We're on board a 38-squadron Caribou DHC-4 military aircraft on loan from the Royal Australian Air Force. Normally, these planes are used to rescue people in dangerous, life-threatening situations. Today, however, we have a different mission. These 16 Americans are about to be abandoned. This plane will land in the heart of one of the most unforgiving places anywhere on Earth-- the Australian Outback. For the next 42 days, they'll be left to fend for themselves, forced to work together to create a new society while battling the elements and each other. They must learn to adapt, or they'll be voted from the tribe. In the end, one will remain and will claim the million-dollar prize. 42 days, 16 people... 1 Survivor!
16 new castaways landed on one of the most unforgiving places on Earth, the Australian Outback.
As this plane touches down on a remote strip of land in the Australian outback, these 16 strangers begin the adventure of a lifetime. They have never spoken to each other, and the rules state they must remain quiet until after the plane has landed, dropped them off and abandoned them. They have been separated into two competing tribes: Kucha and Ogakor. One crate of supplies awaits each tribe, and once the plane has taken off, they will have only five minutes to salvage whatever they can carry. They then face a grueling five-mile hike that will take them deep into the Outback and their new homes for the next 42 days. The Kucha tribe, which will always wear blue, consists of Kimmi Kappenberg, a bartender from Long Island; Michael Skupin, a father and software publisher and distributor from White Lake, Michigan; Alicia Calaway, a personal trainer from New York City; Rodger Bingham, a farmer and school teacher from Crittenden, Kentucky; Elisabeth Filarski, a footwear designer from Newton, Massachusetts; Nick Brown, a Harvard law student from San Francisco, Debb Eaton, a corrections officer from Berlin, New Hampshire; and Jeff Varner, an Internet projects manager from Greensboro, North Carolina. Ogakor tribe, which will always wear green, consists of Maralyn Hershey, a retired police officer from Wakefield, Virginia; Colby Donaldson, an auto customizer from Christoval, Texas; Amber Brkich, an administrative assistant from Beaver, Pennsylvania; Mitchell Olson, a singer-songwriter from Vermillion, South Dakota; Tina Wesson, a mother and personal nurse from Knoxville, Tennessee; Keith Famie, a chef from West Bloomfield, Michigan; Jerri Manthey, an aspiring actress from Los Angeles; and Kel Gleason, an Army intelligence officer from Fort Hood, Texas.
A DH-C4 Royal Australian Military Aircraft containing the survivors landed on the Herbert riverbanks. The survivors must not talk to each other until they land. Upon landing, the castaways (who were already assigned to two tribes) raced to their supply crates, and they were given only five minutes to empty their crates. After the allotted time, they would start their five-mile trek to their respective camps.
The tribes will split up and head in opposite directions. Their camps are situated four miles apart along the shore of the Herbert River. Each beach has a flag and a canoe. Finding these sites will be the first unofficial challenge for the new Survivors.
On their way to camp, the blue Kucha tribe found themselves annoyed by Michael and Debb, both of whom tried to take charge, stumbling the tribe longer than expected.
When they dropped us off, you know, everybody was designated a certain thing to do, and, uh, they gave Nick the compass. For some reason... although the compass said one way... we kept going the wrong way.
Similarly, the green Ogakor tribe also had difficulties in finding their camp. Keith ran ahead of everyone else just to find the supposed encampment. Maralyn, the oldest of the Ogakors, found it hard to hide her fatigue. Kel, on the other hand, started to rub his tribe mates the wrong way with his militant method of communication.
The hike, uh... it was a little intimidating. Um, I was afraid, "Good grief, what if I get so winded that I can't keep up?"
That trek let me know that this was for real. That was a long trek we had through deep sand with a lot of heavy equipment, and I was packing more weight than anyone else, so I was really struggling. It was a long trip, and that was... that fired me up, because that is the quickest way to find out what people are made of.
We don't know how far away we are, so I'm going to run up this and do a little reconnaissance, see if we can find out where we're at. I figure if it's really far, we'll drape some of our stuff here, and we won't take it. If we're not far, then we'll buck up and get it there.
I'm feeling really weak, and, um, on the verge of throwing up just ever since I got here. It started with the plane flight. In the beginning, it was really fun, and it was kind of cool and groovy, and I was enjoying the ride, and then all of a sudden, I just got sort of nauseous, and I kept thinking to myself, (chuckles) "I'm not going to get sick. I'm not going to get sick. I will not throw up." So I sort of went into this little zone and breathed, and I don't remember any of it.
Rodger carried one of the big water jugs. Mike had a big water jug. Poor Elisabeth had the board on her head, and then I had the eight bottled waters wrapped around me, so the-the four of us kind of got separated from the other four when we were walking to our campground.
