“Survivor 41” Premiere Recap: Beware the Twistasaurus!

“Survivor 41” (CBS)

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Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor 41”

39 26 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor Blog

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Luvu Tribe (wearing blue)

  • Danny, 33 – Former NFL Player
  • Deshawn, 26 – Medical Student
  • Erika, 31 – Communications Manager
  • Heather, 52 – Stay-at-home Mother
  • Naseer, 36 – Sales Manager
  • Sydney, 25 – Law Student

The Ua Tribe (wearing green)

  • Brad, 49 – Rancher
  • Genie, 46 – Grocery Clerk
  • JD, 20 – College Student
  • Ricard, 31 – Flight Attendant
  • Sara, 23 – Health Care Consultant
  • Shan, 34 – Pastor

The Yase Tribe (wearing yellow)

  • Abraham, 50 – Cyber Security Analyst
  • Evvie, 28 – PhD Student
  • Liana, 20 – College Student
  • Tiffany, 47 – Teacher
  • Voce, 34 – Neurosurgeon
  • Xander, 20 – App Developer

Oh hey, Jeff Probst is talking directly to us. This is a little weird.

He tells us that they’re going to be doing things a little bit differently and letting us in on what’s going to happen. To prove this, we get to watch him hide the new “Beware” advantage at Yase’s camp.

NOTE: The writing on the Beware Advantage reads; “If you take it, it’s yours and you must do what it says. Otherwise, leave it.”

He also tells us that the pace will be much faster due to the shorter schedule. There will be less food, penalties for losing challenges, and they’ll have to earn everything. And, there’s always the potential for “dangerous twists.”

He keeps using the word “dangerous.” The real world isn’t dangerous enough these days?

CUT TO: Footage of the crew getting ready for the marooning. OK, this is amazing. I know I’m spoiled because I’ve been on location and seen this stuff a million times, but these people are the real secret sauce behind the show. I love that they’re sharing this with you.

The Marooning

Three boats, filled with six players each, are speeding their way to a huge barge. We get to meet Evvie, Danny, Tiffany, JD, Voce, Shan, Sara, Deshawn, Erika, and Xander, all sharing what their journey was like to get on the show and how COVID has affected their lives.

They all pile onto the barge and are greeted by a fella wearing a blue button-down shirt and a conveniently branded baseball cap. One of the highlights of the early introductions is Naseer explaining that he learned to speak English by watching “Survivor.”

Jeff then takes a poll of the group, asking if his “Come on in, guys” catchphrase is outdated. Evvie tells him that as a queer woman, she doesn’t feel excluded.  Nobody else weighs in, so it’s decided that the saying will stay. Although, I think most people wouldn’t speak up against it on day one of a million-dollar game.

Before we get to the challenge, I must mention a moment when the camera cut back to reveal the entire crew, including the production platform that you guys never get to see. Why? Well, I had to pause the show because I absolutely lost it. Blubbering like the family visit times twenty.

Being a member of the “Survivor” press corps means having a weirdly complicated relationship with a television production. It means celebrating their victories, challenging their decisions, and calling them out when they drop the ball. We laugh with each other, we cry with each other, we piss each other off.

But the truth is; I haven’t written anything “Survivor” related since my “Winners at War” recap fifteen months ago.

Honestly? I didn’t miss it. There was a pandemic to worry about. I had a daughter, I lost my father.

And weirdly, as the “Survivor” community rejoiced in the release of logos and pre-game cast lists, I didn’t participate. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the show’s return.

That is until they showed the people behind the Herculean task that is filming 18 individuals, a host, a barge, and a challenge at the Marooning. To me, that represents “Survivor” at its best. And “Survivor” at its best is magical.

I’m glad they’re back. I’m glad you’re back. Let’s do this.

Challenge Time: The three tribes will need to scour the boat to find their six tribe-colored oars. Once they have those oars they’ll row a boat around a buoy and then return to claim flint. The winning tribe gets the flint as well as a pot and a machete. The losing tribes will need to earn their supplies back at camp.

Result: Ua picked up the win, but it was ugly. Luvu forgot to unclip their boat, so they were dragging an anchor the whole time. And Yase didn’t even find all of their paddles. #rookiemistakes

Earning Your Supplies

Back at camp, the losing tribes are faced with two choices; either figure out how many triangles are in a puzzle or fill two barrels with water from the ocean using small pots. The tricks being, they only get one shot at the puzzle and the water challenge could take up to four hours and the participants won’t get to talk to their other tribe members.

