Survivor: Heroes v Healers v Hustlers - Episode 1 Recap
I'm Not Crazy, I'm Confident
By Jim Van Nest
September 28, 2017

We hardly knew ye.

Hello good people and welcome to the very first recap of the 35th season of Survivor!! Hard to believe that we're beginning the 18th year and 35th season of Survivor, isn't it? At this point in a show like Survivor, and when the location isn't changing every season - we're spending our 3rd season in a row in Fiji - we have to start playing with the format and theme. Thus, Season 35 is being called Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers. The groups are determined by the trait that others see in them. Heroes are people like sports stars, firefighters and Olympic athletes. The Healers are doctors, nurse practitioners and therapists. And the Hustlers are those that work their butts off in whatever it is they do. Personal assistant, bellhop and fisherwoman are some of the professions of the Hustler tribe.

I have to say that I do enjoy a 3 tribe season and the cast seems pretty great - so I'm expecting a great season of Survivor. And after last season's Game Changers, the reality juggernaut could really use a pick-me-up. There don't seem to be too many rule changes for this season, other than Jeff Probst and Co have bailed on the "no re-votes after a tie at Tribal Council" rule. Other than that, we've been promised some new twists and some changes in how Idols will be clued and hidden. Ultimately, there has been a lot put out there about the players this season, I feel like I know them all quite well going into the season. But I've seen very little about the game and season itself - which I think is pretty awesome.

All that being said, I'm not sure there's anything else to do to setup the first recap of the season. Unlike the last few seasons, tonight is 1 hour, 1 Tribal Council vote and only 1 boot, so that will make my job easier. Now, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I just heard the conch shell. So, sit back, buckle up, grab a slice of pizza and get ready to dig into the 35th season of Survivor.

The show starts with Jeff Probst narrating over some fantastic aerial shots as well as many shots that look as though they're part of the opening credits that we no longer get to see. It's a quick opening this time and before you know it, Jeff is stranded on top of a mountain talking about 39 days, 18 people, 1 Survivor!

We're taken directly to the boat carrying the 18 new Americans setting out on an adventure of a lifetime. Jeff welcomes them and they applaud. At this point, he tells them how they've been divided up. He starts with the Blue tribe and when he tells them they're the "Heroes", they all get a little swole up. He talks to the dude with the big beard and bigger cowboy hat. He tells us his name is Ben and that he's a family man and former marine. Before moving onto the second tribe, a woman named Chrissy lets us know that she feels right at home on the Heroes tribe as she had a big career, stopped working to take care of her kids and is now back at it in another huge career. She plans to keep that to herself though as she's worried people will think that she already has enough money and won't award her the Survivor million.

Jeff addresses the yellow tribe and lets them know that they are the "Healers". They all nod in appreciation. He talks to the big dude in the middle who tells us his name is Cole. He says he's a wilderness therapy guide and that he takes disadvantaged teens that struggle with addiction and take them out into the wilderness as a way to help them get over their issues and start to make a new life. Jeff also talks to Dr. Mike down in front. He says that he is a "sex doctor" and then goes on to explain that he's a urologist that specializes in male sexual issues. Jeff suggests that he must get a lot of thanks in his real life. He admits that people are usually pretty happy after they've seen him. He tells us in confessional that his wife thinks he's crazy and that his kids think he's going to die. He, however, is determined to rise to the occasion.

On to the final group, the red tribe. Jeff tells them they're the "Hustlers." Oddly enough, none of them seem too excited about that title until Probst starts explaining it a little. He says they're the hard workers always busting their butts and that their mantra is get it done, 100% all the time. NOW, he has them. They all seem a little more onboard for the title now. He picks out the girl in the middle and she tells us her name is Ali and that she's a personal assistant for a YouTube star. She lets us know that every day brings a different challenge and she is constantly running to keep up with the demands of her employer. Ryan, the turtleneck wearing Cochran wannabe, tells us that he thinks his tribe is a pretty strong looking bunch. He hopes that they all know how to build shelter and open coconuts and things. He tells us he's 125 pounds, doesn't drink and has no girlfriend, so they'll all be lining up to align with him. See? Cochran.

Jeff hands out the buffs and everyone gets ready to begin. They will have a traditional marooning. Tons of supplies (including a secret advantage) are all over the deck of the ship. On Jeff's "go" they'll collect as much from the big boat as they can and throw it overboard into a smaller boat. But, there's an additional challenge here. When Jeff rings a bell, they'll be done getting supplies and will race to get all 6 tribe members in their boats with their supplies. They'll then race to the shore where a huge fire urn is being held up in the sky. When they get there, the first tribe to get a person up to the urn to light a torch will win a huge fire-making kit that will be waiting for them back at camp. The second team to light their torch will get a flint. Last place team - he's got nothing for ya!

