Survivor has come back with a vengeance for its 30th installment, Survivor: Worlds Apart. This new cast of 18 castaways looks to be a great group off the bat, with a ton of good gamers who know and love the show, all the while playing under the guises of being grouped as White Collar, Blue Collar, or No Collar. After one episode I’m already really excited about what’s in store for Worlds Apart and the 17 players still in it. I’ll get to some of my predictions and favorites for the season at the end, but before that, I want to touch on my impressions of the game as it unfolded during episode one. Here are my thoughts on the episode that was:
- From the opening sequence of the show, you could really see how well the Survivor producers did with picking a theme for the season. They got 3 really exciting groups of 6 castaways a piece who could embrace a singular notion encompassing their profession and personality. First, they introduced the ‘White Collar’ tribe, all of whom were in business or academia and dressed to the T in business suits, slacks, etc. They seemed to embrace the identifying trait Jeff Probst placed on them, that they make the rules. Then came the ‘Blue Collar’ tribe, a group of working men and women who seemed extra jazzed up about being labeled blue collar. Guys like Dan and Mike were vocally supportive of the grouping right from the moment Jeff revealed it, and as a viewer, this was definitely a group you could see working well together. The last group revealed was probably the hardest to explain, but Jeff was very eloquent and enthusiastic in revealing the No Collar tribe. He explained them as the free spirits, the ones who break the rules and live life by their own feelings and leanings. Again, you could see that explanation jiving with this group, especially coconut vendor Vince and free-spirit sailing instructor Jenn. All three tribes looked the part, and immediately embraced the roles handed to them, which is going to make the distinctions between their games all the more exciting to follow. Whenever Survivor emphasizes certain traits of the cast, those traits always find a way to effect the game significantly, so seeing the excitement of the tribes as they gathered enhanced my already favorable opinions of this cast.
- It was both devilish and predictable of the producers to single people out and give them moral dilemmas on Day 1, but that’s a line Survivor likes to walk. This sort of followed the mold from Survivor: Cagayan where a player was voted out of their tribe only to get a choice to gain food for their tribe going forward or to instead get a clue to the placement of a hidden immunity idol. The only real difference this time was two people would have to make the decision between a large bag of beans, or a small bag with a clue to the idol. Two tribes picked the ‘honest’ approach, as Dan and Mike for Blue Collar, and Will and Jenn for No Collar picked the larger bag of beans without an idol clue. However, the White Collar tribe members, Joaquin and So, chose deceit, and took the small bag with the clue to the hidden immunity idol. It really seemed like this was the no-brainer bad decision of the two, there’s no reason to put a target of suspicion on your back especially when you’ve already been both paired up with someone and singled out from your tribe as a whole. Even if this was an ok decision to make, the problem with Joaquin and So was that their lie to cover up their deceit was an epic fail. So tried to sell a line that she picked a third neutral option, and Joaquin just showed throughout the episode that he was a terrible liar, and likely unaware of what reality show he was playing. That’s the thing with Survivor; to be good at the game you have to be good at deception, and if you’re not good at deception, then you don’t play a deceptive game. Joaquin and So really put a huge target on their backs by making a bad decision on Day 1, and unfortunately it came back to haunt them at the end of the episode.
- As the Survivors began to break ground on their new camps, we really got to see how the seemingly perfectly-grouped tribes would interact, and it was apparent that there were issues abound with each group. The White Collar tribe seemed to function decently, but there was a lot of mistrust between castaways on that tribe with So and Joaquin coming off as liars to Carolyn, Shirin, and Max, who were quick to make an informal alliance. Carolyn got a lot of confessionals on air in this episode, which might be telling of her prominence in this game going forward. I have to give her some props, while she might be a tad bit boisterous, she did find an immunity idol without a clue, and that’s no easy feat to accomplish. I think her tribe may have to watch for her going forward, she could be a threat. The Blue Collar tribe was also wrought with mistrust, as Sierra immediately spoke out to Lindsey about her doubts in Dan and Mike’s story about their ‘Honest or Deceit’ choice. It seemed kind of like she was trying to throw shade for the sake of shaking things up, but in the game of Survivor you do have to take peoples’ words with a grain of salt. It was clear from then on that Dan, who was very vocal and happy about the blue collar moniker, would have problems gelling with the rest of his tribe. I’m not sure if any of the negativity directed towards him was fair or not, we do only get to see a small amount of their interactions on air, but it seems clear that drama could be an issue for this squad. I don’t buy this group gelling too well; I’m just not seeing good things for them going forward. The No Collar Tribe had so much awkwardness at camp that it was almost painful to watch at times. Vince seemed like an interesting character going into the game, but after seeing him with other people, I’m starting to realize why he lives on the fringe of society selling coconuts; he’s kind of nut himself. The way he talked to Jenn while trying to make an alliance with her was just plain creepy, and his jealousy when Joe started to be friendly with her was about enough to make me turn away from the screen. I give Jenn a lot of props for playing Vince off really well and keeping him calm when he was getting paranoid about others, she really seems to have one of the sanest minds in her tribe. Joe looks like a really strong player on this tribe, but it’s yet to be seen if his differences of opinion with Vince will become a real problem going forward. He may just be too strong too early in this game, I half expect him to get voted out first in his tribe just because he’s a serious game threat.
