Survivor returns for its 28th season with the goal of settling once and for all if this game is about brains, brawn, beauty, or none of the above.
Welcome to Survivor: Cagayan. This time around, we have three teams trying to Outwit (Brains, I guess), Outplay (let’s give that to Brawn), and Outlast (Beauty?). Also, we get a two-hour premiere, so let’s get cracking.
The three teams approach the starting location in three different forms of transportation. Brains (Green Tribe – Luzon) arrives by helicopter, Brawn (Orange Tribe – Aparri) arrives by truck, and Beauty (Purple Tribe – Solana) arrives by boat, sans Baywatch theme song. Before any introductions can take place, host Jeff Probst tells each tribe to elect a leader, because we all know how important that sort of thing is to Probst. Beauty picks a dude named LJ, Brawn picks a woman named Sarah, and Brains picks a guy in a blazer (who happens to manage a professional baseball team) named David. The leader role is only relevant for the next task, which is to immediately pick out the supposed weak link of the tribe. LJ picks a woman named Morgan, Sarah picks who I believe may be the oldest contestant named Trish (who is my pick to win for no good reason), and David picks tall and muscular nerd Garrett. The three are not out of the game or getting sent to Redemption Island. Each will get dropped off at her/his respective camp and given the opportunity to make some decisions before tribemates arrive. Hop to!
Luzon: We start with Garrett who learns that the choice the outcasts have is to either help the tribe by accepting an extra bag of rice or help themselves by getting a map and clue as to the whereabouts of a Hidden Immunity Idol. As he makes his way to the waterfall where the idol resides, Garrett informs us of his brainy credentials, despite the fact that he’s muscular to the point of unsettling. He’s also a professional poker player, so…have fun with that. He finds the idol before the rest of the crew shows up. After introductions and initial supply gathering, it’s time to build a shelter. J’Tia, a nuclear technician, volunteers to manage the project because she already has a plan. It should be noted nuclear technician may be a fancy way of saying “micromanager” because she calls every single shot as the tribe builds what will obviously be a failure of a shelter.
Aparri: Trish is a little hurt that she was called out instantly, but she decides to use her choice as a means to ingratiate herself, so she chooses rice for the tribe. We don’t find out if that improves her situation, instead getting a lovely introduction to Cliff, a former NBA player. A few of the other tribe members recognize him, but no one seems to be using that as a justification for giving him an early boot. Sarah chats with Tony. She’s a cop and suspects he may be too given his demeanor and general appearance. Tony doesn’t want people to know he’s a cop, but he busts Sarah’s chops and they seem to hit it off quite well. I think “Aparri” may translate to “Instant Rapport.”
Solana: Morgan’s annoyed she was picked off first? So she decides to look for the HII? She gets a clue it is hidden in a rock wall jutting out into the water? However, the wall has a lot of nooks and crannies, so she can’t find the idol before her tribe arrives? She runs over to meet them and comes up with a halfway decent lie that she chose the default supplies over comfort? LJ doesn’t believe the story, but doesn’t bust Morgan immediately? The tribe is able to make fire in short order?
The first challenge of the evening has each team maneuvering a large cart through an obstacle course. Along the way, the teams need to climb up a ladder to retrieve a key to unlock a treasure chest positioned below and then place the chest on the cart. Once three chests are collected, the teams will reach a passthrough, where they have to disassemble the wagon, transfer the pieces and chests to the other side, reassemble, and get the cart to a mat. Once there, the chests are moved to platforms and puzzle pieces are removed. The first team to finish wins immunity and a firemaking kit. The second team to finish gets flint along with immunity. The last team goes to Tribal Council.
The teams are more-or-less even as they work their way through the course. However, things literally fall apart for Luzon/Brains as they struggle with the pass through. David keeps pushing the chests through lid first, causing all the puzzle pieces to fall out and eating up valuable time. You would think he’d learn his lesson after it happens the first time, but no, it happens a second time. By the time they get to the puzzle, Beauty/Solana narrowly beats out Brawn/Aparri for the win.