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Philippines – Episode 1: “Survivor Smacked Me in the Chops”



Welcome back everyone for my weekly analysis (and a few speculations) about our favorite game show on TV (yes, I consider Survivor as a game show, not reality TV).

I gotta admit that I’m pretty excited about this season (well, I am every season, am I not?)

Still, this season looks like it’s going to keep its promises. An interesting location, a bunch of interesting people, an interesting twist concerning returning players (I usually dislike returning players against newbies, but previously evacuated players, why not?), and the three tribe settings, while barely explored in previous season, gives an interesting dynamic to the game (when you’re in a tribe of 6 instead or 9 or 10, there’s nowhere to hide).

So, let’s break down this first episode into pieces (i.e. contestants) as I like to do every season.





It seems that it’s the tribe we saw the least about for this first episode. Not sure why, as it seems to have many interesting people in it, but apparently its story is not the most important just yet in terms of introducing the forces in play (and indeed, I think the winner will come from one of the other tribes and he or she had to be introduced in this first episode as it’s often the case).


Carter Williams: We haven’t seen much of him, although the way he caught and threw the chicken to the raft in the beginning was impressive. However, that’s all I have to say about him right now.

– Dana Lambert: I’m surprised that she’s apparently fitting in better than I would have expected so far. However, I still don’t think she has what it takes for this game. Now, she thinks it’s all fun and games, camping and forming alliances without really knowing what it entails, but first tribal council could prove brutal for her, although I don’t think she’ll be a target right away.

Jeff Kent: As I previously mentioned, I don’t really know him, but I had a bad feeling about him in his pregame videos, and it’s been confirmed. The guy really seems to be an obnoxious smug and while I don’t wish him to get injured, that’d be sort of funny if he was evacuated for an injury suffered three minutes into the game. If that doesn’t happen, it will try to take the leadership of this tribe. Will the other let him? Probably, but if that means getting rid of Penner early, it could be their biggest mistake.

 – Jonathan Penner: I really love Penner and I’m really glad that he’s back. However, he started the game terribly, that is playing too hard, and not spending enough time with his tribemates, not bonding with them, while they’re bonding over the fact that he’s not bonding with them. I’m not sure what’s going through his mind, but he’d better find that idol, or if could be first to go from his tribe and that would suck. On a side note, it kinda moved me to see his emotion to be back. In those kinds of moment, I know it’s worth it to have him back in the show. He’s one of the players who really love the game and are not there for the camera time or any other bullshit.

Katie Hanson: I guess she’s this season’s pretty and useless girl, isn’t she? Funny, I thought that was gonna be Angie.

Sarah Dawson: I also had a pretty bad feeling about her in her pregame videos, it got a little better during that first episode. She seems smart and it was a good move from her to not say anything about the fact that she recognized Jeff Kent. When you catch somebody lying from the get-go, it’s always a good idea to keep this as leverage against them for later on, or to not throw them under the bus so early in case they become your friend, ally or tool. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.




While this team is the weakest on paper, it seemed to start off very strong, but fell apart real quick. All of that thanks to Russell… Also, this shows why three tribes of six is a very interesting combination. Three days in, and Matsing already looks like a very weakened and depleted tribe. However, Survivor has a history of such tribes bonding very strongly and making it to the end (Cook Islands, Samoa).


Angie Layton: I’m not sure how she’s going to fare on the long term, but I’m gladly surprised right now. Sure, she’s young, most likely quite naive and not too bright , but she doesn’t seem as useless as I expected her to be. She may even be able to play the game a little. Oh, I’m not saying she could make strong strategic moves, but she seems to be at least interested in the strategic aspect of the game, which is a huge improvement compared to some other young, pretty girls this shows has had (I’m looking at you Natalie Tenerelli, Purple Kelly and Semhar Tadesse among others.

Denise Stapley: I’m already a fan when was the last time we had an older smart and social woman who plays the game from the beginning, is not on the outs of her tribe and could actually become the winner of that season? I have to be wrong, but I want to say not since Tina Wesson (I’m wrong, right? There has to be some others.) And yes, I said it, I see her as the potential winner of this season. Not sure why. A feeling that she will make a lot of right moves and not many enemies along the way. See how during tribal council she managed to deflect the fact that she also was responsible for losing the challenge and it instantly became an afterthought in everyone’s mind (I know tribal council is heavily edited, but this edit matters in terms of storytelling as much if not more than what actually happened and was said).

Malcolm Freberg: My other favorite right now is Malcolm. I’ve really liked him since the very beginning (pregame interviews) and so far he delivers. Everything he said and did in this episode was spot on and a right move. I just can’t wait to see his confessionals where he trashes people in their back, Tyson style, because I’m sure this is what’s gonna happen. However, for some reason I don’t see him winning. Either he’ll make a big blunder along the way or he will make it to final tribal council, but there he will have made too many enemies to win. We’ll see.

