Kaiser Island 41 - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor 41 recaps
Risk it, or play it safe?
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: September 24, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 1 Recap/ analysis

Risk it, or play it safe?

497 days since there’s been a new episode of Survivor on CBS!

No need for word foreplay here — let’s just climb onto the boat and get into this season premiere!


Immediately the fourth wall was shattered, and surprisingly, I didn’t hate parts of that. The fact that there’s an enormous crew of several hundred at work behind the camera should be no surprise to anyone at this point. The show goes out of its way to hide these very hard-working people, so for once, I loved seeing a look behind the lens and letting the crew get some well-deserved recognition. As much as the cast was excited to finally be in Fiji, I’m sure everyone else who hopefully loves their jobs were thrilled too.

What I did hate, not surprisingly, was Jeff Probst taking a lesson from Michael Scott in the incessant art of “power pointing.”

Michael Scott, power pointing

Probst, power pointing

Probst, power pointing

Probst, power pointing

I’m just going to start referring to all children as “future Survivor players.” Luckily, I take great strides to avoid interacting with kids, so this won’t happen very often.

No one asked for this. No one needs it. Take it back and may it never see the light of day again. As much as I’m sure he loved being in front of the camera after many months, Jeff isn’t why I or most of us tune in — it’s for these people:

Full cast

Another element that excited me in this premiere was seeing pre-game packages of these folks at home. The last time I can remember seeing clips like this was in Thailand, maybe as late as Pearl Islands, but no later than that. I’d have still felt compassion for Tiffany as she talked about her journey as a “pre-vivor” of cancer or Brad talking about his father who passed away just before the show, but seeing photos of Tiffany in a hospital gown and Brad with his late dad made my personal investment in these players that much stronger.

Not everyone got a package this week, but I hope we can expect to see a few more in Episode 2 or 3 (that’s enough after that) as more of their stories emerge. This was a brilliant editing choice and it’s a part of what the show has lost touch with over the years which is making us care about this cast as people beyond just players. So much work is put in by Casting to give us people with incredible stories and backgrounds — it’s about damn time they’re showcased this strongly again.

I'm getting in the water

From the start, it was abundantly clear Yase was cast to be the shitshow tribe. I felt more excited to see Ua in action, but I bought a Yase buff because I liked the color most, and after only about 5 minutes I knew why it was $2.00 cheaper on the CBS online store than the Ua and Luvu buffs. Yase’s a mess!

Ua expectedly dominated this first challenge with Luvu failing to understand the simple physics behind anchors and gravity, but at least Luvu made it to their boat. Yase was up Schitt’s Creek literally without a paddle.

Schitt's Creek: Buuuurn, David

Hey, it’s Voce now!

Speaking of David/Voce, it was very annoying that when the show released the cast with names not actually used on the show. David, Jairus, Shantel, and Eric all immediately evolved into Voce, JD, Shan, and Abraham. When Jeff called on “guy in the back” and he said his name was Abraham, I had no idea who the hell that was. I felt like I was Kathy Sleckman.

Kathy Sleckman: Who?

I love when we start with 3 tribes because there’s no room for hiding which means we’re going to get fireworks from the get-go. Ua and Yase gave us a lot of great introductions this week while Luvu understandably has more to come. There was very little game talk until after the immunity challenge which was also an appreciated change of pace. There was just simply talk for the first solid half of show, i.e. little mention of the word “alliance,” and with that, we learned more about these people than I feel we have with an all-newbie cast in a long time. There’s a lot to unpack, but I’ll kick off commentary on the tribes in the order we were introduced to them:



Like I said, Ua was my pre-season favorite tribe with big standouts: Genie, Ricard, and Shan. I didn’t have any thoughts on Sara one way or the other, but she was the first to speak at camp, and her story hit home. I can absolutely relate to how Survivor is a special Wednesday night ritual I share with a lot of people, so to think of losing one of those people was quite heartbreaking. Brad followed up with the loss of his own and immediately I now cared for two more people I didn’t expect to going into the night.

