In kicking off this Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers premiere review, let’s just start by celebrating 35 seasons! That’s crazy. We’re so lucky to have this show for so long, and for it to still be exciting.
We’ll be the first to say, though, that we found this theme to be a little bit inadequate at best. Why continue to throw people into arbitrary groups? We still don’t know, but we do think that there are some great characters out there. Ben the veteran was the first person to speak to Jeff Probst in the opening, whereas Chrissy immediately made it clear that she is proud of her achievements. Following the introduction into the Heroes tribe, we then met the Healers Tribe — including Urologist Mike who actually said “rise to the occasion” in a confessional. Innuendo, no? His kids also think that he’s going to die, which may be true based on our first impression of him in confession. Interesting, the Hustlers tribe was the most uninteresting in the intro other than Ryan reminding us that he really is the love child of Todd Herzog and Courtney Yates.
After the intro, Intrepid Jeff Probst introduced the first challenge, which was basically both a marooning and a challenge at the same time. The winner gets fire, the second-place finisher gets flint, and the losers get screwed over with no fire. Survivor clearly loves the visual of watching people through various crap in the ocean. At one point, the prophecy of Mike’s kids almost came true when he was bludgeoned in the head.
Jeff making football references because Alan Ball is on the season – He did this with a comment about someone “throwing food like a quarterback,” even though Alan hasn’t told anyone about his profession just yet.
The Hustlers Tribe struggled right out of the gate, but there was one notable moment here in Ryan managing to find a secret advantage. That’s good because his whole tribe sucks at rowing and they’re starting the game off without fire. The best part of this was Jeff declaring the Healers the winners and the Heroes second place while the Hustlers were still floundering around in the background.
Meet your tribes
At the Healers tribe, we learned immediately that Jessica is in love with wilderness therapy guide Cole, which makes sense given that the dude already lives outdoors and seems well equipped for it. (Also, the tan!) Meanwhile, probation officer Joe really wants to be Tony Vlachos bad.
Over at the Heroes, we already saw the beginnings of some alliances forming in the group. Alan and Ben wanted to work with J.P. and Ashley, but he already had some immediate concerns about how close Ashley and J.P. were getting. Alan managed to label them a “power couple” — on DAY ONE. Also, apparently the two older women are the “mom squad,” largely because TV loves to generalize people into just one trait of their personality.
Finally, we’ve got the dumpster fire of the Hustlers, who somehow got themselves together after the first challenge … at least until they got the shelter together and Patrick (a.k.a. Older Scott Farkas) debated eating the praying mantis. He and Ali seemed to make an alliance, and then things got even more interesting when Ryan went out and read about his advantage.
A new super-idol
This idol can be used only in the first Tribal Council. If the Hustlers lose, he can play it. However, if they avoid Tribal Council he gives it to someone on another tribe. Until we learned that this was only for one Tribal, we were about to throw something at the TV.
Back to the tribes
Urologist Mike got some advice from his kids (the same ones who, mind you, thought he would die) to go and look for the immunity idol. Probably smart since he’s not a competition island. Also, Joe is not altogether smart for interrogating Mike over whether or not he found it. Use some subtlety, dude! This sort of mentality doesn’t always work in Survivor since you’re taking ALL of the heat.
So tensions were high over at he Healers, whereas over at the Hustlers Ryan decided to bond with surfer dude Devon — apparently, this is the new Stephen and JT. We dig this alliance! They compliment each other well, at least through the thirty seconds that we’ve seen of them together.
Finally, over on the Heroes Alan started to trip out for no real reason other than that he’s got some major showmance suspicions between Ashley and J.P. for getting so close. He’s right that those two are dangerous; however, like Joe he’s absolutely terrible at interrogation.
Yes, Alan gave us one of the greatest Survivor premiere moments of all time — GETTING J.P. TO DROP HIS PANTS TO PROVE THERE’S NO IDOL.
The immunity challenge
Whether it be a physical component, and obstacle course of sorts, and a choice of table mazes at the end, this is pretty standard Survivor fare — not that we mind since you want to test every component of your game.
At first, we did think that this was a close challenge between the three tribes — even with the Hustlers surprisingly throwing Ryan into the physical fire almost right away. Everyone got to the table-maze component at roughly the same time, but the Healers — led surprisingly by the sometimes-bumbling Urologist Mike (we gotta give him credit for this) — did rather well. Everyone actually fared well. There was no obvious goat, but to be fair we’ve seen tougher challenges at the start of the season (especially mentally). The Hustlers did eventually win, which meant that the Heroes tribe was going to Tribal Council first. Probably not good for Alan Ball, who has a new nickname if he returns to the NFL in Strip-Search.
Oh, and the Hustlers also now have flint, and Chrissy almost had a medical situation.
The scramble to tribal
This was hilarious. Alan remained paranoid like heck as he tried to figure out some other sort of alternate plan that involved getting rid of Ashley and J.P. rather than riding with him — which makes sense, given that Ashley and J.P. already blew up his spot. He got Chrissy and Katrina seemingly on board to get rid of Ashley, and that’s smart since he’s gonna need options. Also, it’s smart since Chrissy got the super-idol from Ryan, who clearly sympathized with her breaking down after the challenge and wanted to help. This was also probably smart for him, given that it increased the challenges of a strong physical threat going home on day 3.
In general, the best part of the Heroes tribe is how messy they are — actually, maybe we should just say that about the entire season at the moment. It’s a mess, but the best kind of mess since we’re thoroughly entertained by all of it.
Now, Tribal Time
This was interesting. Chrissy was in power, and she was able to just sit back and enjoy the show — Alan was candid and hilarious while J.P. and Ashley did their best to scramble against the power-couple status. “I’m not crazy, I’m confident” — that is the title of the episode, and that came with Alan. After the whole Ashley & J.P. vs. Alan episode, Ben just tried to keep things stable. Good luck with that.
There are two surprises that came in this episode — Katrina was eliminated despite having very little impact in this episode other than being on the outs, and Chrissy, clearly hoping to be the swing vote, opted to not use her idol! Farewell Katrina — you are an Olympian, and we barely got a chance to know you here.
Our CarterMatt Verdict
This premiere was pretty awesome — while we miss the 90-minute format, we like how there was so much content thrown in here and so many big personalities in between Chrissy, Ryan, Alan, Urologist Mike, and Ali in one episode. We do sometimes wish Survivor had more survival components and local flair, but there was so much wall-to-wall drama tonight we were able to forget about some of that.
What’s your Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers premiere review?
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