Survivor: San Juan del Sur – Episode 1: “Suck It Up And Survive”

Otherwise known as “who the hell are they related to again?”

Okay, I’m aware that I never finished my write-ups for the previous series, but in my defence a) I moved house in the middle of it all, and b) that endgame really was unpleasant for someone who didn’t like Tony or Spencer. So I’m going to start afresh with the new season and do my best to keep up. As far as episode one goes, I don’t think for a second that I could possibly try to sum up all these new people based on one 90-minute episode. There are 18 contestants and nine existing relationships to learn, and there aren’t any returnees to make that side of it easier. The only contestants I knew anything about beforehand were Natalie and Nadiya, and now (spoiler) Nadiya’s gone already. So that doesn’t help.

So really this is just going to be a sort of vague summary of first impressions, for all the people who actually made an impression so far. And I’ll probably have got half the names wrong, I expect.

JEREMY: Christ on a stick, if I had to hear him talking about someone needing to take care of his wife one more time – she is a GROWN ASS WOMAN, for God’s sake. She is a police officer. I am sure she can take care of herself on a desert island for a few days. I mean, Carter made it to Day 33, how hard can it be? But despite his annoying patriarchal leanings, I’m interested to see this guy play the game – he came out of the gate strong and seems to have made a lot of alliances, so I’ll be interested to see who he sticks with and who he jettisons. I doubt the FIREFIGHTER ALLIANCE has legs for that long, but maybe they can do better than COPS R US at least.

VAL: This woman has no poker face at all, does she? “Hey Val, what’s on your sheet of parchment?” “NOTHING! DEFINITELY NOT AN IDOL CLUE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT!” I have doubts over her social skills, since Baylor already seemed to be willing to rebel against her after three days. Also, her idea that she could “make history” with a women’s alliance suggests that she is not exactly a scholar of this game. Not sure yet whether having a friend on the other tribe in Keith will be a help or a hindrance.

KEITH: Chris and I have declared ourselves Team Keith at this early stage, partly because he’s an endearing hillbilly and partly because he recognised John Rocker and stated that he was “an ass then” and suggested that he’s probably still an ass now. Also his relationship with his son is pretty comical. Plus he seems like a genuinely decent guy, and I like his sense of firefighter’s honour.

WES: I quite like Wes for reasons I haven’t entirely worked out yet. I’m intrigued by his relationship with John Rocker – I can’t tell if he’s going to surgically attach himself out of sheer devotion or if he’s getting up in his business to deliberately unsettle him. I can’t quite figure Wes out yet, but I’m looking forward to attempting to unwrap that particular enigma. Also, he sort of has a less-good version of Sebastian Stan’s face.

NATALIE: She, at least, seems to have a decent grasp on the social game at this point in that she’s trying to make alliances (although her alliance is with Jeremy, who is aligned with everybody), and now that she’s the first one there without an ally on the other tribe, is presumably less of an immediate target for the others? Anyway, for the sake of TWINNIE PRIDE I need her to hang on in there for a while, because I can’t deal with losing both of them early on.

NADIYA: Oh, Nadiya. Eliminated for a fairly bullshit reason when there were, in all fairness, probably quite a few entirely legitimate reasons to boot her. I’m probably being overly-generous to her because I loved the Twinnies on The Amazing Race (okay, fine, their All-Stars run was pretty crap, but that entire season was kind of terrible, so let’s just pretend it never happened), but her social game was not great, and I don’t think she had any idea how her “Josh is one of the girls” routine was coming across. And given her unfortunate history with “evil gays!” on TAR, maybe she just shouldn’t talk about gays at all for a while. I still love you though, Nadiya. Call me!

DALE: No, I’m sorry, booting somebody “because she has so much experience on The Amazing Race” is awful logic when you are playing fuckin’ SURVIVOR, you idiot. They are entirely different shows. Also, if you’re going to claim that watching Nadiya on TAR made you nervous about her personality, at least come up with good reasons: she and her sister STOLE MONEY FROM ANOTHER TEAM. That’s a reason to be wary of her. “She used a legitimate race mechanic to disadvantage another team, which is entirely within the rules, available to all participants and indeed actively encouraged” is not. Also, yes, congratulations, you got the team fire. You also rendered yourself more or less blind for the next 37 days in the process. Also, you just kind of seem super annoying in general, like you could turn into Dan from Panama if we’re not careful.

KELLEY: Who?

JOHN: Wow, Survivor really does love the “famous sports player tries and fails to go incognito” trope, doesn’t it? I haven’t got a lot of time for him right now, because he is blaming the media for making him look like a racist, homophobic bigot, when all the media did was report the racist, homophobic, bigoted shit that he said in public. Also, good god, his face makes me nauseous.

JULIE: “As a person and a woman, I feel that I am dating John Rocker and he’s said a load of stupid shit which tends to piss people off.” Wow, thanks for that fascinating insight into your personality there, Julie.

JOSH: I’m undecided about Josh so far. I’m always pleased to have someone on the show who genuinely seems to be a fan and is excited to play the game, but he flipped a little too quickly from “I want to be the guy who everyone comes to in order to help them make decisions” to “aargh, everyone’s coming to me in order to help them make decisions!” And I don’t understand at all why, after realising that he was basically the swing vote, he decided not to go with either of the two alliances and instead randomly vote for the person who seemed to be his closest ally. I mean, I can get anyone else wanting to vote for Baylor because I find her super-annoying, I just don’t really get why Josh thought it was a good idea.

REED: Seems intense. That’s kind of all I have on him so far.

MISSY: Seems fragile. Like, early-season Lisa Whelchel levels of fragile. I don’t really have a lot of confidence in her. (Also I genuinely don’t understand how, per their intro, Missy getting divorced three times put Baylor into the parental role. I mean, I don’t remember Ben ever playing the parent to Ross Geller.) (Also, who the hell names their child “Baylor”?)

BAYLOR: I think I might like her the least out of everyone so far. As in, I think I might actually hate her. I can’t even explain it, she just seems really, really irritating. And kind of dumb. But hey, she was the one with the cojones to flip on her alliance in the very first vote, so maybe she could turn out to be interesting.

JON: Would like to have a tail. I think that’s the only thing I remember him saying, so I’m filing him under “colossally stupid”, at least for now. (Oh, and his father is dying, but I don’t really know what to do with that right now.)

JACLYN: “I really hope people don’t hate us because we’re such a perfect couple.” I think people might find some reasons outside of that, hon.

ALEC: Bless him for being so excited about having been a model, as though that’s something extraordinary on this show.

DREW: Really can’t remember a single thing he did, sorry.

So that’s episode one in brief. Very brief. Hopefully when we come around to episode two next week I might be able to tell everyone apart a little bit better, remember who’s connected to who, and then I can actually start to think about how the game is going. Hopefully.

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