Later, Genie opened up about being gay and struggling to express that to her traditional Asian mother which led us into this beautiful story of mom unexpectedly giving Genie full support of who she was and who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with – I was melting!  Ricard too talked about the pain he was feeling being away from his daughter and husband with baby #2 on the way. Traditionally, Survivor would only cast one or two LGBTQ+ people and barely touch on that personal but important part of their lives, and here we were immediately presented with two amazing queer stories that I’m glad were given space to be shared. Did I also catch that Ricard married his husband 37 days after meeting him?  Is Survivor not Ricard’s first reality TV show?

37-Day Fiance

I believe in love at first sight, but wowwy!

JD and Shan

Last but far from least on Ua were JD and Shan, two drastically different players. JD talked the talk but I don’t think he actually walked the walk as much as he’d thought he did. It’s a Survivor pet peeve of mine when people so often separate the strategic and social components of the game because to me, they’re intertwined. JD said in confessional he didn’t want to be seen as “strategic” so instead he was going to have a series of one-on-one conversations with people which to me is simply social strategy. I don’t know how talking to people in Survivor can only be strategic or social. Every social interaction has strategic value in the game, whether intentional or not. Ricard astutely saw right through JD’s “innocent” talks and was quick to throw his name out as a boot for someone playing too hard too fast.

On the other side of the social-strategic spectrum was Shan, who I thought appeared much smoother at assimilating herself into the tribe. She was talking to everyone but no one was talking about her. Shan mentioned “active listening” and we saw her doing so between different factions of the tribe: Ricard and Sara, Genie and Brad, and head-in-the-clouds JD. Shan has options and she knows it. Shan doesn’t look like someone who’d be a villain, but her sinister little tune she sung told me she’s going to be a killer in this game. She’s the “mafia pastor.” She’ll “pray for you and walk you out the door” — it’s the new “gangster in an Oprah suit.”



While Ua started the season on a high, Yase took the Bikini Bottom bus straight to Rock Bottom. I laughed as Voce asked the tribe upon arrival at their beach whether there was a chance their friends and family wouldn’t tune in to this episode — zero!

I expected Voce to be a standout to me but not in the way he ended up being. After Yase found out they’d have to complete an Amazing Race-style Detour task to earn flint, “being a neurosurgeon,” Voce walked us through the choices. The more laborious task required two members to be separated from the tribe and walk water back and forth across the beach for 4 hours – very grueling. Voce said you’d have to be an idiot to be one of the two people spending critical bonding hours away from the other four, so as the Survivor gods would have it, guess which idiot ended up taking on this challenge?


Well, he wasn’t about to look like a little weenie and say no!

I loved Liana’s immediate reaction to this: “Oh, not me?  Cool!  Have fun!”

So long, suckers

It was obvious from there that Voce and Xander would quickly become a pair, and Evvie noted such, wanting to pair up herself with Liana. Evvie’s a smart cookie and just knowing Survivor casting archetypes, I don’t think she’s going to get away with people not knowing her PhD status, but while the boys powered through “Sweat,” Evvie emerged as the “Savvy” one on Yase.

That left the other two to be Abraham and Tiffany who were definitely not going to become a pair. Abraham said he needed to have an immediate “fall person” and quickly threw out Tiffany’s name as a first target based on her “weak” showing in the first challenge. That opening was chaotic, so correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t all of Yase failing miserably?  How did it become Tiffany’s responsibility all of the sudden to find the invisible paddle?  Abraham mentioned her jumping off the boat too soon, but we have the tapes. She only did that upon request, and I think she had the right idea to check if they had accidently thrown the last paddle overboard already. That seems a very “Yase” thing to do. Again, Abraham was just trying to find a scapegoat, and knowing his Survivor history he thought “the mom” would be an easy first boot – big mistake. Huge.