On Jeff's word, there is a mad dash for supplies and they just start slinging things overboard. Crates of fruits and vegetables with no lid are tossed into the water - as if they'll stay in their crates. Very odd way of doing things, it would seem. And just like that, people start jumping overboard. Um...what? This boat is chock full of stuff and as soon as you leave the boat, you can't get anything else. Not very smart. I get it - adrenaline and stuff - but be smarter. You need to do like Patrick and Ryan - don't jump until Probst makes you. Because they stayed behind, Patrick was able to throw one more huge crate overboard and Ryan was able to spot, grab and hide the elusive "secret advantage". You can NEVER underestimate having presence of mind. Yes, it's exciting. Yes, it's a dream come true. But you cannot let that cloud your mind. Always being thinking, always be looking, always be playing. Congrats to Ryan on scoring the advantage - I guess we'll see later what kind of crazy legacy nonsense they've come up with for this season.

Once everyone is finally overboard, they gather gear and throw it in their boats. The Heroes and Healers are all loaded up and heading for shore. The Hustlers are...not. To use Jeff's words, "And the Hustlers team, still trying to figure out what show they're on." They are, as I expected them to be, a hot mess. They can't get their boat turned around. They can't paddle forward. They're just an island out there. By the time they figure it out and get headed in the right direction, the Healers have lit their torch to earn the massive fire kit and the Heroes have pocketed the flint for their second place finish. Things are not looking good for the red team! As they head out to find their camps, Ali from the Hustler tribe is pretty concerned about their result here on the first mini-challenge. She's hoping that they're strength and work ethic will help them gel as a team so they can have better results next time out.

And look at Survivor go - normally, that's where the first break of the episode would be, instead we get some fantastic underwater whale shots and we move right to the tribes reaching camp. The first to be shown arriving are the Healers and there beach is pretty easy to spot due to the raging bonfire setup for them as winners of the first challenge. They are all smiles and games right now. Joe loves his tribe. Jessica loves Cole and his abs. Everything is coming up "Healers" right now. Joe tells us on the side that he loves his tribe and feels that because of their caring nature, he'll be able to run the show here. They're "all my victims at this point."

And on that note, let's go check in with the Heroes as they arrive. They waste no time using the flint to make their fire and they are right to work building a shelter. They also waste no time making alliance. JP and Ashley start the talk by agreeing to work together and agreeing that they need to pull in "Cowboy" aka Ben. NFL'er Alan sees them pairing off and is already concerned. He chats up Ben about making a pact and Ben wants to keep the tribe strong by including the aforementioned JP and Ashley. Essentially leaving the 2 older (if you can call 46 "older") women out of the numbers. Alan agrees with this plan, but he tells us that he doesn't trust that pair, and he might be looking to change things up. Already. Um, overplay much? Ben locks in the 4 with Ashley and JP and everyone is ready to go. Chrissy and Katrina - now called the Mom Squad - look to be in some serious trouble.

And with that, it's time to visit the Hustlers. Everyone can breathe easy - they managed to point their boat in the right direction and make it to camp. Lauren, the fisherwoman, greets us at camp with nothing but positivity. They're making a shelter and she's sure that they're work ethic is going to help carry them through the early part of the game. And they are fast at work on a shelter and weaving palm fronds for the roof, so she might just be right. Ali then fills us in on what her hopes are for the beginning of the game. She wants to see where Patrick is first off. If you read my preview, you'll remember that these 2, coincidentally, know each other from prior to the game. She goes on to tell us that if they just win, alliances won't matter right away. But, given their last performance, they probably need to start talking ASAP. So, she grabs Patrick and they agree to have each other's back. Oddly enough, no mention is made at all that they know each other. Patrick tells us that in a game where you can't trust anyone, he feels pretty solid that he can trust Ali. So, it appears we have our first Hustler alliance.

When the group is back together, Patrick wonders aloud who found the clue on the boat. He says he knows one was there and he's wondering who, if anyone found it. This is the perfect segue-way into Ryan telling us that HE found the clue on the boat. We follow him as he gets away from the group so he can open it up and see what it is. He has found a Super Idol that can be played after the votes have been read and will save whoever he plays it for. But, there's a catch. It can only be played at the very first Tribal. And if his tribe doesn't go to Tribal, he has to will it to someone on the tribe that DOES go to Tribal. Very interesting! He's super excited about his #SuperIdol. He might be a little overboard with the power though. It's probably a good thing that after Day 3, he'll lose it. One way or another. He definitely comes off as though he'll let this go to his head. So, for his game, I think he's better served to find something that expires so quickly.

