February 16, 2011 08:07 PM by Ryan Haidet
Wow. While some seasons of Survivor start with a whimper, the premiere of Survivor: Redemption Island began with an explosion! Host Jeff Probst had been teasing that the first Tribal Council may be among the best — and he was exactly right! If you missed what happened, it is absolutely worth finding the video and watching it yourself. On top of that, one player found a hidden Immunity Idol without a single clue leading to a tangled mess of events. Plus, we learn early in the episode that Phillip is a true nut.
“Welcome to Survivor”
Equipped with only the clothes on their backs, the 16 new castaways were riding together in a helicopter over the beautiful Nicaraguan landscapes. Phillip was the first person showcased, and he introduced himself in a confessional as a former federal agent — a personality trait we heard many times throughout the evening.
The helicopter landed on the beach, and once the castaways organized themselves on the mats, Probst proudly announced, “Welcome to Survivor.” The 16 new players erupted in cheers as another chopper landed on the beach carrying “Boston Rob” Mariano and Russell Hantz. When Rob set foot on the shore, they all clapped and hollered. When Russell landed, they displayed shock and disappointment. Probst offered a brief history of each returning strategist saying they offer 156 combined days of Survivor experience. Francesca reacted openly saying the guys were sizing them up as prey, and might not be there to help them out with all of their previous experiences. The guys randomly drew for buffs next as Boston Rob pulled orange (Ometepe) and Russell pulled purple (Zapatera).
Once Rob and Russell settled in, Probst then announced the other major twist this season known as Redemption Island. The castaways looked at Probst in awe as he explained the concept.
Tonight’s premiere was solely sponsored by Sprint, which offered a unique series of short commercial breaks showcasing “What if” moments from previous players in the game to further drive home the way Redemption Island works.
The first one featured a segment surrounding Shambo from Survivor: Samoa asking what she would have been capable of doing had she been given the opportunity to live on Redemption Island. Probst’s voiceover on the sequence also called Shambo a “fun-spirited” player. From personal experience having met Shambo at the Survivor: Samoa finale, she was not fun-spirited with me at all. Rude. Stand-offish. Brash. That’s more accurate.
The other “What if” moments scattered throughout the four breaks the rest of the night featured Brenda and Jane from Survivor: Nicaragua along with Erik from Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites.
Building A New Home
Once Zapatera arrived at their camp, Russell brought his tribe together and told them how difficult the game really is while also saying he was not there to sabotage anybody. After that moment, Ralph happily started building shelter using their provided supplies as Mike talked about his “man sweater.” Yep, Ralph is one hairy dude.
Over at Ometepe, Boston Rob worked with his group helping to build as his tribe openly expressed comfort in having the former villain on their tribe. As the group worked to construct their new home, Phillip started rubbing some people the wrong way because he was being pushy and too forward. He corrected Andrea’s hatchet skills. She responded in a confessional saying he just wants to play the fatherly role. As they took a break, Phillip revealed to several of the females that he’s a former federal agent before explaining how he is an expert at analyzing people’s behavior. It was with that information, Phillip said he was very useful in determining who is a true friend for them in the competition. Francesca laughed him off. “It’s hilarious. Who cares?”
Kristina said in a confessional she was surprised nobody had searched through their camp supplies to for a hidden Immunity Idol. As she searched for herself, Rob saw her on the clue hunt. Soon after, Boston Rob and Phillip made a deal to work together and bumped fists to solidify the alliance. Moments later, Phillip went to chat with Kristina and told her that he wanted to stick with the women despite his deal with Rob.
Back at Zapatera, Russell and Stephanie were walking together and it wasn’t long until the duo cut a deal. But Russell’s new alliance was no secret. David noticed Russell’s intentions and made note of it to Mike.
Day 3 at Ometepe, Kristina was becoming more and more nervous about Rob’s threatening presence. Already looking into the game’s future, Kristina spent a lot of her time searching alone for the hidden Immunity Idol. And while looking around different obvious landmarks, she moved a few rocks and easily discovered the hidden Idol. Wow. Amazing. “This is gonna be fun,” she exclaimed.
Shortly after her discovery, Phillip was trying to talk strategy with Kristina and Francesca. It didn’t work very well because his attitude came across way too strong. The women were fed up and told him he was acting ridiculous. When Kristina tried to chime in, Phillip hushed her. “He’s such a pain in my ass,” Francesca said in confessional. “Did I mention we’re in an alliance together? How awesome.”
The first Immunity Challenge consisted of a series of elements. The beginning was very physical as the contestants had to push large blocks into place, which created steps up to the top of another platform. After a rope-chopping sequence, there was a complicated puzzle at the very top. Zapatera had a very big lead throughout the entire challenge — until the last portion involving the big puzzle. It was a close finish, but Zapatera was able to stay ahead and claimed victory. They also won fire in the form of flint and went back to camp with high spirits.
Ometepe returned to camp as Kristina secretly opened up to Francesca about finding the hidden Immunity Idol. She wanted to convince the men to vote against her so she could open the game up immediately by playing the Idol and blindsiding Boston Rob. Francesca was stunned that Kristina had found the Idol without a clue, but wanted to try and convince her to change her plans. Francesca thought keeping Rob around for now was a good idea for the strength of the tribe. Natalie was her desired target.
With Tribal Council looming, Boston Rob thought Kristina was a dangerous player and was ready to vote her off. To get his plans in motion, Rob told everybody they needed to split the vote just in case she found the hidden Immunity Idol. The plan was for the men to vote against Francesca with everybody else going up against Kristina.
At the other end of camp, Kristina revealed the hidden Immunity Idol to Phillip in an effort to solidify their alliance although she was nervous about telling him the secret. She vowed to give him total support throughout the game — something she was uncertain about because of his big mouth.
A Wild Ride
At the first Tribal Council, Francesca said the smartest vote would be to keep the strongest in the competition. That led to the discussion of Boston Rob, which Francesca openly admitted would not be going home even though he was an expected target. In reaction to her comments, Phillip interrupted and said he disagreed because Francesca and Kristina had asked him to vote against Rob. When Francesca and Kristina argued with him over their discussion, Phillip changed his mind and said, “My vote tonight will be for Francesca.” But he couldn’t pronounce her name correctly. The former federal agent repeatedly mispronounced it, and when she corrected him, Phillip said he has a dry mouth, which he has been getting treatment for.
If that all wasn’t whacky enough, Phillip turned the tables and told everybody that Kristina found a hidden Idol. Probst looked surprised and asked her if it was true. Kristina admitted she had found the Idol, which opened up a new can of worms. Boston Rob asked her to show everybody the Idol, and Kristina pulled it out of her bag. After she haned it to Boston Rob so he could see it, he requested that she give it to him and he would keep her safe from the first vote. She obviously didn’t give it away and reclaimed the Idol into her possession.
After that craziness, the group finally voted. Kristina decided not to play her Idol, and Probst tallied the ballots — two votes against Phillip; three votes for Kristina; four votes for Francesca.
With that, Francesca’s torch was snuffed and she became the first person on Redemption Island. “Don’t trust Phillip,” she announced as she walked out of Tribal Council with her unlit torch in hand.
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