By Beth Aaltonen
7:11 AM EDT, September 20, 2012
The crazy is coming out early this season.
We're back for the 25th season of "Survivor." Really? 25th? That makes me feel old.
Anyways, the twist this year is they've brought back players who had to be removed from the game for medical reasons. When they announced this at last season's finale, I thought for sure that Brandon was going to be one of the players coming back, but apparently he's not.
We open with Jeff explaining that while the Philippines is beautiful, between the weather and the natural surroundings, there are about a thousand things that can kill you. Good setting to bring the injured players back to. Maybe they'll be able to really kill one of them this time.
Along with the returning players, there are two celebrities as well. Lisa Welchel, who was Blair on "The Facts of Life," and Jeff, who was a professional baseball player. And who are the returning players? Russell, from "Survivor Samoa," Jonathon from "Fans vs. Favorites," and Mike from "Survivor Australia."
I didn't watch Samoa or Fans vs. Favorites, so Mike is the only one I'm familiar with. All three seem to have been strong players who got taken out of the game by things beyond their control. (And I still think they're going to pull Brandon in somehow. We’ll see.)
Jeff plays a little question and answer with the Survivor (minus the returning players) about how bad it can get and gets Roxanne to give the example of Russell passing out in the challenge. That seems like a bit of a plant answer, but I'm naturally suspicious.
Anyways, that answer gives Jeff his opening to introduce the returning players, and why they were taken out. Russell, as mentioned, passed out from dehydration during a challenge. Jonathon had a massive infection that was threatening to enter his bloodstream, and Mike fell into the fire and burned a lot of skin off his hands. Each goes to a separate tribe. I'm awful with remembering the tribe names, so of course they have three this season.
Everyone has to make a mad grab for supplies and get off the boat. It looks like four or five people manage to hurt themselves trying to get from the boat to the rafts, most noticeably Jeff, the baseball player, who heard a "pop" when he hit his knee. I wonder if they managed to get any of the chickens to shore without drowning them.
The blue tribe, with Russell, is Matsing. And I just noticed that they are also all wearing blue clothing. That will help. Russell may be a little crazy, but I'm finding him entertaining thus far. Might get annoying after a while, though.
Though Russell says he won't be the leader this time, he immediately takes charge and starts ordering people around. Malcolm, a bartender who lived in Micronesia for a year teaching English, steps forward and helps them make fire, although Russell does the actual work.
The red tribe is Kalabaw, with Jonathan (although some of them are wearing maroon and pink). Jeff is in worse shape than he's letting on, but he suspects that he tore, or at least strained his MCL. Jonathan is so damn happy to be back, but he's also pretty low key, although Jeff is already painting a target on his back. Yeah, maybe you should mention that you're a professional baseball players with buckets of money, and see how long they keep you then.
The yellow tribe is Tandang (which I will think of as the Tang tribe from now on.) Mike says that, if he had a choice, he still would have picked this tribe. I get the feeling that Mike's a glass-half-full kind of guy. RC, an investment banker, is already in her underwear (really? Isn't that a little early) although she says she's tough, she's already talking about trusting people and giggling.
Sorry. I can't take her seriously while she's giving her confessional in her bra. RC and Abi-Maria are running around trying to put an alliance together. Jeez, people, get fire and a shelter set up, and then start talking alliance.
We come back from break to lots of bugs. Yuck. That would be enough motivation for me to make sure I had a decent shelter a bit off the ground. Jeff is being very useful despite his injury. He also full out admits that he doesn't really need the money, but he still wants to win. Dawson, thanks to an ex-boyfriend, knows exactly who he is, but she's going to sit on the information until it's useful to her to use it.
Back at Tangdang, the girls are encouraging Lisa to peel some layers off, but she's not comfortable. She's in a different position than Jeff, because she does need the money, and has been out of the spotlight since "The Facts of Life" went off the air. Mike seems to be the only one who recognizes her. All the young'uns have no idea who she is.
At Matsang, Denise, the sex therapist, is curious about Zane, and he definitely is a different duck. They quickly come to an agreement about being in an alliance. This could be good. He seems pretty capable physically, and she should be able to read people.
Wait, Zane is making alliances with everybody in the tribe. That's not actually how it works, sweetie. Malcolm and Denise also make an alliance, and that one seems like it could work. As long as Malcolm doesn't get too cocky, he could be a strong player.
Tangdang has spent so much time forming alliances that they don't have fire or shelter. Mike is going gangbusters, and getting twigs embedded in his head and cutting his hand on bamboo, as well as slicing his foot open. Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something, Mike; maybe the universe doesn't want you to be on "Survivor."
At Kalabaw, Jonathan is alienating his tribemates by spending all his time looking for the Immunity Idol and not bonding with them. He does find a clue to the immunity idol. If he doesn't look out, he'll be gone before he gets a chance to find it. Russell finds the same clue at Matsang.
Dude, there is still almost 40 minutes left in this episode. This feels like the longest episode ever, and it's only the first one. Enough with the idiots running around in the rain! I want to see a challenge!
And after the break I get my wish. Immunity Challenge time! This time it's a cargo net/paddling/swimming/puzzle challenge. I feel like they're pulling challenge elements out of a hat at this point. Russell is being totally annoying while his tribe picks who does what.
Tangdang is the first back from the cargo net with the paddles, and Matsing next, although Russell literally has to pull Zane with him. The girls from Kalabaw are significantly behind, but Jeff (and someone else) catch up during the paddling portion. Tangdang maintains their lead through the swimming and into the puzzle portion, but Kalabaw ekes out a victory at the end, with Tangdang second.
Matsing is going to tribal council, and I predict Russell is going home because he's done nothing but tell people what to do, all the while saying he doesn't want to be the leader.
And back at camp, Russell is still trying to tell people what to do, and how they need to be better at challenges. Ooh, wait, Zane is crumbling. He says he's not physically strong enough to play. But it's just a ruse? I think he's over thinking, well, everything, He says he's playing chess the only way he knows how; I have feeling he's not a very good chess player.
But Russell may still go home, because he's pissed everyone off. And Angie is telling Zane he needs to stay. I can't figure out whether Zane is crazy, or crazy like a fox.
Tribal Council time! Zane continues his theme of not making any sense at all, while still being entertaining. If Russell wants to stay around, he needs to stop talking. It may be too late already.
But no! Zane is just plain crazy, and it's him who is going home. I guess the fun guy who sucks at challenges isn't as valuable as the strong guy who is annoying. I think Zane also screwed himself trying to go all reverse psychology on his teammates when he didn't have to.
Next week: Jonathon goes nuts, and Lisa is playing the unpopular girl on this show.
Credits: Zane completely messed up, and essentially took himself out of the game when he didn't want to go.
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