Welcome to "Survivor: Appletinis"? Jeff Probst welcomes us to Brazil, home jiggling rumps on the beach, "the world's best soccer" (forget about that World Cup, Italy) and, if "The Simpsons" has taught us anything, lots and lots of monkeys. It's also the starting point on a race around the world. Wait. Wrong CBS reality show premiering this week. Come back on Sunday for a recap of the new season of "Amazing Race." This does, indeed, look to be the most isolated and distinctive "Survivor" landscape since China, if not longer.
[Recap of Thursday (Feb. 12) night's premiere of "Survivor: Tocantins" -- with spoilers, of course -- after the bump.]
Only one chance to make a first impression. The teams were divided previously and nobody's been allowed to talk, but that hasn't stopped first impressions for forming. Erinn thinks Tyson looks like a good guy to have around. She's basing this on his cheekbones. Tyson, though, thinks that Erinn is probably a bitch. He may be basing that on her cheekbones. Stephen is glad to see Old Lady Sandy around, because she can go home first. Sandy, though, figures that Stephen is probably a geek and she can push him around. Sierra, already suffering from a tonsil-based condition looks prepared to crumble. Coach thinks Sierra's ready to crumble. See? Somebody has good instincts. Well, not about the ponytail. His instincts stink there.
Food and water are often useful provisions. The tribes are Jalapao in red and Timbira in black. Their first "getting to know you" exercise requires them to work together to select important supplies in only 60 seconds. They're throwing wood and pots and pans and bananas and baskets and gourds and flags everywhere. It's chaos. It appears that they stripped the truck bare. Coach is pleased with his Timbira's single-minded gathering. Jalapao, however, appears not to have secured either water (morons) or food (dunces). Each team is tossed a map and a compass and told they have four hours to march before they can camp.
Oh Jeff Probst, You Wizard of Semantics. Surprise! They have to take an immediate vote and one player from each team won't be making the journey. "Game on," Coach declares. Or, rather, "game off." They don't know each other's names, so they have to describe each other in the most tactful ways possible, hence Sandy become "Granny" and "The Older Lady" (because she's 51) and Stephen becoming "Fruity Dweeb." Sandy is promptly dispatched. "I'm pissed. I'm so pissed," she grumbles. Timbira targets Strep Throat Sierra, or "Blonde with Striped Top." Darnit, kids. You're not supposed to vote out the models first! "I'm sorry I have a fever of 102, but if that's your choice, fine by me," Sierra says. But the joke is on the two teams. The two "losers" merely get a helicopter ride to the camp. See? They don't make the trip with their teams? So on one hand, they're outcasts and their teammates hate them, but on the other side, they don't have to walk.
The Country Boy and the New York Jew (Next Fall, on NBC!). Spencer introduces himself as the youngest competitor ever and a devoted fan of the show. Taj introduces herself as trying to lose her baby weight. And they all introduce themselves as being unable to use a compass, except possibly for cattle rancher JT, who says he also isn't worried about heat or mosquitos. Stephen is already intimidated by JT, figuring the country boy won't like the New York Jew. They're already dubbing Sandy, "Psycho Sandy."
You say "Renaissance Man/Adventurer," I say "Ego-Bloated Tool." Tomato, Tomahtoh. Timbira did a great job with the gathering, but now they have to cart everything. Oops. Hair stylist Erinn? Already feeling regrets. Jerry, just back from a tour of duty commanding men in Afghanistan, is going to try to keep low profile. Coach, who calls himself a "Renaissance Man/Adventurer" has no such worries. He's trying to inspire everybody and to lecture the audience on the history of conflict. He approaches Brendan about changing the game. Wait. Has the game even started? How can we change it?
One way to win friends and influence people. Even after her comfortable flight, Sandy is pissed. She's all alone and crying, vowing to make it the full 39 days. "I'm older and I'm wiser and this game is mine." As the first in the camp, she gets a note. She has two choices, either start setting up camp for everybody (i.e. kissing butt and making nice) or use the time to search for a hidden Idol (i.e. look out for #1). Sandy, who can't pronounce her tribe's name, doesn't hesitate. She's going to find that Idol. She figures nobody would have liked the way she set up camp anyway.
