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'Survivor: Philippines' castaway Zane Knight voted out of the game in premiere


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/20/2012 

Survivor: Philippines' Matsing tribe eliminated Zane Knight, a 28-year-old tire repairman from Danville, VA, from their tribe during Wednesday night's premiere of the CBS reality series' 25th edition.

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Zane was voted out of his tribe at the season's first Tribal Council, the first elimination vote for Matsing.

"I honestly thought that I had this whole game figured out and I thought I had my whole tribe in control, and I thought I was allowing them to pull the strings instead of me being the one in charge. It just backfired on me. It doesn't change the fact that I respect this game. It sucks, man," Zane said following his ouster.

Survivor: Philippines' premiere broadcast began with the season's 15 first-time castaways traveling via boat to a remote island in the Philippines and getting ready to play a 39-day game in which they'd be divided into three tribes and live at separate camps on different beaches.

The castaways met Survivor host Jeff Probst, who then asked a few of the castaways questions to start getting to know them better and allow them to scope out each other while expressing some general thoughts based solely on first impressions. Jeff then announced the castaways would be joined by three former players who would be returning to the game for another chance to finish what they had started.

Jeff explained all three of the castaways -- Jonathan Penner, Michael Skupin and Russell Swan -- had once been medically evacuated from Survivor mid-season, and therefore, their experience was unintentionally and unfortunately cut short. After noting hidden Immunity Idols would be in play upon their arrival at camp, Jeff placed each returning castaway on an already-established tribe of newbies.

Jeff revealed Russell was on the Matsing tribe -- wearing blue -- which also consisted of Zane; Malcolm Freberg, a 25-year-old bartender from Hermosa Beach, CA; Angie Layton, a 20-year-old student from Provo, UT; "Roxy" Roxanne Morris, a 28-year-old seminary student from Brooklyn, NY; and Denise Stapley, a 41-year-old sex therapist from Cedar Rapids, IA.

Michael was told he'd wear yellow and compete with the Tandang tribe -- which also featured Abi-Maria Gomes, a 32-year-old business student from Los Angeles, CA; "RC" Roberta Saint-Amour, a 27-year-old investment banker from New York, NY; Artis Silvester, a 53-year-old computer engineer from Terry Town, LA; Lisa Whelchel, a 49-year-old former actress from Dallas, TX; and "Pete" Peter Yurkowski, a 24-year-old engineering graduate from Holmdel, NJ.

Jonathan was placed on the Kalabaw tribe -- wearing red -- which also consisted of Sarah Dawson, a 28-year-old insurance saleswoman from Silver Spring, MD; Katie Hanson, a 22-year-old former Miss Delaware from Newark, NJ; Jeff Kent, a 44-year-old retired baseball player from Austin, TX; Dana Lambert, a 32-year-old cosmetologist from Winston-Salem, NC; and Carter Williams, a 24-year-old track coach from Shawnee, KS.

While still on the boat, Jeff then explained that the castaways would have 60 seconds to grab as many supplies as they could and transport them onto their given tribe's raft in the water to eventually paddle to the beach. The three tribes hustled to gather as many products and as much food as they could, but some items were left behind because time ran out or fell into the water because it was tough to keep them all steady on the rafts.

Kalabaw tribe member Jeff apparently got his leg stuck in the raft and then it flipped over. He had prior knee surgeries and claimed his ligament was killing him. Jeff worried he was hurt and may have to be medically evacuated like those players who had returned to compete against him this season. Once on the beach, he tried to play it off as if he wasn't injured because he didn't want to become a target so early on.

Later on, all three tribes tried to get settled in at camp and began taking care of necessities such as creating fire, finding water and building shelter. Over at Matsing's camp, Russell revealed to cameras his strategy.

"I'm thrilled to be here again. I feel blessed. The last time I played this game, I was in a leadership role. But this time, the whole leadership aint going to happen. I don't care what they do. They can vote for a chief, they can vote for two chiefs, they can vote for a high supreme -- whatever it is, I'm not going to be it," Russell said.

