Survivor New Zealand: Thailand. Episode 1 Recap

After last season’s boring moralistic nonsense I didn’t think I’d be back to watch Survivor NZ. There have been big changes to the way Survivor NZ is going to be done. The prize money has been increased to $250000, there are 18 castaways and redemption island is off the table.  Even better than those changes, there is only one episode a week. So let’s crack on shall we?

This season is going to be quite different from previous seasons of US Survivor, the setting is on a lake inland in Thailand, not the island setting we are all used to. The cast is young, only four are over 32 and what is better most seem to have some sense of Survivor being a strategic game.

The boats arrive at the mat and the Matt Chisholm welcomes them to season 2.  Now we need to talk about the fact that Matt (the contestant) and Dave are close friends and have been since school. This is a real failure of casting, it also fuels my xenophobic belief that everyone in New Zealand must know each other.
Liam has dumb hair.

The game starts with the castaways taking part in an individual reward challenge before the tribes are set. It’s a physical challenge that ends in organising numbers in order (not a puzzle guys). While the challenge begins without us knowing the prize, it’s pretty obvious to me it’s not something you’d want to win.
The last three are Aron, Matt and Jose (pronounced Yos). Jose wins and before she knows the reward she is asked to pick someone to share with. She picks Matt and the reward is as bad as I thought it was; she and Matt get to schoolyard pick their tribes. So Jose fails straight away by putting the next strongest contestant on the opposite tribe.

The tribes are:
Blue (Chani): Josw, Arun, Eve, Dave, Franky, Liam, Renee, JT and Karla.
Yellow (Khangkwah): Matt, Tara, Josh, Tess, Brad, Kaysha, Adam, Lisa and Dylan.

I bloody love watching a team pick their tribes, it’s a way to start the game with tension and make people aware of their positions and afraid of what it means.

The tribes get to their camps and there is little food and a few supplies. Jose ends up as the leader of Blue and we all know how dangerous it can be early on in the game to be the leader. This is exactly why my instincts told me before the firs challenge it wasn’t worth winning.

JT and Arun are both looking for idol clues and they’ve decided to be in an alliance. Liam the utter genius is really happy that no one is building alliances as JT and Eve are having the conversation. JT continues to happen to bump into people this time it’s Dave. The Survivor NZ editors are already giving Liam a fantastic edit by intercutting his confessional about how nothing is happening with JT putting together an alliance of 5. If it continues this way we’ll have a fun season.

Tara wants to be camp mum which as we know is a bad demographic to win from. Lisa has watched Survivor Thailand a number of times, she’s a superfan but how can I like someone who watched that crap multiple times.

She uses her superfan skills to go looking for idols, her strength is her knowledge of the game, how’d that work for Jacob Derwin? She’s giving Tess the advice to not go looking too obvious. Lisa find Tess’ lack of Survivor viewing suspicious. But Tess is a complete rookie and we know that you can do fine without ever watching the show.

Tribe Reward Challenge for tarps, rope and a flint. The good old fashioned bring a bag to your mat challenge. First to 3 wins.

Kwangkaw (yellow) wins.

AHAHAHA the yellow tribe uses rocks around their fire that explode in the heat of the fire.

The immunity challenge set up is pretty nice, Survivor NZ has come a long way already from season 1. There is a bamboo jungle gym climing set up and this might be the nicest team immunity idol for a long time in any nationality of Survivor.
Kangkaw win!

Chani get back to camp Franky is worried after her mistake at the challenge. Renee wants to keep the tribe strong so she isn’t throwing out a name to Franky. Franky names Karla and she’s probably right because Karla is an older woman and a really easy vote at this point in the game. Jose thinks it’ll all be hard and she wishes they weren’t going.

The tribal set is amazing! In a cave lit with fire and torches. It’s beautiful, atmospheric and in a genius piece of production, you don’t need to wait until night time to film. It is pretty echoey yet, not the best for sound editing.

Matt Chisholm asks the questions and mostly it’s the expected holding answers. The big thing we learn is Liam continues to think there are no alliances; this boy is dumb and he’s going to be fun to watch. The last takeaway is Karla that says there is no blindside is coming; however, the look on the eliminated contestant says otherwise.

Votes come for Karla, Yos, Karla, Jose, Karla, Jos, Yos, Josefina. Jose is the first contestant voted out. This proves two things: firstly don’t be too big a leader or personality early on and secondly no one knew how to spell her name. Matt is a bit of a prick saying if they found winning with Jose hard, without her will be harder.

The first vote is always a tone-setter for the season. Here the contestants are showing this season of Survivor NZ is going to be very different. Chani took out arguably the strongest female player, a player who was straightforward and not willing to play a sneaky game. It’s a shame that they didn’t invest more time at camp after the immunity challenge to give us more reasoning for this surprising decision. The editors needed to tell us more of the story of how Jose was picked.

I am excited about the possibilities for this season. The cast seems willing to play a strategic game, a number of them are much better versed in US and Australian Survivor so it’s looking up. No morality ruining it this season if we are lucky.