International Survivor couldn’t have come at a better time, I swear. Survivor US and I aren’t on good terms as of late, and we’d like a while apart, so Survivor South Africa is going to be my focus for the subsequent four months. With 18 episodes and 21 new gamers to get to know, I’m excited for this season. It’s already feeling recent and artistic, and whereas I do have considerations with the season’s long-term leisure worth, I’m super hyped to dive in and see “what’s underneath the surface” because the season’s promos teased.
My first impressions of this forged could be summed up by Ting Ting’s superb first confessional: “The castaways are attractive. We’ve obtained some blonde bombshells. We’ve obtained the hipsters. We’ve acquired the golden oldies. And of course, we now have somebody who seems to be like Lara Croft. How cool is that?” There isn’t as much variety in race or physique varieties as there was last yr, which is a bit of disappointing, but I belief SA’s casting group to know what makes a robust forged and it’s far too early to write down anyone off as a dud, even with a pair weak showings within the premiere.
Upon arriving on the seashore, every tribe is tasked with choosing a pacesetter: Cobus for Ta’alo, Rocco for Laumei, and Paul for Sa’ula. Then each chief must decide their “weakest” player: Jacques, Laetitia, and Seipei respectively. Often some of these twists isolate the “weakest” picks by sending them to camp early with the hopes of finding an idol or benefit, but Survivor SA pulls a quick one and exiles the leaders to the titular Island of Secrets as an alternative, forcing the “weakest” players to step up and lead the first reward challenge. I feel this twist on a recognized twist is a hit. The apparent outsiders have more time to bond with their tribe and make good first impressions whereas the leaders, who already have a great standing, miss the primary day of bonding in trade for a attainable benefit. It’s balanced and leaves the alternatives in the arms of the players; one thing Survivor US has overlooked lately.
With the leaders heading to IOS, and the weakest picks appearing as callers, it’s time for a basic Survivor challenge: yelling at confused, blindfolded individuals as they bump into issues at crotch degree. This run of problem doesn’t provide many highlights except for a hilarious scream from Mmaba when Steffi rips a bag of rice out of her palms, but we do get one huge recreation second. Survivor superfan Jacques gets himself an additional vote, and he will get away with stuffing the outsized package deal down his pants and casually tossing the bag it came in off the platform with out being observed. Unfortunately for Jacques, this vote can only be used on the first post-merge tribal council, so it’s pretty powerless in the mean time until he can use it as a bargaining device to get numbers on his aspect early on.
Upon arriving on IOS, the three exiled leaders are given a gazebo-style shelter for the night time in addition to a selection: flint or an idol clue. Paul and Cobus take the clues while Rocco opts for the flint. I see the logic behind taking the clues as a result of as Cobus says, the sport is particular person at its core, however I’ve to offer props to Rocco right here, who will get both the flint and a clue by looking inside Paul’s hanging pants and studying his clue while Paul is busy amassing sticks in his underwear. It’s a questionable selection on Paul’s half to go away his clue unsupervised, but what’s much more controversial is Paul’s plan to make his clue public when he returns to camp. We’ve seen idols have “group” ownership before, but just one individual can really own an idol, and if that idol someway will get discovered by somebody on the outs (Seipei for example), nothing is stopping them from retaining it and using it towards him.
However that’s IOS for you. My first impression: on the floor, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before with the likes of Exile Island, Ghost Island, or Survivor New Zealand’s Outpost. Individuals will go there for numerous reasons, get a clue which may give them a bonus, perhaps cope with a challenge or a dilemma, and that’s the twist. Simple but effective. However I belief Survivor SA to throw some curveballs with this one. Will there be a chance to mutiny to an opposing tribe? Will there be a Tremendous Idol hidden at one level like the unique Exile Island? Will they have a former player ready to provide a lucky participant a technique lecture in the future a la John Cochran’s Exile Yacht? The choices for fascinating twists on IOS that don’t totally break the sport are pretty extensive open in the meanwhile.
Now let’s deal with these tribes. For the first time in Survivor SA, the game begins with three tribes of seven. I’m all the time somewhat down on odd-numbered casts as a result of it means a gender imbalance, and bigger casts are typically more durable to edit in the long term, but the SA modifying group did a superb job at introducing virtually every castaway and explaining the early dynamics. It by no means felt like all tribe was an afterthought this week, which made the immunity problem fairly tense as all three tribes had potential first boot stories within the works that would come to fruition in the third act.
