Survivor XXV premiere thoughts

Yeah, I know this is a week late, but I’m going to squeeze it in anyway. Last week, the 25th season of Survivor premiered on CBS. After I missed the first 19 seasons, Survivor became my favorite show when I watched the Heroes vs. Villains season. Although its ratings have been sliding over the years, I’m not sure how Survivor will every go out of style completely. I feel like it’s become an actual sport at this point, and it’s not as though Major League Baseball is getting cancelled anytime soon.

For this season, the show is being shot in the Philippines, which host Jeff Probst explained were a great place to put the water challenges that recent seasons have been devoid of. They are also going back to a three-tribe format in order to keep alliances smaller, which should make for a more competitive game in the later stages. The last big game changer is the three veteran players being shipped in. Michael Skupin, Jonathan Penner and Russell Swan were all evacuated from previous seasons because of medical reasons and all three are hungry to get back in the game and bring home the title.

The premiere offered plenty of juicy material, so I summarized it for you. Enjoy.

Michael can’t stop hurting himself

Back in 2001 on Survivor: The Australian Outback, Michael Skupin was sitting by his tribe’s fire when he took in too much smoke, passed out, and fell into the flames. Although Michael was only out for a second or two, he suffered severe burns on his hands and was forced to be evacuated from the game. 11 years later, Michael finally has another shot, so you’d figure he’d be more cautious, but instead he’s been completely reckless.

So far, Michael has cut his finger with the giant, coconut-smashing machete and opened up a huge gash on his foot that somehow doesn’t need stitches. He also somehow cut himself on top of his head, but he basically just rubbed some dirt on it and went right on building his tribe’s shelter. I’m not sure if Michael is crazy or just a warrior, but he’s a very likable guy and someone who I won’t mind rooting for this season.

Russell says he doesn’t want to be the leader, nearly gets voted off as the leader

Russell was apparently doing a great job on Survivor: Samoa before he suffered severe dehydration and had to be carried off during a challenge. Now he’s back and looking forward to picking up where he left off. However, he says there’s one thing he’s going to do differently: He’s going to sit back and let some other fool lead the tribe. Russell knows from watching and playing Survivor that being the leader only invites unwanted attention as well as a lot of blame should the tribe lose an immunity challenge.

Well, he talked the talk, but when Russell actually got out in the field with his new tribe, he did exactly what he didn’t want to do. He bossed his tribe around, which actually made sense while they were trying to construct a shelter. However, when it came to the immunity challenge, he blundered spectacularly by putting Zane on the running portion despite the man having just quit smoking upon arriving in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Angie ended up having to attempt the puzzle at the end despite specifically volunteering that she was lousy at puzzles.

Not surprisingly, Russell’s tribe was crushed in the immunity challenge and it looked like Russell was going to pay for it with his Survivor life, but luckily someone intervened…

Zane essentially asks his tribe to vote him out

Zane, the southern dude with the attitude, seemed to do a good job going out of his way to befriend everyone on the Matsing tribe. However, he went a little overboard by promising to everyone he ran into that he or she was the person he wanted to go to the end with. Despite his lack of trustworthiness and ability to run short distances, Zane was well liked by the rest of Matsing and appeared safe after Russell botched the immunity challenge.

That was until Zane threw himself under the bus, saying to the rest of the tribe that he deserved to go home after not being able to physically handle the challenge. Zane later told the audience that this was part of some kind of ruse he had planned, but it’s very difficult to imagine how demonstrating such a lack of competitiveness could prove in any way useful. At tribal counsel, the decision came down to Russell or Zane and Matsing made the right choice in sending Zane home. It is for sure a stronger tribe now, which is good, because they need to win the next challenge.

RC and Abi-Maria are best buds already

I don’t know what the female equivalent for a bromance is, but that’s what investment banker RC and Brazilian business student Abi-Maria had going on in the Tandang tribe camp. Although from watching CBS’s intro videos I figured Angie and Katie were the hottest contestants on the show this season, RC and Abi-Maria gave the two pageant stars a run for their money by immediately taking most of their clothes off. More importantly, the pair showed great chemistry and grabbed both Michael and Pete to give their alliance some muscle. Facts of Life star Lisa and cancer survivor Artis now appear on the outs in Tandang, but that situation still has plenty of time to develop.

Someone besides me recognizes Jeff Kent

Jeff was hoping that no one would recognize him as a former All-Star second baseman, because “normal” contestants don’t exactly like giving money to people who are already famous. His game appeared to be going quite swimmingly until Sarah Dawson told the cameras that she knew one of her tribemates was Jeff Kent, the baseball player. However, Dawson appears content to hold onto that information until she can best use it, so Jeff may last a while if Dawson can stay off of the chopping block.

One reason why she won’t be on the chopping block in the immediate future is because Jeff has united the Kalabaw tribe against Jonathan Penner. While Penner was out hunting for the immunity idol (already), Jeff told his buddies that they all ought to band together and make sure a rookie wins the title. This is a good strategy for Jeff because it puts the focus on someone else and creates a common enemy for the tribe to blame should a challenge go wrong. It’s also ironic because if the rest of Kalabaw knew who Jeff was, he could get voted out right away.

I also thought it was funny that Penner wears a fedora similar to that other idol hound Russell Hantz. It might be a while until we see Hantz on Survivor again, but him and Penner would be a fun rivalry to watch.

Follow me on Twitter @apy5000.

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