Two Eliminations, One Summit – CBS Pittsburgh

(CBS) –  “Survivors, ready?!” After waiting over a year for another adventurous season, the new age of Survivor is finally here! Did you miss the two-hour season premiere last night? Here’s what went down on the first episode of Survivor 41…

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As Survivor has now entered its third decade, this season is already off to a wild start. That’s right; this new game of Survivor is definitely “a monster.” Minimal supplies. No food. Powerful game-changing twists. Oh, and did I mention, the game is now 26 days?! But don’t be fooled; even though the game is shorter, based on last night’s episode, this season is moving at an even faster pace.

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Starting off, it’s pretty clear that this game is unlike any other season. Right away, host Jeff Probst informs each tribe that they’ll only receive one pot, one machete, and one flint. On top of that, they won’t have any rice or food source. But before receiving their pot, machete, and flint, they must, of course, compete for it. Between the three new tribes, Luvu, Ua and Yase, it was the Ua tribe who dominated the victory and got to receive their pot, machete, and flint with no repercussions. The other two tribes, on the other hand, were in for a rude awakening…

Meet the Tribes:

Luvu Tribe (BLUE)

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Danny McCray, a 33-year-old ex-NFL player from Frisco, TX

Deshawn Radden, a 26-year-old medical student from Miami, FL

Erika Casupanan, a 31-year-old communications manager from Toronto, Ontario

Heather Aldret, a 52-year-old stay-at-home mom from Charleston, SC

Naseer Muttalif, a 36-year-old sales manager from Morgan Hill, CA

Sydney Segal, a 25-year-old law student from Brooklyn, NY

The Luvu tribe didn’t have the best, nor the worst, first impression on the opening challenge of this episode. Even though they came in second, they were still up for an additional task to get their pot, machete, and flint. This granted task was called “Savvy or Sweat.” The tribe had to choose two people to complete either a “savvy” task or “sweat” task – a puzzle or a more endurance-based challenge. The Luvu tribe chose Danny and Deshawn to complete the “sweat” task that involved transferring water into a big bucket – Survivor-style. If completed in under four hours, they’d receive their supplies.

Since the two castaways had to separate from the tribe right away, Luvu all agreed on the “no strategy rule” until they finished. And well… that didn’t last long. While checking on Danny and Deshawn, Naseer thought he saw the two hunting for idols. Naseer immediately scrapped the “no strategy” rule and rushed to tell the tribe what he thought he saw.

In just under four hours, Danny and Deshawn finished the savvy task, and, of course, strategy was back on. Sydney was the one who told Deshawn about Naseer being weary about them. It’s only the first day in, and this tribe’s strategic game is moving fast. But, will their strategy pay off?

Yase Tribe (YELLOW)

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David Voce, a 34-year-old neurosurgeon from Chicago, IL

Eric Abraham, a 50-year-old cyber security analyst from San Antonio, TX

Evvie Jagoda, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student from Arlington, MA

Liana Wallace, a 20-year-old college student from Washington, DC

Tiffany Seely, a 47-year-old teacher from Plainview, NY

Xander Hastings, a 20-year-old app developer from Chicago, IL

Meanwhile, the Yase tribe came in dead last on the opening challenge. Let’s just say, it was so bad; Probst even said it may have been the “biggest embarrassment for day one in Survivor history.”

But, the Yase tribe used this underdog energy to empower them, while keeping a positive attitude by saying their “only way to go is up.” That is, until they were, too, granted with the “Savvy or Sweat” task to gain their supplies. On the Yase tribe, both David and Xander got the “sweat” task done, finishing it under the given four hours.

We see a lot of gameplay on the Yase tribe as well. An interesting thing about this season, especially showcased through the Yase tribe, is that we’re learning even more about who these castaways are back at home – just like in the old school Survivor seasons. Getting to know their backgrounds allows us, viewers at home, to connect with these castaways deeper and get even more invested in their game. I love that about Survivor!

Ua Tribe (GREEN)

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Brad Reese, a 49-year-old rancher from Shawnee, WY

Genie Chen, a 46-year-old grocery clerk from Portland, OR

Jairus Robinson, a 20-year-old college student from Oklahoma City, OK

Ricard Foyé, a 31-year-old flight attendant from Sedro-Woolley, WA

Sara Wilson, a 23-year-old healthcare consultant from Boston, MA

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Shantel Smith, a 34-year-old pastor from Washington, DC

Now, the Ua tribe crushed it in the opening sequence. Since they earned their supplies right away, the tribe didn’t have to be tasked with any “Savvy or Sweat” challenge. Instead, we got to see a wide range of what kind of games these castaways were all about playing this season.

One stand out on the tribe, JD, who is younger than this show itself, gave a big impression to the tribe right off the bat. Being a super fan himself, it was clear JD had a plan to build his social game from the start. However, this can be risky at the beginning of the game, as it may be a bit obvious. Ricard noticed JD’s strong and sociable demeanor and began considering him a major game threat.

Meanwhile, this episode also highlighted Shantel (Shan), a pastor from DC. From the looks of it, Shan is working with everyone on the social level. She’s using the ‘pastor image’ to her advantage to gain trust, but she certainly knows she’s here to make some big, potentially backstabbing moves! Not going to lie; she was a massive stand-out on this episode – I’m impressed with her so far!

Survivor Summit

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Ah yes, as Survivor 41 is clearly showing, there are more and more twists by the minute. And, by the second day, we were thrown another loop to watch unfold.

The ‘Survivor Summit’ involved each tribe selecting one person to get on this mysterious boat and just straight up “find out what happens.” Since the tribes were unsure of the outcomes, it wasn’t straightforward with who should go. After some debating, and even just good ol’ drawing rocks, it was down to Danny from the Luvu, Xander from Yase, and JD from Ua to all be taken to the “unknown.”

The three departed individually from their camps and arrived at another island nearby. This nearby island greeted the three selected castaways with a sign that said something along the lines about getting to know one another as they must walk this steep path up a hill.

After their hike, the three got to know each other pretty well… hopefully well enough to make an individual, gut-based decision. That’s right; these three were up to make yet another, Survivor game-changing decision.

The decision was simple – each of them, individually, must either choose “risk their vote” or “protect their vote.” Pretty simple, right? Not so much. The “risk their vote” option meant they had a chance to receive an extra vote. The “protect their vote” option means nothing happens. The thing is, these three castaways had to make their decision based on their gut feeling of the other two. If all three castaways chose “risk their vote,” they’d all lose their vote at the next tribal council. However, if it’s a split decision, and just one person chooses “protect their vote,” and the other two choose “risk their vote,” then those two people will receive that extra vote advantage. If the two people chose “protect,” then, in that case, just that one odd person would lose their vote.

Given that they do not know what the other castaways will select, this was a difficult decision (and difficult got me to explain, ha). In the end, Danny went back to his tribe honestly and told them he selected “protect.” While Xander, on the other hand, went back to his tribe honestly and said he chose “risk.” That left it to JD to indicate which way this advantage or disadvantage would go.

JD went to his tribe and shared that he chose “protect.” Being skeptical, Ricard said behind the scenes that he did not believe JD was telling the truth… but was Ricard right?

Immunity Challenge

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The season premiere Immunity Challenge was a huge opening, literally. Not only was this challenge huge and physically exhausting, but Probst dropped another twist onto these three tribes.

This new twist is called the “shot in the dark.” Probst shared how this twist would only be in effect at tribal council. Each castaway would be given a “shot in the dark” dye where they would have the option to drop their dye into a bag, privately in the voting booth, if they felt like their name was on the chopping block. This meant, if you dropped your dye, you would not vote, yet, you would get a one-in-six chance of saving yourself from getting voted out. It’s literally a “shot in the dark” because who knows what name you may draw out of that bag – and chances of pulling your own name are pretty slim.

Now, the Immunity Challenge itself was, of course, intricate. So intricate that Survivor even dropped a new game for junior players to join in! This is called “The Game within the Game.” A puzzle appeared on the episode for a few seconds, encouraging young Survivor viewers to visit “” to play more. I visited the site, and it’s a pretty cute add-on for kids this season! Check it out here!

After an exhausting series of obstacles, it was down to the final, infamous Survivor puzzle between the Ua and Luvu tribes to win it (Yase, again, fell pretty behind). As always, in Survivor, there’s no room for mistakes. And, unfortunately for the Ua tribe, it was just that. While they were in the lead, Sara and Shan made a crucial mistake by accidentally keeping one puzzle piece in a bag. This cost them… big time. Luvu won the first Immunity Challenge, which meant both Ua and Yase must head to a back-to-back Tribal Council.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention – these two tribes also had to give up their flint on top of their loss… yikes.

Tribal Council – Yase Tribe

In this first episode, the Yase tribe had a pretty slow start to the game. At the beginning of the episode, Tiffany, a die-hard Survivor fan, didn’t make the most significant impression on Abraham, who seems to be a natural leader. Abraham was determined to get Tiffany out, as he viewed her as weak right off the bat.

However, Tiffany’s social game was working pretty well during these first few days. It seemed like she aligned herself with the right people. The vote was clearly between the two, but it was Tiffany’s social game that saved her. This meant Abraham was the first one out of this season of Survivor 41, as he felt surprised and “blindsided” while his torch got snuffed.

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Tribal Council – Ua Tribe

The Ua tribe was more than ready to cast their votes. But let’s just say, the actual strategy at tribal council got pretty messy.

At first, as viewers, you see that Shan is in the middle. It becomes clear she is the swaying vote – and that’s exactly what she wanted. As Ricard felt threatened by JD’s social game, he, of course, wanted the young lad voted out first. This left things pretty complicated though because Sara was the other target since she lost the challenge on the puzzle.

Things became more and more complicated, as it suddenly became a “LIVE” tribal council instead. Castaways began whispering to one another from left to right. Tribal was getting heated. As paranoia settled in, the ballots all seemed like they were between either JD, Sara, and at one point, even Brad. This tribal was so chaotic; the castaways even teased the idea of using their “shot in the dark” advantage.

In the end, there was no shot in the dark, just one clear vote. Sara was the next person that got voted out on Survivor season 41. And, on top of that, in private, both Xander and JD received their “extra vote” advantages from the summit …which means, was JD lying to his tribe this whole time?

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Wow. That’s really all I can say so far about this season. Just… wow. There are quite a few intense twists in Survivor 41 so far – did you keep up with them all? In my new Survivor Pool, I was given the two castaways, Genie and Abraham. And welp, it looks like my odds of winning are pretty slim now! Who do you predict to win this season?

Let me know what you thought of the Survivor 41 premiere, and tweet me @mick_cloudy !

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Don’t miss Survivor 41, Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS, as well as streaming live and on-demand with Paramount+ or the CBS App!

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