Beginning with the Ta’alo Tribe, there’s just one individual we really need to speak about here. It’s Tania, the 51-year-old immigration marketing consultant, marijuana fanatic, and self-proclaimed 5 foot two “f****** big!” who is just about the South African Debbie Wanner. This entire tribe’s story targeted so much on her to the point where I’m prepared to rename the tribe “Tani’alo” until she’s not on my display. She does begin off on the fitting foot by entertaining her youthful tribe together with her massive character and eccentric humor, however issues shortly fly off the rails when she begins alienating herself by randomly going off alone and telling too many tall tales when everybody simply needs to sleep.
Not solely is Tania supposedly a tremendous rock climber, but she was additionally a rafting information for 4 years and had a bank robber for a dad who turned an area legend and virtually had a statue erected in his honor when he destroyed all the checks that might drive the residents to pay taxes. It’s right out of the Coach Wade playbook, and Jacques is shopping for none of it, giving considered one of my favourite strains of the episode: “If the subsequent immunity problem is make up a story that no one will consider, we’re gonna win.” I do not know if anything she’s stated is true, however I don’t really feel like performing some reality checking because which may damage the magic that’s Tania and her loopy tales.
But hey, it’s not like Debbie Wanner wasn’t capable of type strong alliances in her starting tribe, so I did have some hope for Tania if greater threats emerged and she or he was written off as a simple quantity in an alliance. Only these hopes have been immediately dashed when she completely overplays her hand. First, she goes to Ting Ting and Meryl to start out a women alliance to “advance both the tribe and womankind.” They disagree but play along, and Tania goes on her approach. However not so quick! Tania decides that plan is a bust and pulls Ting Ting aside, telling her that Meryl is just too weak to keep around and they should pull in two robust men as an alternative. Ting Ting isn’t down for this and needs to work with the blokes, however once again she plays alongside to keep Tania on her aspect in the meanwhile.
At this point, I wasn’t feeling at all good about Tania’s possibilities, however it by some means managed to get much more ridiculous when Cobus and his superb socks returned from IOS. Tania rushes the guy 5 minutes after he gets back, claiming that they had a non-verbal agreement to satisfy up and pulls him into this new alliance with Ting Ting and Dante. Cobus nods alongside regardless of wanting nothing to do with Tania’s schemes, but out of nowhere, Tania decides Dante is out of his factor in a recreation of deception and needs to rope in Jacques as an alternative. That’s four totally different alliances in a seven-person tribe, none of which are literally actual, all made on the same day. And for Tania, she’s the “widespread denominator” in all this strategic chaos, the true puppet master with all 4 aces up her sleeve. I’ve already mentally ready myself to see six Tania votes next week, and I hate that timeline because she’s unimaginable TV, however the writing is on the wall. No one needs to work together with her, and she or he’s utterly out of the loop.
The one glimmer of hope she has is Cobus, who teased the potential of utilizing her for a vote if it advantages him in the future, but if the rest of the tribe is dedicated to removing the aspect of chaos from the seashore, I can’t see him going to warfare to save lots of her this early. But Survivor SA prided itself on unpredictability and succeeded in completely breaking Edgic last yr, so for all I know, Tania is going to play an ideal recreation, be immune all the season, and turn out to be the best Survivor winner on the earth. Now if I have been a betting man, I’d put cash on her leaving before a swap, if not next week, but I’m targeted on enjoying her antics while she’s nonetheless within the recreation.
The Laumei Tribe is much less eventful. Like Ta’alo, the individual on the outs is the oldest lady within the recreation, and a private favourite of mine, 58-year-old nurse Laetitia who needs to prove that she will play the game as onerous as any younger individual. She didn’t do nicely as a caller within the reward problem, and everybody assumes she’ll be a simple first out, really easy the truth is that Geoffrey sees no purpose to waste time aligning together with her. I got here in excited to see Geoffrey play since he appeared to have an actual love for the sport, however I really feel like neglecting a simple alliance on day one is just sloppy, even it’s solely a meaningless settlement that retains her feeling snug for three days. It doesn’t matter if that individual goes to be a simple out. There’s never a assure that his tribe will even lose before a swap, and provided that Laetitia is on the lookout for idols every time she will and had the fitting concept of where to look and not using a clue, she won’t be the primary individual to go away that seashore in any case. And if she makes a swap and seems like Laumei needed nothing to do together with her because of her age, then I assume one other alliance simply gained a quantity.
