Survivor: South Pacific — which, for the uninitiated, is not a reality show-Broadway musical hybrid — got off to an intriguing start Wednesday night. Familiar faces Ozzy and Coach returned for their third attempts at outwitting, outlasting, and outplaying the opposition, but fortunately, the 90-minute season premiere didn’t focus so heavily on these franchise vets that we didn’t get reasons to root for (and against) some of the newbies.
In fact, based on first impressions, here are the five players who have my early (and still fickle) allegiance:
* “Papa Bear” Mark (Savaii) | Burly gay NYPD detective stuck up for straggling impalas Dawn and Cochran — which on the surface makes him seem like a sweetie, but upon closer inspection might mean the season’s second-oldest player is a wily strategist who’s making sure he’s got teammates that look like bigger physical liabilities than himself.
* Mikayla (Upolu) | It’s nice to see an attractive young woman on Survivor skip the “spa day” antics and instead say things like “you can’t be a little princess” and get described by Jeff Probst during a basketball challenge as a “scoring machine.” The fact that super-annoying Brandon has convinced himself Mikayla is the Garden of Eden serpent reincarnated only makes me like her more.
* Stacey (Upolu) | Because, honestly, her insanely OTT cheerleading during challenges is kind of hilarious.
* Albert (Upolu) | Because, if I’m being honest, he’s not too hard on the eyes. Or what I meant to say is that glistening torso of his should be useful in powering through whatever physical obstacles Survivor‘s challenge designers throw at him.
* Ozzy (Savaii) | Hey, as long as he only gets mesmerized, not hypnotized, by his sexy female tribe-mates, his renewed focus on playing a strategic game could take him quite far.
But enough about the positives. While this week’s snuffed torch belonged to beat poet Semhar (who’s off to lonely Redemption Island to duel the next evictee for the right to stay in the competition), I can’t say I’m 100% convinced she’s responsible for the episode’s most boneheaded move. Seriously, I counted seven different misteps this week that could have either short- or long-term drawbacks for the players who committed ’em. So take out poll below and tell us what was the week’s weakest move on Survivor: South Pacific. And for all my reality TV recaps, commentary, and polls, sign up to follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.