‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’ Episode 1 Recap: How Do You Spell Relief?

'Survivor: San Juan del Sur' (CBS)

NOTE: XFINITY TV is the place to go for “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” coverage with “all the fixin’s.” We’ll have Power Rankings with “Cagayan” fave Spencer Bledsoe, 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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And…we’re off.

Things kick off with everyone’s favorite host, Jeffrey Montgomery Probst in a sweet chopper high above San Juan del Sur.  The pairs of new contestants are below him trying to figure out how flint works. Quick thought; if you go on this show without knowing how flint works, you probably should have signed up for “Utopia.”

More like “U-dope-ia.” Am I right?

(Crickets)

Jaclyn is worried that everyone is going to hate her and Jon because they seem perfect. So that’s why everyone hates me…

Controversial MLB pitcher John Rocker lets us know that people call him a homophobic bigot. Well, he says he isn’t a bigot. Oh, but he doesn’t dispute “homophobic”?!

Reed and Josh manage to catch some crabs right off the bat. Josh says the Reed gave him flint as a gift. See, someone gets it.

The Twinnies Nadiya and not-Nadiya say a quick prayer, then they get to work not making fire.

Keith and Wes immediately lose the striker for their flint. Sounds about right.

Finally, Jeff says something about…

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

We start off with the duos arriving at Redemption Island a random arena.

Everyone has a good laugh as Keith and Wes admit that they lost their striker. Everyone also makes a mental note not to let them near the machete.

The tribes split up and take sides. Here’s what we’re working with…

The Hunahpu (wearing blue)

Drew – 25, Sales Rep
Jeremy – 36, Firefighter
Jon – 26, Financial Assistant
Julie – 34, Owner of Spray Tan Business
Keith – 53, Fire Captain

Kelley – 28, Marketing Manager
Missy – 47, Owner of Cheerleading Gym
Natalie – 28, Crossfit Coach
Reed – 31, Broadway Performer

The Coyopa (wearing yellow)

Alec – 22, Student
Baylor – 20, Student
Dale – 55, Farmer
Jaclyn – 25, Media Buyer
John – 39, Former MLB Pitcher
Josh – 32, Actor
Nadiya – 28, Crossfit Coach
Val – 35, Police Officer
Wes – 23, Firefighter

Fun Fact: I hate the word Hunahpu sooooooo much.

John Rocker says it’s like the Civil War, brother vs. brother. Hmmm…I wonder if Johnny would be a confederate or a union soldier. Keith recognizes Rocker and hopes he isn’t an “ass” anymore.

Reward Challenge Time: One person from each tribe will race through a wooden box and untangle a rope. They’ll then unhook a ring. They’ll use the ring to lasso a platform. They’ll do this process twice. First person to retrieve both platforms wins flint and beans. The loser of the challenge will be sent to Exile Island.

The blue tribe wins a rock/paper/scissors to decide who they will have compete. They pick Jeremy. Unfortunately, that means he has to square off against his wife.

The challenge starts off and there isn’t much to describe except for two people climbing around a box. Jeremy wins it easily. Someone just earned some time sleeping on the couch time when he gets home.

Jeremy gets to send someone from his own tribe to keep Val company. He chooses Keith…you know…the dude who was part of the team that lost their striker. I’m now questioning Jeremy’s intelligence.

We meet up with the blue crew at Hunahpupu Beach and Jeremy feels terrible about beating his wife in a challenge. It’s a challenge, dude. A game. I beat my girlfriend in Yahtzee and you didn’t see me crying about it…much.

Later, Jeremy, not-Nadiya, Missy, and Kelley decide to form an alliance. Missy says as someone who’s been divorced three times, that you have to trust your gut. What was your gut telling you the first three times?

Over at Copacabana, actual-Nadiya points out that they have a young tribe. Might not be good news for Dale.

When Dale’s getting water, he notices a weird emblem on the lid. It isn’t an idol, but he keeps it in case he’s in one of those old Sierra games like “King’s Quest” where you’re supposed to pick up everything that isn’t nailed down.

Coyopa has two crews working on fire. You’ve got the young-uns doing the old scrubbing technique, and Dale alone with his glasses. He breaks the glasses in half so he can use two lens at once. Sure enough, it works. Go Dale.

Over at Exile, Val and Keith both have to pick an urn. Val’s urn has an immunity clue inside, while Keith’s note is blank. She doesn’t share the clue with him, telling him it’s just generic stuff about camp. He doesn’t seem too concerned about it.

That feels like a mistake. Why wouldn’t you try to start something with Keith? You could then have an ally in Wes when you get back to camp.

Quick Aside: Couples should have a safe word they can use when they have a secret. Like if Val got back to camp and said, “Wes, we should align. Keith told me to tell you “Apricot.”

