After much anticipation and a longer-than-average gap between seasons, “Survivor 42” is finally here! After calling season 41 the beginning of a “new era of ‘Survivor’,” host Jeff Probst has teased “Survivor 42” as “the most dangerous version of ‘Survivor’ ever seen.” With a shortened shooting schedule (only 26 days), a faster pace, more dangerous challenges, harsher conditions, and more controversial twists and advantages than ever, “Survivor 42” is bound to be a wild and exciting ride, and today marks the beginning of such an adventure for both the contestants and audience.
The two-hour premiere kicks off Wednesday, March 9 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific with 18 new castaways split into three tribes of six apiece. Follow along with our live episode recap below but be warned of spoilers.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE ‘SURVIVOR 41’ PREMIERE AHEAD
All times Eastern.
8:00 – At first, it appears as though “Survivor 42” is starting just like any other. Three tribes of six are coming to the marooning on their separate boats, and Jeff Probst is addressing the audience, letting us know what the contestants don’t: that many of the twists used in season 41, like the Shot in the Dark advantage, the Hourglass twist, and the Beware advantage, will be re-used this time around, though with certain “variables” changed. There will also be some new twists. Let’s stay tuned to see how that pans out.
8:10 – Maryanne and Zach seem like this season’s Cochran/Adam/Erik Reichenbach-style superfan, but in reality every contestant this season is a superfan. For all the newer seasons’ faults, that’s what makes it all pretty exciting. We’re also about to start our first challenge. It’s long and complicated, and the winner gets a pot, machete, and flint for their tribe. But no tribes get any rice or food whatsoever. “The new Survivor is fast, it’s difficult, and it’s dangerous,” Probst says.
8:15 – Daniel is slow for his Vati tribe, and may have a Stephenie LaGrossa-style premiere episode dislocated shoulder. Now, runners Lindsay, Drea, and Hai are faced with a decision that the three of them must face together: an advantage for the three of them, or to continue to compete in the challenge. After a bit of deliberation, the three of them pinkie swear with each other and choose to get the joint advantage (that also means perhaps a cross tribal alliance). The 15 remaining contestants are wondering what’s taking them so long (this may be like 10 or 15 minutes IRL, even though it’s only 2 on screen) as they smear fake blood and dirt all over their bodies to make it look like they were working hard. “WHY ARE THEY FILTHY??” Lydia yells as Lindsay returns first. The three of them are back, and the tribes paddle out. Taku has a clear lead.
8:20 – Taku still has a lead, but soon Ika and Vati (including Daniel, who is still injured) return to the beach. It’s a nail-biter finish!! Rocksroy gets his key off the hook, meaning Taku has more or less blown their lead, but drops it. Can he drag it back? He does! Ika wins reward!! “Are you okay? You’re bleeding a lot,” Lydia says to Hai.
“I think I pulled a Stephenie LaGrossa here,” Daniel says of his shoulder. Except this time, we actually get to see the cameras. Medical has a look at it. Thank God for Survivor’s Australian medical team. A doctor puts his shoulder back in; it feels a lot better, but the doctor warns him it is at risk of being dislocated again, so he has to be careful.
8:30 – At the Ika tribe, Tori, Zach, and Swati immediately bond as the three young people. Tori shows off her nerdy side as the three geek out about Harry Potter. Simultaneously, the other three – Rocksroy, Drea, and Romeo – immediately bond as the older tribe members. Already there are alliances being formed. Time will tell which bond will prevail. Now, Vati is given another chance to get the supplies they lost at the challenge. SAVVY or SWEAT: meaning they have to choose between a mental or physical challenge.
8:35 – They choose SAVVY, and immediately several of them assume they already have the answer. Jenny explains to them why they’re wrong, and steps up to be the leader of this challenge. Meanwhile, Taku has also chosen SAVVY. While Jonathan sees 11 triangles, Omar sees 36. “I’m not gonna be a puzzle guy,” Jonathan says, so he, Marya and Jackson go to make the shelter while Lindsay, Omar, and Maryanne count the triangles. Both Vati and Taku have determined there are at least 50 triangles; Vati’s guesses are 50 and 51, while Taku guesses 51 and 52…and the answer is…51!! Both tribes get their reward!!