"My plan is to feel them out and if the leadership thing comes up, I'll throw it at the guy who doesn't realize leadership is a good thing. Because there's always some guy who's an idiot... and just watch him [as the leader] crash and burn. Dummy."

However, Russell quickly fell into the role he had planned on avoiding. He started barking commands at people and telling everyone how to do things a certain way. Members of his tribe were noticing he'd say things like, "Take a five minute break," and, "Go drink some water," and they were getting annoyed with him.

Malcolm questioned what to do with Russell since the returning castaway was trying to take charge so early on. Malcolm and Russell tried to produce fire together, and within the first 45 minutes, Russell got it going. Although Malcolm -- who had spent time in Micronesia and seemed to know a thing or two about surviving in the wild -- helped him, he was glad Russell could take credit for being a skilled, strong player so the castaways wouldn't put a target on his own back.

Meanwhile, Jonathan over at the Kalabaw tribe's camp was grateful and thrilled to have another opportunity at playing Survivor. Jeff planned to use Jonathan's survival skills and knowledge at first to get the castaways started down the right path but wanted to eliminate him as soon as possible. Jeff hoped to set up a scenario where a Survivor newbie would definitely end up winning the game, and he shared his theory with most of his tribemates.

"Not than Jonathan's not a good guy, but just because of the mere fact he's a returning third-time player, I think he's had his time and I think that I'd like to see one of us win it if it's possible. So he's out as soon as we can get him out," Dan said.

Jeff, a retired professional baseball player, knew he didn't need the million dollars but still wanted to become the sole Survivor. Although he tried to keep his former career a secret from his tribe so the information couldn't be used against him, Dawson was well aware of whom he was and was ready to share the news with her tribe when it could become valuable for her.

In the meantime, Michael on the Tandang tribe was trying to figure out what strategy would be best for his own game on Day 1.

"When I look around at the three tribes, my tribe is the one I would've picked. I think we have a really good mix of brains and brawn and there's a lot of people that maybe you should never play again, because now, you're opening yourself up to the legend of what I was to what I am today. So it's a huge risk, but it's what drives me," Michael explained.

RC told Abi-Maria she was an executive assistant rather than a banker, and the two girls quickly became allies and friends. Abi-Maria was really excited for their pact, but RC seemed to think Abi-Maria was expendable and she'd be willing to turn on her whenever necessary.

The two girls then added Michael and Pete to the mix, making their twosome a foursome alliance. Michael felt the need to move at the pace his tribe was moving, and since they seemed to be moving quickly, he thought it would be best to get it in good with the young people in his tribe.

Lisa was trying to connect with each person one-on-one. She worried she may not be able to win Survivor if she revealed the fact she had been a young television star on The Facts of Life, because people would probably assume she had money when she actually had lost it all.

However, RC saw right through Lisa's kindness and told Michael she was a smart player who could not be trusted or underestimated. While RC was beginning to work against Lisa, Michael was secretly in favor of keeping Lisa around because they were of a similar age and naturally got along nicely.

Meanwhile, on Day 2, Denise and Zane on the Matsing tribe formed an alliance and started to get to know each other better. However, Zane's goal was to form an alliance with every single member on his tribe -- working his way from Denise to Roxy and then Angie. He then tried to get on Russell and Malcolm's good graces, saying it'd be smart to form an alliance of three strong men.

Zane then revealed to Russell and Malcolm he had made an alliance with all the girls and could use those relationships in the male alliance's favor. But Zane's wishy-washy strategy was a red flag in Malcolm's mind, so Malcolm immediately addressed his concerns with Denise and the two determined Zane was all over the place. Malcolm thought Denise's profession as a therapist made her a good person to scheme with and a potential strong ally. In turn, Denise saw positive qualities in Malcolm.

"I just had this gut instinct about Malcolm. He's young but he's wise, and instantly, we just clicked... As long as my alliance with Malcolm holds true, I'm good!" Denise explained.

Both Denise and Malcolm agreed they didn't want to be "sitting under Russell's shadow for long."

