Survivor “I’m a Mental Giant” Review (Season 32 Episode 1)

SURVIVOR I'm a Mental Giant

It’s back, baby! Survivor returned for their 32nd season tonight with “I’m a Mental Giant”, as we get to meet 18 new contestants as they all set out to outplay, outwit, and outlast their competitors for the million dollar prize!

As excited as I am for this show to return, I have to say I have quite a few concerns right off the bat. First of all, we’re coming off of one of the best seasons in recent Survivor history, so it’s tough not to feel like this season will have a hard time matching up. Second, this is yet another “Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty” season, and the last one wasn’t exactly a great season. Of course, we all know that original tribe assignments don’t usually end up meaning anything in the long run, but it’s still a little odd that they chose to go back to this poorly conceived idea so quickly.

My final – and largest – concern came from the opening minute, when Jeff tells us that our new location of Kaoh Rung has blazing heat and humidity, which will lead to what Probst calls the “Most physically demanding season” ever. This does not appeal to me. I get that the show is called “Survivor” and all, and that a big part of the show in the past has been about showing these people plucked from their cushy American lives and having to live out in the elements. However, the game has definitely evolved well past that. For me, this show is much stronger when they focus on the strategy, social interactions, and great challenges. I do not like seeing people get sick, injured, medevac’d, or broken down by the elements.

Oh, you know what else I don’t like seeing?! FREAKING BUGS CRAWLING OUT OF PEOPLE’S EARS! Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nopeity-nope. I am now resolved to never sleep outside without covering my ears. Or maybe I’ll just never sleep outside. Maybe I’ll just never sleep again, period. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, trying to break down the people on a Survivor premiere is tough, especially when there’s no returning players or anything. I’ll just kinda bullet point through a few people here who got the most screen time or made the biggest impressions.

I’m glad that Scot Pollard isn’t attempting to hide his NBA background from the rest of the brawn tribe. The guy was in the league for 11 years, but he’s by no means a widely recognizable guy. Plus, not to be racially profiling or whatever, but it isn’t like when Cliff was on the last edition of Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty. When you see a super tall and lanky black guy on Survivor, you might kinda assume he used to be an athlete. When you see a tall, chubby white dude, you might not have the same thought. However, he’s apparently using the same strategy that Jimmy Johnson used before, with the whole “I’m a former athlete so don’t worry about me getting jury votes”.

Tai certainly appears to be a very nice and funny guy, and I’m sure he’s a shoe-in for some kind of “All star” or “fan favorite” season down the line here, but man did he make a dumb move. Not only did he do the stupid “looking for an idol on day one” thing, but he was totally open with it when he was caught. He really impressed the girls on his tribe with his great personality and his cute idea for keeping free range chickens, but man did he squander that quickly! Also, Mr. Tree Hugger seemed pretty darn happy to rip those trees up by the roots!

Aubry had an anxiety attack over on the Brains tribe. It really looked like we were heading for a frustrating first-episode quitter, so I’m definitely happy that didn’t happen. I’m hoping the players get used to the heat as the season goes on, so we don’t have quite so much complaining going forward.

The reward/immunity challenge let you pick a puzzle or dexterity challenge at the end, which was a really cool idea. There’s a lot of puzzles involved in this show, and that does seem to favor the Brains tribe (they did get first tonight, after all), so it makes sense to give the other tribes a chance to try something else. It also might work well as a Hail Mary, if a tribe is way behind and has no chance catching up, they might be able to put together the dexterity challenge a lot quicker.

The Brawn tribe ended up losing that first challenge and going to tribal, where the initial vote was…a tie! I can’t think of any other first week vote that has ended in a tie in Survivor history. Usually after week one there’s a clear answer as to who deserves to go home, but apparently that wasn’t the case here. Darnell’s impassioned plea wasn’t enough to save him, so now he joins the hallowed ranks of all the other first week eliminees. Say hi to Francesca for me!

Random Thoughts:

– It bothered me in Big Brother when Caleb coined his own nickname “Beastmode Cowboy”, apropos of nothing, but now they’re enabling him on this show as well! Stop hashtagging it! Stop trying to make “Beastmode Cowboy” happen!

– I know I said this the last time they did this tribe assignment type two years ago, but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s plenty of people on all three tribes that seem smart, plenty on all three that look strong, and plenty that are attractive. However, why on earth is Alecia on the Brawn tribe? She said she’s “tougher than it looks”, but that’s not really what the tribe is about!

– Why didn’t Jen call a medic for the bug? It isn’t like it would have taken her out of the game, right? She just needed a long pair of tweezers and a steady hand.