Survivor: Edge of Extinction Recap
Episode 1 - It Smells Like Success
By Jim Van Nest
February 21, 2019
Hello good people and welcome to the 34th consecutive season of BOP Survivor Recaps. My name is Jim and I'm back in the saddle to guide you through the journey that will be Survivor's 38th season - Edge of Extinction!
Before we get into the episode, let's talk about what we know about this season coming in to the premiere. Let's start with the cast. Season 38 will feature 14 new players and 4 returning players. And while casual fans of Survivor might not remember some of these returnees by name, they will certainly remember them by face and by their games.
The first and most recognizable is one Joseph Amazing. That's right, dreamy challenge stud Joe Anglim is back for his third stint on Survivor - following dominating physical performances in Season 30 (Worlds Apart) and Season 31 (Second Chance). Having competed in 31 challenges over 2 seasons (both tribal and individual) Joe has won 23 of them. 13 tribal wins and 10 individual wins. The last time we saw Joe, he pushed himself so hard in a challenge that he passed out, lost the challenge and was then voted out. Because of the challenge dominance, we never really got to see what kind of strategic chops he has as he seems to always be in "win or go home" mode. Let's see if being surrounded by newbies can help him plant some roots in his 3rd game.
Probably the next most recognizable (and sharing a tribe with Joe) is Aubry Bracco. Aubry became hugely popular during Season 32 - the brains/beauty/brawn rehash. She went from breaking down emotionally on day 3 to being universally thought to have been robbed by the worst bitter jury in the show's history. But don't ask her about it, she's done talking about Kaoh Rong. And while she appreciates that people were so upset for her, she's fine with it and got the chance to make it all better in Season 34's Game Changers. Unfortunately, she found herself on the wrong side of Queen Sandra and was never able to find her footing in S34. She made final 5, but I'm not sure anyone has had to work harder to get that far than Aubry did that season. One other note on Aubry that I have to mention is the absolutely horrible luck she has in alliance partners. Ice cream man Nick was her first ally, he was med-evac'd. She had a tight alliance with Joe Del Campo deep into S32 - Joe was med evac'd at final 5. She got in tight with Malcolm and JT for S34 right before Malcolm was screwed over by the double tribal council twist. Aubry is a wicked smart player and has everything it takes to win this game. Snooze on her (or align with her, it seems) at your own risk.
Third up is another 3 time player, Kelley Wentworth. Wentworth has a less than memorable appearance on the 2nd version of Blood v Water with her dad, Dale. Dale turned out to be a pain in the ass on the island, but everyone saw Kelley as the better player and she was voted out very early. She was then added to the audience vote in poll for the Second Chance season and with an absolutely brilliant social media strategy - using Twitter and Rob Has a Podcast users - she was able to earn enough votes to be brought back in Season 32 (with Joey Amazing) in Cambodia. She was fantastic in that second chance season. She was the first person to ever find an idol at a challenge. She then used that idol to nullify the greatest amount of votes in Survivor history (9). She used said idol to take out opposition leader Andrew Savage and was headed on a direct path to a season victory, until she was derailed - leaving the game in 4th place. Wentworth was very much the standout of the season - enough so that Probst has given her the distinction of being one of the few players he calls by her last name. She also seems to relish the underdog role and makes her best moves in that capacity. That being said, she ain't hiding from anyone this season and it'll be quite interesting to see how she performs with a massive target on her back from the moment she steps foot on the beach.
Our final returnee (and tribemate of Kelley Wentworth) is Season 33's David Wright. David made a name for himself right away by being the guy that was afraid of everything. What no one could predict was how he would flourish out on the island, emerging as the odds on favorite to win the season. David went head to head with Zeke and won that power battle. He created one of the single best fake immunity idols in the game - helping to take out another strong contender in Jay Starett. And while David hasn't been back on Survivor yet - that fake idol WAS! It was one of the relics that had matured on Ghost Island and grew into a real idol in Season 36. David is a very savvy player with a deep strategic mind. He has great social skills and can endear himself to just about everyone. One of the more underrated portions of David's game is his uncanny ability to make a fire with flint and steel in less than a minute. During his last stint, that meant nothing. However, now that the final four is decided with a fire making challenge, David is poised to take that final step he was denied in S33 - making it to the final Tribal.
