I Will Survive: Recapping the first episode of ‘Survivor: Cagayan’

Devan Coggan, Current Editor

Welcome to The Current’s brand new “Survivor” blog, which will follow each episode of the hit reality show as Northwestern’s own Alexis Maxwell competes to win $1 million. Every week, visit dailynorthwestern.com/current to read our recap and follow Maxwell on her path to the finish line.

Television’s longest-running reality competition series is back, complete with sandy beaches, plenty of drama and SESP senior Alexis Maxwell. 

Maxwell is one of 18 contestants competing in the 28th season of “Survivor,” which premiered Wednesday with a special two-hour episode — and plenty of drama. The show hasn’t changed much since it premiered in 2000, and the premise is still the same: Contestants are dropped in a deserted location (this time, Cagayan, a province in the Philippines) where they try to, well, survive. They face a series of physical and mental challenges, all while trying to win friends and not get voted off the island by their peers. Even host Jeff Probst looks like he hasn’t changed much in 14 years, and he’s still the master of dramatically extinguishing torches.

After 27 seasons, the show seems to be running out of innovative twists. This season’s big hook? Dividing all players into three teams instead of the usual two: Beauty, Brains and Brawn. Maxwell told The Daily earlier this week she was surprised and flattered to find herself assigned to the Beauty team, but she said she hoped it would work to her advantage as her competitors wrote her off as just another pretty face.

(SESP senior featured in upcoming season of ‘Survivor’)

And it looks like Maxwell got lucky when she was assigned to Beauty instead of Brains, especially when her team dominated both challenges in the first episode, winning immunity both times. The poor Brains team placed last every time, and as a result, they had to vote off two cast members, the president of the Miami Marlins and a professional poker player.

None of the contestants seem that threatening so far, but Maxwell has an extra layer of competition when it comes to Brains tribe member Spencer Bledsoe, who studies economics at the University of Chicago. Gotta love a little NU-UChicago rivalry, and Bledsoe seems like he’s also flying under the radar. If Maxwell doesn’t walk away with the $1 million prize, here’s hoping she can at least last longer than Bledsoe, if only so we have another reason to claim superiority over our friends down south.

Overall? A pretty boring season opener. So far, there’s nothing to set this season apart from the previous 27, and this cast lacks the outrageous backstabbing characters that made the show such a guilty pleasure when it first aired. That being said, it’s still early, so fingers crossed we get some real drama by the time the season ends.

As for Maxwell? Frankly, we haven’t seen that much of her, but this early in the game, it’s good not to be polarizing. Based on her limited airtime, she seems like she has all the talents she needs to win: charm, athleticism and an ability to fly under the radar. So check back in next week as we recap the second episode of “Survivor: Cagayan.”

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Twitter: @devancoggan