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Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty

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Hello again, Survivor fans! We’re back for another season, and with another new twist: three tribes of six, divided by the attributes brains, brawn and beauty. 

I like the concept. Based on this first episode, the tribes seemed well-rounded enough that they weren’t unfairly suffering in challenges.

And in terms of casting, I think there are some fun characters here. So let’s get into it!

At the beginning of the episode, each tribe picked a leader. Then the leader had to choose one person they would theoretically eliminate from the tribe. That person wasn’t sent home, though – instead, they got to head to camp via helicopter and choose between receiving a Hidden Immunity Idol clue, or receiving an extra bag of rice for the tribe.

Brains and beauty (Garrett and Morgan) chose the clue. Brawn (Trish) chose rice. It was interesting to see how quickly all of this nonsense dissipated. The “leaders” didn’t seem to lead very much, and the one consequence was Garrett’s anger at David for choosing him. Fair enough – I thought it was silly of David to be so transparent about his reasons for selecting Garrett, who is by far the strongest physical player on the Brains tribe. It was ten seconds into the game and he was already thinking in a longterm, individual way. That’s dangerous. 

The first few hours at camp are usually fun, since we get to see who’s a liar and who’s not. Cliff didn’t hide his NBA background, and Woo recognized him – but no one really seemed to care. But Tony straight-up lied about being a cop, even though fellow cop Sarah had a funny feeling about him. She didn’t trust him at all afterwards.

At the Brains tribe, J’Tia started bossing everyone around regarding how to build the camp. In the end, her plan was a bust and the shelter fell apart. So much for that graduate degree in Nuclear Engineering.

Wagon Wheel

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Challenge time! Sorry Survivor, but challenges just aren’t as exciting when three teams are competing. The first team to complete the challenge would win Immunity and a fancy fire-making kit. The second team to complete the challenge would win Immunity and flint. I mean, that’s not so bad – isn’t flint usually what they give the winner anyway?

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“Beauty”, obviously

The challenge involved maneuvering a wagon through an obstacle course, and completing a puzzle. The Brains tribe totally blew it – I mean, it was a real gong show – which really took the excitement out of the challenge. It was neck-and-neck between Beauty and Brawn, but who cares when they’ll both end up with Immunity and fire? Beauty ended up coming first.

Brains would be going to Tribal Council, and it seemed like J’Tia was an obvious choice for elimination. She’s bossy, lazy around camp, and not a major asset to the tribe in challenges. But Garrett had revenge in mind and wanted to target David. And David had his end game in mind and wanted to target Garrett. Morons. Too soon! 

Spencer and Kass stand out on the Brains tribe as the ones with actual Survivor smarts. But Kass already made a few missteps this episode, and one of them was telling J’Tia that she was leaning towards voting for her. Why? It’s not going to help, so keep your mouth shut.

Instead, J’Tia, Tasha and Garrett targeted David as a strategic threat. Fair enough, he did come out with guns blazing. They just needed to bring Spencer onboard – even though Spencer seemed to think that J’Tia would be an easier vote (he was already wondering who might have the Hidden Immunity Idol, but Garrett had secretly found it) I knew he’d get onboard. He’s a smart guy and seems to know when it’s best to just go with the flow.

So, the “leader” of the tribe was voted out first. Bye, David! You didn’t seem like you’d be a great player anyway.

Getting Cagey

The next day, Garrett revealed himself to be the biggest baby on this season of Survivor. He’s a poker player. A strategist. He doesn’t want to do manual labor, or starve, or “survive” in the wilderness. Um, then maybe stick to poker? Or, like, Risk? Settlers of Catan? Pretty much any strategy game that doesn’t take place outdoors and isn’t called “Survivor“. What a weeny.

For the second Immunity/Reward Challenge, teams had to swim out to giant cages and bring fish traps back to shore. Then, one player would solve a puzzle. Cliff and Brice sat out for Brawn and Beauty. Despite J’Tia not being a great swimmer, Brains did surprisingly well in the physical part of the challenge – they began the puzzle with a pretty solid lead. 

J’Tia was working on the puzzle, and it should have been her chance to make up for her weak swimming. Instead, she completely bombed. Team Brawn caught up, and Sarah completed the puzzle like it was a piece of cake. So her tribe won Immunity and fishing gear. But there was still hope for Brains – after all, TWO tribes get to win Immunity in these challenges. Beauty had really struggled in the physical part of this challenge, so J’Tia had a massive lead over LJ when it came to the puzzle. Didn’t matter. He still creamed her. “She’s toast,” I thought.

Not Toast, Rice

Never underestimate the stupidity of the Brains tribe. Seriously, who are these clowns? I had to laugh when Kass said she wanted to see the data on how the Brains tribe was selected. 

When they returned to camp, Garrett announced that instead of having private conversations (so, you know, playing the game) everyone should just discuss the vote openly in a group. So everyone had to tell J’Tia that she sucked and was getting voted out, to her face, in front of everyone else. Awkward! 

Tasha got upset, and she even began to convince Kass to flip and vote out Garrett instead. I think the suggestion would be tempting because Garrett is such a tool, but the truth is that Kass is in the #3 position no matter what she does. The only difference is, she has a chance of going to less Tribal Councils if she works with Garrett and Spencer.

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Garrett didn’t like the idea of Tasha and Kass speaking alone, so he and Spencer went to interrupt them – leaving J’Tia alone. The woman who’d just been basically fired from the tribe in front of everyone. An angry woman with nothing to lose. So, she dumped all the rice in the fire. 

Um. Wow. 

So, J’Tia is a lunatic. That was a crazypants move. And so stupid! Kass was ready to flip, but who wants to work with THAT girl? And yet, Garrett remains so unlikable. “I wanted us to all stay up here together!” he whined, trying not to get blamed for leaving J’Tia alone when he was specifically told not to leave J’Tia alone.

I thought J’Tia’s fate was sealed, but this episode as full of surprises. After Garrett said one dumb thing after another during Tribal Council, Kass switched her vote and he was sent packing. Nice! I mean, J’Tia is bananas but at least that can be fun. Garrett just bugged me. 

Stray thoughts:

Because Brains went to both Tribal Councils (off to a smashing start!), we didn’t get to see much from Brawn or Beauty. But here are some notes:

  • On the Brawn tribe, people seem to really like Cliff. He’s charming and funny. Cliff, Woo, Sarah and Lindsey make a strong foursome. 
  • I don’t like Tony, at all. And now he has a stinking Hidden Immunity Idol. Booo!
  • The other person on the outs in the Brawn tribe is Trish, the woman who was originally targeted as weakest and gave up a HHI clue for group rice. She’s already clashing with Lindsey, but I think they both could be difficult personalities.
  • I enjoy Brice for his commentary on the rest of the Beauty tribe, even though I don’t think he’ll win the game. I’m not sure what to make of this tribe yet, other than that LJ seems like by far the strongest player.

That’s all for me! I was traveling recently, so I haven’t had time to read any bios or watch any cast videos. Hopefully I can do a little research before I have to make my picks for the Survivor office pool. I have my eye on a couple players, but who would you put at the top of the list?

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