- It appears as if this season could be one where they do without reward challenges, at least at the beginning, as this episode only featured one challenge, with a reward for the winning tribe, and a tribal council date for the losing tribe. This particular immunity challenge was a fun one to start with because while it had all the typical obstacle course and puzzle aspects that prototype challenges have, this one had a choice aspect built in that ended up being decisive. During an obstacle course, the teams had to choose whether or not they were going to use a key ring with 20 different keys to unlock a ladder or untie 20 knots instead. Also, towards the end of the challenge, the tams also had to choose if they would try to do a difficult 5 piece puzzle, a moderately difficult 10 piece puzzle, or an easier 50 piece puzzle. The puzzle aspect ended up being the decider of the challenge, as the two teams that won, No Collar and Blue Collar chose the 10 piece puzzle while the White Collar tribe (or more specifically Shirin) struggled with the 50 piece puzzle. I love a challenge that has some choose your own adventure aspects, and I certainly hope all of the choices we’ve seen thrown at the cast on the first episode are just a sign of things to come this season. It’s always fun when the producers make a cast work hard for their survival in the game, those usually end up being the best seasons. White Collar had a very Brains tribe start to their game, the team that was supposed to be the most intelligent on paper struggled hard with the strategic part of the challenge, and ironically were the ones to fail at the decision making aspect of the challenge. It wasn’t a great moment for the tribe at all, and their loss sent to them to the first tribal council of the season.
- As Max said so eloquently at Tribal Council, the Survivor Gods gave him (and all the viewers) exactly what he wanted at his first chance to go to Tribal, a downpour of rain and lots of drama. A battle of who had who to rely on was staged as So and Joaquin immediately targeted Carolyn as the first one out, and Carolyn and Shirin targeted So for targeting them. The showdown between the two alliances started at camp, as they vied for the support of wildcards Max and Tyler, who had both successfully held their cards close to their chest up until the vote. It wasn’t until Tribal that things started to get a little crazy. All of the deceit that everyone had leading up to the vote was thrown into the open at Tribal as So admitted to her lies in the beginning and admitted that she had built an alliance to vote out Carolyn and Shirin. Just like that, Tribal Council turned into a tell-all event, as So and Carolyn went back and forth trading sentiments like “I don’t trust you” and “He’s voting with me” as they tried to establish their firm placement in the game. Both of them thought they had the same allies, but in the end Tyler and Max could only choose one alliance to work with. In all likelihood, they made the sensible choice, voting out the sneaky So 4-2, and keeping Carolyn who Tyler knew to be in possession of the Hidden Immunity Idol. So made many mistakes in this game, from choosing to be deceitful, to telling bad lies, and in the end her mistakes made it difficult for her tribe to vote her way in the end. It was awesome to see everyone sparring with each other and outing their alliance at Tribal though, you just don’t see that happen too often. Again, if this Tribal is a sign of things to come from this group, it’s going to be a kickass season!
Even after one episode, I’m already really excited about the potential of Survivor: Worlds Apart. We have three tribes who are very eager to live up to the way of life and ideals they’ve been pigeon-holed into, and that’s probably going to make for some interesting strategy and game play going forward. It might be early for a winner’s pick, but I do have to say that Max and Tyler from the White Collar tribe are my favorites so far. They both seem to be very cerebral players with knowledge of the game and an ability to make allies with ease. Plus, Max taught a class about Survivor and Tyler was once a Seattle Seahawk, good enough reasons for me to like them! Other than those two, I think Jenn is a dark horse to keep an eye on in this game. She seems to be a natural in terms of attracting friends and making alliances, plus she just exudes confidence. If I had to make a bold prediction for this season it would be this; Blue Collar will be completely wiped out first. I don’t see a winner in that group at all, and I think the strategic minds in the other two tribes will end up dominating the game as it likely dwindles down to two tribes. But, I’m not going to get too ahead of myself predicting how this season will go; it looks like a fairly unpredictable set-up by the producers. There are plenty of things to be excited about for this season, and I look forward to breaking it down episode by episode. Until my next installment, I’ll leave you guys with some rapid-fire final thoughts:
- Not only did Joaquin look really foolish every time he tried to lie to his tribe, but he totally botched Carolyn’s name on the voting card at the end. Yeah, that guy is kind of a clown, bringing down what otherwise is a fun tribe…As I referenced before, Tyler used to be a professional football player, but he definitely didn’t note that to his squad. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if that managed to get out, but considering he never really made any impact in the NFL, I kind of doubt it…Even though Tyler omitted one truth about his back-story, Rodney took the opportunity to pull a Tony Vlachos and lie about his work altogether. It seemed really unnecessary for him to lie about his work though, I kind of think he did it just for some extra camera time. I get some shady ‘Jersey Shore’ vibes from him; he’s a bit too much of a meathead for my liking…The No Collar tribe is kind of an uncomfortable grouping in some respects, and from the previews it looks like it’s going to get even worse when Nina feels like she’s on the outs. I like Jenn and Joe on that tribe, but as a whole, I can’t get into them as a unit…I think one of the most interesting storylines to watch for is how the collar designation is going to affect the way people play post-tribe swap. I imagine the No Collar group will be the most affected by their grouping, I can seeing them being really reckless with alliance switching, which would probably favor the White Collar group the most…Any way you might think this season will play out, just keep this in mind; do not be surprised if the women end up taking the lead this season. I can see a lot of strong women in this game, and it would not at all shock me to see another all female final three like last season.