Zach Wurtenberger was voted out in episode 1 of Survivor 42, and there's no Edge of Extinction or Redemption Island. According to conventional Survivor logic, we should only hear his name uttered once during episode 2, when Jeff Probst reveals to the other tribes who was voted out at the last Tribal Council. Zach had prepared himself for such a fate, scribbling in his journal before the season that it's ok if he goes out first; at least he got to play.
Improbably, the young superfan was a main character in episode 2, despite being on Ponderosa for the entirety of it. Romeo Escobar reflected on their #SkinnyGuys alliance. Tori Meehan felt jealous of Zach and the immediate comfort he received after getting voted out. “Why isn’t that me?" she wondered. Tori, what?!? It's only been three days!!!SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
And then there's Maryanne Oketch, who came into the game wanting to win it for the weirdos, but as soon as she saw who was the first person voted out, her priorities changed. Omar Zaheer consoled Maryanne, who told Jeff, “Zach is like every type of white guy that I have a crush on, so there goes that.” This isn't some one-off comment. It's an episode-long storyline that continues until Tribal Council. (I don't know what it is about second episodes and unexpected crushes.) Maryanne tells Jeff she's been rejected by 100 percent of the guys she's liked, which is very sad. But also, she's still young, so it's not that sad. As great of TV as Maryanne is — and truly, she is one of the best television characters in Survivor history — a small part of me was hoping she would self-eliminate so she could pursue a relationship with the white guy of her dreams, Zach, who was probably face deep in an 18-inch meat-lovers pizza on Ponderosa as she was talking about how much of a crush she had on him.
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Even though this season is following the format of last season, there are a lot of elements and narratives that were new in this episode. Omar, the third Muslim contestant in Survivor history, opened up to his tribe about his faith and assured them that when he goes to pray, he's not looking for an idol. Maryanne offered him a weaved palm frond to pray on, the kindest gesture ever that definitely did not make me tear up while watching it (ok, maybe a little). Jonathan said he'd love to learn more about Islam and offered to teach Omar a thing or two about Christianity. Then Lindsay Dolashewich, in the most relatable statement I've ever heard on Survivor, added, “I’m not really a great Jew.” To be fair, if she was a great Jew, she'd have to sit out challenges on the Sabbath, and that's really not an ideal situation post-merge.
Worst island omission: Rice
At the start of season 42, Jeff informs the cast they will not be given rice. It seems like a fair trade-off: if you're playing for 13 fewer days, it should be a little bit more difficult to survive. There's one problem: Hai Giang is a vegan. Without rice, he's on a coconut-only diet, and that sounds gross. So Hai is forced to eat a piece of hermit crab and says, “Eventually I’ll able to forgive myself for eating meat.” Why is production putting Hai in this position? The audience doesn't care if the contestants have rice or not: they'll still always be hungry; rewards with all the fixin's will still always hit different.
Being a vegan is a choice, but it's a moral decision Hai shouldn't be forced to compromise on to compete on Survivor. It especially felt wrong for it to be a featured scene on Survivor. Torture isn't that fun to watch, whether it's Hai swallowing a hermit or people running into obstacles while blindfolded, which happened way too often on the immunity challenge from this week. During that challenge, Daniel Strunk sat on the sidelines hugging himself, saying "Oh god this is brutal.” I felt the same way watching Hai making an unnecessary sacrifice to survive. I hope I don't see it again.
Most unexpected ally: Jonathan
I was worried about Jonathan, specifically how he would fit into this new era of Survivor. He said in his CBS bio he wanted to play the game like Ozzy Lusth, not exactly the model of a strong social game. He also cites Lex Luger, a former professional wrestler with a history of domestic violence, as his hero because he's "a man of God." Jonathan has a picture on Instagram with former Bachelorette contestant Jed Wyatt, best known for forgetting to tell the woman who he got engaged to that he had a girlfriend back home. Jonathan looks like he should be a member of Kelvin's God Squad, not a contestant on one of the most complex strategy games that requires connecting with people from all walks of life.
