At long last, “Survivor: Winners at War” premiered Wednesday, February 12 on CBS with a special two-hour episode that welcomed back 20 returning champions. On the line? The ultimate title of Sole Survivor and a cool $2 million check. Host Jeff Probst toasted the Season 40 players in Fiji with champagne, but after that the game was on. And what a game it was! So who was the first castaway to be voted out? And how did the new fire tokens twist play out? This is our recap of Part 1. Click here for our recap of Part 2.
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “Survivor: Winners at War” recap of Season 40, Episode 1 (Part 1), titled “Greatest of the Greats,” to find out what happened Wednesday, February 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite castaways on CBS’s reality TV show and who you think will ultimately join the “Survivor” winners list.
Keep refreshing/reloading this “Survivor 40” live blog for the most recent updates.
7:59 p.m. — Season 40 is about to begin! But first, here’s a primer on how the two tribes have been divided: DAKAL: Tyson Apostol (“Blood vs. Water”), Sophie Clarke (“South Pacific”), Sandra Diaz-Twine (“Pearl Islands” & “Heroes vs. Villains”), Wendell Holland (“Ghost Island”), Yul Kwon (“Cook Islands”), Sarah Lacina (“Game Changers”), Amber Mariano (“All-Stars”), Kim Spradlin-Wolfe (“One World”), Tony Vlachos (“Cagayan”) and Nick Wilson (“David vs. Goliath”). SELE: Natalie Anderson (“San Juan del Sur”), Danni Boatwright (“Guatemala”), Jeremy Collins (“Cambodia”), Ben Driebergen (“Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers”), Michele Fitzgerald (“Kaoh Rong”), Adam Klein (“Millennials vs. Gen X”), Rob Mariano (“Redemption Island”), Parvati Shallow (“Micronesia”), Denise Stapley (“Philippines”) and Ethan Zohn (“Africa”).
8:00 p.m. – As is typical of the show, the castaways arrive to the island via speed raft . On that journey we got confessionals from Tony, Parvati, Ethan and Amber — could these be our narrators of the season? Tony is impressed with the talent on the boats, Parvati is now a mom and ready to return to her diabolical self, Ethan is still his heroic self and Amber seems super excited to make a name for herself apart from Rob’s!
8:04 p.m. – Sandra arrives to the beach and, seeing Rob, is already pissed that he never told her he’d be on the show during all their time together on “Island of the Idols.” That is definitely going to come into play, right?
8:05 p.m. – So it’s been 20 years and Jeff takes that opportunity to point out that for many of the players they’re in the game for the first time again since things like Twitter and the iPhone were invented! That’s an incredible reminder about how iconic the show is and how legendary these players are! I am soooooo excited. Pass me some of that champagne, Jeff!
8:09 p.m. – After the players gather in their tribes for the first time Jeff informs them that there’s a new “Survivor currency” called the fire token. They each get to start the game with one and if/when voted out, they must bequeath their token(s) to another player and then head to the dreaded Edge of Extinction. And then…. he drops the bomb. They’re playing for $2 million! It’s the largest cash prize in the history of reality shows.
8:11 p.m. – For the first reward and immunity challenge of the season the tribes went head-to-head in groups of two to collect rings from the water and race them back to shore before the other tribe; first tribe to three wins. This was an immediately physical game as immediately into the game as possible. After a soft core rumble, Tyson and Yul earned the first point for Dakal. Pairs of women went next with Natalie and Kim both showing their individual strength, but ultimately Kim earned that second point for Dakal, leaving Natalie’s tribe with zip. Luckily, Ben and Rob managed to score next for Sale, sending women back into the water. Natalie went back out, but despite her strength Sarah and Amber got the final point and saved their tribe!
8:18 p.m. – It was a relief after their loss for Sale to learned that they’d have a full second day to scramble before they heading to tribal council. I’d guess Rob is going to be in the hot seat, right? To separate him and Amber right from the start?
8:22 p.m. – When Dakal got to their camp they found a fire token menu that showed what they can buy with their tokens. Nick made the claim that these must be very important and predicts that the winner will be the player that uses the tokens the best. Keep that in mind as we watch the narration of the season!