Liana and Tiffany

Liana may be making her way to a low-key favorite of mine. She took the bus Abraham was trying to throw Tiffany under and drove it his direction instead. With Liana’s tip as to what was going on behind her back, Tiffany set out to show how much of a fighter she is. It’s rare that someone strikes a blow at cancer before it strikes them, but Tiffany did exactly that in her years before the game. Abraham had no idea who he was messing with and was unknowingly about to get schooled by the teacher – so I hoped!



The lesser-known tribe of the night ended up as Luvu, but without tribal council, what pot is there to be stirred, right?

Despite the agreement to hold no strategy talk while Danny and Deshawn completed the “Sweat” challenge, Naseer took an early opportunity to try and put targets on their already-breaking backs. In his defense, Danny and Deshawn did, in fact, stop to perform a quick search for an idol, but in Naseer’s attempt to dish dirt, he came off a little desperate. I expected this eagerness to play the game he loved would lead to an early downfall, and so far, I’m not wrong.

Once the heroes of the day returned to camp, Sydney immediately approached them to share what Naseer had tried to stir up in their absence. Rightfully offended by the stunt, Deshawn promptly declared Naseer had to go. Sneaky, sneaky, Sydney!


Luvu didn’t get much more presence, but Sydney was another quiet favorite of the night. Her confessionals could turn into “Sydney Says the Darndest Things,” like her line about loving to travel with her dad’s credit card that’s also her credit card. She may be spoiled, but at least she owns it? I don’t know if Sydney knows how to hide what she’s thinking, but for my sake, I hope she doesn’t because I want her to serve us more blunt, comedic commentary as the game unfolds.


The summit

With no theme, I almost had forgotten about a major twist of the season, but I can at least be thankful there wasn’t anything to shove down our throats for the first half of the night.

On the morning of Day 2, the tribes were greeted by some boats to take one person from each camp away. If it were me, I’d have made the same face as Sydney did and went, “hell to the no.”

Frowning Sydney

It’s interesting how different each tribe handled the decision of who would get on the boat. Someone on Luvu suggested Sydney but instead Danny volunteered to take one for the team since no one obviously wanted to go. At Yase, Xander was what I call “voluntold” since he was the name everyone had least objection to, and as for Ua ... they drew rocks. Now, I’m not superstitious, but I’d be a little stitious to ever drawing rocks on Survivor unless the rules forced me to do so. That’s just bad juju. Alas, JD drew the white rock so it was three men off to a summit to make important decisions. How progressive.

At the end of the magical mystery tour across the ocean, Danny, Xander, and JD met and were instructed to take some time to get to know each other as they climbed up a mountain. Remember future Survivor players, it’s not what’s at the top of the mountain that’s the reward — the real treasure is the friends you make along the way.

The first thing JD asked Danny was whether he was a football player, and the smart guy Danny is, he lied and said he was the farthest thing he could think of from a former NFL player ... the owner of a youth football program. Somewhere in Michigan, Gary “Hawkins” died laughing at that after a long day of landscaping.

When Xander was asked if he played any sports, as is tradition at the start of any standard guy talk, he said he runs recreationally. Me? I run about 10,000 meters a week in Fortnite — more if I don’t get sniped in the head. JD then took a moment to brag about his own running accomplishments as a two-time state champion in Track. Nice, JD. Just tell everyone what a huge physical threat you are as soon as you can.


JD received this ridiculously over-the-top montage about his struggles before Survivor and, greater yet, the immense struggles he’d faced over the course of his long 20 hours in the game, playing an emotional flashback to the day before where JD ignited flame. Those really were the days ... you just had to be there.

Once the three reached the top of summit, there was a sign that read, “Okay, now go back down” so after not too long of a stay, it was back down the mountain and soon back across the ocean.

Back across the ocean

Xander decision

But before they set sail, there were three separate ship wheels with a decision for each man to make. Jeff teased us pre-season about new twists involving risk vs. reward, and while I still could’ve done without this, I’m on board with this risk/reward concept far more than some stupid “beat Boston Rob at fire-making and win an idol” idea.

