'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains': Old favorites descend upon Samoa
There was Boston Rob, walking in with his traditionally evil swagger to take part in the new Villains tribe. Russell, also a Villain, still seemingly bitter over his defeat to Natalie on the most recent season. Perennial good guy J.T. was wide-eyed as he observed the members of his fellow Heroes tribe. There was even the hunky Colby, still good-looking and charming 10 years after his debut on the game in Australia.
The producers wasted no time in throwing the players right into a competition. Competing for the beloved flint (which host Jeff Probst emphasized would have extra importance on Samoa, where weather conditions proved to be brutal last season), the players wasted no time getting aggressive. Bikini tops were flying off, and someone even undid Sugar's bra intentionally so she'd have to bare all if she wanted to win. Pavarti not-so-accidentally dislocated Stephenie's shoulder. (Luckily for her, the medics were able to pop it back into place with one horrific-sounding crack.) The endearing Rupert also broke his toe, which is already proving to be an impediment to him around camp.
After the challenges, the tribes headed back to their respective camps to start building shelter. Russell wasted no time immediately forming alliances with two women: Danielle and Pavarti. I thought it was interesting that he began the game with a similar strategy to the one he used on Samoa, befriending as many girls as possible in the advent they might be seen as coattail-riders in a final two situation. (Obviously, that didn't work out so well when he was paired against Natalie.) If the way Pavarti was acting when I interviewed her at the party to celebrate this season in January was any indication, I can see a Pavarti/Russell situation working out well.
I really think Russell has a huge advantage in being the only player on the island whom the other contestants haven't had a chance to observe. I wouldn't be surprised if we see him searching for hidden immunity idols without clues sometime soon.
Over at the Heroes camp, J.T. vowed to play a different game than he had in the past.
"Everybody's expecting me to stick by my word, but to win this game, you have to have a dark side somewhere," he said, setting up alliances with both lovable giant James and former winner Tom.
The tribe also scored when a grouping of chickens and roosters happened to walk by. Didn't Shambo lose one of these poor birds on the same island a couple of months ago? The sustenance was enough to get the tribe fired up but not enough to help them solve the puzzle at the immunity challenge, where they lost out to the Villains.
I'm also loving the weird romantic relationships that are evolving. Jerri and Coach? Gag me with a spoon. But Coach's crush on Boston Rob? Amazing. After Rob was able to start a fire without flint, Coach went gaga over the Boston stunner.
"I'm a little in awe of Rob, and I'm not like that," he admitted to camera. On the island, he repeatedly told Rob he was "hanging on his every word." Awkward. Meanwhile, Colby was hilarious in rejecting Sugar's spooning advances when he was trying to get some much-needed shut-eye.
"I'm being flirted with and I'm just not interested," he said. "She's becoming a bit annoying."
From the moment he uttered the words, I could tell it might be the kiss of death for Sugar. And then when she started crying after the immunity challenge, I was sure she was a goner. Never show your emotions too soon!
I can't wait for next week's episode. What the heck happens to Boston Rob!?!? Why does he randomly pass out while walking through the jungle? Let's hope he's not scarily dehydrated like Russell Swan was last season.
So what did you think of the first episode? Which old player most lived up to their former reputation? Who most disappointed you? Any early predictions on who might be able to take it all? Weigh in in the comments below.
-- Amy Kaufman (follow me on Twitter @AmyKinLA)
Photos (from top): The cast of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" arrive on the island of Samoa. The Heroes tribe found Jessica "Sugar" Kiper so annoying that they decided to vote her out this week. Credit: CBS.