight are Carolyn and So.  Carolyn stands out because she is older; that’s just the small difference that can make you an outsider on a small tribe of six members.  On the other side of the equation, there is So.  She has certainly put herself into a difficult situation when she chose to lie to the rest of the tribe about the choice she and Joaquin made.”

To the women, Max said they had to talk to the big man, Tyler: “He’s the wild card.”

After talking to Max, Tyler explained his thoughts: “Tonight’s vote, if it just boiled down to physical strength, it would have to go in the face of Carolyn.  She is older than everyone else in the tribe. On the flip side, if it’s an integrity issue, all arrows would be pointed at So.  Carolyn changed a lot in my book by telling me she had an idol.  The logical argument is that Carolyn should be the first one to go.  I know how dangerous the immunity idol could be.  Tonight’s vote could go either way, but I believe somebody is going to be shocked.”

Tribal Council

Joaquin told Jeff that So and he went for the neutral box.

Shirin, speaking as a Survivor fan, knew that there were big holes in that story.  She argued that they were being dishonest and that they must have received a clue to an idol.

Max said he would have made the same decision but would have done a better job of lying about it.

Really? You admit in front of everyone that you are a good liar?  Maybe the professor should think before he speaks!  I guess he got starstruck and wanted to impress Jeff.

So regretted that it came out this way but pointed that the four were really strong.

Carolyn wanted to know who So counted in her four. Joaquin told her.

Jeff turned to Shirin and Carolyn, stating the obvious but Shirin quoted Tarzan: “The game is afoot.”

Carolyn told Jeff that Max and Shirin were with her since day one.

Do these people hear themselves?  Carolyn pretty much told Tyler that he’s the outsider, yet she told him about her idol.  Go figure.

A war of words erupted between So and Carolyn.

After complimenting So on her work with the knots, Tyler told Jeff that they had to make the right choice or else they would be back at TC.

Asked how he felt before the vote, Max chose to thank the Survivor gods for providing him with a downpour and drama.

With a 4-2 vote, “So much drama” was voted out.  Max enjoyed the blindside.

Jeff sent them back to camp after giving them flint and asking: “No doubt, you guys are players.  The bigger question is: Are you good players?  Did you make the right move tonight? Time will tell.”

I doubt that their decision will end their problems, so it cannot be called the right move.

The Story

This first chapter gave us quite a detailed portrait of the three tribes.  The beauty of the 90-minute premiere is that every player got a confessional even if the distribution was far from even.  It appears that the main alliances in each tribe consist of Max, Shirin, and Carolyn for the White Collars, Rodney, Lindsey, Sierra, and Kelly in the Blue Collars while we have a triangle in Nagarote where Jenn is caught in the middle of a weird “love” triangle with Vince and Joe.

It’s also interesting that the opening twist had three different outcomes.  Even if they chose to be honest, Mike and Dan were seen as liars while So and Joaquin weren’t able to find their idol. The players were in a no-win situation; production was imposing their conditions on the social experiment.  While it was the players’ fault for “stepping up”, someone was going to be screwed.  Maybe instead of a clue, it would have been better to offer the idol itself.  I wonder how long before the other two tribes figure there is an idol out there for them.

With the tribes having to choose a representative who had to pick a co-conspirator to decide between the idol clue and the bag of beans, this season started with as many decisions to make as Palau. That season was dominated by the guy who was most often shown making the right decisions, so we can ask if the same will happen here.   While I doubt that anyone can dominate like Tom, I think it’s a good idea to look at the players that made the decisions and see which ones scored points with their tribe.

The Characters

The Upper Class – They are heading for a fall:

Shirin:  It was her decision to make the early alliance which saved Carolyn and she did step up to do the puzzle after telling her tribe that she excelled at them.  That second decision didn’t turn out as well but it was enough to keep her safe.  If So had gone along with Max’s suggestion and targeted Shirin, the outcome could have been different.  For one thing, Shirin couldn’t have told Tyler that she had an idol, so would he have voted with her?   We know that she is a big fan of the show and a savvy player, but like all the White Collars, she has an uphill battle to fight.

Carolyn: While she didn’t step up during the challenge or the opening, Carolyn’s knowledge of the game helped her make two good moves: Following So in her search for the idol and gaining an ally by telling Tyler that she found it.  The biggest question we have for Carolyn is whether she told Shirin and Max about that idol.  Max voted with her mainly because he felt she had been true to him since day one.  If she hid the fact that she has the idol, he could regret his choice.  Like Max said, Carolyn is still the oldest member of the tribe.

