We're in Southeast Asia this season, and apparently it's the sixth circle of hell, with scorching heat and humidity and bug bites that can kill you. Awesome.
And sweet baby Jeebus, the theme of this season is "Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn," which is my personal sixth circle of hell. I'm sure the extra 30 minutes of this episode is all the contestants explaining why they fit into their respective tribes. Ugh.
After a few minutes of hearing how smart/strong/pretty everyone is, we get down to business and everyone is grabbing stuff off a boat and a chicken almost drowns. There's lots of throwing supplies (including chickens) and eventually all three tribes are on their way.
So it's Day 1 at Brawn, and we've got a bounty hunter, a former NBA player, a bodybuilder, a postal worker and student, a real estate agent and a construction worker. They set to building a shelter, and most importantly in this heat, shade.
Over at Brains, there's going to be a whole lot of talking — it sounds like every meeting I was ever in when I worked at an office. Peter, the emergency room doctor, looks like Barack Obama. Debbie, a chemist, is apparently just a know-it-all (An expert shelter builder! And fire builder!) and likes to talk about it. A lot. She's a little intense.
At Beauty, they are getting right down to work, and everything is beautiful. Tai, a gardener, is climbing the palm trees like a monkey and cutting down palm fronds and coconuts like a boss. The girls on the Beauty Tribe are bonding while they weave the palm fronds.
Caleb is on my bad list from the moment he opens his mouth. First, he complains that Tai isn't good looking enough to be on the Beauty Tribe, and then ignores the professional gardener's advice and starts hacking apart a tree because he can.
Tai was a refugee in 1979, and living through that experience has given him a zest for life. I have a feeling he's really, really high energy.
On the Brawn beach, there is a lot of sweating and heavy carrying going on. They are all getting sunburned under the strong sun. "Blondie" as they're calling her, the real estate agent, is being judged for not being "brawny" enough. Darnell and Cydney are also bonding, and then Darnell is pooping in the ocean ... where he's visible from their beach.
Someone let the chickens get loose on the beauty camp, but they managed to get two out of the three back. Tai wants to tie the chickens together, which will make them happier and easier to get. The girls like Tai and think they're going to add him to their alliance.
Apparently Caleb was on "Big Brother," but I don't watch that show so I have no preconceived notions of him. Hopefully he can do better than my first impression of him. He manages to make fire, so he's got that going for him. You hear that Brains and Brawn? Beauty was the first to get fire.
Joe, from the Brain tribe, is a 71-year-old former FBI hostage negotiator who is in crazy good shape. Debbie, who called herself a chemist but is listed as a waitress, is full-out crazy. I'm calling it now. She insists she doesn't need a saw, and then hacks away at a log for a while before she's proven wrong.
And she's already getting on the wrong side of her tribe, as Neal and some girl who's name I don't know yet talk about getting rid of Joe and Debbie first. I don't think they should be lumping Joe in with Debbie — those are two very different creatures.
Tai is already looking for idols. and he's literally digging up trees looking for it. It's a little manic, but at least he does try to replant the trees while apologizing to them. It's making everyone else a little wary — Tai is too eager and now no one else on the tribe trusts him.
It's Day 2, and guess what? It's hot. Brains is on the beach trying to weave palm frond, and as Joe points out, why aren't they doing that in the shade? Aubry, a social media marketer, is not prepared for this heat, and she might have given herself a little bit of heatstroke.
And now Debbie's listed as a chemist again? Whatever.
And then Aubry goes on and on and on about being dehydrated and having sunstroke, and all the other people on her tribe are giving her the side eye because they've only been there for a day and the rest of them are fine. They think it was more of a panic attack.
It's the middle of the night, and Jennifer, on the Brawn tribe, thinks she has a bug in her ear, and she thinks that it's going deeper. That's horrible. Like nightmare-inducing horrible. And apparently her ear is bleeding. I think someone needs to call medical into check that out.
Ahhhh! And then we see something crawl out of her ear and then crawl back in! It's a little wormy type thing, but it's pretty big to be in your ear. Jennifer immediately feels better. (Hopefully it didn't go in there to lay eggs... shhh, I didn't say that. Don't even think it.)
Challenge time! (Finally!) There's diving for paddles, and then paddling, and then climbing and — something new — a choice between a puzzle or stacking balls that would require dexterity. In addition to immunity, first prize gets matches, flint, a tarp and some firewood. Second place gets a flint.
Brawn almost flips their boat trying to get in all at once, but then Darnell loses the mask when he dives in, making it even harder for them. I think Darnell is going home. Tai is a powerhouse and Beauty is the first ones to get all four paddles and head in. The Brain tribe is close behind, but they are having some problems keeping their boat straight. Brawn finally heads in last, but they still have a chance because the other two are having problems getting their boast up on their cradles.
Brain is the first one to get their wheels on and start moving. Beauty has fallen to last, but not far behind Brawn. Everyone choses puzzle. The Brain tribe started first, but they are way ahead of the other two and they win immunity and the big prize. Beauty and Brawn are neck and neck with the puzzle, but it's Beauty who manages to eke out the win. Either Darnell or Alecia will be going home.
Both Darnell and Alecia immediately admit their failings at the challenge to try and mitigate the disaster. Scot is leaning toward getting rid of Darnell, because his mistake was much bigger. But Alecia thinks of herself as a "master manipulator," which means she's probably going to mess this up for herself.
Tribal Council time! Blah, blah, blah we're strongcakes. Bounty hunter guy can't even call Alicia by her name, she's just "Blondie." Darnell is admitting his mistake, but we'll see if it can help him. Oy. And then Alicia calls herself a "mental giant." Bye, Alicia. (See what I did there?)
Darnell makes an impassioned speech about being upset that he let his tribe down, which comes across to the rest of the tribe a whole lot better than Alecia's "I'm awesome" speech. But it's voting time, so we'll see how that goes ... and it goes to a tie, 3-3. So now we revote, except Alecia and Darnell can't vote, and they are the only options. First three votes are for Darnell, and he's the first person voted out this season.