This was a cool insertion of the Prisoner’s Dilemma in which individuals had to guess at what two practical strangers would decide to do. Danny played it safe with his choice to “Protect Your Vote” but Xander and JD, still young with a less cynical view of the world, weighed the risk. Depending on my position within the tribe, I think I’d have actually gone with “Risk Your Vote”. With Protect, I don’t lose, but I’m potentially the only one who doesn’t win, and to me, that’s a loss. With Risk, at least if I lose, I don’t lose alone, and if I win, well, I win!

Xander and JD both chose the Risk option, and Xander went back to camp as I would have and told everyone the truth. Coming back empty-handed, anything else would be suspicious, so props to the prep for knowing how to play this twist correctly. He likely knew he was in a safe enough position to take this route; otherwise, I hope he would’ve just played it safe. JD, however, could not have failed more spectacularly even if he tried.

JD's small tale

JD got back to camp and told this ridiculously imaginative tale talking about wind blowing through his hair, cruisin’ across the sea, beating all the way around the damn bush before he got to the important part of the story. If you watch Golden Girls, JD as a storyteller reminded me of Rose whose stories often have no coherent beginning, middle, end, or purpose. The most incredible thing was that JD had very few ill intentions with this. He gave a 90% honest recap of what happened at the summit, but because he botched the entire delivery, Ua thought he was feeding them 100% bullshit. Look at their faces and try to tell me they believed any of that.






Ricard doesn't believe

The first thing that came to my mind in this moment was one of my favorite lines from Billy Madison: “[JD] what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this [camp] is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no [trust], and may Natalie Cole have mercy on your soul.”

Poor kid. Sorry – poor future Survivor player.


Immunity - Come on in

And now for the moment that has social media all abuzz!  Jeff Probst dropping the word “guys” from the phrase, “Come on in, guys!”

At the start of the show, Jeff asked the players if they thought it would be appropriate to drop “guys” from his iconic catchphrase in favor of a more inclusive invitation. Evvie was one to speak up to say that as a queer woman, even she didn’t have objection to the phrase remaining as is, and with no other objection, it was left at that.

Fast forward to Day 3, and after having some time to think about it, Ricard decided that yeah, actually, maybe for the sake of being inclusive, they should drop the word. Great!  Change is fine with me, and the less words Jeff has in an episode, the better, so a win across the board for me!

What I don’t understand is the outrageous backlash this has caused with some people. The logic seems to be, “I’m not offended by this. Therefore, you should not be offended by this” which has always been a completely bonkers line of thought to me. I identify as “a guy” so no, I would never be offended by someone calling me “guy” in a friendly setting (some rando on the street trying to get my attention, yeah — fuck off), but I’m in no position to determine how someone else should be referred. If they don’t want to be called “guy” then don’t call them “guy,” and don’t assume everyone is okay with “guy” just because you’re okay with “guy” whether you identify primarily as a “guy” or not. Why is this so hard to grasp?

Rant over. Of all the things to talk about from this premiere, I just can’t believe that became a big one when there are far sillier things to stew over.


The “shot in the dark” isn’t the worst idea the show has ever had, and the odds of it having a huge impact on the game are just 16.6666666666666…% as of now, but ... meh. If there are players who don’t know when to use their idol properly when it has 100% effectiveness, then I don’t anticipate the shot in the dark having major impact on more than one vote this season — it may just provide for a few more contingency plans.

I’m far more worried about Yase’s future after a second shitty showing. For a minute they looked close to being in the lead, but fumbled at the great equalizing puzzle. Luvu won immunity and the bigger prize of getting a longer break from Jeff while in a shocking twist, Ua and Yase both were faced with tribal council. This I liked, a true two-hour, one-episode premiere, and with only one immunity instead of two on the line, it made for a far more intense first major challenge to experience.


