A lot of people don’t enjoy the recent trend in reality television of bringing back former players to compete again. They’ve had their chance already. Many people want to see a completely new group of characters try their hand at a game we love. However, I’m the opposite. I love when reality shows start to reuse past contestants. It allows us to go into the show already caring about the characters. Plus, since they already know about each other, they have to fight their preconceptions and past mistakes.

The newest season of Survivor (number 27!) is subtitled Blood versus Water. Former players, both well-known and those who didn’t live up to their potential, and their family members compete against each other in one of the toughest games on TV. I’m excited to see how the dynamics work out. Will anybody turn against their tribe for their family? Who will be the first to cast a vote against their loved one? I’m salivating at the prospect.

However, it all depends on the cast they choose. Last season’s Fans VS. Favorites was a head scratcher since almost none of the returning players could be considered favorites. This season’s cast is a bit better, with well-known players like Aras, Candice, Tyson, Colton, Gervase, and season two winner Tina. Their family members are a mix of significant others, siblings, and children. It will definitely make for a great dynamic.

There’s one cast member I definitely have a problem with: Rupert Boneham. The tie-dye wearing blowhard has played four times and become more insufferable each time. Although he won favorite player his first time out, he became increasingly full of himself. Whenever somebody questioned him, he’d whine. Write his name out at tribal and you can expect a tirade. Worst yet, he seems to believe that he is a hero, not only on the show, but to the world.

Rupert gets the chance to show off his martyrdom. During a terrible first day twist, the castaways have to vote one of their own out minutes after meeting them. Rupert’s wife, Laura, who is also in the insufferable tie-dye shirt, is voted out. When Jeff gives him the chance, he immediately switches places with her. Get ready for a full season of that.

I’m not thrilled with the reemergence of Redemption Island. The twist never really worked because it takes you out of the game at crucial moments and makes you look like a physical threat when you come back in. It’s usually too predictable to make a difference.

On the island, the vets clearly have an advantage. Tyson makes fire in minutes. The shelter starts to get built with ease. The family members have a much tougher time. They don’t have the experience, which will make their living experience much more difficult. It’s the one aspect of the returning player games that is pretty unfair. Their living situations will never be even.

Survivor challenges are always fun to watch. The first competition is a mix of water athletics and a puzzle. The veteran tribe schools their family after a really tough show. The interesting part of the twist emerges: Colton cries and the rest of the vet (save for Gervase) worry about their loved one’s future in the game.

Brad, who is clearly setting himself up to be the villain this season, is desperate for an all male alliance. It’s pretty great that Hayden is part of that alliance since he won Big Brother 12 because of his guy alliance. Brad bemoans that “weak women and John Cochran” have won in the past. Brad’s eviction will be the best eviction.

Gervase’s outburst after the vets win the challenge puts his niece Marissa in danger. Brad the Villain is particularly happy with the thought of rubbing it in his face that he voted out his family member. In the end, she’s voted off by everybody. I like her, so I hope she fares well in Redemption Island.

Will this season be strong like the last two or will it not live up to its potential?

Other Musings:

  • Aras and his brother Vytas have a complicated relationship. Vytas spent a year in prison and is a former heroin addict, current yoga instructor. Aras even says they had an abusive relationship. I’m dreading what could possibly happen with them since the relationship is so broken and serious. However, it could be the most interesting dynamic.
  • I’m not enthused about Colton’s return. I don’t buy his redemption arc. Having a hard childhood and being gay is not an excuse for racism. His fiancé seems great so far though.
  • Jeff doesn’t waste time pointing out that Hayden won Big Brother 12. It could be a hindrance but I doubt it. Hayden was made for this game.
  • Jeff also doesn’t waste time calling Brad “Culpepper.” He usually reserves last names for his favorite players. Jeff, at least wait a full episode before choosing your golden child.
  • The fact that everybody voted out Laura, Rupert’s wife makes me think there were either pre-made alliances or she and Rupert are really unlikeable. Same thing on the other side when most voted for Candice.
  • Tina thinks Rupert is a great camp builder, despite him nearly drowning his entire tribe in All Stars
  • Rupert’s wife joins the other tribe. She could be a goner as soon as they get a chance.
  • Brad has trouble with math. His edit is going to be glorious.