Survivor returned to our screens last night with a special 2 hour season premiere. Always great to have the best show on TV back in our lives. Overall, I thought it was a solid start to the season. There were definitely moments that felt like we were just watching Season 41 all over again: the mountain hike/risk vote twist, the triangles, the sob story montages for every players, the lack of food, etc. But I also think there was a lot of good too. The cast seems promising. There are murmurs that people have said this is one of the best newbie casts ever, but who knows how true that is. And I do think the editors did a good job of showing more camplife and introducing us to the players. We saw more interactions. That was a gripe with Season 41. It was so focused on the twists and advantages that it felt like we barely knew the players. Hell, all we knew about the winner was that she's from Canada. So even though this was filmed right after Season 41 and they couldn't change what happened, they could change the edit and how they show us what happened. So let's hope for a more character-driven season.
If you're new to my Survivor coverage around these parts, I write this recap blog every week. This year, I think I'm going to slightly switch it up. Instead of doing a very full summary of basically every minute of the episode, I think I will break the episode up into sections and then bullet point my thoughts on each section. 1. The other way took way longer. 2. I think it was more boring. You guys already watched the episode if you're reading this. You don't need a recap of it. I'll just stick to mostly takes. For a fully thorough breakdown of the episode, listen and subscribe to our Snuffing Torches podcast on Apple and Spotify.
AND WE ARE NOW ON YOUTUBE.
Enough people asked for this so I figured it was worth it. Seems like podcasts are heading more and more to YouTube now anyway. I created my own Tommy Smokes page that will be for Snuffing Torches but also other stuff. Old videos and random new ones I make. So if you like Survivor, subscribe for Snuffing Torches. But even if you don't like Survivor, you should still subscribe anyway. Please!
Okay now let's get into the recap...
-Jeff welcomed us in to let us know that Season 42 was filmed right after Season 41. Most die-hard Survivor fans know this. But some casuals might not. Basically it means this cast of newbies has no idea about all the new twists, the lack of food and resources, and how this version of Survivor is "the most dangerous" yet. I really think players get a script to talk about that in their confessionals. "Just throw in the word dangerous please." Jeff said some things will stay the same as Season 41 (26 days, lack of food, some advantages) but some twists won't be back and others will be amended or entirely new.
-Lydia stole the early intros for me. Talking about how she doesn't like bugs, sand, and sunburn. Basically felt like all the things I would say my first day on that island. I think she's going to be a funny character. This tweet from her last night really made me chuckle.
-And then of course when they got to the beach, there was Zach's botched one liner.
I personally found it very funny and self-aware. He tried to make something happen and didn't work. Oh well.
-The players were informed that just like Season 41, there was no rice guarantee. Instead they were playing for a machete, pot, and flint. Some highlights from the challenge were:
-It should be no surprise that a guy who said his favorite hobbies are legos, keeping tracking of things, and collecting signed US pocket Constitutions went down with an injury almost immediately.
They popped that shoulder back in though and he was good to go.
-Drea, Hai, and Lindsay (all on separate tribes) got to a station during the challenge where they had the option to all gain an advantage or to not. There was seemingly no downside to taking the advantage, so it shouldn't have been much of a decision. They took the advantage and then smeared a bunch of fake blood and mud on them to make it look like they were working hard. They looked ridiculous. But even though they were gone awhile, I don't think people got too suspicious. It's not like it was just one of them missing for awhile. Them all being gone together made it seem like it was just a hard part of the challenge.
-The blue tribe (I go by by colors not names because I think it's easier) ending up winning and got their resources.
THE TRIANGLES ARE BACK
-The Savvy or Sweat twist returned for the two losing tribes. To get resources, they could either choose to count the triangles in a puzzle, or have one player (instead of two like last season) use a pot to go back and forth and fill a barrel up with water. I maintain that counting triangles seems way easier than hours of hard, manual labor. This season, the teams agreed with me.
