Survivor: Gabon - Earth's Last Eden
Want To See The Elephant Dung?
By Jim Van Nest
September 26, 2008

One of these was voted off in the first hour. We can't be bothered to figure out which.

Hello, good people, and welcome to the 17th season of the reality TV giant, Survivor. My name is Jim and I'll be taking you through the journey that will be known as Survivor: Gabon, Earth's Last Eden. Seeing as I'm here and stuff, I guess it's pretty obvious that I am NOT one of the 18 lucky contestants, despite the phenomenal efforts of my "Get me on Survivor" campaign last season.

I'm actually quite excited about tonight as CBS finally listened to the fans and decided to go with a two hour premiere. That will definitely help us get to know the players faster. Of course, they're actually showing two episodes, with two votes, rather than one long episode, so they don't TOTALLY get it. But it's definitely a start. This season is also in one of the most exotic locations ever as they go back to Africa. The country of Gabon, to be exact. The wildlife promises to be as plentiful as ever and may even get into the action. The locale looks to be as beautiful as in any other season of Survivor. So much so, that they're going with the "Earth's Last Eden" theme. My only question on this is will we have to listen to a whole bunch of crap about biting the apple? Like two seasons of James getting his apple bitten wasn't enough. One final addition this season, and I'm not sure it's a positive, is that this is the first season being shot in HD. While that will be great for the scenery and animals, I'm not really sure I want to see these people in hi-def - especially not after three weeks living in the jungle. What good can possibly come of that? Well, that's enough from me; the show's starting, so I guess I'll turn it over to the Emmy-winning Jeff Probst.

Right off the bat we get some outstanding wildlife shots as we scan the area this season will take place in. Jeff comes in to tell us that 18 people are playing this season and we get to hear a little about them. First up are the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and she's fast. Next is the physics teacher who commercially fishes in the summer. We meet what looks to be Dreamz V 2.0, who tells us he's not proud of some of the things he's done. Next up is a Right Said Fred wannabe with a British accent. As they follow their native guides to the start of the game, they are all in street clothes and Jeff hits us with the tagline: 18 people, 39 days, 1 Survivor!

As the gang gets to Probst, we start this season a little differently. He has them give their name and occupation. So, to help you guys, I'll go ahead and run through them with you. First up is Danny. He's the guy I compared to Dreamz. He's a maintenance supervisor. Bob's a physics teacher (and bowtie wearer). Jacque sells medical devices and Ken is a professional video game player. Marcus is in the medical field and Charlie is a management consultant. Mattie is a personal trainer and Susie is a hairdresser. Paloma is a server and Randy is a videographer (and professional tool, it would see.) Right Said Fred is actually Ace - he's a photographer. Crystal is the gold medalist, but she tells them she's a teacher. Kelly is a buyer for a retail store in Chicago, and she seems very proud of that. Corinne is a pharmaceutical sales rep and a self proclaimed bitch. Dan is up next and he claims he's a former attorney who's trying to find himself. Michelle is up next and she works in film, while Sugar is pinup model. Gillian is a nurse, wife, mother and grandmother.

To star the game, as is the tradition in Gabon, the tribe elders will divide the tribes. Bob and Gillian (who seems to go pretty far to not actually reveal her age) are the obvious old folks in the game, so they step up to the Probst. Bob chooses yellow, Gillian red. After a hard fought game of rock, paper, scissors, Bob gets to choose first. He can choose anyone he wants. There will be no boy/girl alternating.

Bob's first choice is "baldy", or Ace. Gillian picks the 6'3" Crystal. Ace is up and he says a photographer has to have a model and chooses Sugar. Crystal picks Susie, because I guess winning isn't a high priority. Sugar pulls in Marcus while Susie takes Matty. Charlie is selected by Marcus and Matty chooses Randy. Paloma joins the yellow team and Dan is picked for red. And I have to be honest, I kind lost track. Let me just give you the tribes.

The red tribe, Fang, is Gillian, Crystal, Susie, Matty, Randy, Dan, Ken, Michelle and Danny (who tells them to call him GC.)

