Season 22: Episode 1 - You're Looking At the New Leader of Your Tribe
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am


Flying along the Pacific Ocean in Central America, a Nicaraguan Air Force helicopter carries host Jeff Probst and sixteen new castaways to the beach to begin their adventure.    After landing on the beach, Jeff announces that two more players will be joining them.  The new castaways are shocked to see Russell Hantz, a fan favorite but castaway villain, and Rob Mariano (aka Boston Rob), an extremely skilled three-time Survivor veteran, arrive on a second helicopter.  Rob receives a round of applause from the new castaways, while Russell is greeted with comments like "Oh no" from Mike Chiesl, the 31 year-old Iraq war veteran from Del Mar, Calif.   Stephanie Valencia, the 25 year-old waitress from Long Beach, Calif. decides to stare down Russell instead of avoiding him, so he will notice her.   Her strategy is "If I'm not the one person he picks to keep to the end, then no matter what, I'm going to be out."  The new castaways anxiously await finding out which tribe Rob and Russell will join as they draw for buffs.  Rob picks the Ometepe orange buff and joins his tribe mates,  Andrea, Ashley, Francesca, Grant, Kristina, Matt, Natalie and Phillip.  Russell picks the Zapatera purple buff and joins his tribe mates, David, Julie, Krista, Mike Ralph, Sarita, Steve and Stephanie.  Jeff then reveals to all the castaways that unlike prior seasons they will not be out of the game once they are voted out.   Instead they will go to Redemption Island where they will live alone until the next person is voted out.   The two will then duel to see who stays on Redemption Island and who goes home.   At a certain point in the game, the remaining person on Redemption Island will be able to rejoin the game for another chance at the million-dollar prize.  The castaways sigh as they realize how much more complicated the game is with Redemption Island.  Jeff distributes maps to their camps, so Ometepe and Zapatera head to their respective camps.


As the Zapatera tribe arrives at their campsite, Russell admits, "As soon as I walked to the camp, I was so grateful to be back to get my title of sole Survivor."    Russell then calls a meeting of his tribe and tells them he is not going to play the way he did before and sabotage things.  He is simply there to win.   David Murphy, the 31 year-old defense attorney from West Hollywood, Calif. listens to Russell and reveals, "I think anybody who doesn't think Russell is dangerous, is foolish."  Ralph Kiser, the 44 year-old farmer from Lebanon, VA, is excited to find a Sears Craftsman box filled with tools and building supplies.   Ralph and the rest of the Zapatera tribe begin building their shelter.

Over at Ometepe, Rob is leading his tribe in the construction of their shelter.  Matt Elrod, the 22 year-old pre-med student from Nashville, Tenn. comments, "Things are going really well right now.  It's just such a blessing to have Rob here."  Phillip Sheppard, the 52 year-old former federal agent from Santa Monica, Calif. has a different style of leading than Rob.   For example, Phillip orders Francesca Hogi, the 26 year-old attorney from Washington D.C., to stop digging the hole because she is doing it the wrong way.  Francesca vents, "The most annoying person so far is Phillip.  He's just got that aggressive, like in-your-face personality."     When the rest of the men are out of camp, Phillip calls all the women in his tribe over and confides in them that he is a former federal agent who is trustworthy and able to discern if people are telling the truth or not.   He then tells them, "I've got seven sisters and I love women." as he gives each of the women a kiss and a hug.    Francesca finds Phillip's secret revelation comical and is not impressed with his background.   She sums it up by saying, "Who cares?"   As the other men return to camp with building materials, Kristina Kell, the 46 year-old pharmaceutical rep. from Malibu, Calif., decides to search in the Craftsman box for a clue to a hidden immunity idol.     Rob notices and comes over to tell her that he knows what she is doing and will try to keep others away so she can search for the clue.  Kristina feels uneasy that Rob caught her looking for the clue.    She explains, "I don't want to come off like this real aggressive strategizer and turn people off."  Rob then goes over to Phillip and shares with him that he is uncomfortable with the fact that there are five girls and only 4 guys on the tribe.   Phillip agrees with Rob that this is a dangerous situation, if the girls decide to team up against the guys.   Phillip is pleased that Rob shared his fears with him and tells Rob that he would like to work with him.   Phillip comments,  "Rob is sizing me up.  So I like to think of it like two males lions checking each other out."  Phillip then takes a walk with Kristina and spills the beans by telling her that Rob is afraid of the girls having more numbers than the guys.   He then tells Kristina that he wants to align with the girls because he thinks Rob is playing him like a fool.   Kristina is delighted that Phillip is on her side, so they shake hands and agree to work together.


