Previously on Survivor wait, no, what – when will I learn? New season, new rules, same ol’ chain of Fijian Islands. While last season we went biblical to distract from the fact Survivor lives in Fiji, leading to a glorious season with David toppling Goliath, this time we’re journeying to the Edge of Extinction which I have numerous reservations about. But you know what else I thought would suck? David vs. Goliath and look how wrong I was.
We ominously open on a barren island with a lone figure walking around before finding 14 newbies on a sailboat in the middle of the Fijian ocean. We first meet Wardog who I want to like but no I will struggle with for the first few episodes since we’re going to be calling him Wardog. In any event, he is from the military but is now on his way to being a lawyer and, obvi, plans to keep that hush, hush, hush. Swap meet vendor Wendy is super excited to be here as a super mega best value fan, before even finding out that she will be competing against David, Aubry, Kelley and Joe who are returning for another shot at the title. Joe finally realising that being a challenge beast is intimidating and as such, he plans to lay low and uplift people. And TBH, as much as I want to hate him, I can’t help but love him.
I am basic and I don’t care.
Joining them in making their triumphant return is a hybrid of the Outcast and Redemption Island twists, where once you’re voted out you can either sit on the aforementioned island and wait around for a chance to compete to reenter the game, or continue on your merry way into Ponderosa. In any event, this season is a logistical nightmare for me and I appreciate your care and concern.
Foregoing any form of introductions, Probst welcomed the newbies to Survivor and then told them that someone is going to be booted within 72. He then elaborated and tried to sneak in the twist by telling them they’re always on the edge of being booted, or extinction if you will, before reminding them that even good players can’t win. And as a matter of fact, he has four past contestants that have lost 7 times between them back to the competition for another shot.
We then met Lauren who is a superfan of Kelley and like me, thirsts for Joe, so she was thrilled to see them. Ron loves David, Julia loves Aubry and everyone was jumping out of their skin with excitement before Probst ran through the returnees’ report cards, filling Kelley with rage given he made her and Aubry sound like the biggest threats. Kelley and David were sent to join the Manu tribe, featuring Wentworth superfan Lauren while Aubry and Joe will lead the Kama tribe. From the very first moment, given the tribes were tasked with looting the ship before making it to their boats. Amongst the madness Ron from the Kama tribe found a secret advantage and poor little Keith came close to drowning until Lauren, thankfully, saved him.
We arrived at the Manu tribe where everyone introduced themselves and congratulated themselves on surviving the marooning. They then started to wonder whether they will survive Rick, who started telling themselves about his life as a news anchor and made a bunch of jokes that it appeared no one actually found funny. Amongst the introductions, the tribe got to work setting up the camp with Kelley and David lamenting that it is so hard to trust anyone. Instead of making an alliance with each other, Kelley got to work approaching Lauren to form an alliance and generally make as many bonds as possible. David and his newfound confidence seemed to be finding his footing, as did Wendy who shared the fact she had tourettes with the tribe and instantly endeared herself to literally everyone. Myself included. Wendy 4 lyf.
Meanwhile over at Kama we met Victoria who desperately loves survivor. Speaking of loves, Joe tried to hide the fact that he is amazing, however proceeded to feed everyone and start fire with Aubry as soon as they landed on the beach. I mean, he even stole Aurora’s heart and she is gay. Julie proved to be the most relatable, hating the outdoors and totally struggling in nature. Well until she started chopping wood and vowed not to be perceived as the weak older woman trope. Sorry Wendy, but you’ve been usurped.
Wait, no. I love them both.
We then caught up with Ron who vowed that Kama was the greatest tribe of all time, which let’s be honest, didn’t bode well for, I want to say Jacob on Ghost Island. Though given they had a tonne of food next to a roaring fire, he is kinda right. He took a quick moment away from the dream tribe to read the note to his advantage, which he followed to the well and dug up to discover he won himself a menu, where he can either steal a reward, get an extra vote or get immunity … but it expires by the third tribal council.
Joe joined fellow zaddy Eric and Gavin to discuss what the hell Edge of Extinction could mean before checking in with Aubry to see how she felt. While she agreed that they’re both getting good vibes, they won’t need them around to make fire forever and as such she needs to lay low until the right time to strike. And I feel like I’ve already seen more of Aubry this episode than we did during all of Game Changers. Gavin and Eric meanwhile were discussing how long they will need to keep the returnees around, vowing to get rid of Aubry ASAP and keeping Joe around as a shield for as long as required.
