One year ago, Survivor: Blood vs. Water pitted loved ones against each other, testing the core of human emotion in a way we've never experienced before. It was so compelling we're doing it again. Scattered below, nine pairs of Loved Ones have been dropped in the jungles of Nicaragua to begin the adventure of a lifetime. It's not even Day 1 and the game has already begun. Each pair has been given a flint to practice making fire together. It may be their only chance to help each other in the game. They come from all walks of life. Boyfriend, girlfriend Jon and Jaclyn are already experienced winners. She's Miss Michigan 2013, he played football for Michigan State.
Jaclyn: We have fun. Jon: But it's not all just this pretty beautiful picture that people just love to paint. Jaclyn: Yeah, I don't want people to hate us and think that we're this like crazy perfect couple. Jon: Yeah.
–Jon Misch & Jaclyn Schultz
Former professional baseball player John Rocker was at the center of controversy 15 years ago.
I've spent the last 15 years of my life trying to say "I'm not the loud, obnoxious, boisterous kind of guy" but media has loved over the years, you know, to label me racist, bigot, homophobe and everything else. I'm not a bigot. Thems are fighting words right there.
Josh: We both are such fans of the game. This guy, for our first Valentine's Day, gives me flint. Reed: I got him flint! We're actually really comfortable being outdoors and sleeping in the dirt.
Josh: And we are now ready for it.
–Josh Canfield & Reed Kelly
They've left behind the comfort and safety of their normal world. For 39 Days they will be left to fend for themselves. Boston police officer Val and her firefighter husband Jeremy have an ongoing rivalry over their jobs despite being madly in love with each other.
Nadiya: On Amazing Race we had all the basic needs. You take away all the basic needs and that's Survivor. We'll have sleepless nights, empty bellies.
Natalie:Survivor is going to be way harder than Amazing Race. Nadiya: Our blood is thicker than anybody else's blood out here. I can guarantee you that because the longest, I think, we've ever been apart without seeing each other was like two weeks.
–Nadiya Anderson & Natalie Anderson
Father and son, Louisiana firefighters, Keith and Wes share a love for their job and the outdoors. But while Keith is nearing retirement, he is not yet ready to pass the torch to his son Wes.
Keith: What about my time? Is it over with? Wes: Your time has been gone. Keith: Been gone? Wes: It's showtime for me, I think. Keith: Showtime for you... Wes: I got social aspect, physical aspect, mental aspect. I feel like I got it all. Keith: You're as mentally strong as that rock (pointing to rock).
–Wes Nale & Keith Nale
Their relationships will be put to the ultimate test. It's Survivor: San Juan del Sur – Blood vs. Water. Eighteen Americans, forced to work together while battling the elements and each other. They must learn to adapt or they will be voted out. In the end, only one will remain and claim the million dollar price. 39 Days, 18 People, 1 Survivor!
We walked down this beautiful beach. It's such an epic Survivor moment. I got goosebumps thinking about it, it's so crazy 'cause also you're like "Oh, now we just need to do things!" Like, this is it. Like, go!
Everyone was saying you know, good job and it was a tough decision for me to go against my wife and everything but everyone's happy that I won flint and beans for them and everything but going into the challenge against my wife... like I was like (pauses and looks away) … like I was "I ain't crying out here" you know, and like they won, you know what I'm saying? Like these dudes are going to kill me back home. Me going one on one against her, like that hurt and then to see her go away. That's my wife, you know, I need to take care of her and like I didn't do that. In Blood vs. Water you do have to think about your Loved Ones and for me and Val, I feel in this game, it's all about us as a couple but it doesn't look good for her. I have a good rapport with women, I get along with women, so it's time to go balls to wall. It's time to play.
I really like Jeremy, you know, the way he fought today and the way he, his emotions after he had sent his wife to Exile Island showed like real true, like a good heart, you know, so I would say if I had to choose one person as my designated Twinnie, it's Jeremy. Everybody loves a firefighter.
This game, it moves so much. The beginning of the game messed me up right away but I feel pretty good where I'm at right now. Everybody's on my side and I'm the popular guy. Everybody wants to date the prom king so this is perfect. This will work out.
Day 1 we are doing the necessities which is trying to get fire, trying to get some nourishment in our stomachs and trying to build a shelter. It's a young group. We're with Wes, and Baylor, and Alec. They're like this young group and then it's me, Josh and Jaclyn kind in the middle and then we got the other dude is 40, and dad is like 55 and like, come on!
