Marisa Calihan the first castaway eliminated from 'Survivor: Samoa'
By Christopher Rocchio, 09/18/2009
Survivor's so-called "biggest villain ever" has claimed his first victim.
Marisa Calihan, a 26-year-old student from Cincinnati, OH, became the first castaway eliminated from Survivor: Samoa during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
"Tonight's really difficult for me to swallow. I trusted [Russell Hantz] initially, but it was a mistake to say something to him because he makes trouble, and so he made it around me," lamented Marisa after her ouster.
"I'm sad to be going home. I don't hold any animosity towards anybody. I'm grateful to have had the experience however short it may have been."
Survivor: Samoa's premiere broadcast began with the 20 castaways arriving on the beach already divided into two tribes.
The Galu tribe -- wearing purple-- consisted of Brett Clouser, a 23-year-old T-shirt designer from Salem, OR who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA; John Fincher, a 25-year-old rocket scientist from Los Angeles, CA; Russell Swan, a 42-year-old attorney from Glenside, PA; David Ball, a 38-year-old fitness instructor from Los Angeles, CA; Monica Padilla, a 25-year-old law student from San Diego, CA; Shannon "Shambo" Waters, a 45-year-old sales representative from Renton, WA; Yasmin Giles, a 33-year-old hairstylist from Detroit, MI who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA; Laura Morett, a 39-year-old office manager from Salem, OR; Kelly Sharbaugh, a 25-year-old hairstylist from Wilmington, DE who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA; and Erik Cardona, a 28-year-old bartender from Ontario, CA.
The Foa Foa tribe -- wearing yellow -- consisted of Marisa; Betsy Bolan, a 48-year-old police officer from Campton, NH; Mike Borassi, a 62-year-old private chef from Marina del Rey, CA; Ben Browning, a 28-year-old mixologist from Los Angeles, CA; Russell Hantz, a 36-year-old oil company owner from Dayton, TX; Elizabeth Kim, a 33-year-old urban planner from New York, NY; Jaison Robinson, a 28-year-old law student from Chicago, IL; Ashley Trainer, a 22-year-old spa sales representative from Maple Grove, MN; Mick Trimming, a 33-year-old doctor from Boise, ID who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA; and Natalie White, a 26-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative from Van Buren, AR.
"There's a guy who looks as tough as nails. He looks like a pitbull," Marisa commented. "I wouldn't want to mess with him, that's for sure."
Once on the beach, host Jeff Probst explained to the castaways that they would be voting for tribal leaders based on body language and first impressions. Each castaway voted. While Shambo received three votes for Galu, Russell Swan got five and became the tribe's leader. Mick received four votes from Foa Foa and became the tribal leader, with Jaison finishing as the runner-up.
"I'm scared. This leadership thing can go south real quick," opined Russell Swan. "The highest nail definitely get pounded down in this game, and right now, I'm like sky high."
Jeff then revealed that the tribal leaders would be making their first decision by selecting members of their tribe to fulfill specific roles in the first Reward Challenge.
For Foa Foa, Mick chose Jaison -- a former collegiate water polo player -- as his swimmer, Russell Hantz as the strongest person, Marisa as the most agile, and Liz as the smartest, which she felt was a stereotype.
"I think Mick chose me because I'm Asian and, while I certainly don't take offense to the positive attributes of being an Asian because they're smart, they're supposed to be studious," said Liz. "There are also negative attributes like sneaky, conniving, and I just don't want people attributing all of the negative attributes to me."
For Galu, Russell Swan chose John as the swimmer, Erik as the strongest, Yasmin as the most agile, and Shambo as the smartest.
Jeff then explained the rules. The swimmers would swim out, retrieve a key, and swim back to shore. The strong person would then use that key to unlock a chain, freeing up two very heavy bundles of logs -- which they would then carry back to their mat where the most agile person would use them to get up to a balance beam.
They then had to maneuver across the balance beam while navigating another key through a rope maze. The smart person would then use that key to unlock a bag of puzzle pieces and use the pieces to solve the puzzle. The first tribe to solve the puzzle would win fire in the form of flint.
The challenge commenced and Jaison used his swimming experience to give Foa Foa an early lead that the tribe would never relinquish, winning fire.