We come back from break to check in again with the Healers on Day 2. They are just now starting to build their shelter. Um - what did you do the entire first day? Anyway, Desi tells us how well the tribe is gelling. Everything they're doing is just on point. Dr. Mike decides to take advice from his 10 year-old son and start hunting for an idol. He hides his searching under the guise of "checking the fire" and he goes off in search of salvation. This is the first step, he tells us, to winning the game and being the best Survivor player ever. Meanwhile, the absence of the GOAT has caught the attention of Joe. As we see the men meet up alone in the jungle, Joe is quick to ask Mike about a bulge in his pocket. Mike reveals a cord of rope from the package the buffs came in. He reveals more rope in his other pocket. Joe lets Mike know that the tribe is concerned about him running around looking for the idol. He does mention that he respects him enough to come to him 1 on 1 instead of calling him out in front of the tribe. Mike tells him he hasn't found an idol, but that he has been looking. He tells us that Joe came up to him trying to bully him into admitting he's been hunting for an idol. I really think he made a bad choice here. Joe DID come to him 1 on 1. That makes this an opportunity to lock in an ally. "Joe - I have been looking for an idol. This island is huge and I can't find anything. Ya know, if we worked together, I bet we could find it and we could take control of this game." It's that simple to pull someone in with you. Instead, Mike kinda leaves Joe out there as an adversary instead of possibly turning him into an ally.

Day 2 over at the Hustlers sees the tribe working more on their shelter and camp. Ryan is really enjoying Devon and thinks he might be looking for someone who is more strategic to align with. Once they're alone, Ryan shares his idol find with Devon. Including that it's only for the first vote...everything. Devon, who is playing the dumb surfer to perfection by the way, is pretty stoked. He tells us that he and Ryan are pretty much on the same wave and that they're going to cause so much chaos together. And there you have it - another alliance formed at Hustler beach.

How are the Heroes doing on Day 2? Well, it would seem that one of them has gone bat shit crazy within the first 36 hours of the game beginning. Alan is obsessed with calling out and breaking up JP and Ashley. Just insane. He wants to show everyone that they're too strong and he wants to show them that he's onto their devious scheme. To do that, he confronts them about having an idol. He tells them he KNOWS that JP has an idol. He makes JP turn out his pockets to prove he doesn't have it on him. He's asking them if they're 4 strong or not. And then not believing them when they both respond, "YES!" JP is thinking that Alan's strength isn't worth the craziness going on at camp right now. What's even crazier about all this is that Alan is actually doing this as strategy. He doesn't think they have an idol, but somehow, he seems to think that acting like a lunatic and hollering paranoid nonsense at these 2 is putting a target on THEIR back. Um, bruh - your plan? It ain't working. All they think is that you're a nutball that needs to go home. Before this inquisition ends, Alan has JP dropping trou to prove that he doesn't have an idol in his pants. Ashley is blown away and is ready to get Alan off their beach, if this is how he plans to play the game.

After the break, we return to Day 3 for our first real "Probst Sighting!" The first immunity challenge is an obstacle course of sorts. They'll race up a cargo net to a platform. They'll then pull a roller coaster cart to the top and ride down the track. First tribe to get all 6 people on their mat will have first choice of 1 of 3 different table mazes. Second tribe gets second choice; third tribe gets the last table. They'll pull that table up to the top of another platform and then work to get 3 balls through the maze. First 2 tribes to get all 3 balls locked in win immunity and will not go to the first Tribal Council. Jeff also points out that the Hustlers are also playing for flint - so not losing will finally get them the fire that they need. Readers ready??? GO!

The challenge starts off the way you would expect it to. Heroes and Healers trading off of first place while the Hustlers trail. But, in fairness, it's very close as the coaster carts come down the rails. Heroes get to the puzzle first, Hustlers second and Healers third. The Heroes choose what looks to be the hardest maze to carry to the top. Hustlers take the medium one...essentially leaving the easiest of the table mazes for the Healers tribe. I'm kinda blown away. Chrissy and Ben manage the maze for the Heroes. Dr. Mike and Desi for the Healers. Devon and Ali are maneuvering the table for the Hustlers. After a quick drop, Roark figures out the trick to the Healers table. And after that, the Healers pretty well run away with this winning the challenge. The race is for 2nd place and the Hustlers and Heroes drop their second ball in place at almost the same time. As each team races to finish the challenge, both teams run the ball around the rim of the final hole, but when the dust settles, the Hustlers upset the Heroes and take second place in the challenge. The Heroes will be going to the first Tribal Council of Survivor 35. Whoa! I'm shocked. In case you weren't sure how demanding some of these challenges are, Chrissy is down on all 4 and once Jeff sees her, she throws up. Just got a little exhausted. She didn't even have medical come out...cause she's a warrior!! After a couple minutes, she's up on feet and everyone heads back to camp. As we head to commercial, Ryan tells us that he now has to give his idol to someone on the Heroes tribe. He's not sure yet who it will be, but he hopes that he's able to change the course of the game with whatever his choice is.

