Survivor 42 starts off a new season with a new cast of delightful weirdos to cheer for.
by Jeremy Fogelman
As the sun rises on a new season of Survivor, we get our first glimpse of the ragtag set of players that are striving for that big prize. As per usual with most recent seasons, it’s quite a diverse cast of characters, with a common thread that many of these people are fans and sometimes superfans. And so we start with the ending, which is the simple question of:
Why did Zach lose?
As per usual, the first few episodes are tricky in terms of getting voted out, because even the smallest of grievances can easily explode in your face to make you an easy target, because everyone is looking for easy targets at the start. So although Zach successfully connected with Romeo, and to a lesser extent, with fellow youngsters Swati and Tori, none of those three were willing to rock the boat enough to try and change the vote.
And Tori was already willing to point fingers, so that wasn’t so difficult -- Romeo had his “older folks” alliance with Rocksroy and Drea, Drea had to be dissuaded from her quest against Rocksroy (who himself was a bit of that annoying “leader” type), and Swati explicitly targeted Zach. Zach didn’t make things any easier with his exhausted immunity performance, where he seemed to be “giving up” (although it’s likely he was just unable to move much) and couldn’t defeat the puzzle as fast as the other two teams.
So adios to our skinny boy superfan Zach, who is representative of one particular type of superfan, but at least he was clearly just glad for the experience. Similarly we get pleasant vibes from Jackson, who shares his own fascinating backstory about reconnecting with his anti-trans father over his mother’s passing, and Maryanne, who is so immediately excited that Jeff Probst does need to point it out.
Unfortunately Jackson does get medically evacuated because of a recently disclosed lithium withdrawal issue, leaving his tribe mates Lindsay and Maryanne in tears (with the latter literally crying out loud). As for Maryanne, she’s a self-acknowledged “weirdo” with a clear emotional connection to everyone -- for her it could go either very well or very poorly.
In terms of the rest of the gang, we get a little from everyone here and there. Of note are a few people that give some narration for us. Omar gives us some color, talking about being a secret predator, and Jenny saves her tribe from getting their triangle challenge wrong. Superfan Daniel dislocates his shoulder but continues to “shoulder” through the challenge and seems to be getting along swimmingly with his tribe. And others get little moments to shine too.
In terms of the twists, we get the classic “risk or protect your vote” idea which had mixed results last season, and a revamped 'Sweaty vs Savvy' that heavily pushed players towards the puzzle (which they both got -- 51 triangles exactly!). The dice roll for your life still hasn’t done much except ensure Zach’s departure, so that’s also a bit of a question mark for now. All well and good but the new twist, the shared amulet trap, now that’s a fascinating twist -- there are really so many possible ways that can go. I think it’s one of the better ones in a while.
All in all, a pretty fun new cast and an entertaining episode -- I can see that some players will immediately become divisive and others favorites, but I’m not hitching my wagon to anyone yet. I know how that one goes. But it’s great to see more Survivor with people that really want to play and win.
Next time on Survivor, here’s Maryanne, Tori wants Drea out, and David wants Mike out?