HOLLYWOOD—Nearly 23 years ago a reality competition premiered on CBS that would change TV as we know it, that series was “Survivor.” Twenty-three years later, the reality competition kicked off its 44th season on Wednesday and it’s a whole new slate of newbies vying for that $1 million prize. With season 45 certain to kick off in the fall (I’m secretly hoping to see returnees or another installment of heroes vs villains of some sorts), until then we have to salivate with a new cast of 18 people divided into 3 tribes vying for the $1 million prize.

The 2-hour premiere gave viewers plenty to feast on as we got to learn the new contestants. I seriously hate the “Survivor” is constantly attempting to break the fourth wall. Soka, Tika and Ratu are the tribes this season, just as the first challenge of the season kicked off. So far no major standouts in terms of the players and not even 60 second into the game one of our players has a massive injury to the head where blood was pouring from Bruce’s head. He seemed ok at first, but the challenge had to be stopped as medical was forced to come in and examine Bruce who became lightheaded. After being treated, Bruce stayed in the game and the puzzle challenge resumed.

Ratu was the first to finish, as Soka and Tika was attempting to copy Ratu’s puzzle to gain an advantage. Soka was the first to finish and win supplies, followed by Ratu, meaning Tika will be at the mercy of Ratu in terms of ‘Sweat’ or ‘Savvy.’ Yeah, looks like Carolyn could be the first one out based on her performance in the challenge. Soka consists of Claire, Frannie, Matt, Josh, Heidi and Danny. The first twist of the season, Josh, Frannie and Claire stumbled upon something locked in a cage. Looks like the idol people, which means any can grab it and you will be exposed if you do.

Over at Ratu, they decided to do the ‘Sweat’ challenge with Brandon and Matthew tackling the challenge. Other members include Kane, Lauren, Maddy and Jamie. The coconut challenge became a lot tougher for Brandon and Matt then they expected and I started to question if they could finish it in time people. They bonded over the challenge ensuring to have each other’s backs no matter what.

At Tika, they were forced to solve a brain teaser. The tribe consists of Helen, Yam Yam, Carolyn, Carson, Bruce and Sarah. They also stumbled upon a cage with that locked item. It feels like an idol, the question is where is the key. This Carolyn characters is bonkers. I can tell you’re either going to love her or hate her based on her energy so far.

Carson and Helen were working on the teaser and lucky for the tribe, Carson loves puzzles and strategy and they solved it correctly: 18. Yam Yam is proving to be a fun character, but the fact that everyone on Tika were ready to disclose the fact that they’re all super fans of the series is bad strategy. Carson is absolutely giving that underdog edit and he is someone to root for. However, Claire, I don’t know what it is about her, but she is rubbing me the wrong way.

Frannie and Matt immediately bonded and wanted to work together, and are looking more and more like a potential showmance, something we have not seen on the series in a very long time.  Um, Bruce was not looking good people and it looks like we’re about to have a medevac in the first episode and we did. So are we still having a Tribal Council? If so we’re going from 18 to 16 in just a single episode. It was great to see all 3 tribes have their fires off and going. Matthew is proving to be a provider to the Ratu tribe, he’s a major asset for them all, but Matthew’s decision to climb up those rocks is stupid. C’mon, we cannot have another medevac in episode one cause that would be a bad sign of things to come.

Sarah, Carson and Helen formed a three, as Carolyn realized she might be on the outs, but she is a character that is for sure. Oh, the boat advantage again? Sarah was forced to go for Tika, Matt for Soka and Lauren for Ratu. At Ratu, the hunt for the key started to cause chaos, but it was Brandon who found something, but Maddy immediately realized his behavior was off, but he admitted to her he found the key to ensure he fostered trust. Maddy realized them opening the cage was smart, but he decided trusting Maddy was not smart. Brandon found the first Immunity Idol, and placed a massive target right on his back.

Yeah, the cage was done to force players to publicly be exposed for having an idol and not being able to hide it. Lauren, Matt and Sarah are about to go on a journey where a ‘choice’ will be made, risk or reward, nope, not this time. Everyone must draw a package, one will be a good thing, the other is losing your vote, if you draw a second time, you will lose your vote for TWO TRIBAL COUNCILS. Sarah won big, Matt lost big and Lauren won  the Bank a Vote. I hate all these advantages people it messes up the game.

The Inheritance Advantage allows you to take every advantage or idol at a Tribal Council, what the hell? That seems way too powerful people, you may have given out the Knowledge is Power advantage.  The Bank a Vote which is an extra vote that can be used at a later time and Lauren wanted to tell the truth, but she lied, but it was not so convincing in my opinion at all. I was all in on this episode until this twist. Doing more does not always make the game more interesting.

The first Immunity Challenge of the season was a grueling one to say the least that ended in a large slide puzzle that was aimed to gas out the contestants. Wow, Claire and Matthew chatted, and Claire spilled tea exposing Lauren as a liar people. Really, another potential medevac this has got to be a record people. Brandon was beyond exhausted, not just physically, but he appeared dehydrated. Is this is any evidence of what the season could be, this is not going to be fun to watch. Perhaps “Survivor” should tweak its challenges a bit. Soka is proving to be a force winning the first Immunity Challenge, with Tika getting the second victory. Yup, Ratu is headed to TC and to be honest, Brandon or Lauren can go. Brandon wouldn’t go because he has an idol. Ratu cannot let Brandon go; the tribe needs his strength to stick around. If he goes home for not playing an idol, he’s an idiot.

Matthew spilled the tea about Lauren concealing her vote, which prompted Maddy and Lauren to align to go after Brandon because of his idol. Yeah, it is smart to blindside Brandon. Jaime found herself in a precarious position. Jeez, I forgot about the Shot in the Dark which still hasn’t manifested into anything in the past few seasons people. Kane realized he needs Brandon, but he also wants to play the game, Matthew is questioning rather Brandon is the right move or not.

Will this Tribal Council present the fireworks we want as viewers? Let’s see. The idol immediately came to light that Brandon was in possession of it and it was apparent that Brandon claimed that idol and it felt a bit uneasy for the conversation. Jaime decided to play her Shot in the Dark because she seems very paranoid, and that changes everything because 6 votes means 5 votes, and I think that move might be the decision to prompt Brandon to play his idol.

I love this music people; it is so brooding and intriguing. Could we actually see the Shot in the Dark manifest safety for once? I don’t know because Matthew decided to play his Shot in the Dark as well. Whoa, mind blown people, meaning we’re looking at only 3 votes during this TC. For the first time ever, Jaime successfully played the Shot in the Dark and she was safe! Crazy, Brandon played his idol and this game is on fire people.

Brandon played it well because 2 votes were placed on him (Maddy and Kane) and with his sole vote Brandon sent Maddy packing. Brandon well played; phenomenal, crazy, strategic play people. If Jaime didn’t do that Shot in the Dark, Brandon wouldn’t have played his idol. Phenomenal strategy people, I was a bit nervous at first, but oh, this was one of the BEST FIRST TRIBAL COUNCILS I CAN RECALL IN SURVIVOR HISTROY IN A VERY LONG TIME! Until next Wednesday “Survivor” die-hards!