"Blood Is Thicker Than Anything" - The twenty contestants… (Timothy Kuratek / CBS )
We’re back for another season of "Survivor," and the gimmick for the 27th season is "Blood vs. Water." Previous contestants are being brought back, along with one of their loved ones. Some returning players I’m glad so see, some not so much. Lord save me, Rupert is back.
The 10 separate couples are dropped off in separate locations; here is the list of Survivors:
Gervase from Season 1 and his niece, Marissa;
Kat from "One World" and her boyfriend, Hayden, who won "Big Brother" last season;
Laura from "Survivor Samoa" and her daughter, Ciera;
Rupert (sigh) and his wife, Laura;
Colton from "One World" and his fiancé, Caleb;
Candice from "Cook Islands" and her husband, John;
Monica and her husband, ex-NFL player Brad Culpepper (he gets a last name because he’s famous);
Tina, winner of Season 2, and her daughter, Katie;
Tyson from "Heroes and Villains" and his girlfriend, Rachel;
Aras, winner of "Cook Islands," and his brother, Vytas.
Jeff breaks it to the Survivors that they will be playing against their loved ones, not with them. That should keep anyone from banding together in the beginning, and you had better believe they will stick together if any of the pairs make it to the merge. It also gives the loved ones a chance to stand on their own and not just be the tagalong.
As soon as Jeff divides the teams, he announces that they will be voting someone out. Colton thinks there will be a big old target on his back because he was so awful last time. They start with the Tadhana tribe, of the loved ones, and boom! Laura, Rupert’s wife, gets voted out. I guess everyone likes Rupert as much as I do. Of course, now he’ll go into self-righteous “I’ve been wronged” mode, which is even more insufferable than regular Rupert.
Next is the returning players tribe, Galang, and the vote is more split, with Candace and Laura each having four votes. One more vote means that Candace is going home. Candace’s husband is outraged on her behalf, and vows to vote out everyone who voted for her. Good luck with that.
But wait, there’s a twist! Redemption Island is back. Candace and Laura get a chance to come back. But first Jeff needs to give Rupert a chance to be the good guy and trade places with his wife. He, of course takes it, and pisses of Tina, who wanted him around because he’s a good provider around camp. Laura and her husband John talk it over, and decide that she should be the one to go. There’s tears all around as Laura and Rupert head to Redemption Island; take it down a notch, people, they’re not going to be executed.
Galang starts to build their camp, and Gervase notes that it’s been 13 years since he’s played. I wonder if he’s learned to swim in all that time. Laura is finding it a bit intimidating being with all of the retuning players, since they’ve all done this before.
In no time, Galang has started a fire, made rice and made a lot of headway with their shelter. Everything is going well, so Monica decides to start a little bit of drama with Colton by bringing up what happened last time they played together. Colton is already a lot more subdued and cooperative than he was the last time he played, so I’m willing to give him another chance.
Over at Tadhana, Brad, Monica’s husband, is realizing that no matter how much you watch or hear about what playing "Survivor" is like, you have no idea what it is really like until you get dropped off on that beach. Brad then goes-on a little about what Monica told him about the game, which gets a little old, and then he loses me completely by referring to the five guys on the tribe as “four guys and a gay guy” -- apparently Caleb, Colton’s fiancé, isn’t a real guy. He’s a guy, of course, but not a real, real guy. Blech. He runs around to all the guys to solidify his alliance, and while they agree with him, I don’t know how solid it is. That's mostly because Brad is not only running around taking charge, but also being really, really annoying.
So Tadhana has a great shelter started, but the sun is starting to go down and they still don’t have fire. Hoops. Brad, Ciera and someone the editors don’t feel like naming try to get the fire started while sharing their stories. Everyone knows that Brad is ex-NFL, but Ciera was a teenage mom and what’s his name (Seriously, editors? Everyone else gets a tag but him? Oh, it’s Vytas, maybe they didn’t know how to spell it) is a yoga instructor. He's also 14-years-sober after being a heroin addict who spent a year in jail when he was 19. With all that talking, it’s not surprising the fire doesn’t get made.