New! Survivor: Philippines - 15 new survivors, already split into three tribes, meet Jeff Probst in the middle of the ocean to begin their amazing adventure. Probst announces that joining each tribe is one former castaway who was medically evacuated from the game, getting a second chance to play again after mother nature kicked their ass. Returning is Jonathan Penner (infected cut), Russell Swann (the dude who looked like he died during a puzzle), and Michael Skupin (he fell into a fire- OUCH). Their speedboat zooms up and they board the S.S. Survivor to join their new tribes. Once in their full tribes everyone gets to raid the hell out of the ship for 60 seconds, ransacking the food, chicken, supplies, etc. they'll need to survive. Jeff kicks everyone off the boat with their supplies and a shitty Tom Sawyer raft to get to shore.
Jonathan Penner's Kalabaw tribe (red) lands ashore and Jeff is already injured. When leaping out of the boat, former pro baseball player Jeff heard his knee pop. Pretty ironic considering this is a season about people who left due to injuries. The tribe shares a ceremonial first coconut together as Penner goes on about how great it is to be back. Except Jeff isn't so keen on a veteran winning this game again and suggests keeping him a couple days to learn and build a shelter, then dump him. Jeff is keeping it on the DL that he is a former MLB guy who has money because he just wants to win the game, to be sole Survivor, not the money. Dawson is onto Jeff's lame lie about being a guy who sells motorcyles and races a little on the side. Smart girl! As the tribe seeks shelter in a cave from the rain, Penner starts hunting around camp for the hidden immunity idol and correctly deduces where to find the clue: inside some intricate box that holds the rice. So Penner knows either the idol is in the rice or somewhere directly in camp. Ugh, hide this shit better for real.
Russell makes a speech to his tribe Matsing (blue) that let's not have a leader so he doesn't almost die again and instead work as a team. Despite this plea, Russell is leading and ordering everyone around in that polite way he does it. Malcolm steps up to teach Russell and Zane how to make fire, as he lived in Micronesia for a year before; fire quickly comes. A good looking guy that can also make fire? Marry me! But since Russell did the job itself, it hopefully keeps eyes off Malcolm and still fixed on I'm-not-leading-but-do-my-ideas Russell. Tattooed kinda ginger Zane makes alliances with literally everyone, using it as a bragging right to Russell and Malcolm, assuring them he can then bring in whoever they want for the votes. Russell loves this openness but Malcolm knows this is insanely dumb. Malcolm relays this news to sex therapist Denise who he thinks makes a solid teammate with her ability to read people; they form an alliance. Russell stumbles upon the immunity idol clue the clue in the rice, but Zane spies it from a distance and isn't pleased at Russell's denial.
Over at Tandang (yellow) beach, RC immediately bonds with Brazilian-accented Abi, but RC lies that she's an executive assistant instead of a Wall Street banker. Abi wants to of course play the flirty girl game and Pete knows what she's doing but isn't totally opposed. The three form an immediate alliance, and RC pulls Skupin in for a strong four with a person who really knows the game. Skupin's like hey OK gotta play this game fast or I'll fall behind and get screwed. Lisa Whelchel AKA Blair from The Facts of Life is not going to tell the others about her past, instead focusing on her current Christian moms role (she all that FoL money in the 80s). When the others express distrust in Lisa, Skupin pulls her aside at night to tell her he recognizes her and thinks using the child star card might give her a bond with the others. Skupin just can't stop survivin', getting blisters, cuts, and a big nasty gash on the bottom of his foot. Keep him away from an open flame!
The three tribes converge for this season's first immunity challenge and I guess everyone stocked up on the face paint in the boat shopping spree. Pairs are tied together to essentially complete a long obstacle course, which includes a rope ladder, paddling a boat, swimming a box to shore, and of course a puzzle. Not-the-leader Russell gets super bossy over who does which portions, which you can see visibility irritates his team. In the challenge he's loud and bossy too, which I think he views as helpful but is instead ridiculously irritating. Kalamaw (red) wins immunity and reward of a complete fire-making kit. As second place, Tandang (yellow) wins flint, and at least safety. And the losers get diddly except a ticket to Tribal Council.
Matsing heads to camp dejected and while Russell is giving yet another speech, Zane cuts in to say he did terrible at the challenge and deserves to go home. Except it's Zane's insane master plan to hopefully take Russell out. It's working pretty well mostly because Russell is digging his own grave by telling everyone what to do and Zane is likable. The only problem the tribe thinks they could encounter in their desire to save Zane is that they think Russell has an idol. Russell does not have an idol and acknowledges that while he's confident, he also knows he messed up in playing the leader card too hard.
First Tribal Council- squeeeeeeal! Russell admits he reverted back to his dictator mode and going out first would be a dagger in the heart. As everyone rambles in Tribal basically agreeing that Russell has annoyed them for three days, it hits Russell that he's screwed. Discussion moves to the importance of performance in challenges. Zane admits his weakness again, mentioning he quit smoking before the show and wants a cig (LOL). Unfortunately for Zane, challenges do matter in the early weeks and he's the first voted out of the game.