September 25, 2008 08:46 PM by Ryan Haidet
After months of waiting, the reality giant made its triumphant return like never before. For the first time, Survivor premiered with a two-hour episode broadcast in high definition. There couldn’t have been a better time to begin HD either. Great shots of all the wildlife and stunning landscapes of Gabon really popped off the screen in HD as the 18 new castaways made their way through a grassy field and walked up to host Jeff Probst. From right then, the game was on.
One at a time, each castaway was asked to introduce themselves and say what they do for a living. Both Sugar (pinup model) and Crystal (Olympic medal winner) didn’t tell their whole background. Sugar kept it a secret that she was an actress and Crystal held back the fact that she had won a gold medal.
The standout comment from the introductions came from Randy. He’s a videographer who tapes weddings. The irony there is that Randy said he doesn’t really believe in marriage. What a personality right off the bat!
Then Probst asked for the two oldest people in the group to step forward since the elders get to make the decisions in Gabon. With that, Bob and Gillian became the temporary team captains and started the choices for their tribes in school-yard-pick form.
Here’s the tribal breakdown (in order of selection for each tribe):
Yellow (Kota): Bob, Ace, Sugar, Marcus, Charlie, Paloma, Kelly, Jacquie and Corinne.
Red (Fang): Gillian, Crystal, Susie, Matty, Randy, Dan, GC, Ken and Michelle.
The two tribes adorned their buffs and learned they were about to compete in their first challenge. They were to race along the field to a big hill. Then they had to climb that hill and cross the finish line. Of course there’s a catch — duh, it’s Survivor! The first player from each team to reach the top would be able to claim an individual immunity idol good for the first Tribal Council they attend. The first team, however, that scaled the hill the fastest and crossed the line together would win an extra bag of corn and beans. That prize would go in conjunction with the basic necessities each team was given including rice and a machete.
“Survivors ready? GO!” With Probst’s call, the castaways were off and running. Once they reached the hillside, most people struggled — especially Fang. Matty and Dan had to go back and help Gillian and Crystal. Marcus (Kota) made it up the hill first and nabbed one immunity necklace. GC (Fang) was close behind and scored immunity as well.
Michelle, the last person picked for teams, was the first woman (third contestant) to make it to the finish line.
Kota quickly pulled ahead and crushed Fang. As they all crossed the line they cheered knowing they had earned extra food.
Arriving at camp
After a hike through the jungle, Kota arrived at their camp and couldn’t have been more excited to see some huts already on site. Although they weren’t in the best shape, they were happy to at least have some form of shelter.
Quickly, Bob (who looks like Bill Nye the Science Guy) climbed onto one of the huts and reinforced the roof. Corinne was really impressed with him and thought he was very smart. Moments later, Bob had built a bench for the tribe, too. The 50some physics teacher was using his skills early on — even making a bow tie out of his buff.
Fang arrived at their camp to find a similar set up. They had the huts, a boat and a dock all sitting by a lake. Gillian wanted to keep everybody in good spirits after getting blown away by the competition in the first challenge.
After her pep talk, they all started exploring the area. Gillian asked some of them to start looking for elephant dung. After she found some herself, she brought it back to camp and asked everybody to take a look at it. Why? Because maybe the elephants had passed some edible things through their waste. Um…I don’t care how hungry I would EVER get, but eating stuff out of elephant dung — forget it! Her actions were really starting to rub Randy the wrong way.
Ken and Michelle connected quickly and formed an early friendship. Ken was attracted to her and said in a confessional that he hadn’t kissed a girl since high school, which has been around five years. Maybe he was hoping to change that with Michelle?
A bond forms at Kota
Not having any problem showing his confidence, Ace took some control of things at camp. In a confessional he said that he is ready to stand in front of Jeff and have the $1 million check handed to him.
But his attitude didn’t mesh well with some of his tribemates. Marcus and Charlie talked together about their dislike for some things Ace does. More importantly, both men seemed to be instant friends. But Charlie may want more from that relationship saying he feels a connection with Marcus when he looks into his “deep, blue, beautiful eyes.” Marcus, in a confessional, said that he does like Charlie, but not in a romantic way.
A night injury
Back at Fang, the tribemates were surprised to hear elephants walking near their campsite late at night. Moments later, Randy hit his head and said, “I think I have a small scratch.” It was no small scratch. There was blood dripping down his face. He wanted somebody to help him with it, but it was so dark that nobody could tell how bad it was. So the medical team came out on Night 1 to help stitch Randy back up. The medic said that there was a risk of infection and that they would be keeping an eye on it.
The next morning, Michelle was very cold and openly said she didn’t like her tribe of “dorks” who tried to start a fire with the machete and a bone.
First immunity challenge
In preparation for their first challenge, Ace wanted to have the group do yoga. Paloma didn’t participate because she said she’d be laughing at them the whole time.
At the challenge, the tribes were to face off in an obstacle course that ended with the construction of a puzzle. Six members tied together had to trek the obstacle course while the three others waited to do the puzzle.
