Season 25: Episode 1 - Survivor Smacked Me In The Chops
Posted on Sep 20, 2012 12:00am

In the ocean just off the Philippine Islands, three boats travel towards each other. The first boat contains fifteen new castaways who have already been divided into three tribes. One of the new castaways is Jeff Kent, the 44 year-old retired baseball player from Austin, TX. He is used to pressure after playing professional baseball for seventeen years in front of huge crowds. Jeff reveals, "This will be a challenge for me no doubt, but I'm hoping people don't recognize me." Another famous castaway, Lisa Whelchel, the 49 year-old former teen TV star from Dallas, TX, also wishes to have her past years on The Facts of Life show not revealed in the game. As a huge fan of SURVIVOR, Lisa admits, "I'm getting to be just Lisa." Jeff Probst, the host and executive producer, is driving the second boat. He points out that SURVIVOR is one of the most thrilling and dangerous games on TV. The third boat contains three returning Survivors who all had to leave the game early due to medical emergencies. Russell Swan, the 45 year-old who was on SURVIVOR: SAMOA admits, "The last time I played, SURVIVOR smacked me in the chops and this time I'm smacking back." Jonathan Penner, the 50 year-old who was on both SURVIVOR: COOK ISLANDS and SURVIVOR: MICRONESIA vows, "Thirty-nine days from now, I will make a million dollars." The last returning player is Michael Skupin, the 50 year-old from SURVIVOR: THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK who was medically evacuated for severe burns after falling into the fire. Michael admits, "I'm in love with the fact that I'm able to come out here and do it again."

Jeff Probst joins the fifteen new castaways' on their boat and welcomes them to SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES. He points out that there are three tribes this time versus the normal two. Jeff Kent comments that with fewer people on each tribe the odds are greater that you will be voted out if your tribe goes to Tribal Council. Jeff Probst reminds the castaways that SURVIVOR is a very physically demanding game. He says, "Over twenty-four seasons, many players have seen their shot at a million dollars cut short because they had to be evacuated for medical reasons." Jeff then informs the new castaways that three returning players will join them. Just then, Jonathan, Russell and Michael pull up and join the others on their boat. Jeff introduces Russell who passed out during a challenge due to severe dehydration and invites him to join the blue Matsing tribe. Jonathan who suffered a life threatening infection in his leg on his last season joins the red Kalabaw tribe. Finally, Michael from the second season of SURVIVOR where he severely burnt his hands in the fire joins the yellow Tandang tribe. Jeff Probst reminds the new castaways that these three returning players bring with them valuable game experience. As Michael greets his tribe, he tells Jeff, "It's amazing to be here. I mean, I can't even believe it." Jeff Probst then informs them all that hidden immunity idols are already in play they just have to be found. Also, the boat they are on is loaded with supplies and a raft for each tribe. They have sixty seconds to gather as many supplies as they can and get them off the boat onto their rafts. Everyone jumps up and starts scrambling to gather the supplies, which include firewood, fruit, chickens, ropes and baskets. As they are down to their last ten seconds, people start lowering the rafts and throwing their supplies overboard. Jeff Kent's leg gets twisted as he helps to lower his tribes' raft into the ocean. As the three tribes start paddling towards their separate camps on their rafts, Jonathan asks his tribe mate Jeff Kent if his leg is okay. Jeff's knee is hurting, but he doesn't want to show any weakness to his tribe. He admits, "Within the first three minutes, my knee's pinned and I could possibly have torn my MCL. This is too bad to believe."

Matsing celebrates as they reach their beach and exit their raft. Russell feels blessed to be playing SURVIVOR again and vows to not make the same mistakes that he did before. He reveals, "So the last time I played this game, I was in this leadership role, but this time the whole leadership ain't going to happen." Russell then calls his tribe together and tells them that there will be no leaders and they will work as a team. He then instructs them to gather building materials, so they can start work on the shelter. Everyone pitches in to help out. Russell instructs his tribe mates on how to cut bamboo and build the shelter. Malcolm Freberg, the 25 year-old bartender from Hermosa Beach, CA starts getting annoyed by Russell calling all the shots. Angie Layton, the 20 year-old student from Provo, UT, comments about Russell, "We do need a leader, but I just feel like we should all kind of just work together, not like for him." Malcolm volunteers to try and start a fire. He sets everything up and then lets Russell be the first to try and make fire. With Malcolm's guidance, Russell successfully starts a fire with just bamboo and twigs. The Matsing tribe is thrilled to have fire on day one. Malcolm is glad that he let Russell start the fire saying, "Russell is the one who actually did it, which actually works out in a way, because he wants to be the leader so bad."

