Survivor San Juan Del Sur – Episode 1 Recap Featuring Brad & Monica Culpepper!

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The new season of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur is here! After an eye-opening ninety minute premiere episode it’s time to recap it! Joining us, we have our brand new resident recap expert, Clifton, plus Ben and the Ozlets chime in with their thoughts as well! Oh, and we’ll even speak to some of the real experts in our good friends Brad & Monica Culpepper from Blood vs Water and One World!

(If you haven’t watched this weeks episode yet, clicking the link below will spoil the hell out of it, so if you don’t want to be spoiled then don’t click the link!)

DAY 0

The twenty-ninth season of Survivor begins with Jeff Probst briefly explaining that the Blood vs. Water concept was so compelling that they just had to do it again. The nine pairs of loved ones which make up this season’s cast have already been abandoned on their own for Day 0. Each pair is given a flint for fire-making practice and a map for the next day. Boyfriend and girlfriend, Jon and Jaclyn, hail from Michigan. Jaclyn earned the title of Miss Michigan, and Jon played football for Michigan State. They claim to have a phenomenal and fun relationship, but they also claim things aren’t perfect. They hope that people don’t hate them due to a perception that they are a perfect couple. John Rocker is a former professional baseball player famous for his racism and bigotry. He believes these are labels that have been put on his by the media, and that they are fighting words. With him is his three-year girlfriend, Julie, who feels that she has a lot to prove to people given her physical appearance and her choice of boyfriend. Baylor and Missy, cheerleading daughter and cheerleading coach mother, have been through a lot together. Missy has been through three divorces, putting her daughter, Baylor, through all the sordid experiences that come along with them. They claim to have an unstoppable bond that will take them through the game. Brothers, Alec and Drew, brought with them a lifelong sibling rivalry. Alec hopes to prove to Drew that he’s not an afterthought to his brother’s legacy. Father and daughter, Dale and Kelley, hail form the state of Washington. Dale has spent his entire life working on a farm, while Kelley has moved to Seattle to pursue a career. Their relationship has been strained over the years, but they hope that Survivor will be the perfect opportunity for them to bond. Josh and Reed, boyfriends, are Broadway performers. They claim to be long-time fans of the show and very comfortable outside in the dirt. Reed’s first Valentine’s day gift for Josh was apparently a flint. Jeremy and Val, fire-fighter and cop husband and wife, are madly in love despite an occupational rivalry. Both of them are in it to win it and ready to compete with each other. Natalie and Nadiya are well-known in the reality TV world for their two-time appearance on The Amazing Race. They were aggressive competitors who failed to win twice. They claim to be mentally prepared for the deprivation that Survivor is going to subject them to, unlike The Amazing Race. They also claim to have the closer bond than any other pair. Father and son, Keith and Wes, are a fire-fighter duo from Louisiana. Wes claims that Survivor will be his time to shine. His father, Keith, is not so sure that his son is as strong and prepared as he thinks he is. 39 days. 18 people. 1 Survivor.

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Jeff delivers his season intro from a familiar spot. (Image Credit: CBS)

DAY 1

HERO ARENA

The pairs of contestants make their way out of the jungle and converge at the new Hero arena. Jeff welcomes them all to the new season and asks who had luck making fire. He addresses Josh and Reed, who are not surprised at their success. They say that if you’re going to be on Survivor, you better know how to make fire. Jeff then moves to Keith and Wes, who tell him that they lost their flint striker. The other contestants laugh. They then explain that they also broke their flint in half trying to start a fire with a rock. Natalie and Nadiya are asked who might be in trouble just based on appearances. They mention their time on The Amazing Race and say that they know better than to judge a book by its cover. Jeff informs them that they will be competing against their loved ones. He hands out the buffs. Those with orange buffs (Dale, Josh, Wes, John Rocker, Alec, Val, Jaclyn, Baylor, & Nadiya) became members of Coyopa, and those with blue buffs (Kelley, Reed, Keith, Julie, Drew, Jeremy, Jon M., Missy, and Natalie) became members of Hunahpu.

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Jeff and the castaways converge, and the tribes are formed. (Image Credit: CBS)

Jeff asks Reed what it’s like to have Josh as his competition. Reed says, “bring it”. He asks the same of John Rocker about Julie. He says that the game is like the Civil War – brother on brother. Jeff then asks Jeremy what it’s like not being able to protect his wife, Val. He starts to respond that that’s the only thing that’s tough about being on the opposite tribe, but Val cuts him off, saying that she doesn’t need his help. Jeff tells them that it’s time for their first Reward Challenge. One contestant from each tribe must race through a wooden cube to untangle a rope. Attached to the rope are two rings, which the contestants will toss at a two distant platforms, attempting to hook the platforms and pull it in. First person to pull in both platforms wins reward for their tribe in the form of flint and beans. Jeff calls forward one person from each tribe to do rock-paper-scissors, where the winner’s tribe gets to select a person to compete. Reed, for Hunahpu, chooses rock. Dale, for Coyopa, chooses scissors. Hunahpu quickly talk about who they want to perform in the challenge, and they select Jeremy after he confidently volunteers. Jeff asks Jeremy if he wants to know who he’s playing against, and Jeremy says that he doesn’t care. Jeff then informs them of one of this season’s twist. The person chosen to compete at Hero Arena will compete against their loved one. Jeremy will compete against his wife, Val. Loser of the challenge will have to go to Exile Island. The contestants’ faces sink with disappointment when they hear about Exile Island. Jeff tells them that the only way they will be able to prove their worth to their tribe is to win and send their loved on there. Val says that she’s ready to play. “It is what it is.”