"We won the challenge because Mick made very good choices on all legs," explained Marisa.
After being beat badly in the water by Jaison, John sat on the beach exhausted -- which caught the attention of his tribemate Erik.
"Pretty boy maybe couldn't swim, but get your ass off the mat," said Erik in a confessional. "Unbelievable. He doesn't deserve to be here."
The two tribes then arrived at their camps, and Mick realized that -- although he had been selected Foa Foa's leader -- it was Ben who was vocally taking control.
"He shows up to camp and the guy's just like, 'All eyes to me,'" commented Mick about Ben. "I think the leadership thing is difficult and I'm still trying to sort out exactly how to run it. If he wants to step up and take control of things, have at it my friend because he'll paint his own target."
Meanwhile Russell was relaxing and revealed in a confessional that his strategy was to "be able to have a secret alliance with each one of these dumb girls" -- a reference to Ashley, Natalie and Marisa. He spoke privately with each on the beach.
"It is Day 1 and I've got an alliance with the dumb, short-haired blonde [Ashley], the even dumber long-haired blonde [Natalie], and the dark-haired girl [Marisa]. I like to call it my dumb-ass girl alliance," said Russell.
"I told them exactly the same thing, and I believe they're just gullible enough to believe it."
Russell also attempted to make an alliance with Betsy, but he knew she'd be tougher than the others.
"I know she's a lot smarter than my dumb-ass girl alliance," he said. "So I got to be real careful with that one."
He was apparently right to be concerned, as although Betsy also accepted his alliance offer, she didn't seem as trusting of him as the other girls.
"As a police officer, I usually can get a pretty good read on somebody by talking to them, looking in their eyes, their body language," she explained. "I just have a feeling that I don't trust Russell because he came to me too quick in the game. I did make an alliance with him, but I don't trust him."
At Galu, Russell Swan knew that being the leader was a "heavy, heavy liability" -- however Shambo was pleased that he was taking charge of setting up camp. She was also concerned about the dominant males on her tribe, specifically John, who was doing a lot of talking.
"John is very much all talk, no business," said Shambo, a former U.S. Marine. "I think he's an engineer or something. He's too technical. All he's doing is running his mouth."
Shambo continued to have a hard time fitting in when everybody went swimming except for her, and her attitude about Russell as leader quickly changed.
"It's crazy because I have to constantly remind myself that this is not the Marine Corps. and all these people are in their mid-twenties," she opined.
"So the way that the rest of the tribe does things is going to be way different than the way that I do things. So Russell as leader, I'm struggling with it. He's not being assertive. He's not leading right now. In my opinion, he needs to open a can of whoop-ass and lay some laws down."
As night fell at Foa Foa, Russell Hantz spun a lie about how he was a firefighter in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and that he was in his house with his dog, Rocky, when a levee broke. As the house flooded, he said he searched for the canine, but it was too late.
While a lot of the tribe's women found the story sad, Marisa seemed to be on to him.
"Russell is an interesting character because I really trusted him from the start," she said. "But he's really been scrambling with everyone and he's trying to get people's sympathy about Katrina -- which is probably very true. I don't want to diminish that story, but I just think that he's angling stuff and I'm starting to feel like he's pretty slimy."
Unbeknownst to his tribemates, Russell was proving his sliminess as he emptied all of their canteens on the beach and burned Jaison's socks in the fire.
"I figured I'd make it a little interesting for everybody when they wake up. I emptied all the water out of all the canteens," he explained. "I plan on weeding out the weak right off the bat. I plan on making it as miserable as possible for everybody. Little stuff, like taking a sock and burn it in the fire. I think if I can control how they feel, I can control how they think."
Russell said he's "really a multimillionaire" who "owns a whole company" in Houston.
"I'm not here for the money," he said. "I'm only here to show people how easy it is to win this game. I am the worst one to trust out here. I should be the first one to go. But I'm going to do everything it takes to win this game."
The next morning Betsy noticed the canteens were empty and Jaison saw his socks were missing. Ben and Marisa also began to argue about boiling water for drinking, and Russell was pleased that his plan seemed to be working.
"My strategy is working like a dream. They're hollering at each other right now and I'm just going to sit back and watch it happen," said Russell. "Right now I am running the whole show and they don't even know it, but I know I am."
