Season 25 begins with Jeff on a boat, in "one of the most beautiful & remote locations in the world - The Philippines." He goes on to tell us that the islands are home to animals both beautiful & dangerous, & we have the Tarsier for a full demonstration:
|"Oh, hello. I'm a sweet, tiny Tarsier." *Squeal*|
|"Rawr! OmNomNom" WTF, Tarsier!|
We are introduced to several members of the new cast, but I won't spend too long on them, as I wrote a cast assessment when they were first announced. First up is Jeff Kent, a former baseball player who is hoping to go unrecognized because of, you know, probably being a millionaire.
Zane Knight explains his tattoo of Frankenstein, but since his tattoo isn't of a doctor or Gene Wilder, it's technically a tattoo of Frankenstein's Monster, & not Dr. Frankenstein...but I digress.
Here's his explanation: "He picked a little girl a flower. I mean, he strangled her after he gave it to her, but still...That's the way I feel about myself - I could strangle you or pick a flower, it just depends on what you pull out of me."
Lisa Whelchel played Blair on The Facts of Life & would like to keep that a secret. You would think that wouldn't be easy, as The Facts of Life ran for 9 seasons...it would be like Lisa Kudrow going on Survivor in 10 years & nobody recognizing Phoebe.
There is a montage of past medical evacuations, & we see Colton's exit from last season because of
appendicitis a bacterial infection. Who don't we see? Kourtney Moon, also from last season, she of the adorbz everything. Girl can't catch a break unless she's given zero instructions before a 25' fall.
Now for the returning players who were all medically evacuated: Russell Swan (dehydration), Jonathan Penner (infected leg wound), & Mike Skupin (fell into fire).
|Russell's medical evacuation.|
Russell: "Survivor smacked me in the chops - this time I'm smacking back."
|Penner's medical evacuation.|
Penner: "You know how on fire I am to win this thing? You know how much I can taste this? And you know how I can actually see it?"
|Skupin's medical evacuation. OK, not really, but I find this easier to look at than his actual dripping skin.|
Skupin: "I think the world saw that me falling into the fire was my greatest failure; I didn't see it that way. I think to dwell on 'what if' would cheat what the adventure was for me."
The cast has clearly been told to wear their tribe colours, as we have 5 people wearing yellow, 5 in red, & 5 in blue. Probst chats with them for a bit, & cue Russell, Penner & Skupin. Half the cast looks annoyed, half looks excited - Dawson is downright giddy. Of course she is, because she's a big Survivor fan & Penner is wearing red - her tribe colour. PENNER. Russell joins the blue, Skupin joins the yellow.
Probst gives them 60 seconds to gather up as many supplies as they can, launch a raft, & head to their respective camps. The red tribe attempts to lower their raft with the supplies already on it, & Jeff twists his leg & the supplies fall into the water. Carter dives in after a chicken, grabs & tosses it to Dawson on the raft - it was the greatest display of chicken-catching skillz since Chelsea.
At the Blue camp ("Matsing", but whatever - we're going by colours this season), Russell quickly fashions himself a palm frond crown & summons the commoners to court. Once everyone in attendance takes the knee, he begins, "I tried to do this leadership thing before...look where that got me!" King Russell wants Blue to be a team. A team where everyone works together to do his bidding.
Look, I get it - how do you not take a leadership role when you have had an experience that is new to everyone else? This is the only reason they would keep you around. But when Malcolm speaks up & says he has lived in Micronesia, can make fire, & can weave King Russell a cloak from coconut fiber should he so desire, Russell should sit down & shut up. Instead, he has a one-on-one that makes me fear he's dehydrated already, with an odd "you're my hero" shtick & high-pitched giggles. Get the man some water!
Malcolm talks Russell through the steps, letting him make the fire. Very impressive. "When he was the one who actually got the fire going, in a way a little bit of a target came off my back 'cause I'm not a threat to him."
Over at the Red camp, Jeff is trying to hide his injured leg from the tribe. Penner is already getting emotional & this is why I love him. The man loves this game (& also when he tears up his eyes are soooo pretty). "It's very moving. It's moving to be here. It's moving to be doing this again." While Penner is having a moment, Jeff is carefully placing a bulls-eye on his fedora. "If anybody's gonna win this game, it oughta be one of us."