I mean, everything was heavy to carry. There's... you can't discount any of our equipment as easy to carry, but some of it was just more awkward. And some of the crossings, we had to go, you know, down a sharp valley of rocks and up again, and kind of wind and balance across a river. And it was frustrating, too, but with the water jugs and, you know, the water canteens, and... I mean, that stuff is just awkward.
After plunging to the cold Herbert river waters to celebrate their arrival at camp, the Kucha tribe started to build their shelter. Upon realizing that all of their clothes were wet, with no shelter and without fire, the tribe started to feel the harsh environment.
When we arrived, it was just a moment of ecstasy, 'cause it's like, "Yes! I've worked this far just to see this silly thing." I mean... And not just physically from here, but just mentally preparing yourself for the whole journey, like, all the airplane flights from New York to California to Australia, from the other part of Australia to here to there. You know, there were just so many things in sequence to get you to that flag that just being at that flag is just an accomplishment.
As soon as we got out of the river, I think we just... this kind of realization. We got a little cold, and we realized that we're going to... We have to sleep somewhere, and we just wanted to feel a little safe and dry. So we got to work as much as we could on building the basis of a home.
That afternoon, Rodger became secretly upset about Michael's bossy behavior while creating their shelter.
When we started building the shelter, I thought everybody started chipping in, because there was the wood gatherers, and there was the people that were building, and, uh, I had worked a lot of, uh, you know, some construction in my life, and I-I had a reasonable sense of, uh, of-of construction.
It seems like one individual in the group is... ordering everybody around. And if you guys haven't figured it out, it's Mike. You can't have one person step in and start ordering everybody around, 'cause it's not going to play, and it's not playing right now, and not just with me, but with others. Rodger used to build homes. Rodger is the one who helped to build this shelter. He knows what he's doing. Well, Mike comes over and starts telling him how to build it, and-and Rodger was like, "No, that isn't going to work."
On Ogakor, Colby revealed his luxury item, a Texas flag, and asked his tribemates if they could use the flag as their tarp. After everyone agreed, Jerri and Keith squabbled over how the flag should be placed.
As soon as we hit the beach, you know, it was really kind of amazing. Collectively, we all dispersed to do something different.
I really did bring the flag to serve as shelter, but, you know, don't get me wrong. When I wake up in the morning, there's two things I'm thankful for. I'm thankful I'm alive, and I'm thankful I'm a Texan.
Keith and I didn't start off on a very good foot, because of some of the condescending mark-remarks he made to me, and he might very well not even be aware that he does it, but I'm not the kind of person to just let it slide off my back.
During the night, Kucha cuddled together to keep themselves warm. Kimmi's liberal nature became the focus point of the conversation. This made Jeff Varner, who was nauseous the whole day, irked by Kimmi's squeaky voice.
Kimmi is a happy-go-lucky person who's got... I-I don't even know how to describe her. I don't know what the right word is. You know, nothing is taboo with her-- nothing at all.
Kimmi will not shut up. You know, I'm tired at night. I want to go to sleep, and they're constantly talking. And with the headache that I have, it just reverberates. Kimmi cannot say a single thing without screaming it. All of a sudden, out of the blue, with that accent that just talks and talks and talks and talks and talks... I just want to grab her by the neck and shake the (expletive censor) out of her, you know?
At Kucha, hunger was met by excitement when the tribe found figs to eat. To the tribe's disappointment, however, the figs were bug-infested, but the tribe decided to eat them anyway.
I think we're starting to get to know each other, and people are not accustomed to this kind of lifestyle yet. I'm a little accustomed to this lifestyle, because I do hunt and I do fish and I do camp, so it's not that foreign to me. When I saw those figs, it was a big rush. And two or three people came over and helped pick the figs, and we brought 'em back, and, uh... I bit into one right off the tree.
Mike, he opens up these figs, and he's... showing us these bugs, and I'm just wanting to eat that thing so bad 'cause I'm starving, and these bugs are just creepy, and flying around, and I don't eat anyth... you know, I-I cook my food.
Debb works very hard, and she means well, but she's like, "Well, in the camping book, it says to do it like this." And-and you know what? We could have the wrong wood. We could have the wrong rocks, something. She's making herself an authority on something actively on what she read, and not on actually doing. Had she went and practiced this stuff at home, I would take her opinion a lot more, you-you know, seriously.
One thing we tried to do in starting the fire was use my Bible, which I had brought along. It was my luxury item. And, uh, we tore some pages out of it. Uh, it wasn't the pages that actually had any scripture in it, but I would've used that. You know, if you're... you got to do with what you got.
That was a nice little piece of home when you... when you least, least expect it, you know. Then it said go to page 200, and then go to page 150, and we went through that about seven or eight times, I think, till we... till we finally came to the end. And it was a little sentimental for me, to tell you the truth, to hear it.
Fire was of utmost importance. At Ogakor, Keith was especially relentless in his attempt to start fire. A professional chef, he wanted to prove his worth and show that he is a necessary commodity to keep around.
