It’s been awhile since I watched a season of Survivor, but I decided to give this a go anyways. Survivor isn’t quite as easy to make fun of as The Bachelor, but I think I’ll manage somehow. This is the 26th season of Survivor and the shows second go around at a fans vs. favorites theme. One of this seasons “favorites” contestants is Francesca, she was the first cast member voted off during her previous appearance on the show. I’m not sure how you qualify as a “favorite” after one episode. I think this season should possibly be called, ‘fans vs. whoever we could get to come back,’ but the producers probably felt like that didn’t have quite the same ring to it. (Originally I was going to do a write-up for each cast member, but I decided that would take forever, and frankly I just didn’t really feel like it. If you are interested in some more background info on the cast members here’s a link to the cast bios from the show which you can peruse at your leisure). The show doesn’t waste much time getting down to business. After Jeff welcomes the newbies to the show, and introduces them to the “favorites” they’ll be competing against, its time for the first reward challenge.
The first challenge takes place in the water, and involves retrieving a ring at one end of a long enclosure and returning with it to your teams pole. The game pits one man and one women from each team against each other with the first team to four claiming victory, and the reward of flint and 20 lbs of beans. The first match up places Erik and Dawn from the favorites against Shamar and Julia from the fans team. Erik gets to the ring first, but when he tosses it ahead to avoid being crushed by Shamar (a very large former USMC combat vet) it is retrieved by the opposite team. Julia loses the ring quickly, but Shamar gains control, and it’s all over but the crying after that as Erik bounces off of him on his way to scoring the first point for the fans. The next match up is Hope and Eddie for the fans versus Brandon and Andrea for the favorites. This match-up is the start of the favorites dominance in this game. From this point on every round ends up with all four players wrestling for the ring near the poles, and each match-up has the same result with the favorites coming out as the victors. The only other match-up worth mentioning from this challenge is the final one which featured Malcolm and Corinne for the favorites versus Reynold and Allie for the fans. This match-up wins the award for most erotic, as both men, but mostly Malcolm, spend a good portion of the time wrestling with their shorts well below their waistline (the censors really had to work overtime on this one). The favorites ultimately end up winning 4-1, and send a defeated bunch of fans off to set up their camp. (On a side note, I’ve always been a fan of the animal shots the include in Survivor. They include shots of alligators (or crocodiles I don’t really know which) to try to play up the danger of the environment. Too bad those shots are probably edited in from a nature show. The scariest animal I saw in this episode was some type of marsupial eating a huge lizard, that thing was terrifying).
Following the loss in the reward challenge we join the fans tribe as they are arriving at their beach. Shamar declares as they are arriving that they need to build a fire, and all other concerns such as shelter aren’t important. Despite the call for fire, no one seems interested in trying to make one (including Shamar). Lead by Matt some cast members start in on the shelter, while most others seem to just be wandering aimlessly. Shamar ultimately decides the best way for him to contribute is by sitting on one of the supports for the shelter while telling Matt he isn’t accomplishing anything. This leads some cast members to comment that they might have a problem with comradery (ya think?).
Next we head over to the favorites camp, here they are working on not just shelter but alliances too! Francesca is concerned her poor history with Phillip could get her sent home early again. She attempts to bury the hatchet telling Phillip she was never “gunning” for him during their season, and leaves hoping things between them will be better now. In an interview following the conversation, Phillip says Francesca is stuck in a time warp, and that he finds her very annoying, doesn’t seem like a good sign. This segment closes with Francesca saying she will eat a rock if she is voted out first again. (This proves Francesca was never trustworthy because she is voted out first again and I didn’t see her eating any rocks).
Back from commercial, we head back over to the fans camp to see them succeed at making fire which signals an end to bad feelings between Shamar and Matt. Following this brief stop, we head right back to the favorites camp for more alliance building. Phillip teaches us the lessons he learned from Boston Rob during his first season, (their alliance took Phillip to the final 3) and then sets out to put those lessons to good use, building a strong alliance. Phillip secures the six cast mates he needs for a majority, and then approaches Erik to say he wants to have him in the alliance also, as long as he doesn’t get nervous. Erik replies that he does get nervous sometimes (good god man! How bad can you be at this game). Their conversation ends with Erik saying Phillip is a combative, idiot loser, and stating that he doesn’t want to be with him.
At the fans camp alliances are beginning to form as well. Reynold and Eddie, the two young attractive guys decide they can each select an attractive girl and build a “cool kid” foursome alliance. Eddie selects Hope, who he calls his southern belle (she’s from Missouri, but that is south of New Jersey, where Eddie lives, so I guess it works). Reynold selects Allie, but they give away their alliance by hooking up in the shelter the first night. Looks like the new project for the fans team might be working on building a less creaky shelter. The remaining ladies from the fans tribe try to get Michael to join into an alliance with them, and he seems to go along with it. However, later on, Michael talks with Matt in the water, and they agree delaying in selecting an alliance is the best strategy for both of them.
It’s immunity challenge time! The first immunity challenge of this season consists of three parts. First players from each team race up a set of ladders in pairs and drop crates filled with sandbags onto a target. After all 12 of the teams crates have been dropped, two teammates collect all the sandbags, and then one of those players tosses the sandbags into a series of targets. The first team to get a sandbag in all six of their targets wins the challenge and immunity! The challenge is close throughout. The favorites gain an advantage heading into the sandbag toss, but Reynold hits all six targets before Malcolm and the fans win the first immunity challenge.
Following their loss at the immunity challenge it’s time for the favorites to figure out who’s going home first. Francesca starts tossing out Phillips name to a number of people in his alliance. When asked if she thinks Brenda will go along Francesca says she doesn’t think anyone will resist (Francesca is really shitty at figuring this game out). The rest of the wheeling and dealing before tribal council centers around Francesca, and who she thinks her great alliance will be sending home. Francesca is so bad at this game she thinks her numbers are good enough to split the vote and still send one of her enemies home (it’s kind of sad really, she seems like a nice person, I’m going to miss her). In the end Francesca couldn’t come up with the numbers and is voted out 6-4 with Dawn and Cochran being the “swing” votes.
The preview for next week focuses on the aftermath of this weeks tribal council. Brandon, realizing he is on the wrong side numbers wise announces he wants to go out with a bang, and claims he will start playing dirty, “Russell Hantz style.” (Russell is his uncle and a notorious former Survivor contestant, for anyone who might be confused by this statement). See you next Thursday so see if Brandon can make good on his claims.