Survivor: Philippines – Episode One – Everybody loves Zane; Nobody likes Blair; Everybody is sick of Russell; and Nobody trusts Penner. Guess who goes home?
JStar is being a star and has sent through a mammoth recap of what was a great first episode of Survivor Philippines. Over to Jstar –
Survivor: Philippines – Episode One – Everybody loves Zane; Nobody likes Blair; Everybody is sick of Russell; and Nobody trusts Penner. Guess who goes home?
The only way to pay homage to a super-sized opening episode is to have a super-sized recap to boot. 😛 Following on from my preview/teaser post earlier this week, we come back from the commercial break to be gifted a beautiful helicopter’s view of the majestic islands that form the Philippines. The camera then focusses in on the Masting Blue tribemates making their way to their spot on the beach with what looks like very little food items they could salvage from the wooden fishing boat. Russell is particularly chuffed to be given another opportunity to play again and he said that he will not accept the leadership role this time around. To prove his point, he gathers everyone around and re-iterates that he does not want to be leader. He then tells everyone to gather all the belongings and help him set-up the camp. Since Russell is absolutely NOT the leader of this tribe, he tells everyone to gather the pre-whittled bamboo logs left behind by the last season’s group of contestants on the Filipino version of Survivor. He then instructs Roxanne and Denise on how to construct the shelter whilst the bored people in the editing suite find sneaky ways to insert shots of Angie carrying more coconuts. Malcolm, whom I thought would be just another slacker stoner dude, chastises your guest poster about not judging a book by its long-haired cover. As Angie bitches about how Russell is acting like a dictator (and not a leader as he doesn’t want the role), Malcolm leans in and tells her to just grin and bear it and continue to stroke Russell’s ego for the time being.
After forty minutes of constant yabbering from Russell, he is reminded by Denise to take in some oxygen and breathe. Sensing he only had two seconds on the clock to get a point across before Russell continues hammering out orders, Malcolm pipes up and says he previously lived in Micronesia for a year teaching English. He knows how to start fire. With that, he instructs Russell on how to start fire through creating friction with the bamboo logs. Fire is attained within a few minutes. Malcolm wisely keeps his mouth shut as Russell crows about how he started the fire. Later as Malcolm and Angie take a stroll down lover’s lane – [they make a cute couple and I demand a showmance after sitting through last season’s snoozefest] – Malcolm reminds Angie they should both continue stroking Russell’s ego as it deflects the attention from Malcolm and reinforces the target on Russell’s back. [And to all of you viewers who pre-judged him as just another airheaded Gen-Y hunk with abs of steel – “For Shame!!”]
We cut to see how the Kalabaw Red Tribe are enjoying their new surrounds. This tribe looked like it grabbed most of the watermelons, coconuts, and chickens from the wooden fishing boat. Jeff, who is walking around gingerly on the sand, is clearly in pain as he knows he most likely damaged his knee. He is trying desperately not to let the others see how much he is struggling. The tribe seemed happy to go with Jonathan’s suggestions about how they are supposed to set-up their new camp. Penner even gets a bit teary when he realised that he was given yet another opportunity to play this game again. But as he was having his interview, we see the rest of the tribemates gathering to discuss voting him off once they finish learning all they need to from him regarding the actual survival skills. Jeff and Dana were particularly adamant in getting rid of Penner at the first opportunity.