– Roxanne “Roxy” Morris:  She hasn’t mentioned God or Jesus just yet. Good. Although I know it’s gonna come. Apart from that not much. She’ll obviously be a follower and not a very interesting character.

Russell Swan: Now I remember why Russell annoyed the hell out of me in Samoa. It’s not as much his voice that his bossy ways that he confuses with being a cheerleader or a motivational speaker or something. The guy has a lot of enthusiasm (too much?) but he can’t transmit it to other people around him although he thinks he does and unfortunately, he doesn’t get how other people perceive him. Or maybe he will know that he almost made history by being the first returnee to be booted out first. Maybe that opened his eyes, and he will change. I’m not sure he can change so drastically in one night though.

– Zane Knight voted out: Oh Zane! I really disliked you in your pregame interviews, but really loved you for the little time I got to see you on TV. You were pretty hilarious and all over the place. He was a very interesting character indeed. One that deserved more development. However, he played way too hard way too fast, and with very crazy moves. Making fake alliances with everyone on day one? Come on dude, you don’t make fake alliances this way if you don’t want it to backfire very quickly. And what about that “vote me out” speech, hoping it will push people to vote Russell out? Any person who says “vote me out” should and will get votes at the next tribal council, even more so when it’s the first tribal council where everyone has only one thing in mind “better anybody but me” and any excuse to vote someone out is a good excuse.






 – Abi-Maria Gomes: OK, I don’t dislike her as much as I thought I would, and she actually made one of the strongest moves of this first episode with this alliance with RC and Skupin. Those two women could really go all the way. But if they do, I think RC will win, not Abi-Maria.

 – Artis Silvester: I’m really surprised we didn’t see him at all. He seems to have a strong personality, but he also seem to have spent a lot of time alone during those first few days. Not good for him, as he’s really on the outs right now in his tribe, and could be the first one voted out.

– Lisa Whelchel: She seems like a very nice woman, but either she’s not cut out for this show, or she didn’t bond quickly enough with the other people in her tribe, but right now, the only thing that could save her is that Skupin appreciates her and is a fan of the show she was on. However, I don’t think she stands a chance to go far. Mike can protect her only for so long, and psychologically, she will have trouble being an outsider and feeling rejected. One detail is her confessional about soul searching or finding her true self on the island or something like that. You’d expect that from a very young adult with no life experience, not from a woman her age (now we all know how being a kid/teen actor/celebrity can mess you up.

– Michael Skupin: I’m glad to see him again after so long. If one contestant deserved another chance, it’s him I feel. Among the three returnees, he’s in the best spot right now, in the dominant alliance and no one in his tribe seems to be wanting to get rid of him, and also his tribe seems to be the strongest right now. The big question mark is how well will he be able to adapt to nowadays style of playing Survivor that is extremely different from his days. However, I feel that he hasn’t play in so long, that it may not be a problem for him (as opposed to Penner or Russell Swan actually) as he won’t be back to his old game play instantly, for the very reason it’s been so long. What he fell back into real quick was his “act first think next” attitude around camp. It’s amazing to see how many little injuries he managed to get in so little time. I don’t think it’s foretelling of anything, but that it’s just there for comedic effect. Actually, I’m pretty sure many players get lots of minor injuries like this, especially during their first days out there.

– Pete Yurkowski: Looks like he’s going to be a tool.

– Roberta “R.C.” Saint-Amour: There’s something I don’t like about her (maybe the fact that she’s a banker?) but I’m impressed by her strong start. Of all the contestants right now, she’s the one in the best position and possibly the most powerful player in the game at that moment. She’s strong and athletic, she has a solid alliance that she started and will most likely lead. It’s a long run until this final tribal council, but if she doesn’t make too many mistakes (or if the others make bigger ones) she could be sitting there at the end.


Next time on Survivor:

Looks like Penner and Lisa are in trouble, each in their own way. I believe that Penner will find the idol that will save him (for how long?) and Lisa will recover from her breakdown, but may not last long anyway.

Who will be voted out next?

Mmm… Hard to tell, but I’d bet on Artis or Jeff.

Winner Prediction:

Something I usually never do on the first episode is predict a winner, but this time I do, and I think that the winner will be either RC or Denise (and I’m rooting for Denise)


Before you go anywhere else, check out these great blogs and sites:

Dalton Ross

– Super Jude

Jeff Pitman at True Dork Times

– More will come as the season advances and I find them. I won’t always have time to update this list before the following week and post, but follow me on Facebook or Google+ (my Twitter account is not just for Survivor, so you may or may not like it, feel free to follow me there too is you want) for links to the best Survivor blogs I read/find.



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