Survivor 42 – drop the 2, add back the 1 and we’re exactly where we were 6 months ago!
This isn’t shocking, but Jeff’s attempt to fool me failed when the show kicked off with him reminding us that the cast of 42 hadn’t seen 41, so it’s totally fine for the game to be a literal copy and paste but with a new cast. Wasn’t it Tony who described one of his returning seasons as “same circus, different clowns”? That’s more or less how I felt here.
I think these new “clowns” show promise, however, and the show seems to be headed in the direction of building up some strong characters, but we also know from last season how quickly that can change. This premiere wasn’t the most iconic in terms of memorable moments – the biggest being a medical evac which is never something we want to see – but I saw the show laying the groundwork for some potential payoffs down the road. I just wish we would’ve been hit in the face with a few more fireworks, but I’m happy we at least got a little bit of something from everyone, so this blog won’t be a total bashing.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Okay but before I talk about the cast … this challenge. More specifically, this twist. What the fuck?
This was completely camp and not the cute, corny kind but the cringey kind. The mud thing I could maybe get behind – dirty them up a little to create an illusion – but the fake blood? Really? What’s going to happen when all the blood dries up and there aren’t any cuts or scrapes across Hai’s body? Are people just supposed to think he’s the cheerleader from Heroes who can heal herself? If I’m ever on the show and I see someone bleeding after being away for a bit, I’m going to ask them to show me the open wound or else I’m voting their ass out.
At least queen Lydia knew to question this blatantly suspicious bullshit.
I like the idea of the Amulet Advantage way more than the Beware Advantage as a way to secretly connect people. It’s a blessing and a curse and it forces the players to weigh whether they want to work together for a lesser power or play selfishly for the chance at a greater one. Shockingly, this first twist of the season I didn’t hate, but I have a feeling that sentiment will end here. I’m just going to have to do my best to pretend they don’t exist and instead focus on the cast of characters, starting with the Ika tribe.
Despite winning the opening challenge, Ika immediately became the hot mess tribe and at the center of it initially was a Rocksroy barking orders, entering camp and owning up to his tribe that he was the “dad” of the bunch, being the oldest on Ika at the ancient age of 43. I wondered if this tribe would end up split by age with Rocksroy, Romeo, and Drea in the “mature” group and Swati, Zach, and Tori making up the modern-day Samburu “mall rats.”
I knew Rocksroy would be loud but I didn’t think he’d be this bossy. To balance that out, he appeared to be the strongest physically, but Drea would later call out that Rocksroy wasn’t exactly The Rock when it came to pushing the heavy boat up the ramp in the immunity challenge, so Rocksroy is off to a rather rocky start. He’s definitely going to be the “keep the tribe strong” guy, but ahead of the vote, he had to rely on the smallest guy Romeo to keep the target off of him, so who’s really carrying who on Ika? Rocksroy may get dumped sooner than I thought if he becomes too big of a burden or continues to shout “is everybody trying?” at challenges.
The other Ika troublemaker was Tori who committed the cardinal sin of wandering off alone Day 1 to go “look for food.” The problem with that is if you come back empty-handed, the only thing everyone is going to assume is that your pocket is full. To me, Tori was a bit of a try-hard. She’s a superfan, so I can see why part of her would want to be the star, but if you swing big, you better not miss. I didn’t like how she was so wishy-washy about the whole solo venture. Sure, she was legitimately looking for taro root at one point, but we all know that wasn’t her main objective, and as soon as she was called out for what she was doing, she even tried to convince herself that she had no selfish intentions. If you want to be a badass bitch, then you better own your game. If she’d have just said even in confessional, “Yeah, I was searching for an idol and they caught me. Oops,” I wouldn’t have been as annoyed by the attitude. The tribe didn’t see Tori in action, but we did, so she’s not fooling me with her “poor, innocent me” shtick.
While not the biggest offender this week, Drea’s got some potential herself to stir up trouble. I was disappointed she was so quick to flip on Rocksroy and give the “kids” the majority on the tribe, so thankfully she had Romeo to be the voice of reason. Of the three in possession of the Amulet advantage, Drea worries me as the one most likely to either be sacrificed by the other two so their powers increase or get voted out before they can even get together. I love a strong woman who comes to play hard, but Drea needs to cool it and take more time to assess her situation before she acts. I think the Romeo/Rocksroy path is a much better one for her, and it looks like she’ll need them if Tori and Swati are throwing her name out next episode.