We cut to the final tribe, the Tandang Yellow Tribe as the tribemates make their way to their part of the beach. This tribe looked like it gathered most of the baskets and material needed to make living on the island more comfortable. Michael reminds us that he hesitated about coming back because he didn’t want to ruin his legacy. Excuse me? You were in Australia for 18 days and you were a very intense player who disembowelled a piglet before falling into the campfire. I think coming back to play Survivor again is a chance to re-write your place in the game in a more positive light. Apparently being a born-again Christian has turned Michael into an emasculated person more befitting a place on the tribe of men we saw last season on One World. RC steps up to the plate and is aggressive from the get-go in making her moves in the game. Being a Wall Street banker in real life and having had her life interrupted last year by those pesky Occupy Wall Street Protestors, she didn’t think announcing what she does in her real life was a smart thing. However she is a banker and therefore, unlike the Abs Four alliance from last season, she can count. She quickly formed a bond with her Latino sister, Abi-Maria, and they discussed who should be in their controlling alliance. Abi-Maria wanted Pete in the alliance because he has abs of steel and therefore had to have been cast as the stereotypical dumb jock. She sets about coquettishly flirting with him and sashaying those hips (because Shakira said they don’t lie) in order to rope him in. RC, on the other hand, is star-struck that she has the character of “Michael from Survivor Australia” on her tribe. She tells him straight-up that she wants him in her alliance because she is a huge fan of his. Michael seemed reluctant but he is not stupid to say no to being in the controlling alliance. It is immediately obvious that Lisa has been marginalised. [Apparently there is an older African-American male on this team but unless he is prepared to parade around in his fuchsia y-fronts for the HD cameras, he is not going to get any airtime this episode].
Back on Southfork Ranch, J.R. and Bobby are once again fighting for control over Ewing….oh wait…that show got cancelled by Channel 9. No matter, my love for the Texas drawl has been taken over by the spunky Dana bonding with Jeff over their shared Southern roots. In fact, everyone seems in love with Jeff who, realising that he needs to make himself valuable around camp so that people don’t vote him off because of his injury, is impressing everybody with his machete skills in constructing the shelter. Meanwhile the smart cookie that is Dawson later confesses to the camera that she recognised Jeff Kent and knows he made a lot of money during his professional baseball career. However, she will use that information to her advantage when it suits her. So for now, she is keeping his secret until the time is right. This tribe has two very cluey females on the team so Penner better look out. They would have been Evil Russell’s first two targets if he was playing again. Poor old Katie, being a former beauty queen, she doesn’t have anything to say to the camera unless she is asked a question about world peace. Evil Russell would have aligned with her on day one.
However it would be extremely sexist for the producers to only highlight the male celebrity contestant for this episode. So we now reach the Blair-centric portion of this episode. Lisa helpfully explains that she used to be a teenage star on “The Facts of Life” but when the show finished in 1988, she got married and quit showbusiness to raise a family. But the Wall Street crash hit her hard and she lost all the money she made on the show. Blair explains that she is a huge fan of Survivor and has never missed an episode (but she conveniently left out the part of how she used social media to get the producers to cast her on this show. Being on a reality-TV show can revive one’s acting career because there are only so many Facts of Life Reunion telemovies that one can make). Knowing that she will suck in every physical challenge on Survivor, she knows she has to use her social skills to make connections with her tribemates. So we see Lisa standing in the water (fully-clothed) with the other two bikini-clad girls [thereby fulfilling the sexy shots quota of this episode mandated by Mark Burnett]. Try in vain but RC and Abi-Maria could not encourage Lisa to do a Kim Kardashian and take her clothes off for the camera in order for her to land her own reality TV show after her stint on Survivor ends. Instead, Lisa’s strengths kick in and she shares to the girls stories about her life as a hard-core Christian. Unfortunately for Lisa, she is talking to two bikini-clad Gen-Y girls who have zero interest in her to begin with. If only Crazy Brandon Hantz or Coach was on the island instead of those two. Lisa would have those bible-thumpers eating out of her hand by the end of Day One.
But as Lisa continues talking to the camera, triumphant music starts rising in the background. She says coming onto Survivor has already helped her to try and discover her real self and forge an identity away from being a mother and former child star. She says she doesn’t even know if she has it in herself to play the game in a cut-throat manner. [Potential clue here. Let’s see how often she mentions this quote in future episodes before I’m confident to make the call that she’ll either be the under-the-radar contestant or she’ll surprise everyone and be a conniving schemer]. Anyway (for now at least), Lisa goes about “finding herself” by helping to set-up the camp and gather pre-whittled bamboo logs, whilst totally forgetting that she needs to make alliances and secure her position within the tribe. Some fan of this game she is.
RC gathers her alliance team-mates together to work out, in order of importance, the following:
- Name of new controlling alliance in the Tandang Yellow Tribe, and
- Who the first boot should be.
