Well, CBS certainly isn’t wasting any time. With Big Brother not even finished yet, we’ve started not only a new season of Survivor but also a new season of The Amazing Race. Technically, I’m happy about that because I actually prefer those two shows to Big Brother. But, as a blogger who usually enjoys having a few weeks off after the end of Big Brother, I’m not looking forward to the exhaustion of trying to keep up with all this.
But I’ll live! Let’s talk about last night’s episode of Survivor.
We’re back on Fiji. That’s fine, as Fiji is a lovely location and obviously, there’s still a lot of places that the show can’t film because of the pandemic restrictions. That said, I associate Fiji with a lot of bad twists and, unfortunately, it looks like a lot of those twists are going to be repeated this season.
Once again, we’re starting out with three tribes. The problem with three tribes is that, inevitably, one tribe is always significantly weaker than the other two and that tribe spends so much time at tribal council that we don’t really get to know the other two tribes until the merge happens. Survivor has always been more interesting when it’s a big tribe. The smaller tribe group dynamics are always more predictable.
Once again, we’re doing the stupid summit twist, with people losing their votes and getting weird idols and all the rest of that stuff. Trying to keep track of all that is another thing that makes it difficult to get to know all of the players. Instead of really getting a feeling for what a player is capable of, the game instead becomes about who has an idol and who still has their vote.
The shot in the dark is back. The most useless twist of all time is back.
The premiere was once again heavy on tragic backstories. To me, the beauty of old school Survivor was that nothing mattered beyond what the players did on the beach. I don’t need to know whose these people are back in the real world and I kind of resent the idea that anyone “deserves” the money more than someone else. Everyone has a good reason for wanting or needing more money. Save the sob stories for American Idol.
On the positive side:
After having to endure two seasons of the new hyperactive, obnoxiously positive Jeff Probst, it was nice to see Jeff acting like his old sarcastic self last night.
Survivor still comes up with the best challenges, ones that reward not only brawn but also brains. It’s always fun to watch some tribe totally rip through the physical part of the challenge just to fall apart because they can’t figure out how to solve a relatively simple puzzle.
I liked the twist of two of the tribes having to pick either “savvy” or “sweat” in order to get their supplies. This was the sort of thing that had the potential to both help tribes bond and to also stir up some trouble if they failed. Luckily, both tribes succeeded.
The castaways, for the most part, seem like they’ll be an interesting bunch. They’re likable enough to watch but I also don’t think I’ll be sad to see any of them voted off. Last season, it was so obvious that Maryanne was getting the winners edit that the show itself was kind of anticlimactic. Nobody seems like an early favorite this season.
Here are your tribes. Some of these people made a definite impression on me and some didn’t. It’s early in the game.
Morriah — Morriah’s a teacher and watching her last night, I could very easily imagine her teaching a class. Unfortunately, her Survivor students were a bit more unruly than her real-life students.
Mike Gabler — He’s the hard-working old guy who gets way too emotional about stuff. Really, he should have been voted out last night but I think the members of the tribe like him on a personal level.
Owen — Owen seems like he could be a strong player. Morriah and Sami’s attempt to blindside him failed spectacularly so the tribe has obviously decided that they want him around.
Sami — Sami is a 19 year-old pet cremator who seem to be this season’s villain. He annoyed me a bit last night. His job creeps me out.
Cody — Cody is a a surfer and a salesman and seems like he’s going to end up coming on way too hard and way too fast.
Justine — Justine is being set up as this year’s manipulator. We’ll see how that works.
Nneke — Nneke is a pharmacist. She jumped right into an alliance with Cody and Jesse, which I think could be her downfall as Cody seems like he’s going to make enemies.
Noelle — Noelle is a Paralympian. She has an inspiring story but there’s no way any smart player would allow her anywhere near the final four.
Dwight — Dwight lost his vote at the summit so, whenever this tribe goes to their first tribal council, he won’t be able to vote. Unfortunately, Dwight also lied about what happened at the summit and it’s pretty obvious that the members of his tribe didn’t believe him.
Lindsay — Lindsay is a nurse and I have a feeling she’s going to have a meltdown on the island. She seems to be a bit too tightly wound.
Karla — Karla seems like she’s in a pretty good position. She’s got an early alliance going with Geo.
As has become a tradition for the Fiji episodes, the tribes were instructed to pick one player to send to the summit, where they were given the challenge of either protecting their vote or trying to go for an immunity idol. Karla, wisely, protected her vote. Dwight took the risk and lost his vote. Gabler took the risk and got an immunity idol that’s good for the next two tribal councils. Proving that he’s perhaps a bit too naïve for this game, Gabler told the tribe about his immunity idol.
Baka lost the immunity challenge, largely due to Gabler’s inability to direct a ball through an obstacle course. This led to Gabler having a breakdown on the beach and telling everyone that he wouldn’t play his idol but he would play his shot in the dark. To be honest, I would have voted out Gabler because it’s always good to flush out an idol and I don’t know if I would want to be stuck on a tribe with someone that emotional. Instead, Morriah and Sami tried to convince the tribe to vote out Owen. The tribe, however, decided to vote out Morriah because she was seen as being a liability as far as physical challenges are concerned.
And that’s it for the first episode. I’m just happy Survivor’s back. I complain about this show a lot but that’s just because I love it.
Morriah, the first player to be voted out of Survivor 43