Keeping the tribe strong

We’d been foreshadowed a small face-off between Tiffany and Abraham, and now with Yase having to vote, there was no room for this to hide. Evvie and Liana continued fueling that flame as they relayed Abraham’s persistent plan to vote out Tiffany as the weak link. Abraham, naturally, was appealing to the big strong men that they needed to “keep the tribe strong” — truly an original concept on the show. What a Game Changer!

Voce sounded convinced, stating this was a “different Survivor” with the faster pace of the game requiring more physical demand and strength. Evvie aptly saw through this bullshit logic that not-so-subtly suggested “keeping the tribe strong” = “getting rid of all the women.” I’m glad someone said it out loud!  Still, Tiffany wasn’t totally in the clear yet as this was shaping up to be a 3-3 split between the sexes, so she needed to secure some extra firepower.

Probst hiding advantage

Tiffany not finding advantage

Okay, so I’m a fan of breaking the fourth wall for these types of instances. Showing a frame-by-frame comparison of just how close Tiffany was to finding the note Jeff had hidden at the Yase camp physically hurt me but was admittedly hilarious. I was convinced at this point that the three guys wouldn’t bend on voting for Tiffany, forcing Evvie and Liana to concede, so I needed Tiffany to find whatever this advantage was. Otherwise, I would be watching her walk off as the first boot. Again, original.


Playing like it's 2000

It seemed both tribes were stuck in a bit of a Survivor Stone Age in terms of voting strategy. Sara shed some tears again but this time over feeling responsible for the tribe’s loss. For me, though, Sara wasn’t screaming “Ua boot” to me as much as JD, who was only getting talked up from the words coming out of his own mouth. Then, even Ricard expressed concern over Sara’s safety since all eyes were on her and Shan for pissing away at the puzzle, and between the two, he didn’t see anyone voting for Shan which just left Sara on the chopping block.

Ua dynamics oozed with complexity, however. Well, for everyone except Brad. He just bluntly told Sara and Shan to their faces that his vote would be for one or the other. “This will go over well for Brad,” I thought.


It was shaping to be the same stupid story of “keeping the tribe strong” at Ua as it was at Yase. Sara rightfully challenged this, citing that Brad was playing like people played in 2000 which is ironic considering Brad’s first season he watched was Nicaragua, the first “new school” season if Heroes vs. Villains is the cutoff of the “old” era. It was frustrating to watch Sara’s game sink here as it was like Ua had forgotten all the red flags JD raised the first two and half days, all to be overshadowed by Sara (and Shan’s) one blunder in the challenge.

Credit goes to Shan’s social game here as she and Sara were equally responsible for Ua having to vote, yet no one was speaking Shan’s name as an option. She described her position well — on the bottom because of the challenge, but at the top because of her social game, and in the middle due to the divide between Sara vs. JD on this vote. Thus, Shan was everywhere she needed to be. When you have a strong social game, weakness in a challenge can fast be forgiven.

That’s the distinct difference between Shan and Sara and why I can’t be too upset Sara sat in the hot seat. Was it unfair to vote her out for losing the challenge?  I think so, but if Sara had a social game like Shan’s, then she’d have had nothing to worry about, as evidenced by where Shan stood in all of this. We can be made to believe that challenge performance is super important, but at the end of the day, it’s still the social game that separates the true “strong” from the “weak.”


Not a David tribe

Part of me wishes Yase would’ve voted second so we could say the first tribal council of the season was the explosive Ua one, but maybe it’s best the night ended with the bigger “ooh” and “ahh” moment (see what I did there?)

I also noticed that Voce was placed in the front row here — we know the producers pick seats, so I’m glad they finally heard us about mixing it up from the old “men in the back, women in the front” at tribal. This way, the women get the chance to sit back and observe what’s happening in front of them and not always missing the action behind their backs.