Voce smartly hopes the Yase tribe will go for the puzzle because he doesn’t want to miss out on four hours of early bonding time, but Xander hilariously volunteers the both of them. Oh Xander…

Meanwhile, over at the Luvu tribe, Danny and Deshawn agree to take on the water challenge. Naseer promises them they won’t talk strategy without them.

That promise lasts about as long as it takes for Naseer to catch Danny and Deshawn searching for idols. He immediately goes to the rest of the tribe and tells them what’s up.

Anywho, both pairs manage to complete the challenge and it’s machetes, pots, and flint all around!

Getting to Know You

“Survivor” reaches back into the playbook and starts using video and images from the players’ real lives to help tell their stories. I love it! OK, we’ve got…

  • Sara recently lost her grandmother to COVID. They used to watch the show together so she’s playing for her. Sara also points out that the original “Survivor” players got canned food. Shots fired to all the former players who are complaining about this shortened season.
  • Brad lost his father to cancer in the days leading up to the show. He’s out there to get the most out of life.
  • JD has been practicing making fire with flint for the past year. He shows off these skills immediately.
  • Genie tells us about her family accepting her partner Lindsey. Aww…I have a soft spot for people who marry women with that name.
  • Ricard is a bit stressed about leaving behind his 22-month-old daughter and his husband who has a full-time job, is taking care of the baby, and is a pregnant transgender man. As someone who spends his days chasing around a 13-month-old, I couldn’t imagine doing it while working and being pregnant.
  • Evvie isn’t going to tell anyone that she’s doing a PhD in human evolutionary biology at Harvard. Why not? I did one of those over the weekend. No big.
  • Tiffany is known as a “Pre-vivor” in that she had a preemptive double mastectomy that saved her life. Now she’s looking forward to changing that title to “Survivor.”
  • JD was bullied in high school, but “Survivor” helped him come out of his shell. He names Ozzy and Woo as two inspirations. Hmm…maybe don’t emulate Woo if you get to the final three.

Beginning Politicking

Early heat around the Yase tribe has Abraham doing his best to throw Tiffany under the bus for the opening challenge loss. C’mon, you guys never even got into the boat. That’s a tribe loss if I ever saw one.

Over at Ua, JD is making  too many friends too quickly. Ricard and Sara are very wary of him.

However, they should all be scared of Shan. It looks like she’s getting in good with everyone and she has an adorable theme song that she hums while she’s being evil.

It’s early, but I’m quickly becoming a Shan Fan. I also like that she dresses like my favorite “Mario Kart” character…

And finally, Sydney tips off Deshawn and Danny that Naseer is already targeting them. Dun dun dun…

I’m on a Boat

All three tribes are greeted by a motorboat bearing a note that invites one of them on a little adventure. The tribes choose their representative thusly…

  • Luvu can’t come to a consensus, so Danny’s like, “Screw it, I’ll go.” I mean, he didn’t say “Screw it,” but he might as well have.
  • Yase chooses Xander because they all weirdly trust him.
  • Ua pulls rocks and JD wins (loses?). Very “Survivor” of them.

The boats meet up at a deserted island and the three gentlemen are encouraged to get to know each other as they go on a hike.

During the trek, Danny claims that he only played college football. Dangerous game, my friend. Obscure football players have been identified before.

Once they arrive at the top of the island, they are told to separate and make a decision. Danny thinks they’ll have to choose between an advantage and something for the tribe. He tries to get Xander and JD to let him know which way they’re leaning, but they’re non-committal.

It turns out we get a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma. They can all risk their vote or keep their vote safe. If they all keep their vote safe, they all keep their vote at the next Tribal. If they all risk their vote, they’ll all lose their vote at the next Tribal. If some risk and some protect, they’ll all get what they want.

Danny decides to protect his vote, Xander decides to risk his vote…we don’t get to see what JD chooses. But, no matter what, they’re all getting what they chose.

My Take: I gotta go with Danny on this one. A six-person tribe is too small to lose a vote.

Back at camp, all three of the guys explain what happened. Danny and Xander tell the truth and it seems like JD tries to fudge it a bit. Danny and Xander are believed…JD is not.

JD also says that he elected to protect his vote. Then why didn’t they show it? Hmmmm….?

Immunity Challenge Time: The tribes will race over an a-frame net, crawl under some obstacles, then put bags of puzzle pieces on a sled. They’ll then move sandbags off of the sled track. Once the track is clear, they’ll push the sled to a tower. They’ll pull the sled up the tower and then complete a puzzle. First tribe to complete the puzzle wins immunity. The other two tribes will be going to Tribal and LOSING THEIR FLINT! Probst means business.

