'Survivor: South Pacific' votes Semhar Tadesse to Redemption Island
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/15/2011
Survivor: South Pacific's Savaii tribe voted Semhar Tadesse, a 24-year-old spoken word artist from Los Angeles, CA, out of their tribe during Wednesday night's premiere of the CBS reality series' 23rd edition.
After being voted out at the season's first Tribal Council session, Semhar was taken -- courtesy of the season's game-changing twist -- to Redemption Island, where she will live alone in exile and battle subsequent eliminees in an attempt to eventually earn the right to rejoin the competition and resume competing forSurvivor: South Pacific's million dollar prize.
"If you lose your duel you will be out of the game and thus leave Redemption Island," Semhar read on a sign upon arriving at Redemption Island.
"That sucks," she said afterwards. "I'm not even so upset that I was sent here, I'm more upset that my tribe members lied to me -- shows me how fake they are. I don't understand how people can be so cold-hearted."
Survivor: South Pacific's premiere broadcast began with the season's 16 first-time castaways arriving on the beach already divided into two tribes.
The Upolu tribe -- wearing blue -- consisted of Sophie Clarke, a 22-year-old medical student from Willsboro, NY; Albert Destrade, a 26-year-old "baseball/dating coach" from Plantation, FL; Brandon Hantz, a 19-year-old oil tanker crewman from Katy, TX; Edna Ma, a 35-year-old anesthesiologist from Los Angeles, CA; Christine Shields Markoski, a 39-year-old teacher from Merrick, NY; Rick Nelson, a 51-year-old rancher from Aurora, UT; Stacey Powell, a 44-year-old mortician from Dallas, TX; and Mikayla Wingle, a 22-year-old model and Lingerie Football League player from Tampa, FL.
The Savaii tribe -- wearing red -- consisted of Mark Caruso, a 48-year-old retired NYPD detective from Forest Hills, NY; John Cochran, a 24-year-old Harvard Law School student from Washington, DC; Whitney Duncan, a 27-year-old country singer and former Nashville Star finalist from Nashville, TN; Dawn Meehan, a 41-year-old English professor from South Jordan, UT; Jim Rice, a 35-year-old medical marijuana dispenser from Denver, CO; Semhar; Keith Tollefson, a 26-year-old water treatment tech from Edina, MN; and Elyse Umemoto, a 27-year-old dance team manager and former Miss Washington from Las Vegas, NV.
Once on the beach, host Jeff Probst explained to the castaways there would be two returning Survivor players joining them: formerSurvivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Micronesia-- Fans vs. Favorites castaway Ozzy Lusth, a 30-year-old currently residing in Venice, CA, and former Survivor: Tocantins andSurvivor: Heroes vs. Villains castaway Benjamin "Coach" Wade, a 39-year-old currently residing in Susanville, CA.
Ozzy ended up on the Savaii tribe through a luck of the draw, while Coach was randomly forced to join the Upolu tribe.
The 16 other castaways gave both Ozzy and Coach a fairly warm welcome, but Ozzy's was more sincere and obvious because many of them knew he was skilled at fishing, could climb quickly and easily and was very athletic all around. Coach's return sparked a bit more of a mixed reaction from the castaways, as it was clear they would rather have Ozzy on their side than the "villain" playing with them.
Jeff then continued to explain that like last season, a castaway would not be completely eliminated from the game when they were voted out at Tribal Council, but rather would end up at Redemption Island, where the tribemate would live alone off of the same basic supplies their fellow castaways had back at camp.
However, the member must must be responsible for taking care of him or herself, make fire singlehandedly, and hunt for food. Then, when the next tribemate arrives at Redemption Island, the two castaways would square off in a duel. The winner would stay, but the loser would be out of the game for good. At a certain point in the game, the person left on Redemption Island would be allowed to return to camp and fight for the money.
Afterward, Jeff also told the castaways they would be competing in their very first challenge but only Ozzy and Coach would participate in the competition as a battle between "heroes." Jeff then explained Ozzy and Coach would be required to climb to the top of a 12-foot pole, retrieve a wooden turtle, and then dig a large hole in the sand so they could fit their bodies in it to crawl under a log.
The castaways would then have to transfer a pyramid puzzle across a series of tables to the third table, moving only one piece at a time and always moving smaller pieces on top of larger pieces. The first person to transfer his entire puzzle to the third table and place his turtle on the top of the pyramid would win a reward for their tribe -- a bag of taro roots, a tropical vegetable similar to the potato, and a flint to start a fire.
The puzzled proved to be extremely complicated, so Ozzy and Coach sought help from their own tribe members. After a good effort from both sides and a lot of team work, Ozzy managed to pull ahead, finish the puzzle and claim reward for his tribe.
