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MrsGryn

Survivor 39 - Episode 1 - Trust Rob's Gut. He's Got Enough of It.

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MrsGryn   

Welcome back to the Granddaddy of Reality TV, Survivor and its thirty-ninth season, Island of Flab. Seriously, there is a decided lack of hardbodies on this season and I, for one, am DELIGHTED. In fact, by the end of the ninety minute episode, I am fully on board with the season’s theme, Island of Idols. When it was first announced that Boston Rob (now sporting the latest in Dadbod physique) and Self-Anointed Queen Sandra, I was less than thrilled at their inclusion. I felt there was a Big Brotheresque twist on the horizon that they would at some point be folded into the competition with a chance to win the game, but as we find out later there is a promise on file that they have no chance to play the game. I reserve the right to be pissed off if this changes halfway through the season.

Let’s get started! But first…this season’s Probst shirts are brought to you by Glidden paint chips, obtained Monday by a trip to the Sketchy Walmart rather than going further to the Nice Walmart. Sacrifices must be made!

The Island of Idols, a beautiful stretch of Fijian beach marred only by the giant wooden busts shaped to resemble Sandra and Rob, introduces us to the concept of the veterans being mentors to the players. Probst, high overhead in a helicopter, tells us they will run a Survivor boot camp while living on the island. We are treated to a montage of the two building a shelter with a good amount of supplies (rope, tarp, hammer, nails, pre-cut bamboo). I am guessing they also aren’t subsisting on plain rice and coconuts that fall from the trees, either. Honestly? I’m okay with that. If they aren’t actually surviving like the active players, then who cares if they get some extra food and luxuries along the way? Of course, with Rob’s current flab situation, he could probably survive longer than thirty-nine days.

Two speed boats surge along the water, holding our tribes, Lairo and Vokai. Probst, wearing a Glidden paint Glistening Teal shirt, for those keeping score at home, dangles from his personal helicopter with his hands permanently fixed to his hips in the traditional opening stance as he declares, “Thirty nine days, twenty people, one! Survivor!” Zoom!

Lairo is the orange buff tribe and consists of Karishma, Vince, Aaron, Ronnie, Missy, Elizabeth, Chelsea, Elaine, Tom, and Dean. People scream and hug, and complain that Probst did not personally maroon them on their beach. They see their tribe flag declaring this the Season of the Idols, which of course leaves everyone questioning what that means exactly. There is the usual scurrying around gathering useful shelter building material while introducing themselves to each other. Karishma is Indian-American, Vince is Hmong (look it up, it is interesting history – or just watch “Gran Torino”), Elizabeth was an Olympic swimmer, Tom played professional hockey. May I just take a moment to say Tom looks like a beefy Buzz Aldrin/Ed Harris crossbreed. Missy played basketball and was in the Air Force, and oh by the way she got a brain tumor that was cured by medication. She wants to be the “soul” Survivor and I’m officially d-u-n, done. I love this girl. Give her the money NOW.

Vokai is the purple buff tribe and consists of Noura, Dan, Lauren, Jamal, Tommy, Jack, Jason, Kellee, Janet, and Molly. How did everyone with a “J” name get on one tribe? As the tribe gets their buffs out of the basket, one of the men (my money is on Jason) says he has never touched a buff before. An odd thing to declare and I would bet money it is not the only soft thing he has never touched before, either. Vokai stands around and tries to figure out if anyone knows how to build a shelter. It’s not looking good until Janet, the oldest woman who is built like a tiny tank, takes charge. She tells them she has started fire with just bamboo so volunteers to start the fire and guess what? She does it! It is easy to see how she fits in to her role as someone in charge of 139 lifeguards, but now I’m worried because some of the younger ones called her “Super Mom.” For the love of all that is holy, do NOT turn into Reem Daly. I am looking forward to seeing how Tiny Tank does in the water against Elizabeth the Olympic Swimmer.

Back to Lairo, my new favorite trio bonds with one another: Tom the hockey player, Vince the Stanford Graduate/Hmong dude, and Elaine from Appalachia. Thankfully, Tom currently has pant on so I don’t have to stare and the defined outline of his peen. Tom is very impressed with Vince’s ability to use tools, so congrats on being high on the primate scale, Vince. Tom is also impressed with Elaine’s work ethic. I’m impressed that Tom is not a total dick. He leaves that task to the younger men. The three form a sub-alliance, as they are out gathering material and that leaves the other seven back at camp to decide the three of them are off plotting and idol searching. Well, in fairness, it was Ronnie the poker player and Aaron the Carnie who decided this. They immediately bring up that the rest of the tribe align with them against the other three. Bing, bang, boom, done. I really get annoyed when people start talking who to vote off almost immediately after they hit the beach. Can you just get through the immunity challenge first?