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Jeff informs Jeremy and Val that the loser of the challenge will be sent to Exile Island. (Image Credit: CBS)

The challenge begins. The early tangles of rope are mostly along the bottom of the wooden cube, allowing the shorter Val to gain what seems like a slight lead over her husband, who had to slow down in order to manoeuvre under the beams and ropes. This lead evaporates immediately, however, once they have to climb over the top of the cube. Jeremy height allows him to vault right over it, while Val has quite a bit of trouble climbing to the top. Jeremy begins tossing his first ring while Val continues to struggle. She catches up and is the first one to connect with her platform, but the ring slides off. Jeremy then manages to hook his and pulls it in all the way. He begins working on untangling his second ring from the wooden cube, while Val keeps tossing her first. Jeremy makes is back with his second ring and, while Val hooks in her first platform, he connects with his second platform. Val manages to pull hers all the way in, while Jeremy’s ring slips off. Val races back into the cube to untangle her second ring, but it’s too late. Jeremy hooks his second platform and wins the challenge. Jeff calls over Jeremy and asks him what he’s feeling. Clearly emotional and voice cracking, he says, “I’ve got nothing.” Jeff asks Val what it feels like to see her husband struggling with this. She says she feels bad for him but she’ll be back. She’s a fighter. Jeff then tells Jeremy that he has to pick one person from his tribe, Hunahpu, to accompany Val on Exile Island. Jeremy says that he already knows who he is going to pick, and he points out Keith. He says that Keith is clearly an outdoorsman, and he knows that he can take care of her. Jeff reminds Jeremy that Keith is the one who lost the striker and broke the flint. Jeremy quickly comes to Keith’s defence, saying that it all was Wes’ fault. Wes is incredulous. Everyone laughs. Keith, also clearly emotional, says that he’s okay with the decision. He says he sees what Val and Jeremy are going through and knows that they are in this together. They are all going to have to feel that at some point. Jeff gives Val and Keith, Hunahpu, and Coyopa their respective maps, and they all depart.

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Jeremy & Val face off in the first Hero Arena challenge. (Image Credit: CBS)

HUNAHPU

The Hunahpu tribe arrives at their beach and their flag for the first time. Reed expresses the often-reported excitement of that first arrival, but acknowledges that now they have to get to work. The game is on. The tribe looks over the supplies that they have at their disposal and are excited to find that they have nails. They waste no time in consoling Jeremy as a group for what he had to go through. In a confessional, Jeremy explains that the tribe is very grateful to him for winning the challenge and getting them the fire and food that they will so desperately need, but he is still emotional about having to compete against his wife so early. It was his goal not to cry at all, and now he already is and it’s only Day 1. He feels like he didn’t protect his wife. He is worried that things don’t look good for her. At the same time, he’s ready to play. He knows that he has a good rapport with women and gets along with them well, so he wants to make connections with the females on his tribe early. We see him talk to Kelley, where they agree to stay a strong two and hope that their pairs make it to the merge. He then talks to Natalie and mentions the alliance he formed with Kelley. Natalie says that she likes Kelley. In a confessional, Natalie says that she very much liked how Jeremy showed his emotions at Hero Arena and that she would like to work with him more than anyone else there. She wants him as her “designated twinnie”. Next, Jeremy makes a connection with Missy. She tells him that he seems like he’s “super super honest”. He tells her that they need strength but that they also need smarts, implying that she has it. In a confessional, Missy says that she believes in listening to her gut and that her gut tells her Jeremy is good.  Jeremy confesses that things seem to be working out for him. He’s the popular guy on the tribe.

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Jeremy wastes no time forming alliances with Kelley, Natalie, and Missy. (Image Credit: CBS)

COYOPA

At the Coyopa camp, the tribe is already at work trying to build a shelter. They seem to all be getting along at this stage, working well together and exuding excitement to be there. Nadiya points out that there is a minor initial division based on age. Baylor, Wes, and Alec are all very young, early twenties; Josh, Jaclyn, and Nadiya are in the middle, late twenties and early thirties; Rocker is about 40; and Dale is about 55. Dale is well aware of his age difference with the group and seems to be keeping his distance from everyone. He says that he’s not used to being in a big group of strangers, but that he’s always looking for the positive in a situation. He goes to the well and we see him find an emblem tied to the lid. He says that it’s not an idol but that it might come in handy for something some day. Attempting to find a way into the tribe, Dale begins working to make fire with his glasses. When he is unsuccessful, he breaks his glasses in order to double up the lenses. With this method, he is able to catch his husk, and he makes a full fire for the tribe. The tribe celebrates and begin singing their praises to Dale. Josh says that Dale saved them. Rocker says that Dale is a badass. Dale now feels a lot more comfortable with his tribe and feels that he’s moved up the food chain.

