'Survivor: Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites' premiere: A love connection the first night

erik-shamar-survivor-caramoan.jpg"Survivor's" back, you guys! I'm extra excited because I only got to cover part of last season because of maternity leave. It seems like I've been away so long! I need me some Jeff Probst.

Who's excited about Fans vs. Favorites II: Electric Boogaloo? We aren't sure how many of the returning players are "favorites," but it's a fun group, so that's OK.

It's rather awesome the Fans are on a boat and the Faves are in 'copters. Dramatic entrance, indeed. Out of the Faves, we're excited to see Dawn and Phillip the most. Dawn because she's awesome, and Phillip because he's cuckoo for cocoa puffs.  Brandon? We are not so excited to see. We've had enough of the Hantz family, thanks. And Brandon definitely isn't as interesting as either of his uncles.

The Arrivals

The Fans take their spot on a mat, and promptly get really excited at the prospect of playing against returning players. Not so sure we'd be that stoked. It'll be interesting to see what everybody makes of Malcolm, because remember -- his first season hadn't aired when they shot this, so nobody knows him.

The one thing that would give us hope if we were a fan is that the Faves are really lacking in manpower. Dawn's pretty tough and Malcolm is obviously a beast, but that does not a winning tribe make. [ Ed's note: Turns out the Faves have more oomph than we thought.]

Reward Challenge

We dive right in to a reward challenge for fire and 20 pounds of beans. It's a wrestling challenge, which is a great way to kick things off. Round one is Erik/Dawn vs. Julia/Shamar and it's not much of a match-up because Shamar is the size of approximately four Eriks (see above picture for proof).

Next is Hope/Eddie vs. Brandon/Andrea. It's more of a scrum this time, but the Faves win. Brandon, naturally, beats his chest like he just killed a wild animal with his bare hands. Next is Phillip/Brenda vs. Michael/Sherri. Phillip has on the most terrifying pair of pink tighty-whities, but he manages to score a point.

Fourth is Matt/Laura vs. Cochran/Francesca. The Fans should be able to tie it up right here, except Francesca is way feistier than we gave her credit for, so Faves go up 3-1. Fifth is Corinne/Malcolm vs. Reynold/Allie. It's a battle of the beefcakes, as Malcolm and Reynold go full out. When Malcolm pulls Reynold down, Probst grunts, "Malcolm takes him DOWN" -- the "I love you" is left unsaid.

Malcolm is doing this practically naked because his trunks won't stay up, but he manages to score a point. So the Fans got more trounced in that competition than we thought they would. Sheesh.

Gota Tribe

There is immediately a split versus what is the most important thing to do. Shamar thinks fire should be priority no. 1 so they can boil water (and he is right), but there are 10 of them, as Matt points out, and surely five of them could work on fire while five people build a shelter, right? There is definitely some tension around camp.

francesca-matt-survivor-caramoan.jpgIt is not an auspicious start for their tribe in terms of teamwork. While Matt is right about this, he should probably not be so combativem because if it comes down to an early vote, who do you think they're going to keep? The Fridge, or a scrawny BMX dude who got his mug knocked in the sand by Francesca? (At left).

So, the gang starts working on fire and Shamar just sits around. Um, you were the one so hell-bent on fire, why don't you help? He finally jumps in and they do get fire, which is great for them, but it's like -- why weren't you helping before? But anyway, everybody's super pumped about the fire, so all the drama is forgiven and things are all good at Gota.

When alliances finally get started, Eddie and Reynold recognize they will eventually be seen as huge threats, so they should work together. Reynold also nabs Allie for a Final Two deal, while Eddie and Hope bond over the stars. Eddie also declares Hope and himself the two best-looking people there, which is always a great thing to use as alliance criteria. Hmph.

Then that night, Reynold and Allie start, like, dry-humping in the shelter. Laura and at least one other person totally notice and Laura's radar is pinging. Oh, you two dummies. It's, what, the first night? Are you that hard up?

The next day, the Too Cool for School kids (Allie, Reynold, Eddie and Hope) are hanging out and then they actually call themselves the "cool kids" .....  *shakes head*. Hopefully this is setting them up for the harsh reality of how you play "Survivor."

allie-survivor-caramoan.jpgAlso, Reynold calls his make-out session with Allie (right) a "cuddle session." Um, that passed cuddling very early on, if the gyrations were any indication.

Thankfully, the rest of the tribe is aware of where the lines are being drawn and are already talking about what they need to do. Michael and Matt are aligning, while Sherri, Julia and Laura are getting together. They need to recognize that if they join forces, they can do away with the Cool Kids. And where is Shamar? Hmm. Not overly impressed with the strategery of these Fans so far.

Bikal Tribe

Malcolm is nervous, but he knows he made a great first impression during the reward challenge. Phillip starts in with the crazy by comparing "Survivor" to Iwo Jima. Missed you, Phillip.

