‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’ premiere review: Blood vs. Water, Exile Island, and madness

Val Collins -Going into “Survivor: San Juan del Sur,” we were worried almost immediately about whether or not “Blood vs. Water” would work without returning players. So far, though, it has remained compelling television. You have some great characters, the new Exile Island twist was interesting, and there is some strategy being played in the early going.

Let’s start, though, with the dubious: Why in the world is John Rocker hiding who he is, given that at least one person knows already and maybe more on the other tribe? He’s mortgaging his future on a complete stranger like Wes, who he’s never met.

Also, another surprising risky move was made here by Val upon arriving to the new Exile Island (her husband Jeremy defeated her in our first duel of the season) in pretending that she didn’t have an immunity idol clue. Maybe Keith knew, but he didn’t vocalize it. A smart player would figure out that she was being secretive, and use that to make a bigger move in the game.

We’re still working on the tribe makeup, but Hunahpu (the group in blue) ended up winning immunity, which led Coyopa (the orange tribe) in danger. We were almost worried right away in our pick-to-win Josh, whose eye was flaring up thanks to getting some bad sap all in there. Meanwhile, Dale was the oldest guy by a wide margin, and despite him breaking his own glasses to start a fire, that may not be enough.

In reality, though, the team lost because they stunk at a puzzle, and it had nothing to do with physical challenges. Therefore, they didn’t really need to vote on a challenge-only criteria.

Luckily for us, Josh seemed to be in pretty good shape after it was clear that he was more of the swing vote between the men and the women, and we wanted to almost roll our eyes at Val for saying that an all-girl alliance was “history.” We’re down for the idea, but go see Kim Spradlin. She already wrote that history book. The choices really seem to be between Dale (weak in challenges) and Nadiya, with the latter being because Dale watched her on “The Amazing Race” and knew he couldn’t trust her.

If we were Josh, we’d pick the guys easy here most because it was clear that with the women, he was in fifth position. It was never that clear with the guys. Also, we’d be somewhat offended that Nadiya keeps calling him “one of the girls.” That’s like saying he’s not really a man, seemingly just because of his sexuality. We know she doesn’t mean it that way, but still.

Dale ultimately got his wish, and Nadiya was the first person sent home from the game. We have to admit this was pretty smart on his part. If you know that someone is cutthroat from the moment you meet them, you’re smart to get rid of them. Still, it must stink for Nadiya to be eliminated first twice on two straight reality show. Episode Grade. B+.

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Photo: CBS

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