We are back!!! From a remote Polynesian Island which is totally, absolutely not Samoa again. Except that it is. Probst does his thing by giving the opening intro while hanging out of a helicopter, hopefully without Murdoch behind the controls, while the new Survivors give ironic comments about how they plan to play the game. There will totally never be any twist that will throw them off. First reaction to things – Colton has a sweater wrapped around his shoulders, and Jonas is wearing a bad ass scarf. Um, I am nervous folks. And we haven’t even met Tarzan and Troyzan at this point.
However, the good news is that once we jump into the episode and the double whammy twist – gender wars and both tribes living together on the same beach – we have the makings of a great season. It was disappointing to see the challenge cut short, and the first elimination be due to injury, but there was a lot to like about the first episode. What is especially encouraging is the immediate wealth of possibilities unleashed by putting gender teams together on the beach.
Instantly, the Gym Rat Alliance started to preen. Amazing. Those shirts could not have come off faster unless they were on fire. Meanwhile, the two tribes joined together in an effort to find the conveniently located wild chickens – presumably the ones freed by Shambo and Brandon in other recent Samoan seasons. They cut a deal to split the haul, but after Chelsea grabbed two of them – and everyone should be proud of me for not using a word that can often be substituted for certain chickens, when referring to her having two in her hands – the ladies reneged on the deal. Of course, since the dudes – specifically Banker Mike – stole their axe and other supplies at the opening looting of the rickety old truck, I can’t say I blame them for reneging.
Not the first time the truck looting took place – remember the opening to Tocantins. And not the first time we had a big theft – Rupert got serious props for living like a pirate in Pearl Islands when he snagged the other tribe’s shoes. So, not criticizing Mike’s move – it was rather bold to start the season – but he should also not be surprised that it was not received well by the ladies. It goes to show that you need to be careful on Survivor – his move would likely have been forgotten in time if they were living apart. Jonathan took a chicken in Cook Islands – got sent to Exile as a result – but it never came up again after that.
Of course, karma shifted back and forth rather readily in this episode – just as karma bit the guys, it came back to bit the ladies. After breaking the chicken deal, the guys managed to make fire. And I might add – impressive move by the guys, which was surprisingly given very little attention by the show. Fire is not often made without flint. Now, the ladies needed their own fire and tried to parlay the chicken into shared fire. No dice. What followed was one of the strangest negotiating sessions you’ll ever see.
After the fire for chicken deal was turned down – Alicea tried to steal the fire. That failed – of course – and that should help the negotiations. Tarzan’s counter was to have the ladies all do a pole dance for them. Alrighty then. What, no lap dance? And yes, he wants to be called Tarzan. And despite what the women think – he is totally not running the show. After this impasse, Christina and Monica go on a night vision mission to steal the fire. Awesome. The black ops moment was pretty amazing. And remember, pitch black, so they could see nothing. They had second thoughts, but I loved Christina’s line – “Shoot, I mean, we’re here. We might as well just do it.” And they did!!! Of course, they could not make it last in the middle of the night, but kudos for effort.
Christina had a backup plan – and it was a good one. She offered to have the ladies weave 40 palm fronds for the guys in exchange for the fire. That was a reasonable deal – one which got fire for the team. For some reason, Alicea found this move to be offensive and worthy of vendetta. Really? I know it is a moment where Christina has made some early inroads with the guys as a reasonable player, but come on, she just got you guys fire! And the cost was that each of you have to make about 4 palm frond braids. For this, she became Public Enemy #1? On a side note, Alicea is a bit of a psychopath. What is it with recent seasons and crazy people who happen to actually be teachers? I hope this isn’t NaOnka 2.0.
The fire controversy became moot after the ladies lost the challenge. Alas, we could not test the Gym Rats’ math. It seems Mike, Jay, Bill and Matt have decided that an alliance of four in a tribe of nine equals power. One can only hope that the moment that the dudes have to face Tribal Council that the most incredible, amazing alliance in the history of Survivor forms. I will call it the Misfit Alliance – or the Giant Walking Joke. Two Tarzan freaks, a sushi chef, a little person and Gay Cochran form an alliance, or walk into a bar. Now THAT is an alliance, and I am certain that it will never, ever happen.