After settling on “RC and the Pussycats”, RC points out that Lisa appears to have distanced herself from the others (rather than the other way around) and to watch out for this under-the-radar gameplay. Michael doesn’t buy it. Michael (who is clearly excited to have his childhood crush, Blair, on the tribe) doesn’t understand why Lisa just doesn’t tell the impressionable youngsters that she was a famous star. Then the penny drops for Michael. Perhaps because the show finished a quarter of a century ago, none of the kids were born when the show was on air. These kids don’t even know what mix tapes are; that Beta and VHS were not alternate names for Optimus Prime and Megatron; or that once upon a time you could get a job being an Encyclopaedia Britannica door-to-door salesman.
Nightfall and the crew member holding the infra-red camera rudely interrupts a not-so-secret pow wow between Michael and Lisa. Michael tells Blair he is such a huge fan and that he knew that Jo was secretly a lesbian rather than “a tomboy.” Upon the realisation that lesbians should not exist in the world of the bible-bashers, these two immediately try to strong-arm the cameraman to erase that portion of the conversation. Back in “game-talk” mode, Lisa admits she will only confirm her past if somebody recognises her from the other tribe. However, she has been honest in telling everyone what she does now as the show finished 25 years ago. Michael is saddened that his childhood crush isn’t really like Blair Warner in real life. Blair would have fought kicking and screaming (with hairbrush in hand) to lobby aggressively to stay on the island. He knows that Lisa will be the first one voted out the moment they have to go to Tribal Council.
Day Two and it is an overcast day in the Philippines. Russell must be on strict doctor’s orders to rest his vocal cords this morning so we now have time to see what the other tribemates on the Matsing tribe are like. And there are interesting characters. We see Denise, a sex-therapist in real life, who immediately strikes me as a player that could go very far. She is strong for an older woman plus she appears to be a hardworker and is very perceptive. Within Zane’s tattoos, she spotted a death date of a person close to him as well as the serenity prayer on his hands. This woman is smart plus she doesn’t sound half-asleep when giving her confessionals unlike Miss Smarty-Pants Moe-Man from last season.
And then there is Zane. Where do I start with this red-haired tyre repairman from Virginia? Firstly, he is seriously out of shape as he could not walk 100 metres on the sand without looking like he needed to reach for the oxygen tank. He is the redneck/hillbilly contestant for this season and he conforms to that stereotype by admitting he quit school. (Boy that was a surprise!) However, he is somebody that obviously has lived an interesting and emotionally full life so far as attested by his tattoos. He has a tattoo of Frankenstein on his forearm as he relates to Mary Shelley’s creation who could give you a flower out of kindness whilst simultaneously strangling you. As he put it, he has mostly worked in retail and therefore has dealt with people from all forms of life – “from a crackhead selling $3 worth of cans to a million dollar businessman.” You just can’t make these quotes up! His background in retail is why Zane believes he is the ultimate Survivor.
To prove that he is the ultimate Survivor, we see Zane putting his genius into work by making an alliance with Denise on the promise he will tell her more about his tatts. Because the Matsing Tribe clearly have not made much progress with the shelter, Zane is in a position to casually stroll up to others whilst they are gathering more pre-whittled bamboo logs. He approaches Roxy and tells her he wants an alliance with her. Zane catches Angie on the beach but is held back by the cameraman until he can collect more sexy shots of Angie bending over to collect rocks [as the sexy shots quota from the Matsing Tribe has yet to be filled for this episode]. Zane is released and he tells Angie that he wants an alliance with her and asks her to look after his back in the game. With all the women in his pocket, Zane approaches Russell and Malcolm at the firepit. He tells them that he wants to have an alliance of three with all of them. No “Hello” or “What’s hanging bro?” or “What’s for breakfast?” – Zane moves fast and all the tribemates have to be on their game like he is. Russell is ecstatic to have an alliance as he was “fearful” of being the first one voted out – [completely unaware that Rule 85, subsection a, paragraph 5 of the Survivor Manual clearly states that producers must do everything possible to rig the game so that returning players are not voted out within the first episode]. Perhaps it was the fact that Zane was inhaling ash in his out-of-breath state but he has a slight brain fade and confesses to Russell and Malcolm that he just formed alliances with everyone else on the tribe so if when Zane gives the word, someone will be cut loose under this kingpin’s orders.