One thing's for sure - each one of the returning players brings some very solid game play to the table in Season 38. Each one of these players could have potentially won their previous seasons, with Aubry getting robbed (that's right, I said it) and David and Wentworth each falling one vote short of likely victory. Joe is a guy that has proven that he can win any challenge placed in front of him. If these 4 people with such strong Survivor resumes haven't been able to win, it should show the 14 newbies just how hard this game is.
The final pre-game piece to discuss is the biggest twist to hit Survivor in quite some time. The title of the season is Edge of Extinction and this refers to the brand new Extinction Island. Extinction Island is 1 part Exile Island and 1 part Redemption Island, but with a fun twist. No one knows it exists.
When a player is voted out this season, they'll have their torch snuffed and they'll take the walk of shame like always. But this season, at the end of the walk, they'll come to a fork in the road. One way leads to Ponderosa and their game being officially over. The other leads to Extinction Island - a desolate island where they will spend the rest of their Survivor days hoping and waiting for a chance to get back into the game. They will have no supplies and nothing to do on the new EI. The only prop there is a huge boat mast with a white sail. If, at any time, a player has had enough, they will raise the white sail and a boat will come to get them and take them out of the game.
What remains to be seen is exactly HOW desolate the island is and exactly HOW little supplies they'll be given. Jeff promises that this will be the hardest thing they've ever done and he actually expects people to give up and quit rather than go for the chance to get back in the game. Little is known about how or when players will get the chance to come back. In fact, little is known about it at all. Jeff and other producers have been very careful with what information they've released leading up to the premiere. The one thing we DO know is that the players do not know that Extinction Island exists and will not know unless they get voted off. So, that should make for some interesting side by side comparisons as players continue on after the vote as if the person they just jettisoned is gone - meanwhile, that person is on EI plotting their revenge.
Generally, I do a full season review of the cast - but this year, I just wasn't able to get it done. However, for posterity's sake, I feel compelled to make a winner pick. While I'm intrigued by country boy Gavin and the Wardog. As impressed as I am with both Wentworth and Aubry - my winner pick is officially - David Wright!!
All righty - I think I've blathered on more than long enough. Let's sit down, grab the popcorn and revel in the fact that the best reality show on television is back as Jeff reminds us that it's 39 days, 18 people, 1 Survivor!
As the 14 newbies make their way to the marooning boat, we meet Wardog. He's from New York, he's military but he's also in law school. He thinks he'll keep that to himself. We also meet the blue haired bundle of energy Wendy. She's a huge fan and stuff and loves the unpredictability. Jeff gets them all on the boat and welcomes them in. And he gives them about 15 seconds to be excited about it before he reminds them that in 72 hours, someone will be voted out. This leads him into the returning 4 introductions as he talks about some great players who have not been able to win the game.
As their boat comes in, the new players check it out to see who it is. Right off the bat, a young girl named Lauren recognizes Wentworth. She tells us in confessional that her favorite player ever is Kelley and that her Survivor crush is Joey Amazing. And voila - there he is too!! I have to say - it does make you wonder who was cast first. Not to be to conspiracy nerd - but did they find out who these new player liked and then start inviting returnees? Just wondering.
As the speed boat pulls up, they recognize David and Aubry. There are definitely fanboys and girls for all 4 of these players. Makes you wonder if they'll have the guts to vote them out, doesn't it? Jeff then goes into a review of the 4 returning players. He gives much quicker resumes for them than I did above. He also really hammers on the fact that they're all great players who weren't able to win. And that is because Survivor is so unpredictable. It pushes you down and makes you dig deeper than you ever thought you could. And that's what they're going to explore this season. They are all on Survivor: Edge of Extinction. I have to say - I was wondering how he would give the title and them of the season without spoiling Extinction Island. I think he did quite well. And let's be honest...there is so much adrenaline pumping on this boat right now, they probably missed most of what he said anyway.
