Survivor – Season 32 premiere recap

Hooray – Survivor is back! Thirty-two seasons in and it’s still my all-time fave reality show (although GBBO comes close).

Do not read ahead if you have not see the episode! You have been warned.

As per usual of late we start with the cast arriving on boats. Survivor has gone yet again with the BBB theme – Beauty, Brawn, Brains – and the cast have a lot to live up to after the joy that was Cagayan. The official name is Kaoh Rong, but let’s just go with BBB.
As the boats arrive we meet a few of the cast via confessionals. One of the Beauties (and honestly, he ain’t that pretty) is Nick, whom I know to be a former blogger for Rob Cesternino’s Survivor website – doubt he’ll reveal that to his tribemates.
It’s the usual free-for-all grabbing supplies off the big boat to pile on a raft.

Some contestants have interesting professions: there’s a bounty hunter, a former FBI agent, quantitative strategist (say what?)  and ice cream entrepreneur (remember Eric, the hapless ice cream scooper?). And the standard Survivor professions: bartender, former professional basketballer, pro poker player, blah blah.
Caleb the “Cowboy” was apparently on US Big Brother, so let’s see if anyone recognises him. In San Juan del Sur one of the former Amazing Race contestants was targeted early, but her sister Natalie went on to win (granted, it was a terribly weak season).
On the Brains breach Debbie of the many jobs and constant yapping is already coming across as someone who will be annoying to live with – she knows everything, including how to start fire, and yet can’t start a fire.

Debbie likes to talk. A lot. Very fast. This is not a good thing on Survivor.
Debbie likes to talk. A lot. Very fast. This is not a good thing on Survivor.

Surely at least one Brain would be wearing glasses they could use to get a flame?
Over at Beauty, Tai the gardener is the token kooky Asian guy with bush skills and is so cute. After being on a refugee boat from Vietnam, Survivor should be a cinch for him. True to form the beauty girls are sitting on the beach weaving palm fronds. Let’s hope one of them steps up and proves to have more strategic skills than the boring Cagayan beauties of Alexis, Jefra and Morgan.
At Brawn, the bounty hunter ex-military tattoo dude, Jason, is lifting heavy objects in the hot sun … just because. He’s already targeting the blonde real estate agent before they’ve even done a challenge, because she seems week. Postal worker Darnell gets the dubious credit of first sea poo of the season and drops trou very close to the beach. Still, his tribe doesn’t seem to mind.
Back at Beauty it’s a chicken run, and the girls decide to team up with Tai. One of the girls picks that Caleb was on Big Brother, but he actually comes clean to them before they have a chance to ask. Turns out he was in the military and is a former prison guard. He is an outdoorsman and proves it by starting fire. Kudos.
Over at Brains we learn elder statesman Joe, 72, was not just an FBI agent; he was a hostage negotiator. He gets a kick out of watching Debbie try to do things her way but knows to keep his mouth shut.

Pretty good for 72.
Pretty good for 72.

In the water some of the younger contestants, spearheaded by ice cream man, are already planning to pick off Joe and Debbie – the usual strategy. One of the plotters is an Obama lookalike and ER doctor
At Beauty we see Tai take off to dig around for an idol (yay – someone proactive), but his tribemates twig to what’s going on and this means trouble for him. Suddenly his calming energy has become “anxious energy”.

There’s already been chatter that there are a few medical emergencies this season, and in this episode we already see one of the girls, Aubrey, suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration and having a mini anxiety attack. It’s alarming for her team as it’s only day two. So, the oldies could be safe after all.
At Brawn Jennifer the contractor is freaking out on the night vision camera because she thinks a bug has crawled into her ear and she can hear it crawling around inside. Poor thing – hope it’s not a tick.
Survivor kindly cuts to a shot of a vicious-looking beetle so we can imagine one crawling inside our brains. Her ear is bleeding and she is doubled over in pain – where is medical?

Poor Jenny is being driven mad, and it’s not by her tribemates … yet.

Jennifer is freaking out, screaming in pain and her ear is bleeding. Her tribemates are freaking at the thought of being a man down (and perhaps wondering if she’s actually nuts). Eventually we get a close up of Jenny lying in the shelter and a frigging bug crawls out her ear.

See that white wormy bug crawling back into her ear canal.
See that white wormy bug filed with ear blood crawling back into her ear canal.