The two tribes then arrived for the first Immunity Challenge, and Jeff explained the rules.
Six members of each tribe would race across a series of A-frames while carrying three coils of rope. They would then use that rope to pull a heavy crate to the finish platform where the four remaining tribe members would disassemble the crate and then use the pieces to solve a puzzle. The first tribe to finish the puzzle would win Immunity.
Galu jumped out to an early lead and was the first to start working on the puzzle. While Foa Foa eventually caught up on the puzzle and seemed to pass Galu, they hit a snag and Galu reclaimed the lead and won Immunity.
Back at Foa Foa, Ashley opined the tribe's loss.
"I don't know who's fault it was," she said. "I don't know. I think we have a lot to think about but I don't want to be the one to bring it up because then I'm going to have a target on my back."
Mike and Mick discussed the impending vote, and Mike explained the physically weakest one needed to be eliminated, which he believed to be Ashley. Meanwhile Russell approached Marisa and asked where she stood.
"You still got to stay tight with me," he told her.
"Okay, but you've been talking to everybody," she replied. "So I don't know why you've been doing that. It makes me a little weary... I've seen you talking individually to everybody."
Russell immediately got defensive and said just because he was talking to everybody it didn't mean he was "stratesizing." Once their conversation was over, Russell knew Marisa had to go.
"How do you come to me and threaten me and telling me that you feel uncomfortable. Marisa is the dumbest player I've ever seen," he said. "I'm running the show here. You come up to me and threaten me, you gotta go, and she's gone."
Russell then approached each of his Foa Foa tribemates and explained that he was "threatened" by Marisa and that he felt they now need to get rid of her. Ben was the only one that seemed to agree enthusiastically.
"My tribe will believe anything I tell them at any point because they're just stupid," Russell said in private.
"Mick's the leader of the tribe, but I'm the one in charge of the camp. You can call me the puppet master. They can be my little puppets. They'll run when I tell them to run. They'll walk when I tell them to walk and when I'm finished with them, just throw them in the trash."
However Betsy told Natalie not to trust Russell, and she asked for a reason.
"Oh I don't know why," said Betsy. "A woman's intuition."
Foa Foa then arrived for their first Tribal Council, and all 10 members of the tribe lit their torches. Jeff asked Ashley about the tribe's Immunity Challenge loss, and she replied, "It is what it is" -- a sentiment that didn't sit well with her tribemates.
"I think they were lucky with the puzzle," said Mike about Galu's challenge victory.
"Lucky!?" said a surprised Jeff. "Borassi, we'd still be there. You guys were nowhere close."
While Betsy singled out Ashley as the weakest member of the tribe -- something Ashley took offense to -- Jeff asked Marisa who she thought was the weakest, and she became defensive instead of answering the question.
"I'm not the weakest link," she said.
"That's not what he asked you," corrected Ben. "Assert yourself and answer the question. It's not that hard."
Russell then pointed out Ben and Marisa didn't like each other before stating, "I like everybody but Marisa."
"You voted for Marisa to be the leader!" pointed out Jeff.
"She could be the leader. She has a very strong mind. She knows what she's talking about, she knows how to say it," said Russell.
"Clearly Marisa must have told you what to do at some point," said Jeff.
"She told me she's starting to worry about me, I'm walking around with everybody in the tribe, well yeah. It doesn't mean I'm making an alliance with everybody in the tribe," stated Russell. "She just came right at me."
"He did say to me honesty's the most important thing in this game, so if I felt worried about him, I wanted to be honest with him and share that with him," Marisa replied.
"As soon as she came at me and said she doesn't trust me..." began Russell.
"I didn't say I didn't trust you!" exclaimed Marisa. "I said I was worried about you."
Marisa said she would hate to go home but knew it might be too late.
"If I did something to put a mark on my back, that was really dumb of me," she opined. "I need to fix it. I can guarantee you it won't happen again."
Mike, Ben, Russell, Elizabeth, Jaison, Ashley, and Natalie all voted for Marisa, who voted for Ashley along with Betsy and Mick -- resulting in Marisa being voted off by a 7 to 3 vote.
Survivor: Samoa's next episode will air Thursday, September 24 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.