And just like that, Jeff gives them 2 minutes to grab all the supplies they can grab and get them into their boats to head to camp. It's an absolute free for all. I can't really tell who is getting what - it's just typical Survivor marooning insanity. And then out of nowhere, an older guy rocking a sweet vest notices an envelope marked "Secret Advantage". He quickly grabs it and throws it in his pocket. As everyone is loading up the boats and swimming to get into the boats, we see Keith having a hard time with the swim. He tells us that he's not the best swimmer. Lauren comes out to help Keith and everyone continues filling the boats up until Jeff sends them on their way.
We begin by seeing the blue Manu tribe reach camp. This is the tribe with Wentworth and David. Also with Lauren (the Wentworth Stan), our firecracker Wendy and Keith. As they get up to their camp flag, introductions start happening. We meet Rick, a morning news anchor who is a huge day 1 fan of the show. Right off the bat he tells everyone what he does. He tells us that no one thinks a newsman is tough and with the dad-bod he's rocking, he expects to be underestimated. We get our first confessional from Wentworth. She is very intent on making some solid relationships in the game in the hopes that she won't have to play from the bottom again.
We also get to hear from David who is kinda thrown off by the change from the first game to now. The first time, he was scared of everything and didn't want to voice much of an opinion, but now, these new players are all coming to him asking for advice and help with shelter building. He's happy to provide whatever guidance he can in hopes that it will get them all to trust him and play with him.
Next we get to know a little more about Wendy as she tells us and a couple of tribemates that she has Tourette's. And as she's telling us this, we get to see some of her ticks. She doesn't have the stereotypical Tourette's where she curses people out, but it's more ticks and noises. She also tells us that she is very awkward and that the making relationships might be difficult. One thing though, she is constantly smiling and frankly, it's pretty infectious.
Let's check in with the yellow Kama tribe. This one has Aubry and Joe as well as the vest dude who grabbed the advantage. A young redhead names Victoria tells us that she loves Survivor so much that when she was 8, she asked Santa for a buff for Christmas. Needless to say, she's pretty excited to be there.
We get our first Joe confessional and I have to be honest, I had to watch it twice because the first time I was completely entranced by the Snidely Whiplash mustache. (Go ahead, look it up. I'll wait.) When I get back to it, he's telling us that he is really trying to put away Joey Amazing and just be Joe. But it's hard when everyone keeps coming to him asking for advice. We get some scenes of him showing them how to open coconuts, the best way to chop bamboo and of course, making a fire by rubbing bamboo together.
It's after this that we meet Aurora, a divorce lawyer. She is pumped to have Joe on her team. She doesn’t have to make fire or a shelter. She tells us, "I'm gay and even I'm Team Joe." Now we get our first glimpse of Julie, an Etsy business owner from New York. She is not able to weave fronds, she gets a splinter in her big toe and whines to everyone about it and she tells us that she has no outdoors skills at all, aside from peeing in the bushes in Central Park. She is definitely first boot potential. But Joe's teams win everything, so she's probably safe until the swap.
Finally, we meet the dude with the secret advantage. His name is Ron Clark. He's a teacher with his own academy named after him. Several years ago, there was a TV movie starring Matthew Perry called the Ron Clark Story. This is the real dude. Anyway, he tells us that the Kama tribe is having the best start in Survivor history, but what he wants to know is about this secret advantage. He excuses himself to go to the well and checks out his advantage. It is a clue to go dig up the real advantage over by tree mail. So he hurries over there and digs up a "Secret Advantage Menu". This advantage is good up to an including the 3rd Tribal Council. He can either steal a reward if his team loses, he can have an extra vote or he can use it as an idol. He is super psyched about this - but he better be thinking clearly. Personally, I'd try to use it to steal a reward if the opportunity arises. Hell, steal the first reward for your tribe and you're guaranteed to make it through the first 3 Tribals.