Zane would be a genius in this game if it wasn’t for the fact that people do talk and share information with one another. Malcolm pulls Denise aside to ask if Zane made an alliance with her. Ofcourse he did. He tells her how Zane approached Russell and him to form an alliance of three as part of Zane’s bigger picture of having an alliance with everyone. Malcolm is certainly not going to be a pawn in Zane’s World. He likes the fact that Denise is a therapist in real life and is practised at controlling her emotions and reading people’s behaviours. They both agree that they will form an alliance of two and neither of them want to be sitting at the end with Russell. This was an extremely brave thing for them to say as wads of American $100 notes are thrust in their faces by the off-camera producers. But no, the dynamic duo are steadfast in their belief that a returning player making it to the end is not something the loyal fans want to see. Plus the American dollar’s exchange rate sucks at this very point in time. These two cement their alliance by hugging, doing a jig, and tickling each other’s palm. We, the audience, knows that this elaborate seal of an alliance bond will hold true because the hand movements were more truthful than the infamous “pinky-finger promises” that Colton dished out last year to Cougar Mommy Monica.
And because this is a super-sized episode with 30-minutes of extra filler, the obligatory comic relief scenes must be shown. This year’s comedian is none other than Michael of the Tandang Yellow Tribe. It Day 2 and it is already starting to rain. Michael is not happy with the progress of the shelter so he takes a more leadership position in helping build and strengthen it. Whilst showing Pete how to cut the pre-whittled bamboo logs in a specific manner, he nicks the webbing of his left hand with the machete. He then cuts the top of his head somehow. The comical music pipes up and we see Michael hopping around as he just cut the sole of his left foot. He insists in his confessional that he is not accident prone. Cue shot of him talking to Artis as he tries to scrape more meat out of the freshly opened coconut. And ofcourse he knicks himself again with the machete. Watching at home on the family couch, Artis’s family breaks into spontaneous applause not because Michael injured himself again, but because Artis is finally allowed to say something on camera when he tells Michael he is going to ban the machete from him. But because this tribe is RC and the Pussycats (and Artis is not one of her kittens), she needs to be the one telling the audience what is going on. So her quote is that “the machete is Michael’s kryptonite.” [Thank you RC for yet again strong-arming your way into the picture]. And as everyone knows, these comical putdowns are best done in threes so we get to hear from Pete who cheekily says that Michael hasn’t been put in a situation yet where he can be seriously injured however that may change when they get fire. Comical music ends with shots of Michael trying to shake off his latest nick from the machete.
We then get a 180 degree u-turn with the music. Suddenly it is now scary and ominous. Was that a rattle-snake sound effect I heard in the background? Who is acting so sneaky now at Kalabaw on Day 2 already? Surprise, surprise, it is Jonathan who is looking for the idol. All his other tribemates are sheltering from the rain in an awning in a cave. They all know what he is doing but none of them want to get wet by leaving the cave to confront him. Katie finally is given a chance to talk and explains that the rain makes her hair unmanageable because as a former beauty queen, she knows the important issues affecting real Americans today. She tells us that her tribe is like a family as they stick with each other – except for Jonathan. She doesn’t like how he is prepared to play the game by going off on his own to find the idol because he knows they all want to vote him out first. How rude of him!
We see Penner looking at all the “obvious” places for the idol – freshly hollowed tree trunks, freshly chain-sawed tree lying in the water, etc. Unfortunately due to the rain, the trail of cigarette butts discarded by the cameramen that lead to the idol was washed away. And then Jonathan shows his wisdom that only playing the game twice before can give you. He knows then that the idol must be actually at their physical camp/shelter. When they got to their island, a machete and an elaborate basket containing the tribe’s rice were waiting for them. He knows the clue to the idol has to be in the basket. And sure enough, it was. Dimples now has a chance to flex his new and improved poetry writing skills after spending two night classes learning “How to write poetry and jingles through the power of creativity” at his local community college.
