Pre-credit sequence. A helicopter soar down upon Samoa, but it’s only holding Jeff Probst. The 18 castaways are on a rickety bus, shuttling through the jungle and making broad pronouncements. Colton is quick to observe that girls love him and guys don’t see him as a threat. It’s possible that he may be gay. Alicia vows to play any dude who dares to crush on her. Jonas boasts about his unusual sushi chef skills. Jay wants to make a female alliance. Michael is ready for a twist. But he doesn’t know the twist: The two tribes will live together on the same beach. Crazy, right?
The teams will now be divided by genitalia. Jeff is still flying. The castaways are still driving. They arrive on The Beach. Kourtney looks at the other women and she isn’t sure she fits in. Oh come on. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with the tattooed woman with the adorable Shamu hat? Colton looks at the other guys and praises them as good-looking. Greg asks that Jeff call him “Tarzan.” But there’s already a problem: Troy wants to be called “Troyzan.” Oy. Double elimination now? I’m calling Greg “Buff Mark Twain” anyway. Probst doesn’t hesitate to divide the tribe as Men and Women. Colton calls himself “the girl within the guy tribe” and he’s terrified. Troyzan isn’t buying the female confidence, saying that the guys will have no trouble with anything. The tribes are “Manono” for the guys and “Salani” for the women, but they’re going to be Guys & Girls or Men & Women for my purposes until the Merge. They have 60 seconds to strip anything they might need from the truck. Predictable chaos ensues, as they tear the truck to pieces. Amusingly, Michael zips from side-to-side stealing things from the Women’s pile. The women are confused by their disappearing axe, with Alicia rather outraged. Probst warns that Hidden Immunity Idols are in play. Boo. But Redemption Island is not. Yay. The two teams are given maps and sent on their way in opposite directions. One of the women, who I can’t identify yet, predicts the Women will be a “ball of bad-assness.”
Fox Force Five. Off into the woods go the men, complaining all the way. Tarzan leads the way, complaint-wise. Many of them are out-of-shape and panting, but “buff little dude” Leif immediately wins fans on his tribe for his effort. The Women, meanwhile, have very little thanks to Michael’s thievery, but they’re still struggling. Kourtney is disappointed by the split, because women be crazy. Alicia thinks that she, Kim, Chelsea and Sabrina are the strong girls and she’s already prepared to make a strong girl alliance, cutting in Kat, because she’s at least trying hard. Kim wasn’t planning to make an alliance early, but the stealing guys inspired her.
Two birds in Chelsea’s hand are worth… The ladies arrive at a beautiful, secluded beach and the men arrive and… THEY’RE ALL TOGETHER. Everybody is perplexed. There are two flags and they’re right next to each other. “Hey, it’s gonna be a party,” is Alicia’s reaction, but she’s the only fan. “It looks like their world and our world,” says Jonas, questioning the “One World” concept. But never mind. There are wild chickens, just wandering around in the brush. The banjo begins to play and contestants flop and flounder to catch foul. “Country girl” Chelsea grabs first one chicken and then another and she isn’t quite so willing to share. Chelsea’s holding all of the chickens and she’s ready to bargain. But the Guys don’t want to bargain, because they’re convinced the Women need them more than they need the women. Matt is especially uninterested integrating.
Matt’s Gaydar goes “Beep… Beep… Beep.” This is a very nice beach the two teams are situated on. It’s pretty much a resort. They’re building shelter and doing it separately. The Men are hard at work. The Women are hard at work. And Colton is moping and lamenting that he isn’t with the women. Sabrina nicknames Colton “Country Club Colton.” Matt, like a lanky Sherlock Holmes, is correctly able to deduce that Colton is gay. Well played, Matt. Can’t put one over on you. “There’s a lot of manly men around here,” Matt says, suggesting that Colton’s going to have a hard time fitting in. Matt tells Colton that if the guys can use his access to the women, that’ll keep Country Club around. Naturally, Colton wants Matt and his Frat Boy Alliance — Mike (“Big Mike”), Jay (“Jay Bird”) and Bill (“Nickname Pending”) — out.
Troyzan and Tarzan are apes, man. Let’s see who can make fire first? Christina’s trying hard to get sparks, while Colton, predictably terrified of chickens, comes over and begs for help with Immunity Idol. As Colton predicted, ladies love him. “If humor is his armor, he has all of us sold like suckers,” Sabrina says. For the men, it takes very little time for Jay and Leif to get a flame. Sabrina approaches and offers a chicken in exchange for fire. The Men scoff. “We’re beyond the charm,” Tarzan says. Alicia even makes an attempt to steal fire, which doesn’t go well. Alicia offers to have Monica take off her pants. Troyzan and Tarzan contemplate making a trade if Monica does a full pole-dance. Ick.
Teamwork: It’s not “PrometheMe,” it’s “PrometheUs.” Night falls and the women are strategizing how they can get fire. Kim just wants the “ambiance,” a word that Kat has never heard before. Kat and Kim approach Mike, who scoffs at the idea that Tarzan could possibly be running things. Jay, who thinks he’s at war, calls any deal with the Women “ludicrous.” Remember 20 minutes ago when Jay’s plan was an alliance with women? Nevermind. But while the men sleep, Christina and Monica sneak over and play the duel roles of Prometheus, using a pronged bamboo stick to steal fire. Success!
