Survivor 22 – Redemption Island: You’re looking at the New Leader

That’s it, the moment you’ve all bee waiting for, all three of you, my recap of the first episode of Survivor – Redemption Island!
I don’t know what it was. Was it the fact that -because I had posted all of those contestant profiles- I already knew who they were (and I didn’t spend the entire episode wondering who was this person again)? Or was it the fact that it was one of the best first episodes we’ve had (with definitely the best first tribal council ever)? In any case, I really enjoyed this episode and if it sets a trend, we are indeed facing a great season.

Ok let’s analyze and speculate about this first episode.

Ometepe

On paper, because they’re younger (and they have Boston Rob?) they looked like they were going to kick the other tribe’s ass, but this first challenge showed that maybe not after all. It’s true that with a closer look, there aren’t many strong people in this tribe. Rob, Grant and…. And that’s it… While the other tribe has not one, but two Captain Americas (Mike and Steve) and three men can are stronger than they look (Ralph, Russell and Julie… what? ah, apparently one of them is a woman. I’ll need to further investigate this assertion).
The tribe dynamics is pretty interesting right now. So on the one hand we have the Groupie Alliance (not my expression, Stephen Fishbach‘s but it’s so spot on, that I had to steal it from him) and on the other hand we have two women that think they want to play the game to win, and not so that Rob can win… oh and we have Phillip that wants to tell you that he’s an ex-Federal Agent and then spill out at tribal council everything you told him during the past three days. A very interesting tribe dynamic indeed.
Let’s see the players into more details.
– Andrea Boehlke: She’s prettier on the show than in her introduction videos. Strange. And that’s pretty much all I have to say about her so far.
– Ashley Underwood: “We let Rob down.” Seriously Ashley? This is all you have to say? I mean, I understand, you have crush on him or something, but still. Are you playing to win, or so that Rob can win? And if you don’t want to be too individually focused yet, at least talk about letting the team down, but Rob? Come on…. Please, don’t remind me of Purple Kelly, that memory is too painful (well, to be fair, she didn’t waste too much airtime in her season).
– Francesca Hogi sent to Redemption Island: I really liked her. I think she’s my favorite first boot ever. Of all the people out there, she was the one that seemed to have the best personality so far. It’s pretty sad that she basically got screwed by Phillip’s wackiness. So, sure, she’s on Redemption Island, which means we’re not done with her just right yet, we’ll see more of her. Not that much, I seriously doubt she is going to win every single Redemption Island duel. Actually, that’s the thing with this twist. Whenever the person at Redemption Island gets to re-enter the game, the last two or three persons just previously voted out have more chances than the other ones. Therefore, even if it will affect the game one way or the other, it won’t affect it so drastically that a first boot gets to come back. On the other hand, first boots rarely got to actually play the game that much, so if they return, they won’t affect it that much. Let’s take last season. Imagine that Wendy DeSmidt-Kohloff got to return. That wouldn’t have changed anything. Now, if Jill Behm did, that’s a complete different story, especially if she did when Marty Piombo and Brenda Lowe were still in the game. See what I mean?
– Grant Mattos: We barely saw him, I don’t really have anything to say about him. According to Dalton Ross he seemed the be the one that was the tightest with Rob… We’ll see what he’s made of really soon I’m sure.
– Kristina Kell: In my introductory post devoted to her, I said that she might play this game too hard too soon. I guess I was right. Props to her for actually playing the game (not many people seem to be doing it in her tribe so far), as well as finding the idol (Didn’t Jeff Probst say something about hiding the idols better? Or did he mean, only in seasons when Russell is not playing?) and securing a potentially strong alliance (I said “potentially”). But what’s up with gunning at Rob right away? First, he is strong in challenges and around camp, you want to keep in around at least a little bit (and eliminate his groupies in the meantime). Second, how did she hope for anything with her plan? Did she really believe that the Groupie Alliance was going to vote for her and that just three votes would oust Rob?
In any case, although she also messed up at Tribal Council; she should have been more adamant at denying what Phillip was saying and she should never have shown the idol to Rob (I really think she was taken by surprise and it’s true that Rob had a serious advantage there. He’s more than used to go to tribal council, while it’s always very impressive and disconcerting the first time around), props to her for keeping the idol and not playing it. It would just have allowed her to spend three other days on the island but she would have been next to go after that for sure. Now, she still has some leverage, she can hope for Phillip to be the next target and from there, who knows what could happen? For example, Rob could be tired of the (possibly) idiots he aligned himself with and decide to team up with Kristina in order to get prepared to be reunited with the big bad Russell or something like this.
– Matt Elrod: I don’t really have anything to say about him yet.
– Natalie Tenerelli: I’m confused about Natalie. She reminds me both of one of my cousin (a guy, but they have very similar facial features) and an ex-girlfriend (they almost have the same voices). I still need to process all of that. I’ll get back to you later with Natalie (if she’s still around, which is not too sure).
– Phillip Sheppard: Or should I say ex-Special Agent Sheppard? Where do they find these people? During the pregame interviews he seemed to be a normal guy, but hours into the game, and there we go, welcome to the second coming of Coach. I don’t really understand what’s going on with him. He can’t be actually crazy (he wouldn’t have been selected on the show), but if it’s all an act, there aren’t better acts to get voted out early and make America think that you’re actually crazy. In any case, even if he’s the kind of person I’d like to punch in the face (and keep in mind that I’m a non-violent person) if he behaved like this with me for more than five minutes, he’s indeed great television. I think we will have a blast with him (even though I’m not too sure he will last long).
– Boston Rob Mariano: How can he be so popular in his tribe is a mystery to me… Oh wait, no it’s not one, all of those groupie alliance member are recruits, that is, they saw one or two seasons of Survivor, including Heroes Vs Villains, and they don’t really have any idea of how devious Rob can be (as probably none of them have watch All-Stars). Apart from that, Rob was being Rob, building shelters (by the way, why exactly do they get to have all of these tools this season?) winning immunities… not… It’s interesting to see how he targeted the people he found the most threatening, instead of the weakest ones. I guess he’s scared to not reach the merge once again, hence the securing of all of these followers who don’t really seem to have a mind on their own. Also, I have to admit, bold move to ask Kristina for the idol. A somewhat bully move, but a good and daring one (he knows he’ll have to be bold and daring if he wants to go anywhere).