I've never started a fire before from scratch, but, you know, I knew nightfall was coming. We'd have no light, and that we'd be able to cook nothing, um... and we wouldn't have a bonfire, so it was... it was pretty critical.
Since Jerri and I had our little confrontation before, I thought, you know, this is a great time to get her involved with this process, to be a part of it somehow, with something she brought that was important to her.
Friendships were forming. Mitchell Olson, Amber Brkich, Jerri, and Colby had the most in common and spent most of the day learning more about each other, while Tina Wesson charmed her way into the hearts of the tribe and took on the role of den mother.
All right, we just got our notice for the first Immunity Challenge, and we're going to go kick some butt, 'cause we're all together on this, and we're going to go get us some fire, and we're going to go, uh, get us some food. Fire means food, so that's what we're going to go do. We're going to go there, we're going to fight hard and win.
Later that afternoon, the contestants met Jeff Probst for their first challenge, a combined Reward/Immunity competition. Ogakor quickly took the lead, but it was a decisive victory once Kucha's raft flipped over in the river, extinguishing their flame. Team spirit prevailed, however, as they decided to finish the race nevertheless. But Debb, defeated by the loss, merely sat on the raft while her fellow tribe members pulled it to the finish.
And so the victorious Ogakor received the Immunity Idol—and fire—and returned to their camp. They would be safe for another three days. Kucha would have to return for another cold and dark night, and make the dangerous hike to Tribal Council.
With the dreaded vote looming over them, the Kucha tribe began strategizing amongst its own.
Yesterday's Immunity Challenge was a big letdown. Uh... uh, not only physically, but emotionally. I think probably more so emotionally. As far as the Tribal Council goes tonight, which are... which we have to go to, uh, I don't think any of us are looking forward to it.
Debb informed Alicia and Rodger that Jeff didn't want to stay because he was too sick to continue.
I don't know. I'm not betting on me getting voted off, but I think it's-it's down to, like, me, Rodger or maybe, um... Jeff, because he hasn't been feeling good. My personal opinion is the strong survive.
It's like there's a part of me that's a little paranoid about who's talking to who. I see these two standing over across, um... Mike and Rodger standing across the river talking. They're not fishing. They're not doing anything. They're just talking, and, uh, the wheels start turning, and I'm just... my eyes are going around. Just because we've said what we're doing doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna happen, and I haven't been with these people long enough to know for sure how well... I mean, I'm not gonna trust anybody, but there's a certain... to a certain point, you have to.
Unbeknown to Debb, Alicia relayed this information to Jeff, who vehemently denied ever having made such a declaration. Michael suggested that it could be Rodger who'd be voted out because it would be difficult for anyone older to follow through on the challenges.
It's like going to court. Tribal Council is going to court. Nobody likes to go to court, you know, but if you broke the law, you got to go, and we broke the law by not winning, so we... you know... we got to go face our punishment. Our punishment... is to get rid of one of our own.
The people that I think that are in jeopardy tonight are potentially Jeff, because of the health issues, and Rodger might not be safe. He could be a liability in the challenges, and especially swimming challenges and climbing challenges. And it's not just Rodger. It would be anybody over 50 years old.
I mean, I-I'm looking forward to voting somebody out, 'cause it's the game, and I'm here to play the game. I'm not here to make friends. I'm not here for that. People have got to go, and I look forward to walking up, writing somebody's name on a card and talking about 'em. (laughs) Um... (laughs) I'm getting ready to do it.
Rodger's vote is not revealed during his confessional. Alicia, Jeff, Elisabeth, and Nick's confessionals are aired during the recap episode.
(voting for Jeff) I love this guy dearly, but I came here deciding that I was going to vote on the strongest surviving. Jeff's been the sickest of all of us, and he's still not over it, so I'm going to vote for Jeff, and I hate to do it. I love him.
(voting for Debb) My vote is for Debb. Um, at this point, I think that Rodger would probably be the smarter vote, but I think that the group dynamics and people fitting in well together is important, and Debb is definitely on the outside with certain people. But no hard feelings.
(voting for Debb) I'm voting for Debb. I like her very much, but she's very set in her ways. She doesn't like to be second-guessed, and it makes it very hard for us to deal with her in any kind of group dynamic. Um, I do respect her, though, for being very strong-willed, but it just doesn't work in this game.
(voting for Debb) I'm voting for Debb because... she's a great worker and everything, but she does feel isolated. You know, when we're together all in the tent at night, she just chooses... to be independent, and... she's just a strong-willed person. It's not a bad thing. It's just not what I need.
I wouldn't have minded getting voted off if I had fell... fallen during a competition, if I was lazy, if I wasn't a team player, but when I come here, and I give all of that, and I still get voted off, I bet you if Jeff had read every one of those votes, it would have been seven to one, and that's-that's a shame. I still thought a lot of it boiled down to mental toughness and physical ability, and none of that even mattered.