“Freaking out about freaking out”: Survivor Kaoh Rong Season Premiere Recap

22 Feb

The scene is Cambodia (presumably the same beaches as the last season we saw), and the season’s title is Survivor: Kaoh Rong, which apparently is pronounced “go wrong.” We’re told that this is going to be the most grueling season in Survivor history.

The contestants are divided into three tribes, and once again the theme is “Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty.” The last time this was tried (Survivor: Cagayan), the result was a pretty good season, so let’s hope for the best this time!

We don’t see any initial briefing of the tribes by Jeff Probst; rather, when he addresses the camera all of the players are hustling around him on the deck of the ship gathering supplies.

The tribes are as follows:


Peter, who bears a superficial resemblance to Barack Obama. He seems pretty full of himself (Peter, not the President).

Neal, an ice cream entrepreneur.

Debbie, who can’t stop talking about how much she has accomplished and how skilled she is at everything. In between all of that, we find out, she somehow has time to wait tables at Red Lobster.

Aubry, a young social media worker.

Joe, who is in his 70s but is as ripped as Jack LaLanne. Turns out he is a former FBI hostage negotiator.

Liz, a statistics expert.


Tai, an older Asian man. He is a gardener who was born in Vietnam and was a refugee. Both he and everyone else seem to wonder why he’s on the beauty tribe.

Nick, a strapping personal trainer who is pretty enamored of his own looks.

Anna, a professional poker player who says she gains an advantage when her breasts distract other players. Er, I can certainly believe that’s true.

Michele, a bartender. We don’t see much of her.

Julia, a college sorority girl who we also don’t hear much from.

Caleb, a veteran who we find out was previously on Big Brother. He calls himself Beast Mode Cowboy.


Jason, a tattooed bounty hunter. He quickly makes alliances with just about everyone out there, opting to worry about possible consequences later.

Darnell, a tall young black man from Chicago.

Jennifer, a construction worker.

Alecia, a leasing agent from Dallas. She doesn’t have much “brawn” but assures the camera that she does extreme sports and such.

Scot Pollard, former NBA benchwarmer. He doesn’t do any kind of fake cover story and is frank about his background from the start (he doesn’t use the word benchwarmer however).

Cydney, a female bodybuilder. She and Darnell make an alliance fairly quickly.

On the Brains tribe, the storyline is that the younger four decide to form an alliance and put “older folks” Joe and Debbie on the outs (Debbie is only in her forties according to the show, but looks much older). Also, Aubry has a breakdown and thinks she’s succumbing to the elements, but the others decide it’s really more a case of “freaking out about freaking out.”

On the Beauty tribe, Tai leaves a group to go looking for a hidden immunity idol, but they quickly notice he’s gone and track him down. Having no excuse to be in the middle of nowhere with muddy hands, he admits he was looking for an idol … and then says he’ll see them later as he needs to look some more!

And on the Brawn tribe, Jennifer reveals that a bug has crawled into her ear and won’t leave. Yuck! Worse, her ear is bleeding. It hurts and is driving her crazy … understandably! She can’t sleep a wink all night. Then we see a shocking shot of the tiny larva (?) crawling around outside the entrance to her ear canal. Which begs the question: why in God’s name is the cameraman filming this rather than grabbing the darn thing and helping her? Fortunately it comes out again and Scot is able to grab it and dispose of it. Immediately Jennifer is her old self again.

Boy, if I ever had thoughts of trying to be on Survivor, or going to Cambodia at all, I think I’ve been cured of both!

Also, that dramatic sequence was sorely needed in an episode that otherwise has been quite boring. The most boring Survivor season premiere I can remember, in fact. Maybe it was 90 minutes instead of 2 hours because they just didn’t have the footage to warrant 2 hours?

Fifty-one minutes into the show, we finally get to the first challenge. The first part involves deep diving. Darnell (who has been a lifeguard) loses the diving mask on his very first dive and it sinks to the bottom, putting his team behind. But everyone is pretty much even when we get to the final puzzle. Jennifer and Alecia are the designated puzzle-solvers for Brawn, but Alecia just stands there doing nothing and tags out. The Brains tribe is the first to win immunity, and Beauty barely beats Brawn for second place.

It quickly becomes apparent that Darnell and Alecia are the two on the chopping block. Scot thinks it should be Darnell who lost the goggles in the challenge. Alecia decides to campaign against Darnell, and finally Scot tells her “The only thing I have against you right now is the constant scheming.”

Again, there is no reason for this to be a 90 minute show. Tribal council provides no additional fireworks either. It appears the consensus is that Darnell has to go, but the more Alecia talks it seems some might change their minds. We get to the vote, and surprisingly for the first episode, it’s a 3-3 tie (the 3 votes for Alecia, we see later, being Darnell, Cydney, and Jason)! There is a re-vote and Darnell is voted out.

This is the point where I always name an early favorite based on one episode. I can’t remember it ever being so tough. Jennifer showed a lot of gumption and seems like a strong challenge competitor, so I guess I will choose her.










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