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Dale makes fire for the Coyopa tribe. (Image Credit: CBS)

EXILE ISLAND

On Exile Island, Val is worried about her place in the game. She knows that now she is the obvious choice for her tribe to vote off if they have to go to Tribal Council. She says that Exile Island sucks. It’s rocky, desolate, and the water appears to be un-swimmable. Keith expresses similar concerns, confessing that he doesn’t know his tribe at all yet and that he certainly didn’t expect to be on Exile Island. The two of them come across a pair of urns on a column. A note there says that the must each choose one. Keith select the urn on his right, and Val selects the urn on her left. Keith’s contains a note that’s totally blank, while Val’s contains a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol at each camp by the well. The note reads “There is an idol hidden back at your camp. Your well will help.” Then there are two symbols equated to “Water” and “Dig”. “You may choose whether you share this information with anyone else.” She chooses not to share the information with Keith. Keith isn’t worried about it since he believes it has to do with Val’s tribe, and he’s not on Val’s tribe. They begin talking about their lives and where they are from. Keith mentions that he saw her Boston shirt and her husband’s Cambridge shirt. She mentions that Jeremy is a Cambridge firefighter. Keith then informs her that both he and his son, Wes, are also fire-fighters. She says, “Get out!”. He says, “Get in”. He says that he plans to check in with Jeremy when he gets back to camp, hoping that the tribe hasn’t decided that they all hate him.

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Val’s hidden idol clue. (Image Credit: CBS)

HUNAHPU

Back at the Hunahpu camp, Drew is taking leadership position in the shelter building process. He says that he was forced to step in because no one else is working or helping. Jon appears to be the only person who is giving him much assistance at all. Drew confesses that he has been a fairly successful model over the last few years, and tells us that his face is “around some different places”. Julie confesses that she’s not sure why Drew thinks he is in charge. She finds him to be “too arrogant. Bless his heart.” She says that because of her time with Rocker, she understands the alpha male “dude mentality”, and that Drew is just a “young, dumb guy.”

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Julie is not impressed by Drew. (Image Credit: CBS)

COYOPA

At the Coyopa camp, Wes talks to Alec about John Rocker. He asks Alec if he knows what John’s last name is. Wes says that he is pretty sure that he’s seen him playing some sport. In a confessional, Wes explains that he knows exactly who Rocker is. Wes was a big Atlanta Braves fan and Rocker played for them when they were successful and the most well-known. Wes then approaches John and asks him what his last name is. John lies and says his last name is Wentley. Wes can’t stop smiling and calls him out, teasing that he thinks his last name starts with “R” and has five… no, six letters. John asks if he looks like someone Wes knows from school. Wes says that he looks like someone he knows from television. Rocker caves and tells Wes that he caught him, but asks that he keep his identity quiet. In a confessional, Wes explains that they have some things in common based on the fact that Wes has played baseball and that they’re both from the South. He hopes that they will work together. In Rocker’s confessional, he explains he doesn’t like that Wes knows his secret and that he might have to think about voting Wes off.

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Wes calls out John Rocker for concealing his identity. (Image Credit: CBS)

DAY 3

COYOPA

Two days later at camp Coyopa, Josh is having problems with his eyes burning in the shelter. He is not pleased but knows that he has to “suck it up and survive”. Baylor is worried about Josh and his eyes but more worried about making sure the same doesn’t happen to her. Josh says that the only thing he came in contact with that the leaves and branches which they used to make a shelter roof. Nadiya explains that it must be sap from them because of the way they tore them up. The tribe immediately takes to removing all the foliage which they used for their shelter roof and getting it as far away from the camp as they can. Alec is worried about scorpions and pumas.

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Josh throws some of the offending foliage into the pile. (Image Credit: CBS)

HUNAHPU

At the Hunahpu camp, Jon attempts to communicate with a nearby howler monkey while the tribe looks on. In a confessional, he explains that he is always a goofball and perceived as such, but that he has a lot going on in his life back home. His father was recently diagnosed with cancer when they found a tumour in his brain. It’s non-curable. Jon says that he’s spent a lot of time thinking about it and that he’s “cried out”. He said the decision to come on the show was a very hard one given the limited amount of time he has with his father, but that his father is a huge fan of the show and wanted Jon to go. Jon just hopes that he’ll be able to watch the show with his father and that he’ll make him proud.

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Jon, deep in thought. (Image Credit: CBS)

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE

Before the challenge, Keith and Val returned to their respective tribes to much applause. Jeff asks Val how Exile Island was. She says that it is a desolate place without much foliage but that she and Keith were able to bond.  For the challenge, both tribes must first crawl through the dirt under an obstacle. Once everyone on a tribe has made it through the obstacle, they must work together to retrieve three bags tied to a tall frame. Then the tribe must scale a three part wall. For the first part, one member has to throw a rope ball and rope up to the top, hooking it between two poles. Then the tribe must use the rope to scale the wall. For the next section of the wall, the tribe must use pegs as a latter, which they place in holes in the wall. For the last section, the tribe simply has to get up using any method that they can. No steps, no pegs, no ropes. At the top of three walls there is a large puzzle which the tribes must complete. First tribe to get everyone to the top and finish their puzzle wins tribal immunity. Coyopa is also playing for flint.

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The first Immunity Challenge of San Juan Del Sur. (Image Credit: CBS)

