Previously on Survivor we witnessed every idea Jeff and Co. came up with for twists during their lockdowns. Due to quarantine, the season was shortened to 26 days, but due to the aforementioned twists, it proved to be an even more intense season. And since they shoot two seasons back to back, they could gag a second cast with everything they came up with (though sadly they were also unable to course correct anything that didn’t work).
But enough about last season, as three new tribes sped towards the beach in boats where we met buff as hell Jonathan, half-blind hurdling icon Drea and super cute vet Omar who wore a flamingo shirt like an icon and was totally ready to be underestimated and then strike. Just like Erika last season! Lydia is essentially Gen Z female me, hating camping, the outdoors and physical activity though loves Survivor and is willing to put herself out there for the adventure of a lifetime. Daniel meanwhile was thrilled to finally make the cast, Marya was looking to find herself, Lindsay was ready to rise to the occasion and zaddy Mike was ready to take advantage of his one shot.
Or if you’re good enough, 4-5. Amirite, Rob and Sandra?
Finally the three new tribes met Jeffey on the shore where Maryanne was thrilled to embrace the rollercoaster and ugh, she is so giddy and joyous I can’t help but stan. Maryanne opened up about her shock at having made the cast and she was just so damn happy, while Mike was just thrilled to be chatting with THE Jeff Probst. Issuing a warning that the most well-rounded will take out victory, while Zach hilariously tried to be cool by telling Jeffray that they’re about to find just what it takes to win.
Jeffrey quickly split everyone up into their starting tribes with Taku in Orange, Vati in Green and Ika wearing Blue before immediately tasking them with their first challenge where one at a time two people will run out to collect paddles from different spots in the jungle before the tribe paddle around a buoy to collect bamboo, which someone would use to form a pole to collect a flint and earn meagre supplies to await them at their camp. Jonathan, Daniel and Tori were up first to collect the paddles with Jonathan and Tori getting Taku and Ika to the earliest of leads. Though given Daniel straight up dislocated his shoulder when he tripped over, that is to be expected.
When Lindsay and Drea made it to the next paddles, they found a note announcing they had to decide whether to untie 20 knots each for an advantage or just collect their paddles and move on. When Hai joined them, the trio decided to go for the advantage but they all had to promise not to screw each other over and keep it secret. They then rubbed each other in the mud and blood supplied to prove how hard they worked to collect their paddles. When they reunited with their very confused tribemates, Taku continued to power ahead while Ika fell further and further behind despite Tori’s strong start. After Jonathan single handedly pulled his tribe’s boat into place, Marya quickly built her pole though it broke allowing Rocksroy enough time to collect the flint for Ika in a come from behind win.
After Ika and Tuku were sent off to their camps, medical were called in to fix Daniel’s LaGrossa moment as they quickly popped his shoulder back into place. And just like that, they too were on their way.
At Ika Zach was thrilled to be living out his superfan dream though was nervous how this new era could influence his chances, given he is an expert on the old era of the game. The tribe quickly introduced themselves where we learnt Swati was proudly in the national guard and ready to prove her skills and buck the trend as the obvious young, female early boot. At home she was driven to succeed and as such, she was ready to bring that into the game and ugh, Maryanne or Swati for the win, I guess. She started braiding palm fronds with Tori and Zach where they realised that as the younguns, they should align. Which is the same thought Romeo was having as he and the oldies were busy building fire and quickly locking in an alliance.
Over at Vati the tribe discovered that for losing the first challenge, they had two options to win their flint, pot and machete – either do a puzzle as a tribe or one of them would be isolated from the tribe to fill a barrel with sea water. Given Mike was clearly the one that would have to fill the barrel for his tribe, he suggested they use their brains and as such got to work counting the triangles. As a designer slash genius, Jenny took control though and they quickly figured it out.
Meanwhile at Tuku, they were struggling with Jonathan straight up coming up with 30 less triangles than Omar and as such, they split in half with three working to solve the puzzle and the others starting on the shelter. Jonathan being assigned to the latter team. After getting their supplies, Mike quickly got to work building the Vati shelter and proving his worth. We learnt he was the first Puerto Rican fire captain in Hoboken and ugh, he is so sweet and I love him. Particularly seeing how joyous he was to get fire for his tribe.