Zach wasn’t so much of a troublemaker as he was just the odd man out on Ika. You don’t need to be He-Man or Jonathan to be an asset to the tribe, but if you’re not going to bring much to the table physically, you’ve got to be able to make puzzles lay down for you like lovers. Maybe if Zach struggles with first kisses, then it makes sense why he couldn’t take home the win. I actually enjoyed watching Zach more than I thought I would, admittedly. Pre-game he was very cocky, so it was refreshing to see him humbled here, but like Tori, “as a superfan,” he was a little cringe. I really didn’t need to be reminded that he was a superfan every time he opened his mouth. Personally, I’d have voted out Tori, but I get why Ika didn’t see much value in keeping Zach.
Almost all of Ika raised red flags for me, but Romeo remained cool and consistent. He seems like he was able to best assimilate between the two age groups to avoid any sort of target, and while he wasn’t able to sway the tribe into voting out Tori like he wanted, I don’t see that haunting him. Romeo shouldn’t be in any danger on Ika, but perhaps his only problem will be that everyone will be looking for his vote which could put him in a bigger power position than what he wants to be. He’s used to propping queens up in pageants, but it may be him that’s soon in the spotlight.
Swati’s opener was softer compared to the rest of her tribe but still strong. She wants to break the stereotype of the young girl who goes home early and given the current dynamics of Ika, I think she’s safely past that threat. I think that, like Romeo, Swati will be able to shift between age groups both on this tribe and in the future so despite her very young age, I expect Swati to last for a long time and not just a good time. Let’s hope she doesn’t cut off any fingers along the way.
Vati confirmed its status as my favorite tribe. There is not a dislikable person on that beach which is rare for me and also sucks because if they lose an immunity challenge, there is not one vote I’ll be happy about, so I need them to keep winning even if Daniel’s shoulder has to pop out of its socket literally every challenge. While I love everyone at Vati, Daniel got the biggest “hero” edit, showing incredible strength in the challenge as he powered through like Quasimodo then telling us where that strength comes from in his life. Kids with cancer should not be a thing and I’m glad that Daniel was able to overcome that battle with leukemia to live out his dream on Survivor. The cynic in me naturally thinks his story will make him a threat to take out before the end because like … duh, but I think he earned hella respect from his tribe and for the immediate future, he’ll be fine. Daaaaaamn, Daniel, you’ve gotta be careful with those limbs though.
Lydia was everything I needed her to be. She was immediately made the comedic relief queen which just made me go “YAAAS! Praise Jeebus!” I would go play Survivor in a heartbeat but I would be exactly like Lydia when it comes to the elements. The confessional crew would be my Von Trapp children as I sang to them a song called, “My Least Favorite Things.” We don’t know much more about Lydia yet other than the fact that she and Hai are the same person (a dream team for me) but I have high expectations for Hai so if nothing else, I hope Lydia benefits from being his ally. We need Lydia this season. I need Lydia this season. I just think everything she does will make me laugh and ahead of turning 30 next month I need that kind of wild, youthful energy in my life … but still a little bit of the “I hate everything” vibe.
When you get an advantage in Survivor, it guarantees you lots of screen time, so luckily, I liked Hai and wasn’t mad about it or him having this Amulet Advantage. As with the rest of Vati, we haven’t seen Hai’s “game” totally emerge yet, but I am going to assume that he’ll eventually see his amulet become an immunity idol without it even having to “mature” on Ghost Island. He seems strategically superior to and savvier than Drea and Lindsay, and Hai got more of the focus on the game theory element of the twist, so I’m still feeling great about my pre-season winner pick. As mentioned, Hai and Lydia are a dream duo for me, so I’m very excited to watch them tear shit up together.
When people say “I’m not going to do this” before the game, they’re usually full of shit. I expected Mike to go the route of Rocksroy and direct the Vati camp using his “Hoboken whisper.” However, Mike managed to do exactly what he said which was to soften himself. He intelligently turned his tribe away from doing the bucket brigade which he was right to assume he would’ve been “voluntold” to do by himself, instead giving himself much-needed time to talk with his tribemates. I was also happy about this decision because it gave us one of my favorite lines from the episode, Mike asking who was good at “reading triangles.” Honestly, I may just have to update my dating profile to include, “Looking for someone who can read triangles.” Cooking? Pfft. Handiwork? Who needs it? Give me someone whose love language is fucking geometry.
