You may recall in our first Survivor:Filippines recap that we related a story about a friend asking us if and how Survivor can possibly still be entertaining after so many seasons, and we noted that despite over a decade of challenges and Tribal Councils and blindsides, the show manages to somehow, incredibly, keep offering something we’ve never seen before. And this week’s episode was yet another example of that, and it kind of left our jaw on the ground (just COVERED in mud).
It all unfolds at the Reward Challenge (and boy are we happy that, with the three tribes whittled down to two, we’ve narrowed the focus and returned to separate Reward and Immunity Challenges). The challenge begins promisingly enough, first with our first glimpse Jeff Probst, always a delight, and second with the introduction of the challenge course, which is essentially a single-ball version of American Gladiators’ Atlasphere. However, unlike his namesake, Michael “Two Skupes” Skupin, is not as successful in navigating the field as legendary Gladiator champion Wesley “Two Scooops” Berry. Pretty soon, it just turns into a mud stalemate.
And then Howie Mandel appeared, as if out of thin air…
A real man makes his own luck.
-Zane, Survivor: Philippines
A few days ago, on the cusp of the premiere of Survivor: Filippines: The Rise of Skupin, we were asked if Survivor as a series (not the Survivor Series) is still entertaining after twenty-four seasons. “How could it possibly be?” they wondered. But we told this person that the show, against all odds, manages to be fresh and new almost every season, that although the game uses essentially the same format that it started with back in Borneo, each season and its cast members offer something new and different, something that makes the show worth watching. Case and point, in the first episode of our new season, we are blessed with Zane, who once again proves that no matter how long this show goes the players will continue to be stupid. And that, my friend, is why, twelve years later, Survivor is still very much worth watching.
But, in our normal fashion, before we get to end and Zane’s stupidity, let’s start at the start. And we start with Jeff Probst channelling Bruce Willis in Striking Distance and rolling up in a speedboat, looking as confident and determined as ever, putting to rest any worries that one might have had that he’d be preoccupied with this just premiered daytime talker (and, perhaps, in another post it would worth discussing just how much Probst has meant to Survivor, and how much it owes its success to the man in blue). And we get our first look at the new cast, which in addition to the returning players that we’ve already discussed – Mike “Two Scoops” Skupin, Jonathan Penner, and Russell Swan (who, apparently, came directly from a jazz performance) – includes former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and former Major League Baseball MVP Jeff Kent.
A few hundred words on why we hate Jeff Kent and then the game is afoot…