Also: Ricard tells Jeff that he regrets not telling him how he really feels about “Come on in, guys” and that it should be left in the past. Jeff agrees and compliments Ricard on the courage it takes to say something like that in a social game.

So, “Come on in, guys” goes the way of the opening credits and locations that aren’t Fiji.

Quick Aside: Ricard had nothing to gain and a lot to lose from this move, so it clearly must’ve been very important to him. Good on you, Ricard.

Even More Also: Before the challenge, Jeff tells the cast about twist #247: The Shot in the Dark Die. Players will have the chance to take a one-in-six shot at being safe at Tribal, but if they hit that shot, they won’t be able to vote. This decision will take place in the voting booth and it seems like you only get the one chance.

Result: The Luvu tribe falls waaaaay behind due to a little mistake, but manages to come back and win it because…and say it with me everyone…it all comes down to the puzzle.

Pre-Tribal Politicking

Liana and Tiffany are targeting Abraham because he made early moves against Tiffany. But, they’re worried the tribe might keep him around for challenge strength. Sure enough, it seems like Xander and Voce are following that logic.

Evvie appears to be the swing vote. However, she is leaning toward keeping Tiffany because she thinks Tiffany will be more loyal.

Tiffany feels pretty comfortable, but goes on an idol hunt anyways. She comes very close to Chekhov’s Beware Advantage, but doesn’t actually find it.

Meanwhile at Ua, Sara is kicking herself for agreeing to do the puzzle. It doesn’t help when Brad tells her to her face that she should be a target.

Fortunately for her, Ricard is hatching a plan to get rid of JD. Unfortunately for her, Brad tells JD that Ricard and Sara are gunning for her.

Loose lips on Brad. Has he ever seen this show before?

Tribal Time

Before things get underway, Jeff looks at the camera and says, “First Tribal Council, here we go.” And that might seem silly, but those are the fun things that have always happened behind the scenes. I loved it.

Yase is up to bat first, and it was…honestly…kinda…boring.

Nobody was really saying much and it was clear as day that it was going to be Tiffany vs. Abraham.

Voting Time: Xander receives his extra vote, but no actual votes were shown.

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol or an advantage and…nobody does.

We’ve got one vote for Tiffany, three votes for Abraham, and the first person voted out of “Survivor 41” is…Abraham.

Tribal Time Part Deux

Ua is up next, and this one is a little more exciting. Sarah and Shan both say that they’re a little skeptical about what happened on JD’s little trip.

And after a brief conversation about Sara and Shan’s problems with the puzzle, a bit of a live Tribal breaks out. It starts with Sara and Shan saying they’re scared. Followed by a vague conversation between that duo and Ricard.

Ricard whispers to JD to vote for Brad, then JD tells Shan that voting for Brad is a bad idea. He tells Shan he’ll vote for Sara or Brad…whichever she wants.

Sara asks Shan if she should cast her die and Shan tells her to save it.

Voting Time Part Deux: JD receives his extra vote (so he did risk it!) and no other votes are shown.

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol or an advantage and…nobody does.

We’ve got one vote for Ricard, one vote for Sara, one vote for Brad, one vote for Sara, and the second person voted out of “Survivor 41” is…Sara.

Apparently Genie voted for Ricard and Sara voted for Brad.

Verdict: I remember being on the set of the marooning for “Blood vs. Water” and Jeff explaining the 90 twists that were about to happen to us. It seemed like too much. But, it all worked out. That ended up being a great season.

So, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this titanic pile of twists. Let’s see where it goes.


  • Shan – She’s calling the shots and not drawing attention. It seems like Ricard is the big player.
  • Evvie – Same as Shan, she got what she wanted, but she didn’t have to let her tribe know that she’s a puppet master. Well done.
  • Danny – If volunteering isn’t good for your game, don’t volunteer because nobody else will do it. No harm though, you’re safe till a swap.
  • Xander – Lovable bros can go far in this game.
  • Liana and Tiffany – Tiffany didn’t do much to deserve Abraham’s ire. And being by Evvie’s side is probably a good place to be. Just try to stay away from Tribal for a bit.
  • Ricard – I worry that you’re coming out of the gate as a big strategic player. Maybe pull back a bit.
  • Naseer – Yeah, it’s “Survivor” instinct to call someone out when you see them idol hunting. But,  a six-person tribe is never going to boot their two strongest guys.
  • JD – I had a real tough time following your island story. Fortunately, you’re a likable guy and you’ll have time to turn this around.
  • Brad – Calling out the targets to their face? C’mon, Brad.
  • Sydney, Erika, Heather, Genie, Deshawn, and Voce– I can’t grade you until I see your work.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes