Survivor Philippines Episode 1: Bad Leaders, Worse Decisions

Eliza is back with her first recap of Survivor Philippines

Survivor Philippines Episode 1: Bad Leaders, Worse Decisions

Hi everyone. Welcome to another season of Survivor! I am happy to be sharing my thoughts about this season — Survivor Philippines — with you and I am actually writing from Beijing, China! I’m here for the next six months and I’m actually blogging about my adventures if you’d like to follow along:!

The first person we get the pleasure of meeting is the super humble Jeff Kent, oh wait, did I say humble? I meant completely narcissistic former baseball player Jeff Kent. I guess now Survivor is the thing to do for washed up former professional athletes.

Then we have our other quasi-celebrity contestant, Lisa, who played Blair Warner on The Facts of Life. She is a huge Survivor fan, and truly seems like a genuine, sweet person.

So as we have all known for many months, this season features contestants who were medically evacuated from the game. We have Russell Swan, Jonathan Penner, and Michael Skupin.

Russ Swan says this time he’s smacking back.

From Penner, we hear his usual cocky attitude, “39 days from now I’ll make a million dollars.”

And then we have the one and only Mike Skupin, who fell into the fire on the second season of Survivor. That was one of the most famous moments of survivor and you remember it even though it was back in 2002 that it aired!!  I think that was the moment viewers at home were like wow. Survivor is real and it is no joke.


Then we see the tribe introductions. You all don’t realize at home quite how long that first day is. By the time we see the 15 non-returning contestants divided nice and neatly into their three tribes, they have probably been on that boat for five hours. Just watching them on that boat is making me nauseated. Some of they may have even been puking off the sides. People certainly were on Vanuatu when we spent hours on a boat.

Probst asks the contestants about people getting evacuated and Roxanne describes Russ Swan. Then, there he is!

Jeff introduces each of the three returning contestants and it was sort of weird but did you notice there was no applause at all at their introduction. On Fans v Favorites, we each got clapped for AND we were their competition. The three guys finally got applause as they got assigned to tribes, but I still found their intro awkward.

Survivor Philippines returning players

Jeff (Probst not Kent) says hidden idols are in play. I am not gonna lie, I sort of wish they weren’t. At least not at camp. It makes the game less fun when all someone has to do is go look around for a few minutes and they can find a hidden idol.

Jeff tells everyone to grab whatever gear they can in 60 seconds and I was thinking to myself, how is he going to enforce that. Then Probst says “10 seconds left” and Penner says “before what happens?” Penner took the words right out of my mouth. We are so the same. I love that guy and loved playing Survivor with him.

I should tell you up front that he is one of my favorite Survivors ever so I am certainly going to be rooting for him this season! Team Penner all the way!

Then we have Jeff telling everyone to get off the boat. Notice how they don’t show everyone off. Jeff had to keep counting down I assume. Hilarious. Penner is not a rule follower.

We get to see Russ Swan’s tribe first. It is confusing enough having three tribes to keep track of, let alone learning the names of the tribes so I’m calling them by their returning player. Hope that’s okay with you all.

So Russ SAYS he leads in a way of letting someone else lead. “Let that person crash and burn” and cackles. But then he is shown being a super annoying leader. Crash & burn? I think so. Yikes.

Impressively, Malcolm gets fire started! He says they made fire in the first 45 minutes on their beach. I would say that sounds like some sort of record, but as favorites I think Yau man & Ozzy had our fire going in 15 minutes.

Malcolm seems like he’s gonna be a big character. He gets how to manipulate people. He says, “I let Russell build fire.”

Now onto Penner’s tribe. He loves this game so much. I knew we’d get to see him tear up.

Poor Penner. Jeff Kent is trying to scheme against Penner already. Keny says Penner is a 3rd timer and they have to get rid of him. It just shows how tough it can be to be a returning contestant on a season on which sheep weren’t cast to ensure your victory. (::cough cough:: Rob Mariano).

Then we get to the Skupin tribe. Skupin says he hopes he can live up to the legend of what he was. Well he’s lucky (was it actually luck though? No it wasn’t because the returning contestants already had their tribes picked out for them by the producers so I think it wasn’t luck at all, actually).

Well he is certainly lucky to have a go-getter like RC on his tribe. RC tells people she is an executive assistant because she is a banker. But she’s clearly a smart girl. She immediately forms an alliance with the blonde girl with the “hot Brazilian accent,” Abi. And Abi puts her flirtation plan in motion with her whole, “is my butt too big for this buff?”

Abi and RC say Pete looks dumb and they can use him. He agrees to be in the alliance and then RC brings in Skupin.

Now we are back to Penner’s tribe, starring Jeff Kent. Jeff Kent has a ranch. Jeff Kent races bikes. Jeff sells bikes. Jeff says this isn’t about who is in debt and who needs the million bucks. He made $30 million but he wants THIS million.

