Survivor 20: Slay Everyone, Trust No One

Yeah, Survivor is back, and what a premiere. Maybe the best ever. But that makes sense, usually premieres are very exciting because the show is back, but we don’t really know the contestants so premieres are more about trying to discover who they are than anything else.
This time we know all of those contestants, some of them very well, so we can get down to business right away. And that’s what we do with that crazy reward challenge, one of the most brutal challenges ever. Two injuries? Come on, we’ve never seen that before (although, I’m sure there has been tons of minor injuries during challenges that ended up on the editing room floor).
I’m not too sure what to think about the arrival with the helicopters, it felt like Apocalypse Now (I was expecting a March of the Valkyries soundtrack to go along with it), not Survivor. I guess the producers didn’t care for straying from the marooning theme they usually have when contestants arrive as long as it was impressive.
Overall, I think that both tribes can be summarized with what happened with the immunity challenge: the Heroes are the muscles, but the Villains have the brains.
We’ll see what happens in the long run.
Heroes
This team is so full of egos that I’m afraid it will implode sooner or later, but so far, they’re working very well together on a day to day basis, building shelter and all, which makes sense with all of those hard workers and all.
Amanda Kimmel
Not much of Amanda on that first episode, but as predicted by many, it seems that she’s going for aligning herself with past friends/allies, namely James and Cirie. So far, not much else to say about her. I’m sure she’ll fit well in the group, and should go quite far, some people have bigger targets than hers so far.
Candice Woodcock
She may seem a little bit on the outs, she doesn’t have anybody from her season with her (there’s Parvati, but she’s on the other team) and as she doesn’t hang out with the Survivor crowd, she doesn’t seem to personally know anybody. That could actually play in her favor if all the big names start gunning at each other, she could be the swing vote, but that could as well fire back at her. She’ll have to make friends, and quick. She seemed to have bonded a little bit with Colby, as they’re both in the same situation. We’ll see.
Cirie Fields
She didn’t waste any time to get into full game mode, I’m actually even surprised her first vote wasn’t more strategic. I guess it’s part of the fact that she’s fully aware that she is the person that most of other contestants are the most afraid of, so she has to be very very careful with all of her moves, or she’ll be the next to go just like that, as soon as she shows her strategic side too much.
Colby Donaldson
He lost in a physical duel against Coach!!! I think this is the biggest “event” in that episode. Colby, the guy nobody could beat years ago, lost against Coach! One could imagine he kinda did it to fool people into believing that he’s not as strong as he used to be, but that’s not his style, he’s really not as strong as he used to be (His first time around was 9 years earlier! His second time 5 years ago). One could think that it’s gonna be a big blow to his ego, but I don’t think so, I think he’s fully aware of that and that could even play in his favor, as people won’t feel threatened by him anymore. Now, the question is: has he learned to play strategically? If yes, he could surprise a lot of people. I’m afraid he hasn’t though.
James Clement
As opposed to Colby, James seems as strong as before (but the last time we saw him was much more recent), he says he has learned from his mistakes and will play more strategically this time. Yes, he started to find allies, especially J.T. (and possibly Amanda and Cirie), but will he be aware that they’re already starting to think about when they’re going to backstab him? Ironically, while he needs to play more strategically, his only chance to win lies in his prowesses in challenges, as when down to 5 or 6 people, he’ll have to keep on winning immunities until the end if he wants to make it to the final council. Good luck with that.