8:24 p.m. – At the water well Sarah told Amber that she’s surprised she came out with the amount of children her and Rob have. Tyson joined the conversation and brought up his own fatherhood and then showed us some emotion over his kids in a confessional. Elsewhere Wendell was calling Sandra “queen” and she was like “I don’t want that target on my back.” She also brought up that she had it out with Tony and also played with Sarah during “Game Changers” only a few seasons ago. But Sandra and Tony called it water under the bridge.
8:27 p.m. – At Sale camp, Rob acknowledged that the loss puts him at a huge disadvantage considering his reputation. Parvati also got pressed about her being on the island as a new mother, but a lot of the players are parents now so it came to be a bonding experience instead of an isolating one.
8:30 p.m. – Ethan and Danni bonded over how long it’s been since they played the game “without idols and without chances to get back in the game.” Elsewhere Denise and Adam were on the path to an instant alliance with each other, but that was a pair that the rest of the tribe noticed was off on their own pretty quickly. Uh oh.
8:32 p.m. – The thing that get Tony in trouble on “Game Changers” was running off to find idols the second he hit the beach, so instead of doing that again (despite his instincts) he made it clear that he wouldn’t be doing that this time. But his actual plan was to make them think he’s different, but he’s secretly just looking for the best opportunity to go off and find those idols!
8:33 p.m. – At Dakal, Amber wasn’t one to sit back and let idol-hunting pass by so she went out looking for one. She wasn’t able to find one, but it still showed that her head is in the game and she’s really ready to play. Yul was on top of it, too, analyzing with Sophie who on the cast already knows each other from outside the game. He pointed out that Rob, Tyson, Kim and Jeremy all played poker together and in that televised game even said they’d all align with one another. Sophie was also clued in to the obvious divisions of their tribe, noting that her and Yul were in the middle. So there’s our second tight alliance!
8:36 p.m. – Later Rob approached Parvati asking if she’d like to work with him this season. Because of their history with “Heroes vs. Villains,” Parvati was wary of trusting him, but knew that he’d have very few options and is probably being true to her. Danni brought Ethan, Ben and Adam together to discuss Rob’s connections in the game and put his name out there as their first target. Unfortunately for her, Ben took a walk with Rob and Jeremy later and told Rob that his name was already circling among the girls. Rob pressured him into telling him that it was Danni. Whhhhy would you tell him that?!
8:39 p.m. – Rob approached Danni who told him the truth and so he respected her and offered to work with her in an “old school” alliance of Rob, Parvati, Danni and Ethan. Here’s his crack, watch him build a canyon!
8:44 p.m. – The next morning it hit the players that they’d be voting someone out tonight. Paranoia set it for everyone because none of them are used to being the first one voted out. There were one-on-one chats going on all over the place with no clear direction of where the votes were going. Natalie and Jeremy are still very close since their original season and so they touched base about their targets. Both of them wanted Denise and Adam on the table because of how they went off on their own. Ben opened his mouth again and told Adam what everyone is saying… and that set paranoia in for Adam.
8:47 p.m. – Adam and Denise’s plan was to target Natalie and Jeremy who he believes need to be separated. That plan was to split the votes between the two, with Ethan pitching to Parvati and Amber on his behalf. Knowing the irony of saying so, Rob agreed that their bond was a dangerous one.
8:49 p.m. – When it became clear that no one was making a decision, Parvati and Rob went off and laughed about how dumb everyone is for leaving the two of them in the middle and not targeting them. Agreed! But I’m loving it!
8:56 p.m. – At tribal council Jeff wanted to know how the game is different for some of the older players. Both Ethan and Rob called the new game “fast,” noting that some people immediately went off together. Denise fessed up to it being her and Adam, admitting that it was a dumb move. Adam turned it around on Rob’s marriage and seemingly on Natalie and Jeremy, but Rob pushed it back saying that everyone in this game has something that makes them a huge threat.
8:58 p.m. – As tribal continued, Jeremy got visibly uneasy and eventually turned to Ben asking if he thought that Parvati and Rob have “something set up.” Was he just catching the hint that he was on the chopping block or is this the seed that leads to a Parvati and/or Rob demise?!
9:04 p.m. – With no idols yet in play, Jeff read the votes: Denise, Adam, Denise, Natalie, Natalie, Natalie, Natalie, Natalie. That does it and it looks like only Natalie, Jeremy and Michele were out of the loop on that vote!
9:06 p.m. – Before heading to Edge of Extinction, Natalie bequeathed her token to… Jeremy! Click here for our recap of Part 2.
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