Mike’s archetype is hardly ever one I root for, but I thought his story was great too and told us why he may look a little too tough on the outside – he’s had to be in the life he’s had, but he’s got a big heart and is also quickly making his way into mine. That proud little fist bump he gave Daniel for beating cancer!
For real, if this tribe ever loses, I will lose my mind.
Speaking of geometry as a love language…Jenny! Jenny was all about showing off her smarts in this premiere. First, she stepped in to save Vati who may have otherwise thrown like “15” out as a guess instead of the correct 51. Later, when presented with the “Risk” decision, she correctly came to the conclusion that the other two people with her at the summit would go “Risk” so Jenny played it safe. Had she not, she’d have lost her vote. One could argue that giving two people advantages is worse, but there are pros and cons to every decision. I love how calculated Jenny is and while I don’t see her having the loudest voice, she may have one of the smarter even if softer ones – another pre-season favorite that didn’t let me down in the premiere. Debbie would’ve definitely been cheering for Jenny’s frontal lobes.
Also on the quieter side of the show was Chanelle, but as we were reminded last season, a smaller edit doesn’t always mean a losing one. We got a little insight from Chanelle as she sussed out the “duos” situation on the tribe but not much more than that. A little less focus in the premiere, though, could mean a story that’s being given room to grow. Sometimes the show has to focus early on the big characters whose torches get snuffed fast.
Perfect segue into Jackson! 50% of Taku’s tale of the week was Jackson with the other 50% of the airtime going mostly to Maryanne. This was a rough first “boot.” I didn’t have quite as emotional of a reaction as Maryanne, but it was definitely not something I wanted to see in the premiere, especially not with Jackson. His story was immediately compelling and I admittedly choked up when he talked about how the illness and death of his mother were a part of a greater “plan” to bring him and his dad closer together. I’m not the spiritual type, but I got goosebumps when Jackson described those events like that. Powerful stuff.
Jackson would have been a huge force in this game and a fun character to watch. I’m glad we at least got part of his story out, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more. Part of me thinks Jackson is someone we could see again, but the other part of me wonders if Jeff & co. would blacklist him for this offence. My gut leans the latter – Jeff played nice for the show, and while I shit on Jeff a lot, I could tell he did care for Jackson, but I’m sure Jeff was at least a little pissed this messed up the game. I’m far from qualified to talk in terms of medicine, so I don’t know what the right call would have been. We’ve started the game with an odd number before, but it would’ve been especially weird to have two tribes of six and a tribe of five hit the beach on Day 1. If Jackson was truly doomed long-term and there wasn’t anyone available to sub in for the chance at the full experience, then I’m okay with the show doing what it did to give Jackson two days in the game and allowing him to get his story out there.
Jackson’s exit was a heartbreaking, low moment of the premiere but everything Maryanne was an absolute high on the 42 rollercoaster she described. Jeff told Jackson how much he was an instant “lock” for the cast and I’m sure the same would be said about Maryanne. I’m not always one to love super high-energy people – “not always” lol, I almost never do – but Maryanne is a rare gem. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so truly excited to be on Survivor as Maryanne. She’s such a great narrator and so naturally charming and funny – her impersonating her mom wondering what on earth would possess Maryanne to want to do Survivor was a comedic highlight of the night for me.
Then, like all great characters, we got depth. On the outside, Maryanne is this bubbly, enthusiastic, cheerful, bright beam of light, but on the inside, there’s some real, dark trauma there. Maryanne is a self-described “weird kid” who was picked on in school for being who she was, and part of her dream of being on Survivor is to show that you can be weird and still be a winner. I fucking love that. Weird kids are awesome (I know because I was/am one), and Maryanne represents us well. I loved this episode for her so much, but I recognize that she’s probably not our winner. This episode confirmed she’s the “growth” story we see most seasons, but it’s going to be an amazing journey for her and for us as we’re fortunate enough to watch it happen. Maryanne already is a winner, and by the end of this, she’ll be an even bigger one whether she’s a millionaire or not.
