'Survivor: Philippines' premiere: Russell Swan and Zane Knight come out guns a-blazin'

survivor-philippines-russell-swan-zane-knight.jpg "Survivor" is back, y'all, so summer is officially winding down. As you may have heard, not only are there three former castaways returning, but "Facts of Life" star Lisa Whelchel and former MLB all-star Jeff Kent are joining the cast as well. That's a lot to deal with if you're a newbie.

Introductions

Jeff Probst drives himself in on a speedboat. Some year, we'd like to see him swim to shore with the tribes' maps clutched in his teeth.

Anyway, the survivors are on a boat and Lisa and Jeff are two of the first ones we talk to -- both are hoping for some sort of anonymity. Kent has a much better shot at that than Lisa. I'm a baseball fan and I'm not sure I could have 100% picked Jeff Kent out of a lineup, just because his face isn't what you focus on when you watch the game, plus he was never a St. Louis Cardinal. However, pretty much everybody will probably know Lisa Whelchel from the get-go.

The returning Survivors are brought in separately and we get to re-live their uber scary medical evaluations. Well, not Penner so much. His injury wasn't scary, not like Russell looking like he's dying or Michael falling in the fire. PS -- I remember having a huge crush on Michael the first time around. Time has been kind to him, but he's definitely 10 years older.

This season starts off with three tribes of six, which is interesting. The newbies are informed about the returnees and most don't look that pleased. I wouldn't either -- that's an annoying trend of reality competition shows lately, though admittedly the three they've brought back this time are three faves.

Probst intros the three men returning, like a proud papa. Calling it right now -- his mancrush this year is Michael Skupin. That guy took down a wild boar, for god's sake.

Russell joins tribe Matsing, Jonathan joins Kalabaw and Michael joins Tandang. The tribes are given their maps, told Hidden Immunities are afoot and sent on their way with whatever they can grab off the boat. Jeff Kent takes a hard spill as they are getting on their rafts and worries he hurt his knee. Oof.

Matsing

Russell's plan is to let somebody else be the leader. And then he promptly starts leading everyone in the building of the shelter. *headsmack* The guy who might step up is Malcolm, a handsome fellow who spent a year in Micronesia teaching English to people. He helps them get fire right away, wow.

Zane the tattooed fellow comes out Day 2 guns a-blazing -- he grabs alliances with the women, then makes his "real" alliance with the men. He calls himself a superstar and now has an alliance with everybody. Oh, dude. Classic first-person-to-go strategy, because Malcolm immediately tells Denise what Zane is up to.

And Malcolm and Denise immediately become a favorite alliance -- they both seem cool and pretty smart.

Then Russell finds the clue to the HII digging in the rice bucket, totally by happenstance, but Zane sees Russell sneakily fussy with his pocket and gets suspicious. Zane asks Russell about it and Russell is so "convincing" about not having it that Zane suspects he already has it.

Kalabaw

Jeff's knee is not doing well. Ugh. That stinks, hopefully it rights itself. And it certainly isn't prohibiting him to scheming, because he rounds up the newbies and says they have to stick together so a veteran doesn't win. Heh. That's rather hilarious.

Interestingly, Dawson knows who Kent is because she used to date a baseball fan. And she isn't going to rat him out, but she's going to tell him she knows -- when the time is right. Heh. Thumbs up on Dawson.

On Day 2, Penner goes off in search of the HII and the others talk about how much he needs to go -- this tribe is much more against the returning player than the other two. Meanwhile, he finds a clue to the HII in the rice bucket.

Tandang

The two girls who aren't Blair Warner seem to be the cute, giggly, jiggly girls. The dark-haired one, RC, is an investment banker, but is definitely all about showing off her rack in her bras. The blonde one, Abi, is more legit, as she wants to use her sexuality to round up an alliance with Pete and Michael. They say they don't trust "the older lady." Actually, these two girls might NOT know who Blair Warner is. Which is sad.

Also, when RC approached Michael about an alliance, did anyone else get the "Poison Ivy" vibe? He's married, lady. Rein that in a little.

Meanwhile, Michael isn't really down with targeting Lisa like his two new jiggly alliance-mates are planning. He really wants Lisa to come out of her shell and make an effort with them, or she's gone.

In the AM, Michael pushes himself so hard that he keeps getting hurt. Dude, slow down. Take a break. Don't get hurt before you even go to the first challenge.

Immunity Challenge

Three pairs per tribe -- first pair releases paddles, second pair uses them to paddle out and dive down for a chest then swim the chest back to shore, the third pair solves a puzzle with the pieces in the chest. The two best athletes better be on the second leg, that one is going to be rough.

When the tribes are dividing up into pairs, Russell is a total pushy jerk about who should do what. Dude. You are doing exactly what you said you thought was the wrong thing to do. You are going to get your butt booted.

Anyway. The first pairs are Russell/Zane, Dana/Katie and Artis/RC. Dana and Katie struggle and put Kalabaw in third by quite a bit, but Jeff and Carter get them right back in it.

The puzzle portion is pretty close for first between Kalabaw and Tandang, with Matsing trailing. And Russell won't stop instructing the puzzle-makers, which has got to be annoying. And it hardly matters, because they lose. And the girl Russell MADE do the puzzle is like, "I told you, I'm not good at puzzles." Those puzzles will get you every time -- you have to listen to someone who says they aren't good at puzzles.

It does not look good for Russell. But he has completely shot himself in the foot with the way he's been playing so far.

Pre Tribal

Russell starts giving everybody a talk about giving your all during a challenge and Zane weirdly says he's not cut out for this because he isn't in good enough shape to be here. He tells them to vote him out, which is his big master plan -- he hopes they'd rather have Zane as a hindrance than Russell bossing them around. He then delightfully says, "I'm playing chess the best way I know how and hopefully, I'ma king me." *headsmack* The editors must just wet themselves over stuff like that.

Meanwhile, everybody is talking about voting otu Russell anyway because he's that annoying and Zane is congratulating himself about what a move he just made. He THEN tells everybody Russell has the Idol. Um, what is wrong with him?!

And Denise smartly says that this is not the point in the game where you can keep weak physical players. Yes. You have to win challenges and keep the numbers and Zane was really struggling.

Tribal Council

Russell pleads his case, acting remorseful for going into dictator mode, which -- that's nice and all, but it might be too little, too late. During the vote, we only see Russell vote for Zane and vice versa. The votes go Zane, Russ, Zane, Zane and Zane. Yeah, that guy really came in with the wrong idea about how to play this game.

Next week: Lisa struggles and Penner desperately wants that Idol.
Photo/Video credit: CBS