Both tribes race under the obstacle as the challenge begins. The dirt immediately becomes disturbed, creating a large brown cloud. A few people get cut up and injured but, in seemingly no time, both tribes have moved on to the second phase, collecting the bags. Baylor gets on Rocker’s back and is able to quickly untie all the bags for Coyopa. Natalie, Julie, and Kelley each take turns retrieving a bag for Hunahpu but only take a little bit longer than Baylor. Rocker quickly begins tossing the rope up the first section of wall but the struggles to make a connection. Keith takes charge of this phase for Hunahpu and begins tossing as well. After a few failed tosses by both parties, Rocker finally makes a connection, and the Coyopa tribe brings to scale the first wall. Drew takes over for Hunahpu and starts tossing the ball of rope. Drew finally connects, but Coyopa only has one person left at the bottom of the first wall at this point. The Coyopa tribe inserts their pegs into the second wall while Hunahpu scales the first. Josh is the first up the second wall for Coyopa. The rest of the tribe quickly follows and they move onto the third wall. Most of the tribe uses Rocker as a human ladder, climbing on him to make it up the third wall. Rocker then takes a leap his tribe members at the top are able to catch his arm. Rocker then pulls himself up using the support beam and is able to help the last tribe members below. At this point Coyopa starts working on their puzzle, while Hunahpu take on the third and final wall. Coyopa doesn’t take advantage of their lead, however, and are unable to make significant progress on the puzzle before Hunahpu arrives. Both tribes race to finish the puzzle, but keep having the last piece not fit, meaning they have to start over. This happens multiple times for each tribe. In the end, the Hunahpu is the first one’s to successfully finish their puzzle and they win tribal immunity. Jeff asks Natalie what it feels like to know her twin sister is in danger of being voted out. She says that it’s hard and that half of everyone’s heart is on the other tribe.

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The tribes race to finish the first puzzle of San Juan Del Sur (Image Credit: CBS)

HUNAHPU

The Hunahpu tribe comes back to camp in high spirits. Keith is ecstatic to be back with his tribe and is happy to see how much work they’ve done back at camp. He says it seems like they’ve been working well together, which can only be a good thing. He takes a moment to introduce himself to the other people on his tribe and learn their names. Keith approaches Jeremy, and Jeremy says that he owes Keith for taking care of his wife. He promises that, while he pulled Keith out of the tribe, he’s gonna pull him right back in. Keith says that fire-fighters are in a brotherhood. He’s not sure about the other seven people, but he feels good about Jeremy and just needs a few days to sort things out.

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Jeremy and Keith connect after the first Immunity Challenge. (Image Credit: CBS)

COYOPA

The depressed Coyopa tribe returns to camp and shows Val around. Val is worried that her game might be over, so she goes straight to the well to look for the Hidden Immunity Idol at her first opportunity. Dale asks “Natalie” how she would compare her experience so far to The Amazing Race. She correct him, “Nadiya. C’mon man!” She says its a totally different game. We then see Dale speaking with Wes, Alec, and Josh. He mentions that Val would be the easy vote but that he would like to give her a chance. He would rather get rid of Nadiya because she’s clearly not trustworthy after her stint on The Amazing Race. Josh is then approached by Nadiya, who he informs of the situation. He says that he won’t vote her out, and she says that she knows their loved ones must be working together. She then says that she was counts Josh as one of the girls, to which Josh laughs with her. In a confessional, he reveals that this type of comment rubs him the wrong way, but that he doesn’t blame her for the stereotype. He wants to be the person that people come to, and he wants to make sure he has options.

Untitled 7Dale leads a meeting with Alec, Wes, and Josh concerning the impending vote. (Image Credit: CBS)

Val then leads a meeting with the Coyopa women. She suggests that they start a women’s alliance because “let’s make history” and “it’s about time”. In order for them to have the numbers within the tribe they are going to have to pull over one male. Nadiya is insistent that Josh will be that person. Once again, she says, “we’re all counting him as a girl.” They decide that their plan is to vote Dale out of the tribe. Once they have flint they feel like they will no longer need him and that his age will make his a liability in the challenges. In a confessional, Baylor reveals that if she does not end up siding with the women, she will do whatever Josh wants to do. They talk and Baylor reveals to him the plan for a women’s alliance and the plan to vote out Dale. Josh says that they need to figure out what to do. In a confessional, he says that he is in the middle the guys alliance and the girls alliance. He says his plan is to pick whatever side gets him further in the game, but that the person with the swing vote is often in a vulnerable position. He’s not sure which way he will go.

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The women of Coyopa agree to vote out Dale (Image Credit: CBS)

TRIBAL COUNCIL

Jeff invites the Coyopa tribe to tip their torches into the fire. He first asks Rocker if it is surprising how quickly the game moves. Rocker says that that’s the game. It’s not easy to vote anyone out at this point because no one is lazy. There’s no obvious pick. Jeff then asks Nadiya what the vibe is at camp. She says that they’ve been getting along really well, and that no one is ready to make a decision on the vote. She says that she has to make the best of the situation. “Make margaritas out of lemons”. Jeff asks Josh if he agrees, and Josh says that the positive spirit is essential to the game. Jeff then asks Nadiya to compare her time to The Amazing Race. She says its so different. You have exact directions on the Amazing Race. Your needs are met, and she had her sister. Jeff asks Val what it’s been like, given her time on Exile Island. She says that it’s been stressful because she’s been away from her tribe, but Exile has it’s blessings too. You can explore and find things that will ease your mind regardless of the outcome of the vote. Jeff then asks Jaclyn who’s bonding quickly. She says that the guys are, mentioning John, Wes, and Alec. He then asks Dale if he feels like he’s an easy target due to his age. Dale says that he does. It’s tough to find things to talk about, but he does whatever he can to prove his worth to the tribe. “Jeff’s rules: Fire is life.” He explains how he broke is glasses to get the tribe fire. Jeff then asks Wes who people in the tribe are hovering around. He says the Josh is really well liked by everyone and that Josh seems to “care with you”. Many people in the tribe nod in agreement. Nadiya agrees vocally and reiterates that she considers Josh to be “one of the girls”. Jeff asks if this is because Josh is gay, to which she replies, “The fact that he’s gay helps me. Obviously, I’m never gonna consider a straight guy a ‘girlfriend’.” Jeff asks Josh how he feels being in the middle. Josh says that it makes his decision important. That may be what’s happening. It may not be. They vote. Rocker votes for Nadiya, saying that she has too much experience from The Amazing Race. Nadiya votes for Dale because he is the odd man out. Jeff goes to get the votes. Nadiya says “this is too intense.” Jeff says that if anyone has a Hidden Immunity Idol and wants to use that now is the time to do so. We see an edited shot of Val reaching towards her bag, and the rest of the tribe looking at her. Nothing happens. Jeff reads the votes. Rocker’s vote for Nadiya. Nadiya’s vote for Dale. A vote for Baylor. Another vote for Dale. Another vote for Nadiya. Another vote for Dale. Another vote for Nadiya. So far, it’s a 3-3 tie between Nadiya and Dale with one vote for Baylor. Nadiya receives both of the last two votes. Dale smiles as Nadiya gets up to grab her torch. Jeff snuffs the torch out, and Nadiya departs. Jeff tells the tribe that they need to find themselves. He gives them flint and sends them on their way.

