The contestants of the revived British version of Survivor start to find their feet on the island but largely need to learn when to stop talking…
The brand new series of Survivor UK rolls on with its second episode. Following the spoonfeeding of the premiere for audiences unfamiliar with the format, we would enter the second episode with hopes that the group, on the most part, have found their place on the island and that the action itself might tell the story a little more without the need for constant handholding, in the form of voiceover and narration.
Hosted by comedian and Masked Singer UK frontman, Joel Dommett, the rebooted Survivor continues. Filmed earlier this year in the Dominican Republic, the series sees 18 competitors stranded across two tribes and beaches, competing each day for rewards, in the form of food, tools and creature comforts, and immunities, the means by which you can avoid having to vote out one of your own.
Survivor is a game of three facets: Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. Players that succeed in the competition straddle the fine lines between each of these, with the best players realising that even the smallest of decisions can have a crucial impact on your game, be that positively or negatively.
A hallmark of Survivor around the world, alliances are quickly starting to form amongst the two tribes. While two very clear groups have been decided at La Nena, Caleton is less cliquey. That said, a budding pairing between Nathan and Tinuke is on the cards. Between Nathan’s obvious physical strengths and Tinuke’s growing social game, they could become a very formidable power couple.
While on the topic of Tinuke, she is my far too early prediction to win the whole thing. Whether she realises she’s doing it or not, Tinuke is playing a very good game so far. Unlike a fair few of her tribe, she’s speaking up enough to be heard without coming across as pushy or annoying. She’s also doing an excellent job of sitting back and listening to everyone else. Knowledge is power, especially in Survivor.
I’m sure, with my backing, she’ll be voted out next week.
We were introduced to some of the duller members of the tribes this week; that is, those whose personalities were not strong enough to make an immediate impact during the premiere, for better or worse. This was quite the standout episode for Doug, who did well in the reward challenge (more on that later) but is playing a very dangerous game where the mental and social aspects of Survivor are concerned. With La Nena split into two factions, Doug straddles both. Being a swing vote can be very powerful in Survivor but, less than a week in, it’s far too early for that at this stage. It’s only a matter of time before the group realise he’s playing both sides and go with the easy option of voting out someone they might perceive as a manipulator. Keep your head under water, fisher boy.
Also living dangerously at La Nena, but in a completely different way, is Christopher. His friendly, bubbly personality can carry him far in Survivor but not if he resorts to gossiping quite the way he did in this episode. It’s quite one thing to be loyal to your alliance and report information back to them but Christopher took it upon himself to press Hannah for information, asking for a hypothetical name she’s write down if the tribe were swept off to Tribal Council that very moment, and when she reluctantly suggested Ashleigh, based on her hand injury, Christopher went running to spill the tea. Never mind the tea, Christopher is stirring something else…
What an absolute treat the challenges were in this episode: two Survivor classics. For reward, By Any Means saw the Survivor return of one of the most physical challenges in the show’s history. Mostly taking place in the water in the American version, we haven’t seen it in a while – probably owing to how physical it is. This British group didn’t disappoint and, other than a few runaway miscues, the brawls were brutal. Allowing Laurence and Hannah to face off was a slightly questionable choice (although Hannah honestly gave as good as she got), the standout battle was the David vs Goliath war between Nathan and Doug. Doug, the fishing enthusiast from Scotland, obviously really, really wanted that fishing gear, absolutely bossed this battle and thoroughly outplayed his much bigger, stronger, oilier (?) opponent. Knowing he couldn’t overpower Nathan in straight competition, Doug instead cleverly wore out his opponent by keeping the ball away from him and forcing the Caleton tribesman to exert all of his energy to drag him to the square. This was Nathan’s battle to win and he got outplayed, plain and simple. I’m not sure ‘Underdoug’ really got enough credit for putting this reward challenge to bed; a win for Nathan could have definitely turned the momentum. Alas, La Nena extended their win streak to three and Caleton continued to wallow in the agony of defeat.
In the immunity challenge, we saw another traditional Survivor challenge that combined individual, physical tests with more considered team based ones. Row as a group, untie knots underwater by yourself and finish up by building a tower as a team.
While it’s easy for me to say, sat on my sofa under a blanket without any natural swimming ability whatsoever, Sabrina and Rach were completely inept in this challenge and thoroughly cost La Nena any hope of victory. While under the water, both seemed to just paw a little bit at the rope before coming back up for air. They did, eventually, admit defeat and bring in someone more competent, but surely you must know in advance how capable you would be in this endeavour. Why would you volunteer for the swimming role if you can’t stay under for more than three seconds? Know your limits.
Despite storming ahead in this challenge, the Caleton crew did their best to throw this one at the end, trying to rush to victory by stacking up the bamboo on one side, rather than dance with what brought them and methodically stack them two by two. The gap created by Sabrina and Rach was too great, though, and Caleton finally won a challenge, sending La Nena to Tribal Council for the first time.
There is an argument to be made that La Nena beat themselves, though, and I don’t like Caleton’s chances to outplay the blue tribe going forward.
Not a huge amount to say in this section, this week. There were a select group who seemed more content to show their lack of ability to outlast by continuing to talk when it really isn’t necessary. That said, I’ve got to give massive props, once again, to Pegleg. Watching him in the immunity challenge was an inspiration. This is a man who absolutely refuses to be a handicap, an absolute beast who seems to have no limitations whatsoever. My hat is absolutely off to him.
In terms of elimination, Sabrina was the only choice to go. In addition to being utterly hopeless in both immunity challenges so far, she also had the gall to keep running her mouth until the end of the challenge, uninspiringly begging her tribe to try their hardest and do it for the team. Bit rich, Sabrina, if we’re honest. Sabrina doubled down on her bullsh*t during Tribal Council, highlighting that Rach was a waste of space in the challenge, too. As much as this was true and it caused Rach to go on her own whiney defensive diatribe, Sabrina joined Richard in talking herself into being voted out for just not knowing when to shut up.
Ashleigh and Rach need to lie low next time out. They don’t know when to pipe down, either.
Second Episode Thoughts
With the first full weekend of Survivor in the books, I’m a little torn about this series so far. I have enjoyed it and it’s been very reminiscent of the best bits of early American Survivor and has also borrowed heavily from its Australian counterpart but this episode in particular was a bit… slow. It’s hard to tell whether somebody watching Survivor for the very first time needs to be walked through the mechanics of the game quite so slowly but my impression, as a Survivor veteran, is probably not. Survivor UK needs to let the action do the talking; the audience will work it out.
I will always complain about this more than the average person but… it’s just a bit too British. The Big Brother style voiceovers have outworn their welcome already and Joel Dommett’s puns and comedy were just a bit crap, this time around. There’s a reason we don’t see much of Jeff Probst or Jonathan LaPaglia outside of the challenges and Tribal Council – they’re not the focus, the game and the players are. I hope things pick up a little with the introduction of a key mechanic of modern Survivor in the next one… the immunity idol!
Next time… HIDDEN IMMUNITY IDOLS!
Survivor is broadcast every Saturday and Sunday evening on BBC One with both of the weekend’s episodes available on BBC iPlayer immediately following the Saturday airing. The show is expected to run for eight weeks for a total of 16 episodes.
How are you enjoying Survivor UK so far? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!