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Episode One – “Survivor Season Two”

After eight Tribal Council votes, three vomitings and one masturbation reference, the premiere episode of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” is officially in the books.

16 new contestants, strikingly better looking than last summer’s group, were introduced to eager fans in the post-Super Bowl debut, and judging by the tense chemistry already established by the castaways, this season looks wrought with drama. Along with washboard abs, bikinis and sexual innuendo.

The group was flown into the Outback on an Australian Air Force cargo plane, and upon landing, was given five minutes to gather as many supplies as possible. Divided into two tribes – the Kucha and Ogakor – they were quickly off in search of their respective camps.

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Unfortunately, nobody in the Kucha tribe could read a compass.

Finally, though, after some early back-biting, the Kucha stumbled upon their camp, while the Ogakor tribe easily found their destination. On the Kucha side, one contestant, Debb, quickly emerged as the show’s token witch, while on the Ogakor side, contestant Elisabeth became the front-runner for the title of Ditzy Cupcake.

Both tribes made attempts at building shelters, and both made attempts at starting a fire – and each activity sparked conflict. Ogakor member Keith, a professional chef, nearly had a coronary starting a flame, and Kucha member Rodger, this season’s backwoods Rudy, struggled with fellow castaways in designing a suitable refuge.

It was a strained beginning, to say the least.

Early hatred was evident, as Kimmi, a boisterous Long Island bartender who’s quite possibly insane, and Keith, showed signs of animosity. Then, of course, there was Debb, the former prison guard who seemed ready to bark orders at the spiders. Debb did have a sound strategy – to appear a staunch leader – but the rest of her tribe, the Kucha, wanted none of it. More on Debb in a bit.

After sampling insect-infested figs and still failing to produce fire, both tribes had one thing in mind: food. At the first Immunity Challenge, they were given the opportunity to win a box of waterproof matches, which made all involved more focused than they had been since arriving. The challenge, to transport a lit torch through the Herbert River via wooden planks and unsteady rafts, brought members of both tribes together, determined.

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Unfortunately for the Kucha, the Ogakor used teamwork to better advantage.

As is tradition on the show, the losers – the Kucha – were forced to gather in Tribal Council, in a poor man’s Stonehenge atop the Herbert River Falls. Would it be the elder Rodger who got the axe? Airbrained Kimmi? The very, um, masculine Debb?

In a voting landslide, it was Debb.

Now, this style of voting should prove interesting. The very few cast members who are not good looking seem to be early targets. Debb was abrasive, true, but concerned about surviving. Strategy was key with her – as it was with last season’s winner, Richard Hatch – but popularity, or lack thereof, won out. By the show’s finale, we could end up with the hunks and cupcakes fighting it out, which seems like a sad statement in our culture – one that doesn’t appear likely on a “survival of the fittest” game show — but then again, “Temptation Island” is tearing up the Nielsens…

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