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Survivor Fodder

Survivor: Week 1 - Wheat from Chaff?

Week 1 - Wheat from Chaff?


We see scenes of exotic Brazil, exciting beaches, carnival, Rio - none of which are where we are going.

Our Survivors, already divided by the producers into two tribes (Jalapao in red and Timbira in black), sit in an open truck carrying them into the outback, the hot dry Brazilian highlands where temperatures can reach 120 degrees. Apparently they're forbidden to talk. Instead we're treated to voiceovers of their thoughts about each other which mainly reveal that everything they think is wrong.

Just looking at them you've have to think Timbira has an edge in athleticism.

The truck arrives...somewhere. Jeff advises the tribes that they're going to have a long hike to their campsites, and they have sixty seconds to grab whatever supplies they think they can carry from the truck starting NOW! An orgy of supply grabbing ensues, at the end of which Jeff asks the teams how they think they did. Coach points out that Timbira snagged all the water and all the beans. Sounds like a bad oversight by Jalapao, but their attitude is "not so much".

It's early and the temperature is already 110 degrees. But before the trek can begin, Jeff says, let's up the burden by voting for a team member apiece who won't have to make the trek. Nobody even knows anybody else's names yet, but they all take pen and paper and vote.

No secret ballots here, Jeff just starts asking how people voted, Jalapao first. Since no one knows names, they all describe the person they've voted for - first vote is for "old granny lady". That's Sandy, and Joe is the voter. Taj votes for Sandy, Sydney votes for "the Geeky guy" and that's Steven. Spencer votes for Sandy, as does Carolina and Steven and that's five votes out of eight and Sandy is out.

Timbira's turn. Debbie votes for "the one in the zebra stripes" and that's Sierra, a slight young blonde. Coach and Erinn add votes for Sierra, then Brenden throws one on "the little brunette" and that's Erinn. Candace and Jerry vote for Sierra and that's it, five of six again and she's out.

Jeff asks the two outcasts how they feel about that and Sandy is pissed and predicts one of the young'uns will be the first to fall out on the trek. Sierra is apologetic, and says she's been sick - strep throat and a temperature of 102. Taj looks a little shocked and sympathetic at this.

Jeff now reveals that he only meant they wouldn't have to take the trek - they're not out of the tribe and will ride to the camps by helicopter while everyone else sweats with all that cargo. "Thank God!" exclaims a relieved Sandy, only to have Jeff caution her not to be too happy about avoiding the work when she's already separated from her tribe psychologically and now will be physically as well.

Jeff gives each group a map and a compass, and the trek begins.

Tribe members begin to get acquainted as they shoulder their burdens and trek away. With Jalapao, Taj reveals one of her purposes in going on Survivor is get rid of her "baby weight". Presumably she means weight gained from having a baby and not baby fat, but who knows? Spencer says it's "really hot". JT is carrying a huge watermelon - trust an Alabama boy to go for that (says this Alabama boy). It must weigh at least twenty pounds and looks like an awkward burden, but he doesn't complain. Steven seems to have worn the seat of his pants out already to the amusement of the ladies.

With Jalapao, some of the smaller ladies have fashioned some sort of litter to carry supplies between two of them. It doesn't help, much. Erinn wonders what a hair stylist from Wisconsin is doing in this situation. Jerry is keeping his army experience to himself, says he "works out at the gym" to keep in shape, not mentioning he's fresh back from Afghanistan. Coach, in a private moment, shares his philosophy with us and seems as arrogant as his previews indicated, but maybe it's just very high self-confidence seeming arrogant. He wants worthy opponents, the better to test himself against. Coach approaches Brenden, the self-made millionaire and expresses his desire to build a team of strong competitors. They shake on it, but privately Brenden shares doubts over the wisdom of allying with such a strong guy as Coach.

The helicopter deposits the outcasts. The producers have set up a tribe flag, and provided some shelter construction materials for each tribe. We follow Sandy as she surveys the site and share her emotional reaction (shaky) to being 'voted out' so early. She finds a pot with a note in it. The note tell her she can work on setting up camp or look for a hidden immunity idol. The clue for the idol is

A stick marks the spot on your biggest beach
Dig for a while and assistance you'll reach.

Sandy takes the 'screw the tribe - they screwed me' approach and heads for the (river) beach.