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Nadiya prepares to have her torch snuffed. (Image Credit: CBS)

SURVIVOR OZ SWEEP

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INAPPROPRIATE PROBST!

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TWEET TWEET!

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BEN’S OPINION

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What an amazing start to the season! An epic premiere that lived up to the hype! I loved it!

I want to point out that the introduction was all kinds of incredible. Had a real ‘old school’ feel to it and it went for a decent amount of time which was sweet. The editing too was top notch, and it’s always great to see Jeff in an ‘epic helicopter’ moment. Great start!

It was great to see Val & Jeremy get such a good edit early on. These two I feel are the ones most people were really talking up as pre-game favourites so it could mean they are on track for something extremely strong. It could also be leading to a big downfall too. Whatever the case, it was an extremely strong start for both of them which is rare to see African American contestants be given so much airtime so early on in a season. Props to them and props to CBS.

The Exile Island twist so far has worked. The opening challenge was great and gave some drama which was a good way to start it. It seems as though we have a good cast who have got some humour to them and some strong rivalries as well. Fascinating dynamics to see John Rocker lie about his identity but for Wes to call him out. Was fascinating to watch, although I think Wes needs to learn to count.

My pony Kelley has herself in a good spot in working with Jeremy, so I’m happy there. My girl Baylor may have gotten a vote but she wasn’t super invisible, so I’ll take that too! Have to take these small victories while I can!

So close to getting my first boot pick in Dale right too! Argh! Damn it! Its bye bye Nadiya though, which is a shame as I was hoping to see the twinnies go deep. It will be different now with no Redemption after somebody is voted out because there won’t be any real explanation as to why they were gone. So next will be interesting to see how Natalie reacts.

Other stand outs for me definitely Josh, he was great. I enjoyed Missy more so because I think she is a character and that’s something that I perhaps wasn’t expecting. Even Julie had some good moments, as did Jon, who had a real ‘winners quote’ in saying he is playing for his dad. That was random to put in there like that, so I think keep an eye on how his storyline develops.

Bring on next week!

NOAH’S OPINION

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What a great premiere! Although not as good as Cagayan and Blood vs Water I will say….anyhow, here are a few thoughts and observations from episode 1 of San Juan Del Sur.

The opening montage of day zero was fantastic. Not only did it introduce all the characters early season style, everyone got a confessional and we had the epic cinematography of the helicopter visiting everyone at their own camps. Plus, Wes and Keith losing the flint was hilarious!

Both challenges were good, especially the immunity one, even if it was the typical running around, climbing and putting a puzzle together.

I am one of those who fully supports the return of Exile Island but was happy that it didn’t take any more screen time than it did. That was a perfect amount of time to be allocated towards the twist. I do think that Val should have shared the clue with Keith and created an alliance for Jeremy back at camp, #firefightersRUs.

The necklace that Dale found will definitely come into play later in the season. It was too obvious and random to not be mentioned again. Is it possible that he actually found the real idol? After all Val’s clue did point towards the well where Dale found the necklace and it does seem like a random object to have placed there. I personally don’t think he found the idol because you would think the editors would have let the audience know but hey, they did go on strike, maybe they don’t even care…

Some of the bigger and notable characters who came out of the episode and will probably make it far in the game or at least have some impact. Firstly, Dale had a much larger edit than I think anyone ever predicted and while it initially felt like he could have been the first boot, will probably succeed. Keith is another character who I thought would get a Rick Nelson edit, but he delightfully made a presence in the episode. Val and Jeremy lived up to pre-season expectations and Jeremy notably had the biggest edit, which probably isn’t a good sign! Josh is getting an increasingly positive edit and will probably be a strong character, although I am still not entirely sure about the Baylor vote! Surprisingly, John Rocker didn’t receive nearly the amount of air time I thought he would but still appeared more than others.

Finally I am devastated that a Twinnie left! No!!!! The plus side means we won’t have to struggle to tell which Twinnie is which and it will probably benefit Natalie’s game in the long run.

Bring on next week!

JULIAN’S OPINION

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What a great season premiere although I’m not going to deny I was slightly gutted that my Pony Nadiya was the first boot. All in all I think it really came down to two separate alliances. I could have given Nadiya any advice during the first three days in the game was to fly under the radar a bit more. But I guess it’s not the twinnies style and that’s they way the axe falls. I also have a feeling they would have been recognised from The Amazing Race regardless.