We are brought back to Heroes beach with some more amazing whale footage. LOVE IT!! Naturally, they're all bummed out about losing and having to vote someone out. Not to mention that the person voted out gets the distinction of being the first one out of the season and no one EVER wants that. Ashley tells us that prior to last night, this was going to be the easiest vote ever. But after Alan's display, there's no trust anywhere and everything seems all messed up. Chrissy and Katrina head out to get wood and Ben tries to solidify plans. They all agree on the target, though it's not made clear which of the 2 women they chose. Alan tells us that they think he's with them, but he's gonna try to blow them (Ashley and JP) up. So Katrina comes to talk to Alan and he claims that no one has been talking game to him at all. Katrina says the same thing and then so does Chrissy. So, they're all worried about who's going home. Of course, Alan's lying, but the ladies are 100% not lying. They know they're in trouble. It was their biggest fear before the game even started. Ben joins the conversation and they create a shaky pact to vote out Ashley. So, with everything up in the air, here's what we know for sure: Ben tells us that he and Alan are in the middle of everything and can either go with the "Mom Squad" or Ashley and JP. It just depends on who they can trust. So, despite how flipping insane Alan went, somehow he's sitting in a swing vote position. Because as far as we've seen, Ashley and JP have made no move to Katrina or Chrissy to pull them in for a vote of Alan. This is really crazy to me. How he managed to go ape shit and doesn't seem to be on the block. As they prepare for Tribal, Chrissy finds a package in her bag. She opens it up to find the Super Idol that Ryan found. Looking at the note - because I paused the screen - the note remains the same. This idol will save whomever you play it for. So, the votes don't have to be on Chrissy for this thing to be in play. So, with a new life in the game, Chrissy is feeling much better heading into Tribal Council.

We arrive at Tribal Council and everyone gets their torch and fire. When you have fire, you have life in the game. When you're fire is out, so are you. Ben says that he was surprised by how fast the game moves. Chrissy and Katrina admit to feeling like they didn't fit in because everyone else is younger and stronger. Ashley brings up the commotion that Alan started with her and JP. Alan confirms that what she says is true. And despite their denials of having an idol, he claims to still not believe them, even though JP stripped down to prove it. Chrissy says the worry is that their tribe has a power couple, which Ashley finds to be completely ridiculous this early in the game. JP has damn near nothing to say. And if you're to believe the chatter on the interwebs, his conduct and refusal to give more than a short couple word vague answer to any question was starting to irritate the host with the most. Alan throws it out there that Katrina or Chrissy have been talked about as the vote. And he just didn't want to sit back and let something happen that actually hurts the tribe. At this point, even Ben isn't exactly sure what's going to happen. And with that, it's time to vote. We actually see no votes this time, odd for a first Tribal.

Jeff tallies and counts the votes. He gives them the chance to play an idol if they have one, and no one does. As the votes come up, it's 1 vote Ashley and 5 votes Katrina. Katrina is the first person voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers. And considering she voted for Katrina, Chrissy stands pat with her Super Idol and lets Katrina walk. Some may say this was a bad move to let her #1 ally leave the game when she could have saved her. I don't agree. Saving Katrina does nothing to help Chrissy. They'd still be at a 3-2 numbers disadvantage AND she would have deceived the rest of the Tribe making them even surer that she needs to go. Also, by not playing this thing, she now has the single greatest fake immunity idol in the history of the game. If she plays this thing right, this idol can have benefits for her down the road. It could be saving her for many Tribal Councils, not just this first one. I applaud her for the non-play here and can't wait to see what else she has in store.

Next time on, Survivor: Ben and Chrissy look to form a NEW power couple at Heroes Beach. Healers Cole and Jessica have a budding romance at Healers Beach and a bad break up over at Hustler Beach as Patrick's nutso antics are making Ali rethink her alliance with him.

And that'll do it for me kids...thanks so much for reading and I look forward to another awesome season recapping Survivor. I'll see y'all next week. Til then, take care!

As always, follow me on Twitter and let me know what you think of the recap and what you think of my assessments. I'm: @vannestjc