Robert Voets/CBS
September 27, 2017 at 09:00 PM EDT


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

Is that an idol in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

Wait, there is no idol in your pants? And you’re not happy to see me? Well, take your pants off anyway just to prove it. Hmmm…I don’t see an idol, but just to make sure, could you hop around naked a few times — and make it a super awkward hop, if you don’t mind — just to make sure. Perfect! Thanks! Okay, well, now I’m going to turn the whole tribe against you, but don’t worry, I’ll still vote with you to eliminate one of the moms just because I don’t want to confuse anyone by making sense for the first time in the past three days. That work for you? Sweet! Then let’s do this!

And welcome back to Survivor, everyone! I don’t know how you all survived the last four months without it. For me personally, it was a bit of a rough go. I rewatched the entire Redemption Island season, which for some reason had a much different ending than I remember — oh, wait, that was Big Brother — and then I…well, I don’t really know what the hell else I did. I just sort of stumbled around in fog for a while, free of purpose or meaning.

It got so bad that I actually resorted to watching City Slickers deleted scenes to fill the empty void in my life. Speaking of which, did you know they filmed a different ending where Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, and Daniel Stern help the entire herd escape from the ranch — the same herd they risked life and limb to deliver in the first place? Fascinating stuff. Almost as fascinating as the mysterious Billy Crystal-Bruno Kirby feud that led to the former replacing the latter with Jon Lovitz in the poorly named sequel, The Legend of Curly’s Gold. (Incidentally, “Curly’s Gold” is the one thing that was found in JP’s pants, if you know what I’m saying. At least if your name is Ashley.)

But it’s so great to have the show back! And it’s so great to be back. I’ve been writing about Survivor since season 1 and recapping it since season 4, so why stop now? (Wait, was I supposed to stop? Is this weird that I have basically devoted my entire professional career to commenting on the social and strategic gaffes of a bunch of jabronis that are separated on a beach by the color of their clothes? On second thought, please do not answer that. It’s best not to dwell on such things.)

So let’s get to it…after a few quick reminders and programming notes, of course. We’ll still have an exclusive deleted scene from the episode that goes on the last page of the recap every week right after the west coast airing, (along with other videos along the way, like the genius Jeff Probst supercut above, as well as the full opening credits you won’t see on TV). And we’ll still have our weekly Q&As with Probst. And once again you can catch me live after every episode breaking it all down with three-time Survivor Andrea Boehlke and special guests on the Survivor Fan Forum on People TV. (You can always find it live at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on People TV’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.)

Also, I had a bunch of coverage that went up over the past month or so and I won’t bore you with most of it, but if you are a longtime fan, I would recommend you check out my 35 Reasons to Love Survivor piece. It’s a fun walk down memory lane. Think of it like the Survivor Rites of Passage, where the final 3 or 4 would reminisce awkwardly about people they had barely met before competing in the final challenge…only about a hundred times less boring. Oh, and you should also check out challenge producer John Kirhoffer’s list of the 35 Best Survivor Challenges Ever, complete with insider intel on said challenges. Definitely a must-read and another nice stroll down memory lane.

Uh-oh, I see Jeff Probst standing on a cliff so it must be time to get this sucker rolling! There he is, looking resplendent in his #OrangeHatAlert. It’s wonderful to see the host so fully embrace the mightiest of Survivor chapeaus. But now it seems like he can’t take the damn thing off! He wears it here for the open, he wears it for the marooning, and he wears it for the first challenge — a rare orange hat trifecta!

After Probst delivers his famous “1 Survivor” line, we meet the tribes, divided into Heroes, Healers, and Hustlers. There have been some assorted chuckles, chortles, and guffaws about the theme of this season. Regular readers (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) probably can guess my feelings on the matter. I don’t really care. I’ve always considered these affixed labels nothing more than marketing monikers. Especially considering how the tribes are usually reshuffled just a few weeks in, the labels don’t really matter, so it’s silly to get hung up on them. The goofiest title could lead to the best season and vice versa.

Of course, that said — there’s no way around the fact that that Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers is a goofy title. It’s just a mouthful and doesn’t quite roll of the tongue like, say, Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty does. Should we call it Survivor: Triple H? Or just Survivor: Season 35? I’m open to anything!

Oh, the tribes! Right! Sorry. Anyhoo, we meet Ben from the Marine Corps as well as Cole the wilderness therapy guide, and Mike, who says he is a “Sex Doctor,” which I could have sworn was the name of a Fox TV pilot starring Rob Lowe. At least it should be. Probst then tells the people they must take as much as they can off the boat, get it from that boat to smaller tribe boats, and then paddle those boats to an island with a 15-foot-high burning urn. First tribe to light their torch wins a “massive” first kit, second tribe wins flint, and third tribe wins getting mocked by Probst on national television. (Recap continues on next page)

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