Season 18: Episode 1 - Let's Get Rid of the Weak Players Before We Even Start
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am


Sixteen Americans from different walks of life sit on the back of a flatbed truck, unaware of the adventure that lies ahead, as it roars through an arid and unfamiliar land. They are in one of the most desolate and unforgiving places in Brazil: Tocantins. Located deep within the central highlands of the country, Tocantins has one of the harshest climates with temperatures topping one-hundred twenty degrees. Sudden storms are known to ignite dangerous wildfires in an instant, and wildlife such as vipers, crocodiles, and pumas lurk in the shadows of this vast region. The only sources of water in this high desert are rivers, such as the Rio Novo, which are hidden throughout the land. The new castaways have already been divided into two tribes: Jalapao, in red, and Timbira, in black. The Timbira Tribe consists of Coach, Candace, Tyson, Brendan, Debbie, Sierra, Jerry and Erinn. The Jalapao Tribe consists of Sandy, Carolina, JT, Joe, Taj, Sydney, Stephen and Spencer.

Although none of the castaways have exchanged a single word yet, first impressions are already forming. "The younger brunette…she comes off to me as kinda being the bitch," admits Tyson Apostol, the 29 year-old professional cyclist from Lindon, Utah. "We have the strung-out old lady, and it is sort of encouraging to have her because you know you're not going to be the first to go," says Stephen Fishbach, the 29 year-old corporate consultant from New York, New York. On the other hand, the so-called "strung-out old lady" has a few things to say about Stephen. "The real tall boy…I think he's like a geek! I think I should be able to lead him around real easy," shouts Sandy Burgin, the 53 year-old bus driver from Louisville, Kentucky.

As the truck comes to a halt in the middle of nowhere, host Jeff Probst greets the new castaways and presents them with an opportunity to gather supplies that have been loaded on the truck to aid in their survival. Jeff Probst explains to the tribes that they will have sixty seconds to unload as many supplies as they can. Without hesitation, Probst tells them their time starts now. Both tribes frantically begin throwing watermelons, water jugs, bananas, beans, and wooden crates off the truck. Jeff stops them after sixty seconds and then asks the castaways what their first impressions are. Benjamin "Coach" Wade, the 37 year-old soccer coach from Bolivar, Missouri, smugly states, "It seemed like we all knew what we were gonna get. We got all the water, we got all the beans. We've got everything we need." Spencer Duhm, the 19-year old student from Lakeland, Florida, speaks for the Jalapao Tribe when Jeff Probst puts his tribe on the spot about not collecting any water or beans. "We'll be alright," he confidently states.

Jeff Probst tosses a map and a compass to each tribe to aid in their four hour trek to camp. Before the shock of this settles in, the castaways are thrown a surprising twist: they will now have their first vote, and one person from each tribe will not be making this journey. Based solely on first impressions, the tribes cast their votes. Jalapao almost unanimously votes for Sandy, which sets her off. "I am pissed. I am so pissed," she fumes. Meanwhile, Timbira unanimously votes for Sierra Reed, the 23 year-old model from Los Angles, California. Sierra sniffles and chokes up after the votes have been read and reveals that she has strep throat, which explains why she appears to be so miserable. Jeff Probst catches the new castaways off guard again when he reveals that the two people who they thought were "voted off" were only being excused from the four hour trek to camp. They will instead be flown by helicopter to their respective camps while the rest of their tribemates make their way on foot. "Thank you God!" Sandy exclaims. Jeff reminds Sandy that this is a game of social integration and since she was already singled out as the weakest of her tribe, she and Sierra must now use this head start to camp to figure out a way to change their standings with their respective tribemates. Jeff sends Sandy and Sierra off in a helicopter as the rest of their tribes begin the difficult four hour trek to their camps.


As the Jalapao Tribe sets off on their hike, they begin to quickly regret their decision to bring heavy watermelons instead of beans and water. Spencer Duhm, the youngest Survivor castaway ever at 19 years old, reflects on the difficulties he faced: "The trek was treacherous. It was hot. The sun was high. It was not easy by any means." Jalapao soon questions the direction they are headed, and Taj asks, "Are we going the right way, Joe?" Joe and the rest of the tribe stop to check their compass as Carolina annoyingly states the obvious: "Remember the compass always faces north." In the end, it is JT who wins the confidence of his tribe as he leads them on the pathway to their camp. JT, the 24 year-old cattle rancher from Samson, Alabama, feels confident that he will go far in the game. "I know I'm gonna be good at catching fish, and I know I'm gonna be good at providing, but that also will put me out in the front of everybody else as a threat eventually," he proclaims.

