Sep. 20, 2012 at 9:23 AM ET
Welcome back to the island, "Survivor" fans! (Cue crazy wilderness sounds.) The CBS reality series premiered Wednesday night, set in the Philippines. Viewers got introduced to the number of, um, interesting players--including veterans Russell Swan ("Samoa"), Jonathan Penner ("Fans vs. Favorites") and Michael Skupin ("Australia") -- which should promise an entertaining 25th season.
The three tribes started their adventure by quickly grabbing whatever supplies they could get their hands on before having to jet off the boat and onto their rafts.
Matsing Tribe: Russell vowed he did not want to take any type of leadership role this time around, but it must just be in him, because he was acting like the head honcho, anyway. You can't get too mad at him, though, he helped start a fire right away. Meanwhile, Denise Stapley, a licensed sex therapist, became eager to know more about Zane Knight, a tatted up guy who "looked like trouble."
Whether or not he's trouble, Zane's definitely smart by forming an alliance with everyone on the team. As for that bartender from Georgia, Malcolm Freberg -- hot!
While cooking some rice, Russell came across a clue for the hidden Immunity Idol. Zane was on to him and asked him about it, but of course, Russell lied.
Kalabaw Tribe: People instantly started plotting on how to get returning player Jonathan out of the game. Retired baseball player, Jeff Kent (who was battling a possible knee injury already) hoped to maintain his career as a professional athlete under wraps, but someone paid attention to the MLB, and knew who he was. Sarah Dawson would be keeping that to herself, though, until it became of value to her.
Jonathan must know something's up, because the whole day he wandered off alone looking for the Immunity Idol, and to our surprise, he actually found the clue in the rice.
Tandang Tribe: Abi-Maria Gomes and Roberta "R.C." Saint-Amour became BFFs right off the raft, and decided to start forming an alliance with young but "dumb" in their minds, Pete Yurkowski and veteran Michael. They didn't want the "old lady," on the tribe, who happened to be Lisa Whelchel aka Blair from "Facts of Life." Michael recognized her right away, but she told him that her child star past would probably hurt her in the game, so she's not saying anything.
Michael may have the experience, but he is also accident-prone. Already, he gave himself cuts on the foot, fingers and head.
Challenge: Each team was split into pairs. The first pair would have to race into the jungle while connected to their partner and climb up a cargo net to retrieve paddles that they handed off to the next pair, who would canoe out to a safe in the ocean that they had to bring back to the beach, so that the last pair could solve the puzzle inside to win.
Starting off last, Kalabaw shocked everyone by winning first, giving them immunity and a fire-starting kit. Tandang, who had the lead, got second, also getting immunity and flint. Unfortunately, Matsing had to go to Tribal Counsel.
Tribal Counsel: Zane threw himself on the chopping block, which seemed strange, but it was all part of a tactic. He explained that he wanted to feel out his tribe and see if everyone would still love him enough to keep him and vote out Russell. It seemed to be working. Everyone begged Zane to stay.
And then you remember that everyone lies in this game, because Zane got voted off.
What do you think of the new contestants? Any early favorites or villains? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
More in The Clicker: