‘Survivor: One World’ Premiere: A Game of Chicken

Good news, everyone!: Survivor recaps are back (for now, at least.  Until we inevitably get pulled away for something like this).

And we start Survivor: ONE WORLD! with even more good news: No more Redemption Island (unless there’s a top-secret Last Chance Redemption Island, but wethinks they’re leaving that for Tom Colicchio), which is welcome for two reasons; 1) the show will return to its classic structure, giving us the enjoyment of separate reward and immunity challenges, and sparing us the pain of watching exiled player after exiled player finding God on the Redemption Island (also, it saves us from enduring someone like Ozzie climbing trees, catching fish, and belting gorilla calls, boasting about how he’s never eaten better); and 2) this will make these recaps at least somewhat shorter, relieving us of the responsibility of reporting on every single Redemption Island duel (however, it does preclude us from making fun of The Real World-Road Rules Challenge, but we’ll try to make up for that in other places.  God willing).

So let’s get to it!  Survivor: ONE WORLD! starts by revealing that in instead of Redemption Island, this season’s twist is that it’s boys vs. girls, which should have immediately inspired all women to crib from Jenna Morasca‘s playbook, and cautioned the men against such tactics.  Instead, when Jeff Probst gives both tribes sixty-seconds to strip the truck they came in on for parts, “Big Mike” takes a page out of Rupert’s book and employ’s the ol’ steal from the other team trick.  It’s really Survivor 101, a classic first ten minutes, scrambling for initial supplies move.  Frankly, the women  should have known better, and their lack of attention was a terrible lapse in judgment that cemented this as a battle of the sexes, and basically sets the course for this season, at least until the first tribal shakeup or the merge.  Right now though, it’s boys and girls in the sandbox, pulling each other’s hair, giving (American) Indian rope burns and throwing dirt.  In other words, they’re being a bunch of self-possessed, petty brats, which we’re sure is exactly what Survivor and producer Mark Burnett were hoping for.

And guess what boys and girls!  It gets worse!  You’re also living together!  Yes, Survivor: ONE WORLD! was not just the show’s plea for world peace and tribute to global co-dependency, a hands-across-the-earth altruistic message, but a clue to this season’s second twist: two tribes, one camp.  ONE WORLD! 

There were, however, two chickens (well, we imagine there were more, but for dramatic purposes the tribes only spotted two), and, for a brief, fleeting moment, it looked like the two tribes were going to co-exist harmoniously, agreeing to split the poultry.  But when farm girl (and possible Teen Mom dad) Chelsea effortlessly (was anyone else  even trying?) caught both chickens, she saw an opportunity to gain back the upper-hand the girls’ Salami Tribe lost when they allowed Big Mike to pilfer their ax, and decided to hold the chicken for ransom.  The men, however, cried fowl, and walked away from the bargaining table.  Like any great lawman, they don’t negotiate with terrorists or women (especially terrorist women). Which was all well and good for the women, until they realized that you can’t cook a chicken with tattoos (Kourtney), horrendously ill-fitting clothing (Alicia) or a gay best friend (Colton).  Nope, you need fire.  And guess who has fire?  DUH!  Dudes!  And, thus, was born the great Survivor chicken fight of 2012.  Whom was going to blink first???

Now seems like a good time to check in with Troyzan, who took a brief break from being incensed that Greg has the fucking audacity to give himself a nickname so close to Troy’s self-appointed nickname, to weigh-in on the ladies:

Well, yes, insofar as cuckoos are birds and chickens are birds, yes, totally Cuckoo Land.  Very astute insight, Troyzan.

It’s at this point that the girls do try to crib from Jenna Morasca, with Alicia and Monica suggesting a pole dance and a striptease in exchange for fire.  But it’s too little, too late, as if there’s one thing that men like more than taters, it’s being right.  In addition, they’re mature adult males.