Joaquin:  While he did make the decisions, he made all the wrong ones, the biggest being that he didn’t search hard enough for that idol.  He relished the role of leader and of being deceitful, but it came back to bite him in the butt.  So wasn’t the only one shocked by the outcome because he looked confident that he had secured Max and Tyler’s votes.  I don’t think that he is doomed, however, because Max could very well turn to him to advance himself.  The opening montage presented Carolyn, Max and Joaquin as the three players fighting for the same “job”, so the vote didn’t really end that fight.

Max:  I was nicely surprised to see that the professor didn’t take the theoretical approach to the game, but he may have Shirin to thank for that.  Like I expected, he wasn’t the one that stepped forward in building the alliance, but at least, he was quick to give Shirin the right answer.  I don’t think that was his final answer, though, and that would be a great decision.  As a student of the game, Max knows it is better to be the covert decision maker than the outright leader and his cover would be much better if he were surrounded with Tyler and Joaquin instead of Carolyn and Shirin.  The way he listened to So and hesitated before making his decision about the vote tells us that he is still laying back.

Tyler:  The “big guy” was a nice surprise in this episode. His quiet nature served him well as he found himself in the position to decide between the two alliances.  Like he said, he was able to transition from the urban jungle to the real one but one round doesn’t prove that he will fully adapt.  There will be other decisions to make and the biggest one he faces now is Carolyn’s idol.  Will he align with her and hope that her idol can also help him or does he blindside her in order to get the idol back in play?  The fact that the idols are so easily found makes the second option much more likely than it should be.

The “Get a Real Job” clan:  Are they heading anywhere?

Will:  Will is going to live for the moment until the others decide that the moment is over.  His good nature means that he won’t be a target early on but his likability will become a liability at some point.  Will is exactly who we thought he would be.

Nina:  While she got the chance to tell us about her loss of hearing, Nina didn’t do anything to advance herself.  For someone that planned on giving her 110%, I’d say we got less, maybe 1%.  That won’t do and despite Vince’s jealousy, Nina still looks like the perfect boot for Nagarote.

Hali:  I thought she would be the one that would profit the most from the No Collar label, the one that would surprise everyone, but instead she embraced it.  The premiere made her look like another in the long line of young women that looked great in casting but shut down once they hit the beach, the ones that Rodney described so succinctly as followers. Hali still has time to step up and it could very well have been her voice that we heard saying “It’s game on” when Jeff mentioned that one will claim the million dollar prize, so we have to consider Hali as a contender.

Vince:  Before the season started, I said that Vince reminded me of other “free spirits” we had seen in the past.  I mentioned Peter from Marquesas, Zane from the Philippines, Aras from Panama, and Fabio from Nicaragua to illustrate the fact that I had no idea how he would do.  I was extremely surprised to see that he could become so jealous so quickly and that he would turn into Nagarote’s Villain.  His storyline could be fascinating and he still has a chance to stay in the game a while if he can reign in his sentiments, but Vince cannot win.  Just the fact that the editors and Jeff are limiting him to “a coconut vendor” is as telling as the question mark that we always saw after Phillip’s job description: “ex-Federal Agent(?)”  For him, life is like surfing a wave but the image of a crashing wave tells us all we need to know about his future.

Jenn:  Nagarote’s narrator was the one that decided to pick the big bag of beans, and contrary to the Blue Collars, no one in her tribe questioned her honesty.  She was heard telling Vince to pick the bag with 10 puzzle pieces which proved to be the right choice.  In that challenge she stepped up and tried to solve the puzzle, but she quickly realized she needed to let someone else take over.  From Vince and Joe’s comments, we know that Jenn has the social skills to go far in this game. Add her confessional in the opening segment and we have to consider her as a top contender.

With Vince pressuring her to choose between him and Joe, Jenn will have a very tough decision to make, one that could very well decide the outcome of this game.  She appears to be stringing Vince along and she says she knows how to handle him so that suggest she will go with Joe. Will she be able to keep both happy long enough, though?  The tribe would suffer if either guy leaves this early.

Joe: When Jeff says that judging a book by its cover could be a costly mistake and you have a player say: “I don’t want them to think that I am a threat.  I want them to think that I am here to enjoy the beaches. No!  I want to beat you in Survivor” then you know you are dealing with a top contender.  In addition, when you hear the Survivor Scholar say that his puzzle couldn’t be solved in a million years, yet he whips through it like hot knife through butter then you have someone that will outwit his opposition.  Then, if that wasn’t enough, this guy builds the shelter, makes a fire, he has a great personality and looks good enough to “be on the cover of a romance novel”. We have a potential fan favorite winner. Is he too good to be true?  I think it would be jealousy that would have us say that!