-Mike stood out to me here. He pushed for the triangles because he looked around his tribe and saw that he would be the obvious choice to do the Sweat option. And he didn't want to isolate himself from the tribe for an extended period of time while they all got to know each other. Looks like Mike might be a more strategic player than I initially though. I did also laugh when he looked at Jenny and just said "Are you good with these triangles?" It turned out to be a good assessment because she was the only one on that tribe who knew what she was doing. Other people were like "Yeah looks like there's about 6" when there were FIFTY ONE. Meanwhile on the orange tribe, it seemed like Omar did most of the counting. Both tribes came up with 51 and won. A lesson to all future seasons that you should always just count the triangles.
The Amulet Advantage
-Back at their respective camps, Hai, Drea, and Lindsay found out that they had all earned the brand new "Amulet Advantage." Each got an individual amulet and was told that when played with 3 amulets left, it's good for an extra vote. When played with 2 amulets left, it's good for a steal-a-vote. And with only one amulet left, it becomes a fully formed hidden immunity idol.
-It's a little confusing because all three have to play it together for it to work, meaning they all have to make the merge or be together at a tribe swap. But what I'm a little unclear on is: If they do all play it together, do they get one extra vote total? Or do they each get an extra vote? I think it's the former. But that's a little unclear. Basically though they would need to be working together for it to have power. OR they will want to target it each other so that their amulet becomes more powerful. An interesting dynamic. One of the better twists from these last two seasons. I don't like when people lose their votes in twists and that's not the case here. So I'm fine with it.
The Risk Vote/Protect Vote Prisoner's Dilemma
-Much like last season, one member from each tribe had to go on a boat to this island. I would never volunteer for this because I wouldn't want to be away from camp. But Drea and Maryanne did. And Jenny just drew the short straw. And again like last season, they had to climb a big mountain and then go their separate ways to make a decision. Risk or protect their vote? If all three risked their vote, they all lost their vote at the next tribal. If they all protected it, nothing changes. But if they risked it and at least one other person protected theirs, then the risker(s) would get an extra vote. It's a classic prisoner's dilemma.
-Ultimately, Drea and Maryanne decided to risk their votes and got the extra vote because Jenny protected hers. I truly think there's no clear answer as to what the right move is here. It all depends on who the other two people you're with are. If at least one seems honest and trustworthy and not like a risk taker, then I'd probably risk my vote. But if one or both other players seemed deceitful, I might play it safe and protect. But I will say that losing your vote at the first tribal council probably wouldn't be a huge deal. It's rare for the first vote to be that close. It's unlikely to be a 3-3 split, which is the only scenario where having your vote would matter. For a more clear discussion of this, watch the Snuffing Torches episode above.
Early Tribe Dynamics
Vati Tribe (Green)
-It seemed like there were three pairs here. Mike and Jenny. Hai and Lydia. And then Daniel and Chanelle. I like this tribe a lot. Some interesting personalities. It was hard to not fall in love with Mike. Just a big, sweet teddy bear. I think he'll be a fan favorite. But my guess would be that Hai and Lydia pair up with Daniel and Chanelle. That could be a strong foursome that goes far.
-Daniel was asked about his scar, and told everyone it's from childhood cancer. An inspiring story, but I would NOT be telling people that so soon. Nobody will want to sit next to that story at Final Tribal Council. I would just talk about how great my life is and how privileged I am. I'm not breaking out any sob stories that are painting a target on my back that early in the game. No way, no how.
Ika Tribe (Blue)
-Here we had a trio of youngsters (Zach, Tori, Swati) against a trio of older players (Rocksroy, Romeo, Drea). Rocksroy was doing everything you shouldn't do on Day 1 of Survivor. Acting like a leader and bossing people around. It seemed to be rubbing others the wrong way.
-Tori also did a Survivor no-no when she went out on her own for awhile looking for food. It made everyone think she was looking for the idol, which Zach warned her of Day 1 of Survivor you literally just have to stay in the crowd. Be in the literal physical majority of people. I couldn't get a read on Tori at first. The way she talked in confessionals made me think she knew the game. But she also was just doing way too much and trying too hard. And she sort of had the clown edit at points. Was not a great start for her.