Over in Timbira, Sierra finds the same note, and decides to work on camp instead.


Sandy hasn't found the idol, in fact she apparently hasn't even found the beach, as she hears her tribe approaching. She hides her note and goes out to greet them with tearful hugs. It slays me that half of them pronounce "Jalapao" as "Jalapena". Privately, several people, most notably Carolina, share that they're disappointed in Sandy not having done anything around camp, what with her free ride and all.

Now you'd think that, with several very athletic guys and what at least looked like stronger women, Timbira would have been the first into camp. You'd be wrong. Even with the army guy to read maps and plot routes, dark is fast approaching and they are still on the march. Someone says they've used the last of their water, too - guess there wasn't that much to start with, so scoring all of it may not have been so much of a coup. Wonder if the other group ate JT's watermelon on the march? Finally they arrive in the dark, and the group congratulates Sierra on the fine start she's made on their housing. Coach privately acknowledges her effort but still says she's one of the weaker ones and will have to go first.

Day 2

In Jalapao camp, Carolina pushes for more shelter work and apparently raises a little resistance. Sandy says she's 'going out to look for stuff' and hikes off alone, leaving the left-behind to wonder at her anti-social attitude when she's already got two strikes against her. Sandy finds the beach, finds a big stick standing straight up and screaming "CLUE" at the top of its sticky lungs to anyone passing by even without Sandy's note. She gets about two feet down and begins hyperventilating when she finds.... not an idol but another clue. I don't think Sandy's watched much Survivor. The clue is:

Ten paces you'll walk
Toward the lone palm tree
Dig in the sand
The next clue you'll see.

Sandy is baffled as to just how long a pace is. Back at camp they talk about her some more.

Over in Timbira, they've run out of water. And Sierra and Candace head out to fill some canteens. Nobody has fire yet, so I guess they're trusting the clarity of the water to mean it's free of disease and parasites. Considering the troubles most other Survivors have had with water (remember that mud hole in Africa - the first one, not Gabon?) these guys have it awfully easy. The river is amazingly clear, though the clearest sight is a naked Tyson wading out with a huge bucket, apparently to fill it out in the middle. This sight gives the girls a good snicker, and the rest of us are wondering - this guy is a Mormon? Did he get special dispensation from wearing the undergarment? On a private interview Tyson expresses some more not-very-Mormon seeming attitudes.


Jeff introduces us to the first challenge. Six team members must race over a series of sand-hills, wade though waist-deep water to reach a raft with puzzle pieces. They all must be at the raft before they can unclip it from its anchor and tug it back to the beach, where, when all are there, they untie the bundles of planks and transport them back over the sand-hills to the base of a platform. Once all the planks are delivered the two members who weren't on the first leg will assemble a staircase from the planks, each of which will fit on only one position on the staircase, and only in one of four possible orientations (which side up, which end left or right).

After the staircase is assembled and all team members reach the platform, any two will cooperate to solve a slot maze, pushing a token around in slots from one end to the other. Reaching the end will raise a flag of victory.

Jalapao chooses Taj and Sandy to assemble the staircase and Timbira chooses Debra and Erinn, both apparently presuming them to be the slowest.

They're off! Neither team seems to have grasped the essential fact that the team's speed in every stage will be that of the slowest member. I don't see any effort of the faster to help the slower along. You'd think that Coach or Tyson (The long-distance kayaker and the racing cyclist) would be the fastest, but it's country boy JT, the cattle farmer, who reaches the water first. But both teams' slowest members are about the same speed, so they each unclip the raft at about the same time. Sensibly the stronger men carry the bigger loads, but still the last arriving members get back to the platform at about the same time, meaning it's neck and neck from here.

In the assembly task, granny Sandy shines, taking over and directing Taj with commands like "I need one with four wide on one end and three narrow on the other". Taj hands her the appropriate plank and usually it fits right in and their staircase grows steadily. Debra and Erinn are apparently deaf on the other staircase and work piecemeal, falling behind. Jalapao bolts up the staircase with a nifty lead and Spencer and Sydney take over and begin to solve the slot maze.

Timbira finally completes their staircase and Erinn and Brenden start on their slots. Despite the Jalapao lead, Erinn and Brenden solve the slot puzzle faster and TIMBIRA WINS!

Jeff tosses them a flint and tells Jalapao to prepare to vote someone out tonight.