Back at Manu Reem went to check on the washing she put on the shore to dry, which she thought was helpful but was actually pissing everyone off. Except Keith who tried to bond with Reem because she is a mother figure and he is a literal kid, however she didn’t want to be seen that way and kinda shut him down. Though she then taught him to swim with Wendy and I love them so much. As did Lauren who was proud of Keith learning to swim. That didn’t stop her from being thrilled by the fact they isolated themselves, allowing the other six – featuring a total zaddy who I think is Chris – to joke about being the majority.
My boy Jeffrey returned to the screen for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes were required to run through a rope obstacle before someone rings a bell and everyone crosses a balance beam, release a bar to make the beam wider, climb a crows nest, drop a slide and then, obvi, solve a giant slide puzzle.
Chris hopped through the ropes in his jocks – swoon – before battling Joe to climb a rope and ring the bell and let me tell you, these boys are ringing my damn bell. Joe made quick work of the balance beam giving Kama an early lead while Manu floundered, except for challenge beast David who got across while everyone else struggled. Kelley in particular who fell off the beam and literally smashed her damn face. Kama continued to extended their lead, working on the puzzle before Manu even crossed the rope bridge. Despite David’s best efforts to guide Manu through the puzzle, their comeback was too late as Julia – I think, she hasn’t been shown otherwise – figured out the puzzle and coached her tribe to victory.
Back at camp Kelley was devastated to be heading to her second first tribal council, knowing that one tiny thing can send you home when you’ve only been around people a couple of days. Keith, Reem, Wendy and Rick caught up by the well, with Reem pushing hard to take out Lauren or Kelley whose bond was obvious. Though given how hard she is pushing the point, it got Keith offside, who them went and told both the girls, Wardog, David and Eric about the plan. Which solidified their plans to get rid of Reem, given Wendy is stronger in challenges.
Speaking of Wendy, she approached Wardog – I’m trying to get into it – and David about getting rid of Lauren, though they told her that they will be getting rid of Reem tonight. Wendy told them that no matter what, she will vote with Reem out of loyalty which rubbed Wardog the wrong way, as he said it was proof of her being stubborn rather than a super loyal ally he could pick up the next day. Wendy then took the information back to Reem, who got super angry and approached David to save herself though was holding a machete and kind looked wild.
At tribal council Rick spoke about factions quickly forming based off which jobs they were doing before Reem immediately started to spit fire, pissed that her name has been thrown out there. Kelley explained that is part of the game and her name had been thrown out, before Reem explained that it was because she was a legend and she should be honoured. Kelley countered that being voted out doesn’t make it an honour, while Reem continued to dig a hole for herself, saying that she is a target due to age discrimination and would like to wrestle to prove her strength. Probst then questioned whether she has a passion for confrontation before Zaddy Chris said that she may be a little too much and it is pissing people off, which she immediately got defensive about before Wardog – who I will now write without cringing – said he felt she was too much and wished she would just stop moving people’s shit.
She defended trying to help everyone out and while Wardog agreed him clothes were dry thanks to her, she needs to stop dwelling on the one issue. Wendy admitted that she likes Reem for all the reasons everyone else is struggling with her, due to her close bond with her mum. Reem continued to rage, wondering why they didn’t just ask her not to touch their stuff. Probst admitted that it seems like everyone is pretty much against her, and Wendy agreed that they’re likely losing Reem tonight which lead to Reem talking about how painful it would be and while I feel sorry for her, she should be in for a pleasant suprise if it comes to fruition. Which it did, making her the first person voted out.
And potentially the winner if she makes it back in. Who knows.
While the smart of ironically – is it Alanis? – being reemed by her tribe and becoming the first boot was dulled by discovering she has a chance to return to the game, it wasn’t until I was tucking an icy cold bottle of Irish Creem Daly in her bag – don’t tell Abi, but I think Peih-Gee tried to steal it – to get her through the first few days alone that I saw a fire return to her belly. No doubt because of the alcohol.
Like Old Gregg before me, I am quite partial to drinking Baileys, though preferably not from a shoe. Though I totally would in a pinch, or Tom Schwartz level blackout. Packing a punch of whisky, a hit of coffee and the sweet, sweet nectar known as condensed milk, there is no better way to usher in retired life.
I can retire at 32, right? You know what, so what, who cares – enjoy!
Irish Creem Daly
Serves: 1 lonely first boot sitting on an island alone in a downpour.
1 cup double cream
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1⅔ cup Irish whiskey
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp fresh espresso, cooled
Chuck everything in a blender – or a magic bullet or something if they were so inclined to sponsor me, but they’re not – and blitz for a minute or so, or until smooth.
Transfer to a bottle and leave to chill in the fridge before downing.