A very different way to win friends and influence people. Over in Timbira, Sierra isn't angry so much as grumbly. She's given the same note as Sandy, with the same options. Sierra decides to try to set up camp. This is, after all, a social game and she understands that she'll be better off making a second first impression. Wait. I thought you couldn't do that? And that's why you wear Right Guard? Or Old Spice? Or Stench-Off: Pour Homme?
Jalapao Poppers. Jalapao gets back to camp hoping that dinner will be waiting for them and whatnot. They discover a lazy older woman stuffing her bra with a clue and coming out to hug her betrayers. "Sandy, why isn't out house built?" Taj asks. Carolina is also annoyed as Sandy's uselessness. Sandy's not useless! She convinces everybody else to pronounce their tribe name "Jalapeno." I'll bet you $50 Sandy doesn't know what language they speak in Brazil.
Thanks for the shelter, now leave. It takes Timbira until after dusk to get to their camp. They're immediately impressed with how much work Sierra has put in. Sierra also plays the passive aggressive game by saying that she should have told them she was sick. Coach, who wants the strong to survive, appreciates her effort and her character and looks forward to voting her out.
A record pace. JT is hoping to use their wood to make a shelter. Carolina wants to make a chair. Sandy announces her intentions to use the loo and, instead, rushes off to the beach to try to find the Idol. She digs up the next clue, but she's stymied by the unit of distance measured by a "pace." As she experiments, her fellow castaways complain about her.
Tommy Hilfiger will now design Man-Tiaras. Timbira is already out of water. Tyson, Sierra and Debbie go down to the river, where professional cyclist Tyson decides that water collection is a clothing optional activity. Debbie and Sierra are both amused and impressed. He's OK with making people laugh, but notes, "When it comes down to it, I want that million dollars. Exotic, expensive furs on my shoulder. Jewels on these pretty fingers. We're talking big time. I'll wear a tiara. A man tiara. Do they make those?"
Building a staircase to heaven. It's a race to puzzle pieces, which can be used to build stairs that lead to a peg maze and flags. Want to know what they're playing for? Fire. Duh. Timbira is ahead at the start of the staircase building. Sandy takes a loud and bossy approach to doing the puzzle. Erinn and Sierra are quiet and intense. Loud and bossy works better. Jalapao is up to the peg maze first, but Erinn and Brendan prove to be better at the maze. Timbira wins immunity. Jalapao faces Tribal Council.
The best job is the one you don't complete. Could the first leg of the game really hinge on whether or not Sandy was able to figure out how far a pace was? It would seem that way. "With every failure, there's an opportunity for growth," says Carolina, who successfully avoids totally popping out of her red bra. The opportunity she sees it to organize camp and finish some of their projects. Taj somehow interprets Carolina's suggestion as being on to "clean up the outdoors." Even weirder, Carolina ends up picking her nose and agreeing with Taj. Spencer was impressed with Sandy at the challenge and suddenly Carolina's desire to complete their camp projects makes her a target. Joe thinks Carolina's bossy streak will get old really fast. Showing a different side, Carolina apologizes for calling Sandy "Older Lady" in the original vote. Older Lady returns to her pacing.
Tribal Council. This season on "Survivor," fire represents life, Jeff instructs them. Same as it ever was, eh? Around the fire, Sandy's age and her free ride become a topic of conversation. "Sandy, are you a little crazy?" Jeff asks her. "Oh, I'm a lot crazy," she agrees. Carolina is diplomatic, admitting that she sometimes may come across as a little whiney and boisterous and that she needs to check herself before she wrecks herself. Also, Carolina, you best protect ya neck.
The vote.Sandy votes for Carolina. Carolina votes for Sandy. The first vote is for Sandy, but the next three go for Carolina. Sandy starts getting smug and licking her lips in glee. Let that be a lesson for you, girls at home, never suggest that you finish anything. EVER. That's even worse than being old.