Right off the bat there was a very definite "OK, I'm 25 years older than almost everybody here" (laughs). I'm a self-employed farmer. I've been there all my life and we don't get a lot of visitors. My biggest challenge on Survivor is I'm not used to being in a big group of strangers. That's tough but you're always have to be looking for the positive in a situation. My first trip down to the water, I put the lid back on the well and I looked down and there's this little emblem and I go "It's not an Idol" but it could be useful someday. So I need to look at some other way to get myself into that tribe pretty fast. I'm trying to get fire so we can boil water. It smokes but the humidity just, it won't get that red coal going. The longer I sat there, the more pissed off I was getting at myself. I'm supposed to be able to start fire. I've done it before. I used to start them all the time with magnifying glasses as a kid growing up.
We need fire so we have two groups of people working on two different methods. Dale is working on glasses and the sunlight which I've never seen before happen or work. And then we have group 2 which is a couple of us just scrubbing, and scrubbing, and scrubbing, and scrubbing, and trying to get something.
I have to be honest. At first, you look at the oldest guy in the tribe and you know they're immediately a target and then Dale was the one who saved us all. Like the very first thing that we really needed, he provided.
First landing on Exile Island was a big shock. I mean, the Coyopa tribe is now all bonding so if there were gonna get rid of somebody first it would probably be me and on top of that, Exile Island frickin' sucks! It's desolate, it's rocky, in the ocean, looks unswimmable. You're really left with nothing.
I'm thinking playing Survivor, I'm thinking take it to the end and then boom, I'm on Exile Island. The first, I'm the first out of the shoot, me and Val. That ain't the way I had this mapped out. I don't even know my tribe yet. I don't want to be here.
He picked his urn and I picked mine. We both had a note and started to read it. I was so preoccupied for the fact that I had a clue for the Idol back at camp, that I didn't even realize that his was blank. And I think he expected that I was going to say "Oh, read it!". I wasn't going to do that.
Mine was blank. Story of my life. I said "What you get, Val?" She kind of hem-hawed around and um, if its got something to do with Val's tribe, more power to her. 'Cause I'm not going back to Val's tribe, I'm going back to my tribe.
Come to find out, Val's husband is a firefighter. That is going to be a bond. That's going to be a big plus, probably. When I do get back to camp, I'm going to check in with Jeremy. See where he stands but who knows? I don't know what I'm going to walk into going back there. Worst case, all eight of 'em hate me. That's the end of my Survivor career.
I didn't really want to but I kinda was forced to step in and really take control of the construction of the shelter. It was a lot of work to kinda build the initial foundation for our structure. Definitely important that we have something levitated off the ground that could give a nice little cool breeze from the ocean. I hope the tribe appreciates the hard work and effort that I put into the shelter. You know I was actually a successful model for the last few years. I'm kinda not a big shot here, but you know, I'm sure my face is around some different places, but I'm not here to be a model at all. I'm here to be a Survivor.
Oh my God, I'm not sure why Drew thinks he's in charge. He's a little bit too arrogant, bless his heart. Being a woman and who I am, I mean, I'm dating John Rocker and he used to play in the Major Leagues. He is Type A with a capital A, so I understand the dude mentality and Drew, I mean, he's just kinda like a young dumb guy.
I had a suspicion about John the minute I saw him. I said "Man, dude, I know that guy from somewhere" and I realized he played professional baseball for the Atlanta Braves and I said "Man, that's my favorite team!" Everybody watched Atlanta. That was when they were in their prime, you know.
I've been hoping to skate through this game, anonymous, you know, unscathed, under the radar. If I'm recognized by some of the other players in the game, I'm gonna lie about it because I've not had a whole lot of anonymity, you know, for the last 18 years of my life. Wes busted me. It didn't take long. Two or three hours out here he asked me this: "Your name is John, huh? What's your last name?" I'm like... (lowers head in frustration)
He's like "Yeah, it's me. I was like, I'm trying to keep a low profile." I mean, it feels good. I feel like he's from Georgia, I'm from Louisiana. I knew who he was. Kinda got somewhat of a connection. I played baseball so...
All of a sudden my eyes start flaring up and now it's just burning and just constant watering. Survivor always throws a curve-ball at you and I was just like "Ah, but you're out here in the middle of nowhere where you're not used to and you get this (pointing at eyes)".
So we're figuring that the foliage that we used for roofing has some kind of poison sap or something that people were touching. So we are working to remove that and get that the heck away from our camp. We got poison sap, you got scorpions. Shoot, there could be a puma running around here I don't know about. There is definitely dangers that are far from anything I know, in Florida, around here.
