'I will be your villain!' Survivor NZ contestants off to a scheming start
SPOILERS FOLLOW. Survivor NZ, episode 1:
Nothing takes you back to the glory days of television like the sound of incomprehensible Russian chanting laid over African-style percussion.
This is Survivor, and for the first time a cast of Kiwis has taken centre beach.
But if you thought the contestants would be any less eccentric than the Americans, you would be wrong. Our first survivor, Dee, introduces herself by saying "I dream of being on the sand, I dream of [bleep] in the water."
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Righty, then. Dee also outs herself as the villain early on, shooting her hand into the air when host Matt Chisholm asks who would be willing to be labelled the baddie. Let's see how that plays out for her.
Behind Dee, Shay also puts her hand up – claiming the title of villain as well. Nobody seems to notice Shay's sneaky move. Obviously, these two contestants aren't too worried about first impressions.
Straight off the bat, these two self-proclaimed villains have a challenger. Isobel is a thief. Chisholm, the reporter turned jungle king, has forced the contestants to scrounge like seagulls if they want to survive. They need to get as much food and goods off the boat as possible and onto their mat, but Isobel the crow decides to snatch from the other team instead. Sneaky.
The one question following the challenge is, does the crow have a heart? At the end of the game, she returns a stolen knife. Does she have a heart? No. Isobel later confirms to camera: "it is a game, at the end of the day, and it was just part of the strategy". Hello, Machiavelli.
Isobel Machiavelli's teammate and complete opposite, Otara-raised youth worker Matai'a (Sala) Salatielu, insightfully points out "we're not in South Auckland anymore" as they arrive at the Mogoton tribe's camp.
Then, as Sala calls him, ex-army sergeant "koro" Tony Deane gives the team their briefing. Kick everything, the sergeant instructs, biting things are everywhere. On the phone, "koro" Deane told Stuff he could light a fire in three minutes. But when push comes to shove on episode one, his fire-creating skills prove somewhat rusty. The night plunges over these Kiwis, but despite Deane's attempts, Mogoton does not get fire.
Back at the Hermosa camp, Dee tells us "my preparation for Survivor didn't start that day I found out I was going to be on Survivor, it started the day I found out Survivor was coming to New Zealand".
It's good she's prepared, then, because now it's time for the first tribal council.
The teams have spent less than a day together, but the heartless Chisholm has ordered both tribes to evict one of their own.
Hannah, a plus-size model who has spent the day moving "boulders" for her Mogoton fire pit, tells Chisholm she's here to win: "I've got things to prove."
Hannah's a power lifter, "you can't judge a book by its cover. I've got a lot to prove," she says.
What do her team think? Five votes Hannah. One vote Izzy.
What follows is without a doubt the kicker of episode one. Chisholm, who maybe isn't so heartless after all, has a message for the remaining players: "Hannah did have one final plea for you. She said don't judge a book by its cover. Maybe you've just done that."
"I don't understand what I possibly did," Hannah says as she leaves the camp. Although her ex-tribe don't know it, she's off to Redemption Island.
No surprises who Hermosa vote out. She's the show's biggest fan, she's seen every episode, and she put her hand up to be villain.
One vote Barb. Five votes "D". Dee is out, she's angry, and the final nail in her coffin didn't even spell her name right.
On this season of Survivor, contestants can earn their right to come back. A smug Chisholm addresses the cast: "Some of you may have caught on yesterday, when I said Hannah and Dee's time was up. But I didn't say they were out of this game."
Chisholm maintains his pose, both hands on his hip with an occasional nod towards the group, as the two exiled players arrive to duel. Rather than being an island, Redemption Island is actually just the same area of beach with some rocks on the ground.
It's Hannah and Dee's chance to make some killer comments about the people who voted them out. Mogoton, the group who back-stabbed Hannah, appear to be truly gutted. Since voting Hannah out, Isobel Machiavelli has become ill. She is clearly the weakest link, say many of her tribe.
To fight for their right to stay in Nicaragua, the two contestants are forced to tie sticks together in order to retrieve keys.
Hannah wins it easy. By the time Dee manages to get her first key, Hannah already has two. As Hannah is sent back to "Redemption Island", Dee has one last and incredibly awkward message for Survivor as she becomes the first person voted off.
"One thing everyone didn't know is, Survivor's my life. I've watched every episode of every season at least three times. I listen to podcasts for 40 hours every week. I've listened to about 600 hours of audio books. I follow every blogger. I'm a Survivor super-fan."
Dee speaks to Stuff on Monday about what it was like being the first person voted off Survivor NZ.