8:45 – the superfans over at Ika are singing the “Survivor” theme song, causing a frustrated Rocksroy to reprimand the younger three, plus Drea, for goofing off while they’re supposed to be working. Zach says that his attitude paints a huge target on his back. Rocksroy asks Drea if he is taking it too far, and Drea tells him he should take it down a bit.
Meanwhile, Drea, Hai, and Lindsay finally check out their advantage: it’s an “Advantage Amulet,” which can only be used with all the other Amulets remaining in the game, meaning the three of them must regroup before any of them can use it. However, the fewer amulets in the game, the more power they have (extra vote at 3, Steal-A-Vote at 2, and it’s a full idol at 1). So the three of them are given an interesting dilemma: they’ll have to eliminate each other to maximize the power of the idol, but they also have to reconnect with each other before it can be used at all. Boy, Jeff wasn’t lying when he said they weren’t holding back on the twists.
8:55 – at Taku, Jackson Fox tells his story: he only applied for “Survivor” once, ten years ago, “as a girl,” revealing to his tribe that he is a transgender man. His tribe is shocked, though they are still delighted by the story, and embrace him as part of the tribe. Jackson says he just wants to be honest about who he is, and is excited about doing so after spending so much of his life hiding.
At Vati, Chanelle notices that Lydia and Hai have bonded quickly. Since Mike and Jenny have also bonded, Chanelle wants to bond with Daniel by default. After Mike asks about a scar on Daniel’s chest, Daniel reveals that he had childhood leukaemia, from which he is now fully cured. At Ika, some more bonding takes place between Zach and Romeo. Zach, who is wonderfully awkward and charming, describes trying to make an alliance as “waiting to be kissed.” Lucky for him, Romeo’s feelings about their in-game bond are reciprocated.
9:05 – Tori, meanwhile, is trying to look for an idol and thinks she is getting away with it, but her tribe’s not falling for it. Romeo in particular paints her as target #1: “she’s first!” he says. Zach tells her about her tribe’s suspicions, and she’s worried. Will she be able to recover?? I guess we’ll have to wait until the end of the episode to find out. “You’re seeing your hopes and dreams dashed before your very eyes,” she says, because she has “made a very stupid decision.”
At Taku, on Day 2, a boat has arrived, demanding that one tribe member come with them for the afternoon. Maryanne volunteers. On Vati, the six draw straws, with Jenny drawing the shortest straw. On Ika, Drea and Rocksroy compete to go by playing rock-paper-scissors, which Drea wins. On a separate island, Jenny, Maryanne, and Drea ascent the summit, as seen in “Survivor 41.” Maryanne, like lots of others, wants to be a model to other, mostly younger, viewers of the show; in her case, “weird” kids like her.
At the summit, the three ladies are each separately offered an advantage, as in season 41. If they all choose “protect your vote,” nothing changes. If all three choose “risk your vote,” they all lose their vote at the next Tribal. If there is a mix, the ones that choose “risk” get an extra vote and the ones that choose “protect” keep their regular vote.
Jenny is clearly a sharp player right out of the gate: she accurately predicts that the other two chose to risk their vote, so she chooses to protect her vote. So, Maryanne and Drea will get an extra vote, and Jenny will face no adverse consequences. Had she chosen “risk,” all three would’ve been screwed. Maryanne and Drea should thank her later!
9:15 – Uh-oh. Over at Taku, Jackson has apparently been dizzy for 10 hours, so Lindsay is keeping an eye on him. Now, Jeff is coming to the beach. “Usually when he’s on the beach it’s never good,” Lindsay says….this is ominous as hell. Jeff announces he’s come to have a one-on-one with Jackson. Apparently, the day before shooting started, Jackson disclosed “some new medical information” to production. Jackson is on lithium – an antidepressant – and stopped shortly before shooting started. The fact that he disclosed it so shortly before shooting apparently distressed production. Jeff realizes that Jackson is clearly comfortable talking about these issues, but says immediate withdrawal from such a drug would have a “potentially very bad issue” on a game like “Survivor,” and announces they’ll have to remove Jackson from the game.