I thought the scene from Exile Island were pretty boring and very typical so let’s hope that isn’t going to be the trend for the rest of the season – with that said, I still think I prefer it over redemption island, but will have to wait until the rest of the season to see how Exile plays out. Redemption Island worked so well in Blood Vs Water #1 so I am hoping Exile will have the same result.

Also I don’t get why Val is so revered as a serious threat to win. After what I saw tonight I think she came across a little like the victim and somewhat whiney, and not a particularly warm character. With that said, it’s early days and I hope I’m wrong. Don’t think it would be easy at all to get sent to Exile right off the bat – but if I were her I would have shown the clue to Keith in the spirit of camaraderie – it’s not like he couldn’t really deduce that it was a clue for an Idol anyways.

It’s worth noting that Jeff seems to be getting more hyperactive and manic in his voice overs each season, and especially raising the intensity in his commentaries his shrill voice and “DIG WOMAN” has reached fever pitch. Still some decent challenges to start the season, but I have a fear that water challenges will be few and far between – I hope I’m wrong, but the open beaches surf just looks to wild, despite what they said pre season about working on that, I think we will see limited challenges in the water.

Finally, I do love the nod to Guatemala in San Juan Del Sur, considering the filming locations are only 800 or so km away, it’s nice to see the howler monkeys back, and the Mayan inspired battle arena and tribal council. Even though it’s filmed in the same locale as season 21 & 22, so far I’m getting a different feel location wise which I love *maybe just because its not in the Philippines? A great episode, bring on week 2 – I think Rocker better watch his back. Someone in his alliance is bound to flip for sure!

JIMMY’S OPINION

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Finally, after months of waiting, the new season of Survivor is finally upon us.I thoroughly enjoyed the first Blood vs water season, so I had very high expectation for this season. It certainly didn’t disappoint. What an opening first episode it was!

Right from the get-go, Jeremy was selected from the Hunahpu Tribe to compete in an one-on-one battle. In this season’s first twist, Jeremy would have to compete against his own wife, Val. The winner earns reward while the loser is sent to Exile Island. It was quite interesting seeing Jeremy & Val interact with each other before the Challenge. I thought they would be a lot closer to each other being husband & wife. But they have a little rivalry going on against each other and I was surprised with that. I wonder if they both make the merge, would they be able to work together to get to the end? Only time will tell.

The Challenge was quite a tense affair. Val gave quite a valiant effort but it was Jeremy who was able to maintain his lead and pulled out a victory and won the Challenge. Jeremy is quite emotional about and all choked up knowing that he just sent his wife to Exile Island. Val adamantly says that she is okay with it and will be back.

In another Survivor twist, (I wish they would stop with all the surprises!), Jeremy had to choose someone from his own tribe to send to Exile Island with Val. Jeremy chooses Keith as he seems to be an outdoorsman. Keith also gets a little emotional on behalf of Jeremy & Val.

On Exile Island, Val & Keith both discover two urns. They each must pick one urn. Val discovers a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, while Keith’s parchment is blank. Val immediately lies to Keith about her clue, saying it’s information about camp. That was a huge mistake by Keith by not asking Val to read her note aloud. I do like Keith as he seems to be the worker around camp and a trustworthy guy. But I do fear for his gullibility and he could be easily manipulated by the his own and/or opposing tribe.

The Immunity Challenge was quite an epic one. How often do we see in Survivor, season after season, that the tribe who goes out to an early lead, usually stumbles at the puzzle end of the Challenge? The Coyopa Tribe had quite huge lead and they were all set to win the Immunity Challenge and couldn’t get it quite together at the figuring out the puzzle. Hunahpu wins the Challenge in an incredible come from behind victory.

Coyopa is the first Tribe to visit tribal Council and there was a lot of strategizing going on around camp. Val wants to form an all-girl alliance and invites Josh to join in. Val tells Josh that she counts him as one of the girls. Josh didn’t like being labeled as one of the girls since it’s a gay stereotype. Josh is caught up between the males and females of the tribe and ultimately becomes the swing vote. He decides on which alliance will take him further into the game.

At Tribal Council, I loved Nadiya’s quote, “When life gives you lemons, make margaritas.” Jeff asks her how Survivor compares to The Amazing Race. Nadiya replies that it is more stressful because her sister isn’t there with her and working together as a team. She was left out on her own and she was the first person voted out of Survivor San Juan Del Sur. I was disappointed the tribe voted her out. The Amazing Race and Survivor are two different games. Nadiya looked like she was fitting in within the Tribe and performed well at the Immunity Challenge. She wasn’t loud or annoying as she was on The Amazing Race. So to be judged on your previous performance on a different reality TV show was quite unfair.

PAUL’S OPINION

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I’ve found over the last few seasons that one of the most enjoyable aspects of the premier episode has been watching the contestants reveal themselves as the players they truly are. As a fan, you realise that pre-game interviews count for squat and it’s the way the players interact with people that they’re not familiar with that’s most telling. In saying that, I don’t think we’ve gotten to know the contestants as much as one would hope. The introduction was far too long and the generic way in which the relationship dynamics of each pair was explained was just plain cheesy. That time could’ve been better spent on actual gameplay. While we’re on the topic of time wasting, may I just mention Exile Island? Already I can see that it’s not going to work. I just want to see the game being played CBS and this is taking away from that.

There are many things that I’m looking forward to however. I’m interested in seeing how the dynamics of Coyopa will play out, now that the gender alliances have been revealed. I’m curious as to why Josh voted for Baylor, who seemed to be his closest ally. Maybe it was a clever ploy that will enable him to work with both the men and the women. Hopefully he can justify it because I think that he has a lot of potential as a game player. Just while I’m on the topic, I love that he was able to bite his tongue while Nadiya was calling him a girl, even though he hated it. The fact that Nadiya was completely oblivious to the possibility that stereotyping a person based on their sexuality could actually offend them was infuriating to me too. I was happy to see her go.

