'Survivor: Ghost Island': Who Is the First One Out?

Here's what you didn't see at the season premiere's opening Tribal Council.
Courtesy of CBS

[This story contains spoilers for the first episode of Survivor: Ghost Island.]

Twenty players crashed onto the shores of Fiji in a quest to win $1 million in the latest season of Survivor. Two players saw their dreams crushed within the first six days of the game, presented across the two-hour premiere episode — and The Hollywood Reporter was on hand to witness the fall of the first of the castaways.

Final warning: major spoilers ahead.

After losing the first immunity challenge, and after the consensus pick to send packing was instead shipped off into exile on Ghost Island, the Malolo tribe attended the first Tribal Council of the season and decided on Stephanie Gonzalez as the first one out of the game. The vote wasn't close: Gonzalez, one of two Stephanies this season and in her tribe, was overpowered in an 8-1 vote, with her ballot cast in the direction of Donathan Hurley.

Hear more from Gonzalez and Jacob Derwin in the final episode of First One Out: Ghost Zero, our preseason podcast series:

Despite the landslide blindside against Gonzalez, from an outsider's perspective, Tribal Council was far from a settled affair. Throughout the first Tribal of the season, Donathan sat upright at the edge of his seat, outwardly nervous right until the vote reveal. For her part, Gonzalez appeared calm and collected until it was pointed out that all it takes to find yourself on the outs is nothing more than a few minutes away from the main group. Recognizing she had taken a walk on her own earlier in the day, Gonzalez became aware of the threat against her, leading to a litany of whispers, initiated by Gonzalez ahead of the vote, pulling a page straight out of the playbook of Survivor: Game Changers. 

All the while, the members of Malolo did everything in their power to avoid direct eye contact with Gonzalez, clearly uncomfortable with the knowledge of her impending demise in the game… everyone, that is, except for Libby Vincek, whose eyes were glued on Gonzalez every time the imminent first boot uttered a word. It was a stone-cold performance, especially in comparison to the palpable heart-racing energy of the rest of the tribe.

Watching the Tribal Council play out in real time, I was able to jot down the broad strokes of what each Survivor said as they cast their vote. Here they are, presented below, in roughly sketched detail:

Gonzalez, voting for Donathan: "We all love you and we think you're great, but we gotta keep the tribe strong. I hope the whispering worked. I'm definitely on the chopping block."

Donathan, voting for Gonzalez: "I'm tired of my voice not being heard."

Libby, voting for Gonzalez: "Sorry, girl. Guess you're just not part of the we."

James, voting for "Señorita Gonzalez," as he put it: "I really enjoyed meeting you. It's not you, it's the game."

Stephanie, voting for Gonzalez — and struggling to get the cap off of the pen: "There's only room for one Stephanie on this island, and it's me."

Brendan, voting for Gonzalez: "I have respect for your game. This is to keep order in the tribe for a couple more days."

Jenna, voting for Gonzalez: "This is what you get for trying to plot against me with my own we."

Michael, voting for Gonzalez: "You're a really sharp chick and a heck of a player. I'm sorry to see you go."

Laurel, voting for Gonzalez: "You're playing too hard and too fast. I can't trust you."

With eight votes against her, Gonzalez's life in the game was cut short after only three days on the beach. In the episode, viewers saw Gonzalez wipe a fake tear from her eye, turn toward the others, and say a single word: "Sad." In the moment, she left her tribe with a few more cutting words: "One lion and seven sheep."

What exactly does that mean? In her final words, spoken to the camera, Gonzalez revealed the meaning: In her estimation, Brendan is the lion leading the sheep of Malolo to the slaughter.

"Brendan is definitely leading the game," she told the camera, minutes after her torch was snuffed. "He has seven sheep to eventually pick off, one by one. That's his goal: Whatever's going to take him to the end, he's going to do it."

Some other select highlights from Gonzalez's words, again, roughly sketched.

On being the first one voted out: "Being the first one voted off is devastating. I thought I let down a lot of Hispanics and people who are fired up about what I'm passionate about and connected with my story. I'm sorry about that. That sucks. Maybe there's a future where I can come in and play and bring the million dollars home."

On what she left behind in order to play: "I made so many sacrifices to be here and it sucks. It really sucks. I missed my mom's wedding! That's terrible. I'm sorry, mom. I love you!"

On how the season's theme ties into her Survivor demise: "This has definitely tied into the theme. Going off for a brisk walk is probably not the smartest idea. But I think the decision of them taking me out is going to greatly affect them, and they will realize that pretty quickly. We'll see them at Tribal Council again."

Gonzalez's final final words, recorded on camera: "This is tragic. So tragic. I need a pizza."

That final plea for pizza is especially tragic, given what Gonzalez told me just a few days earlier in the preseason, when envisioning her perfect first day in the game:

"Perfectly for me? OK … first day. Jeff goes, 'Alright, Survivors.' He sets us off. We jump off the ship. We're swimming. Of course, I'm leading my whole 10 people. I'm first. Maybe even pulling the raft, very heroic of me. I build our fort, and everyone is looking at me: 'Thank you so much, Stephanie! Wow, you're just amazing!' All of a sudden I find a pizza box lying in the middle of nowhere. It's a fresh mushroom and onion pizza. I take a bite of the pizza and it's delicious. And there's a margarita next to the pizza! This is my perfect day. I eat it all, because I don't want to share. It would be terrible for them, too. Pizza is bad for you. I'm going to sacrifice my body to eat the pizza. And the margaritas, too. So I get back. People are like, 'Stephanie, thank you for eating that pizza. We really appreciate you.' And then Jeff comes out and says, 'Guys, this is all a joke. Stephanie, I'm going to give you that check for the money right now, save everyone some time and heartache.'"

Sadly for Gonzalez, she was the one who suffered heartache only three days into the season, the first of the Ghost Islanders sent home to Ponderosa. She was followed swiftly by Jacob Derwin, the person who the Malolo tribe would have preferred to vote out first. My interviews with both Gonzalez and Jacob, as well as an interview with executive producer and host Jeff Probst conducted immediately after the first Tribal Council of the season, are coming soon.

What did you make of the first Tribal Council of the Survivor season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more coverage.

Catch up on all of our preseason interviews:

• Angela Perkins
• Bradley Kleihege
• Brendan Shapiro
• Chelsea Townsend
• Chris Noble
• Desiree Afuye
• Domenick Abbate
• Donathan Hurley
• Jacob Derwin
• James Lim
• Jenna Bowman
• Kellyn Bechtold
• Laurel Johnson
• Libby Vincek
• Michael Yerger
• Morgan Ricke
• Sebastian Noel
• Stephanie Gonzalez
• Stephanie Johnson
• Wendell Holland