Erika was the lamb who turned into a lion, so leave it to another Canadian to take us on another animal evolution – this time, a pigeon turning into an…owl in the night? Omar’s a vet, so I guess we’re going to get all sorts of animal metaphors from him, and I, for one, can’t wait for more beautiful mental images such as one of shoving an arm up a rhino’s ass. Come on now…this is supposed to be a family show! Also, I’ve been to the zoo … I’ve seen enough of what comes out of a rhino to never want to be part of what goes in.
Omar’s on my “one to watch” list, as getting focus on a tribe with major characters like Jackson and Maryanne means he’s got a story in the works.
Jonathan is another we can’t possibly miss with how much he towers over the rest of this cast. He wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to be the most winningest person to ever play. I don’t recall ever see someone drag an entire boat full of people through the ocean like he did – one-armed, at that! Kind of rude to flex like that in front of Daniel, but whatever. I don’t expect a lot from Jonathan but if does more insane shit like that I’ll be thoroughly entertained. He has potential to be more of the John Hennigan type of Goliath in the game, so maybe I won’t mind this meathead. I’ll definitely be playing my own game of “how can Jonathan break this challenge?”
If not for the Amulet Advantage, Lindsay would’ve been a candidate for most invisible which doesn’t bode well for her but, again, it’s not impossible for her to make a big comeback in the story. Despite the tie to the new twist, I kind of forgot about her. If she was more like Stephenie Lagrossa who she referenced pre-game, she’d know how to make the show all about her. “Daniel did what? Yeah, well I can dislocate both my shoulders!” *pop*
I predicted Maryanne and Marya would both be “growth” stories, but Maryanne’s would be bigger. So far, I’m right. Marya was established in the intro as being here and needing to find something. I think she will; I just don’t think it will be the million dollars. I’m definitely excited to hear more from Marya, though. She seems sweet and didn’t take losing the first challenge for her tribe too terribly. The show also didn’t bury her there when it could have, so maybe I’m not giving Marya’s story enough credit for what it could become.
SHOT IN THE DARK TO NO SHOT IN HELL
16 of these stories will continue while 2 will not. I was excited that Zach rolled the dice and tried to make this finale have that ~moment~ that sucked me in. Zach being safe and Ika voting out Tori, presumably, on a re-vote would have been that epic premiere tribal council that had everyone talking. I think the bigger talk, in reality, will be over Jackson’s departure which is more frustrating than fun to dissect. That said, just because the premiere didn’t blow me out of the water, it’s far too soon to say this season is sunk. I definitely need to see it drift away from a literal shot-for-shot remake of 41 with a different cast, however. Unfortunately, we know at least the Beware Advantage is coming and we saw a flash of Do or Die as well. Like Zach would say, “as a superfan,” I know better than to expect the show to tone it down these days, but my hope is that the cast can deliver in spite of all the twist shenanigans.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Ahhh, it’s that right there. That is all I need to make a great Survivor season – more Maryanne. Now with a crazed, murderous look in her eyes, swinging a machete!
Maryanne - It really was the Maryanne show and I was here for it. There is nothing put-on about this chick. She’s authentic, enthusiastic, charismatic, and an overwhelming favorite (not on my list of least favorite things). Already she’s a breakout star of 42 and I hope this journey of hers is long. This is the kind of high, crazy energy last season was missing for me. It will be a tragic day if Maryanne is ever voted out, so I hope it’s no sooner than the finale, if ever.
Daniel - I don’t always root for heroes, but Daniel’s another one who I don’t think is trying to put on any “hero” persona and just is a super likable guy. I never liked JT, but Daniel gave me dorky JT vibes in that I don’t think he’s going to have to try hard to be popular; people around him are naturally going to love him. I think Daniel will have a big role in this season but for similar reasons to Maryanne may find it hard to win as he gets near the end. That’s what I also said about JT, though – “no one should let him get there.” Yet, sometimes they do.
Romeo - The biggest surprise for me this week was probably Romeo. I really didn’t expect much of a story of him, but he quickly proved he’s here to play. He roped together that “un, deux, trois” alliance, and while he lost his “skinny guy” ally, I think Romeo’s in the best position to run the tribe. I thought he’d end up getting lost in the shuffle, but if he was able to make quick inroads on Ika, maybe Romeo could make a run all the way to the end. After a life of working with pageant queens, he could finally get his own crown! A smaller crown than Sandra and Tony, of course, but bling is bling.
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser