‘Survivor: Cagayan’ Episode 1 Recap: Brain Dead?


'Survivor: Cagayan' (CBS)

NOTE: XFINITY TV is the place to be for all sorts of “Survivor: Cagayan” back-stabbin’, torch-snuffin’ fun. On Mondays we’ll have Power Rankings with a “Blood vs. Water” competitor, every Wednesday evening we’ll bring you a recap of the most recent episode, and every Thursday you’ll be able to watch the previous night’s episode and read an interview with the eliminated contestant. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for immediate updates.

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The season kicks off with a trio of groups making their way to an undisclosed location using different methods of transportation. The “Brain Tribe” is all packed up in a helicopter, because that’s how smarties travel.

We’re introduced to Spencer first. He immediately lets us know that he once tied for first in a big-time chess tournament and is a diabolical genius. So evil! If only he was old enough to grow a handlebar mustache.

Next up, Miami Marlins president David tells us that “Survivor” is like baseball because there’s only one winner in the end. OK, so it’s not like Spencer’s big-time chess tournament? Got it.

Kassandra then brags that she’s undefeated in a court of law. Hey, me too!

We then cut over to the “Beauty Tribe” as they zip along a river on a stylish speedboat. Sorry, Probst. I don’t buy that this is how pretty people travel. It’s totally messing up their hair.

We get to meet Morgan. She doesn’t want to sound conceited, but she can usually get what she wants from a guy. Ironically, the one thing a guy can’t give her is a way to have that statement not sound conceited.

Jefra tells us that she’s come in second place three times in the Miss Kentucky pageant. Was it second to the same girl all three times? Is it possible that girl tied Spencer in chess? This could be like “Lost.”

Also, people call Jefra, “Pageant Girl.” That’s the best nickname they can come up with? Sounds like her friends don’t belong on the Brains tribe either.

And finally, the “Brawn Tribe” is traveling in a bumpy truck. Cause they’re super rugged.

Cliff immediately wins me over by saying he’s playing, “For bread and meat, I don’t win, I don’t eat.”

Sarah loves MMA because she gets paid to punch people in the face. Ooo…that’d totally take away the Beauty tribe’s advantage.

Finally, our fearless host greets us from atop some hugenormous structure and says something about…

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at these brainy, brawny, beauty…y tribes.…

The Appari Tribe (wearing orange)
Cliff – Former NBA Star, 46
Lindsey – Hairstylist, 29
Sarah – Police Officer, 29
Tony – Police Officer, 39
Trish – Pilates Trainer, 48
Woo – Martial Arts Instructor, 29

The Luzon Tribe (wearing green)
David – President, Miami Marlins, 45
Garrett – Pro Poker Player, 27
J’Tia – Nuclear Engineer, 30
Kassandra – Attorney, 41
Latasha – Accountant, 37
Spencer – Economics Student, 21

The Solana Tribe (wearing purple)
Alexis – Student, 21
Brice – Social Worker, 27
Jefra – Miss Kentucky Teen USA, 22
Jeremiah – Model, 34
LJ – Horse Trainer, 34
Morgan – Ex-NFL Cheerleader, 21

Quick Aside: How are Miss Kentucky Teen USA and Ex-NFL Cheerleader occupations? Also, how are you Miss Kentucky Teen USA when you’re 22?

The three tribes arrive via their various transportation methods and are greeted by “Two and a Half Men” star Jeff Probst. Are they disappointed that he’s fully clothed? Probably, but nobody is admitting to it.

Morgan again doesn’t want to sound conceited, but she’s pretty sure she’s on the Beauty tribe. She’s bad at not sounding that way.

Through process of elimination, Spencer realizes that he’s on the Brains tribe.

Before the game gets underway, each tribe is going to have to choose a leader.

The Beauties go with LJ because…he’s wearing a black hat? Maybe?

The Brawnies go with Sarah. Trish says they picked her because she seems confident.

The Brains go with David. Kass says it’s because she likes him. I’ve heard worse answers.

Next up, Probsty tells them that the leaders have to get rid of their weakest player. Whoa, Tocantins flashback.

LJ goes with Morgan because she seems like the least physical.