Rocco returns from IOS and decides his greatest move is to share the clue he found in Paul’s pants with the three other males on his tribe and never “the others” which… in all probability means Rocco better be careful on his social media. That’s all I’ll say about that. He misinterprets the clue, nevertheless, which means Laetitia was closer to finding an idol and not using a clue than Rocco was with one. Nice. He pitches an all-male alliance immediately and assumes it’s set in stone.
Nevertheless, Rocco’s aggressive gameplay provides Mike some apprehension about this all-male alliance since Rocco just dictated it into existence regardless of being a late arrival to the seashore. As an alternative, Mike needs to align with the individuals he will get together with: Geoffrey, Rose-Lee, and Mmaba. Geoffrey is slightly flustered by this modification of plans since it puts him in the midst of two main alliances and makes him appear to be a flipping rat proper off the bat, but he concedes to Mike’s argument and admits he’d be at the bottom of Rocco’s guys’ group. I’ve seen Mike getting flak for his “it’s too quickly for alliances” scorching take, however I feel he’s obtained the appropriate concept in the context of this season. Overplaying in a forged of 21 isn’t a great move, particularly when the forged as an entire is enjoying more old skool than new faculty in the mean time. Plus, all male and all female alliances have poor monitor data. Mike is perhaps the “child” of the group, but he’s sensible sufficient to understand that alliances based mostly on mutual bonds are stronger and extra suitable than alliances based mostly on one thing as superficial as gender. I wouldn’t underestimate the man.
And then we now have our third tribe, Sa’ula. On Day 1, Rob, Nicole, Nathan, and Steffi type a majority alliance referred to as the Amigos (no relation to the similarly named alliance from Survivor: Caramoan). Biker Queen Seipei, who’s already aggravating individuals together with her bossiness, and Mrs. Cape City Lee-Anne, who isn’t integrating nicely with the tribe, are left on the outs with Paul nonetheless at IOS. It seems fairly reduce and dry, however there’s one compelling dynamic to talk about: Lee-Anne and Nicole both competed in the identical pageant a couple of years in the past. Nicole ended up profitable the crown, and Lee-Anne did not make it to the highest 25, making Nicole an icon to Lee-Anne in addition to a ghostly reminder of her heartbreaking loss that has come again to haunt her tons of of miles from house. However, Lee-Anne is out to show herself and reverse the curse by besting her rival in Survivor. However immediately there’s an uncomfortable rigidity between the two and Lee-Anne is just too nervous to talk to anybody aside from Seipei, leaving her on the surface wanting in as the Amigos talk about the awkwardness of this beauty queen rivalry.
Paul returns from IOS together with his clue and shares it with the tribe. Keep in mind how I stated this was a questionable move? Nicely, I discovered a move much more doubtful: Paul leaving Nicole hanging when she presents a excessive five. Twice. And it’s not a blink and you miss it background joke. They zoomed in on Nicole’s disgruntled face and played the sound effect of impending doom. However hey, Paul turns into the fifth wheel of the Amigos, plus his tribe finds the idol for him and leaves it in his possession, so he’s completed one thing proper. Paul is significantly dedicated to utilizing his idol for the tribe although, swearing he’d quite go house with it than use it selfishly and save himself in a troublesome state of affairs. I have a gut feeling he’ll regret that selection sooner or later.
We lastly get to our first immunity challenge: a regular Survivor impediment course followed by a very difficult puzzle that fried my mind simply watching it. After 90-minutes, Ta’alo pulls off a first place win despite being labeled because the nerdy rejects of the forged. Laumei finishes right behind them regardless of Laetitia slowing down their progress on the course, sending Sa’ula, the tribe that referred to as themselves unbeatable and untouchable, to the primary tribal council of the game. Was the constant beating of the “Sa’ula is cocky” drum making it fairly obvious they might choke in the mental part of the problem? Sure. Nevertheless it didn’t make it any less satisfying.
We get back to camp and things appear set in stone. Seipei is on the outs and will in all probability pack her luggage. Even Nathan’s untimely foot damage in the course of the problem doesn’t put him on the chopping block, and it’s so dangerous he has to take a seat on Rob’s shoulders to enter or depart camp. And just to point out how protected he’s, the Amigos give him the “group” idol to put on at tribal. In a larger tribe of 9 or ten, he may need been seen as a simple out, but a tribe of seven can’t waste muscle like his. If he can heal shortly and Sa’ula wins immunity for the subsequent couple rounds, I’d say he’s one to observe.
