‘Survivor: Philippines’ premiere review: Can Russell Swan not lead?

Survivor: Philippines” is here, and wait is that we see? People actually in the water? It’s crazy to think, but after several seasons, it’s back. We also had a three-tribe format for the first time, and getting a great deal of camp life during the premiere actually was a pleasant reminder of early seasons.

Speaking of early seasons, Michael Skupin was back … and he was a hot mess! Seriously, we’re not sure we have ever seen someone so prone to constant mistakes out there. Before we get anywhere, though, let’s kick things off by talking about the three tribes and some of the early adventures.

Kalabaw (red tribe) – Jonathan Penner spent most of his time wandering around the beach alone, mostly because pretty much no one on his tribe wants him there. The only thing the guy has going for him? That he found a clue for the hidden immunity idol on the first day as proof that returning players ALWAYS manage to figure out an extra an advantage in this game. (Sure, go ahead and start your conspiracy theories.) Elsewhere, we really liked Dawson as a player to go far, especially since she knows that Jeff Kent is a baseball player and kept it a secret.

Matsing (blue tribe) – What a mess this tribe is. You have Russell Swan being a leader while claiming that he does not want to be a leader, and you have Zane being a poor man’s Russell Hantz in trying to make alliances with everyone, and you have Malcolm cackling like a supervillain. Malcolm’s going to be a good player; he’s strong, smart, and he likes being in the background. The same goes for Denise, who’s a therapist and knows well how to communicate with people.

Tandang (yellow tribe) – We don’t really have much of a read on this tribe yet, though they are really the only tribe with a returning player in Mike Skupin that they actually seem to want. RC seems to be a pretty good social player, but we are already worried about former “Facts of Life” star Lisa Whelchel. She’s playing it too distance, and Skupin already knows who she is.

The immunity tribe was really classic “Survivor” in many ways, as we saw everything from some swimming to a puzzle to lifting heavy objects. It was a thrill to watch, but it also summed up one thing in our mind: unless Russell finds a way to get the immunity idol he found a clue for, he’s toast. He tried to put people into roles for the challenge, and it backfired. The problem with him as a player is just that he can’t be anything other than the chief; it’s not in his makeup. He’s just on a tribe where nobody wants to have a chief.

At tribal council, the debate was really just between Russell and Zane Knight, who may already go down as one of the dumbest players we have ever seen in this game. We’re not saying that Zane is dumb, but his strategy to pretend that he wanted to be voted out made no sense. Dear Zane … you are not Dr. Will, and this is not “Big Brother.” This ridiculous move was enough to send him home over Russell, and this is what happens when you try to do too much, too soon.

What did you think about this premiere? If you want to view some more news from “The Talk” preview special, all you have to do is check out the story over at this link.

Photo: CBS

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