After looking at it crawling around her outer ear for what seems like ages, her tribemates pick it off and squash it. Phew! Jenny’s no longer bugging out.
And now it’s time for Jeff’s famous “Come on in, guys!”. Yep, it’s challenge time. To be honest, challenges are my least favourite aspect of Survivor, especially when the groups are so large that it’s hard to keep track of everyone. They are much more fun when they get down to individual challenges. But I note Jeff is wearing an orange and white cap for this one – we’ll see if it makes a reappearance. Anyhoo, let’s see if the Brains tribe here can redeem the reputation of Brains that was so sullied by the pathetic Cagayan efforts.
Wanna know what they’re playing for? Winner gets dry wood, tarp, charcoal, lighter fluid and matches. Runner-up gets a flint.
Over at Brawn Darnell dives in and immediately loses the goggles, which will put the tribe at a disadvantage. He’s going to blacklisted for this and gets obligatory “disaster” call from Jeff.
Beauty are working well together and Brains are not a disaster. Both are back at the beach while Brawn are still diving. However, the leading teams are struggling to get their boats in the cradle and Brawns close the gap.
At the puzzle stage Brains are in the lead (Spencer Bledsoe must be wishing he had some of these guys on his season). The Brains win, thanks in part to Aubrey’s effort on the puzzle, so that’s redeemed her somewhat after her bugless freakout.
Despite having no sleep due to an insect infestation, Jenny is doing most of the puzzle for her tribe. Blonde real estate agent is watching helplessly so the team tags her out. And Beauty comes second. So, blondie is in trouble. Even though Darnell stuffed up his not being a “weak” girl should save him. apparently, he was a lifeguard growing up but is not used to ocean swimming. He rightly surmises: “When people in this game are not talking to you; they’re talking about you.”
It’s time to get tribal … Jeff is wearing one of nifty blue quicky-dry shirts. Bounty hunter Jason is not pulling any punches and immediately throws out the names of Darnell and Blondie (whose name is Alecia).

The "mental giant'.
The “mental giant’.

Poor Darnell knows how much he sucked and is cracking a bit under the pressure at tribal.
Alecia tries to throw Darnell under the bus with “I’m a mental giant”, but weakens her case a teeny bit by conceding she sucks at puzzles. Then she tries to write Darnell’s name down without taking the lid off the tribal texta. Oh boy.
They vote and it’s a tie, so time to revote and see who flips. And … Darnell is gone.

See ya, Darnell.
See ya, Darnell.

Maybe that ocean poo came back to bite him.

Who’s looking good: Jenny from Brawn, having survived the ear worm, looks strong and seems wise. She’s not as quick to fire up as the more muscle-bound members of the tribe. Scott from Brawn also seems to be able to put his emotions aside. Anna the poker player from Beauty seems a student of the game and wants to play hard.

Who’s in trouble: Tai from Beauty; Manic Debbie from Brain; Mental Giant Alecia from Brawn. Jason the Bounty Hunter from Brawn is going to start to annoy people.

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Great recap, Juz, thank you!

And after pooing in the water right in front of everyone? I’m glad Darnelll went home. Eww. And I wonder how long it was before the others had a swim…

I also wonder why on earth Jennifer didn’t call Medical to help remove that horrid insect from her ear? Because I’m sure they could have helped. Shining a light works for moths so I don’t know if it works for other creepy crawlies, but I’m sure Medical would have had SOME idea.

Anyway, I enjoyed the episode. 🙂


Great to see you here Rosie, I’ve missed you. Are you not watching I’m a Celebrity?
I thought the same thing about the medics. Don’t know why they didn’t call them over, she wouldn’t have been evacuated for that. They would have had the equipment to remove it.


Hi Carole, nah, can’t handle Julia and Chris-who-used-to-be-gay-but-has-mysteriously-been-straightened-out. Let alone bloody Warnie.
So, so far this year it’s just Survivor, and soon Masterchef.


Oh I hadn’t heard that rumour that Chris was gay. He went out with that Home & Away actress a few years ago.


Thanks Juz Survivor my fave as well.

That was excruciating to watch Jenny suffer like that. I was yelling at the TV “get the medic” can’t understand why they didn’t.

I’m liking brawn team and yes Blondie has to go. Like Tai as well. Didn’t see enough of others but no doubt will change as we get to know them.


Damn. I didn’t realize it was on.


Check the guides Daisy, sometimes they do an encore.


Daisy, you can watch the episode on 9now.


Thanks for the great recap Juz. That insect in her ear was creeping me out. Ew I hate things like that. It was a great first episode but it’s hard to keep track of who’s who in the beginning when there are so many of them.


That was awful, it reminded me of Star Trek 2, The Wrath of Khan when an evil alien bug was put in Chekov’s ear, disgusting!