I absolutely love the contrast between him (evil) and the other celebrity cast member Lisa (good). She is a huge fan and has never missed an episode of the show. She wants to play to her strengths and connect with each person. She lost all her money she made being a child star. She is awesome.

Skupin tells her he knows who she is and that she needs to tell them. Skupin wants her to stay. I actually really hope that she does. She looks like she’s having a rough time next episode (yeah, as I’ve said, Survivor is NO joke), but hopefully she sticks around.

Then we have the Zane saga. Zane has issues. He made some very bad decisions which ultimately led to his demise. He says all his jobs make him the perfect Survivor player. Not so much. Zane is makes alliances with everyone on his tribe and then when he approaches the guys he tells the them he already grabbed alliances with all the girls so he can bring the girls in. He thinks he’s a genius. Malcolm thinks otherwise.

I can’t imagine anything much more devastating than if one of the returning contestants had to get medically removed from the game AGAIN. But it looks like we are well on the way to that happening. RC points out that Skupin gives 110% constantly but misses the little things and that “Superman needs to take a break with the machete.” They’re about to ban him from using the knife. Pete says we’ll see what happens when we have fire. It isn’t funny but it is.

Having played the game with Jonathan Penner, I can affirm that Katie is right. Penner is shady and dangerous. He’s also incredibly smart and totally paranoid. Of course he is out looking for the idol. I’m not surprised he found the clue first and I hope he finds the idol as well so he can stick around. I love that guy.

Then Russell totally stumbles upon the clue and goes off to look at the idol clue (but stupidly does it out in the open) and Zane sees him doing it. Zane should have immediately used that information to rally the troops against Russell but unfortunately he shared that information too late.

Then Russ Swan screws up even worse at the challenge. He assigns roles, won’t let the girls speak and ultimately even though he wasn’t the worst at his respective part of the challenge, costs his tribe the challenge.

The second I saw the challenge, I knew Penner would be doing the puzzle. I immediately said to myself, if he gets to that puzzle without being too far in the hole, there’s no way they don’t win. Penner and I did a lot of puzzles together. That guy is a puzzle master. Skupin’s tribe had a lead going into the puzzle, but there was no doubt in my mind when I saw how close it was that Penner would pull out the win! And he did!!

During the challenge on Fans v. Favorites where they had to collect coconuts in the water and then we had to unscramble the letters on the coconuts, he and I had a system. He just started yelling numbers out to me and I knew of course that those numbers were meant to correspond to letters. Everyone else was like what are you two doing?? But I had every letter well before it even got to us.

So Russ Swan’s team loses and they get back to camp and Russ starts lecturing the tribe (is that guy annoying or what? I mean, he is coming off as SO unlikable though he is a nice guy in real life, his edit is horrible). Anyhow, then Zane cuts him off and says his legs cramped and he deserves to go. This is the worst thing you can do. Zane tells the cameras in confessional that this whole thing is a ruse, but you know who he forgets to tell? The REST OF HIS TRIBE. If he’d told them, he could have said listen I did this for us so we can blindside Russell and he doesn’t have a chance to use the idol, but no, he just wants them to “convince” him to stay.

I actually thought the tribe MIGHT vote off Russell anyhow, but crazy Zane at tribal with his, “the more layers you peel back the more you cry” speech and Russell admitted he went into dictator mode and came on a little strong.

Returning contestants have a huge target on them coming into a game with all new contestants. Russell got lucky someone came out said “vote me out.” Russell was a terrible leader, but Zane’s bad decisions were worse. If Zane hadn’t said that he may have stayed. That was idiotic. You can’t ever make it easy for someone to vote you out in Survivor.

I hope you’ll all join me again next week for my recap of Survivor. Until then, don’t forget to check out my blog ( and follow me on twitter @eorlins (though I’m only on intermittently because of the blocks in China). Signing off for now, with bad leaders & worse decisions, xoxo, Eliza.



  • Invest43

    Eliza, washed up former athletes doesn’t fit Jeff Kent. He is a future hall of famer, hardly washed up like Grant Mattos!! Narcissistic is right though!!

  • giovanni

    blair, i hope she keeps her secret as long as she can. don’t spill the beans until you absolutely have to. good luck, because there a lot slimy characters on this seasons survivor.

  • Eleanna

    Your description of Jeff Kent was WAY off base and completely NOT necessary. You’re a nobody writing a blog about a show you participated on and lost. I think narcissistic is a term that might fit you better. Tell us how much you love Penner again. Won’t be checking in with this blog anymore. You’re a loser.

  • Hillary

    Kent is actually super nice, I got to meet him a while back when he played for the Giants & he’s honestly one of the nicest baseball players I’ve ever met & I’ve met quite a few, I’m about 20 mins from the San Jose Giants (SF Giants minor league team) & about an hour from the SF Giants & I spend a lot of time at the games.