In another remote area of Tocantins, the Timbira Tribe struggles to make their way to camp. Erinn Lobdell, the 26 year-old hairstylist from Waukesha, Wisconsin, complains, "What the hell am I doing out here? I'm a hairstylist. The last time I went camping I was maybe in the seventh grade." The Timbira Tribe drops their supplies to take a breather. Brendan Synnott, the 30 year-old entrepreneur from New York, New York, questions whether Jerry Sims, the 49 year-old U.S. Army sergeant from Rock Hill, South Carolina, is in the proper shape to play the game. "Dude, what else do you do to stay in shape?" asks Brendan. "Eat potato chips and watch TV!" laughs Jerry. Benjamin Wade, or "Coach" as everyone calls him, shares his high opinion of himself. "I consider myself a Renaissance Man adventurer. I'm a university head soccer coach and the polar opposite of that is that I am the conductor and artistic director of a symphony in Northern California. I'm always used to being a leader by inspiring and pulling out the best in everybody because, as we all know, a team is as good as its weakest player." Coach continues to preach about his own honor and nobility to his tribemates as they continue their journey to camp.


Sierra and Sandy sit quietly in the helicopter as it drops Sandy off at the Jalapao camp. She breaks down immediately upon arrival, expressing shock that her tribemates, whom she barely knows, have already singled her out as the outcast. Sandy huffs and puffs, "It scared me so bad, but now I'm gonna make it to thirty-nine days. I'm gonna show 'em because maybe I'm the older woman, but I'm older and I'm wiser…and this game is mine. That's what I believe with all my heart. So let the games begin."


At the Jalapao camp, Sandy finds a note which gives her the option to set up camp, thus improving her position with her tribemates, or to search for clues to a hidden immunity idol. Sandy excitedly stands up and shouts, "I'm gonna go find my idol!" Sandy rejects the option of building a shelter with the supplies that were lying at her camp simply because, "It still ain't gonna keep my name off that piece of paper, so I'm gonna look for the idol and that's the bottom line because you have to look out for number one and that's me."

Sierra is dropped off at the Timbira camp, and also finds a note giving her the choice to build her camp with materials provided to her, or search for clues to a hidden immunity idol. For Sierra, the smart choice is to win her tribemates over by building a shelter. "Yeah I could go and try to look for an immunity idol and try to protect my butt, but my prerogative is looking good in the eyes of my crew," Sierra explains.


With dusk approaching, the Jalapao Tribe makes it to camp and is greeted by Sandy. Taj immediately asks Sandy why their shelter has not been built. Carolina shares the same frustrations as the rest of her tribe: "We have just trekked four hours carrying pots and watermelons and then we get here and it's like Sandy didn't do anything." Sandy has a viewpoint of her own on her passive decision: "The bottom line is this: when we go to Tribal Council, you're gonna write down my name again. Now why the hell do I even want to waste my energy on tryin' to get in your good graces when [it] wasn't even an option."

At nightfall, the Timbira Tribe finally makes it to their camp where Sierra has been working tirelessly building a shelter. Jerry and the others notice the amount of work she put in to building the camp and praise her for her hard work. Sierra then explains that she is sorry that she tried to hide the fact that she was sick with strep throat, and her tribe reassures her that she would not have made it on the trek due to her illness. Although it would appear that she has won her tribe over by building a shelter, Coach has a different opinion. "Obviously I'm pushing for the strong to survive, so I think that Sierra, even though she's awesome, she's got to go."


The next morning, the Jalapao Tribe has erected a shelter and is putting the finishing touches on it. As JT patiently leads his tribe through this, Carolina feels that she should put in her two cents, which irks her tribemates. "Let's just try to get everything done as soon as possible and relax," she whines. In the meantime, having read her first clue, Sandy sneaks away from camp to dig at the river bank in search of the next clue that will lead her to the hidden immunity idol. Sandy proceeds to dig up half the beach and finds the clue, which tells her to walk ten paces toward a lone palm tree and dig in the sand. "What's a pace?" Sandy asks herself.


