Survivor China: Season 15, Episode 1


If anybody happens to stumble across this post, they might wonder why there is a random Medium article from a random person recapping a random Survivor season (or I might just be describing Medium) — the goal of this article, and hopefully articles, will be to provide a spoiler-free space for me to analyze and critique the current Survivor season I am watching in quarantine. After coming off of what has been one of my favorite seasons-to-date in Season 13: Cook Islands (I ❤ Yul), I decided that rather than force my roommate to listen to me try and explain the compelling contrast between Yul and Ozzy, I would just write my thoughts down here (and likely make him read them instead).

I’m currently watching seasons based off of the Thanos Snap guide from The Ringer — given how much I’ve enjoyed the seasons I’ve watched thus far, there is a chance I go back and write about those as well, but we’ll see if I even make it through the season I am currently watching.

I’m not sure these posts will appeal to anybody outside of myself, but if there is anybody who has recently started watching Survivor and wants to read a recap that contains no future-season spoilers and a lot of references to sporadic seasons from the first six years of Survivor, you are in luck!


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching my first seven seasons of Survivor (Borneo, Outback, Africa, Amazon, Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Panama, Cook Islands), I’m always on Twitter for episode one (OK it’s Tik Tok). There’s not really an opportunity to get to know or care about any of the players at this point, and I am struggling to come up with a single nam — oh right, how could I forget the chicken farmer, named Chicken (we hardly knew ye’). But in general, these episodes have subpar challenges, arguments about how to set up camp between players who are mere specks of dust in the Survivor-verse, and a tribal council where they might as well just be drawing straws. But I digress!

At least setting-wise, I had assumed that Survivor had fully dedicated itself to the “tropical paradise” destinations, so it’s interesting to see the contestants thrown back into what looks to me like basically a muddy river, a la Australian Outback. I generally enjoy seeing the players lounging on beautiful beaches compared to wallowing in river banks, but I still haven’t gotten a good sense for what the camps will look like (mostly because the tribes seem to have done a terrible job setting them up thus far).

This season is generally regarded as a good one — the player introductions certainly set up some interesting contrasts on paper, most notably the Christian talk-show host vs. the gay, Mormon flight-attendant, and I am extremely curious to see which of those descriptors leads to the most conflict (everybody knows Christians hate flying). I did enjoy the conversation between the gay, Mormon flight attendant and professional poker player (I promise I will try and get better with names) that certainly felt to me like it was layered with subtext:

Professional Poker Player: So you’re not uh..”clever” are you?

Gay, Mormon Flight Attendant: I mean — I might be.

Professional Poker Player: See I thought you seemed “sharp-witted” from the way you spoke.

Gay, Mormon Flight Attendant: Yeah, ok I am “clever.” But can you at least not let other people at camp know I’m so “clever”

Honestly, the cast seems relatively eclectic, at least compared to last season which was led by a group that felt like mostly consultants, lawyers and salesmen named Chad (OK his name was Adam, but his energy was Chad). In addition to the aforementioned players, we also have an NYC waitress who hates team spirit, positive encouragement and anything above 14th street (heyo!), a female wrestler, and a middle school lunch lady who is just happy to be here. I’m not sure I see anybody that stands out as a potential fan favorite yet except for….

James!! The one person who earned the right for me to remember their name! James is an introverted, Louisiana grave-digger who enjoys the solitude of burying a body in the cold mists of an early morning on the bayou. He is also “worried about the social aspect of the game.”

But come on — not only was he putting in work around camp in between making endearing comments about his self-perceived awkwardness (take note Zooey Deschanel, this is adorkable!), but then he led his tribe to victory — literally by guiding a massive dragon through an obstacle course — in the first immunity challenge. I’m getting some strong Rupert vibes here.

Other than that, everything seemed like pretty standard Episode One fare — as per usual, I had no idea who was going home in tonight’s vote. I actually assumed it was going to be the wrestler girl who got sick based on the fact that the only real conversation I saw go down was between Chicken and his fellow “older man.” It is always a surprise to me that even in this first vote, we see some split votes — like c’mon Chicken, you don’t get CBS out in Virginia?? Whip some votes together man! Use that charming Southern drawl to sway some young folk. Oh well, there goes the best shot at this season’s token “Old-Southern-and-Likely-Inappropriate-But-Gets-Away-With-It-Because-It’s-2006 Farmer.”

Excited for Episode 2, and to see if I can make at least one more post — this took a lot longer than expected!