James “J.T.” Thomas, Jr
J.T. said it clearly this episode: don’t expect him to play the same goodie-goodie gameplay that allowed him to win the first time, and even if he wasn’t as heroic as he says he was (he still betrayed a few people, and his acting during the final tribal council should have gotten him an Emmy nomination… almost), but if the point of that season is to prove that “hero” and “villain” are very subjective concepts, I think he’ll be the poster boy for that. I can’t wait to see him backstab a few people and see where that leads him (very far I hope)
Jessica “Sugar” Kiper (voted out)
I hate when people come back “just to be on TV”, that was her original reason to be on the show, and it hasn’t changed. She shouldn’t have been selected. That people like her get to do it another time when they’re obviously not into it, and because of that prevent a more deserving person to be on the show is really annoying (just like Johnny Fairplay on Fans Vs Favorites). And her pathetic attempt at seducing Colby was stupid, lame and embarrassing to watch (not mentioning more than annoying for the people that were trying to sleep around her, and I’m not surprised if that got her getting booted out more than anything else)
Bye, bye Sugar, you had nothing to do on that show, I hope we never see you again on TV (oh, shit, there’s the reunion show)…
Rupert Boneham
I was talking about bruised ego a bit earlier, and every All-Stars season some big egos get bruised… badly… This time I’m afraid it’s going to be Rupert’s turn (and Russell’s? More on that later). OK, bad luck started the beating with the breaking his toe thing on the first challenge. How long will he be able to compete with that broken toe? I’m not too sure, but already in the immunity challenge, he was in the puzzle solving team instead of being on the physical team, where he normally belongs. Then, he doesn’t catch any fish (remember, he’s used on being the food provider), and finally he uses almost half of flint and can’t start a fire, while J.T. and Stephenie didn’t seem to have much problem doing it.
How is he going to react from all of this? He is going to try to prove himself to restore his bruised ego, and nobody will care, and actually get annoyed and kick him out of the game, or instead, he’s gonna get more humble and thus, more likable? He would be good for him that he does the latter, but I’m afraid that the former will happen. Not mentioning that his toe may make him useless in challenges, rarely a good thing.
Stephenie LaGrossa

Talking about injuries, apparently that shoulder problem is not a new one, how much of a problem is it going to be for her in the game remains to be seen. I’m also not sure whether aligning herself with Tom right away was a good move or not. I don’t think she had much of a choice though, I don’t think she really knows anybody personally on the show but him, and in Palau, if I remember correctly, they respected each other so much that they almost allied with each other (but of course Tom couldn’t afford that). It’s both a good move: there are worse people to have for ally and friend than Tom, and a bad one: they’re both threatening individually, but as a duo, they’re scary, very scary. And Cirie won’t let that happen (other people may though), and I see two groups among the Heroes appearing real soon.

Tom Westman
He’s not as strong as he used to be and he knows it. And I think that although he’ll still be a “super hero” (see the catching the chicken, all of them, episode) he’ll be less cocky (yes, I always found Tom cocky in Palau) and more likable. As previously mentioned a few lines earlier, I really see him as becoming the leader of the tribe, but also being targeted by Cirie and as a result, one of them will get an early boot, the other one may go far (although I can’t see Cirie going far, too many people will target her). Tom can make it far if he survives that early targeting though, as he’ll have the time to make enough friends to be safe for the long run. How far? Not sure.
Villains
Funny how they were plotting, allying, getting to backstab as soon as the game started, but after all, that tribe has some of the best strategists to ever play the game. But they shouldn’t forget they’re also stranded on a deserted island and those kinds of things (you, building a shelter and all that)
Benjamin “Coach” Wade
I was surprised to see some glimpses of humility in Coach during that premiere. Hard to believe, especially after he beat Colby during the reward challenge! I also loved all the cheap shots Probst was taking at him (the canoeing comment, and another one, can’t remember which). Of course, as usual, he thinks he’s a good player, and no he’s not. His whole “I admire you Rob” speech may be a sign that he’s really scared of Boston Rob, and he’s trying to make friends with him (of course, Rob will use that against Coach as soon as he needs to). And what’s going on between Coach and Jerri? More on that in Jerri’s paragraph.
Courtney Yates
We didn’t see much of her during this premiere, too bad as she always have great lines (and also she looked hot in that episode, soon, she’ll be as nasty and dirty as anybody else… yeah, I have a strange crush on Courtney, although I’m not sure I would get along with her in real life). Does it mean she’ll go far? I hope so. Actually the fact that she’s so nonthreatening will totally play in her favor with all of those people she’s playing with.
Go Courtney!
Danielle DiLorenzo
Who? Just kidding. I remember her now… Vaguely.
We haven’t seen much of her this week either, except in that one scene where Russell is doing exactly what he did in his season and working her the same way he’s worked all of the girls then. Does this mean she’s the next Ashley or the next Natalie???