Hey, what about Exile Island!?! No mention is made of it, so I guess not this time.

Back at Camp Jalapao, Sydney shares she going to hate voting for Sandy, but waddyagonnado? No, she doesn't say it with an Italian accent. [Maybe you should consider voting for one of those slow puzzle-solvers who wasted Sandy's lead - Spencer and, uh, oh yeah... Sydney. Maybe not.] As most of the tribe cools off in the river, Taj feels compelled to offer Carolina a little personality advice, about not being so pushy. Seems every season somebody decides to straighten somebody else's personality out. It never ends well. Carolina talks about the vote. Looks like Sandy, she says, which she hates but waddyagonnado?

Privately, Spencer shares he's for keeping Sandy because of the great job she did. Joe shares he's bugged by Carolina's pushiness, and it'll be a close call between Carolina and Sandy. Carolina apologizes to Sandy for the earlier vote.

Sandy takes another private hike to the beach to look for the idol, exciting more comment. We don't see her find it.


Everyone gets a torch and Jeff gives his standard "Fire Represents Life" speech. We get it, we get it.

In the confessional, Jeff asks Sandy how she feels now about the earlier vote. (Still pissed.) In response to another question JT offers that they all noticed how nothing had been done on the camp when they arrived. Sydney mentions how they all notice Sandy wandering out of camp alone.

Neither before or after the vote does Jeff mention anything about playing an immunity idol, making me wonder how Sandy would know when to play it even if she did find it?

Time to vote.

JT votes.
Taj votes.
Sandy votes for Carolina.
Joe votes.
Spencer votes.
Carolina votes for Sandy.
Stephen votes.
Sydney votes.

Jeff counts and reports:

One vote for Sandy.
One vote for Carolina 1-1 Carolina and Sandy.
One vote for Carolina 2-1 Carolina and Sandy.
One vote for Carolina 3-1 Carolina and Sandy.
One vote for Carolina 4-1 Carolina and Sandy.
One vote for Carolina and it's over and Sandy lives to fight another day.

Carolina departs with no signs of rancor.

Jeff tosses a flint to someone and both tribes have fire, just like that, day 2, no muss, no fuss. Considering the pains others have had getting their first fire - and all those needing to boil water to avoid dehydration, this is a disappointment. No one gets to demonstrate Yau-Man like ingenuity? No one gets to show they actually came prepared to build a fire without assistance? (I've got a guaranteed method, pick me!, Survivor, pick me!)

In the afterwards, Carolina proves a very gracious loser, complimenting the team on a good blind-side.


We see a water-challenge taking place in a torrential downpour. This is the arid Brazilian highlands? It looks like water basketball.


Status at End
Timbira tribe (8) - has fire

Benjamin "Coach" Wade........37..Bolivar MO
Brendan Synnott..............30..New York City NY
Candace Smith................31..Dayton OH
Debra "Debbie" Beebe.........46..Auburn AL
Erinn Lobdell................26..Waukesha WI
Jerry Sims...................49..Rock Hill SC
Sierra Reed..................23..Los Angeles CA
Tyson Apostol................29..Lindon UT

Jalapao Tribe (7) - has fire

James "JT" Thomas, Jr........24..Samson AL
Joe Dowdle...................26..Austin TX
Sandy Burgin.(1)............53..Louisville KY
Spencer Duhm.................19..Lakeland FL
Stephen Fishbach.............29..New York City NY
Sydney Wheeler...............24..Raleigh NC
Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George..37..Nashville TN

x-Carolina Eastwood............26..West Hollywood CA voted out week 1
(.) - votes against

See you next week:

- Cecil -

Having trouble keeping Survivor names and faces straight? Click HERE to go to bios and photos of all the Survivors.

Posted by Cecil on February 12, 2009 7:41 PM
Permalink |

Nice job Cecil Rose! Lost and Survivor = two best shows on tv!

Btw, is it me or is coach a complete tool. After 17-18 seasons (or whatever it is), you can always notice one guy who thinks he's a leader, that the others think is just off his rocker

1. Posted by: Visible Jacob at February 13, 2009 1:06 PM

If you watch his video introduction, he's a very accomplished man. College soccer coach, philharmonic orchestra organizer adn composer, extreme athlete. It's hard not to be impressed. If we had those credentials, we might have reason for a little confidence as well, and maybe, I say maybe, that's what strikes us on first meeting him, as arrogance.