Later, they bond over the fact that Jeremy, Keith, and Wes are all firefighters. That’s not fair. If I’m on “Survivor” what are the odds I’m out there with Dalton Ross and Dru Moorhouse?

Back at Hunahpu, Drew is really playing the martyr over the work he’s putting into the shelter. Settle down, dude.

Julie doesn’t like the fact that Drew thinks he’s in charge. She says that she’s used to it because Rocker is type-A as well. In other news, “Duh.”

Over with the yellow fellows, Wes outs Rocker as a former MLB relief pitcher. John tries deny it, but it doesn’t hold. He asks Wes to keep it to himself. Rocker says that that he might target Wes because he knows his secret.

Also, Wes thinks there are five letters in “Rocker.” He swallowed the flint striker, didn’t he?

The next morning, Josh is having some kind of issue with his eye. C’mon, if military tough guy Shamar can live with an eye issue, so can you! Oh wait, Shamar quit over a grain of sand.

Next up, Jon tells us about his father, a “Survivor” fan who has an inoperable brain tumor. That’s terrible, buddy. I hope he’s on his couch watching you right now.

Immunity Challenge Time: Teams will race to the top of a giant tower. They’ll use a rope to scale the first part, pegs to scale the second, and imagination to scale the third. On top they’ll find a puzzle. First tribe to complete the puzzle wins immunity and flint.

The Survivors are ready, and they go. Things are pretty even during the early going. John has rope duty for Coyote, while Keith will throw for Hapapupu. John gets it first and yellow has a  lead. Drew takes over with the rope and finally hooks it for the blue crew.

The yellow crew has no problem with the pegs portion, but the blue team is starting to catch up.

For the final level, Rocker literally lets people climb him like a ladder to get to the top. Finally he leaps up himself. Impressive.

Yellow starts work on the puzzle with blue only a few people behind. They eventually reach the top of the tower.

With Julie leading the way, the blue team figures out the puzzle and wins immunity.

It’s all hugs and high fives back at casa de blue. Keith’s very impressed with how well the camp came together in his absence. Jeremy brings him aside and tries to start up a firemen alliance. Here’s hoping for a better name than “Fireman R Us.”

At Coyopa, Val immediately starts looking for the immunity idol.

Meanwhile, Dale calls actual-Nadiya, “Natalie.” Who the hell is Natalie? Actually, I think I’m going to retire that joke because it’s confusing me.

Wes, Dale, and Josh all want to target Nadiya because they’ve seen her backstab people on “Amazing Race.”

Later, Nadiya tries to make an alliance with Josh. She also calls him a girl. He doesn’t like that.

Val, Jaclyn, Nadiya, and Baylor realize they need one guy to jump. Nadiya is sure that Josh is with them. They decide to target Dale because they’ll get flint at Tribal.

Baylor doesn’t care who she votes for as long as she votes with Josh.

That night at Tribal Council, fire equals life. Seriously.

Rocker is bummed that they’re at Tribal. He doesn’t think there’s an obvious obnoxious person to vote out. Is that like poker where if you can’t tell who the mark is, it’s you?

Nadiya isn’t ready to make the decision and she’s going to vote based on attitudes and what they’re bringing to the team.

She also says that “Survivor” is so different from “Amazing Race” because “Survivor” doesn’t give you a map and tell you what to do. Also, “Survivor” is totally awesome.

Val thinks it’s stressful because she hasn’t had time to form relationships. She then says that she had time to find things at Exile. Uh…that probably wasn’t smart.

Jaclyn thinks there’s a bro-lliance.

Dale points out that he sacrificed his glasses to start fire.

Wes thinks that Josh is the most liked member of the tribe.

Nadiya says that she thinks Josh is one of the girls. Probst asks if it’s because he’s gay. Nadiya says she’d never have a straight guy be her “girlfriend.” Is that reverse homophobic? heterophobic? I’m lost. Let’s move on.

Voting Time: Rocker votes for Nadiya, Nadiya votes for Dale, and the rest are sooper secret.

J-Pro leaves and shows us that he still has mad tallying skills even twenty nine season later. We’ve got one vote for Nadiya, one vote for Dale, one vote for Baylor, one vote for Dale, one vote for Nadiya, one vote for Dale, one vote for Nadiya, one vote for Nadiya, and the first person to be eliminated from “Survivor: San Juan del Sur – Blood vs. Water” is…Nadiya.

Verdict: THANK GOODNESS! I was scared to death of having to recap after the merge with Nadiya and Natalie wearing the same color buffs. Bullet dodged.

Otherwise, first episodes tend to be a lot of getting to know eighteen people at once. Can’t wait to see where it goes.

Also, why would Josh vote for Baylor? What’d we miss?

Who’s Going to Win? My pre-season pick Jeremy’s got a solid alliance. I’m sticking with him.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes.

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