I’m also looking forward to seeing how Hanahpu will shape itself. My pre-game favourite Jeremy seemed to get a lot of air time and looked to be doing a lot of work setting up an early alliance. I thought that this could’ve come off as a little too eager but his tribemates seemed to respond well to him. Only time will tell.

COLIN’S OPINION

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I have some mixed feeling on this premiere. On the positive side I thought that the entire first hour was entertaining, but it was the last half hour, basically everything post immunity challenge, that fell flat for me. For once I felt a twist lived up to the hype with the Hero Arena and Exile Island. I couldn’t have been happier with the change in format. I was never a fan of Exile Island, and I hated the use of Redemption Island, but combining the two ideas into one was the best way to go. Last year we missed out on a lot of the blood vs water dynamics due to how the votes unfolded before the merge. Forcing the pairs to compete against each every week gives us what we all wanted to see the first time around. Now my thoughts on the new cast. I absolutely loved the character development of every person that was profiled this week. Unlike the last two seasons, I think the premiere gave us more of a glimpse at the bad strategies some are starting out with, but considering the show still has a long way to go, I’m ok with that. Watching Rocker, Drew and Keith’s early attempts to play the game was unintentionally comical, but that’s what made it such a blast to watch. As I already said my biggest issue with the premiere was the last half hour leading into tribal council. This is where I felt the episode was a complete mess. It’s not just that I’m sorry to see Nadiya go. Voting Nadiya out because of how she played the Amazing Race was ridiculous. Obviously the first vote always comes down to players looking for any reason to get rid of someone. You don’t have a good reason after three days, so you latch on to whatever excuse you can come up with. The reasoning for the vote is what screwed up the climax of the episode. For anyone who has seen The Amazing Race, a U-Turn is nothing more than an advantage over a competitor, much like sending someone to Exile. It’s pretty much impossible to backstab in that game. Credit to Dale for successfully pushing a first boot excuse, but it came from a total lack of understanding of the Amazing Race rules. It also felt weird to have so much talk of The Amazing Race when last year there was never a mention of Hayden’s play on Big Brother. I’m assuming CBS wanted all of the Amazing Race talk as a cheap way to promote that show’s upcoming premiere. And of course the biggest let down of the vote-out is that it robbed us of Nadiya and Natalie mixing it up later on. I could care less about seeing them play together. It’s the loss of a Nadiya vs Natalie challenge that I feel robbed of.

JOPPE’S OPINION

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My oh my a new season, life finally feels complete again!

When the cast was released I was quite disappoint, first of all because there are more men than women – seriously they had no backup female team? Bad production right there.
The cast was also seemingly filled with people I would not be rooting for such as John, Jon, Keith, Wes, Drew, Alec, Kelley and Dale – surprisingly two of these ended up as my favourites after the first episode!

Here are some quick thoughts about the premiere:

  • Meeting the pairs/day 0: This gave us some great insight into the different pairs before they got separated. It gave me old-school Survivor feels because it gave us a quick and establishing insight into who the constants are.
  • The duel! I was so nervous watching the duel and I was cheering like mad on Val! And the aftermath got so emotional with first Jeremy crying and then Keith! Keith’s little speech here and how he acted later on quickly made him into one of my favourites this first episode.
  • Exile Island was also great, the place looks like shit, which it should. Loved Val and Keith’s interaction.
  • Love the Hunhahuhupuupup-Tribe. Jeremy creating an alliance with the women made me so happy, love the man. Jon was adorable and funny as well. I also have high hopes for Julie, I hope she causes Rocker’s fall.
  • Not too psyched about the Coyopa-Tribe. I thought I was gonna LOVE Nadiya, but she ended up saying so much stupid stuff she caused her own demise. Rocker, Wes and Alec were boring. Jaclyn who? Baylor might be someone to watch though, but she sided with the shittiest of the shit.
  • Talking of Baylor, why did Josh vote for her? Something must have happened off-screen as they seemed close. Now that he is longer the swing-vote I guess he might be in trouble.
  • Val and Jaclyn are in trouble. I pray that Val survives long enough to either find the idol, make the merge or a swap.
  • The preview for the rest of the season was interesting and rather spoiler-y? Julie crying about Rocker betraying her, someone quitting etc.
  • I have pretty high hopes for season and as of now I’m rooting for Jeremy, Val, Keith, Julie, Missy and Jon.

LYNDA’S OPINION

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And here we go again, Day Zero, a chance for the castaways to spend one more night with their loved one and to practice their fire-making skills. Unfortunately Wes (aka Quasimodo) and Keith lose their flint within seconds… Now that’s a good start to the game! All the pairs are introduced and those who stuck out were Jeremy and Val, who are proving to be quite popular amongst fans; Josh and Reed, the very likeable Broadway boyfriends; and the infamous John Rocker and, what’s her name? See I’ve already forgotten. I honestly had never heard of John Rocker until casting was announced, but there has been so much talk about him it will be interesting to see if his ‘true colours’ show; if he makes it further into the game.

First Redemption Island challenge and Jeremy and Val are pitted against each other. For a little lady, Val did very well hopping in and out of those ropes… the police force definitely helped! It was pretty obvious Jeremy was going to win, so alas Val is sent to Exile Island. And I felt Jeremy chose Keith to ‘look after’ his wife, not that she needs any looking after. She seems independent enough. But Keith seems like a nice redneck guy, and I can see those three getting along very well. Fire-fighters unite!