The yellow tribe, Kota, is Bob, Ace, Sugar, Marcus, Charlie, Paloma, Corrine, Kelly and Jacque.

And right off the bat is a challenge. The tribes will have to run through some flags and up a large hill. At the top of the hill is an immunity idol for both tribes. The first person up there from each tribe gets it. Also up there are all their supplies including extra bags of beans and corn. The first tribe to have ALL members up there will get the extra food. So, right off the bat is a choice between personal goals (immunity idol) versus tribe goals, extra food.

Survivors ready? GC jumps out into the lead while Gillian is struggling. Matty and Dan go back to help Gillian out while GC keeps plodding along. Marcus is leading the yellow tribe up the hill in search of the idol. Marcus reaches the top first and then GC, so they both get immunity. Michelle is the first girl to the top, despite being the last picked. Kota is WAY ahead for the food right now while the Fang moms (Gillian, Susie and Crystal) struggle. And with that, Kota gets across the line and gets the extra food. Matty, despite hanging in the back to help his tribe, is also irritated that his tribe will be on the short end of the physical stick. As the tribes prepare to hike to camp, Jeff has to point out that Fang wasn't even close in this race and he hopes it isn't an indication.

As we return from break, we join Kota on their trek to camp. As they get to camp, they realize that there are some raggedy shelters already constructed, so they're pretty excited to know that they have some shelter. Bob is quick to get on the roof to do some work on the roof to keep any rain out. Corinne tells us that Bob has the camp running smooth and that he's 57-years-old and he's awesome. Bob is like a kid in the candy store.

We check in with Fang (pronounced Fong, by the way) and they are also pleased with the huts at camp. Gillian starts off with a pep talk about them being awesome in the first challenge. Um...yeah. Lipstick on a pig and stuff. Right off the bat, Gillian finds a pile of elephant dung, which she says burns real well. At the same time, if there's a big pile of elephant crap by their camp, that might suggest that there are elephants near camp. She's annoying Randy quite a bit. Ken and Michelle are exploring a bit and they find a termite. Ken talks Michelle into eating it and she does, and all the while her chest is being blurred out. As Ken is telling us that the last girl he kissed was in high school, I can't help but think that may have been the first live nipple sighting for Ken. So props to him for that. As they head back to camp, Ken seems to have fallen in love with her already. Wow - it's gonna be a short game for Ken if he doesn't get his head in the actual game.

Back over at Kota, the discussion is what to do with the latrine. Ace is trying to take control. As he tells us that he's the total package and can do it all, he's already started to annoy Paloma. Charlie and Marcus are also annoyed. They decide to let Ace run the show and dig his own grave. These two decide to hang out. Charlie seems to be digging on Marcus. And Marcus can sense it, but he tells us that's not the way he rolls. This may be Eden, but there won't be two Adams.

As night falls, we rejoin Fang as their pet elephant rolls through camp. The tribe is, to a man, taken aback by that. Randy, as he is walking back to the hut, rises up and cracks his head on a branch and blood is flowing down his face. He goes to Gillian (the nurse) and she says there's not much for her to do without fire - so they call in medical. So, some anesthetic and three stitches later, Randy's all cleaned up. The whole goal now is to keep it from getting infected. They say they'll monitor him for just that. And how ‘bout that, our first game threatening injury on the first night. Sweet.

We come back from break the next day to the Fang tribe. Ken and Randy have caught a bunch of bugs to eat. Randy's head is getting better and he's pleased. Michelle is whining about the cold and the hard bedding. She's pissed that she's stuck on the "dorky" tribe while all the beautiful people are on the other tribe.

We join Kota as they pick up the first Tree Mail. Tree Mail suggests that whatever the challenge is, they'll be working together. The winner is also promised fire. Ace decides to get the tribe together for some yoga to get them ready for the challenge. Half the tribe sits back and giggles at him, while the others join in.

Probst sighting!!! Today's challenge is a departure from challenges of the last several seasons. Turns out the tribes will have to make their way through an obstacle course, collect some puzzle pieces and then put them together. Oh, does that sound familiar? While I appreciate the scope of this challenge, it's absolutely huge. But that doesn't take away from the fact that it's still the "Obstacle Course/Puzzle" formula that has gotten a bit stale. The three people chosen to solve the puzzle are Bob, Paloma and Sugar for Kota and Gillian, Susie and Randy for Fang. The rest of the tribes are roped together to get through the swamp and other obstacles.

Ace has his tribe a little in the lead through the swamp. They make their way up the cargo net and Fang takes over the lead right there. Kota digs out the first bag of pieces, then Fang. Two more bags each. Kota gets the second and third bags of pieces, while Fang still hasn't found bag #2. Kota begins working on their puzzle. Bob is right at home with the puzzle pieces and they're making quick work of this thing. Kota is finishing up the puzzle while Fang finally makes it to the end. Despite getting completely blown out, Gillian never stopped the cheerleader thing, much to the annoyance of Randy. As Kota gets their flint and the immunity idol, one has to wonder if Gillian's annoying talking thing won't make her the first person voted out of this game.

Speaking of Gillian, she's the first contestant on, "It's Anyone But..." As Fang gets back to camp, GC is a bit irritated how the tribe has performed. He is bummed that the tribe has no leader. Matty is talking to Randy and Dan about booting Michelle. Dan asks how their tribe is better if Michelle goes. Randy doesn't seem to be on board with that plan and he'd prefer Gillian to go. He thinks she's too old. He considers her worthless to the tribe. Ken and Michelle seem to have formed a little mini-alliance and they're targeting Gillian as well. Ken is trying to tell Michelle that she needs to talk to people other than him, if she wants to stay in the game. She explains that she has trouble being nice to and fitting in with people she doesn't like. Gillian and Dan are also plotting against Michelle. And there we have it. Seems the entire tribe is set on voting out Michelle. Very interesting, indeed. Let's get to Tribal and see what happens.

Fire represents life. As long as you have fire, you're still in this game. And the torches are lit. Jeff jumps right in and asks Dan how he thinks they did in the challenge. Dan thinks they did pretty well. Jeff's response (and this is why he won the Emmy, folks) is, "So in addition to being a complete disaster, this tribe is in total denial." Dan disagrees. He says he thinks they can take those guys. Michelle is up next. She calls out GC and Ken for taking a break while digging for pieces. As everyone argues back and forth, Michelle comes out of by saying that she thought that they were in a race which means you don't stop until you win or you're done. As she says that, both Crystal and Matty are nodding in agreement.

Jeff asks Crystal who's leading this tribe. She says they don't have one. Gillian tells Jeff that she thinks the tribe has several leaders, but they're afraid of the target that comes along with that title. Jeff then throws it out there to see if anyone wants to step up and be the leader. No one steps up. And once again, this turns into everyone talking at the same time. They seem to have volunteered GC as the leader. He reluctantly says he would do the job and everyone agrees to that.

Jeff asks Michelle who she's closest to and she says Ken. He asks her about being picked last and she says she feels like she proved that a bad choice in the first challenge and that it's time to get rid of some dead weight. This turns Jeff to Gillian and her poor performance in the challenge. She admits it and owns it and she hopes she's made up for it in camp. GC decides to keep the immunity necklace for tonight and with that, it's time to vote.

We see Michelle's vote for Gillian saying she's the weakest on the tribe. We then see Gillian's vote for Michelle saying she doesn't think she wants to be there and that with her attitude, she shouldn't be. And that's it. That can only mean that it's unanimous and Michelle is likely going home.

Jeff's gonna read the votes. And as I expected, one vote for Gillian, the rest for Michelle. Despite the fact they came in as individuals, they seem to have become a team, with a leader - as they all voted for the same person. He tells them that they get to take their torches and some flint back to camp and they leave Tribal Council in a MUCH better mood than when they arrived.

There are no previews for the next episode as it's getting ready to start right now. I have to say, though, I see no way that the second episode will have a different result that the first. I'm going to go ahead and use this as a logical break point for the recap and I'll be back with the second half of the Survivor: Gabon premiere soon.