It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s looking forward to the weekend, weekend.
Getting down on Friday
Everybody’s looking forward to the weekend.
Partying, partying (yeah)
Partying, partying (yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Looking forward to the weekend.
Stunned by the deliberate vagueness of the clue, all Penner knows is that the idol is somewhere in plain sight. And that yesterday, yesterday was Thursday, Thursday. Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards.
Back over at the Matsing Blue Tribe, the tribemates are hungry. Because they have fire thanks to
Malcolm’s and Russell’s effort s, they want coconut rice for lunch. As Russell is scooping the rice, he notices the clue to the hidden immunity idol. He later excuses himself to fetch some more firewood. Whilst reading Dimples’s latest sonnet, Zane (who is swimming nearby) catches Russell acting suspiciously and hiding something in his pocket. Later in the day as they go out to fetch some more water, he asks Russell if he has been looking for the idol. Russell denies that he has been. In fact he volunteers that if he catches anyone looking for the idol, he’ll go all Boston Rob on that person and vote that individual out first. Zane thinks Russell has already found the idol so if Matsing loses the first immunity challenge, Zane and his alliance of EVERYBODY will send Russell home.
Day 3 and apparently even a ninety-minute opening episode isn’t long enough to show the tribemates getting the war paint on to face their first immunity challenge. We head straight to Dimples whose wardrobe has changed from navy to teal. But Pete trumps everyone, including Carter (who is now wearing bright red swim trunks with matching coloured socks), by revealing some impressively bright neon-yellow swim trunks. It looks like the trend for fluoros and neons is the must have item for summer as Lisa is sporting a hot-pink top whilst Artis has gone blood orange for his swim trunks.
Dimples explains that the immunity challenge will involve three different parts, two of which would be physical. Playing in pairs, one pair will run deep into the jungle to climb a military net to obtain two paddles. They have to then return back to the starting line to pass over the paddles to the next pair who have to paddle a boat towards a buoy to find the submerged chest. Upon returning the chest, the last pair will need to remove the pieces inside to solve the puzzle. First two teams to finish win immunity and this year the team’s immunity idol looks like something you would only buy as a tacky souvenir for your least favourite aunty. The idol is fashioned to look like a rooster of some description. [Oh who am I to nit-pick. The idol still looks a hundred times better than the London Games mascot]. In addition, the first team that finishes wins a fire making kit completely with kerosene, blowtorch, and a magical pilot light. The second team that finishes wins flint. The teams are given several minutes to work out the best combination for each leg of this challenge. Over at the Yellow Tandang Tribe, Michael tries a consensus approach which basically means GC tells her Pussycats and Lisa and Artis that the two strongest men should do the paddling part of the challenge. Over at Red Kalabaw, Jonathan is leading the discussion but is taking everyone’s feedback to determine where the strengths lie. However, over at the Blue Matsing Tribe, Russell is refusing the leadership role as being a dictator is so much more effective in hearing his own voice. Russell says he is terrible at puzzles and that his strengths lie in the physical aspect of the game. As a former Miss Teen Utah winner, beautiful, blonde, young Angie knows she isn’t good at anything cerebral because thinking gives her wrinkles. And if she wants to graduate one day from teenage beauty pageants to proper pageants for the grown-ups, she can’t afford to start developing wrinkles at her age of 20. Therefore she tells Russell that she is also more of a physical competitor and will suck more than him at puzzles. Russell takes all of this onboard by telling Angie that he is making her and Roxy do the puzzle. When Roxy questions why people’s strengths weren’t being taken into account, she gets put into her place by Russell who only wants to hear himself speak because he has played this game before.