The Grunts – Working their Way to the End:

Kelly: I was expecting a lot more from the State Trooper, but her only confessional served to tell us that Dan was bad a the social game. It put her on the same side as those 20-year-olds.  Because of her job, I was hoping for a new Amy O’Hara, but instead, we could be dealing with a new Lisa Keifer, one who, despite her age, sides with the young girls.  Yet she could be pivotal if Mike is going to be able to flip this tribe.

Sierra: While she only gave us one confessional, we saw that Sierra is very guarded to the point of distrusting the guys even if they were being honest.  This could serve her well in this game but only if she can conceal that distrust.  She made it obvious that she didn’t like Dan, so what happens if he finds the idol or if they wind up together after a swap?  She won’t be able to count on him, that’s for sure.  Of course, it may become a moot point if Dan gets voted out, but this fault in Sierra’s game may present itself again with other players.  She did make the decision to tackle the puzzle first for Escameca but that didn’t turn out very well for her.

Lindsey:  The hairstylist had a strong first episode and we saw that she is very close to Sierra and Rodney.  However, the mentally strongest person on Earth showed that she can easily be swayed.  She jumped for joy when Mike told them about the bag of beans then changed her mind immediately when Sierra said she didn’t believe that they were being honest.  Later she fell for Rodney’s story.  It is a tragic story so Lindsey’s reaction is certainly understandable, but Rodney’s confessional told us that he had planned to use that to get women to follow him.  The montage told us that Lindsey had been snared. When she proposed a plan for the shelter, Dan shot her down and she simply stood there, unable to answer his argument before Sierra came to her rescue, laughing at the postal worker’s tone.  I’m not sure that Lindsey will break down mentally, but she sure isn’t living up to her claim.

Dan: The postal worker found himself on the wrong end of the sword when his decision to step up backfired on him.  We heard Kelly telling us that he doesn’t have the social skills needed to deal with these young women, so Dan should last only until the tribe’s first Tribal Council unless he finds that idol.  Even a swap could leave him without friends.  He had a lot of airtime to present himself so he would qualify for the “Victim” edit if he continues to be Sierra and Lindsey’s punching bag.  I felt like Dan’s big opening episode served his best friend Mike very well though.  Dan plans on being remembered, but he needs to realize that Survivor fans don’t forget anyone, not even “Souna”, so he doesn’t have to do anything to be remembered.  It’s the way that we will remember him that matters and it doesn’t look good!

Rodney:  Like Joe, Rodney is proving that he is more than the others expect.  He had a plan and put it in motion quite naturally, gaining Lindsey’s trust and then adding Sierra and Kelly to his numbers against Dan and Mike.  While I expect them to succeed in killing “Dumbledore” I think Mike will handle him better than he did that scorpion.  Rodney still has to be considered a top contender because we’ve seen winners hidden in plain sight before,  but his position seems so safe that I would hate for the story to simply be about his coronation.

Mike:  We know that Mike will get his hands dirty to win this game so, if Lindsey is right and the winner was indeed on the blue mat, then Mike has to be our top contender.  He made many decisions in this episode and even if they didn’t all work out well, he stuck with it. That’s what he told us he would do when he talked about hanging on harder than anyone else.  The scene with the scorpion didn’t need to be shown and while it could have been used to show him as an idiot, none of his tribe mates had the confessional that would have definitely painted him as the “Dumb Player”.   We did hear someone call him a “sick bastard” but the main point of this scene was to deliver a very lengthy confessional where Mike explained himself and let us know what kind of guy he is.   We also saw that he can laugh at himself which is a very endearing trait.  His hard work got fire for the tribe.  While Rodney and Sierra were there to assist, Mike was the only one congratulated for the effort when Dan yelled his name.  He didn’t panic when he fell behind untying knots, instead he stepped up again when Sierra faltered and he won immunity for his tribe.

Dan’s predicament sets up Mike for the early underdog story.  Rodney seems to have the three women on his side so, after Dan gets the boot, Mike would appear to fall in Joaquin’s present situation, alone against four.  However, I don’t think Mike will follow Dan to Loser Lodge.  Either he will last long enough to see a swap or he will find a way to flip the game.

The biggest indication that Mike could be our winner came from the images of the challenge which didn’t show him looking over at Nagarote’s completed puzzle.  In the promos, we had this image of Mike looking over to see where his pieces fit which some people have called cheating.

Is It Cheating?

Is It Cheating?

The important thing is that, during the episode, he didn’t seem to need that outside help, doing it on his own while listening to advice from his tribe mates.  Right now, even if I like Jenn and Joe’s stories a lot, Mike would be my bet for Sole Survivor.

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