Over at Zapatera, Russell takes a walk with Stephanie and asks her what she thinks about the tribe.   Stephanie is a little nervous by Russell's interest in her knowing how dangerous he can be.    Russell gets right to the point and says,  "I think we can do something together."   Stephanie accepts the invitation and shakes Russell's hand.    Stephanie is delighted to work with Russell.  She explains, "He has made it to the top three every time he played.  So of course I said yes."

Sarita White, the 36 year-old visual effects producer from Santa Monica, Calif., notices Russell talking to Stephanie and comments to David, "He's getting the girls."  David immediately realizes that Russell seems to be following his old strategy of aligning with pretty girls and taking them to the end.   David mentions it to Mike who concludes, "Russell's just going to spread paranoia and be a cancer to the tribe.  So at this point there is nothing to be done, except for the task at hand, which is get Russell gone as soon as possible."


As the Ometepe tribe gets out of bed on day 3, Kristina sees the tribe gather around Rob.   She sees how respected and adored he is and concludes, "I don't want to have Rob stick around that long.  I mean I like the guy.  I think he's a great guy, but he's dangerous to have on the tribe."    Kristina decides to go look for an idol, knowing it will provide her power and security in the game.  She sets out with a shovel and starts searching around landmarks.  Much to her delight, she finds the idol at the base of a tree covered with rocks.   Making sure no one is watching, she takes it and buries it below another tree for safe keeping.  Kristina boasts, "Rob's good, but I'm good too.  This is going to be fun."   Kristina then talks to Francesca and Phillip.   They all agree that Rob is dangerous and should be voted out first.  Kristina asks Phillip not to say a word about their plan and he quickly responds with "I'm not going to tell you how to play the game, but if I feel the need to tell somebody something, I'll do it."    Phillip starts interrogating Kristina on how she plans to vote out Rob with only their three votes.    Kristina tries to assure Phillip that they can do it without revealing that she has the idol.    Phillip insists that he know everything.   Meanwhile, Kristina and Francesca are not appreciating Phillip's attitude.     As the rest of the tribe returns to camp, Francesca takes a deep breath and vents, "How did I get stuck with the old annoying guy in the droopy fuchsia briefs?"


Ometepe and Zapatera arrive on their respective colored mats. Jeff Probst explains the rules of their first immunity challenge.  Each tribe will push four blocks along a track to build the base of a temple.  They will then run up the steps where one person will use an ax to chop a series of ropes releasing another set of steps.  They'll then make their way to the top where they will race to solve a block puzzle, which will complete their temple.   First tribe to get it right wins immunity and is safe from Tribal Council tonight and wins fire in the form of flint.  The losing tribe goes to Tribal Council and votes someone out who will go to Redemption Island.   Jeff then reveals the immunity idol statue to the tribes saying, "This is what you want."

