As you already know if you've seen any advertisements or read any Internet articles, this season is another Fans vs. Favorites edition. So let's start with the Favorites (or "Favorites" as the case may be). We've got Malcolm from last season, Cochran, Dawn and Brandon Hantz, Brenda, Erik the Dummy, Andrea, Corinne, Crazy Philip Pink Undies and his nemesis Francesca (or Franchessqua, as he pronounced it).
As soon as they all arrive, they participate in a challenge to win flint and twenty pounds of beans. It involves a race through thigh-deep water to retrieve a ring and bring it back to the starting pole. One man and one woman from each team compete together. Erik hilariously goes up against the giant Shamar in the first round and loses, but the Favorites get it back in the next round. Crazy Philip dominates in the next round and the Favorites take a lead. In the next round, they trade genders with Cochran defending the female fan and Francesca taking on the dude. Francesca totally holds her own and nearly drowns her opponent on the way to winning the round. The two alpha males (Malcolm for the Favorites and Reynold for the Fans) go head to head. Probst pops a boner even before Malcolm's shorts fall down and he wins anyway. The Favorites win the first challenge.
The Fans tribe is Gota and they head to camp. Shamar insists that their first priority should be making fire so they can boil water. A few people (mostly Matt, the Sons of Anarchy reject) start building a shelter and Shamar protests, and he and Matt get into it. Meanwhile, Shamar was sitting around sweating instead of trying to start a fire. Then again, Shamar's a huge dude; I think he's probably used to getting his way. Eventually Shamar gets off his ass and starts fire (with the tribe's help) so he probably saved himself.
Over on Favorites (Bikal), Francesca, Dawn and Andrea make an immediate alliance. Francesca tries to smooth things over with Philip, who is crazy so there's no point. Philip has decided to play by Boston Rob rules and he makes an immediate alliance with Corinne, Andrea, Malcolm, Cochran and I guess Erik? He assigns codenames to everyone. He's crazy. Did I mention that?
There are other alliances happening on Gota. Reynold makes a Final Two alliance with Alli, and talks about how they need to be cool with each other around camp and how she's not the cutest so it won't be obvious? And then they get cuddly that night in the shelter and others notice. Eddie makes an alliance (and hopes to make more) with Hope because they're the two best-looking people there. I mean, those are his words.
Eddie, Alli, Hope and Reynold giggle and agree that they are the "cool kid lunch table" and start hanging out with only each other and assume everyone else wants to be with them. Wow, do they not understand non-cool people. Everyone else aligns against them, obviously. Matt and Michael make a super secret sub-alliance where they decide to float and see which major alliance to join.
At the Immunity Challenge, the teams have to toss crates off a balcony so that they break open and give access to the sandbags inside. Once all the crates are dropped, the last two players have to toss sandbags into holes on a board until all six are full. Reynold beats Malcolm in the tossing despite Malcolm having a lead going into it and the Fans win the first Immunity, as well as the flint they were lacking.
Obviously, there is a lot of wheeling and dealing back at the Favorites camp. Andrea seems to be playing all sides. Francesca wants to get rid of Philip or Corinne, and she's incredibly paranoid. And she may not be wrong, since Philip is gunning for her. Erik and Brandon seem to be getting tight. Dawn and Cochran are tight. Just before they go to the vote, Brandon and Erik realize that Andrea is playing all sides so they convince Francesca to switch the vote to her. So Malcolm, Dawn, Philip, Andrea, Cochran and Corinne end up voting for Francesca, while Brenda, Francesca, Brandon and Erik vote for Andrea. That means Francesca gets voted out again. I was kind of surprised by Dawn, but I guess Cochran probably swayed her.
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Probst voiceover introduces us to this season's setting (Caramoan Islands) as we see various wildlife skittering around. Ten fans of the show (allegedly) are on a catamaran, heading to their temporary home. There are two guys who actually get talking heads - one looks like a reject from Sons of Anarchy and the other is a former Marine who served in Iraq. All of the contestants on the boat are checking one another out, trying to suss out who might be strong competition and who might be worthy of an alliance.
The other tribe, the Favorites, gets to fly in on a helicopter. This tribe consists of: Malcolm from last season, who has the advantage of no one else seeing his season yet, since this was filmed before his season aired. Cochran, the nebbishy nerd who kept flipping until everyone realized he couldn't be trusted. Dawn, whose loyalty meant she didn't join Cochran in flipping and ended up on the minority faction. Brenda, who thought she was running things until her elimination showed her she wasn't. Erik, who committed what may be the dumbest Survivor move of all time - giving up an Immunity Idol at Tribal, and then getting voted out. Of course, Brandon did the same thing, but it was less because of manipulation by others, and more because he's nutso. Andrea, who I don't really remember except that she was part of Boston Rob's harem until she wasn't. Corinne, whom I also don't remember except that she was on the season with Bob and Sugar. Phillip, the crazy guy in the pink undies. Francesca, who was voted out first in her season so why is she back again? I wouldn't say that any of these people were my favorites. I liked Malcolm all right last season, and Dawn never bugged me that much. I couldn't much care about the rest of them.
The Fans' boat arrives on the beach. The first guy off bites it into the water, which was great, because he's wearing hipster hat and glasses, so you know he thought he was super cool. Probst welcomes them and then announces that they'll be playing against returning favorites. And Malcolm, who will be a stranger to them. Probst introduces each Favorite one-by-one and the Fans offer commentary like "She's dangerous" and "That's Russell's nephew!" I would just be like, "Who?"
Probst tosses each tribe a bag full of buffs and says they're going to start out with a challenge. This Reward Challenge is sort of a "Capture the Flag" scenario. Each team puts a man and a woman on the course (which is thigh-deep water), and they have to try to grab a ring and bring it back to their own flag to earn a point while their opponents are trying to A) stop them and B) get the ring for themselves. The first tribe to earn four points wins flint and a sack of beans.