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Last night the ninety minute premiere of Survivor: South Pacific aired on CBS. Two former Survivor staples and two-time previous game players Ozzy Lusth and Coach Wade are back to square off with the newbie castaways on an episode aptly titled “I Need Redemption.”

Right off the bat, we meet John “Cochran” Cochran who has watched every season of the show, and even wrote a prize winning paper on it while in law school at Harvard. Native American Elyse isn’t much into the outdoors, but she’s hoping her heritage will work to her advantage, and then there’s Rick a rancher from the Midwest. Stacey is a funeral director and mortician who promises to be nosy and while pretending to play nice. Russell Hantz’s (a former Survivor with multiple games under his belt) nephew Brandon likens himself to Hitler’s nephew and vows to change the perception of his family’s name. Maybe not the most accurate of comparisons, but he doesn’t want his fellow castaways to know that he shares the blood of a Survivor competitor who wouldn’t have won any popularity contests.

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Two tribes of eight row their way to shore, many in in office attire, where they are met by the wonderful and chipper Jeff Probst. He quickly informs them that each tribe is missing one teammate, and everyone watches in awe as a helicopter swirls over head. The cast is excited when Ozzy and Coach exit the copter. Who will join the red Savii tribe and who will join the Upolu blues? Both men crack an egg full of paint, and Ozzy heads to Savii while Coach goes with the less excited Upolu.

Jeff reveals that this game will also have the Redemption Island component, so people have second chances once being voted off by fellow castaways. The first challenge is a hero challenge between Ozzy and Coach involving tree climbing, digging under a log, and a pyramid puzzle which must be completed and transported to a different table. The prize is a potato equivalent food source and flint for fire. Their respective teams are helping with the puzzle solving, and Ozzy is first to complete it for the win. Coach’s team gives him the cold shoulder with the exception of Edna.

Savaii gets to their camp with their rewards. Semhar, the poet, gives an impromptu poetry slam and Ozzy may be a tad smitten. Ozzy suggests a group swim and everyone heads into the ocean in their undies. Cochran is hesitant given his semi-translucent skin, but he uses humor to overcome his insecurities.

Upolu reaches camp and Coach apologizes for losing the challenge. A very recent (four days ago!) college grad banters with Coach in Russian and the group tries to make a shelter. Christine, who seems to have a slightly negative attitude, offers to go look for fire wood/scour the beach for the immunity idol.

Back in the fun waters of the Savaii camp, Jim discusses his career as a high school teacher. I am dying when Jim reveals that no, he’s not really a teacher, he’s got an MBA and makes his money on poker tournaments and by distributing medicinal marijuana. Actual English professor Dawn, the self-proclaimed planner and mother of six (Kate Gosselin is so jealous this woman is on television and she’s not), is a tad concerned that everyone is looking to the extremely laid back Ozzy to take on the role of leader.

The blue tribe is coming right along with their shelter with Mikayla, the lingerie football player (is that a real job?), being a very helpful asset. As a married, God-fearing man, Brandon is worried about getting too close to his team mate who he feels flaunts herself and is overtly sexual. She’s also putting a roof over your head, dude (literally). Night number one with the Upolu finds five of its members bonding (Coach included)…and perhaps forming the season’s first alliance.

While the red team has fire and food, they don’t necessarily have skills. Dawn feels old, dehydrated and on the verge of a mini-breakdown. Ozzy tries to talk to her, and she also has Mike’s support. She and Mike are a good bit older than their tribe members, and Mike doesn’t want her tears to be seen as a sign of weakness by the other players. Meanwhile Semhar fashions toothbrushes out of reeds for her tribe mates. Day two finds them building a camp and Cochran trying his damndest to get into a coconut. He’s hoping his charm and humor will overshadow his lack of brawn.

Brandon wants to provide for his tribe members and catches the first itty-bitty little fish. He wants to play the game differently from his uncle, and he certainly doesn’t want the others to know he is related to Russell, which may prove difficult as he has the Hantz name tattooed across his back. Sophie, the Russian speaking medical student, has a feeling he has something to hide.

The first immunity challenge is a pretty severe looking obstacle course revolving around wallowing through a coconut maze, scaling a ten foot wall, digging up a machete and shooting hoops with some more coconuts to raise the tribe flag. Right from the beginning, it’s the Upolu tribe in the lead, although Savaii is right on their heels. It all comes down to who can make the most coconut free throws. Semhar clearly did not play basketball in high school. Upolu wins immunity by a coconut! Teacher pot peddler Jim is not happy his tribe is headed to tribal council, and he thinks Semhar should be the first to go home.

Christine and her negative attitude can’t even enjoy her tribe’s win because now the rest of her team is also looking for the immunity idol. Guess what guys? It’s in that tree hole! Back at Savaii, Semhar apologizes for losing the challenge but calls out Jim for making faces behind her back immediately after their loss. Savaii hasn’t really started forming alliances, although Dawn and Mike “Papa Bear” are sticking together because they are of the same generation. Ozzy doesn’t want his poetess to leave, so he’s hoping that he can sway the “hot girls” and Jim into voting for Cochran. Jim wants to know what is so special about Semhar that Ozzy wants to keep her around…having played the game before, Ozzy clearly knows what he is doing. Jim thinks that surely Ozzy wouldn’t be keeping her around in a million dollar decision just for the snuggle factor. Um… And then there’s poor Cochran who can’t imagine being the first guy to get his torch snuffed. No! He’s just a little guy, but he may be my favorite.

It’s tribal council time, and the red tribe has their torches ready. The castaways discuss potential tribe members on the chopping block and Ozzy goes to bat for Semhar. Cochran tries to defend himself, saying he’s not the weakest link. He brings Semhar’s toothbrush distribution into question. Plus, Cochran’s the show’s biggest super fan, so he can’t get voted off first. I hope he can make it alone on Redemption Island if it’s his time to go. The tribe is voting between Semhar and Cochran, Jeff tallies the votes, and whoa! It’s Semhar’s torch that is extinguished. I bet Cochran couldn’t feel any more excited if it were his birthday!

Next week, Cochran knows he needs to step up to the plate, while Brandon opens up to Coach about his uncle, bringing out Coach’s infamous dragon slayer.

ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW SEASON? WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITES SO FAR? DID SAVAII MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION BY VOTING OFF SEMHAR?

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