Later, LJ tells us that he got rid of Morgan because she’s hot and he doesn’t trust hot. He is right. She is hot.

Sarah decides to bounce Trish.

David decides to get rid of super strong Garrett. He says he made the decision for the last third of the game. Not loving that move. Now everyone knows how hard you are playing on day one.

Fortunately for the weaklings, they’re not out of the game. They’ll get a chopper ride to camp and will have to make a decision when they get there.

The weaklings are greeted by a note that lets them know that they can choose between a second bag of rice for the tribe or an immunity idol clue. Garrett, feeling like he’s already on the outs, goes for the idol. Trish goes for the rice because she’s a team player. Morgan goes for the idol and says LJ was probably intimidated by her looks. I get it, happens to me all the time.

So, I’m torn on this decision, I feel like the people who share rewards end up paying for it.

Garrett digs around in the water…and finds an idol. That’s got to be a record. Seventeen minutes into the first episode.

Morgan digs around in the rocks…and is caught searching by her tribe. Uh-oh.

However, Morgan shows some skills by saying the decision she had to make was between an idol clue and the food and shelter materials they were given. Not bad, but she’d better hope the other weaklings keep their mouths shut.

LJ doesn’t buy it, he thinks Morgan is too calm for someone who was just voted out. Ooo…he’s smart too.

Eventually the Beauties manage to create fire. Color me impressed.

Over at Camp Brawn, Trish lets her crew know that she chose the rice over the idol clue. Tony’s happy they have the second bag, but he wouldn’t have given up the clue.

Later on, Sarah asks Tony if he’s a police officer. He denies it. Bad move. That’s such a specific question to ask. I think at that point you’d have to own it.

At Casa de Brainy, J’Tia says she has a plan for a shelter because she’s a nuclear engineer. Wah-huh?

Sure enough, J’Tia is made the foreman (foreperson?) for the shelter project. And true to “Survivor” form, people aren’t loving how bossy she’s being.

Tasha tries out the shelter, and it immediately collapses. Glad to see our nuclear technology is in such capable hands.

Immunity Challenge Time: Teams will maneuver a cart through an obstacle course. While on the course they’ll unlock and retrieve three chests. They’ll then take the cart apart and fit it through an obstacle wall. Inside the chests are puzzle pieces. First two tribes to complete the puzzle will win immunity. The first tribe to finish will receive a fire-making kit. The second tribe will receive flint.

The challenge starts off and the Brawns jump out to an early lead, they’re the first ones to and through the obstacle wall. The Beauties are doing a solid job too. The Brains? Not so much.

How bad was it? Probst called it “one of the worst performances out of the gate in the history of ‘”Survivor.’” Does he remember Gabon?

LJ and Alexis manage to pull head and win for the Beauties. Sarah and Lindsey aren’t too far behind and give the Brawns second place. Kassandra and J’Tia never came close.

Back at Brainsylvania, David and Kass seem to be bonding. David wants to get rid of Garrett because he’s a threat and because he hasn’t said why he’s on the Brains tribe. Kass wants it to be J’Tia for tribe unity. She also said, “J’Tia, See ya.” Which is hilarious and awesome.

J’Tia asks who Kass thinks should go, and Kass admits that she’s gunning for J’Tia. Snap! Kass then tells J’Tia that she’s going to need to scramble.

Garrett, J’Tia, and Latasha have a pow-wow and Garrett wants them all to vote for David. Man, it’s tough when you’ve got these teeny tribes.

Spencer is worried about voting for David because he thinks he might have the idol. Garrett does not admit to already having it.

That night at Tribal Council, fire represents their life. And when their fire is gone, so are they. Unless there’s a Redemption Island or they’re brought back for another season.

As they’re sitting down, Garrett sees a spider and freaks right out. Ha! He’s been sleeping in a jungle for days.

J’Tia thinks Probst will want to talk to her because people want to vote for her. Hmm….she’s seen this show.

David thinks it was smart to listen to J’Tia about the shelter because she has the word “nuclear” in her title. They keep saying this. I’m worried that I don’t know what “nuclear” means.

Garrett didn’t like being cast as the outsider, but he trusts his team.

David then says that Garrett isn’t going home tonight.

Quick Note: It is pouring and Jeff’s hair looks ridiculous. What a trooper.