Zapatera

We haven’t seen much of the Zapatera tribe yet. It’s a shame as they seem to have much more interesting people (as a group I mean, one cannot get much more interesting than Phillip this season I’m afraid)…
– David Murphy: I like him so far (that’s because I like incredibly intelligent people, in other words, people like me). I was afraid of his social game. I’m not reassured yet, but from the little we saw of him, he seemed like he was bonding with Mike. That could be very good. If they form an alliance, they could be a very strong one. They’d need more people with them though. More about that in a few lines.
– Julie Wolfe: We haven’t really seen her at all, so I can’t really say anything just right yet.
– Krista Klumpp: We haven’t really seen her either. Although I really like the few seconds we’ve seen. From an eye candy point of view that is.
– Mike Chiesl: He seems smarter than I expected in my preview. Bonding with David and targeting Russell right away is a wise decision in my opinion. I was afraid he’d take the “we need the strong guys in the tribe let’s vote a weak woman and keep Russell” route. Well, they didn’t go to tribal council yet, but it’s good that he seems to want Russell out as soon as possible.
– Ralph Kiser: I really like him. He’s fun and seems nice. I’m not sure where he stands from a strategic or social point of view in his tribe though. In the preview for next week, he seems to be butting heads with Russell. Good, that could mean one more vote against Russell very soon.
– Russell Hantz: He has a very tough road ahead of him. I still don’t see how he possibly can win this game, but at this point, I don’t even see how he won’t be the first boot from his tribe. Despite all of that, I have a bad feeling, one where he will manage to get far. I’m just not sure how. Maybe that road goes through Redemption Island?
– Sarita White: We haven’t seen much of her, but Dalton Ross revealed that before the challenge, Russell was gunning for her. I’m not surprised by that, women his age are the ones he has the least influence on. So, I’m a little afraid for Sarita, she has to make friends soon. However, if she’s as fun and easy going at camp as she was in her interviews, she shouldn’t have too many problems to make some.
– Stephanie Valencia: I already disliked her before the game started but I don’t see how my opinion of her can improve after all she seems to be doing is trying to be Russell’s “wing woman”. Although I have to admit that she did a great job at it, and that since he got off that helicopter. Still, David and Mike have noticed it and she’s still my “favorite” to be the first eliminated from her tribe.
– Steve Wright: We didn’t see him much, but he seems more likable than in the previews, and you know, this whole Russell gunning for Sarita thing, Russell was pleading his case to Steve who wouldn’t have any of it. We also know that he doesn’t like nor respect Russell and wants him out as soon as possible.
So I don’t know about you, but we could have a very interesting alliance slowly forming here: David, Mike, Sarita and Steve (maybe Ralph and Krista too?). And such an alliance, if it manages to stay strong and not mess up, get too overconfident and cocky or anything like that, could possibly win it all.
Speculations for the merge: If the merge is 12 people we could have the “Groupie Alliance” on one side and the “anti-Russell alliance” on the other side. However, this final 12 seems a bit too obvious. Oh well, we’ll see.
Next person voted out: from Ometepe, I think Phillip should be worried. In Zapatera, Russell and Stephanie should better make more friends very soon.
What are your thought? Do you agree? Do not hesitate to comment.

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