Tiffany talked about tribe harmony in the first answer to Probst’s probing, and Abraham followed up with a distinctly dodgy answer about the voting criteria again being “keeping the tribe strong.” Jeff was visibly annoyed by the vagueness, and so was Tiffany who knew she was the one Anne Robinson had been calling out as the Weakest Link. She returned the callout, claiming Abraham to be someone always talking in circles. The tension was clearly tight between them, as evidenced by this amazing camera shot of Tiffany honing in on target before the vote:

Tiffany and Abraham

The only other major moment of this tribal council for me was Xander expressing how Ua and Luvu may see Yase as the lesser of the three tribes but wanting to show them how they’re “not a David tribe.” I have to assume that hurt David Voce’s ego just a little.

(David) Voce

Jeff quickly reminded Xander that a David actually won David vs. Goliath, which is what made this a subtle standout moment for me. We’ve had similar small moments like this such as when the Blue Collar tribe said something to the effect of, “the winner’s standing on this mat” or the very premise of season 37 being built around David beating Goliath in the well-known biblical tale. I remember a “winners wear gold” line in Nicaragua as well, and Fabio was wearing the yellow-gold buff at the start, although that one may or may not been referring to the infamous Medallion of Power. All that said, could this mean we’re looking at a Yase Sole Survivor? Too early to tell, but if a Yase wins this season, I’ll go back to this and say, “Ha! I was right!” We only know it won’t be Abraham.

Abraham snuffed

First boot, first blindside – I love it!  Up until the votes were being read, I really thought it was going to be an easy 5-1 for Tiffany, but Evvie vied for those votes to make it 5-1 Abraham instead!  I was happy to see Abraham take the turn of events in stride, even smiling in his farewell and being genuinely impressed that he got blindsided as bad as he did. I’m also relieved that Tiffany wasn’t the typical #MomSquad first boot and that Yase outright rejected Abraham trying to pin the vote on the “weak” older woman. This start sets a strong tone for this “new era” that has begun.

In my pre-game assessment, I predicted “Eric” to make the merge (thus, a swipe right in my Tinder game), so should I really be considered wrong for not predicting “Abraham” to be the first boot?  Adding in the name change variable completely altered the equation, so at worst, I think this one counts as a wash. I couldn’t have guessed how far Abraham would go when his name wasn’t even a part of the initial cast list!


Ua whispering

Ua wasted little time turning their tribal council into a “live” one (I guess we’re sticking to that term, huh?) Talk came up, of course, about JD’s adventure to The Summit, and with her name out there, Sara attempted to turn attention to JD for that ahead of this vote. JD defended himself and his actions which evidently was enough for Ricard, Sara, and Shan to huddle (behind his back) and pivot the plan we thought they had — JD — to Brad. From that moment on: mania.

What the ____ is going on?

I was hoping we were rid of the whispering that dominated so much of Winners at War and caused much confusion for fans when we were consistently left outside the loop on critical plot points. Sigh. I think it’s easier to see what happened here, at least. Essentially, this became a 5-1 decision to oust Sara and most of what we saw was theatrics, as evidenced by no one actually feeling frenzied enough to take their shot in the dark. The only twist was seeing Ricard’s name come out of the urn first, but this was likely a contingency in case Sara ended up “safe.” Ricard was the one pushing hardest for Sara to stay, so I’m guessing Genie’s vote was one of insurance. As to who was aware she’d be doing that remains a mystery. I doubt Ricard was expecting it, so regardless of who else knew, we should expect a “live” return to camp if Ricard feels like voicing his opinion, and we know he’s not afraid to do that – that’s what I like about him!

Sara snuffed

Sweet Sara sadly drew the short straw. I felt her frustration over the “Survivor 2000” strategy of booting the person blamed for losing the challenge, but as always, there’s more than what makes the edit. I had literally no feelings one way or the other on Sara before the premiere, and while I didn’t expect her to go far, she made more of an impact that I would have imagined. I appreciated her emotional vulnerability — as a Gabby fan, tears aren’t a turn-off for me — and I ended up rooting for her in her fight to stay when it isn’t always easy to win me over (it helped that JD drove me crazy). Perhaps a predicable early boot archetype, but she at least surprised me before her suspected early boot.



