10 Thoughts On… Survivor Worlds Apart – Episode 1 Review – “We Are All Max Dawson”

1. The hype is real.

Jeff Probst described the premiere episode of Survivor Worlds Apart as being the best ever and while I initially thought that this was standard Probst hyperbole and rhetoric, after watching Episode 1, I now agree with the assessment. While the episode didn’t feature a breathtaking blindside or double-cross, it set the tone for what is rumored to be the best single season of Survivor ever. I was initially just captured by the sheer number of players that have been cast on this season. This is the first time where I genuinely believe every single contestant is playing to win and that this will result in a season that lacks pawns of any kind.

2. While many things about the premiere episode impressed me, the coronation of Carolyn Rivera was a clear highlight. In my pre-season preview article, I didn’t give Carolyn much credit. Just like So and Joaquin seemed to write her off because of her age, I also thought that Carolyn would be nothing more than an after-thought on the White Collar tribe. Instead, she was its sterling standout. The corporate (or “coporate” if you caught the typo on the episode) executive waited until she was approached by Shirin for an alliance and instead of losing her cool at Joaquin and So’s obvious lie about the hidden immunity idol clue, she instead put her observation skills to use and used them to scoop up the idol for herself. Then, instead of wasting her idol (and really who could blame her since her name was being bandied about before tribal council), Rivera trusted her instincts and confided that she had it to Tyler. This move impressed me the most. Instead of trusting her core alliance members (Shirin and Max), Carolyn used the idol to pick up another ally. While she could find herself in some trouble (if Tyler tells Max and Shirin she has it and, more importantly, they realize that she chose not to tell them), I believe that Carolyn has moved from a position of weakness to a stranglehold of absolute strength.

3. We are all Max Dawson. The media consultant (who will always be a Survivor professor in my eyes) didn’t disappoint, offering great one-liners when the tribes were initially introduced to complement his many barbs at tribal council. For longtime fans, Max is the prodigal son… a superfan who we get to live vicariously through. Max also provided the funniest moment of the episode when he was finally coaxed by his teammates into taking over for puzzled Shirin at the immunity challenge. The way he swatted her away as if she was a mosquito at summer camp as he confidently marched to the puzzle is a scene that I rewound multiple times. I honestly believe that Max’s placement this season will not affect his popularity at all. He represents all of the Thursday morning quarterbacks who analyze every detail of every episode the day after. He plays for us all.

4. Another standout was Dan Foley. I knew that I would like the postal worker immediately and this is because he feels like a contestant from yesteryear. Dan is the definition of “blue collar” and actually reminded me a lot of Sue Hawk from the show’s first season. Like Max, I just feel like people can relate to him. While it was clear that Dan was doing his best to connect with his younger teammates, it was just as clear that they weren’t having any of it. Sierra, Lindsey, and Rodney seemed to be particularly put off by “Harry Potter’s grandfather,” and I just don’t think Dan will be able to recover from his abrasive first impression. Dan’s best move is to try and lure Kelly over to his side and then use her to form a trio block with Mike. The problem is that Kelly seems quite savvy and with Rodney making it clear that his strategy is to go with the girls, I believe Kelly will stick with the Sierra/Lindsey/Rodney trio and that this quartet will maintain the power position.

5. There really isn’t much more to say about So and Joaquin’s terrible decision to bring back the smaller bag of rice. I just wish So had realized the error of her ways, and used Joaquin’s refusal to listen to reason against him. She should have pinned the entire decision on the marketing director. This would have been a great way to ingratiate herself with the tribe and put the bullseye on someone else. That said, you can’t really blame the White Collars for choosing to axe So instead of Joaquin as they need to keep their muscle around after losing the first immunity.

6. While everyone presumed Vince Sly would be an oddball, it was his fixation on Jenn that came as a real shocker on Episode 1. While I suspected Vince to be leading the No Collars in group yoga sessions, he instead came out with a clear desire to win. While his recruitment of Jenn can best be described as being ‘aggressive,’ I appreciate the fact that he is there to play. He might not be the best player, but at least is more of one than I initially thought.

7. Anyone else get a strong winner vibe from Joe? He was one of my picks before this season started and with a blossoming alliance with Jenn on the horizon, I believe these two got the best first episode edit.

8. I absolutely love the “Shirin/Max/Carolyn and maybe Tyler” alliance. I knew that Shirin/Max would hit it off based on their bios and they didn’t disappoint. Shirin’s neurotic confessional style is also a personal favorite. The one she did just before she formed an alliance with Carolyn was hysterical!

9. When Jeff announced the theme for this season, I knew that the No Collar tribe would likely be the most compelling and now that we are one episode into the season, this impression hasn’t really changed. The White Collars seem the easiest to figure out with Joaquin and Carolyn already earmarked as the likely next targets. I also feel that the Blue Collar dynamic has been easy to discern with Dan and Mike being on the outs. The No Collars are a different story. While we now know that Jenn and Joe are aligned, we didn’t really get to see anything else. With Nina being so heavily focused upon in this week’s preview, I don’t feel that she is the next to go so I am quite curious to see where Will and Hali stand on things.

10. Note to future Survivor players. Don’t eat a scorpion on the first day.

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