Jonathan praises his tribe as they arrive on their beach. They all immediately get to work to take the supplies off the raft and to set up camp. Jeff is worried and frustrated about the pain in his knee. He is no stranger to knee injuries since they are not uncommon in baseball. He reveals, "I don't want anybody to know I'm hurt. I'm trying to play it off the best I can for now." Jonathan is excited about his tribe and nervous about the game twist of having three tribes. As he shares a coconut with his tribe, Jonathan admits, "It's very moving. It's moving to be here. It's moving to be doing this again." Later, Jeff takes advantage of the fact that Jonathan is away from camp and suggests to the rest of his tribe that one of them should win the game instead of Jonathan who is a returning player. They discuss learning as much as they can from Jonathan and then voting him out. Dana Lambert, the 32 year-old cosmetologist from Winston-Salem, NC, comments about Jonathan saying, "I think he has had his time and I think that "˜um I'd like to see one of us win it."

Michael is pleased with the mix of people on his Tandang tribe. As they are carrying in their possessions from the raft onto their beach, Michael admits, "There's a lot of people that said maybe you should never play again." These people warned him that others are going to compare the legend he was in Australia to the man he is today. Michael responds, "It's a huge risk, but it's what drives me." RC Saint-Amour, the 27 year-old investment banker from New York, NY explores the island for a good location for their shelter with Abi-Maria Gomes, the 32-year old business student from Los Angeles, CA. While they are away from the others, RC and Abi get to know each other and realize they have a lot in common. They quickly form an alliance and agree to invite Michael and Pete Yurkowski, the 24-year old engineering graduate from Holmdel, NJ, to join them. RC admits, "Abi and I just really connect on a good level and so hopefully that continues throughout the entire game." Abi is now a US citizen who was born in Brazil. She plans on using her strong Brazilian accent and her charm to flirt with her tribe mates and gain their favor. Pete is her first target as she gets him to cut some bamboo for her. He comments on Abi, "She's pretty hot and she could definitely do some damage." Later, RC and Abi pull Pete aside and invite him into their alliance. He eagerly accepts their invitation. RC wants to make sure they her alliance has the majority numbers in the Tandang tribe, so she meets with Michael next and tells him, "I don't think we can lose with you in an alliance." Michael is surprised that people are creating alliances so quickly, but is determined to follow the pace of his tribe rather than set it. He agrees to join RC's alliance.

As the Kalabaw tribe works together to build their shelter, they are learning more about each other. For example, Jeff informs his tribe mates that he has a working ranch in Texas and owns a motorcycle dealership. Dana is also from the South and enjoys riding four wheelers. So, she is relieved that she has things in common with at least one of her tribe mates, since she feels different from the rest of them with her spiky hair and tattoos. Dana comments, "So maybe me and Jeff can pull some southern roots together and bond on that." Jeff is worried that his tribe will feel he is not deserving of winning SURVIVOR, if they find out that he was a professional baseball player and made a lot of money. Jeff reveals, "I've been a fan of the show for a long time and I want to play the game." Sarah Dawson, the 28 year-old insurance salesperson from Silver Spring, MD, does know about Jeff's baseball career even though he has not shared it with the tribe. She decides to keep this information to herself for now, but reveals, "I will tell him that I know, as soon as it becomes valuable to me."