Then issues begin to get difficult. Lee-Anne approaches Steffi and pitches an all beauty queen ultimate three of the 2 of them and Nicole. Stone Chilly Steffi Brink hears the Kill Invoice sirens and asks why Lee-Anne hadn’t brought it up until hours earlier than tribal. Lee-Anne says she never had the opportunity to talk to them and Steffi says she never bothered to create alternatives. Steffi could be blunt, but she’s not improper, it’s too little too late. The Amigos now add a second choice to their hit listing and start the talk. Rob and Paul are down for voting out Seipei, however Nicole is eager on getting rid of Lee-Anne. Both targets make their pitches to the Amigos, they usually determine Seipei should in all probability go despite Lee-Anne’s awkward and distressed scrambling. Nevertheless, Nathan strongly prefers to see Lee-Anne depart and doesn’t need to budge, throwing the Amigos into disarray but once more.
Lee-Anne makes an emotional pitch to Nicole, telling her how a lot she admires her and needs to take a seat at the end together with her as a fellow beauty queen. Nicole tells Lee-Anne she respects her as a person and appears up to her, but an ideal confessional from Nicole makes it clear she doesn’t have Lee-Anne’s back and gained’t hesitate to chop her unfastened. I acquired chills and realized this was in all probability the final nail in Lee-Anne’s coffin. For this reason I really like Nicole. Like Ami Cusack of Vanuatu fame, she’s the one that can wipe your tears off her shoulder and stab you as a result of it’s a recreation, and Nicole is fulfilling that for me proper now. She’s not an “ice queen” so to speak (not yet no less than), however she may be cutthroat despite her humble and warm exterior, and that impresses me. If I had to choose a ridiculously early winner decide, I might lean closely in the direction of Nicole after her displaying this week.
Tribal is relatively commonplace at first. Whispers fly forwards and backwards between the Amigos as Seipei and Lee-Anne give their passionate pleas to stay. Lee-Anne guarantees to make nearer bonds together with her tribemates, explains how she loves helping individuals understand their goals as a life coach, and says she’s shortly adapting to the sport after a poor begin. Seipei argues that her bonds are stronger and she will supply extra to the tribe all around. The whispers proceed, and the Amigos stay with no consensus going into the vote, so Nicole pitches an fascinating strategy: voting on individual feelings because no one can determine on one identify. For an untouchable majority, being so indecisive three days in when the boot choices are clear and idol-less has me doubting their long run success.
The Amigos finally vote together to send Lee-Anne residence, and Paul is overlooked when he votes for Seipei, suggesting he won’t be as secure with the majority alliance as he thought. If Seipei needs to survive one other vote by the skin of her tooth, she now has some choices.
I do feel dangerous for Lee-Anne, though. She seemed like a very sweet and genuine one that simply couldn’t keep up with the tempo of the sport and let her feelings get the better of her when it got here to her history with Nicole. There’s no method she might have recognized a ghost from her previous was going to be in the recreation, let alone on her tribe. She tried her hardest to remain above water when she realized it was her head on the block, but no one was prepared to throw her a life raft. Mockingly, Lee-Anne was the first castaway revealed to the general public, and by far probably the most hyped, so to see her depart first on this style came as a shock. However that’s Survivor SA for you. Just whenever you assume you have got it pinned down, it proves how unpredictable it may be by throwing you for a loop.
An important takeaway from this episode is the theme of bonds (or lack thereof). That’s the widespread denominator on all three tribes. Tania rushed into too many alliances and alienated herself in the first 48 hours. Rocco was too targeted on making a guys’ alliance earlier than he even acquired to know his tribe and it’d come back to chew him when the much less brawny males determine he’s not the proper ally for them. And Lee-Anne did not type bonds together with her tribe until it was too late and all she might do was desperately scramble and beg as her recreation sank. Anyone who succeeds in constructing quality relationships might be someone to observe this season, mark my words.
General, I’m impressed by the premiere. The forged isn’t as cartoonishly excessive and recreation savvy as final yr’s, and the tribe dynamics appear to recommend disappointingly simple early votes concentrating on the season’s older ladies, but the storytelling and modifying are still great and made for an honest start to what might be a prolonged season. It’s an extended experience, however I’m strapped in and ready to see how this recreation twists and turns, and I hope you’re too.