Let's give him a little slack and see how it goes. He's certainly a forceful personality - lt's see if he can temper it with some humanity.

Oh, and let's don't forget "House" for the trifecta (click my name to see).

2. Posted by: Cecil at February 13, 2009 1:47 PM

Oh, sheesh, one of my first picks for favorite is the first to go.

Sierra did a good job of sucking it up after a rough start (better than I would have expected.)

I actually thought Coach's ego would be more grating, but so far, not so bad.

Still liking JT and Jerry. And maybe Tyson.

Sandy trying to figure out a "pace" was priceless.

Thanks, Cecil... you captured all the details very well.

3. Posted by: Clementine at February 13, 2009 7:48 PM

Good job CR. You definitely have my stamp of approval.

Sandy has to go. Her voice is grating and she looks like an older version of Jim Carray.

4. Posted by: smitty at February 14, 2009 12:02 PM

Not only did Sandy have no clue what a "pace" was, she apparently didn't know what a "palm tree" was either! Lucky for her she did well on those stairs or she'd be gone for sure.

How is it that not one of her tribe members suspected that she might have been looking for an immunity idol that whole time she was at camp without them, or running off into the woods by herself? It's not like there is a good alternate explanation for what she had been up to!

Cecil, they showed Jalapao eating the watermelon once they got back to camp. I wonder how JT liked it without any salt though? ;)

JT, Joe and Spencer are my favorites to go far for now, I am not really impressed with any single individual on the Timbera tribe outside of Sierra...if she gets healthy, watch out for her!

5. Posted by: FenwayBen at February 14, 2009 2:26 PM

Thoughts on Survivor: (as my wife calls it) Toeandcheese...

I was feeling quite prescient when my prediction of Sandy being first voted out seemed to come true almost instantaneously. As I was watching though, I noticed Jeff never said that the two voted on initially were going home. I immeidately said to my wife that they were probably actually getting helicoptered to the camps. Man I think I've watched too much Survivor!

Still think Sandy won't last long but hope she does. She seems completely unstable and vascillates wildly in her emotions from p-o'ed to tears of joy. What would she be like after 39 days? She at least makes for some comedy so lets keep her around!

6. Posted by: Crispy Seaplanes at February 14, 2009 5:37 PM

"Coach" (blah!) may be very accomplished, but what he doesn't mention is the damage that he leaves behind in his coaching locations. He makes promises he can't keep and moves on, leaving people behind to deal with his messes. Not to mention, the town he in which he composes, has a population of about 17,000, half of which are inmates. He's not as big a deal as he makes himself seem. He puts on quite the front, but has had little follow through.
I hope he improves his behavior on this show now that millions will be watching.

7. Posted by: Gab at February 15, 2009 6:24 PM

All I know about any of these people is what the survivor publicity machine puts out. Nevertheless, as a referee, I've had quite a lot of experience in soccer at the high school and college level, and one thing I've noticed is that almoast every male college soccer coach of womens' teams, at least the ones with the winning records, have a great deal of personal charisma.

Not to make too big a deal of this, but I get the impression that great men's teams are full of motivated individuals with a stong drive to win for themnselves and the team. Great women's teams have this, but also seem to have a great desire to win for the coach - they're all a bit attacted to him and not letting him down is a much a motivator as not letting themselves and their teammates down. The best coaches recognize this and use it, not in any sordid sense, but just as an additional motivator. We'll see if coach can find a way to make this work for him in the game, It may give him an edge with the women competitors.

Gab, it sounds like you may have a little more personal knowledge of him outside the show - what else can you tell us. Where else has he coached, for instance?

8. Posted by: Cecil at February 15, 2009 7:01 PM

@6 Crispy Seaplanes:

I go back and forth on Sandy. I like her grit and pluck, but not helping get a shelter started on the first day seemed a mistake, as is her attitude toward her teammates. I was much more impressed by Sierra in that regard.

Sandy did shine in the challenge, and I imagine that's what saved her.

9. Posted by: Cecil at February 15, 2009 7:09 PM

@5 FenwayBen:

As to not suspecting Sandy of looking for the idol - there may be two factors at work:

(1) No one has any reason to expect that clues have been given out yet - usually people get them at exile in recent games.

