Survivor: Worlds Apart – Episode 1: “It’s Survivor Warfare”

All right, let’s see how far I get into the season this time.

To celebrate the 30th season of Survivor, it’s time to answer the age-old question. That’s right: “brains, brawn, and beauty, which am bestest?” …Sorry? It’s what-now? Oh. Apparently this time it’s “white collar workers, blue collar workers, and no collar workers (which is definitely a thing, honest), which am bestest?” Now, my more cynical readers might say “isn’t that essentially the exact same distinction? Couldn’t you have just called this Cagayan v2.0 and nobody would’ve batted an eyelid?” To which I say: shame on you! These are clearly very distinct ideas! Some of the people on the “No Collar” tribe are actually quite homely! Besides, we’ll clearly abandon this gimmick in about three episodes’ time when one tribe is on the verge of getting Ulonged, so it’s probably not worth that much of our attention. Although I did enjoy Jeff proclaiming on the beach at the beginning that the purpose of the season would be to determine which of these groups of people is most valuable in society, and then later quietly amending that objective to finding which of them is “best at Survivor”. (So wait, did Tony’s victory in Cagayan mean that brawn is the most important quality in a contestant? Because if so they sort of brushed that idea under the carpet in the edit.)

Anyway, I’m sure the producers were delighted by the fact that the No Collar tribe (“Nagarote”) immediately became all kumbayah, that the Blue Collar tribe (“Escameca”) fell out over who was best at menial labour, and the White Collar tribe (“Masaya”) completely failed to light a fire, despite containing not one but two self-professed Survivor experts. They were probably also quite happy by the results of the first test of the season (which was basically the same test that they did in Cagayan, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence *innocent face*), where two people from each tribe (Joaquin and So from Messiah Masaya, Dan and Mike from Escameca, and Will and Jenn from Nagarote) were, upon arriving at their camp, sent off to face an “Honest or Deceive” challenge – the “honest” option giving them a big bag of beans for the whole camp, and the “deceive” option giving them a much smaller bag of beans and a clue to the hidden immunity idol. Will and Jenn and Dan and Mike both went for the honesty option, on the assumption that it’s probably better to start out as a team player than a villain – although interestingly Size Queen Sierra (I think? It’s still quite difficult to keep all of these people straight) on Escameca didn’t think that the bag of beans Dan and Mike had brought back was a very big one, so they’d obviously taken the small one and LIED ABOUT IT. Joaquin and So, being Card-Carrying Capitalist Villains, decided to lie and take the small bag and the clue, with So inventing the cover story that there were actually *three* options: honest, deceive and “neutral”, improvising some utter garbage about how they were told that “honest” and “deceive” both carried unspecified penalties of some sort, while “neutral” was…well, neutral. Survivor Scholar Shirin immediately saw this for the horseshit that it was, although the fact that So is a TERRIBLE liar probably made it quite easy for her. Still, for all of Shirin’s claims to know the game inside out, she didn’t do what Carolyn did, which was to follow Joaquin and So any time they wandered off together, then look around for an oddly-shaped tree and find the idol before they did. Attagirl.

Also, apropos of nothing, I don’t particularly care for the cheap gimmick where people have to spend the entire season in their work clothes (except for Lill wearing that Scout Leader outfit the whole time during Pearl Islands ♥), but I’m all in favour of the way Joaquin spent the first episode in those tight formal trousers that really highlighted his badonkadonk. Less appealing, however, was the fact that every guy was in either tight trousers or underwear at some point during the episode, so I think I’ve seen the outline of pretty much everyone’s junk bar Will’s at this point. Less is more sometimes, you know? As much as I enjoyed the enduring presence of Aras’s cock in Panama, at least sometimes we went a whole episode without seeing it.

Obviously when you’ve only got 90 minutes (minus ads) to get to know 18 new people, some of them are going to get lost in the shuffle, but I appreciate the efforts that certain contestants made to introduce themselves in the season premiere. For example Mike, over on Escameca, informed us that he’d made a pre-game decision to take any opportunity for extra protein that presented itself. (I bet that night-vision footage made for interesting viewing.) So when a scorpion wandered into his bamboo chute, he lopped off the tail and then ate it whole. This turned out to be a poor idea, because he then ralphed it right back up and collapsed in a corner holding his stomach. Well, I guess he wouldn’t have got very far on Bear Grylls: Mission Survive. So while he’s probably marked himself out as a liability to the rest of his tribe, at least he gave the viewers some entertainment, and I appreciate that.

