Well, episode one of Survivor: Redemption Island started like all of the rest. Whether it's helicopters or boats, the contestants arrive, silently sizing each other up, some dressed totally inappropriately. (C’mon, Stephanie, heels? Honey, what’s wrong with you?)
The 16 contestants land on the beach in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and are split into teams. I’m warning you, at this point, I am doing what they are doing -- judging everyone by their looks. I don’t know anyone’s name. There’s Fabio 2.0 (Matt), Dude in Overalls (Ralph), and the Perky Blonde Trio (Andrea, Ashley, and Krista). Interesting fact: Not too many overtly “old” folks.
And then Jeff (aka The Probst) drops Fabu Game Changer #1: There are two more players (who get their own private helicopter -- natch).
Not just any two -- “Boston Rob” and bad boy Russell. The Probst explains they’ve both gotten close, but never won the game (and we all know close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades).
They pick buffs and join their teams -- Rob on Ometepe and Russell on Zapatera. Rob’s tribe? So overjoyed, even the boys wanna kiss him. Russell’s tribemates? Well, not so much.
And then, The Probst drops Fabu Game Changer #2: The Redemption Island (RI) twist-ma-loo. If you get voted out, you are not off the game. You head to RI, where you have supplies like the others camps -- food, shelter, water. Once another person is voted off, he or she joins you and you two compete to stay there. Mano a mano, you duel. Whoever wins stays on RI; the loser is off for good. At some point (The Probst was oh so vague), whoever is on RI will return to the regular game.
What were the contestants thinking? Perhaps something like “He say wha?!?” or “Oh, helltotheNO!” and, quite possibly, “Huh?” They're shooed away to the camps and start making shelter. Again, it’s episode one. Too many contestants. Some I don’t think we ever saw talk. Like Dreadlock Dude (Grant) and That Other Girl (Julie). Magically, everyone is in their saggy underwear by the second ad break.
Who did talk? Phillip. How does one describe Phillip? One word: crazypants. How do we know this? At minute 16 into this, the first episode, he’s told his tribe not only that he used to be a federal agent, but also that he's "an expert" in profiling people. Need more evidence? He talks about himself in the third person to the camera. Want more? The Powers That Be at Survivor HQ put a question mark after his occupation -- because a real federal agent would, well, not be CRAZYPANTS.
Russell is chompin’, ready to start the gameplay (“The first two, I was a school boy. This one, I’m bringing it”), and handpicks Stephanie -- despite her poor footwear choice -- to be his new gal-pal, his Parvati of this season. While, over at Ometepe, poor Kristina. She’s just “playing the game” a little too early, a little too hard, and just not well. She’s crashing and burning in the social game, but manages to pull a “Russell” (can we use him as a term when he’s in the game? You let me know) and find a hidden immunity idol by herself.
Good Kristina move: She confides in Francesca, who seems like the most normal player in the game (of those that have talked). This could be good, or this could be her downfall. Bad Kristina move: She also tells Phillip (Survivor 101, people, never tell the crazypants any vital info). They have some form of informal alliance. Such a bad move, ladies. Never trust a guy in magenta tighty-whiteys. Especially one that is CRAZYPANTS.
Immunity challenge comes and goes. It was a strength-mental challenge combo (they pushed big slabs, hacked some ropes, and then did a puzzle with more large slabs). Winner: Russell and Zapatera.
Back at Ometepe's camp, Kristina, Francesca, and Phillip decide to vote Rob out, using the hidden immunity idol -- which is maybe the stupidest idea they could have come up with, well, behind forming an alliance with Phillip. It's too soon, way too soon to use the idol.
Of course, Jedi Rob has figured out they have one. How? He’s done this two times already and, in his words, he's playing with “amateurs.” I believe he has managed to harness The Force of Survivor, hence I've given him Jedi status. He tells his minions, the Robettes, to split the vote 3 for Francesca and 3 for Kristina.
Tribal counsel is beyond words. Even The Probst doesn’t know what happens. I do -- Phillip, somehow, someway, manages to become even more crazypants (would that be crazypantsier?). He spills everything of his alliance, secret convos, who they are voting out, AND “outs” the hidden immunity idol. It is the first episode and this is happening, folks.
Kristina and Francesca try to do damage control, but it's no good. Jedi Rob offers Kristina a deal: give him the immunity idol and he'll guarantee her safety tonight or take her chances. She takes her chances ... and stays. Francesca is voted off -- and heads to RI.
Oh, folks, this season looks to be sososososo good, but let's buckle up. We are in for a bumpy ride.
What did you think of episode one of Survivor: Redemption Island?
Image vis CBS