Well, Survivor is back and it's the same as ever. We're doing that stupid "Redemption Island" thing again since it was such a success last year, which means bringing back two more former players. Shockingly, Li'l Russell is not one of them. That doesn't mean the producers still haven't found a way to shoehorn his name into every other scene, however: they brilliantly cast his nephew Brandon, who actually has a tattoo that says "Little Hantz" on his person, thereby making him Little Li'l Russell. Also, he loves Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, our two returning players are the similarly-maned Ozzy (who apparently hasn't cut his hair since the last time he was on this show) and, yes, Coach (I'm still not sure if he's going to be Douche this season or not), both playing for their third time. Ozzy is sent to the Savaii tribe, where he quickly wins his tribemates over with his Ozzy-ness and ability to win the first reward challenge against Coach, whose new tribe, Upolu, didn't really like him very much even before he lost out on the taro and flint reward. But that ends up being okay after Coach's main hater, Christine, alienates herself by going off to look for the immunity idol so obviously that even Coach knows what she's up to and doesn't hesitate to tell the others about it.
Coach is still worried that he'll be the first to be voted out, but it ends up being a moot point after his tribe wins the immunity challenge, thanks, in part, to Ozzy's crush Semhar, who volunteers to be part of the crucial coconut-tossing team and promptly decides she's too tired to throw any coconuts, causing her tribe to lose. This also takes the failure spotlight off of Dawn, who spent the first three days wandering around camp crying about how old she feels and how she misses being able to drink water all the time. You'd think she would try not to cry so as not to waste the little water she did have, but no. So instead of Dawn being the obvious choice to send home, it's between Semhar and John, a Harvard Law student who has watched every minute of every episode of Survivor and still somehow has no idea how to play any aspect of it. It is truly amazing how clueless about everything. In the end, though, his tribe decides to keep him in the game in the hopes that he might get better at something and vote out Semhar, figuring she can only get worse.
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Survivor is back, and things have changed: I now live in New York City. That's about it. The show is exactly the same, of course. The same opening shots on helicopters (seriously, this is like the third or fourth season in a row that began in a helicopter - surely they can find a new mode of transportation soon?), the same location (yes, we're back in Samoa - I mean, "the South Pacific"), the same concept from last season, and two of contestants we've seen before, who we are introduced through shots of their beautiful flowing locks while Jeff Probst, who just won the same undeserved Emmy for reality show hosting he gets every year, re-introduces us to Ozzy and Coach, this season's returning players. While I hate this returning players thing and don't understand why we're giving these guys a third chance when there are plenty of other contestants I'd love to see get a second one, I must admit that I'm a: SO HAPPY that Li'l Russell isn't back again; and b: surprisingly pleased to see Coach again. I still can't figure out how he managed to go from being one of my least favorite contestants ever to one I actually enjoy watching. Coach gets a dramatic slow-motion montage of his most intense moments as he says that he's hoping to "control [his] sense of self-righteousness and judgment" this time around. But just when you think Coach has truly gained some real insight and self-awareness, he adds that he wants to prove someone can win this game "with honor and integrity."
Back in the helicopter, Coach turns to his seatmate Ozzy with a creepily flirtatious smile. At least, I think that's Ozzy. With his new long hair and smirk of superiority, this may well be Coach's mirror reflection. Oh, no, it's definitely Ozzy. He tells us how awesome he was at everything in Survivor except for the social game, and he's hoping his newfound maturity will help him actually win this time around.
With that, Probst allows us to meet some of the new contestants. There's John "don't call me Johnnie" Cochran, who claims to be "the most Survivor-savvy player ever to play the game." He'd better be pretty damn savvy from here on out after saying something like that. I am expecting great things from him. He says he's watched every single episode of the show and even wrote a "prize-winning essay" for his law school class about it. I wonder what prize that was? It can't possibly be as worthless as Probst's host Emmy, but pretty close, surely. Elyse tells us that she doesn't have much outdoor living experience, but she's part Native American so maybe her ancestors will help her out. Yeah, I wouldn't wish for that after we all saw what Phillip's Native American great-uncle did for him last season. Unless, you know, she wants to look as insane and stupid as possible on national television.