On to the first day at camp and everyone seems to be working well together at Coyopa, except for Dale. Poor old man out. He starts a fire by breaking his glasses in half; hopefully they are only his reading glasses and he has another pair hidden. His tribe mates probably cheered for about 5 seconds and got over that quickly. He is definitely on the outer and I don’t see him lasting too long. Josh on the other-hand, what a likeable fun guy! Not that I can see him being beer buddies with John Rocker, but it seems he is very approachable and trusting so far. Josh didn’t complain about his flared –up-slightly-infected-eye as this IS Survivor, and you just have to push through.

On to the Immunity Challenge – LOVED IT!! Very inventive, and especially after 28 seasons, I really liked each concept of this one. Unfortunately the rest of the season’s challenges may be dull and puzzle boring. We’ll see. Both teams started off well, but Coyopa surged forward when Rocker started throwing everyone up that wall! Hunahpu struggled not having a ‘big man’ on side, but it was anyone’s game when it came to the puzzle. Jeez, I would have given up after 5 minutes! Big congratulations to Hunahpu for coming from behind to win. Also, does this season’s Immunity Idol look like a scary child devil or what?! Its hollow eyes creep me out and I think it will give me nightmares after each episode.

TWINNIES! I am devastated Nadiya was voted out first; so much potential. But at least we have Natalie in the game, so us Twinnie fans can still rejoice!! I personally don’t think Nadiya’s comments about Josh were meant to be offensive, that is just her and the way she thinks and speaks. And I doubt Josh took those comments to heart. I was still thrown off by the Baylor vote though, as much as I’m confused about the actual name Baylor! And for the first time (that I can recall) we saw a preview for the rest of the season?! Looks interesting and bring on episode 2! Solid first episode.

NICK’S OPINION

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Copoya you fools!! One episode in and only half the serving of twinnies. So disappointing. I was in the “pro-twinnie” camp for sure, these guys are entertaining but great at sticking their foot in their mouth, which seems to be what happened here. I’m still scratching my head at exactly what happened but Dale seemed a dead cert to go home, but somehow escaped. So instead of being a Debb Eaton, is he perhaps a Bob Crowley? Time will tell. Anyway, a few other random thoughts from this premiere:

  • Survivor sure can do a premiere. I would have to go back to One World for the last lacklustre premiere, and even that one had plenty of spice. The opening montage here worked well, and for someone that had really only listened to the epic 4 hour Survivor Oz preview episode, I didn’t know a lot about this cast coming in, but that wasnt a problem.
  • One episode in and Exile Island seems to be paying off. Its early days, and if Val and Keith end up there over and over, it will get boring. But it feels like a much more organic way to get pairs interacting and producing drama than Redemption Island, just my opinion anyway.
  • Did anyone else notice that as Jeff is doing his opening speech, on the “only one will remain”, we get a shot of Jeremy with arms outstretched. Is this a hint he is the winner? The same happened to Vecepia and Sophie.
  • As much as I like Jeremy and Val, I have to wonder at some of these moves. That “argument” at the start of the game seemed very orchestrated. Val making it seem she had an idol is only going to raise suspicion. And Jeremy’s speed at creating alliances suggests he may be on crack.
  • These tribe names do not roll off the tongue. Im with John Rocker in wanting to just say “the blue team”.
  • In terms of making this easy for the viewers, there isnt a better first boot than one of the twinnies. More casual viewers don’t have to think hard about who the loved one on the other team is.
  • Some of these people look nothing like they did in the pre-game photos. Im looking at you Jacqueline.
  • Next week – WTF? A quit already? Im guessing it will be Jon who wants to get home to be with his dad. What is it about Nicaragua that players don’t want to be there? And lets hope Josh’s eye problem resolve itself. Im hoping the reason it was shown was to explain why he is always wiping his eyes and not because he gets medevac’d.

These are the random thoughts of a sleep deprived Kiwi. Its all looking good so far but lots of these players still seem bland. Do they have what it takes to carry the season forward? Lets see what next week brings.

SURVIVOR RE-CAPPERS: BRAD & MONICA CULPEPPER

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Each week this season we’ll bring you the viewpoint of a pair of former Survivor contestants to hear what they think of the episode and their thoughts for the rest of the season! Our 1st recap features Blood vs Water contestant Brad Culpepper and his wife Monica Culpepper also from Blood vs Water as well as One World! Together they discuss everything that happened during this episode as well as looking ahead to the rest of the season with their answers in the ‘San Juan Del Sur Five!’

TIP TO WIN: Jaclyn (Monica) Alex (Brad)
DARK HORSE: Baylor (Monica) Natalie (Brad)
NEXT TO GO: Natalie (Monica) Rocker (Brad)
COUPLE MOST LIKELY TO TURN AGAINST EACH OTHER: Alec/Drew (Monica) Kelley/Dale (Brad) 
PLAYER MOST SIMILAR TO: Val/Missy (Monica) Jeremy (Brad)  

Join us next week as we are joined by Candice & John Cody from Cook Islands, Heroes vs Villains and Blood vs Water to help us recap the second episode of San Juan Del Sur!

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About Survivor Oz (2111 Articles)
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1 Comment on Survivor San Juan Del Sur – Episode 1 Recap Featuring Brad & Monica Culpepper!

  1. When Jeff said that is wasn’t Jeremy is was just a look a like.

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