Survivor: Philippines - Episode 1 (Part 1)
Survivor Smacked Me In The Chops
By Ben Willoughby
September 20, 2012
We open with a montage of spectacularly green islands, waterfalls and even a volcano, before – Probst sighting! – we cut to Probst driving a speedboat. Do we think he’s really driving the speedboat at the same time as giving his intro? I’m sure there’s someone below in the actual cabin behind the tinted windows doing the steering, while Probst is up top with his Junior Sea Captain’s Steering Wheel and Foghorn Playset.
Probst talks about how beautiful and remote this area is, and how it is teeming with dangerous wildlife that could potentially kill or maim a castaway. Like whale sharks - which eat plankton. And tarsiers – and we get to see one pounce on a grasshopper. I hope none of our castaways are especially small.
This season, our castaways are split into three tribes. We see Jeff Kent, with a montage of him playing baseball and washing his truck, talk about pressure playing in the World Series and hoping that people won’t recognize him. We see Zane talk about his Frankenstein tattoo and how it relates to his double nature – because Frankenstein picked a flower for a little girl, but he also strangled her. Can't he pick a better dual-nature role model than a child-killer? Like David Bowie? And we see Lisa talk over another montage of old clips from The Facts of Life, but in what looks like being a recurring theme, she’s not going to talk about her fame to her fellow castaways.
And now, we have another montage of Survivors getting hurt and feeling sick, with plenty of rolling their eyes back, compacted bowels and throwing up. (For those keeping count, that’s four montages in the first five minutes.) This season has three returning Survivors, and the thing they had in common is that they were all evacuated out of the game. So we have yet another montage with each of them getting hurt, interspliced with Russell saying that this time he is “smacking back,” Jonathan saying “I am on fire to win this game… 39 days from now, I’ll win a million dollars” and Michael killing a pig and smearing his face with its blood. Oh wait, that’s what he did back in the Australian Outback season. Also, it's an excuse to show some starved Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
39 days, 18 people, one Survivor, Probst announces, while “steering” the boat.
The 15 new castaways are gathered on a boat that is much less fancy than Probst’s. They are waiting patiently for Probst to arrive and wondering which annoyances from past seasons will be joining them, since there are only 15 of them. They are all sitting in their new tribes, and wearing tribe-appropriate colors. After the opening credits, Probst “drives” up beside the castaways’ boat and clambers aboard to ask a couple of questions. Jeff Kent is worried that with three tribes there are only five people on each, so it will be panicky come Tribal Council. Zane has something to say, too – having three tribes is fine, so long as there aren’t celebrities. Cut to Lisa, “former TV teen star”, saying in an interview she wants to keep things secret. Probst then asks Roxy about the toll this game can take, and what’s the worst she has ever seen. Roxy gives Probst exactly the answer he wants by saying the worst was when this guy passed out right in the middle of a challenge and he was begging Probst not to take him out. Probst would give Roxy a gold star if he could, because he introduces the three returning castaways: Russell, who must be embarrassed when Probst informs everyone very loudly that Russell “passed out right in front of [Probst]!," Jonathan, who had a “life-threatening infection” and Michael, who fell “hands first into the tribe fire, with skin dripping off of his fingers!” “All three of these players were leaders on their tribe,” says Probst, eliding over the returnees’ several leadership failures in their original seasons, “and all three have one thing none of the rest of you have – experience.”