We come back to the Kama camp on Day 2 and the talk has turned to what "Edge of Extinction" can mean. Noe and Aubry have their first chat of the game and we get Aubry's first confessional. She's concerned about having the returning player target. Joe is telling her that he's getting really good vibes from everyone out there. And honestly, this is why Joe could be in trouble. He should be thinking more like Aubry.
Now we get to meet Gavin. He's from a tiny town in Tennessee, so he comes complete with southern charm and a pretty thick accent. But he tells us not to be deceived, he knows this game. And hell, with the million, he might buy his town a 4th stop light for Main Street. He's working with firefighter Eric and talk turns to Joe and Aubry. Eric is a little bummed because part of the adventure for him was figuring everything out on his own, but the tribe is just asking Joe and Aubry how to do everything. He tells us that part of his job as a firefighter requires him to sometimes have to make very quick relationships with people in trouble. He and Gavin are talking about how a new player has to win the season, but they need to keep Joe around as a meat shield. Eric tells us that if he could get Aubry out tomorrow, he would. Uh oh - they're coming for her already. That's...not good.
Back over at Manu, we meet a sales rep names Reem who is very excited with how her tribe is performing. As she heads to the beach to get the clothes - I guess everyone's clothes, that she put there...Wardog is complaining to Lauren and Kelley about how Reem keeps moving all his stuff. Lauren tells us that she thinks Reem is just like a mom out there, but it's rubbing people the wrong way. We see her talking to anchor man Rick and he says that down south they'd say, "Bless her heart." And he mentions that he had hung his shirt in a tree, only to find it lying on the beach a little while later.
As much as she's rubbing some people the wrong way, Keith is really warming up to Reem. He's a 19 year old college student and self-proclaimed Momma's Boy and he's struggling a little bit without his mom there. And he feels like Reem is kind of filling that role for him. She's more than happy to take him under her wing and help him with his swimming and telling him if he's starting to get too soft out there. We get a great scene of Reem with Keith in the ocean helping him with his swimming. Wendy is also out there helping. Of course, as this is happening, the rest of the tribe is seeing that as a 3 person alliance and to a man, they're all on board with targeting one of those 3.
We come back from break to a Probst Sighting! And we are set up for a pretty big challenge, complete with obstacles and massive puzzle pieces. They'll have to go through an obstacle, then one person as to climb a rope and ring a bell. Then walk a ridiculous 3 tiered balance beam, untie some knots and finish everything up with a giant slide puzzle. Winners win immunity and fire in the form of flint.
Both tribes get through the rope obstacle at the same time. Joe and Chris take on the rope and naturally, Joe makes it first. Joe and Wendy take on the balance beam and naturally, Joe makes it first. Wendy has pulled back and then Lauren falls. Eric and then Aubry take on the beam to help Joe untie the knots. Manu is still struggling with the beam until David gets across. Kama gets all the ropes untied, which removes the balance beam and all of Kama moves on. Eric takes on the monkey bridge and drops a slide for everyone else.
Meanwhile, Wentworth takes a huge fall on the beam and gashes open her head. Somehow, David gets Manu back into this as they are crossing the monkey bridge now. Kama is working the puzzle with, who else, Joe directing. Manu has made up a lot of time and David takes the lead on the slide puzzle for them. All of a sudden, Kama is lost. Manu could be catching up. Despite the small hiccup, Kama holds onto their lead and wins immunity! And Joe's incredible record in challenges continues. As we head to break, Kelley tells us that losing that first challenge is really tough as you haven't had time to build many bonds and anything can happen.
The Manu tribe is totally dejected over the challenge lost. Reem and Wendy go to Rick to try to get either Lauren or Kelley out. Keith is there and he's not too thrilled with the way they were dogging Rick down. So he goes back to the rest of the group and tells them what's going on. As a group, they all feel like Wendy is more helpful in the challenges, so Reem looks to be the target. Wardog decides he's going to see Wendy to see what she's thinking. This could be a bad move, especially if he tells her the plan.