Missy pulls together the girls and they form a girl’s alliance. Don’t toy with my hopes that it will work this time, Missy. She clues Elaine in on the previous plan put forth by A-A-ron and Ronnie to isolate Vince, Tom, and Elaine for being off (working) while the rest of the tribe was on the beach. Elaine is disappointed. Throughout the episode she is funny, quick witted, self- deprecating and sharp. One of the things I appreciate about Survivor casting is that they are not afraid to bring us some truly individual personalities with very different life experiences than many of us.

Vokai beach. Everyone is, according to Jamal and his moobs, chilling and putting out a great vibe. Everyone except Ambulance Chaser Jason, who runs off into the jungle to search for an idol. His absence is noted by Molly, the other ambulance chaser, but it is Dan the older man on Vokai who starts working on throwing Jason under the bus. He thinks he is handling everything perfectly and has buried Jason deeper than Rupert’s stupid beach shelter pit on All-Stars.

Jack finds a giant clam, which does not care for Elizabeth. SQUIRT!

Funny thing, not everyone is on board with making Jason the goat. Noura warns him there has been talk about him having an idol, and he recognizes his error in judgment. But as it turns out Dan is a real creeper. He is very touchy-feely with the women and Kellee, for one, is not having it. She mentions being a germophobe when “it comes to other people’s grossness” and I think we can all co-sign not liking that. It’s not as outre as she thinks it is. However we do see Dan doing a lot of touching. Both Molly and Kellee are the ones who have the biggest issue and they both go to Janet to talk about it with her. Tiny Tank, who keeps rising in my estimation, says she has learned you have to just say what you think or how you feel. Her advice is very forthright to the younger women of the tribe: tell him to stop it if it makes you uncomfortable. Kellee does just that and she and Dan have a good conversation. He seems receptive to what she says, which may not have happened prior to #MeToo. Honestly, though, Dan is not helped by his resemblance to Harvey Weinstein.

Back to Lairo. Ronnie, the professional poker player, observes around camp that Elaine is likable, funny, and has a great story to tell at the final tribal council. He no-likey and wants her GONE. Pulling her aside for a chat on the beach, he throws out a thousand words to convince her that he has her back and if anyone tells him that she is a target, he will be sure to let her know. Elaine aw-shucks her way through his wordy assault and then tells us later she knew immediately he was a weasel. Add bullet-headed and purple-nippled jerk and we’re in business, Elaine. It seems Ronnie made the classic mistake of assuming that a southern accent and life in the hinterlands is equal to being a gullible goober.

Immunity challenge time! Probst is wearing a Glidden Paint Pool Party shirt, for those keeping score at home. Everyone is slightly starstruck by Probst, who is honestly is looking a bit older than he has in the past. He officially welcomes everyone then asks Elaine show everyone feels and she gives a great line about how everyone though he quit since he didn’t meet them on Day One. Chelsea talks about how the theme of Island of the Idols has made everyone a little paranoid because they don’t quite know what it means, but can’t wait to find out. That will not happen until we get through the challenge. It involves racing up and down an obstacle, drop a bridge by pulling on a rope, climb to the top of a VERY tall tower using human ladder tactics, and solve a massive puzzle. The puzzle is very different: six small platforms and the pieces are all discs with pegs on the top and bottom that fit together, with a conical thatched roof for the top, resembling a village of huts. It is strenuous just looking at that puzzle. Who will finish first? Lairo has a little smack talk from Karishma, telling Vokai they will have to work hard, which Tiny Tank shrugs off with a matter of fact, “We always work hard.” BOOM! The immunity idol is revealed. It looks like a tabletop tiki torch.

Survivors ready? GO! And they are off, running en masse to scamper up the rope ladder, shimmy under a grid of bamboo poles, slide down into a sawdust pit and slither under a log. The slide is pretty brutal. Vince is down first for Lairo. Janet is down last for Vokai and slides down headfirst, faceplanting in the dust. She looks a mess but Tiny Tank is not to be trifled This broad rocks. Vokai is across the bridge before Lairo switches grapple tossers from Dean to Ronnie, who manages to get the bridge down. Getting up to the big platform is a struggle more for Vokai than Lairo, but young Jack is, as Probst says, a hero as he helps most of his tribe up to the top. Lairo has a headstart on the puzzle, being put together by Vince, Dean and Chelsea, while Votai has Jamal, Molly, and Noura working on theirs. Vokai seriously muscles through this puzzle while Lairo can barely get one hut puzzle completed. Probst calls it the biggest blow out in Survivor history, which…okay, Mr. Hyperbole. Votai wins thanks to Jamal’s strength and his moobs. They leave the challenge ground with the tiki torch while Lairo hangs around in misery.

