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We are back, people! Last night’s epic Survivor Season 28 premiere seriously over-delivered. With a cast of all new contestants, dumped into the rainy jungles of the Philippines, and divided into tribes of three (Brains, Brawn and Beauty) we have another wild social experiment on our hands. And, the show is already defying stereotypes. We witnessed the Brains’ tribe, which included a group of self-proclaimed brainiacs, self-destruct on account of their inability to produce any semblance of intelligent thought. We watched, in complete awe, as the Beauty tribe whipped up fire — sans flint — and shelter and dominated challenges. We giggled as a giant tipped over a row boat with his kung fu fighting wingman. All in all, I’d say we’re off to a fun start.
As with any premiere episode of Survivor, the most fun part is getting to know all the new contestants. First impressions count so much in this game, as in life, that a person can actually get condemned just because he happens to be wearing the wrong thing. In this case, it was death by blazer. **Note to fans, avoid evening gowns, suit jackets, or neck ties when choosing wardrobe for a muggy Asian jungle climate. As the three groups hit the beach, Jeff Probst asks each tribe to name a leader. Decked out in his Sunday best, David Samson, the president of the Miami Marlins, instantly becomes the odd man out in his tribe full of super nerds. Jeff then directs the leader of each tribe to choose their tribe’s weakest player. Simple and straightforward, Brawns and Beauty each choose people that appear physically less fit than others. In an effort to really overcomplicate things, Brains’ leader, David, in his infinite wisdom, chooses the biggest, muscle bound man on his tribe, Garrett. Huh?? I think we’re all confused. Please explain. David shares his strategy of looking toward the end of the game. He thinks Garrett is his biggest threat. I don’t know how many times I have to say this before people smarten up: Do not play the end of the game in the beginning. It’s important to be incredibly present for each moment of the game. In the beginning you need strong players and if you vote someone off out of fear and your own insecurity in the beginning, you will regret it. In singling out Garrett, David makes an instant enemy. First impressions — while Mr. Samson may be intelligent on paper, he’s clearly lacking in social smarts.
Moving right along, Jeff assembles the three “weakest” players, tells them they have a choice to make and sends them off to their beaches for an early head-start. Upon arriving at the beach, they are given a choice to selfishly take an idol clue or altruistically share an extra bag of rice with their tribes. Hot chick Morgan MacLeod snatches the idol clue, rips off her pants and gets to work. Mid-idol hunt, she’s caught by her tribe mates walking up to the beach. Quickly, she comes up with a good excuse and lies about selecting fishing gear and shelter instead of comfort. Well played, MacLeod. This girl’s on a mission to find the idol and, though a member of the beauty tribe, she seems to have some brains to go along with those double D’s. I’m a fan.
On Brawn Beach, Trish, the pilates instructor, agonizes over her choice and ends up selecting the bag of rice. Sweet girl. I don’t see this move boding well for Trish’s future. Granted, you want to make friends, but not at the detriment to your own safety. If you are singled out as the weakest player, you have a massive target on your back. You need that idol, Trish.
Over at camp Brains, Garrett makes quick work of the idol clue and finds his buried treasure. When the rest of his troops arrive, he ineptly bumbles a clumsy excuse for his whereabouts. “I … uh … I found a waterfall.”
I’m shocked no one else sees right through this mess. I guess they’re all too captivated by J’Tia, a ford model, turned astrophysist, who immediately began barking out orders for shelter building. This girl is out of her mind trying to create a McMansion on the sand. Watching this scene brings back painful memories of Boston Rob working his construction magic in Samoa. We ended up sleeping in the dirt and feeding the shelter into the fire for warmth. The Brains tribe, grumbling about their bossy tribemate, ends up doing the same. From here, it looks like J’Tia will be an easy early vote.
