On ''Survivor,'' Stephenie and Bobby Jon from Palau return for one of the show's most grueling challenges, which leaves the male half of one tribe suffering severe nausea
Jim Lynch (Actor), Survivor: Guatemala
Credit: Jim Lynch: Monty Brinton/CBS

The ”Survivor” premiere: Sickening developments

I have to admit it — I’m a little bummed. Usually I’m amped after the first episode of a new Survivor season, but not this time. Why? Because now that it’s been revealed who the two former contestants returning to play the game are, we no longer get to see those creepy promos with the silhouettes. Instead of using the actual silhouettes of Bobby Jon and Stephenie, or simply generic models, the fine folks at CBS used silhouettes of Big Brother 6 contestants Eric and Maggie. I have no idea why, but it made me laugh every time I saw it. Oh, well. Life moves on.

But, then again, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m conflicted about letting B.J. and Stephenie compete for a second time. It’s not nearly as egregious as the Outcasts, but it still seems to be blatant stunt casting. So in theory, I don’t like it. But damn if five minutes in I didn’t find myself rooting for the lovable losers. Usually I revel in people’s misery, and — make no mistake about it — I thoroughly enjoyed their weekly trouncings in Palau. But…well, I don’t know. I guess I’ve just turned into a big softie. I actually got mildly upset when Old MacDonald — uh…I mean Brandon the farmer — went on record about Bobby Jon by stating, ”He’s kind of a little bit dumb, you could say.” That’s not to imply I didn’t also laugh, but I still felt a bit protective.

But would B.J. and Steph really have come back had they known how absolutely punishing that first 11-mile jungle trek in oppressive heat would be? The Nakúm tribe won and received a flint and the superior camp, but then Blake starting puking his guts out. Or was it Jim? Or was it Judd? Oh, right — it was all three! But even that barforama was tame compared with Bobby Jon, who I honestly thought for a split second might go and die on us. That whole eyes-rolling-back-in-his-head thing was eerie. ”Palau was recess compared to Guatemala,” he said, and remember — Palau was pretty damn hard core.

Of course, Steph didn’t have it much better. She had her foot run over by a boat in the immunity challenge and has to share a tribe with Gary freakin’ Hogeboom! I suppose I should explain my somewhat irrational hatred of the former NFL quarterback, seeing as how you’ll be reading quite a bit of it over the next few months. You see, I’m a big Washington Redskins fan, and Hogeboom? Well, he is, was, and always will be a Dallas Cowboy. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. Looks like he could be a solid leader for his tribe. But he’s a Cowboy. So he must lose. Painfully, if possible.

Okay, that’s enough about two-timing contestants and former crappy-ass quarterbacks. What else to make of this season so far? Well, those freaky monkey screams scare the bejesus out of me, I dig Probst’s new Crocodile Dundee look with the hat, and I’m thoroughly confused as to why the tribe canoes both have Medusa heads on the front. (What is this, Clash of the Titans?) I also have to say that this has to be the oddest collection of vocations I’ve ever seen. Fishmonger? Zookeeper? Female sports talk radio host? Wilderness guide? Magician’s assistant? Again — magician’s assistant? (I actually think Morgan is pretty hot. I’d saw her in half any day.)

Once Jim snapped his left bicep during the immunity challenge, it was obvious he was a goner. Less obvious is why Jim would use his vote to try to oust Margaret, the nurse who pretty much single-handedly kept half of the Nakúm tribe alive and personally attended to Jim’s wound and fetched him water. Also confusing is why Jim is apparently married to a robot. Seriously, did you catch his wife’s personal message on the Febreze ”Survivor Family Moment”? No way that woman is human. Speaking of being only partially human, it appears that — judging by the clips of next week’s episode — we will see the return of the Manimal as Bobby Jon lets out another one of his patented primal screams. Take that, monkeys!

What do you think? Do you like having Bobby Jon and Stephenie in the game again? And who else do you already love — or love to hate?

Survivor: Guatemala
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