Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites, Week 1: Jonny Be Good?

This season, it’s 10 hardcore Survivor fans against 10 previous contestants. The fans’ tribe is named Airai, and the favorites’ tribe is Malakal, but Jeff Probst just calls ’em “Fans” and “Favorites.” And so shall I.

After the Fans are rowed in, they stand together and Probst tells them that the opposing tribe consists of favorites from past seasons. The Favorites come out one by one, and the Fans applaud and say “Whoo!” as each is introduced. Well, for most of them, anyway. Not so much for Eliza.

As the Favorites are introduced, we see clips from their previous appearances to remind us of something about them:

* Cirie struggled to adapt.

* Ozzy was freakishly athletic. (The Fan tribe’s Erik says he thinks he can physically compete with Ozzy, since he, himself, has track and cross country experience. Erik’s claim would carry more weight if the words on the screen didn’t identify his occupation as an “Ice Cream Scooper” at that very moment.) 

* Ami had a girlfriend. (This is a shorthand way to remind us of Ami’s bisexuality.)

* Jonathan jumped to the other tribe when he got a chance.

* Eliza “drove everybody freaking nuts.”

* James broke trees over his knee.

* Parvati was a flirt.

* Yau-Man excitedly made sounds with his mucus before kissing his immunity idol.

* Amanda whispered to Courtney about getting rid of James. (Huh. I remember her more for crumbling at the final Tribal Council and not winning the million. And for having a blur over her butt.)

* And, of course, Jonny Fairplay cried over his non-dead grandma. (Earlier in the show, we hear him say, “I consider myself the greatest player in the history of the game.” Oh, that rascal! I can’t believe I have to watch him again!)

Fairplay wears a “Will Lie 4 Food” hat but otherwise dresses like Jeff Probst. (The Fan tribe’s Tracy says, “I wanted to throw up when I saw Jonny Fairplay. He’s a pig. He’s a loser pig.” Yeah! You tell him, woman who I can’t currently distinguish from three other women on your tribe!)

The Survivors run across water to get to boats on another beach, but not before being told that there are two individual immunity idols over there as well — one for each tribe. The first person from each tribe to find their tribe’s idol gets it, and it can only be used the first time they go to Tribal Council. The first folks to arrive search for the idol further up on the beach, but Fairplay figures it’d be out in the open, and he finds it on a boat. He realizes that he had grabbed the other team’s idol, and when he and Yau race for their own tribe’s idol, they collide and Fairplay’s head smacks against the side of the boat. Fairplay tells the camera, “Trust me: Yau-Man is not America’s hero like you think he is. … Yau-Man’s not nice; he sucks.” Sorry, Fairplay — you lost me on the words “Trust me.” (See how much fun it is to dislike him? It’s delicious!)

Kathy from the Fan tribe wanders over and says, “I have no idea what’s going on.” Even so, she winds up with her tribe’s immunity idol after Yau tells her to pick it up.

We learn a little bit about the Fans in this episode. Mikey B assesses his tribe as consisting of Big Bird (Kathy), a Southern princess (I think this referred to Alexis), the Incredible Hulk (Joel), Jon Bon Jovi in his prime (Jason), and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Chet). ‘Course, this comes from a guy who calls himself “Mikey B” even though there’s not another Mikey on the show.

We also learn that Kathy, although she has never seen a homosexual “up close,” has no problem with approaching one and asking all sorts of questions. Chet answers her graciously, and it’s hard to tell if he sees her openness as refreshing or annoying. Kathy seems unaware that her tribe sees her as “the crazy lady,” and that if she hadn’t gotten that immunity idol, she’d probably be first to go.

Over on the Favorites tribe, Parvati says she doesn’t just want to be a flirt this time — she wants to play smart and make the right alliances. So she flirts with James, who likes the attention of who he calls a “sex-kitten-type girl.”

Amanda and Ozzy are also forming a lust connection, and Eliza doesn’t like the bubbling romances. Eliza, Jonathan, Ami and Yau make a quick alliance (for ease of communication, let’s take their initials and call them the Ejay alliance. This also lets us fondly remember EJay Day from Season 1 of American Idol), to face off against the Lovebird alliance. They want to bring Fairplay into their alliance (or, they say, Cirie, although we never see anyone approach her — from either side), but Ozzy and Amanda talk with Fairplay first and tell him they’d vote out Eliza.

Fairplay then reports this to the Ejay alliance, who answer that they’d like Parvati voted out first. Jonathan thinks Fairplay is a gem to have on your alliance — Jonathan would take Fairplay to the end, if he could. Fairplay is amazed that people would believe what he says, asking, “Have you not watched the show before?” (Seriously — Cirie’s in desperate need of an alliance, and yet everyone’s trusting Fairplay?)

The immunity challenge involves assembling four wheels, putting them on a cart, digging planks out of the sand, and … um … OK, Probst just lost me. The challenges on Survivor are impressive, but perhaps the show’s creators don’t understand this country’s diminishing attention span. If I designed challenges, I’d just get out a deck of cards and say, “High card wins.”

After the Fans win the challenge, Fairplay tells the camera about his girlfriend being seven months pregnant, and that he’s worried about his baby-to-be, and he gets all weepy. (Wow — is he even lying to the camera? I find myself wondering if he even does have a baby on the way.) He tells Parvati he’s leaning toward telling folks to vote him off, and she thinks it’d be good to let the other alliance think that, so as to blindside Eliza better. When Fairplay tells Ami he’d like to be voted out, she wonders if it could be a trap. (It is! Listen to your gut, Ami!)

At Tribal Council, Fairplay says he’s preoccupied with his child and doesn’t really have his head in the game. He’s evasive when Probst asks if he wants to go home or if he just had a difficult day, but Fairplay does stress that this is not a quit. (Ah! So he IS pulling something! That sneaky devil!)

And then Fairplay is unanimously voted out. (Weird. And dang. The show just got less interesting.)