It was neck and neck for most of the challenge. All through a swamp, over a cargo net and through wooden obstructions, it was a dead heat. Up until the teams had to dig for the three bags of puzzle pieces. Kota quickly found all three and got a major lead on building the puzzle. By the time Fang found all their puzzle pieces, Kota was already done, winning immunity and flint.
The first elimination
Fang returned to camp, still trying to keep morale high. They were also stuck between two people on who to vote off first. Some felt Gillian was weak in the challenges and caused them to lose. “Nothing against the 60-year-old women out there, just don’t come to my camp,” Randy said in regard to Gillian. Others just didn’t like Michelle and her attitude. But Ken was hoping she would be spared.
At Tribal Council, Probst was shocked to hear that Fang felt they performed well in the challenge considering they were crushed. Michelle chimed in and said it was because people (like GC) were slowing down and taking breaks during the digging. That’s when most of the group started arguing and pointing the blame. Michelle just wished they would have given their all until the challenge was over.
That’s when talks of a leader surfaced. The group suggested GC take over as leader. He didn’t want to do it at all, but they elected him into the position.
When it came time to vote, each of the nine Fang members approached the voting urn and cast their ballots. After Probst read them, it was revealed that Michelle was the first person sent packing. Sorry Ken — looks like your kiss is gonna be delayed even longer.
After Michelle’s torch was snuffed, Probst told Fang they could take their torches back to camp along with some flint to get a fire started.
An alliance forms, Randy has strategy
Day 4 at Kota showed how well everybody was getting along, especially Marcus and Charlie who had formed an alliance. Marcus planned on the two of them being the core of the alliance with layers added on the outside. They wanted to bring in a few more members to their “Large Onion Alliance,” dubbed by Marcus. They asked Corinne and Jacquie. After a short discussion in the woods, the four considered bringing in Bob (Nye the Jungle Guy — sorry, my lame joke) as the outside member of the alliance.
Over at Fang, GC’s leadership began. He was asking his tribemates to gather supplies for camp while he was ready to cook some rice. But Randy didn’t agree with GC using already-boiled water to cook the rice since cooking rice requires boiling water anyway. He felt GC was doing the same work twice. With that, Randy formed a strategy called, “Operation Let Other People Crash And Burn.” He was just going to sit back and watch everybody else self destruct.
Crash and burn began soon after. Early one morning, GC woke up to wash clothes and do some chores around camp. Others started waking up and joining him, which caused a noisy situation that woke everybody else up. All this happened before the sun came up. Gillian expressed her mind and said that they had all day to talk and should sleep when they can so they’re well rested for challenges. GC took offense to it and said he was done leading the group. He didn’t want that duty anymore. Leaderless once again, the group asked if anybody else wanted to step up to the plate. Of course, nobody did.
Battle of the boulders
At the next challenge, it was learned the winners would take home immunity and reward in the form of fishing gear. Both teams had to push large boulders through several gates along a hilly course. Along the way they had to stop and grab a few sets of keys that would unlock their last gate. The first tribe to get through the course and put their boulder on a platform would take the prize.
In a much closer battle than before, both teams exchanged periods where they had the lead. At the last gate, Kota unlocked all their chains first and broke through toward the finish line. Although they had trouble getting the rolling rock onto the platform, they did it just in time as Fang approached the finish line. With that, the losing Fang members were about to face another date at Tribal Council.
Not only did Kota win again, but they got the opportunity to send one Fang member to Exile. They chose to send Dan.
Temptation tested at Exile
Dan landed on Exile and found he had a choice to make. He could take comfort or a clue to the hidden immunity idol. Comfort came in the form of shelter and an apple. He took the clue for the idol, because he felt he was smart enough to decipher it and find the prize.
His clue read:
“Across the lake you see so well,
There lies a sandy crater.
The object hidden in its floor,
Will surely help you later.”
Dan searched everywhere. And he was very frustrated that he couldn’t beat the clue.
Planning another elimination
Back at Fang’s camp, the group was still trying to have a positive attitude about losing. Ken said they needed to learn from their mistakes and that it was time for Gillian to go. Some others agreed with that plan — that is until Dan showed up.
When he got back to camp from Exile, he was acting a bit odd. His actions had some of the tribemates convinced he had found the hidden immunity idol. This put him right up front as a target.
At Tribal Council the talk of Dan finding the idol came into play. Matty said some of them were concerned he had found it. Crystal said that Dan’s a smart guy and likely had found it. That’s when Dan stood up and dumped his bag saying he didn’t find anything.
When the votes were cast, all the idol chat meant nothing since most of the votes went to Gillian. As her torch was snuffed she said, “Bummer.”
After she walked into the distance, Probst gave the remaining seven Fang members a pep talk saying that they will do much better with teamwork.
For other great Survivor news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Gabon. Discuss on our reality TV message boards. You can also read more about each of this season’s contestants by checking out our Survivor bios page.
Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS