Season 19: Episode 1 - The Puppet Master
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am


Deep in the heart of the South Pacific, twenty Americans are marooned on the island nation of Samoa.  These castaways have already been divided into two tribes: Galu, in purple, and Foa Foa, in yellow.  The Galu Tribe consists of Brett, John, Russell Swan, Dave, Monica, Shambo, Yasmin, Laura, Kelly and Erik.  The Foa Foa Tribe consists of Ben, Jaison, Mick, Russell Hantz, Mike, Marisa, Liz, Betsy, Natalie and Ashley.  As the two tribes paddle their way to shore, first impressions are already forming.  "There's a guy who looks tough as nails. He looks like a pit bull. He's like, I wouldn't want to mess with him, that's for sure," says Marisa, in reference to her beefy tribemate, Russell.  "I plan on making it as miserable as possible.  Making it hell for everybody to get what I want," confesses Russell of Foa Foa.  For the next thirty-nine days, these castaways will push themselves to the limit to find out who has what it takes to outwit, outplay and outlast all the rest and become the Sole Survivor.


As the castaways arrive on a lush tropical beach, they are greeted by host Jeff Probst.  Both Galu and Foa Foa stand on their respective colored mats as they are welcomed to Survivor: Samoa.  For their first test, Jeff Probst assigns the first tribe decision: each tribe must elect a leader.  Based only on body language and first impressions, the castaways are left with a difficult first decision to make, as Monica points out.  "Taking on a leadership role in a game like Survivor is a death wish," she says.  Each of the tribe members cast their votes in private on a piece of parchment and head back to their mats.  

Probst first asks the Galu Tribe to reveal their votes.  One of the top three contenders for leader is Shambo, a bandana-wearing mullet-sporting ex-Marine, who reveals where she got her unique nickname.  "I was in the United States Marine Corps and Rambo had the same bandana I had, so everybody was like, "˜Shannon, Rambo "“ Shambo,' so that's my game name and that's what I'm here to do is play," Shambo proudly states.  Ultimately, with the majority of five votes cast for him with Erik and Shambo right behind him, Russell Swan is elected the tribe leader for Galu.  Foa Foa almost unanimously votes for Mick Trimming, the 33 year-old doctor from Los Angeles, California, with Jaison the runner-up.  Ben Browning, the 28 year-old bar manager from Los Angeles, California, is not surprised that he was not chosen to be the leader.  "I've shot and killed and cleaned about everything you're allowed to in Missouri and probably a few things you're not.  So I've done all this stuff before and I think a lot of these people are candy-asses," says Ben.  Jeff Probst then gives the new leaders their first task: they must put their leadership skills to the test by selecting members of their tribe to fulfill specific roles in the first reward challenge.


For the first pick, Mick chooses Jaison to be the swimmer for Foa Foa.  "I played water polo through college in the national team, so I would like to think I'm a pretty good swimmer," Jaison reveals.  Russell chooses John as the swimmer for Galu, Erik as the strongest, Yasmin as the most agile, and Shambo as the smartest.  Mick chooses Russell as the strongest person for Foa Foa, Marisa as the most agile, and Liz as the smartest.  Liz, an Asian American, sees her selection as being stereotyped.  "I think Mick chose me because I'm Asian and, while I certainly don't take offense to the positive attributes of being an Asian because they're smart, they're supposed to be studious.  There are also negative attributes like sneaky, conniving, and I just don't want people attributing all of the negative attributes to me," Liz worries.

After the participants have been chosen, host Jeff Probst explains the rules of the challenge.  The designated swimmer will swim out, retrieve a key, and swim back to shore.  The designated strong person will use that key to unlock a chain, freeing up two very heavy bundles of logs.  They will then carry those logs back to their mat where the most agile person will use those logs to get up to a balance beam.  They must maneuver across the balance beam while navigating another key through a rope maze.  The designated smart person will use that key to unlock a bag of puzzle pieces, using the pieces to solve the puzzle.  The first tribe to solve the puzzle will win fire in the form of flint.