Message from Tsylyst: “Jeff has some serious pit stains there. Like a whole different paint chip for under his arms.”

Now Probst drops the ban hammer in the form of a little woolen bag: draw a name from the bag and that person is going to the Island of Idols. Elaine does the honors and draws Elizabeth’s name. For her part, the Olympic swimmer is ready to be on her own and is okay with going, at least on the surface. She tells us that actually the idea of being away from the tribe without the opportunity to secure her place is a scary prospect. Probst states that she will be back with her tribe before they head to tribal council, so there will be no immunity from being voted out (something I was speculating on during the reveal of the twist).

And now…Island of Idols. Elizabeth walks along the beautiful beach – really, it’s gorgeous – and comes across the giant Trojan Horseheads of Brenda Vaccaro and Andrew Dice Clay. Out of the jungle strolls Sandra and Rob, much to Elizabeth’s delight. They lead her back to their camp and show her “The Oath of the Idols.” It reads, “We are the Survivor Idols. We are not competing. We do not vote. We cannot win the million dollar prize. Our job is to mentor you in the game of Survivor and then offer you a chance to test what you’ve learned. Everything that happens here is intended to make you a better Survivor player.” So I wonder if there are no hidden immunity idols at the regular camps and the only idols that will be in play will be won here on the Island of Idolatry? Interesting thought and a twist worthy of the game.

Rob goes over the oath and his and Sandra’s Survivor bona fides. They sit around and discover Lairo has no fire. Since they will get flint at tribal that evening (Vokai got flint after their immunity win, not that they need it with Tiny Tank in their back pocket), Rob offers to show Elizabeth how to make a fire. He tells us that the best teachers he has ever had have shown him how they do things and that confused me, because the best teachers I’ve ever had have let me do things myself. Six of one, half a dozen of coconut husk. They go through the process of firestarting. Rob gets the fire going in a few seconds, blowing her mind, then asks if she would like to give it a go. Elizabeth enthusiastically says yes and Sandra says, “Follow me.” Now, in the moment I found that odd that they would have to go someplace else to start a fire, but whatever. They practice and get a fire going. Sandra’s explanation is thorough and practical and once they are done, Sandra bring Elizabeth back to where Rob is waiting at the original Idolatry camp. And what do you know, there are two fire making stations set up and Rob is grinning like a fool as they sit down. He gives the Olympic swimmer the terms: she can go up against him in a fire making challenge and win and immunity idol good for the next two tribal councils, but if she loses, she gives up her vote at tonight’s tribal. She can also pass and keep things status quo. So let’s cut to the chase: Elizabeth chooses to try her baby-fire skills against the master. This is like me deciding I’m going to compete against Jacques Pepin to see who can make a better coq au vin. WTF are you thinking, Elizabeth?? You are a NOOB! And things turn out exactly as you expect: she loses, even though I’m pretty certain Rob was purposely tanking his firemaking. The best part was Rob’s expression when Elizabeth said she was going to go for it. He looked like he swallowed a bad piece of meat and was barely keeping it down. And the reason for that? Disappointment in his student. If she had turned down the first challenge, he had another deal in his back pocket to offer her. As he says, like every new Survivor player, she bit at the first opportunity. This is where the twist started to really intrigue me. After she lost, he says to her, “What were you thinking going against me? I’ve made hundreds of fires! Always trust your gut! You should never have battled me in this.” Before she heads back to her tribe, she pulls a name out of the Votai bag, but the name is not revealed. That person will be the next one to visit Idolatry Island.

Back at Lairo, the discussion is if one of the three on the puzzle should be voted out. Elaine works on her connections. At the watering barrel, Elaine, Tom, Vince and Chelsea discuss who they want to vote out. Vince throws out Ronnie and they agree that he is untrustworthy. Meanwhile, Ronnie and his carnie sidekick Aaron corner Karishma to court her vote. Her body language screams discomfort even as she says she will vote however they say, which is. of course, the right thing to do in that situation. Remember the cardinal Survivor rule! Say yes to any alliance offered and decide about sticking to it later. Vince, Missy, and Dean also get drawn in and told to vote for Elaine. Missy promises Elizabeth’s vote later, which just makes me laugh. Tom calms both Elaine and Vince’s fears about the vote and signals that Ronnie and A-a-ron know they are in the minority and thus are trying whatever they can. There are things we haven’t seen, I’m sure, that made Tom confident in his assessment, but Ronnie and Aaron aren’t acting like they are out of the loop.

Elizabeth returns and everyone wants to hear about Island of the Idols. She tells them there is a path that brings her to the three urns and you get a chance to hit one. There is something in one urn and she hit one that gave her a card that said, “You lose, no game.” Uh huh. And where is the card? The lie itself is not a bad story, however it will be blown as soon as someone else goes to the island. Her best case scenario after tribal council is to come clean with her closest alliance members. My fear is this lie is going to bite her in the butt later as an example of being untrustworthy. And she doesn’t even get a vote!