Back at Timbira, Tyson asks the tribe if he should shed his underwear as he helps Candace, Debbie and Sierra collect water from the river. Candace, Debbie and Sierra scream and giggle as Tyson disrobes. "I'm probably not the stereotypical Mormon," Tyson confesses. "Having somebody that can make you laugh in an environment like this where everybody is dirty and tired…I think people appreciate that," he continues.


Jalapao and Timbira arrive on their respective colored mats as host Jeff Probst explains the rules of the first immunity challenge. Six members of each tribe will race across a series of sand mounds and into the river where they must retrieve a raft loaded with puzzle planks. Once they have the raft back to shore, they will release the puzzle planks by untying the ropes that secure them to the raft. They will then race those puzzle planks back to the start where the two remaining tribe members will use those puzzle planks to build a staircase. Each puzzle plank is different and will only fit into the staircase one way. Once all tribe members make it to the top of the staircase, any two tribe members must work together to navigate a peg through a table maze allowing them to release their tribe flag. The first tribe to raise their flag wins fire, in the form of flint, and immunity.

Building the staircase for Jalapao are Taj and Sandy and, for Timbira, Sierra and Erinn. Everybody else is running to retrieve puzzle planks from the river. The castaways are off to a fast start, with JT ahead of the pack. Jalapao has a mild head start as both tribes carry their rafts with puzzle planks through the water and to the shore. The tribes untie their puzzle planks and struggle to carry the heavy pieces across steep sand mounds. Jeff reminds the tribes that the current temperature is one hundred and twenty degrees. Sandy and Sierra, the two outcasts, take control of the challenge as they lead their respective tribes through their efforts to complete the staircase puzzle. Sandy and Taj prove to be an effective team as they give Jalapao a huge lead over Timbira, completing their staircase with a comfortable lead over the opposing tribe. The lead quickly fades as Sydney and Spencer set to work slowly on the table maze for Jalapao. In no time, Timbira's staircase is complete and Erinn and Brendan move quickly through the table maze as Sydney and Spencer continue to struggle. With the utmost confidence, Erinn and Brendan race through the maze and are ultimately successful. Timbira wins immunity and fire, in the form of flint, sending Jalapao to their first Tribal Council.


The Jalapao Tribe returns to camp and, with Tribal Council looming, the obvious person on the chopping block is Sandy. Taj, Stephen and Carolina take a dip in the river and Carolina once again decides to voice her opinion about the shelter. "Our little projects, we never finish them," she pouts. She continues to bicker about her tribe's lack of progress, which irritates Taj. "When we first came back [from the challenge] the first thing you're gonna tell somebody is to clean up? Clean up the outdoors?" Taj snaps. Carolina admits that she is very opinionated and regularly speaks her mind, but Taj advises Carolina to calm down because she tends to panic. As the tribe members discuss who to vote out, they are torn between Carolina and Sandy. JT expresses that he is tired of Carolina's "do-nothing" attitude considering that she constantly bosses everyone around. Meanwhile, Sandy is determined to stay in the game. "I'm glad I'm here today and I'm hoping that I'm gonna be here tomorrow," says Sandy. "I'm definitely gonna figure out what ten paces are and I'm gonna dig this time under anything and everything I guess."


At Tribal Council, Sandy is singled out as the tribe outcast based on the first vote, and it is the general consensus that she did nothing to redeem herself at camp. Sandy defends herself by stating that, although she acknowledges this, she was simply trying to regroup on her own. Sandy demonstrates her various eccentricities while attempting to plead her case. "The old lady can also fit into this tribe of all these kids that could be mine," she exclaims. Jeff Probst bluntly asks her, "Sandy…you a little crazy?" "Oh I'm a lot crazy," she humbly replies to the amusement of her tribe. The spotlight then turns to Carolina, who openly admits to voicing her opinion when it may or may not be needed. With this, the tribe members cast their votes. In the end, Carolina is blindsided. With seven out of the eight votes cast against her, Carolina Eastwood, the 26 year-old bartende