The strategizing starts off right away with Dawn, Andrea and Francesca. That's an alliance we'd get behind. But then they talk about bringing Brandon, Cochran and Phillip into the fold and we get suspicious. That's ... insane. That is bat-crap crazy. Cochran, maybe. But you could not pay me enough to align with walking powder kegs like Brandon and Phillip.

Case in point -- Francesca tries to make amends with Phillip after their fight during their first season and he's very cold to her. Dude, just be nice. Don't be such a weirdo all the time. He then runs down his "Boston Rob" rules (hmmm) and approaches Corinne ("The Dominatrix") and Andrea ("The Eliminator") as his alliance members. He calls himself Stealth, the Undercover Brother, the Specialist. He's the behind-the-scenes puppetmaster, you see. Oh, Phillip.

He grabs Cochran and calls him the Intelligence Attache, then talks to Erik and basically says you're in our alliance or you're out the door. Erik recognizes Phillip as a "combative, idiot loser who makes everybody crazy." That's harsh, but not inaccurate.

The next day, it's really hot. Cochran is beet red with a sunburn, to the point where his feet are swollen like he's a hobbit. I've always wondered if the show provides sunscreen and I guess this is the definitive answer. That seems ... dangerous. People can get really sick from sunburns.

Update: Our commenters have alertly said that Probst has confirmed the show provides sunscreen, which we always had to assume the show would do. So, Cochran is just a doofus who didn't use any?

Cochran hilariously gives an interview where he says he's trying to play it cool, but he's actually in horrible pain. Aww, poor nerdy Cochran.

Immunity Challenge

It's a race of pairs up a tower to get crates that have sandbags inside. The last pair, who does not go up the tower, has to toss the bags into six holes. First tribe to land all six wins. The structure for this challenge is impressive.

The tribes are neck-and-neck until the last pair up the tower, when Allie slows the Fans down. Interestingly, both Reynold and Malcolm are sandbag-tossers for their respective tribes. You'd think they would have been racing up the towers. But they are both good at it and the Fans actually take the lead, then win. Wow, good for them.

Pre Tribal

Francesca thinks Phillip is crazy, but she doesn't trust Corinne. Yeah, Corinne is sneaky. Meanwhile, Andrea wants to align with Phillip and company, so she thinks Francesca needs to go since Fran is gunning for Phillip.

Crazy crab montage.

However, Erik and Brandon are thinking of voting Phillip because he's kind of a bully. They approach Francesca and that's all well and good, but they seem completely unconcerned with making sure they have the numbers. They just dismiss the idea of Phillip having numbers. Um, maybe you should get out your fingers and count and see that you only have three votes.

Dawn and Cochran aren't sure which way to go, but they know they want to work together. They then consider working with Fran/Andrea/Brandon and splitting the votes in case someone has an Idol.

Brenda is then brought in too. It's really unclear what exactly is happening right now. Brandon doesn't trust Andrea because she talks to one person one minute and another person the next. She's so crazy, talking to people all the time. He also says she's "aware" and that she's the most intimidating player out there. That's probably true, for him. Brandon has a bit of an issue with strong women. Plus, one word we would not use to describe Brandon is "aware."

So Brandon and Erik are nervous about Andrea because she's tight with Corinne. And now they think Brandon/Erik/Francesca/Dawn/Brenda are voting Andrea? But not telling Cochran? There is a lot going on right now. I need a diagram to keep this all straight. I will say I'm bummed if Andrea goes, she's a great player.

But now Cochran's morals and sense of shame might be rearing their ugly heads and he wants to keep Francesca?

Wow. A super-sized "Survivor" sure leaves a lot of time for showing people's crazy paranoia and flip-flopping on a dime. If this is what it's like out there when there aren't hard-core alliances formed and there are so many people still playing, we have a whole new respect for people not just throwing themselves off the nearest cliff.

Tribal Council


Brandon says they've got a tribe full of chiefs and no Indians and that nobody is gonna get done like they got done last time. Probst awesomely pipes up, "Somebody is." Heh. Probst is such a great host.

Everyone agrees they are totally paranoid about going home because everybody started the game guns blazing. Though Cochran points out that that's also an exciting aspect of having returning players. And Malcolm gets a funny little joke in by grabbing Cochran's shoulder after Cochran mentioned the time Boston Rob did that to indicate who he wanted gone.

Honestly, the only people who should feel remotely safe tonight are Dawn, Malcolm and Cochran. They don't seem to have any reason to feel nervous (that we've seen).

During the vote, we see Francesca vote for Andrea and vice versa. The votes go Andrea, Andrea, Andrea, Francesca, Francesca, Francesca, Andrea, Francesca, Francesca and ... Francesca. Ouch. That sucks for her.

Next week: Brandon loses his mind, apparently. And if he makes Dawn cry, we will find a way to reach through the TV and smack him. Nobody makes Dawn cry!

Turns out the votes went Brandon/Brenda/Erik/Francesca for Andrea and the rest for Francesca.

What did you think of the "Survivor" premiere, gang?
Photo/Video credit: CBS
SHARE IT ON: