If you can believe it, Survivor is up to Season 27. Rupert Boneham is back. Colton Cumbie is back. Redemption Island is back. These things are not necessarily good.
But Gervase Peterson is also back for Survivor: Blood Vs. Water, 13 years after Survivor: Borneo. Big Brother winner Hayden Moss is crossing the CBS divide to play with his adorable ditz girlfriend Kat Edorsson. Tyson Apostol is back for more comic relief/eye rolls. And the Baskauskas boys are in the house. (Team Vytas already.) These things are pretty good. Well, they were good before Gervase sabotaged his poor niece.
Survivor Season 27 premiered Wednesday, September 18 on CBS. The first episode, "Blood is Thicker Than Anything,” aired 8 to 9:30 p.m., just before the Big Brother 15 finale.
There’s a lot that’s good about Survivor: Blood vs. Water, and then there are the complicated twists, which involve Redemption Island (third time’s the charm or death knell?) and the constant talk about family members and loved ones. They're all just players now. And poor Marissa, Gervase's niece, was punished for her uncle's poor sportsmanship after the immunity challenge — which he almost lost for his own tribe. So unfair. We really wanted to root for him, but ... ugh. Talk about bad blood. If we're Marissa, we're seething.
The theme of this season brings back 10 past contestants and either their significant others or their blood relatives. Since returning players historically do better than newbies, we’re guessing the veterans will end up dominating. But who knows.
Rupert already has a million dollars from Survivor, thanks to that America’s Tribal Council thing after All-Stars. He’s played four times. After Heroes vs. Villains he said Survivor may not be his game. But he’s back and this time he brought Laura, whom he’s been talking about since Pearl Islands. Are you rooting for either of them to survive their early season challenges, or are you more focused on the newbies, or an “old school” guy like Gervase — despite his bad uncle start?
Read on for a full recap of the first episode.
Colton’s fiance is worried about Colton’s reputation, since he pissed people off on One World. He thinks this will be redemption for Colton. But Colton admitted he’d be freaking out without Caleb there, and when they were dumped into the wilderness, Colton basically sat back in his preppy sweater asking “Do you want me to do somethin’?” Um, yeah. Marissa, Gervase’s niece, was looking to her uncle for guidance since he’s played before, but apparently that rule does not apply to Colton. “Princess” is right.
Tyson also wants redemption for voting himself out of Heroes vs. Villains. He thinks the loved ones won’t be prepared and he'll just slit their throats. His girlfriend Rachel is gorgeous. Is she as crazy as him? How do they fit?
Interesting brotherly love/hate story: Vytas was a drug addict, and he spent a year in jail. Aaras still has a lot of resentment against him. Vytas was pretty abusive when he was younger, Aras said. Aras, the younger bro, is sure winning Survivor: Panama made Vytas jealous.
The next beautiful morning the couples all show up in front of Jeff Probst. They don’t know they’ll be split up and have to compete against each other. But they probably suspected it. This show is not set up for the easy way out.
Katie — Tina’s daughter — seems cool. She’s another one worth rooting for, and she’s honest about looking forward to competing against her mother. Also love the Culpeppers, including Brad’s accidental tarp honesty. He’ll learn. (Update: Maybe not to much. Falling out of love with him fast in this episode. See below.) Not so into the all-American Codys. Why is Candice back again? There were no better replacements for RC and her sick dad, who had to drop out at the last minute?
FIRST PEOPLE VOTED OUT: LAURA B. & CANDICE
Immediately after forming tribes they had to vote someone out.
For the newbies, Vytas voted out Laura. Brad also went for Laura. Hayden picked Laura. Laura went for Marissa. Caleb went for Laura too. Ciera went for Laura. When did they decide this? Rupert and Laura both felt this was a slap against Rupert, as if he’s such a huge threat to win.
