What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Survivor: Redemption Island (Episode 1)

Last night, I watched the first episode of Survivor: Redemption Island.

Why Was I Watching It?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I love reality television and Survivor pretty much set the bar for the entire genre.  Yes, yes, I know.  Everyone wants to spend a few hours talking about how terrible reality television is and how they deserve all sorts of cookies because they don’t watch it.  Well, you know what?  Have fun patting yourself on the back.  I’ll be watching Survivor.

What’s It About?

A group of sixteen strangers are stranded on a beach in Nicaragua where they compete for prizes and scheme against each other until there’s only one survivor left standing.  As in previous seasons, all of this is hosted by Jeff Probst who, with each season, makes less and less effort to hide the utter contempt that he feels for most of the survivors.  Probst still spends too much time trying to show off his dimples but you can’t help but love the man.

This season, there are big two twists, neither one of which is a real twist because they’ve both been done in previous seasons.  The big twist is that whenever a survivor is voted off the island, they’re sent to Redemption Island where they wait for the chance to reenter the game at a later date.

The other twist — and this is the one that people actually care about — is that two of the most iconic “villains” in Survivor history are back this season.  “Boston” Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz are both back and playing once again.  On last night’s episode, the 16 new players were divided into two tribes.  As usual, the two tribes were given names based on some obscure piece of historical trivia but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just call them Team Rob and Team Russell.

What Worked:

I’ll admit that when I first heard that Russell and Rob were coning back, I wasn’t exactly enthused about the idea.  I love Rob and always have but I’ve just about reached my limit as far as Russell is concerned.  During his first season, Russell was my favorite because he was just so blatantly villainous and he never wasted any time with all of that silly talk of “playing the game with honor” that so many other survivors have tried to sell in the past.  Plus, he was funny.  However, about halfway through the Heroes Vs. Villains season, I started to get tired of Russell.  Unlike Rob who is always thinking and competing, Russell seemed to be a one trick pony. 

Well, I’m sorry to say that Russell hasn’t changed but since everyone on Team Russell seems to have seen his previous seasons, it doesn’t seem likely that Russell’s going to get that far in the game and if he does, I can’t wait to see how he managed to pull off the impossible.

Plus, Russell wasn’t really in much of this episode.  This episode was all Rob and I love Rob.

And then there’s Philip. 

Philip is on Team Rob.  He’s a tall, outspoken, bald man who happens to also be a former federal agent.  I know this because he mentioned that fact a few thousand times.  He also spent way too much time this episode wandering around in these saggy fuchsia briefs.  Seriously, if you’re going to be on Survivor then you know you’re going to be filmed in your underwear at some point.  So, seriously, give some thought to what you’re wearing underneath, okay?  Me, if I’m ever on Survivor, I’m going to go on a shopping spree at Victoria’s Secret the week before I leave for the beach.  Immunity Idol?  Who needs an Immunity Idol when you’ve got the right bra?  Seriously.

But, anyway, back to Philip.  Philip is one of those priceless survivors who you hate but you hope they’re around for a really long time.  Seriously, he’s so self-righteous and so full of himself and so stupid and so unaware that he makes for great reality television. 

During last night’s episode, Philip “entered” into an alliance with Francesca and Kristine.  Kristine had found the immunity idol (I get the feeling that nobody on the Survivor production team making much of an effort to hide them anymore) and the three of them attempted to execute a power move by voting out Rob.  However, this plan fell apart at tribal council when Philip, for some reason, ended up explaining the entire plot along with mentioning that Kristine had the immunity idol.  End result: Francesca was voted out.  It was a classic Survivor moment, a perfect reminder of why I love this show.  It’s just so shameless.

What Didn’t Work:

I’m not a huge fan of the whole idea of Redemption Island.  The whole idea of a someone getting voted off the island just to get to come back later on in the game has been done before on Survivor and it didn’t work out well.  The someone in question was a middle-aged woman named Lil who went through the entire game wearing a Scoutmaster’s uniform.  Lil was voted off early, came back late, and nearly won simply because she hadn’t been around for the previous few weeks.  It felt unfair at the time. 

However, there is a huge difference in that this season, everyone knows about “the twist” whereas previously, it really was a complete surprise on everyone.  Whether that’ll make a difference has yet to be seen.

Of course, it’s also rare that any of the new gimmicks on Survivor ever really make that much of a difference in the overall game.  Remember Exile Island?  Even more importantly, can you remember the last time that an immunity idol actually made a huge difference in the final outcome of the season?  As opposed to the producers of Big Brother (who really seem to think that the audience is really into each season’s new twist), the people behind Survivor appear to understand that the main reason we watch is to see how much weight everyone loses while scheming against each other.

“Oh My God!  Just like Me!” Moments

There’s always quite a few of these whenever I watch any episode of Survivor because, like a lot of reality TV fans, I tend to place myself in each episode and debate what I would have done.  And while we always like to tell ourselves that we would have done the complete opposite of whatever foolishness we’ve just witnessed, we all know better.  Whenever I watch this show and I see someone totally failing in a physical competition, accidentally blabbing on until everyone votes for her just to make her shut up, or have a meltdown on-screen, I know that I’m seeing what would happen if I ever actually made it onto Survivor.  That’s also the same feeling that I get whenever I see some poor girl go through several episodes with a mass of pixels over either her boobs or her ass.  I’ve sat there and shouted, “That would so be me!” 

(Actually, I don’t do that as often ever since I was watching an episode over at my sister Melissa’s place and she said, “That already is you, Lisa Marie.”)

Anyway, on last night’s episode, I found myself hiding my face in shame as Francesca, Kristina, and Philip basically gave away their entire strategy during tribal council, announcing how they were planning to vote out Rob before anyone had actually voted and while Rob was sitting less than a foot  away.  That’s a perfect example of one of those moments that make us shout, “You idiots!” even though we know we’d probably make the exact same mistake.

Also, it was clear that most of Team Rob was crushing on Rob and I don’t blame them because you know what?  Rob Marciano is hot!  The new gray in his hair just serves to make him even hotter. 

(Guys are so lucky in that regard.  I thought I found a gray hair a few days ago and I ripped it out of my head and oh my God, it hurt!  And then it turned out it wasn’t even gray, it was just a lighter shade of red and the light was hitting it in an awkward way.)

By the way, here’s my strategy of how I’ll win if I’m ever on Survivor: Boobs, boobs, and more boobs.  Like, the  whole way to tribal council, I would be the one going, “Do you really want to vote these out?”  I would also probably try to fly under the radar, be everyone’s friend, and flirt a lot with all the males.  Of course, once we merged, then it would be time to go all girl power and start voting them out one-by-one.  But, for the most part, my strategy would come down to: boobs, boobs, boobs.

Lessons Learned:

Be wary of former federal agents in fuchsia briefs.