Top 5 moments of ‘Survivor 44’ episode 1: A new cast, a medical evacuation and a shot in the dark

The premiere episode of “Survivor 44” aired on Wednesday night and concluded with host Jeff Probst snuffing out the torch of Maddy Pomilla. The 28-year old from Brooklyn, New York was the first castaway sent home after being voted out by the Ratu tribe. Did they make the right decision? And what were the dumbest, most shocking and most exciting moments of this inaugural episode of the season?

Below, read our “Survivor 44” Episode 1 Top 5 moments. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite castaways on CBS’s reality TV show, who annoys you the most and who you think will ultimately join the “Survivor” winners list and take home the $1 million grand prize.

SEE ‘Survivor’ history is made as Shot in the Dark twist is finally used correctly

Top 5 Moments of Episode 1:

1. The Cast is Revealed: Once again the casting department has outdone itself with a a group of contestants that looks as exciting as the last two seasons. And whoever cast Yamil “Yam Yam” Arocho, Carolyn Wiger, and Brandon Cottom, thank you. I have found my free spirits of the season. Watching everyone arrive on the boat and hearing their videos helped me separate the group into individuals I like already and others that I need to see more of. But as we all know, first impressions can change over the course of a season. Bruce Perreault injured himself pretty quickly. The first challenge was halted and medical was called in making me very worried for a man that I have only seen on the show for less than 20 minutes. When the challenge resumed, so did the competitiveness. This essentially told me that we are dealing with a group of good people that place someone’s wellbeing over the competition and I loved that. 

2. New Digs and New Friends: At Soka, the group seemed to gel really well. Matt Blankinship and Josh Wilder stood out to me the most besides my hometown boy Danny Massa. Having never met him, I can already tell he is going to be a fun one to watch. Meanwhile, at Ratu Matthew Grinstead-Mayle and Brandon Cottom stood out as very chill competitors. The Tika tribe is a whole vibe. They were able to complete their puzzle due to two resident geniuses and the light-hearted mood at camp. Back at Ratu, some members discovered the birdcage and promptly decided to walk away despite having a major advantage of playing dumb and investigating it now before the others got there. Yam Yam of the Tika tribe wowed his tribemates and is used to the hot climate, which bodes well for him. Carson Garrett also shocked everyone by explaining his weight gain for the show. I’m guessing he will be somewhere near that original weight by the end of his journey.

3. Bruce is Evacuated: Later in the day, Bruce was not feeling well and the medical team was called in with Jeff. In the end, Bruce’s “Survivor” journey lasted less than a day, much to his chagrin. His tribemates were equally as devastated and I’m saddened that we did not get to see his full potential.

SEE ‘Survivor’ medevacs: See all 17 medical evacuations through the years

4. A Side Quest and a Cage Opening: Each tribe had to send a representative on a little side journey, but as soon as the last person was sent off, Ratu decided to look for the key to their cage. The key was eventually found by Brandon and he was unable to hide it from Maddy Pomilla. His distrust of Maddy led him to tell everyone. In the cage was the individual immunity idol with a dummy idol, which is something the whole tribe knew. Maybe he should have listened to Maddy after all? But back to the side quest. Matt, Sarah Wade, and Lauren Harpe each had to pick a path and had a choice to make. Draw an advantage? Great! If you do not? Well, there is the risk to not only lose your vote once but twice. Matt lost his vote for two tribal councils while Lauren and Sarah received an advantage.

5. Camp Shenanigans and Tribal Council: After losing the immunity challenge, Ratu returned to camp and Brandon started the apology tour. His tribemades said that nobody would fault him and I genuinely wanted to believe that. Lauren was targeted by Matthew. On the flip side, Maddy wanted Brandon gone, so my fears for his safety in the game were reignited. It would have been a really dumb decision at this point, but Maddy proved to be quite a little stirrer in the tribe. Brandon smartly knew that Maddy was being shady and did not seem as bothered as one with an idol should feel at that point.

The set design for tribal council is amazing. Jeff wasted no time getting to the core issues at hand as anyone with eyes could see that this was a tense tribe. Brandon was honest and announced he’d use his shot in the dark. I was pretty sure it would be the end for Jaime Lynn Ruiz. Lo and behold, she also opted to use her shot in the dark, but only Jamie’s bold choice paid off. Brandon decided that it was time to play the immunity idol and blew up their plan to blindside him. In the end, Maddy got the boot. In one move, Brandon proved himself to be a force to be reckoned.

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