Survivor: One World, Ep. 24.01, “Two Tribes, One Camp, No Rules” is a chaotic, unpredictable start

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Survivor: One World Review, Season 24, Episode 1, “Two Tribes, One Camp, No Rules”
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

If Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst were looking to change up Survivor, they made the right choices when setting up the “One World” season. From the beginning, there’s a haphazard, chaotic tone to the game that remains until the end. The sad victim of the mayhem is Kourtney, who seems a bit overwhelmed by the game. It’s strangely fitting that a player who described her bad luck in the pre-game interview would break her wrist. With one awkward 25-foot leap, she ends the challenge and likely saves another worthy player in the process. Probst tries to extend the drama about Kourtney’s return, but it’s obvious her exit is final.

Rewinding back to the start, Probst gives one of his patented intros while dangling from a helicopter over the Samoan beach. Afterwards, the players discover they’re split by gender and quickly get 60 seconds to grab any gear from the truck. This is the first of many crazy scenes, punctuated when the crafty Michael leisurely steals nearly all the women’s stuff. This begins a theme of this episode, which involves one team being surprised that the other actually wants to play the game. Michael’s move is so ingeniously simple that it stands out from much of the cast. With a few exceptions, the entire group seems unaware of how Survivor works. Few premieres have involved so many players stumbling around so aimlessly. Given the new twists of placing everyone on one beach, it’s possible this cast was purposely composed to be dumber than usual. It might not provide riveting game play, but it could inspire some great television.

After the truck debacle, the next step is sending the teams in opposite directions for a nasty hike through the jungle. When they arrive at the same beach, both groups have a similar reaction that basically says “I have to live with those idiots?” Conveniently, two chickens magically appear to inspire more chaos. Chelsea grabbing not one, but two chickens ranks with Tom killing a shark in Palau as one of the most badass moments in Survivor history. This time it’s the men who take their turn as the innocent novices, assuming the girls will hand over one of the chickens. The kingpin of this silliness is the chiseled lawyer Matt, who’s leading the competition for the big doofus award for this season. Combine this idiocy with his obvious arrogance, and he’s a prime candidate for an early blind-side. Please make this happen! In a great example of poor counting, Matt calls his alliance of four “dominant”, despite the fact there are five other guys on his tribe. Numbers are rarely a strong suit for Survivor contestants.

This premiere isn’t one of the show’s best, but there are plenty of stand-out moments. Watching Monica and Christina steal fire from the sleeping guys’ camp is hilarious, especially with some seriously loud snoring audio playing. One of the early favorites on the women’s tribe is Sabrina, who comes off much better than in her pre-game interview. She immediately bonds with Colton, who’s gay and feels like an outsider among the frat guys. Finding the immunity idols has become laughably easy in recent years, and Sabrina finds one inside an obvious log. In a clever new twist, each idol is designated for a certain tribe, so Sabrina must give this prize to Colton. Getting chummy with the girls was a very wise move for this outsider. He still may struggle in the long run, but the idol gives him a chance to make serious waves in the upcoming weeks.

This week’s challenge involves the aforementioned leap and a balance beam, which is a staple of the first challenge in the “men vs. women” seasons. After Kourtney’s nasty fall stops the action, Probst gives the guys an intriguing offer: they can take the win or do the sporting thing and finish the competition. On the surface, it might seem like their choice to grab immunity was the wrong move. Probst tries to sell that narrative, but it’s completely false. Why take the chance of losing if one guy can’t cross the beam? The choice is a no-brainer and likely won’t come back to haunt anyone in particular. Since the whole team decided together, there’s little chance the women will hold a grudge. The injury is unfortunate for Kourtney, but it’s also too bad for the sake of the challenge. It’s almost certain that a few players would have spent a long time comically trying to cross the narrow beam. Another casualty of the net is Nina’s face, which gets a busted lip and other cuts. Combined with some crazed facial expressions, she’s not looking so telegenic after only three days.

This premiere justifies the One World premise, which brings a fresh unpredictability that’s been largely absent from some recent seasons. That said, this cast has some very unlikable players that could negate the exciting changes. The irritating Alicia receives a lot of screen time in her ridiculously high shorts, which can’t be comfortable for very long. At the Tribal Council, she picks a fight with Christina for little reason and comes off terribly. The women struggle this week, but they do appear to have some serious competitors, especially Chelsea, Monica, and Sabrina. All of them seem willing to let the others battle, a wise move in this game. For the men, Tarzan and Troyzan are bizarre and live up to expectations, but they aren’t as grating as Matt, plus Jay’s strangely pitched voice. Bill and Michael seem like strong competitors, and Jonas stands out as a possible under-the-radar sleeper. The game could go anywhere at this early stage, which should bring plenty of excitement to the upcoming weeks.

Dan Heaton

2 Comments
  1. Dan Heaton says

    Dylan, it sounds like we’re on the same page, though I’m not a huge fan of Jay so far. He seems nice, but pretty dim-witted. It is frightening that Alicia is a special-ed teacher. She seems determined to try and become a star by being really obnoxious this year. I think you may be thinking of NaOnka from Nicaragua (S21), who was a PE Teacher and messed with everyone. She ended up quitting. I also think Colton is playing a very short-sighted strategy. He’s supposed to be the “superfan” of this season, but he’s not playing smart. The idol only saves him once, and he better hope for a tribal swap really quickly. Even then, he’s not in great shape.

    For the challenge, I think Jeff consulted with the other producers, and they decided on the spot to try and build drama with the weird choice for the guys. Like you say, the guys gained nothing by competing. They also could have just had one guy who hadn’t crossed yet sit out and then continued the challenge with 8 on 8, but I guess that would have skipped the drama. I don’t expect it to have much ramifications, though.

    Glad to hear you’ll be stopping by to add your thoughts. I have a feeling this season may be a little rough, but it’s going to be unpredictable. Thanks!

  2. Dylan says

    You seem to have come to many of the same conclusions that we did while watching. The gang of douchebag frat guys (or at least the banker and the attorney) are sure to be grating on us as the season wears on. They’re unlikable from the start with their supreme confidence and swagger. On the other hand, Colton is damn lucky that Sabrina found that idol, as he appeared to make zero effort to even try to mesh with his tribe. Outsider or no, you can’t merely ignore your own tribe and expect to do well. Can’t say I’ll be rooting for him at this point, either, though at least he’s funny. Among the guys, Jay (yeah, that is an odd voice for him) and Leif are early favorites.

    On the ladies’ side, I was pulling for Kourtney early on, but she too seemed doomed to be the outsider amongst that cast of Barbies. Alicia is downright hateworthy; to think that she’s a Special Ed teacher is frightening (wasn’t there some crude young girl a few seasons back that was also unbelievably a teacher? We tried to recall who but couldn’t). Chelsea, Christina and Sabrina are on the top of the list thus far for the ladies.

    Biggest gripe: the Challenge, or more specifically, Jeff’s handling of the injury. WTF was that?!? He played it in such a way that it was a lose-lose scenario for the guys – play and they have a (slim) chance at losing; don’t play and they come off as unsportsmanlike jerks. Fact is, they won once she left. Where was the incentive for them to play? Throw in a food item or something, man. I realize that the downside (them looking like jerks) won’t really hurt anyone in the long run – what are the ladies gonna do, punish ALL of them somehow? – but it was a cheap shot.

    Should be an interesting season. Glad you’re doing these recaps, Dan. I should be here weekly to chip in with my thoughts/responses as well.

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