Survivor: Blood vs. Water
Ten pairs consistently of a former player and their loved one are left for their first night together (or day zero eventhough it's a day), giving them a night to prepare for the torture of freezing while you sleep in the sand. Some returnees give me groans (Rupert, for a fourth time - ugh), some familiar faces (wait, Kat dates Big Brother winner Hayden?) and others bring about fanatic cheers (Gervase!). But I'm already interested in this twist and how it could play out.
On day one, the pairs convene with Probst and begin scoping each other out. Everyone's shocked when they learn they're competing against their loved one instead of together. But a few are pretty happy, probably because their family member sucks. The loved ones are split apart with tears and given their tribes: Galang is the returnee tribe and Tadhana is the noobs. And then, TWIST! Right away both tribes have to vote out one person. The newbies vote off Rupert's tye-dyed wife Laura while the veterans off Candice. But, they're not out of the game yet because they're heading back to every fan's least favorite location: Redemption Island. MORE TWISTS. The loved ones can switch places, so Rupert sacrifices himself for Laura and she takes his place on the returning tribe. Candice and her husband John talk and she's confident she could beat Rupert, so Candice remains the exiled player. Christ that's a lot of twists in 20 minutes.
The tribes head off to their new homes of environmental torture and starvation. Galang convene for a big group hug on their beach, with Tyson suggesting they pop their shirts. I love him. Rupert's wife is immediately a fish out of water. Bitch can't even take a machete to a coconut- what an amateur! Their experience gets them fire and shelter in no time. Colton begins his quest to get over his miserable reputation, ending in tearful stories of childhood. Only some are buying this ruse. Over at Tadhana, the newbies succeed at building a shelter but fail at getting fire which means no water which means a slow death. Monica's husband, ex-NFL player Brad Culpepper, has to do an immediate apology to earlier statements that implied he'd throw challenge or half-ass it to save his wife. With that out of the way, Brad starts whispering to the other guys to make a five-dude alliance 'til the end. Immediately he becomes the most irritating player in the game. Ciera, Laura's daughter, opens up about being a teen mom who is now married with a second kid. Aras' brother Vytas talks about being a junkie who went to prison, hoping to show his vulnerability. Lots of laughs, rite guyz?
Over on Redemption Island, Candice takes a machete to a coconut reciting the names of everyone who eliminated her. She's like Arya Stark! Candice is already miserable because Rupert is lazy and annoying, leaving her to do all the work. It's part of his strategy to conserve his energy to beat Candice come challenge time. I can't stand Saint Rupert, but I tip my hat to this move.
Tree mail brings news of the first immunity challenge, which is running, swimming, paddling and puzzles - quelle surprise! After some quibbling about fire which is the equivalent of penis measuring out here, Probst explains the challenge to collect and assemble puzzle pieces. The players get drained as they have to encounter obstacles on their way out. Gervase struggles the most, barely able to swim eventually and belly flopping like whoa. The newbies have amazing teamwork while the vets are a mess, bickering and struggling the whole way in the water. But the noobs aren't used to the grueling world of Survivor puzzles, which lets the returnees come back and grab victory. And Colton cries a whole bunch.
Tadhana has to snap into the true reality of Survivor which is betraying your pals and voting them off. Gervase's niece rips into her uncle for being super weak yet bragging, which makes Marissa a target just by association. The five guys are happy to have some numbers and the ability to pick off who they want. Tina's daughter Katie helped Caleb and Ciera with the puzzle, but was more like a crappy third wheel. "We're five guys strong," it repeated over and over. Oh hooray, an irritating bro alliance from episode one.
First Tribal Council! The survivors light their torches as Probst reminds them fire represents life (one of my favorite lines). While voting someone off sucks, they get fire now after lying about it earlier. Plus this season is a bit more personal because you're possibly making an enemy on the other tribe. John's emotional because he wishes maybe he switched with Candice, but his vote is about making the tribe stronger and not just who his wife could beat at Redemption. Marissa feels vulnerable because her uncle Gervase screwed her over by being a prick and she was totally fine. Despite Katie being a major cause of the tribe losing the challenge, Marissa is voted off and heads to Redemption Island for quality time with Candice and Rupert.