With very little fanfare (did you see any commercials or advertising for the season premiere?) CBS kicked-off its 18th season of Survivor, this time taking 16 American castaways to the Brazilian highlands known as Tocantins.
In Episode I, billed as the ultimate test for overcoming first impressions, host Jeff Probst immediately instructed the predetermined tribes (I prefer when they draft teams) to vote someone out of their respective groups. Almost unanimously both the Timbria tribe (wearing black) and Jalapao (red) voted for their perceived weakest links. Timbria singled out Sierra, the petite L.A. model who seemed to be struggling with the heat right off the bat. Jalapao voted for the “older lady” (Sandy) simply because she was, well, older.
While Sandy expressed her displeasure with the vote and Sierra explained her sweatiness as a symptom of the strep throat she was battling, host Jeff delivered our first twist of season 18. Sierra and Sandy were not the first to get the boot at all. Instead they would receive a helicopter ride to their respective campsites while their tribe-mates faced a 4-hour hike in 120-degree temperatures through the Brazilian wilderness.
At this point, Sierra made a very wise decision and used her head start at camp to begin building a shelter, organizing the campsite and making herself seem like a team player as she waited for the rest of Timbria to arrive.
Sandy, on the other hand, used her time to search for a hidden immunity idol and solidify her place in Survivor history as one of the weirdest individuals to ever play the game. In fact, later in the show Jeff asks her if she realizes that she’s a little crazy. She does. Later in her search for the idol Sandy is befuddled when the clue tells her to take ten paces towards a lone palm tree…”What’s a pace?” she asks the camera with the look of someone trying to figure out the Pythagorean Theory.
The rest of the episode was fairly uneventful as we get to meet the other 14 combatants and watch them get accustomed to their surroundings and each other.
The immunity challenge was a typical mix of endurance (running through sand dunes) logic (plank puzzle) and coolness under pressure (table maze). Surprisingly the two original outcasts were front and centre for their tribes in the challenge. Both did well, but it was Timbria, led by my preseason pick Erinn, who came from behind to win the challenge.
As the show built towards Tribal Council, we are led to believe the “older lady” is once again getting all the votes. But as has become customary on recent seasons of Survivor, the blindside was in effect and Carolina, the outspoken Hollywood bartender is the first to go. Sandy lives to contemplate paces another day.
Predictions for Episode II — Look for alliances to begin forming in week two. Next week’s challenges appear to be physically demanding and extremely revealing — bathing suits were being torn and pulled in all directions during the preview. Jalapao appears to be the weaker tribe this season as they failed to take any food with them from the supply truck upon arriving in Brazil and they seem unorganized, unsophisticated and physically feeble. If they lose immunity this week, Sandy “the old lady” will be sent pacing and packing.
The Scribe has spoken…