Over at Tandang, Lisa is answering questions from RC and Abi about where she is from and her current career. Lisa reveals, "I don't plan to volunteer that I was on a television series, because nobody will give me a million dollars, because they feel like I've already had my fifteen minutes of fame." Unfortunately, she has lost all the money that she made on the TV show, The Facts of Life. So, Lisa's plan is to connect positively with each player and gain his or her favor. Lisa is at a crossroads in her life, as she gets this time away from her family and career. She admits, "I'm excited about the game because I love the game, but on a whole other level I'm really excited about what's going to change inside me." As the rest of Tandang goes to explore the island, Lisa stays behind to try and start a fire. This gives RC a chance to check in with her alliance and express her concern about Lisa being smart but not trustworthy. Michael knows about Lisa's past and feels that she may be better received by the younger tribe members if she reveals her past fame. Later that day, Michael tells Lisa that he recognized her from the start and knows who she is. Lisa tells him that she plans on keeping it quiet unless someone bring is up at which point she will be open about it. Michael respects her wishes, but he is worried about her, since the rest of his alliance doesn't trust her and wants to vote her out next. He says, "I don't want it to be her, but if I'm going to get with the team that's playing the game, I got to go with the game, as opposed to your heart."

On day two at the Matsing camp, Zane Knight, the 28 year-old tire repair person from Danville, VA, and Denise Stapley, the 41 year-old sex therapist from Cedar Rapids, IA, gather wood for their tribe along the beach. As they work, Denise finds out where Zane is from and what he does for a living. Zane enjoys their conversation and recommends that they work together in the game and form an alliance. Denise agrees. Later, Zane talks to Roxy Morris, the 28 year-old seminary student from Brooklyn, NY, and asks her to be in an alliance with him. Roxy agrees. She reveals, "Zane's interesting because Zane is the guy that I didn't think that would be my favorite." After talking to Zane, Roxy does feel like she can trust him though. Zane's next target is Angie. He finds her collecting rocks and asks her if she has an alliance yet. Angie does not and tells Zane that she likes him. He replies, "You just keep me right there and I'll keep you." Zane is happy to add Angie to his list of alliances. Finally, Zane approaches Malcolm and Russell while they are working at the fire. He proposes that the three of them form an alliance, since they are the strongest ones in the tribe. When Russell and Malcolm agree, Zane tells them that he has already made alliances with the women in the tribe, so if they want to add a woman to their male alliance he can make it happen. Russell says he is fine with just the three of them for right now. Russell, Malcolm and Zane shake hands to confirm their alliance. Zane is proud of himself. He boosts, "I'm already a superstar. I've made alliances with everybody on the tribe and everybody seems to think that I'm their only alliance." Zane feels like he is in charge of who gets voted out next. Later, Malcolm compares notes with Denise. He tells her that Zane has made an alliance with everyone. Denise recommends that they don't condemn Zane yet, but keep a close eye on him. Malcolm finds it helpful to discuss things with Denise who with her therapist career is very good at analyzing people. Malcolm and Denise like the way each other thinks, so they make an alliance. Denise comments on Malcolm, "He's young, but he's wise and instantly we just clicked."

Over at the Tandang tribe, Michael suggests that they get a roof on their shelter, so they can be protected from the rain. He helps out by using the machete to cut some bamboo pieces, until the machete slips and he cuts his hand. Next he scrapes his head on a twig as he collects palm fronds for the shelter. RC starts to worry about Michael and encourages him to keep his cuts clean. Michael assures everyone he is fine and continues working. RC comments, "I think he thinks he's Superman. You know, Superman needs to take a little bit of a break." Later, Michael comes hobbling in from the beach with a big gash in his foot. As the ladies help him clean up his wound, Michael admits, "You know, it's just the way I go through life "¦ act first, think second." He is not worried about any of his injuries though. Next, Michael uses the machete to get the meat out of a coconut and nicks his finger as the machete slips. Pete comments, "Mike's a complete mess. It's not funny that he gets hurt, but it's funny that it happens over and over again."

Jonathan spends day two searching for the hidden immunity idol at Kalabaw, while the rest of the tribe is staying out of the rain in a cave. Jonathan's tribe mates know that he is looking for the idol and don't feel good about it. Katie admits, "I already don't like the shady stuff that's going around with Jonathan." Jonathan searches around unique trees and rocks until he decides to look in the rice bag that they received with the usual machete and pot. Much to his delight, Jonathan finds a clue to the idol's location, which tells him that it is someone near the