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Two episodes in, Jonathan has defied my expectations. I'm not the only one. In an exit interview with Parade, Jackson Fox said he was nervous about telling Jonathan he was transgender because of his devout Christian faith. It turns out, Jackson had nothing to fear. This week, Jonathan bonded bromantically with Omar. Omar is bought into this unlikely partnership, calling his broad-shouldered ally the meat shield to his brain shield. The greatest surprise, however, isn't that Jonathan is accepting of a transgender and Muslim tribe member; it's how much the most physically domineering presence on this season appears to completely reject traditional ideas of masculinity.
When Omar reveals that he didn't pee standing up until he was 22 years old, Jonathan doesn't mock him. Instead, he seems genuinely envious of Omar's toilet etiquette, telling the camera, “Everything he’s good at I’m not as good at and vice versa. Together we make like the perfect human.” At Tribal Council, Jeff tees Jonathan up for a classic line about how physical strength is the most important quality in determining who to vote out first. The Gulf Shores, Alabama, native doesn't take the bait. “Strength in this game comes in all different shapes and forms," Jonathan replies. It's early yet, but Jonathan's actions give me hope that Survivor is done casting "villains" because he absolutely looks like he should fit the mold of one and has been quite the opposite.
Worst advantage management: Mike
Mike Turner was the first contestant this season to find the Beware Advantage, that thing that was fun last season but would have been totally fine if they didn't bring it back. Well, it's back! After telling the camera that looking for the idol is "like looking for a needle in a haystack", Mike immediately stumbles on the advantage. His phrase is "There is such grace in a game of soccer, it makes me cry" which makes Mike want to cry because he coaches American football. Still, he accepts the challenge. Then, he proceeds to misplace the advantage and tell his other tribe members that he found it.
After finally finding the Beware Advantage for the second time – it looks like he loses it again in the preview for next episode. Come on Mike! — he reveals what the clue says to his ally Daniel. The only problem is, Daniel is allied with Chanelle, and they plot to get Mike out of the game. Daniel says, “I have all the knowledge without any of the penalty," making it sound like he found the Knowledge Is Power advantage, another season 41 invention that has yet to re-surface this season. Mike doesn't seem long for this game, but hopefully before he leaves he'll show up to the challenge trying to memorize the phrase he lost in the woods and instead hilariously butcher it by saying something like, "There is much face in a game of foosball."
Most ideal voting conundrum: Marya vs. Maryanne
When the Taku tribe returned from the immunity challenge, the decision was between Maryanne, the energetic hopeless romantic whose long-term loyalty was questioned, and Marya, the mother who opened up to her tribe about her late brother, who was the first healthcare worker to die of COVID-19 in the United States. (Nice touch, by the way, of the show to thank healthcare workers for all they continue to do at the end of the episode. The pandemic isn't over, y'all.) . While the vote may have been more clear-cut than what was shown, it appeared to be a genuine toss-up. The Survivor producers must have been salivating at this point.
If the vote is between two people who have the same first letter for their name, the edit will cut off right after someone in the voting booth writes a T or a D, so they don't give away who the vote is for. In this case, the names were almost identical. One shot showed Omar writing Marya's entire name, leaving suspense whether he was done or if had three more to go. Spoiler: Marya was the unanimous vote. It's a dream scenario that will likely not be replicated anytime soon, unless Maryanne comes back on a Fans vs. Favorites season and the vote is between her and a fan named Maryanna. For the second episode in a row, the person who went home played their Shot in the Dark. It didn't work for Marya, and now she has the honors of letting Zach know that his future wife Maryanne is waiting for him when this is all over.
Next: Survivor 42: Get to Know Marya Sherron, 'Spicy' Stay-At-Home Mom
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on CBS.ShareTweetEmail90 Day Fiancé: Ximena’s 25th Birthday Makeover Fails To Impress Fans Related TopicsAbout The AuthorJustin Fedich (474 Articles Published)
Justin Fedich is a reality TV editor based in Washington, D.C. He has reported on the need for increased representation in the Survivor franchise and has interviewed stars from Netflix hit shows The Circle, Too Hot To Handle and Love Is Blind.More From Justin Fedich