Over on the veterans’ tribe, Candice also went for Laura, but the other Laura Morett, from Samoa. Tyson went for Laura. Tina went for Candice. Kat went for Candice. Colton was for Candice. Rupert went for Laura. Monica went for Candice. Aras went for Gervase because “I’m a Redskins fan.” Hey at least he’s funny about it. Laura also said Candice. John, Candice’s husband, was very upset for his wife, of course.
Candice and Laura were sent to Redemption Island, so they aren’t quite out yet.
WILL YOU SAVE YOUR WIFE?
Of course Rupert, with his hero thing, wants to replace his wife. He jumps in to replace Laura. His tribe didn’t want him to do it, but he said “Laura deserves to play the game.” He has had four chances, after all.
Tina was “ticked,” since Rupert is a shelter builder. He weakened the tribe. Rupert vowed to win and win and win his way back into the game. He said the show’s title, saying he and Laura are blood and blood is thicker than anything. But they’re not technically the blood aspect.
Candice talked to her husband. They decided to let Candice try to beat Rupert in Redemption Island. Good. Let the newbies have a shot. John is pissed about his wife being voted out, though. No one wanted to see her back, man!
GALANG (veterans tribe, plus Rupert’s wife)
Gervase told the cameras he wanted to play with Rupert, not Laura. She feels pressure to prove herself to the tribe of newbies.
They pretty easily started fire, and Boston Rob’s name got dropped before the half-hour mark thanks to Tyson saying he helped Rob start fires on HvsV. So Tyson is already proving himself, thanks in part to Rob. Wait a minute and Russell Hantz will be talked about too.
Monica was not happy to see vindictive, mean Colton back. He stabbed her in the back and she won’t let it happen again. “Has he changed, has he not? I don’t know. Does a zebra change his stripes?” Don’t even wait to find out, just vote him out. It’s not like he’s a challenge beast. Easy boot.
TADHANA (newbie tribe)
They’re all just going on what their loved ones told them to do around camp. They seem to be working hard. Brad feels like he’s in trouble with his huge tarp blunder at the start of the game, saying he’d want it for his wife. He brought it up to the whole group. Maybe he should’ve just forgotten about it, but he said if he doesn’t give 100 percent in a challenge they have his blessing to vote him out. Marissa thinks he might be a loose cannon. He may be too intense and vocal, it’s true. Monica told him to make an alliance fast, so he went to John to form a five guys alliance — or “four guys and a gay guy.” Hey now! Don’t diss Caleb.
The more Brad talks like that and asserts himself as leader, John said, the more that could bite him in the butt again. Brad said the John Cochrans are the biggest threats now. The weak women and the John Cochrans. Bet Cochran is lovin’ that. It’s kind of true, but Kim Spradlin is HARDLY a weak woman. Neither was Denise. Neither was Sophie, who beat Ozzy in challenges. But with some guys, female = weak. Small (or gay) guy = weak. Wanting to love Brad, but he’s rubbing us the wrong way already.
The newbies had trouble starting fire. My boy Vytas could feel the liquid leaving his body, turning his body to sludge. Ciera, Laura's daughter, talked about her husband. They've been together for about four years, married for three. He's the daddy of her second child. She got pregnant with her first child when she was 17 in high school. It was embarrassing for her mom, she thought, but they're close now. Vytas said he was in jail with one of the top 10 deadbeat dads in the country. Vytas talked about being a heroin addict while Aras was the "golden child" with a basketball scholarship, etc. Vytas was robbing people every day to get his fix. Their bro relationship is still not fully mended. Vytas wanted to share his past: "If you really want somebody to trust you, you have to let them in a little bit." He doesn't think he'll be seen as a conniving ex-con. He's 14-years clean, it made him stronger.
Colton said the tribe is so fun and they help him forget the game. It’s now just a horrible, hellacious camping trip. He admitted to the camera, of One World, “I was rude to everyone, I was mean to everyone and I didn’t have kind things to say and it was all because I was insecure.” He wants to explain to people and get them to understand him. He lives in the deep South and talked about stereotypes against gays. But it’s hard to really pair that with his behavior on One World, which seemed more about Colton thinking he was being cute and funny and such great TV than anything about insecurity or being gay.