While castaways were talking and working, Russell found the hidden Immunity Idol clue in his tribe's bag of rice. He told Zane he wasn't looking for the Idol, but Zane immediately felt like Russell was lying and untrustworthy. Zane noted that Russell was the only player he was worried about.

"[Russell's] so calm and so charismatic, it just makes me kind of believe that he's already got it. And so, if we're going to lose the first challenge, we're going to get rid of Russell," Zane said.

Around the same time, Jonathan found his Kalabaw's hidden Immunity Idol clue in their bag of rice as well. Katie thought Jonathan's move to look for the idol right away made him a dangerous player in that his goal wasn't a unified tribe.

The following day, on Day 3, the castaways met Jeff Probst and he explained the rules to what would be their first Immunity Challenge.

The tribe members learned that each tribe would be divided into pairs. The first pair would be tied together and required to race in the jungle, climb up a cargo net and then release two paddles. The next pair would use those paddles to race a boat out to the buoys, where they must dive down, release a chest, and then swim the heavy chest back to shore. The final pair was instructed to open that chest, and then finally, use the pieces inside to solve a puzzle.

The winning tribe would win the Immunity Idol. The second-place tribe would win immunity as well, whereas the tribe to finish the challenge in third place would be sent to Tribal Council that night to vote someone out of their tribe and out of the game. In addition, the first-place tribe would receive a complete fire-making kit, while the second-place tribe would earn a just as useful but not so efficient flint to make their fire. The tribe to finish in third would get no sort of reward.

In the end, Kalabaw won and Tandang came in second place. Matsing's loss weighed heavily upon Russell's shoulders because he had dictated which position or role each castaway was going to play in the challenge. Angie, who had to complete the puzzle, was frustrated because she had warned Russell she wasn't any good at puzzle solving but was forced to do it anyway.

After the Immunity Challenge, Matsing returned to their camp and Zane came up with a plan he had considered to be brilliant. Zane took responsibility for his tribe's loss and told everyone he'd understand if they voted him out and he wouldn't mind going home.

"My whole reason why I'm throwing my neck on the chopping block is to establish that I'm running the game. This whole rouge that I just threw on was just to feel out my tribe to figure out exactly how I need to work things. So hopefully, everybody loves me to the point to where they would rather have me as a hindrance than to keep Russell. I took my shot and I'm playing chess the best way I know how. Hopefully, I'ma king me," Zane told the cameras.

Russell then told Roxy and Angie it was going to be Zane going home. Angie wanted to see Russell get eliminated instead of Zane because she thought Zane was nice, funny and a good guy. Therefore, she told Zane to blindside Russell with her and also begged Malcolm to vote with her as well.

Malcolm thought Russell had the muscle and the hidden Immunity Idol while Zane was carrying the tribe down as a weak leak -- who claimed he didn't even really want to be there. Denise considered the fact having a weak player on their tribe was a bad move, and therefore, maybe Zane should be the one to go.

However, all along, Zane thought he had tricked his tribe into thinking he wanted to go home when he really didn't. He thought he had the power and that his tribemates would sympathize with him and keep him around as a result because he wouldn't be seen as much of a threat going forward.

Meanwhile, Russell acknowledged he had made a mistake in getting into "chief mode" too early. He realized trying to be a leader too soon can kill your game, so he worried he may get voted out of the tribe.

That night, Survivor: Philippines' six members of the Matsing tribe arrived for their first Tribal Council session -- the first session of the season overall.

Russell announced his "huge mistake" of becoming a dictator right away, and he told everyone he was wrong and wouldn't be completely shocked if his tribe eliminated him. However, Russell declared that being the first person voted off Survivor would be a "dagger in the heart." Roxy and Angie agreed Russell had acted out of line, but Russell kept insisting how badly he wanted to stay.

Denise then made a point that the tribemates could either blame Russell's leadership or their own weaknesses for the challenge loss. She said they could place their blame on either side of the fence, which would ultimately eliminate a weak player in Zane or a controlling leader in Russell.

Jeff Probst then revealed the votes. Four people had voted to oust Zane from Survivor: Philippines, while Zane had voted to eliminate Russell. The last vote, which was not shown to the castaways, was also for Zane.

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