Gentlemen prefer fronds. Freaky bat! The next morning, the Women have pineapple. Unfortunately, they no longer have fire, because although they were able to steal and start a fire, they were unable to keep the fire going. Christina has no interest in pride and she approaches the Men to make a deal. Jonas says that in exchange for a certain number of woven fronds, they’d give up fire. Alicia doesn’t love the deal-making and she’ll abide by the terms, but she warns that Christina is going to go out first, as a result. Meanwhile, Sabrina goes wandering and she just happens to find an Immunity Idol in an old tree trunk. I believe the “Survivor” production strategy for “Hiding the Idol” is basically “Drop the Idol somewhere and walk away.” But there’s a Twist! The Idol she found is Manono-only! The rules say that she has to give it to one of the Guys. How convenient that Colton is still begging for Idol-related help! “This is like my saving grace,” says a giddy Colton when Sabrina offers him the Idol. Sigh.
Stop, drop and crunch. Time for the first Immunity Challenge. Players have to start by dropping off a 25-foot tower, go across some beams and whatnot before liberating a flag. It’s a big fall onto a springy net and despite Probst’s urging, everybody’s falling incorrectly, particular Kourney, who comes up holding her wrist. The Men have a bit of a lead at the balance beam, but the challenge has to be paused for Medical to take a look at Kourtney and her wrist. Ramona the Medic diagnoses a broken bone, but has to perform an X-ray to be sure. By the rules, the Men have won. HOWEVER. Probst offers the Men the chance to be magnanimous and keep the game going as a sign of good faith. The men deliberate and Colton is forced to announce that the men have decided to keep Immunity. Chelsea thinks this proves that the Men don’t care and that this is a no-mercy game.
Pouting and plotting. The two tribes return to camp. Nina, who we haven’t seen at any point previously, is sad and possibly wounded in some way, though that may just be what her face looks like. Kim is from Texas, where men are chivalrous. Sabrino explains to Colton that he needs to use the Idol as the swing vote to take out part of the Frat Boy Alliance. Sabrina coaches Colton and Colton says he loves her. Colton’s gonna be targeting Matt, vowing, “We’re gonna cut his throat faster than Taylor Swift can write a song about an ex-boyfriend.” I give that snap a “Meh,” Colton. Sabrina calls the Women together and there’s general agreement that if Kourney comes back, she’s done. Alicia, though, doesn’t think it’s that simple, so she decides that she’s going to call Christina out at Tribal Council.
Tribal Council. The Women arrive and light their torches. They do this because, in this game, fire represents life. Just in case you’ve forgotten. Before Probst updates them on Kourtney, he tries to get their reactions to the twist. Alicia’s happy. Kat says everybody has a role, that they don’t have a specific leader. Christina takes credit for the fire deal and Alicia begins ranting about how it was “a shady trade.” The rant doesn’t go far, because Probst doesn’t have a clue what Alicia’s unhappy about. Christina yells and Alicia bellows that things would be different were they in Chicago. Kat cowers deep into her hoodie, wishing Mommy and Daddy would stop fighting. Chelsea says you can’t expect a group of women to agree on everything. Monica calls it “total anarchy.” Probst criticizes them for their lack of structure, when really we all know he’s criticizing them for not having penises. News: Kourtney’s wrist is broken and will require surgery. That means nobody else is going home. Probst pats the women on the head and tells them they have 36 more days to get their acts together and hopefully become men. “I’m not so proud of myself right now,” Kourtney says, hoping that her son will think she’s a strong woman.
Bottom Line: That was a wee bit anti-climactic, wasn’t it? Kourtney’s injury produced the double-whammy of sucking the action from both the Immunity Challenge and Tribal Council, which is a pity. Instead, we got the strategic pickle of the Men deciding to take an unearned Immunity win, rather than finishing the competition. Of course they made the right choice, for the same reason that you don’t take points off the board in football. The absolutely best they could have hoped for out of that challenge was to walk away with a 9-to-8 numbers advantage and if they could guarantee that advantage without any effort, why would they NOT? So that Chelsea would think they were chivalrous? Chelsea’s respect plus a million dollars will give you a million dollars. Naturally, what makes sense game-wise isn’t what makes you endearing as a reality show contestant for fans at home, so it makes sense that pretty much all of the people I like at this point are the women, with Chicken-Catching Chelsea as an early favorite. I also respect that Alicia is almost certain to cause a record number of pixelated wardrobe malfunctions before this season is over, unless she takes taken out early, Chicago-style. Among the Men, I’ll pass on The Frat Pack and also on Troyzan and Buff Mark Twain. Jonas, Leif and Michael all seem fine. While Kourtney’s injury blunted the last leg of the episode, I feel at least interested in both the One World twist and the division-by-genders and I’m not planning on missing Redemption Island at all.
What’d you think of the premiere? And what the heck am I supposed to ask Kourtney about tomorrow?