Season 27 of Survivor began Wednesday with the introduction of Blood vs Water, otherwise known as veterans vs their loved ones. Or, better yet, M. Night Shyamalan’s Survivor: Kitchen Sink.
Let’s approach these game twists in the order they were presented to us, shall we?
Twist the first: Half ASS (All Star Season)
This season is another one with a cast made of returning contestants and relative unknowns. Ooo, see what I did there? They are unknowns in the world of Survivor, but they are also relatives to the returning contestants.
Twist the second: Day 0
The night before the game started proper, each veteran/loved one pair was left to their own devices on their own part of the island. We saw about 90 seconds of this, mostly in the form of “uh, do we sleep here or over there.”
Twist the third: Tribal Split
When the ten pairs of players reconvene on Exposition Beach, Probst informs them they will not play as pairs but as adversaries. The veterans will be one team (Galang) and the newbies will be their own tribe (Tadhana).
Twist the fourth: Immediate Vote
With 20 contestants, the show will need to do something to accelerate the whittling of the cast. To that end, each team has to immediately vote someone off. Tadhana decides targeting Rupert’s wife Laura is the way to go, despite the fact that Big Brother winner Hayden is standing right there. Over on Galang, that team’s Laura (Samoa) also received several votes, but it’s Candice (Cook Islands, Heroes v. Villains) who gets the boot.
Twist the fifth: Redemption Island
Back by (what’s the opposite of) popular demand. That means Laura and Candice are still in the game as long as they do not lose the feats of strength and daring-do on Redemption Island. HOWEVER…
Twist the sixth: Tag Team
If your loved one is still in the game, s/he can swap with you. Rupert (Pearl Islands, All Stars, Heroes vs Villains) takes the offer without hesitation, which means Laura joins the other Laura on Galang. Candice’s husband John would rather play the game, so he stays put. Not exactly chivalrous, particularly since that now means Candice and Rupert will be roomies again.
This is only about 15 minutes into a 90-minute episode. Slow your roll, Probst.
Nothing too exciting happens at Galang. Colton and Monica try to mend fences from their first time playing together during One World. Later, Colton laments life as a gay dude in the deep south and makes everyone uncomfortable with his high-pitched sobs.
Over at Tadhana, Monica’s hubby Brad decides to stuff 39 days of game into the first hour on the beach. However, his overplaying does bring the guys on the tribe together, giving them a 5-4 advantage should the tribe find itself at Tribal Council. We also learn that Tadhana loosely translates to “MTV Sob Story Pilot,” as Samoa Laura’s daughter Ciera reveals she was a teen mom while Vytas one-ups her by telling his story about being locked up for a year for drug use. Vytas is Aras’ brother and I’m already sick of their over-competitive story arc.
Water challenges are in this season (it is “vs. Water” after all) and this one is a doozy. Six members of each tribe have to do an aquatic obstacle course and swim out to a boat tied out in the ocean. Once all six reach the boat and unmoor it, they have to paddle back and transfer a treasure chest from the boat to a mat on the beach. The remaining three players have to solve a three-section puzzle to create a ship’s steering wheel, which will raise the team’s flag once completed. First team to accomplish this wins immunity.
Tadhana takes a commanding lead in the swimming and the paddling. Gervase, who I don’t recall being a strong swimmer way back in the first season of the show, struggled throughout the challenge and slowed Galang to a crawl. Galang also had no clue how to paddle a boat, and it’s the first time I realized the veterans cast is lacking in the alpha males this time around. Yes, there’s Aras (Panama) and arguably Tyson (Tocantins, Heroes vs Villains), but that’s about it. They eventually reach the beach as Tadhana works on the puzzle. However, Galang sets up an assembly line in constructing the wheel, allowing them to overtake Tadhana and win immunity. Gervase, who was the weakest link of this challenge, is particularly obnoxious in celebrating.
Scrambling and Tribal Council
The guys are still planning on working together, so one of the women will probably be going home. The targets are Katie, daughter of Outback winner Tina, and Gervase’s niece Marissa. Katie may have oversold her abilities in puzzle solving while Marissa is Gervase’s loved one. Seriously, that’s the reason. There’s talk at TC about how voting someone out could emotionally hurt a player on the other tribe, therefore they vote out Marissa unanimously.
So we have one of the most idiotic votes ever in the opener of a season that already has six twists introduced to the game. It should also be noted that Marissa and Gervase are the only people of color playing this season, so there’s an undertone to this vote that really bothers me.