After spending a cold night with nothing but their own body heat, tattoos, horrendously ill-fitting clothing, and two chickens to keep them warm, the women finally come up with an offer for something more useful than titties, weaving palms fronds for the mancave (but they will not weave at the males’ camp.  NO WAY.  Susan B. Anthony did not fight all those years so women would have to weave together palms fronds on a reality show in exchange for fire at the men’s camp).  Of course, had they been better students of the game (which they’re obviously not; see: Mike, Big), they should have predicted that a flint would be awarded after the immunity challenge, win or lose.  Way to weave for nothing, gals!

What the women couldn’t predict, however, was that Kourtney would break her wrist not more than one minute into the first challenge.  Well, actually, maybe they could, if her choice of headgear was any indication.

So before the ink can even dry on Probst’s denim shirt, Kourtney’s out of the challenge with a busted wrist (ALWAYS REMEMBER KOURTNEY, BROKEN WRISTS SINK SHIPS.  ALSO, KNITTED ANIMAL CAPS), and the men are left with Sophie’s choice, do they take the default victory due to Kourtney’s injury, or do they finish the challenge and give the women a chance, in a gesture of sportsmanship and chivalry (okay, well, Sophie’s choice is pork or beef, but it’s a similar tough choice).  The men, surprisingly absolutely no one except for the women, decide to take the victory and head home to their palms fronds.  It was really a no-win situation.  Finish the challenge and risk losing (or, more likely, win by a large margin and rub it in the girl’s faces) or take the win and look like selfish jerks.  But here’s the thing: 1) no matter what, these guys are selfish jerks, and 2) despite what the women said, they would have done the same exact thing.  They just don’t understand that because their brains are so tiny (it’s science).

But even more than that, we don’t think there was any right or wrong choice.  The truth is it probably doesn’t matter, because, much like Big Mike’s thievery five minutes into the game, we don’t think these women will hold this moment against the men later in the game.  The tribes, inevitably, will be mixed, and then there will be a merge, and alliances will be made and broken and made and broken and made again.  There’s so much lying and backstabbing and deceit to come, that this choice, however controversial, probably won’t come into play when the jury members write down their vote for the Sole Survivor.  We could be wrong, but, at this point in the game, looking too far ahead could be dangerous, could be fatal.  Take the victory, however tainted, and just be happy no one else got hurt.  Oh, except for Nina.

What happened to your face?

OH MY GOD, what happened to your face???

At Tribal Council the women of Salami turn on each other, arguing vehemently about where it’s appropriate to weave palm fronds, while Kat reveals her mutant ability to control fire.  Of course, all the cat fighting is for nothing, because Jeff reveals (SPOILER ALERT!) that Kourtney would not be returning and they could all go home, thanks for stopping by and yelling and threatening one another with violence, bye!  At this point in Survivor history, Jeff appears like a man among children, a singular, logical voice among a clamor of nonsense.  One has to wonder how long Jeff can go on as the group therapist-meets-nanny.  Those close-ups indicate that all that stress may be starting to wear on him.

The other big question was who is going to be our Sophie this season.  Now, last season, we didn’t know that Sophie was going to go all the way, and she wasn’t our longshot pick from the premiere.  Instead, she was a quiet, but smart player whom we admired, gently needled, sarcastically but genuinely liked, and watched blossom into a bona-fide threat.  So, after viewing the first episode, and deciding among a string of solid contenders (Greg makes a good run with that mustache, but that makes him more of a Rick, albeit a much more loquacious one), we’ve made our selection: Kim.  Because a) like Sophie, she’s easy on the eyes (well, more accurately, like Sophie her eyes are easy on the eyes), and b) she seems to see the big picture.  She doesn’t necessarily agree with the girls, and she’s not fully invested in this boys vs. girls, battle of gender pride thing, but she’ll play the part to get her further in the game.  Like Sophie, you can see that she gets the game and she gets people.  But unlike Sophaloaf, it appears Kim will have an easier time ingratiating herself with her tribe.  Which could be both an advantage and a drawback.  We’ll just have to wait and S(oph)ee.

We’ll (hopefully) be back next week with another, even better recap, and our player-by-player odds/celebrity look-a-likes.  For now, we leave you with our first A-B-C for Survivor: ONE WORLD! 

Always Be Careful (when jumping onto a cargo net.  For example, DON’T land wrist first)

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Filed under Century 21 Reality, Tribal Council

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