'Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites' season premiere recap

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"Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites" -- "Premiere"
"Premiere" - The Bikal Tribe (Favorites) during the premiere episode of "Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites." The Emmy Award-winning series returns for its 26th season with a special 90-minute premiere on CBS.

Boston Rob may not be playing this season of "Survivor," but his presence is felt.

Phillip played alongside Rob on "Redemption Island," so he learned from the best. Now on "Caramoan," he's living by BR (Boston Rob) rules, like "Get in an alliance" and "Get in an alliance within the alliance."

And crazypants as Phillip still is, the BR rules work for him and he's able to gain control over the favorites tribe. Somewhere, Boston Rob is smiling.

Who's with me?

Just as in the previous "Fans vs. Favorites" season, the fans go nuts when they see the favorites getting out of their helicopters. They cheer, they gasp, they scream out their names.

But there's no time for adulation -- they get right into the first challenge, a "capture the flag"-type game. The favorites win, thanks to Malcolm, who is happy to make a good first impression as the new kid on the block. The faves (Bikal) get flint and 50 pounds of beans.

Both tribes find their camps, and the fans (Gota) are divided over whether to make a fire or build a shelter. Iraq War veteran Shamar argues that they'll all get dehydrated, then picks a fight with Matt, who started building. They later make peace after the group works together to build a fire.

Some of the fans start to couple up, like Eddie and Hope and Reynold and Allie, who engage in a cuddle session at night. Some of their tribe mates decide to target them if they lose the immunity challenge. As Boston Rob has shown, couples are very dangerous in this game. Floaters Michael and Matt aren't sure which way to go, though.

Over at the Bikal camp, Francesca's doing a lot of politicking so she won't be the first person voted out again. She even tries to reach out to Phillip, who isn't having it. "She annoys me greatly," he says in a confessional. She also tries to form an alliance with Dawn and Andrea, but both seem a little hesitant.

Phillip is trying to play like Boston Rob. Rule No. 1 is to form an alliance, and he does so with Corinne, Andrea, and Malcolm. He also wants Cochran and Dawn to round it out to six. But he likes Erik, so tells the former fan to go along with them ... or else.


The immunity challenge involves climbing a structure, tossing down crates of beanbags, then tossing the beanbags into holes. The favorites get a slight lead, but when Reynold out-tosses Malcolm. The fans win!

Immediately, the favorites start scrambling. Francesca wants to vote out Phillip or possibly Corinne. Unfortunately, she tells Andrea the plan, who informs Phillip. They decide to vote her out. Phillip is gleeful at the notion that Francesca will be the first to go -- again.

Erik and Brandon see Andrea sneaking around. "She intimidates me more than anyone else," Brandon says, because of her strategic ability. They clue in Francesca about Andrea's double-dealing and decide to vote for her instead.

But do they have the numbers? Dawn and Cochran are going to vote together -- which is surprising since he stabbed her in the back on "South Pacific" -- but are torn on which way to go. Much as they like Francesca, they might have to vote her off.

They get to tribal council, which becomes another Phillip-versus-Francesca showdown (at least he can say her name this time). Everyone votes, and Francesca's worst nightmare comes true: She's voted out first again.

And it's clear Phillip has the upper hand in this game. If he goes all the way to the end, it'll almost be like Boston Rob winning again.

Check out Twitter reactions to the premiere, then sound off in the comments below!

Jeff previews the season:

"Survivor" airs Wednesdays at 8 PM on CBS.