When the pairs are revealed for the first running leg, it is obvious that Russell did not heed the suggestions his tribemates provided him. Despite it being obvious the paddling leg of this challenge would be the most demanding, Russell (being the strongest) thought it was best that he be partnered with the one tribemate that struggles to walk on sand for 100 metres without being out of breath – Zane. The Tandang tribe have sent out RC and Artis to be the first pair which seems to be the cleverest choice. And representing Kalabaw is Katie Holmes from Dawson’s Creek. This surprises your guest poster a little bit as Jonathan would have been a more logical choice for this part of the challenge. Anyway, the pairs have been chosen and they race off into the jungle to the obstacle course to collect the paddles. At this point, all three teams were fairly even. However, it is GC and Artis who make their way back first followed closely by Russell and Zane. By now, Zane could barely keep up as Russell was literally dragging him to the line. Pete and Michael have been chosen to do the paddling leg for Tandang and this was the wisest choice as the wind had picked up by now and making the waters choppy. This immediately puts Matsing at a major disadvantage because no matter how strong Denise is, she is of a shorter stature and she struggled with the physical aspects of this leg of the challenge. Finally, Katie and Dawson make their way out of the jungle but by now, the other two teams have a sizeable lead heading into the second phase of the challenge. But Jeff and Carter are absolute guns in this leg and their physicality ensured they overtook Malcolm and Denise. Pete and Michael have a huge lead and managed to obtain their crate first. Although they reach the beach first with the crate, Jeff and Carter had made up a lot of time and weren’t that far behind. Same thing could not be said about Matsing as Denise struggled with the weight of the crate.
Kalabaw were so impressive in making up a lot of time that the editors allowed Carter to say his first lines on camera for this episode – “Come on!” It was worth the wait. By the time Kalabaw unloaded its puzzle pieces, the tribe wasn’t too far behind Tandang. Matsing finally gets its crate onto the mat so that Roxy and Angie can commence solving the puzzle. Clearly the cameramen love Angie so much as they cannot resist to take more sneaky shots of her cleavage everytime she bends over to pick up a puzzle piece. Titillating distractions aside, the real action was between Blair and Abi-Maria trying to solve the puzzle before a fast finishing Jonathan and Dawson. It was close and by a few seconds, Kalabaw makes a remarkable comeback victory and wins the first immunity challenge ahead of Tandang. Matsing fell further behind with the puzzle-leg and Angie cannot hide her anger by reminding Russell she told him she was not good at puzzles and yet he put her on the puzzle-leg of this challenge. She’s really pissed at Russell because now he made her angry and she can feel wrinkles appearing on her baby face. Sensing that he might be in major trouble despite the wads of $100 notes dangled in front of the newbie-contestants by the off-camera producers, Russell tells Dimples that he bears responsibility for determining how this challenge would be conducted.
Coming back from yet another promo of Big Brother housemates dancing the Gangnam Style badly, we are shown a quick shot of a snake ready to strike. Oh, oh, some metaphor is about to linked with Survivor. I wonder who is about to be bitten? Sure enough the snake (i.e. the rest of the Matsing Tribe) are back at their beach sharpening the machete for tonight’s guillotine of the
dictator leader. Realising that only a mea culpa can save him, Russell tries to give a pep-talk but is interrupted by Zane. I don’t know what he was thinking but Zane tells everyone that he is a physical liability and had to be literally dragged to the mat at the end of his leg of the challenge. He asks that the vote tonight should go to him. No one seems to disagree with that statement. But hang on, Zane is the ultimate Survivor. He knows that the unwritten rule of survivor is that only women can quit whilst men get medically evacuated. He later says in his confessional that in Zane’s World, this was one grand “clever” scheme to see how his alliance reacted so he can continue working to manipulate them and their vote. He is banking on the fact that he is universally loved in his tribe and that his alliance would rather vote out the strongest member of their six-member tribe than send him home. Zane says that this is the only way he knows how to play chess – by “kinging” himself. With that, the snake is shown slithering away into the distance having given himself a self-inflicted bite.