Speaking of easy, Beauty is making this Survivor stuff look like child’s play. They quickly get a shelter built and start up a nice warm fire without the assistance of flint. Impressive. After a night of beauty rest, their tribe shows up to the first immunity challenge looking like a well-oiled machine. They cruise through the challenge, winning immunity, with Brawn coming in a close second. After a pathetic performance, Brains must return to camp to choose the first person to vote out, defeated and demoralized.
Upon returning to camp, we witness the unraveling of the Brains’ tribe. The clear vote is J’Tia. But, true to form, the Brains’ tribe overcomplicates things. Kass, the socially awkward attorney and mother, tells J’Tia her plan to vote her out; she completes her statement with, “I guess it’s time for you to scramble.” What utter lunacy! If Abi-Maria was there, I believe she would say in her cheeky Brazilian accent, “Kass, you are an idiot. You are a moron.” Now that J’Tia knows it’s her, she’s on fire to assemble a team and save her booty. Shockingly, it appears she doesn’t have to work too hard to convince the other people on her tribe to vote out collar poppin’ David. Even after her bossiness around camp and poor performance in the challenge, J’Tia manages to stick around for another round. And, with that, we have our first victim of Survivor Cagayan, David Samson.
But the show must go on.
The next day we get to know Brawn a bit more, and we begin to fall in love with Cliff Robinson and his adorable karate kid sidekick “Wu Tang.” I smell a Miyagi/Daniel Son bromance brewing between these two and I am excited about it. Everyone else on Cliff’s tribe seems just as smitten, all but one. Tony, the Cop who lies about being a cop, isn’t completely jumping on the Cliff bandwagon. He smells a threat and gets to work on building a spy shack out of palm fronds so that he can eavesdrop on “important conversations.” Oooh, this is good. If only I had made one of those in middle school, I could have listened to all of the boys conversations about which girls they were going to ask to the dance. I could have been the information wizard of middle school! Wait, why didn’t the Brains tribe think of this? Simply brilliant, Tony.
Unfortunately, we can’t sit in spy shacks all day; we’ve got an immunity challenge to crush. Brains, seemingly having gotten their act toghether after attending tribal council, takes an early lead. It’s all up to J’Tia to finish the puzzle and then Brains will have their first challenge win. The girl cracks under the pressure and tanks. Brawns shows up and brutalizes the competion. They win. Finally, Beauty shows up at the table. While J’Tia panics, LJ pulls off a surprise puzzle victory and takes second place for the Beauty tribe. Once again, J’Tia, it’s scramble time.
Back on Brainy beach, Garrett chooses to take the role of biggest dummy and declares an “open forum” discussion to decide who they will be sending home. Much to Tosha’s dismay, the boys decide J’Tia is the weakest link and they refuse to have any more conversations about it. I think the rain water has seeped into these boys’ heads and their thinking must be all fogged up. Dictatorships rarely last on Survivor and Tosha will see to it that Kass changes her vote to Garrett. While she’s pitching her idea to Kass by the water, they are interrupted by Spencer and Garrett. Uh-oh. This means J’Tia, is left alone in the shelter. Welcome to crazy town. Population 1. J’Tia decides to take her vengeance out upon her tribe, who hasn’t voted her out yet, by dumping all the rice into the fire. Just a hunch that perhaps she caught a few episodes of Brandon Hantz losing his mind and decided that would be a good act to follow. Oddly, intelligence seems to be severely lacking in the Brains tribe.
As they make their way to tribal council, the gang is furious at J’Tia for losing the challenge and dumping their entire food supply. This makes sense. Everything else that follows, does not.
In the end, J’Tia again rescues herself and Garrett is voted out. Right, I’m with you. How did this happen? Clearly, this season of Survivor promises to leave us guessing. I promise to get as much out of each week’s castoff when I interview them for CBS.com on Survivor Live.
Until next week, I hope you all stay dry and eat plenty of carbs.
Tweet me your thoughts about the new season @parvatishallow
Check out the new Survivor Live every Thursday at 1pm PST at CBS.com/connect
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