HOLLYWOOD—I’m happy for “Survivor” to be back, especially after that riveting season of ‘Game Changers’ that delivered plenty of surprises America. Well, look no more because season 35th of the series, “Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers” brings an eclectic mix of 18 new contestants vying to be the last person standing in their quest for $1 million. This season’s twist reminds me of the ‘Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty’ theme, but we have yet to see a season as enthralling or riveting as “Survivor: Cagayan” from several years ago.
So we have three tribes, and normally I would go through the list of all the characters and cast, but for reasons that matter, I’ll save viewers on that madness and just focus on those characters that are standouts at the moment and causing the most drama. I almost immediately pegged once we got introduced to our cast, that the heroes tribe would present the most drama, and oh did they not disappoint, at all. This is a tribe that is more compromised of alphas than betas (get the hint from BB19 alum Cody).
Everybody has a voice, and God knows they want it to be heard. We have Alan, the former NFL player, who might be the wackiest character I’ve seen to date. Is it me or does Alan just want to place a target on his back? We have JP and Ashley, who it’s obvious after first laying eyes on one another that a bond is there. Why, oh, why don’t people realize how detrimental a showmance can be to their game? Also in that mix is Ben, who is a rough and tumble type of game, but seems to have his head on the strongest of everyone in the group. Then we have the ‘mom’ crew, as the others coined them with Chrissy and Katrina. Let’s be honest neither of them attempted to really strategize with the rest of the group.
I’m not really going to focus too much on the Healers tribe because only 2-3 of them actually stand out this early in the game. Notably, Mike a super fan of the series, and Joe, who is certain that Mike went out into the wilderness to search for an idol. Yes, Mike did go search for an idol, but came up empty handed, but for Joe to push on that theory so hard has already caused friction between these two. Also you have Cole, who has been pegged by many as a potential winner’s pick of the season, but I have yet to see anything.
Taking a look at the Hustlers tribe, we have plenty of stand outs. First and foremost is Ryan, who speaks his mind, is a bit of a character, and I can already see returning for a second season in the near future. The bellhop might be skinny, but he is perceptive; picking up that secret advantage on the boat. What was it? A super idol that could be used after the votes have been read! Game changer right? Nope because it could ONLY be used during the first tribal council and if Ryan’s team won the immunity challenge and happened to be safe, the idol had to be given to another castaway who was headed to Tribal Council.
Ryan decided to reveal his secret to Devon, and it looks like these two will be a duo. To be honest you should add Ali to that mix because I see her meshing much better with those two than her current alliance with Patrick who just seems to be a major wildcard. Would I have told anyone I had the idol? Nope, but in this case because it was a one-time thing, I don’t think it hurt Ryan because it helped to build trust.
Anyways, the biggest drama of the hour transpired on the heroes tribe, it was almost a given from the edit that these guys would be the first to head to tribal council and I was right. Alan, JP, Ashley and Ben immediately formed a foursome and planned to target the ‘mom’ crew. However, Alan might have a few marbles loose upstairs. The guy was adamant, I mean adamant that JP and Ashley had a secret alliance and he was certain beyond a reasonable doubt that JP had an idol.
So much to the point, that JP stripped naked to prove it; didn’t expect that one people. Making the situation worse, is the trust between Alan, JP and Ashley is gone, and Ben could easily flip to align with JP & Ashley or Chrissy & Alan, so Ben will indeed have all the power if the tribe heads to Tribal Council in the near future (you understand why shortly). At tribal Alan continued with his speculations making the target on his back larger than ever if you ask me, but his tribe decided to take out Katrina.
Now here is where I get confused and a twist falters. Chrissy was given the super idol by Ryan, but instead of using it to save Katrina, who was a loyal ally, she allowed her pal to go home. Why not take a shot at getting Ashley out, bring JP onto your side and using him as a pawn to take out Alan or Ben as needed? I can’t be the only person thinking that. So Katrina was sent packing and it looks like Chrissy is the odd one out at this point, but this is “Survivor” anything can happen people, anything. First episode was solid, but I’m not 100 percent sold just yet. I’d like to see some more power shifts and surprises to shake the game before I become enamored with how the rest of the season might play out.