Jerri Manthey
Ok, I understand why Jerri had to be there, but I’m afraid she’ll be annoying real soon. Or not? What’s up with this thing with Coach? Is she really having a crush on him? Hasn’t she seen him in the Tocantins? Oh, that’s true, no she hasn’t, she confessed not knowing most of the people playing this season. And if you add that to the fact that she’s never been a very strategic player, it may play in her favor. People won’t be threatened by her, and they won’t target her… well, at least until she gets hungry and bitching, and annoying, and then she’ll be out of the game. But this thing with Coach… Is it for real, or does she (wrongfully) suspect him to be a strong player and she’s trying to have him in her pocket to be protected?
Parvati Shallow
She started playing the game and working her fellow castaways as soon as the game started and… what else do you expect from her really?
How well is she’s going to fare is a big question. Her game in Fans Vs Favorites was amazing, but let’s not forget that the people she was playing were nowhere near the likes of Boston Rob and Russell.
So, she’ll need allies to make it far and I’m not too sure who will want to ally with her.
Randy Bailey
We didn’t see Randy much, which is a shame. I don’t have much to say about him right now, but I’m afraid that he won’t fit in that group. He should make it past a couple of votes, while the big guns are going to try to vote each other out, but I don’t think he will make it until the merge, which is sad.
Rob “Boston Rob” Mariano
Maybe the “scariest” player out there, everybody knows what to expect from him, and anybody smart should want him out as soon as possible. But he has that charisma, that will have people think “if I ally with him, I could use him as a ‘shield'” and he already seems to be taking the role of leader in the tribe. How well, will he play is a thing I’m not too sure about though. He says he has changed, and I think he’s telling the truth, being married and a dad may have mellowed him a little bit, for better (him as a person) or worse (him as a player).
Russell Hantz
He has started to play exactly the same game as the last time and why shouldn’t he? Remember, that this season was shot before the previous one was broadcast, so nobody knows him, and the fact that Jeff Probst “outed him” as one of the 10 most memorable players won’t be enough, they still don’t know anything about him. I still think he’s bigger weakness will be himself, as he’ll get too cocky and that will backfire. And I really don’t know how long he’s gonna last. I’m surprised we saw so many confessionals from him, what does it mean? I’m pretty much sure he won’t win this game, and that he won’t even make it to the end. Why? Because of the Season 19 finale. When he was so shocked, almost crying, first I thought it was just because he was shocked he didn’t win against Natalie. But now, I think it goes beyond than that. He must have played all of Season 20 thinking he had won Season 19, and he must have gone into the Season 19 finale knowing he was not in the Season 20 finale, so when he realized that he hadn’t won Season 19 either, he realized that he didn’t win any of the seasons and that he may never win Survivor. I still hope he’s going to give us a good show (I’m sure he will), hopefully finding a couple of hidden immunity idols along the way.
Sandra Diaz-Twine
Originally, I was not sure why she was cast as villain. It didn’t take long to remember why. The fact that she’s ready to do whatever as long as it helps her going further into the game. And that scene with Boston Rob made me think that they could be a very dangerous twosome. They really could work very very well together, we’ll see how it’s going to play out. First, I was not too sure, now I’m really glad she’s back.
Tyson Apostol
Wait a minute?! Where was Tyson during this episode? We almost didn’t see him, he had only one confessional (but a great one, definitely the best line in the show, although Probst will be tough competition for that this season). So does this lack or air time mean he’ll last very long, or does it mean he’s playing under the radar? Tyson playing under the radar? Sounds like an oxymoron… But actually, I think that’s his best strategy early in the game. Also, I’m not sure what to think about his shorts. Is he trying to appeal to the gay viewership? 😉
Next Week:
Wow, having a whole preview based on Boston Rob passing out is scary. What does it mean? Is he going to play a Russell Swan on us? I hope not, I really don’t.
Next person voted out:
If the Heroes go back to tribal, I predict a show down between Cirie+Friends Vs Tom and Stephenie+Friends.
If the Villains go and Boston Rob is not healthy, he may be a goner. If it’s not him, it could be Parvati. I see one of them going far, but not both.
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Frenchman, addicted to Survivor (yes, there is such a thing) to the point of having a blog dedicated to the show where I like to analyze and speculate about what we see every week.

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