WOW. We’re only 75 minutes in and a contestant is being pulled for an as-of-yet unprecedented reason. “It was the best 48 hours I’ve had ever,” Jackson says. Unfortunately, Jackson is out. It’s a shame – he seemed like a great guy, eager to play the game, and a wonderful representative of the transgender community. The entire tribe is in tears when he has to announce the news. Maryanne is bawling, unable to control herself. Clearly, these six have bonded pretty hard over these two days.
9:35 – Ika and Vati get their first look at the new Taku tribe, but they are not informed as to what happened, only that Jackson “had to leave the game.” Unlike season 41, because of Jackon’s evacuation, only one tribe has to go to Tribal. During the challenge, Daniel can be seen holding his shoulder. Clearly it’s not fully healed yet. Zach, bless him, couldn’t stay in the boat and briefly fell into the water. This challenge is neck-and-neck. These chests are BIG, and heavy, and they have to fit all three of them, plus the five contestants, in the boat. This is one tricky challenge.
These contestants are absolutely exhausted by the time they reach the beach. Everyone (except Lydia and Romeo) is out of breath, and can barely even move.
Damn. Jonathan is hella strong, moving a chest all by himself. Ika is extremely behind…Taku and Vati are making good pace on the puzzle. Unless Ika makes a serious comeback (not unlike Luvu last season, to be fair), one of them is a goner.
TAKU WINS IMMUNITY!!! It’s between Ika and Vati, and…VATI WINS IMMUNITY!! Unfortunately, Zach and Swati can’t make the comeback for Ika. One of those six is going home tonight. Zach, understandably, looks distraught. The puzzles were supposed to be his strongsuit, a way to make up for his lack of physical strength. “I put 100% of the blame on myself,” he says, though he may be a bit too hard on himself. Ika was seriously behind by the time he and Swati reached the puzzle, and they did make pretty significant progress. Will his bond with Tori and Swati hold up? Only time will tell.
9:45 – At Ika, Zach apologizes for not winning the puzzle, and Tori tries to dispel the notion that she has an idol. Romeo tries to get Zach, Swati, or Rocksroy to fess up on who told Tori about Drea wondering aloud whether Tori was looking for the idol. Privately, Tori and Drea agree that Rocksroy should go. Meanwhile, Swati and Rocksroy decide that Zach should go. Drea tries to convince Romeo to get rid of Rocksroy, but Romeo is very resistant, and instead suggests Tori. Drea reluctantly agrees, because she feels she has to go with the numbers. Romeo also doesn’t want to get rid of Zach, given their “skinny guys alliance.” Rocksroy and Swati are vehemently opposed to eliminating Tori, and instead want Zach, complicating things. We’ve got six people, most of whom are laser focused on three different people. Will there be a consensus? We’ll have to see.
9:55 – Zach, letting his inner superfan shine through, delivers Jeff’s normal schtick: “In this game, fire represents life. When your fire’s gone, so are you.” Drea says that she thinks they need to maintain a strong tribe, making it look ominous for Zach. Zach says he’s nervous, and implies that it’ll either be him or Tori tonight. Tori wants to prove that she’s trustworthy, but Zach tries to throw her under the bus. Clearly Ika’s young person alliance has fallen apart. It looks like it’ll be either Zach or Tori. Zach decides to play his Shot in the Dark, while Drea discovers she won an extra vote from the summit.
Zach announces that he took the Shot in the Dark, and will see whether he is immune or not, and…he is NOT SAFE. Uh-oh.
First vote: Zach. Second vote: Zach. Third vote: Zach. Zach is officially the first person voted out of “Survivor 42.” Sorry, Zach. For what it’s worth you were a wonderful representation of every superfan’s id on the show.
Two hours in and we’re already down to 16 people left. Who will have what it takes to outwit, outplay, and outlast all the rest? Tune in every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS to find out.