(2) In a host of recent games, competitors have been recruited rather than selected from applicants, and some of these recruits have never so much as watched an episode of survivor. I don't know how many people this may apply to this time around - the better geographic distribution that seems to be operating may mean more fans of the game among this bunch.

And there's always (3) We have np idea how they've been briefed going in.

In the past, survivors have very clearly been told 'don't drink the water without boiling it.' I don't know what they were told this time, but I noticed on rewatching the preview I caught on my cable system that Jeff says 'the rivers are so clean you can drink straight out of them.'

I'm sure JT must have steeled himself to the salt-less watermelon, just like I have to do when my wife's watching. I wonder how Brazil's compares to Alabama best-in-the-world watermelon?

10. Posted by: Cecil at February 15, 2009 7:29 PM

Some things I noticed on a second, more relaxed viewing:

Jalapao had more than one watermelon. Guess they like'em. Or maybe JT, who comes from Alabama where watermelomn is a summertime staple, convinced everybody to bring them.

It was sweet how the youngest (ever) survivor, Spenser, took up for the oldest in this group - Sandy.

When Carolina was commenting after the vote-out, she seemed to start off with a very heavy Latina accent - almost as if she'd been trying to suppress it with the team. And half-way through, she semed to remember and adopt a less pronounced accent. Is there any reason to think this would be a liability. [I know, maybe it's outside the game where she's trying to make an impression -"West Hollywood bartender" can easily be translated "actress wanna-be".]

And on reviewing, it looks like Sandy was digging at the wrong stick the first time around, when she needlessly po'd her tribe-mates with nothing to show for it.

Still no explanation for why Timbira took so long to get to camp. Did they have a longer hike? More difficult terrain? Either sould seem bad planning on the producers part.

For that matter, when the teams were dropped off, Jeff said both "It's early and the temperature is already 110 degrees." and "The trek will take about four hours." Seems to me like that should have put both teams into camp *way* before dark, unless they kept stopping them to film the little individual vignettes we see interspersed thoughout Survivor.

The murderous heat doesn't seemt to have affected anybody too much, yet. Perhaps a river to cool off in compensates.

11. Posted by: Cecil at February 15, 2009 7:46 PM


Sandy did do well on the challenge but I wouldn't keep her around for being of any value to the tribe. I just as a viewer want her to stick around awhile because her meltdowns are kind of fun.

I think the tribes probably had fairly even distances to cover but I have a feeling the tribes were going at much slower paces than expected and taking plenty of rest breaks (maybe to avoid problems from the heat). The onde tribe--don't remember which seemed to be getting lost and having trouble figuring out how to use the compass and the map.

12. Posted by: Crispy Seaplanes at February 16, 2009 10:56 AM

Hi Cecil.
Excellent summary. I have never been here before but it definitely helps me because I always have trouble keeping people straight in the first few weeks.

I like Sandy. She's got spunk! Not sure how high her IQ is or how strong, but that may be the editing and we are to being led to believe she's a little slow. She sure put that stairway together fast! I think we have to keep our eye on her.

13. Posted by: berkyo at February 16, 2009 11:10 AM

Coming soon - a Survivors character page with pics to help keep everybody straight. Of course, the pics are all from the relatively clean-shaven unmarked beginning - no telling how people start to look as the ordeal wears on.

14. Posted by: Cecil Rose at February 17, 2009 9:10 AM

The competitor bios page (with pics of each competitor) is now available and there is a link to it at the bottom of this (and, in the future, of every) review page.

15. Posted by: Cecil Rose at February 17, 2009 5:10 PM

Cecil, thanks for all your hard work on this blog!

As much as I love Mac's reviews and the old timer's comments, it's become too big for me to keep up with all the posts on the Lost blog. I'm happy I can track down online friends elsewhere and revel in the glory of another shared pleasure!

Watermelon without salt is good, but with salt is heavenly! Don't be too hard on your wife, I am sure she only has your health in mind. ;)

As for the not expecting the idol, Spencer said he has watched every season. My initial thought when Jeff called for an immediate vote was these two were going to Exile Island. My reaction to his telling them they would arrive at camp 4 hours before the rest of their tribe was that the hidden idols must eb at the camp. It seemed kind of obvious to me, but maybe I have a different perspective to the players.

16. Posted by: FenwayBen at February 17, 2009 9:15 PM

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