Zapatera takes an early lead as they start pushing the first of their four blocks.   The blocks prove to be very heavy and difficult to move along the tracks.  As they start pushing the second of the four blocks Ometepe falls further behind.    Before Ometepe gets their third block moved, Zapatera has already finished moving their fourth and final block and heads up the stairs to cut the ropes.  Ralph quickly cuts the ropes for Zapatera to release their second stairway.    They head up the stairs to work on the puzzle.   Meanwhile Ometepe is just getting their fourth block in its final position.   They run up the stairs where Matt starts cutting the ropes to release their second stairway.  Matt cuts through the ropes pretty quickly, so Zapatera races up the steps to start on their puzzle.   Rob is a great puzzle solver but Ometepe has a huge head start in working on their puzzle.   David is barking orders to Zapatera, while Rob is leading his tribe in building the puzzle.  Ometepe stays calm and makes up time quickly, while Zapatera starts panicking and loses their lead.    Russell takes over calling the shots for Zapatera.   It is now Russell vs. Rob.   In the end, Russell is able to get his Zapatera tribe to solve the puzzle faster than Ometepe.   Zapatera wins immunity and flint.   Russell gloats, "We are stronger than they are.  We're faster than they are.  We're smarter than they are."


As the Ometepe tribe returns to camp, they are disappointed at losing the first immunity challenge.   Kristina takes Francesca aside and reveals to her that she has the hidden immunity idol.    She presents her plan to encourage the others to vote for her while Francesca, Phillip and she vote for Rob.  That way Kristina will play the idol and block any votes against her, therefore sending Rob home.   Francesca is surprised and pleased that Kristina has the idol, but is not sure that voting for Rob is the best thing to do at this time.   Francesca comments about Rob saying, "He is a strong competitor and we still need him."  Francesca tells Kristina that she fully supports her in whomever she chooses to vote for, but asks her to consider voting for the weaker Natalie, the 19 year-old professional dancer from Action, Calif., instead of Rob.  Kristina says she will consider this.    Kristina admits, "Voting Natalie is better for the tribe.  Voting Rob is better for me.  I would just love to vote Rob off tonight."  Kristina then checks in with Rob to see whom he is voting for.  He tells her that he does not know yet, but will talk to her later.  Rob reveals his feelings about Kristina remembering she was searching through the Craftsman box for a hidden immunity idol.  He says, "She's dangerous.  She knows strategy.  She knows to get out there and work for it.  To me, I don't need someone like that with me."  Rob then gathers everyone in his tribe except Kristina, Francesca and Phillip.  He tells them that he suspects that Kristina may have the hidden immunity idol; therefore they should flush it out by splitting the votes between Kristina and Francesca.    They all agree.   Meanwhile, Kristina is back at camp talking with Phillip and Francesca.  She is trying to convince Phillip to vote for Rob.   Phillip knows that the three of them only account for three votes, which is not enough to vote someone out.   Therefore he demands she reveal her full plan.   Kristina reluctantly shows Phillip her hidden immunity idol and explains how it can be used to vote Rob out.    Phillip agrees to vote for Rob.  Kristina worries about Phillip knowing about her hidden immunity idol.   She says, "Hopefully he will just keep a lid on it, but that was a risk."  Phillip realizes that Rob is valuable to the tribe but is excited about making a bold move like voting him out early in the game.   He concludes, "Goodbye Rob.   You are looking at the new leader of our tribe."


Ometepe starts their first Tribal Council getting their torches and dipping them into the fire.  As they do this, Jeff reminds them, "Fire represents your life.  When your fire is gone, so are you, with a slight exception Redemption Island."    Rob tells Jeff that his tribe got right to work when they first arrived at camp to build a good shelter.  He credits Phillip in setting the tone of hard work for everyone.  Jeff asks Phillip if he assumed the leadership role.   Phillip replies, "Not necessarily the leadership role, but if I see work that needs to be done, I'll suggest it."  Francesca rolls her eyes at Phillip's response.    When asked about the vote tonight, Francesca admits that strength is important at this phase of the game, so a woman is likely to go tonight.   Kristina chimes in, "I don't feel safe at all."    Rob admits that he might be an exception to voting out a woman tonight, because he could be perceived as a threat based on his experience in the game.  When asked about Redemption Island, Francesca admits that it adds a whole level of complexity to the game.&nb