Tribal Council time! Probst is wearing a Glidden Paint Creamy Blueberry shirt, for those keeping score at home. Let’s talk for a moment about this Tribal Council set. It is kind of awesome, in a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse kind of way. Bamboo huts encircle the main platform. The voting booth is up a staircase in a little grass hut. Other thatched roof huts overlook the council area, like tropical duck blinds. The Survivors walk in to the sound of the south pacific version of “Carmina Burana” playing. Fire is life!

And as the Survivors dip their Pier One tiki torches into the flames, we get a quick glimpse of Rob and Sandra sneaking into one of the hut duck blinds above the tribal council. Oh, I like this whole idea of spying on tribal council while no one else knows they are there. Brilliant! Perhaps this is the moment that sold me on the twist. Probst dives into his questions right away, covering the reactions to the theme (paranoia) and then Elaine being a target. Karishma notes Elaine is too likable, which Elaine acknowledges, but then smartly says that is no reason to vote her out NOW. Do it in twenty days! Probst turns to Ronnie and asks him what his criteria is on the first vote. He is down with the men. Don’t vote out a man! Keep the tribe strong! So when he writes down Vince’s name later, does that mean he doesn’t see Vince as a man? I’m confused. Anyway, back to Elaine. Probst asks her if there is a part of her that is sad that she thinks it might be over and really Jeff? That’s even a question? Elaine gets very emotional and gives a beautiful, off the cuff speech about how she is devastated by the thought. She goes on to say that everyone knows how hard it is to get there, and how some have longer journeys to get there, and some of us carry a bit more pain than others. She says she wanted to the show to build her up, not tear her down, and if she goes home tonight, it will be heartbreaking but at the same time will be the best things she’s ever done. Seriously, one of those wow moment on Survivor.

Probst turns to Ronnie and asks him what he thinks of such an honest, candid confession. He tries to compare his experiences at a hundred different jobs, such as McDonalds and Sears Automotive, to Elaine’s Appalachia upbringing. Ronnie, from Boston which abounds in opportunity, vs. Elaine with limited access to the same options. Yeah, totally comparable, you Southie douchebag. Tom’s expression as he looks at Ronnie is one of pity. Not because Ronnie had to work a bunch of shitty jobs that he probably got fired from, but because he knows Ronnie is going to look like a dirtbag on national TV. The rest of the tribe looks like they are sitting on hemorrhoids. Vince adds to the conversation that they all have stories and as he talks, we see Sandra whisper to Rob that she likes Vince. Jeff turns to Aaron the Carnie, who says this is part of the game but it is really hard to write down the name of someone you like. Back in the duck blind, Rob whispers to Sandra, asking if it was hard for her to write down the name of someone she likes. The Queen looks at him and whispers back, “Fuck no! I vote you out and that’s it.” And THAT right there is when I came onboard full stop with involving these two idols in the season’s twist. With that, it’s time to vote.

Probst goes to tally the votes.

Vince. Ronnie. Vince. Ronnie. Ronnie. Ronnie. Ronnie. Ronnie. Our douchebag poker player is the first to be eliminated in Survivor 39.

Elaine and I could not be happier.

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Magpie   

Great season opener, @MrsGryn, and thanks for identifying the subjects of the Trojan Horseheads. They looked nothing like Rob and Sandra, so I needed to know who it was that was being worshipped! 

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Tsylyst   

Were they maybe based off their first-season appearances? You're right, they sure don't look like that now.

I noticed that Rob and Sandra were wearing buffs from their previous seasons, maybe that's part of the theme.

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7 hours ago, MrsGryn said:

Yeah, totally comparable, you Southie douchebag.

He is not a Southie douchebag.  He is a Brockton douchebag.  Brockton is Plymouth adjacent.  Brockton douchebags have a faint aroma of eau de cranberry.

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knewb   

Great recap, Mrs. Gryn. I missed the first 10 minutes so didn't see the entrance and the tribe signs. Based solely on hearing Probst's play by play, I thought the tribes were Bowtie and Lar-O. They could wear their buffs as purple bowties!

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MrsGryn   
7 hours ago, elizabethann said:

He is not a Southie douchebag.  He is a Brockton douchebag.  Brockton is Plymouth adjacent.  Brockton douchebags have a faint aroma of eau de cranberry.

Today I learned.... ha!

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tlh9   
On 9/26/2019 at 2:10 PM, MrsGryn said:

Survivor and its thirty-ninth season, Island of Flab

bwahahaha!  Love this.  Love the title for this recap, too!

It is unbelievable how many flabby survivors there are this year.

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