Survivor's back. Coach is back. Ozzie's back. 18 survivors. 39 days. Let's go!
I'm glad to be reviewing the season premiere of Survivor: South Pacific while TV Fanatic guru Luke Dwyer is on vacation, no doubt somewhere in the South Pacific. Full of intense challenges, plenty of getting to know you periods, some swimming in the perfect blue ocean, and a fight or two, "I Need Redemption" was a great start to season 23.
When we first met the contestants, they were already into their tribes, only waiting to see what returning Survivors were going to join them. There were whispers of hope that neither was Russell Hantz, which was awkward for Russell's nephew Brandon, who is one of the contestants. Eventually, Ozzie from Cook Island and Fans vs. Favorites, and Coach from Tocantins and Heroes vs. Villains, jumped out of the helicopter to a mostly warm welcome.
While it didn't end up hurting her, because her tribe won immunity, Christine was extremely bold in saying that the returning players were simply temporary. Combine that with her pressing need to immediately search for hidden idols at camp, and I have no doubt she would have been first to leave the blue tribe if Semhar could have made a single basket.
Let's take a closer look at the tribes...
- Upolu consists of Coach, Rick, Christine, Brandon, Albert, Edna, Mikayla, Sophie, and Stacey.
The members other than Christine to make an early splash were, well Coach obviously, along with "Loco" Brandon Hantz, Lingerie Football Mikayla, and Rancher Rick.
Brandon seems to be trying a bit too hard to not be Russell, Mikayla made an impression for reasons obvious to Brandon, and Rancher Rick just seemed to be getting the job done. I can see him going a long way in this game, considering how much he can help around camp.
- Savaii consists of Ozzie, Semhar, Elyse, Jim, John, Mark, Keith, Whitney, and Dawn.
I jumped into the Survivor game the season after Fans vs. Favorites, so I didn't know Ozzie coming in, but am impressed after one episode. He still doesn't seem to be the strategist that he wants to be this year, but his talent in the challenges was obvious after only two.
Dawn was crying on the first day, Jim may cause himself trouble with how opinionated he is already, and Mark... you don't give yourself a nickname. You will never be referred to as a fatherly animal in this post my friend!
Savaii thought they had it all made in the shade after winning the first reward challenge, but in reality it was a solo challenge in which Ozzie beat Coach.
When push came to shove in the immunity challenge, Upolu proved to be the better physical team on that day. Climbing under sticks, through coconuts, over a wall, digging up a machete, and cutting some ropes, Upolu had a nice lead. Then we came to the fun part: shooting said coconuts into a giant bag.
Keith, who will soon reveal to everyone else that he has a pacemaker, was just draining jumpers like he just came off the court, while everyone else looked like a bunch of third graders heaving balls at the backboard. The worst? Semhar, who reverted to underhanded granny tosses at the bag that failed to make it half way.
Cut back to five minutes before the challenge, when Semhar claimed she was very comfortable being one of the shooters, and it is easy to see why she ended up leaving first. You can't put yourself out there, fail miserably, and then not expect to be first on everyone's list to go home.
The only thing that could save Semhar was Cochran's pale skin, weak body, and rapid paranoia. Ozzie brought Cochran's name up one time, and the kid began down a road that I was sure would be a fantastic self-fulfilling prophecy. He began thinking about his name being read, and the fact that he couldn't believe he would be the first to head home, which led me to believe that he would start acting in ways that would actually lead to his demise.
Luckily for young, red-headed John, Semhar was really bad at that challenge! Well, that and Cochran talked himself a very nice game at Tribal Council. loved that he just cut Jeff Probst off right before he was about to have them vote, so that he could both downgrade what Semhar had been doing around camp, and pump himself up to the group as being a fantastic learner. I'm sure the group had it in their minds already that they were voting Semhar out, but Cochran's speech might have helped in down the road. Nice work.
Semhar heads to Redemption Island after an 8-1 vote, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Christine join her next, especially if the five person alliance beginning on Upolo holds up. There are a lot of interesting personalities so far in this season of Survivor, and I'm excited to get to know the rest of the cast in more depth in the weeks to come.
And with that, the tribe and I have spoken.
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.