Jeff yells, "Go!" and the swimmers race off into the water.  Jaison wastes no time as he retrieves the key for Foa Foa, much to Mike's shock.  "Afro Americans aren't known to be swimmers, you know?" Mike marvels.  John soon has the key for Galu and races back to the mat just behind Jaison.  Russell lifts the heavy bundle of logs with ease and darts back to the mat for Foa Foa while Erik struggles to make up time for Galu.  Erik screams and drops the heavy bundle of logs before making his way back to Galu's mat as Marisa of Foa Foa carefully maneuvers across the balance beam.  Yasmin catches up to Marisa and the puzzle solvers are soon off in a race to the finish.  Shambo and Liz are nearly neck-and-neck but, in the end, Liz wins it for Foa Foa.  Now armed with flint, Marisa of Foa Foa praises Mick's leadership.  "We won the challenge because Mick made a very good choice on all legs," she cheers.  Jeff hands over the maps to the tribe camps as Foa Foa and Galu make their way to their new homes.


As the Foa Foa Tribe arrives at their camp, Mick takes charge to lead his tribe in the construction of a shelter.  Ben, however, decides to put in his two cents and bosses Mick around, offering his unsolicited advice about how he thinks the shelter should be built.  "If he wants to step up and take control of things, you know what?  Have at it my friend because he'll paint his own target," says Mick.

Meanwhile, at Foa Foa, Russell immediately begins forming secret alliances with the women of his tribe.  "I didn't come here to work.  I came here to play.  You got to talk about alliances as soon as you step on this island," says Russell.  "My strategy is to be able to have a secret alliance with each one of these dumb girls," he continues.  Russell quickly meets secretly with each of the girls; Ashley, Natalie, Marisa, and Betsy, promising each of them that he will take them to the end.  "I got an alliance with the dumb short-haired blonde, the even dumber long-haired blonde and the dark haired girl.  I'd like to call it my dumb-ass girl alliance.  I told them exactly the same thing and I believe they're just gullible enough to believe it," Russell smugly admits.  Betsy Bolan, the 48 year-old police officer from Campton, New Hampshire, smells trouble after being approached by Russell.  "I did make an alliance with him, but I don't trust him," says Betsy.


After their defeat at the first reward challenge, Galu looks to their newly elected leader, Russell, for direction in building their shelter.  Russell, feeling vulnerable, decides to take charge and cordially instructs his tribemates on how to erect the roof for the shelter.  Shambo speaks for the tribe as she cheerfully expresses enthusiasm for Russell's decision-making.  "I felt, yeah, we do have a leader," says Shambo.  Soon the entire tribe is off working as a team gathering materials, until John puts progress to an abrupt halt.  He becomes hung up on the fact that things must be thoroughly planned out before construction can begin, much to Shambo's disapproval.  "John is very much all talk, no business," she complains.  Soon, the Galu Tribe is off taking a break in the ocean, soaking and laughing as Shambo alienates herself from the rest of her younger tribemates on shore.  Her approval of Russell's leadership begins to dwindle as the tribe's progress does the same.  "In my opinion he needs to open up a can of whoop-ass and lay some laws down.  That's what I would've done.  That would've been my game plan," says Shambo.


As night falls, the Foa Foa Tribe lays under the stars as Russell shares a personal story.  He proceeds to tell his tribe that he was a firefighter in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and that he was in his house with his dog, Rocky, when the levy broke.  As the house flooded, he searched for the canine, but it was too late.  As the women of Foa Foa weep at the sad story, Russell secretly laughs that they bought it.  "I never lived in New Orleans.  I'm not a fireman.  I never even had a German Shepherd," Russell chuckles.  "I mean, it's crazy how you can break their hearts by telling them a lie," he laughs.  Marisa, on the other hand, is skeptical of the motivations behind Russell's story.  "I just think that he was angling at stuff and I'm starting to feel like he's pretty slimy," says Marisa.

Later in the night, while Foa Foa sleeps, Russell begins to sabotage his own camp by emptying out the canteens of water and throwing Jaison's socks in the fire.  "I plan on making it as miserable as possible for everybody," Russell reveals.  "If I can control how they feel, I can control how they think.  I'm really a multi-millionaire.  I own an oil company in Houston.  I'm not here for the money.  I'm only here to show people how easy it is to win this game.  I'm the worst one to trust out here.  I should be the first one to go, but I'm going to do everything it takes to win this game," Russell pledges.


The next morning, the Foa Foa members are shocked to discover that their water supply is gone.  Jaison is angered to find that his socks are missing, and soon the entire tribe is in disarray as Ben argues with Marisa over boiling the water for drinking.  "They're hollering at each other right now and I'm just going to sit back and watch it happen," Russell boasts.  "Right now I am running the whole show and they don't even know it, but I know I am," he continues.


The Galu and Foa Foa tribes arrive on their respective mats.  Host Jeff Probst asks Galu's leader, Russell, how he fells about his tribe.  Russell enthusiastically praises them for doing such a great job working as a team.  Ben, of Foa Foa, sarcastically replies to Russell's comment, saying that those are "things losers say," which fires up Galu to win.  Jeff Probst then explains the rules of the challenge.  Six members of each tribe will race across a series of A-frames while carrying three coils of rope.  They will then use that rope to pull a heavy crate to the finish platform where the four remaining tribe members will disassemble the crate and then use the pieces to solve a puzzle.  The first tribe to finish the puzzle will win immunity.

At Jeff's signal, both tribes race to climb over the first A-frame.  Galu is off to an instant lead as they fly over it with ease.  At the second A-frame, Galu remains in the lead with Foa Foa falling behind.  At the third A-frame, Galu forms a human pyramid and is soon over.  Foa Foa struggles as they race to catch up with Galu.  Foa Foa catches up with Galu when Russell rapidly drags the crate of puzzle pieces towards him.  The fate of the tribes is now in the hands of the puzzle solvers.  Foa Foa takes the lead in solving the puzzle with Galu struggling.  Out of nowhere, Galu makes huge progress and surpasses Foa Foa in the lead.  Galu solves the puzzle, winning tribal immunity and sending Foa Foa to the first Tribal Council.


The defeated Foa Foa tribe returns to camp, faced with the difficult decision of who to vote out at Tribal Council.  Mike approaches his leader, Mick, and pitches voting out the weakest player, which he believes is Ashley.  On another side of camp, Marisa openly admits to Russell that he makes her feel uncomfortable.  "How do you come to me and threaten me and telling me that you feel uncomfortable.  Marisa is the dumbest player I've ever seen," Russell snaps.  "You come up to me and threaten me, you gotta go, and she's gone," he decides.  

Russell then proceeds to approach each of his tribe members one-on-one with the notion of ousting Marisa for threatening him.  "My tribe will believe anything I tell them at any point because they're just stupid," Russell laughs.  "They'll run when I tell them to run.  They'll walk when I tell them to walk and when I'm finished with them, just throw them in the trash," Russell confidently states.  Betsy, however, is not as easily persuaded by Russell's tactics, and warns Natalie not to trust him.  "Give me a reason," Natalie demands.  "Oh I don't know"¦a woman's intuition," Betsy replies.


At Tribal Council, Ashley brushes off the challenge loss by carelessly stating, "It is what it is."  Betsy singles out Ashley as the weakest link in her tribe, much to Russell's disapproval.  Russell attacks Marisa for openly threatening him, which is backed up by Ben.  The two attack Marisa, but she stands her ground and insists that Russell is untrustworthy.  Marisa ultimately apologizes for making an unintelligent move in being too outspoken, and assures her tribemates that it will never happen again.  With that, the Foa Foa members cast their votes and, with seven out of the ten votes cast against her, Russell got his way, and Marisa was voted out.  Marisa Calihan, the 26 year-old student from Cincinnati, Ohio, became the first person voted out of SURVIVOR: SAMOA.