Voting Time: David votes for J’Tia, J’Tia votes for David, and the rest of the votes aren’t shown.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for J’Tia, one vote for David, one vote for J’Tia, two votes for David, and the first person to be voted out of “Survivor: Cagayan” is…David.

Wow, didn’t see that coming. Poor David was cast aside when he felt safe. Now he knows how Jose Reyes feels.

The next morning, Garrett lets us know that manual labor and starving aren’t fun. Thanks, Garrett.

Later on, Garrett and Spencer decide to bring Kass on board. Wow, whittling down the numbers so quickly.

At Brawn Central, Cliff and Woo take the boat out for a spin. That lasts for about two minutes before they tip over. Although, in their defense, that thing probably wasn’t designed for an eight-foot-tall dude.

Tony lets us know that he isn’t thrilled with how starstruck everyone is with Cliff. Well, it’s not like he can blend.

Anywho, apparently Tony is building a “spy shack” into the shelter so he can listen in to all the conversations. Um…kay. I wish it was two tin cans on a string.

In other Brawn news, Trish and Lindsey are getting on each others nerves.

At the Beauty Shop, Brice is sick of Alexis flirting and Jefra talking about her bathroom habits.

Also, Morgan thinks that Jeremiah has the hots for her. She didn’t preface this statement with, “I don’t want to sound conceited.”

Immunity Challenge Time: Teams will swim out to a bamboo cage. They’ll retrieve four fish traps and bring them back to shore. Then one tribe member will use the pieces inside the traps to complete a puzzle. First two tribes to finish the puzzle win immunity. The winning tribe will receive a fishing kit. The second-place tribe will receive a smaller fishing kit.

Cliff will sit for Team Brawn, Brice is out for the Beautiful People.

The challenge starts off and the Brains fall behind again. Apparently having “nuclear” in your title doesn’t make you a strong swimmer.

The Brains manage to make a comeback and are the first ones to get their traps back to the beach. J’Tia takes puzzle duty.

The Brawn are the second team back. Sarah (who has a nasty cut on her finger) gets to work on their puzzle.

Beauty is way…way behind. They’ve got to dig deep.

Sarah plows through the puzzle to give Brawn the win.

The Beauties eventually make it to the shore. LJ attacks the puzzle and manages to beat a clearly lost J’Tia.

“They’re still working on their puzzle? I think I’m on the wrong tribe.” – Sarah

Wow…just wow.

After the challenge, Tony smartly digs through the reward basket to find the immunity clue. He reads the clue, figures out the location…and finds himself an idol. Well done.

Things aren’t quite as cheery at Brainy Beach. During a group gathering, Kass again tells J’Tia that she should be the one to go. Spencer and Garrett both agree. Latasha would rather not talk about this out in the open. Garrett doesn’t want them to split up and have side conversations. Tasha does not take this well, telling him to quit if he doesn’t want to play the game.

Eventually Kass and Tasha do get an opportunity to talk outside of the community forum. Tasha pushes for them to vote for the guys.

WHOA! Then J’Tia goes all Brandon Hantz on their rice supply! She dumps it right in the fire. Hope there are a lot of pineapples on their beach.

Kass says she was going to talk to J’Tia about teaming up, but that’s out the window now…and into a fire.

That night at Tribal Council, J’Tia says she threw the rice on the fire to hurt Garrett. Well, mission accomplished.

Latasha then says that the reason she wanted to talk in private is because J’Tia is volatile. That’s probably our winner for understatement of the night.

Kass then kind of blames Garrett for leaving J’Tia alone with the rice.

Garrett then slips up and outs his alliance. Oh boy… this is the Brains tribe?

Voting Time: Garrett votes for J’Tia, J’Tia votes for Garrett, Spencer votes for J’Tia, and the rest of the votes are secret.

Probsty tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for J’Tia, one vote for Garrett, one vote for J’Tia, one vote for Garrett, and the second person to be voted out of “Survivor: Cagayan” is…Garrett.


Verdict: Two genuine blindsides, dumped rice, two idols found, one person voted out with an idol. This was definitely one for the books.

Who’s Going to Win? It’s early, but Sarah’s looking like a champ.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes


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