Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island Episode 1 Recap “Nothing Unites Like a Common Enemy”

Not gonna lie, after a year-plus of no new (broadcast TV, English-language) Survivor, the magnificent opening moments of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island--with the cliffs, the waterfall, the helicopter, the swelling music–got my living room just a bit dusty.

  • Vuna tribe (orange, skull icon): Anesu, Carla, Pinty, Santoni, Wardah, Chappies, Kiran, Mike, Paul, Tyson
  • Zamba tribe (green, snake icon): Amy, Marisha, Nicole, Qieän, Thoriso, Dino, Jason, Renier, Shaun, Smash

  • I’d discuss the early standouts in this cast, but they’re all standouts! I really hope none of them do anything truly awful on the show (or in real life). 
  • Thoriso is an excellent narrator, especially in how she’s able to discuss the game from something approximating an objective viewpoint. I worry, though, that precisely that ability to observe things from arm’s distance will be bad for her long term.
  • Anesu has pre-existing relationships with both Kiran AND Wardah? How does this keep happening on Survivor?
  • Speaking of things that keep happening on (international) Survivor:

  • Fair warning: I will eventually give in to my temptation to call Wardah “Wardahg”.
  • It’s a huge yet somewhat overlooked advantage to be the “hub” of the tribe, the person everybody wants to work with and everybody feeds information to. It looks like those people are Anesu and Smash on Vuna and Zamba, respectively.
  • Immunity Island seems to be a combination of the Island of Secrets (which itself is a refinement of Ghost Island) and the Outpost from Survivor New Zealand: Thailand, rather than something completely original. But that’s fine–those are good twists. Diplomatic Immunity is new, though. Assuming that two are given out per pre-merge episode, I see potential for massive, chain-reaction mutiny down the line.
  • I do wonder if the 60-minute pre-merge episodes will feel cluttered, with two trips to Immunity Island.
  • Unless I missed any, five trinkets of some sort were given out in this episode (Renier’s tribe advantage, Dino’s one-time immunity necklace, Chappies and Jason’s Diplomatic Immunity bracelets, Thoriso’s one-time immunity necklace). That’s a lot to keep track of, but by the end of the episode only one was still in play.
  • I was very confused by Dino’s “Help me Paul” moment at the end of the immunity challenge, but of course he was asking him to talk Vuna into sending him to Immunity Island. And on a rewatch, I noticed that during the scramble for supplies, Dino told Paul where the immunity necklaces were, which is why Dino thought he could call in a favor.
  • Renier pointing at Jason and Jason somehow not catching on is an instant-classic Survivor GIF.
  • Wow, that’s some tribal council set. BEST.URN.EVER.

  • It’s established Survivor strategy to make the target of a blindside comfortable at Tribal Council by pretending someone in the majority alliance is on the chopping block. I can’t recall another instance of making the target comfortable by stoking the paranoia of one of the target’s allies.
  • Just like Seamus in the Survivor South Africa: Philippines premiere, Jason went from perfectly safe to out of the game because he over-schemed ahead of the vote and skeeved everybody out. He would have been better off coming back from the challenge and taking a nap.