But now he’s crying on TV about not being understood or loved. Is it fair for him to make this about his sexual orientation instead of the hurtful, even racist things he said. Monica said it’s hard to judge because we haven’t walked a mile in his shoes. You don’t have to walk a mile in anyone’s shoes to know what’s cruel to say and what’s nice.
AT REDEMPTION ISLAND
Candice is bitter, slamming the other castaways for voting for her. What did you expect? Candice also thought it was annoying to be with Rupert. He's usually sleeping or in the water. She gets coconuts and boils the water and makes the rice. She does all the work and he enjoys the spoils. At least she's talking truth. So much for Rupert as this great provider. That's part of his strategy, though. He's not going to do what he used to do. He thinks part of why he doesn't win immunity challenges is he's been killing himself with camp work. We'll see.
IMMUNITY CHALLENGE TIME - COME ON IN, GUYS!
It's a run, jump, swim, and puzzle challenge. Tina's daughter Katie is strategizing about puzzle-making. She's usually good at puzzles and her mom is too. But over at the other tribe, Laura also says she's good at puzzles. So we'll see who wins that key aspect.
The newbies dominate from the start. Gervase struggles and slows his tribe down. Belly flops into the water. Aras has to help him. Poor Gervase. Thirteen years is a long time. Love Aras for helping him. He deserves to be called a golden boy, Vytas! The returning players also struggle just paddling their boat.
As expected, it comes down to the puzzle. The newbies (Caleb, Ciera, and Katie) lose their advantage and the win ends up going to the returning players. Go Tina, Laura and Monica! They saved the veterans.
Galang wins the first immunity — and fire, which they didn't actually need. The newbies, despite Brad's fronting, still do need fire. Colton cries again, of course. Laura speaks for him to say it's a bittersweet win. Pull yourself together, Colton.
Gervase also jumped up and shouted at the newbie tribe. "Don't let that fool you!" What the heck was he shouting and why? He almost lost the challenge for his tribe, so why is he saying anything at all? Do I have to rethink rooting for him too? OK, now it's down to the brothers and ... maybe the moms.
Everyone was positive after the challenge, despite the puzzle people letting them down. Experience mattered. They talked about Gervase, and even his niece called him out for being so freaking competitive. She wanted him to calm down. It's true, he showed poor sportsmanship. "Sore winner," as John called it. Marissa doesn't want people to correlate Gervase with his niece. True. It's not fair to blame her, but that's how Brad goes for it. Gervase's attitude may send her home.
The men reaffirm their boys' love. They also talk about how whoever they vote out will be a stab in somebody's heart. The guys aren't subtle but Vytas tries to make his alliance with the girls strong too. It seems to be Katie or Marissa to leave. Poor girls. It's a numbers game and they went with gender. Hate that. Hate. Hate. Hate.
At Tribal, John struggles with some guilt. He feels like he might've let Candice down. Whoever they vote out will battle Candice and Rupert at RI. His vote is to make the tribe stronger. Brad brought up Gervase's celebration again. Marissa shook her head at her uncle, again. Even Jeff brings up how devastating it would be to be voted out as punishment for a loved one on the other tribe.
Marissa. Completely unfair. She did NOTHING wrong. Ugh. Bad Gervase! And bad boys for bonding in that bad decision. Don't let me down, Vytas.
POINTS TO PONDER
Who is most likely to win at Redemption Island? Will Brad ever shut his mouth? Will Hayden or Kat open theirs at any point? Will Gervase realize he screwed up his niece's game?
And how shocking (not) that the "old" Colton comes back. His true colors. Bad blood will out.
What did you think of the premiere?
Interested in Survivor spoilers? Check out a few early spoilers here. Accuracy not guaranteed!