“Survivor” Season 45: Episode 1, Reviewed

In the return of his column, Vaughn Armour ’25 reviews the first episode of the 45th season of “Survivor.”

“Survivor” Season 45: Episode 1, Reviewed
A new episode length, an unexpected departure, and more drama filled the season premiere of “Survivor.” Graphic courtesy of Nina Aagaard ’26.

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, “Survivor” returned with episode one of season 45! This season will give us more “Survivor” than ever before. Each episode will be 90 minutes instead of the usual 60. The shift is exciting — we’ll have even more strategic decisions to discuss each week!

The premiere started how it always does: with the castaways arriving on ships. The camera cut to various newbies, but one of the 17 castaways was a familiar face. Bruce Perrault is returning after his brief appearance on “Survivor 44.” Bruce suffered a concussion during the opening reward challenge, and became the first player ever to get medically evacuated on day one. It’s awesome to see the show giving him another chance.

Unfortunately, Bruce didn’t do much with that chance in episode one. He came in saying that he wouldn’t be the dad of the tribe, and just wanted to fit in. Moments later, he began bossing his tribemates around about how to make the shelter, the oldest “Survivor” mistake. Apparently, Bruce thought his three previous hours of “Survivor” experience gave him immense knowledge.

Reba, the Red Tribe, won the opening challenge, aided by Brandon of Lulu having significant trouble climbing a rope ladder. They won a pot and a machete. Now, Lulu (Yellow Tribe) and Belo (Blue Tribe) had to complete a Savvy and Sweat task to earn those basic supplies. The Savvy vs. Sweat task was different than in past seasons. The tribes each chose two players to visit at a different beach. When they arrived, Brandon and Jake (Belo), with Sabiyah and Kaleb (Lulu) learned that they were competing for the supplies. Only the tribe that finished first would get the pot and machete. To top it off, they had to complete both Savvy and Sweat. Sweat was moving forty logs across the beach, which both tribes accomplished within the allotted hour. The Savvy part was a rope puzzle, which proved too difficult for both pairs. The hourglasses ran out for both teams, leaving them without pots and machetes. This is the first time in “Survivor” that two tribes have lost this challenge.

The rest of Belo believed Brando and Jake when they admitted they’d lost, but when Sabiyah and Kaleb told Lulu that they hadn’t won the challenge, Emily didn’t buy it. She thought they gave up their supplies for an advantage in the game. This wasn’t an unreasonable stance from Emily, but her poker face left a lot to be desired. She made it clear that she didn’t believe them, which is always a bad move — people trust those who trust them. This, along with her general pessimism, put Emily on the outs. She didn’t like her tribemates and did a bad job of pretending she did.

While the two pot-less tribes sulked over their misfortune, Reba searched for advantages. Sifu thought he was being sneaky in his idol search. He was not. After a few hours of being away from camp, the whole tribe was suspicious. Later, he tried to make a Tony Vlachos-style spy shack. He was caught.

Austin, on the other hand, found an advantage without anyone noticing. It was a Beware advantage, which he chose to open. Upon reading, Austin learned that he lost his vote, and will only regain it if he completes a set of tasks. If he does, he’ll also receive an idol. His first task is to use an enclosed note to decipher a hidden message on the Reba tribe flag. This is an interesting new mechanism. It’ll be incredibly stressful for Austin to have to complete tasks one by one without knowing when he’ll be done, but it’ll be fun as a viewer!

The immunity challenge was quite similar to the one Bruce injured himself in last season. They had to get up and over a slide, then crawl under wooden logs to arrive at a pile of coconuts. They then tossed those coconuts into a basket that dropped with enough weight. The final step was a large puzzle. Bruce took it slow going under the wooden logs but made it through. His tribe (Belo) ended up winning, with Reba not far behind. Brandon had another rough challenge performance, significantly contributing to Lulu’s loss.

Back at camp, insult turned to injury. Brandon started having severe chest pain from acid reflux. The original plan was to vote out Emily, but Brandon was so weak-looking and down on himself that the tribe considered putting him out of his misery. Emily didn’t help her case, arguing to Brandon, Sean, and Hannah that they should take out Kaleb because of his tight relationship with Sabiya. This got back to Kaleb immediately — Emily did not have the social cache to pull that off.

If given the chance, Lulu would’ve voted both Emily and Brandon off. However, Hannah decided to quit the game. It was very random, but she was apparently homesick and tired enough to quit “Survivor” after just a day. It’s pathetic when people do this. Thousands of people dream of the chance to get on this show — quitting when you’re given that opportunity is disrespectful to them. The tribe granted her wish, and made her the first person eliminated from “Survivor 45.”

Lulu is already a very weird tribe. Both Emily and Brandon were incredibly deserving of being eliminated first, but somehow, both survived. I can’t say I have high hopes for them going forward, and I can’t say these were 90 top-tier minutes of “Survivor.” I can say, though, that my favorite show has returned, and I’m thoroughly excited to watch it next week. Tune in Wednesday, Oct. 4 for the next episode of “Survivor.”