Back at Ika, the younguns looped Drea in to join them in vocalising the Survivor theme song, while Rocksroy just desperately tried not to lose his shit at their noise. Instead, he channelled his skills as a stay at home dad and directed everyone to get to work so they’d have a shelter before things got dark. Thankfully though, Drea had his back and cautioned him to tone it down a little bit, lest he paints a target on his back. After making fire, Drea went for a walk to finally learn what advantage she, Hai and Lindsay scored in the first challenge, which turns out is the new Amulet Advantage. This advantage had to be played in conjunction with any that are left in the game, with three joining together to become an extra vote. If only two are left in the game, the duo would score a steal a vote and the last player standing would ultimately end up with an idol. And honestly, this sounds way more like a curse to me.
That night at Taku, Jackson rallied his tribe together to share that he is trans and this is his second time applying, but the first as a man. His tribe quickly rallied around him, essentially giving him a cool, whatevs dude, we love you! He then opened up that his family never supported him growing up, however when his mum got sick and needed care, he moved in with his parents to look after her and was able to build a relationship while he cared for her before her death and damn, why am I sobbing in episode one?
The next day Lydia was thrilled by the tribe’s progress at building the Vati camp and quickly locked in an alliance with Hai. Noticing that they were a pair and Jenny and Mike appeared to be another, Chanelle pulled Daniel aside and pledged her undying loyalty to him. And just like that, they all are pairs! Though given Daniel is totally charming everyone, I’m going to guess he will have more options than just Chanelle should things go south. He then opened up about having leukaemia as a teen and WHY AM I CRYING AGAIN?
We checked in with Ika where Zach and Romeo bonded over being super skinny, with Zach using that to try and lock in an alliance. Back at camp they started to bond with Drea while Tori disappeared to hunt for an idol under the cover of looking for taro. And while she thought she had them all fooled, they knew exactly what she was up to. She and Zach went for a walk where Zach filled her in on the speculation, though it appeared the damage was done.
The peace at Taku was interrupted by a boat instructing one of them to jump on and, they will later learn, go on the first summit of the season. Maryanne volunteered though pretended to be scared it was a curse before eventually meeting up with Jenny from Vati and Ika’s Drea. After bonding on the very long trek to the top of the mountain we learnt that Maryanne was ready to slay the game for all the other weird kids of the world and Jeffrey, stop the show – just give her the million dollars now, please and thank you! As happened last year, the trio then split up to figure out whether they should protect or risk their vote with a split decision giving the risky ones an extra vote while if the decisions were unanimous they would either all keep their votes or all lose them. Jenny chose to protect her vote assuming the others would likely – and did – risk it, guaranteeing she keeps her vote and gifting the others an extra.
The next day Jeffrey arrived at Taku where Lindsay was busy forcing Jackson to drink more water given he had been dizzy the entire day before. Which coincidentally was the reason for Jeff’s visit. After pulling Jackson aside, we learnt that Jackson had weaned himself off lithium prior to the show but he still had some in his system, which made it too dangerous for him to continue in the game. And was the exact reason for the dizziness. He opened up that he started taking lithium due to the stress of caring for his mum but didn’t want people to assume it was due to being trans and ultimately, thought it would be completely out of his system before the game began.
He and Jeff returned to camp where Jackson announced that he wouldn’t be able to continue in the game, with Maryanne immediately breaking down over his departure. As everyone cried and praised him for being so open, they bid him farewell and he tragically sailed off as the first boot. Technically.
As soon as he arrived at Loser Lodge, I pulled him in for a big hug and told him how proud I was of his brief stint. While Jackson was only there for a few days, his openness quickly endeared himself to me and I assured him that they would be silly not to bring him back for another season. With that, we laughed, as I continued to quietly weep, before smashing a big batch of Jacksonkatsu Fox in honour of his all too short game.
While pork chops of the ‘90s loom scary in my mind, these are the perfect way to enjoy these delights. Crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside, they are delicious before you even start slathering them in tonkatsu sauce. Which is obviously a must.
Serves: 2 dear friends.
1 cup flour, for dredging
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 pork loins or chops, each about 1 ½ centimetres think
salt and pepper, to taste
⅓ cup vegetable oil, for fryin’
¼ cabbage, trimmed and sliced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
⅓ cup tonkatsu sauce, for drizzlin’ and dippin’
Pop the flour into one bowl, the egg in another and the breadcrumbs in another. Score each side of the pork – to avoid curling as the fat shrinks – and whack with a mallet until it is a smooth cutlet. Season to taste. Working one at a time, coat in the flour, followed by the egg and then in the breadcrumbs, until well covered. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process until done.
Heat a good lug of oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the chops, two at a time, for about five minutes. Flip and cook further a further couple of minutes. Transfer to a paper towel and repeat the process with the remaining pork.
To serve, place a pile of cabbage on a plate, cut the meat across the bias and layer over the cabbage before drizzlin’ with tonkatsu sauce. Then, obvi, devouring.
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