Jeff apparently talked so much this episode that he had no energy left to record a “next time on” voiceover. I guess I said earlier how less Jeff is more, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain, but why aren’t the casual fans freaking out over this omission? The outrage! The audacity!

I love having three tribes to follow and there looks to be action at all beaches next week. Brad’s running and playing hide-and-go-seek, Naseer’s giving away tricks of the trade before Luvu lobs him into the trash, and something makes Liana go “oh fuck no.” I don’t care that these are likely false alarms. Survivor Wednesdays are back and I’ll take anything. My only ask is more Heather content please:




Shan — Among the stars this week, Shan shined the brightest!  Hardly ever do I still feel great or even “okay” about my pre-season winner pick following the premiere, but I can confidently say I’m still living the Shantasy. Shan was strategically and socially at the center of Ua, and the show wouldn’t take the time to give someone their own theme music if they weren’t going to get a lot of mileage from it. No, I think Shan is safely looking to be around for a long time – not just a good time, but I think she’ll be that too!  I love the “mafia pastor” concept and I’m glad that she’s not going to let her spirituality limit her Survivor game. Leave morals at the LAX gate before leaving for Fiji!  I may have finally picked “the one” this time. I can only remember being correct from cast release day with Danni and Kim, so if Shan wins, I’m strictly going to be picking the tall girls to win every single time.

Evvie — Evvie was exactly who I expected her to be — a leading personality and strategic narrator for Yase. Like Shan, I think this episode served plenty of Evvidence that Evvie will go the distance, and frankly I’m glad her fun fashion choices will be on our TV screens all season. She’s bright in every sense of the word and a fantastic casting choice. If not for her, I think Tiffany would’ve been toast here, so I’m thankful Evvie steered us away from a simple and stale first boot story.

Voce — Opposite of Evvie, Voce is not who I expected him to be — mostly — largely in part because I’m still learning to call him “Voce” instead of “David.” I think Voce will still get a kind of clumsy villain edit, one in which he builds himself up full of confidence before a big, satisfying blindside, but what I didn’t expect is as much humor coming from him, at least the kind that had me laughing with him instead of at him. Voce’s reaction to accidentally volunteering himself for the “Sweat” challenge was great, especially with getting the word “weenie” slipped into a Survivor episode. As long as he refrains from starting any more confessionals with, “As a neurosurgeon…” I think I might just enjoy this guy. Can I get an “undo” on that first impression swipe left?

JD — JD makes this list for all the wrong reasons. He was living in his own fantasy world, oblivious to the mistakes he was making, yet somehow didn’t get his name written down at what I thought would be his one and only tribal council. This kid feels like he has a lot to prove, and that makes him prone to getting ahead of himself. Being inspired to be the next Ozzy or Woo doesn’t help his case, but for as much as he made me roll my eyes this week, I can’t deny that he delivered the drama that drove much of the premiere.

Ricard — A snake in the grass if there ever was one, but a definite entertainer — the sass is strong in this one!  Ricard immediately seemed to be off to a strong start, but in losing Sara, Ricard doesn’t look to have as much sway in the tribe as I thought he would — Shan stole the top of the totem pole from him. However, all the points he made were perfect and Ua should have voted out JD, in my opinion. JD’s going to be a huge liability later with his inevitable big-move-itis, but with Ricard not getting his way, I wonder if he’ll also not remain so #UaStrong. I’m still as excited as I was pre-game to watch Ricard play, but after this opening show, I’m a little glad I didn’t commit to him as my winner pick. I only just saw the snake tattoo on TV, and I can’t imagine anyone seeing that and thinking, “there’s who I want to trust most in this game, the guy with a snake on his arm!”  That’s the only reason I haven’t gotten a Slytherin tattoo yet — in case I ever get on Survivor, I want everyone thinking I’m a cute little naïve Hufflepuff. Unfortunately, though, there’s no way I could ever hide my nasty side-eyes.



Ryan KaiserRyan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser