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Survivor‘s toughest season ever premieres with nightmare for one contestant


Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty vs. bugs? Ummm, gross. Survivor: Kaoh Rong got off to a wickedly nasty, nightmare-inducing start, as one of the contestants had a tiny creature crawl inside her ear.

Twitter exploded as Jennifer Lanzetti was brought to tears, wincing in pain while explaining how a bug embedded itself deep in her ear. After 32 seasons, it was one of Survivor‘s most shockingly disturbing moments.

More: Meet the 18 contestants for Survivor: Kaoh Rong

As I watched her cry with dried blood highlighting her ear, I couldn’t help but wonder why the medical team was never brought in to evaluate Jennifer’s situation. Many viewers were asking the same question, too.

Jennifer Lanzetti at the Brawn tribe camp on Survivor: Kaoh Rong
Image: CBS

Although it’s very possible medics were brought in and the moment was edited out, I think the situation should have been addressed with somebody stepping in for her safety.

Eventually, the puny pest popped out of Jennifer’s ear as her tribemates killed it. Again, this was a strange moment because the edit made it appear as if Scot and Cydney simply watched it crawl around without making any effort to snatch the wormy creature and squish it. It actually looked as if the bug was about to crawl back inside. Whatever the case may be, the bug is dead and Jennifer is back to her normal self.

Toughest season ever

There has been a lot of hype heading into this season that Survivor: Kaoh Rong will be the toughest ever. It seemed like a marketing ploy initially to get die-hard fans stoked about the show after such a stellar season before it, but there are already signs that the castaways will be suffering. Aubry was struggling very early with heat exhaustion and dehydration. There was even talk among the Brain tribe that they suspect Joe, a 72-year-old retired FBI agent, would be the most likely contestant to be medically evacuated from the game. Foreshadowing? As is true Survivor fashion, the people who were making that claim are the likely ones to suffer the most. Had there not been any of this tough season hype, that’s a conversation that we likely never would have seen on the show. We do know, however, there are more medical evacuations than ever before. I just hope the tough concept doesn’t become the sole focus for the entire season.

More: What we know so far about Survivor: Kaoh Rong

The first to go

Falling way behind in the first immunity challenge, the Brawn tribe found itself facing Tribal Council with a pair of people on the chopping block: Darnell and Alecia. Darnell found his back up against the wall after helping lead to his tribe’s first challenge loss when he dropped a diving mask that sank to the bottom of the ocean. Alecia just didn’t seem to be doing much of anything. As Tribal Council approached, it was clear that Darnell was the prime target.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong host Jeff Probst at Tribal Council
Image: CBS

Before the vote, Darnell started tearfully explaining his life struggles, which showed a tide was turning in his favor. Jennifer turned and whispered to her voting block that she didn’t want to vote him out. It seemed he might be spared. When the votes were tallied, it was a 3-3 tie. That meant a re-vote was in store, which was the fatal moment for Darnell, as every single vote suddenly fell against him. Sadly, now he will likely only be remembered as the guy who got naked to poop in the ocean. Sorry, pal.

Darnell Hamilton cast photo for Survivor: Kaoh Rong

Image: CBS

Premiere thoughts

On the heels of Survivor: Second Chance, a truly amazing season, I was worried Survivor: Kaoh Rong might not be able to deliver anything nearly as satisfying. I was wrong in that assumption with this debut episode. It was fun, it was different and it was exciting. From the bug incident to the tied vote at Tribal Council, it was a fulfilling start. And can I just say for a moment how absolutely incredible the set design for Tribal Council is this season? Wow. The lighting and visuals are top-notch, proving Survivor is still the king of reality TV even after 32 seasons.

Wait… I feel something scratching inside my ear.

More: Watch our red carpet interview with Survivor: Second Chance winner Jeremy Collins

What are your thoughts on the premiere of Survivor: Kaoh Rong? Were you surprised Darnell was the first person voted off? Who is your favorite based on the first episode? What would you do if a bug crawled into your ear? Join the conversation by leaving a comment in the section below!

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