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Survivor season premiere recap: Tribal Council Insanity

One contestant’s ‘dry mouth’, and another’s bold move make for the most entertaining first Tribal Council ever.

Posted on

Rob Mariano
Image credit: Monty Brinton/CBS


TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Jeff Probst
Current Status:
In Season

It’s a Survivor civil war!!! At least that’s what it has seemed like for the past few months ever since it was announced that Russell and Boston Rob were returning to play again. Survivor fans immediately fell into two camps:

Camp 1: Enough is enough! Rob has been on four times now, and this will be Russell’s third time in four seasons. We’re sick of Russell hijacking every season, tired of his “I’m the greatest” mentality, and disgusted by his stupid little hat. And after Rob’s three previous seasons of Survivor, two of Amazing Race, moonlighting as the “Player Operator” on The Player, and starring in that absurd show where he became a professional poker player, did he really think we wanted to see more of him?

Camp 2: Why are you complaining? We all loved Heroes vs Villains, right? And what carried the entire first half of the season was the feud between Rob and Russell. It was the best strategic and social battle we’ve seen in 21 seasons of the show. Why wouldn’t you want more of that? It’s certainly a hell of a lot more entertaining than Chase vs. Dan.

Here’s the thing.  Both camps have a completely legitimate point. On one hand, there’s no way you could not enjoy the Russell and Rob feud in Heroes vs Villains. You may have hated one (or both) of them, but it was exhilarating to watch. On the other hand, we’ve already been there, done that. Do we really need to do it again? With all that in mind, I have a totally crazy idea. Let’s actually watch the season and then see how we feel about it. Sure, it could be like one of those classic movies that turn into a laughably bad sequel (I’m looking at you, Grease 2). Or it could be The Empire Strikes Back. Who knows?  But judging whether it will be awesome or atrocious before we actually see the damn thing is kind of futile. So let’s have a big group hug and get to our first taste right now. Besides, it can’t be any worse than Survivor: Nicaragua, which had the folks from Fiji taking part in a huge collective high five because they were no longer part of the worst season in Survivor history. And if the crazy, loony, insane, hilarious first Tribal Council we were just treated to is any indication, all should be well. This week I’m in a “hyper state of arousal” as I hit you with a few observations from both the first episode and my time on location for those first few days.

* I love the way Probst donned his hat right before he exited the helicopter. Some people put their game faces on. Probst puts his game hat on.

* Anyone who watched my pregame interviews with the contestants knows that the majority of them were not big fans of Russell. Some of them, like Steve (the former football player) and Mike (the Marine), were downright hostile toward him. So no surprise that he got nowhere near the warm welcome that Rob did. When Rob picked the orange Ometepe buff, the tribe exploded into cheers. I remember being out there and watching the Zapatera tribe at that exact instant, and they were crestfallen.  After a few seconds, they recovered and at least put on a brave face, but make no mistake about it, neither tribe wanted Russell.

NEXT: Phillip models the latest in high-fashion underwear

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