At the Yellow camp, Abi-Maria tells RC she's like a sexy librarian, & RC laughs & says, "No, you're sexy", & just like that, a Sexy Alliance is born. RC wants Skupin to join, because of his experience (we all know that's code for sexy), & Abi mentions Pete for his dual-edged sword of strength & dumbness.
"Abi keeps staring at me. And I think that's gonna be a big advantage. She definitely looks like she's ready to play some evil games. She's pretty hot, she could definitely do some damage." One more "definitely" & I could have called him Rainman. Damnit. The girls approach him with a sexy proposition for the Sexy Alliance, & Pete stands there with his mouth open, so that's a yes!
RC approaches Skupin for the Sexy Alliance & he can't say no. "My strategy coming into this was make sure that you go with the game. If your tribe is going slow, go slow with them." Now he's going to have to go full sexy.
Over at Red, Jeff may be hiding his injury, but his identity? Not so much. Dawson confides, "I used to spend time with a guy who was really into baseball, & I know who Jeff Kent is." Hold the phone. Are you telling me that because my husband loves golf, I will always have to know who Ian Poulter & Ricky Barnes are? Ugh.
At Yellow, Lisa tells the Sexy Alliance that she has a Ministry for Moms & with that, she's shut out of the Sexy Alliance. Sexy Alliance discusses Lisa, & RC says she doesn't trust her. Skupin feels a connection with Lisa because of their age, & his "Blair" crush is a little obvious. "Lisa's way famous. She should be playing that trump card because young impressionable people might be 'wow'. I'm kind of 'wow'. But maybe her show is so old that they wouldn't even know who she is anyways." He tells Lisa all of this, but she thinks it would end up being a disadvantage, & after all, she's been truthful about her present life. "Nobody has really volunteered what they did as a kid." Point to Lisa!
There is hustling going on at Blue as Frankenstein's Monster is giving flowers to everyone he can see. Zane says because of all the jobs he's held in his life, he's "the perfect Survivor player". He makes an alliance with Denise, then one with Roxanne, then one with Angie. Finally, he checks off Russell & Malcolm, & his Alliance Scavenger Hunt is completed. BTW you guys, I made alliances with every other person here, but I like us the best, k? Malcolm isn't having any of it, & tells Denise. She is really, really trying to give Zane the benefit of the doubt, suggesting "I think he's brighter than we believe..." Malcolm & Denise seem to realize they can strategize with each other, so they form the Smart Alliance. Not sure whether to shake on it, fist bump or high five, they settle on a hug & a dance & it is super cute.
At Yellow, Skupin isn't happy with the progress his tribe has made. A crappy shelter & ZERO injuries? Skupin leads the way.
|Blister? It's nothing.|
|Head gash? Just a scrape.|
|Gaping wound? My right foot is excellent at hopping.|
|Machete wound? Actually, this is pretty tame for that. Pass.|
Pete says something, but I'm distracted by his determined ear-picking.
|I bet Pete asked if "Engineering Graduate" could be onscreen every time he is.|
Over at Red, Katie doesn't like that Penner is so obviously looking for the idol & I don't like that she's dressed like a Grandmother. Leave Penner alone - you should be looking for the idol, too. "I feel like that's not unity." World Peace FTW! Penner finds the clue in the rice, which tells him the idol is right under his nose.
|Penner, don't let Katie dress you. You're better than this.|
At Blue, Russell finds the same clue while preparing the rice. Zane is swimming in the ocean, fully-clothed (??) & watches Russell read the clue. He asks Russell about it, & when he denies it, Zane is convinced he must already have the idol.
On to the first Immunity Challenge of Season 25, which does not feature a 25' drop where someone could easily break their wrist, causing post-production scrambling to dub instructions on how to safely land. I'm just saying.
Aw, we missed the "let's paint each other" montage. :(
Each tribe will be divided into pairs: the first pair will race to get paddles, the second pair will row to get a submerged chest, & the third pair will solve a puzzle made from pieces in the chest. The first tribe to finish wins Immunity & a fire-making kit. The second tribe wins Immunity & a flint. Probst's got nothing for the third tribe.