Although I enjoyed the episode over all, there are VERY few players that I find myself caring about.
From Brains, the former FBI feller (Joe?), who looks so fit he could just as easily have been slotted into Brawn, is pretty likeable, as is Aubry. Once she got over her heat exhaustion, she all but single handedly won them the challenge. Yeah, okay, she couldn’t have pushed that thing up the hill on her iwn, but still.
But everyone else on Brains in a PITA for mine. Calling a 39 year old woman (Debbie) geriatric? Yes, she’s a nuisance, but not geriatric. And I love that the producers gave her a different title every time she had a talking head.

I didn’t really take to anyone much on Brawn, although I did feel sorry for Bug Girl – aka Jennifer.

On Beauty, my main question is where is it? I didn’t see anyone who looks particularly beautiful.
And I liked Tai at first, but despite his alleged love for all living things, why on earth did he uproot 2 living, growing trees?? They were definitely alive, and if not, why did he try to replant them, and why apologize to them? Not to mention how the hell could the producers have put an idol under the roots of a tree. *Rosie shakes head in wonder*


There’s a lot of speculation that 1 person on each tribe is on the wrong tribe for a possible switch up at a later date. Be interesting to see how that plays out.


Great recap Juz!

And YES Rosie totally agree with you with everything especially your last paragraph. I was thinking the exact same thing about Tai uprooting the trees! Why oh why!!

And medics could’ve got the bug out easy. Don’t they just swoosh it with water jets? I saw 2 mating cockroaches get swooshed out on RPA many years ago. Disgusting. I felt bad for the Survivor worm girl.


Yes, I love the EW recaps, not just for Survivor but for all my favourite dramas too. But they’ve recently changed it. The comments are no longer with disqus & no one is happy with the new system. And now you are only allowed to read a limited amount of articles each month then you have to pay. I keep getting the message that I’ve read my quota this month & have to pay if I want to continue reading. I usually just wait a couple of days & try again. It’s a pain in the arse, it was better before.


I read Walking Dead recaps and Bachelor US recaps on EW too.

Sioux Denim

Yay, its back!
Lots to,take in as usual on first episode…hoping Debbie stays around for a bit of craziness as it doesnt appear there are too many characters in this lot.
That bug was totally freaky but all praise to Jen for hanging in there.
Great recap and look forward to all the chatter in the coming season…


Thanks Juz and all. Hubby dld it tonight and we watched. I was thinking why didn’t the Natalie Wood/Susan Satandon girl jump in the sea to get the bug out of her ear. It was weird and a bit suspicious that medics didn’t come straight in. It could have been some strange tropical brain eating bug. Anyhow, if I ever sleep out on a tropical island, which I won’t, but if I did, I would wear earplugs now.

I agree. It’s obvious rach team has a person out of place. Blondie is no brawn. Vietnamese guy is no beauty, but then neither are some of the others. And the bartender lady might be to odd one out on brains.
And did that guy really poop in the water. Yuk. I would have voted him off for that.


I prefer a deep bush burial because I would hate to be swimming with poo.


Hmmm. I just thought about why they can’t give it a bish burial. Might get taken for a hidden immunity idol.


You know all these seasons of Survivor I never knew about the poo in the sea! And you’d NEVER do it right where they hang out in the water would you! !


Debbie is 49, not 39, still not geriatric. Very ageist of those younguns. I would look at Joe and see someone who would win challenges, not lose them.
If I was Jenny I would have been sluicing my ear with sea water continuously in the middle of the night. Unbelievable that she just walked around moaning with the pain. Presume that when the bug finally exited it was because they (medics or teammates?) had filled the ear with water.
Really liked the way Aubry redeemed herself in the challenge – did all the dives on her own and then nailed the puzzle.
Tai wasn’t uprooting live trees. When he found them, he stated that it was obvious that it was suspicious because there were three dead trees all together. He replanted them because he didn’t want the others to know that he had looked there, and apologised to them just because he is a tree-lover. I really liked him, but I can’t see him lasting long.
I presume that Darnell was voted out because it might have been the only opportunity to get him. Alicia can hang around because she is low-hanging fruit who can be taken out at any time, like the obnoxious girl last season. Boy, it is annoying to watch people who don’t contribute, though.


I suppose this is the basic premise of all competition shows, create pigeon-holes for people and then waiting to see what happens when they either match up or break the stereotype.
They even seem to do it on Farmer wants a Wife, slotting both the farmers and hopefuls into stereotypes.