Russell is relieved and he tells a clearly irritated Roxy and Angie that Tribal Council is not pleasant but at least they know the vote will go to Zane tonight. Angie is not happy at how Russell bulldozed everyone during the strategy discussions ahead of the challenge. The moment Russell departs, she takes this opportunity to vent to Roxy particularly how Russell dared give her the most intellectually demanding aspect of the challenge. In order to win Miss Teen Utah, Angie was judged on her physical capabilities including walking in a straight line whilst wearing heels and an evening gown and demonstrating how well she can fill out a bikini (which coincidentally we have gotten plenty of gratuitous material of the latter to judge her on during this episode). Angie confronts Zane and lambast him for wanting to quit and give up in this game. Perfect opportunity for Kingpin Zane to use this chance to manipulate the votes. Does he do this? No. He tells Angie that he is the physically weakest member of the tribe and Russell had to drag him during the challenge. (Because in Zane’s mind, the more his tribe feels sorry for him, the more they will agree not to vote him out). It is up to Angie to broach the idea of blindsiding Russell at the upcoming vote. Of course Zane is onboard with this but it is clear in his later confessional, he thinks he set the wheel in motion for the ousting of Russell.
To reinforce the votes against Russell, Zane appears all crazy-eyed and gap-toothed to Malcolm which immediately freaks him out. Malcolm tells Zane to his face that he will vote him out if he wants to go home. Zane doesn’t even argue against that. He just tells Malcolm that if he was willing to vote out Russell, just to do it now because he believes Russell has an idol. Malcolm is unsure how reliable the information is, given that it is coming from Zane. However he recognises voting out Russell will immediately reduce their chances in any upcoming physical challenge because the whole game is rigged in favour of the returning players. [Case in point, why is a strong man like Russell put on a team with only one physically fit male player whilst Penner and Michael have two strong male players onboard?] Malcolm needs to debrief with his fellow strategic partner about tonight’s vote. Denise is not happy to think that Russell may have the idol. However, it is clear from her confessional that she too is pissed off that the game is rigged and she has found herself stuck on a team with the weakest male player. Idol or not, Zane is going home tonight. In a game where you only start off with six people, weak players don’t have much room to hide whilst still a team-based challenge situation. [And in case everyone was watching the clues in the intro closely, you will note that Russell is shown diving into the water in a future water-based challenge. Zane is not shown doing a water-based challenge. The most interesting member of the tribe is toast].
Tribal time and to let the viewers know that this is a BAD place to be, there is ominous music playing in the background and we get yet another shot of a snake slithering around near the fake sacrificial lamb firepit. From a purely logistical standpoint, it seems getting to Tribal Council may not be as arduous as previous seasons. In previous seasons, tribemates had to canoe to get to the actual physical location which would be absolutely draining if one hasn’t had much water or it is pelting down with rain. It appears to be just a walk that any reasonably fit adult could do without much issue….except for Zane ofcourse. The tribemates don’t look too happy when they rock up and barely notice that Dimples has changed back into his usual Tribal Council gear (navy blue shirt with khaki pants) plus he is now wearing thongs. Clearly this tribe lacks attention to detail! That is why they are here tonight.
Dimples start off by asking Denise on her thoughts about returning players. She goes on a rant about how rigged this game is for these veterans and her vote won’t be bought by wads of cash but unfortunately for her, the rant is edited out. So all we see is a very poker-faced game player in Denise who is extremely careful with her answers. We do hear that she wanted this game to be just solely for the newbies but is grateful for the experience Russell brings in terms of constructing shelter and starting a fire that he didn’t start. Dimples asks the same question of Zane whose response brings laughter to his tribe – that Russell is like an onion. The more you peel back, the more you want to cry. Dimples, being well-versed in Hillbilly language after sitting through past tribal councils with Big Tom and Ralph, thankfully translates that piece of gem from Zane. Basically Russell is a much better player than everyone else and although he brings a lot of knowledge, he is dangerous. Sensing that Dimples may not have read the updated Survivor Manual in which returning players can never be voted out in the first episode, Russell does his best mea culpa and acknowledges that he reverted back to type and was wrong in acting like a dictator. (Nods of agreement from everyone). And in a pointed reminder to Dimples and to the other tribemates who took the wads of cash from the off-camera producer, he says that it would be absolutely devastating to be voted out first after being blessed with a second opportunity.