Wardog and David actually talk to Wendy and she reiterates the plan to break up Kelley and Lauren. Wardog tells her about Reem and Wendy makes a really shrewd move here. She doesn't try to convince them, but tells them that she is voting with Reem tonight, "out of loyalty". So even if they do go against her, they know how and why she's voting the way she is. That's the kind of cool little move that could see Wendy get back in the graces of the majority.
And just like that, it shows what I know. Wardog and David chat and seem to have changed their mind to take out Wendy, because Wardog feels like she won't play with him. Wendy tells Reem that she's the target and she takes it personally. She tells us about how strong she is and then suggests that maybe Kelley should go, after all, she got hurt today. I mean, I get it, I'd be pissed too. But right now, the writing seems to be on the wall for either Reem or Wendy tonight.
Manu arrives at Tribal and they dip their torches in the fire. Fire represents life in this game. When your fire's gone, so are you. Well, sorta. He starts off with Devens - look at that anchorman Rick gets the last name treatment. Nice. Anyway, Jeff asks him about the vibe at camp. He says that he could see little mini groups forming as they were working on the same tasks. Reem is asked about it and she's completely annoyed that people are being lumped together because they were working on the same job together. Wentworth tells them all that this is the game. She heard Lauren's name, her own name, Reem's name today. Reem tries to suggest that because Kelley's a legend in the game, it's an honor for her name to be thrown out. "It's not really an honor when you can still be voted out." She continues asking Reem why she didn't throw David's name out, if that's all it was about.
Reem suggests that this is nothing but age discrimination and that she's plenty strong enough to compete in challenges. The guys suggest that she might have some personality traits that rub people the wrong way. When no one will cop to it, Wardog finally does. He mentions that he doesn't want her moving his stuff all over and he doesn't need her to constantly remind him to drink his water and that ultimately, her personality is not one he could deal with for 39 days. As all of this is happening and Reem continues to not get it, you can see the frustration building on most of the tribe faces. If there was a plan to take out Wendy, I can't imagine it is still in play after this. Wendy mentions that she really likes Reem and Rick and Wardog both say that no one dislikes Reem. As they finish up, it's pretty much decided that Reem is the one going home. It's a really weird discussion about how this is going to happen. And now it's time to vote.
We see no votes as they're being cast. I can't imagine that it's not all Reem and 2 Kelley's. Jeff asks for idols and there are none. Let's read the votes. The first 4 votes are Reem, Kelley, Wendy, Lauren. Then they start alternating Reem and Wendy. And with the last vote, Reem is voted out first with a 4-3 vote. Now let's see this Extinction Island thing.
She is really pissed heading down the path and them she comes to the sign post. As you would expect, she does not leave the game. She grabs the torch and gets on the boat. She is taken with her torch to Extinction Island. It's pitch black except for her torch. There is nothing there. She finds herself in the middle of what looks like a torn up ship. As the lightning strikes and the rain falls, the credits roll. I guess we'll get more Extinction Island next week. Speaking of next week...
Next time on...Survivor: Kama is coming for Joe and Aubry and Manu is still coming for Wentworth, but they may have found an ally in David Wright. And what's in store for Reem on Extinction Island? I guess we'll have to tune in next week to see. I'm more interested to see if the new players have finally gotten smart and plan to really take out the returnees. Every time there's a mix, a returning player either wins (Parvati, Mariano, Cochran) or they make the final tribal (Stephenie, Coach, the felon that will not be named). As much as I like the 4 returning players, it's refreshing to see the newbies thinking about them all this early.
Yo, have something to say? Think I got something wrong? Hit me up on Twitter: @vannestjc or in email: firstname.lastname@example.org Think I really know what I'm talking about and that I should, in fact, be on season 39 of Survivor, please send a link to this column with your thoughts to: @Survivor and @JeffProbst on Twitter. Thanks for reading kids, til next week, take care.