Red & Yellow are having civil discussions. Blue starts talking strategy, but Russell tells them to calm down with their crazy low-volume conversation. He declares himself terrible at puzzles, so Angie & Roxanne will do that. They start to suggest otherwise, & Russell silences them.
|Hear me, for I have spoken.|
I had to rewind to see what actually happened because I couldn't take my eyes off of The Hair:
Survivor Crush: Activate! Malcolm has been on a steady climb for me: he was one of my favourites from my pre-season assessment, & then he quoted The Princess Bride on twitter, & now that he's let The Hair loose...I mean, COME ON. It's like he unleashed a secret weapon. The Smart Alliance has just become the Sexiest Alliance. (Please, no one make a GIF of his hair falling to frame his face or I may spend hours watching it & sighing & I don't think my husband would like it very much, although if he would just grow his hair out, we wouldn't be having this fight, would we?)
Probst asks what happened in the challenge, & Russell takes responsibility for delegating tasks before saying, "That's the beauty, Jeff. There always is a next time." Probst: "There's a next time for five of you. There's not a next time for all 6 of you."
Blue leaves, defeated.
|But did they lose? Really?|
Back at Blue camp, Russell is all "I told you, now you know how hard it is" & is interrupted by Zane, who is attempting to throw himself under the bus, or so it would seem to everybody but Zane. Zane tells everyone he's not built for the game, doesn't have it in him. There are no arguments. Zane then reveals this is all a clever rouse to see who he's playing against? Or something? "Hopefully everybody loves me to the point where they would rather have me as a hindrance than to keep Russell. I took my shot, I'm playing chess the best way I know how, & hopefully, I'm gonna King me." Gave a little girl a flower, & then strangled himself? Is that how it went?
I feel like Zane forgot that this was for $1,000,000. If we're choosing who to have a few drinks with on a Friday night, I'll choose Zane over Russell for sure (maybe he can bring his majestically-maned friend Malcolm?). But to keep my tribe strong, I'd want Zane out - even without all this chess-strategy he thinks he has going on.
Russell informs Angie & Roxy that they will be voting for Zane tonight, followed by a lot of awkwardly delivered sayings. "You're safe, so...Welcome to Survivor....Dig deep....You guys got it in you..." Maybe it's awkward because the girls are trying to get away from him? Angie in particular is very mad. "I said 'I'm not good at puzzles' - he puts me at puzzles 'cause he's not good at puzzles. He's like 'I'm not good at puzzles, so you do puzzles'. Hello, I'm not good at puzzles either." Puzzles puzzles puzzles.
Angie is so frustrated, she asks Zane WTF he's doing. Zane reaches out to Angie in a way she'll understand: the improper use of big words. "Logistically, he had to pull me across the line." In his defense, the logistics of it were brutal. Angie asks him not to go, & Zane thinks his plan is working.
Malcolm asks Zane if he's for sure tossing in the towel. Zane tries to communicate something through his eyes, & Malcolm says, "That look in your eye scares me. I want you to know that."
|What, this look?|
At Tribal Council, Zane explains that having a former Survivor on the tribe is like an onion. "The more layers you peel back, the more you start to cry...at first you get something out of it, then you get a little more out of it, then you start to realize that you're getting too much out of it." If you don't understand, don't be sad. We can't all be Grandmasters.
Russell at least realizes he went dictator on everyone, & I don't think it was easy for him to hear that he made Roxanne go into "military mode", or that Angie ran track in high school, so would have been a better choice than Zane for that leg.
Zane explains that he quit smoking when he was caught trying to smuggle a carton of smokes in under his shirt. Lots of eye-rolling from Angie & Roxanne, & I like these 2 a whole lot more than I thought I was going to. Could they be the new Stacey & Christine?
Time to vote, & Zane is voted out, surprising only Zane. It shouldn't really be called a blindside when he told everyone to vote for him, but somehow it still can. Huh. "I honestly thought that I had this whole game figured out, & I thought I had my whole tribe in control, & I thought that I was allowing them to pull the strings instead of me being the one in charge. It just backfired on me."
I think it was the right decision, but I'm sad to see Zane go - imagine 39 days of nicotine withdrawal unfolding before our eyes! And we'll never know why he was swimming fully-clothed...is he just self-conscious, or could it be that he has a "Ginger Hantz" tattoo hiding somewhere?
I'm serious when I say I like SO many people this season. Penner (of course), Triple D (Denise, Dawson & Dana), RC, I like Abi more & more...let alone The Hair...even Pete is just getting an edit to appear dumb (I think?). I think it's going to be a great season.
Any favourite picks?