-Zach and Romeo briefly formed a skinny guy alliance but as we saw later, that did not stick.
Taku Tribe (Orange)
-The main takeaway here was that Maryanne is maybe the most high strung person in the world. Just way too happy all the time. That might end up annoying people as the game goes on. We didn't see much else from this tribe. Omar seems smart. Marya was kind of invisible. But of course the big story was….
-We saw a montage about how Jackson is transgender and he had another inspiring story that I also would've kept to myself until Final Tribe Council. Then the next day Jeff showed up at camp and asked to speak to Jackson in private. It turns out that Jackson was taking a medication that he only told Survivor about a day before filming. He was trying to ween off of it but there could be bad side effects as he gets tired and dehydrated on the island. And for that reason, they had to remove him from the game immediately. Jeff was probably super pissed that Jackson hid it from them and cost someone else a spot on the season, but he had to act more caring. And I can understand Jackson achieving his dream of finally getting on Survivor and not wanting to risk derailing it. But CBS also had to play it safe so they didn't get sued out of the ass. I truly see both sides here. Shitty situation and sucks for whoever got cut from the cast at the last minute, but I think it needed to be done. It was definitely a surreal moment we were all on pins and needles for because something like that is truly unprecedented in Survivor history.
-The moment went from sad to funny very quickly when Maryanne let out that ridiculous sob when she heard the news. You would've though she got news her family was just all killed. You knew the guy for like 36 hours, relax. If anything, be happy you're another step closer to the million!
-For sure the sickest immunity idol ever.
-This was a gruesome challenge overall. No need for a play-by-play but just know that orange came in first, green in second, and blue headed to tribal and had to also give their flint back to Jeff. Zach and Swati really blew the puzzle for the blue tribe. I would never volunteer for a puzzle that early in the game. Once again, just don't stand out.
Pre Tribal Council
-At first, Drea was targeting Rocksroy for being the bossy, leader and also not a help in challenges. But Romeo didn't want to do that because they had their alliance. I liked what I saw from Romeo last night. Smart player. Didn't get on anyone's bad side. He's a potential winner for sure.
-It then become either Zach or Tori. Zach was a challenge liability and probably annoying everyone with his superfan talk. And Tori was seen as untrustworthy after maybe searching for the idol.
-It was clearly Zach or Tori going home so they exchanged some words trying to target each other, but nothing was too vicious.
-Zach decided to give up his vote and instead play his Shot in the Dark. I liked this move. He probably knew he was heading home and it's worth taking that 16.6% chance at safety. It's not like it was going to be a 3-3 split vote. He had truly no use for his vote at that tribal council. So roll the dice and hope you get lucky. Maybe people will use that more this season. It really is underutilized. Unfortunately for him though, it didn't work out here.
-He was sent home in a unanimous 5-0 vote. I really feel bad for Zach. Being a superfan and finally getting on the show and then being first voted off is truly my worst nightmare. I'd rather just not get on at all. And I think he was a promising player if he lasted longer. He clearly knew the game and wasn't necessarily unliked. Just had a bad challenge and then couldn't save himself.
-Like I said, good first episode overall. Already feel like we know some of these players better than we knew last season's cast. Let's hope that the one hour episodes keep that up. It's just great to have Survivor back and I'm excited for the rest of this season.
This is a ranking of the players I think are most likely to WIN. This is not necessarily who I think is safest in the game. Don’t look at the person ranked last as the person most likely to go home next. Look at them as the person with the least chance to win. That person could very easily get dragged to FTC as a goat, but won’t win. This is ranking people based on their chance to actually win the game.
Tier 1 (The winner is probably one of these six people)
That's a wrap. This went longer than I expected but that's what happens when I talk Survivor. A reminder to please subscribe to Snuffing Torches on YouTube, Apple, and Spotify. And follow us on Twitter and Instagram.