Dimples asks Malcolm if he got the sense that Russell was coming across as a “dictator.” Malcolm diplomatically states that he felt Russell came across pretty strong pre-challenge. [I’m impressed with this kid. Loyal viewers know that Dimples loves to give contestants enough rope but Malcolm deftly deflected the question]. Not so Roxy and Angie. Roxy was not impressed at how she was shut down and because she has a military background, she just had to accept the orders of the man who absolutely does not want to be the leader. Angie pipes up about how she wanted to do the running leg but Russell refused to listen to her and she said Russell told her that if they lost, it would be her fault. Russell denies saying that but because Angie is a pretty young blonde, Dimples side with her version of events as she has given him (and the viewers) two other compelling arguments.
Sensing that the heat may in fact be on him, Russell pleads his case and tells his tribe that he has so much more to give. Dimples return to Denise and asks her in his best passive-aggressive manner that regardless of the fact that Russell assigned her the paddling task, will she take responsibility for her sucky performance? [I’m really starting to love Denise because despite her obvious annoyance at Dimples’s question, she knows that as a therapist, she too is good at the passive-aggressive gameplay]. She responds by saying that accepting responsibility can either be assigned to the person who sucked at the challenge or the person who assigned the task to her. [Verbal Smackdown. Denise 1. Dimples 0].
Licking his wounds, Dimples returns to Zane and asked him how he felt about his performance in the challenge. Zane explains that he quit smoking just before he got on the wooden fishing boat. He said he told his tribe that he wasn’t at his physical optimum which brings out more laughter from everybody. (Although it is not mentioned, you kind of wonder what the hell Russell was thinking in getting Zane to do the running leg?]. Zane goes further and reveals to Dimples that he even told his tribemates after the challenge that they could vote for him if they felt he was holding them back physically. Russell says that although it sounds like a lifeline for him, he knows that there were a lot of conversations between people after Zane made his plea on the beach to be voted out till now at Tribal Council. [Angie in particular is trying to suppress her laughter]. Russell says he doesn’t know if he will survive this vote but he is ready and has always been ready to play this game.
With that, it is time to vote. It is clear that it is either Russell or Zane going home tonight. Judging by the guilty expression on Roxy, Denise, and Angie’s faces, you know Zane is the one leaving. And he doesn’t know that it will be him as well because he believes his grand chess plan is working to perfection to oust Russell. We only see two votes and predictably Russell votes for Zane and Zane returns the favour. Dimples calls for the immunity idol to be played and everyone looks at Russell. As no idol was played, the votes are read out. Zane, Russ, Zane, Zane (he is stunned to see he just got three votes). And the first person voted out and first blindside in Survivor: Philippines is…..Zane. He quickly collects his torch to be snuffed out by Dimples. Roxy in particular looks like she is about to cry. As Zane takes the dreaded walk of shame, the microphones catch him cursing to himself. In his final words, it dawns on Zane that he was not the puppet master that he thought he was and that his grand plan blew up in his face.
You can tell Dimples is not happy with the vote as he (and just about everyone else) would have loved Zane to stay. But Dimples knows that you can’t breach the Survivor Manual by voting out a returning player within the first episode. Dimples gives the Matsing Tribe a piece of flint and sends the tribe on its way.
So who will be voted out next? Going by past seasons, you generally see a lot of screen time from contestants who will make it to the end or be an early boot during the opening episode. With returning players, it is a given that you will hear a lot from them in the opening episode and this is not necessarily an indication that they will be an early boot or make it to the end. Interesting to note that we had a confessional from every member of the Matsing blue tribe but we heard nothing from Carter or Artis this opening episode. Further the preview for next week does NOT feature anything from the Matsing tribe. We see Penner busy hunting for the idol and Lisa having a breakdown for being ostracised on her tribe – (both scenarios that could be logically foreseen). If the next immunity challenge still features three tribes, both Tandang and Kalabaw can afford to sit out their weakest players (in Lisa and Dawson respectively) thus putting more pressure on Roxy and Angie if the next challenge is physical. I hate to say it but it looks like Matsing may be having a return trip to Tribal Council unless Russell learns to listen and maximise the strengths of his tribemates. Oh wait, that would mean he would have to step up in a leadership position and we know that definitely does not want that.