I've always been a goofball but I got a lot more depth to me than it would appear. Nobody here knows what's going on at home. Basically, in February they found that my dad he had a tumor in his brain, uh, right back here (pointing to back of head). It's not curable so I spent a lot of time thinking about it, obviously. Um, I think I'm cried out about it. Knowing that my dad and I don't have very much longer to be together, it was very hard to make the decision to come out to Survivor but my dad is a big fan of Survivor and I wouldn't have come without his blessing. I just hope that, uh, I can watch it with him and I just hope I can make him proud out here.
I just rejoined my original tribe. First thing we do was the challenge. Boom, won that! And then to come out here and see what they all got accomplished. Looks like they worked together. That's a good thing. Didn't really know what to expect and uh, so I kinda worked my way into this tribe since I've been gone. I'm just going to try slip in, fit in a little bit. Just now, figuring out their names. I knew Jeremy and that was about it.
So right from the beginning of the challenge, Val and I saw each other. When I see her, she's like "I'm alright" so I knew Keith took care of Val. I don't know how far that will take him but I feel like I owe him something.
I got Jeremy kind of halfway on my side, I would think. He's a firefighter, I'm a firefighter. I mean, the fire department is a brotherhood. Now the other, boy seven, I have no idea about. Give me a day or two and we'll figure all this out. See what happens.
After losing, immediately I'm thinking pretty much I haven't got to play the game and my game might be over so as soon as I knew where the well was, which was part of my Idol clue, that's where I was going. I have got to find this Idol.
Nadiya is a known element. Obviously, she's been on The Amazing Race. She's shown that she can backstab somebody. So the rest of the tribe I don't know that about. Nadiya, she's proven it, we've watched it.
Dale and the guys think, you know, Nadiya should be the first one to go because, you know, she was on The Amazing Race and of course you say yes. And then Nadiya approached me, I think a couple of minutes later. I mean, of course, anybody who comes to me, I'm like "Thank God! You're coming to me!" You know, and I wanted to be that person in this game. I made it, that was one of my goals, to be the person that people are coming up to me and saying "I want to work with you." Nadiya said "Oh, I was just counting you as a girl." My boyfriend can tell you, one of the worst things to say to me! But, I don't blame her and people stereotype people all the time so I'm kind of keeping my options open right now. I feel like have a lot of choices.
So all the girls get together. It was a good opportunity for us to all to recognize that we need to stick together this point and our options are very slim if we don't. Yeah, I thought for sure I would want to work with Josh, the gay guy, you know, we already counting him as a girl and that's 5.
The plan is to vote Dale out because we don't think he's helpful in the challenges. If I don't go with the women, I would definitely do whatever Josh is doing. I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet about what his plans are but I kind of want to hear from him first.
There is a lot up in the air tonight and I do feel a lot of that weight is on me. I think I'm kinda right in the middle between the guys alliance and the girls alliance. Being a fan of the show, this is a big deal but it ultimately is which one I think is going to get me furthest in the game. Sometimes the people with the swing vote end up in the worst position so I don't even know if I'm going to really decide until Tribal Council which one I'm going to go with.
Challenge: Man in the Box
One person from each tribe will race through a wood cube, while untangling rope and searching for two rings. When they reach the first ring, they will use it to retrieve a platform and drag it back. They will then head back into the cube to untangle the rest of the rope and get the second ring. It will be used to retrieve a second platform. The first person to retrieve both platforms and get them across the finish line wins reward for their tribe. Reward: Flint and a bag of beans. Winner:Hunahpu (Jeremy CollinschoseKeith Naleto accompanyVal Collinsto Exile Island).
Challenge:Temple of Syrinx
Each tribe will race through a series of obstacles to get to the top of a giant tower. First both tribes will crawl under an obstacle. They will then work together to retrieve three bags, which contain pieces they will need to get to the top. For the first wall of the tower they will use a rope to get over it. For the second wall they will use pegs. For the third and final wall they will have only each other to help climb it. Once the entire tribe is at the top of the tower, four people from each tribe will solve a puzzle. The first tribe to finish wins immunity. Addition Stipulation:Coyopa gets flint if they win the challenge. Winner:Hunahpu
This is the second time I'm out first. It sucks! I don't know if because of Amazing Race I had a target on my back. Anything's a possibility. You can have regrets in this game, but it is what it is. So I'm not surprised, but I'm definitely disappointed. I hope Natalie wins it all. It's gonna be hard without a Loved One there with her, but I'm gonna be rooting for her all the way.