As expected, there was some dissent when it came to building the shelters. On Nagarote, Vince and Joe clashed over the preferred approach to building, except it turned out that the fight was really over THE HONOUR OF JENN, because she’d made an early alliance with Vince and the fact that she was discussing shelter-building best-practice with Joe clearly meant that she was sexually attracted to him and thus was about to renege on any agreement she had with Vince and ride Joe’s bejewelled wang instead the second the opportunity presented itself. So we’re all agreed that Vince is proprietorial and super-creepy, right? Jenn certainly seems to think so after that incident. (I like Jenn. She seems to have her head screwed on.) Meanwhile over on Escameca, Dan was complaining that he was too heavy for the shelter that Lindsey, Sierra and Kelly appeared to be building, and Lindsey responded by laughing in his face. (I like Lindsey too.) I think the problem was that Dan didn’t really seem to have much of a counter-argument on how they *should* be building the shelter, he just didn’t want it built *that* way. He at least had enough common sense to admit that this is a bad start for him because he’s already alienated half of his tribe, and Mike extended an olive branch of sorts to him, but I’m not sure how useful Mike is going to be as an ally since you can’t entirely trust him not to just eat everything he sees and get himself medevaced with acute food poisoning by Day 9.

Finally we got to the Immunity Challenge, and frankly I didn’t really care about the challenge itself once I saw the SUPER-COOL IMMUNITY IDOL for this season. Since there’s three tribes it divides into two parts again, and there’s a clear incentive for finishing first in a challenge because the winning team gets the awesome Mr-Peanut-meets-Groucho-Marx part of the idol, while the second team just gets the chair he was sitting on. BOR-ING! The challenge was comically convoluted, involving opening boxes and carrying ladders and pushing it through a table with loads of bars blocking its progress, then picking one of three different types of puzzle to solve at the end of it all. At the beginning Jeff explained that the three puzzles averaged out at the same approximate level of difficulty, but had been designed so that if the person with the right sort of brain picked the appropriate puzzle they’d be able to motor through it. At least, that’s what he said at the beginning, and then changed his mind when he decided that Masaya had picked the “easy” puzzle as soon as it became apparent that Shirin was struggling with it. So Masaya’s initial lead disappeared and allowed a lagging Escameca to catch up, and since Escameca and Nagarote both chose the more spatial-awareness based puzzle (with far fewer pieces to put into place), they both clinched immunity (with Nagarote getting the cool idol and Escameca getting the crap one), leaving Masaya to head to Tribal Council.

Thus began the clusterfuck amongst the White Collars, since they all decided that a woman had to go first, because…reasons. Apparently getting rid of a man first would make them weak (MURRICA! FUCK YEAH!) so it was between Shirin, Carolyn and So for the first boot. They came up with compelling(ish) cases for each of them: Shirin choked on the puzzle, Carolyn is OLD and therefore USELESS, and So is a big fat liar. So immediately attempted to take charge and shift the target onto Carolyn, because Carolyn had apparently been dodging responsibility for everything since they arrived. Carolyn sensed that something was wrong (possibly because So and Joaquin are just the worst liars in the world and, when Carolyn directly asked them if they’d discussed voting her out, they could not have behaved more shiftily if they’d tried. Joaquin actually HID HIS MOUTH BEHIND A BRANCH), and coaxed the truth out of Tyler by telling him about her idol, and they discussed the possibility of getting Shirin and Max to vote out So, since Carolyn already had an alliance with Shirin, and Shirin had an alliance with Max.

They went off to Tribal Council with the ultimate outcome up in the air, until So fucked up by saying “the four of us” during the discussions instead of “the six of us”, at which point Joaquin openly admitted that there was an alliance of everyone apart from Shirin and Carolyn. Meanwhile, Max went to great lengths to become the viewer avatar he so desperately yearns to be by making grand statements that he clearly thought were profound but in reality were emptier than Mike’s stomach ten minutes after his scorpion dinner. (I have to say, as far as superfans go, neither Max nor Shirin is filling me with confidence regarding their potential right now.) Then they went to the vote, and Joaquin and So voted for Carolyn, while everyone else voted for So (Shirin actually voted for SO…MUCH DRAMA!, and I still haven’t decided yet whether that’s the behaviour of a classic wit or an attention-seeking douche), meaning So was first out the door. And that’s gotta hurt for So, considering she was originally cast on San Juan Del Sur only for her sister to get medevaced right before the game started – so the producers clearly thought she had merit as a player if she was worth rescuing from a cast that was widely disliked and given another shot, but…maybe they needn’t have bothered.

Next week: everybody hates Nina. Well, that should be interesting.

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