Following the Reward Challenge, Coach was afraid he would eventually be the first person to be sent to Redemption Island because he had not come through for his tribe when they needed him and expected him to.
Both tribes then received their maps and embarked to their locations of camp. Once they arrived, the Savaii tribe got to know each other and -- following a suggestion made by Ozzy -- relaxed and went swimming rather than begin to set up camp. The castaways all looked to Ozzy for instruction, guidance and leadership.
Meanwhile, the Upolu tribe began building their shelter immediately. Coach, wanting to rid himself of the target he believed to already be on his back, declared to his tribe that he should not be viewed as a threat at all. He tried to get on everyone's good side and then started to think strategy.
Coach admitted he had it out for Christine, selecting her as his target No. 1 target because when he originally arrived on the beach alongside Ozzy, she bluntly labeled them "temporary players." Christine's comment rubbed him the wrong way and he apparently wouldn't stand for being insulted or not taken seriously as a player.
While the Savaii camp finally began to build their shelter, Coach over at the Upolu camp began to build an alliance. He had a group of five with him and claimed a strong five would be impossible to crack during the game. The other four members, who agreed with his argument, followed along and Coach thought he was "sitting pretty" at the end of the day even though he seemed to be on the chopping block immediately after the challenge he lost.
Coach revealed he was ready to strategize but was not trying to play sneaky.
On Day 2, Dawn started to cry because she already felt tired, was emotionally drained and told her fellow castaways she was "spent." She began to worry she would be the first one to go if her Savaii tribe lost the Immunity Challenge because she was having an emotional breakdown.
However, Mark -- who was closest to her in age -- told her he wanted her to stay strong because they were the two oldest castaways and he felt it was important they should stick together. In addition, Ozzy convinced her to change her mindset and fight. He felt it was all about harnessing her inner strength and overcoming the elements.
"Whatever I can do to calm her down, it's my job at this point. I am the anchor. If she can get out of her head and start to trust me, she might be a very, very crucial and important ally. But if Dawn doesn't get it together, she very well could be going home," Ozzy said.
On Day 3, while Ozzy was worried about keeping his tribe strong and John -- who asked everyone to call him by his last name Cochran -- was hoping his sense of humor would convince people to keep him in the game, Upolu's tribe member Brandon -- who is the nephew of former Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains castaway Russell Hantz -- was concerned about keeping his identity a secret and providing for his tribe in order to not become a target.
The castaways then met Jeff and he explained the rules to what would be their first Immunity Challenge. The tribe members learned each tribe would race through zig-zagging pathways and a web of coconuts and then work together to get all tribe members up and over a 10-foot wall. One tribe member from each side would then dig to retrieve a machete and use it to chop a series of ropes, releasing a bin of coconuts. Afterward, each tribe would select three of its members to then shoot coconuts into their basket.
The first tribe to get enough coconuts into their basket to raise their flag would win immunity and be safe from elimination, while the other losing tribe would have to vote someone out -- who would then be sent to Redemption Island.
In addition to winning immunity, the tribe to complete the obstacle course first would receive one clue to the location of a hidden Immunity Idol. If Upolu won, they would also receive a flint.
After what Jeff labeled to be one of the closest challenges he'd ever seen, Upolu won the Immunity Challenge. Savaii lost by only one coconut, but Semhar was seemingly responsible for her tribe's loss because she opted to shoot the coconuts and failed at the task.
"I'm shocked. Two baskets and she wants a sub!? It's not tag-team wrestling. It's Survivor. She chose to do it. She was adamant about what she wanted to do and she failed. There's no reason to keep her around," Jim said following the challenge.
Once both tribes returned to camp, Upolu's tribe members fiercely started looking around for the hidden Immunity Idol, while Savaii was very upset about their first big loss.
Semhar, upset over how Jim had reacted at the challenge by making faces behind her back, confronted him and said he didn't need to beat her when she was already down. She claimed she felt horrible about losing the challenge and didn't need him to run anything in. While Jim assured her he just simply rolled his eyes, he tried to brush off the argument as to not start too much drama.
Semhar's outburst then put a target on her back, and Mark believed she should be the one to be voted off. All the castaways on the Savaii tribe then started to talk strategy to figure out who should go. Ozzy suggested Cochran was not athletic and would probably not help them in challenges, but he acknowledged how Semhar had blown the challenge for them.
However, Ozzy was pretty adamant about keeping Semhar around over Cochran, and his motives were confusing Jim.
"Semhar knows that she's on the chopping block tonight. Here's my concern. Ozzy wants her around for a reason and it's round one. It scares me that he already has a reason to keep her around. I'm concerned that Ozzy might get in an alliance with all the girls. He's got charm. I could see that happening," Jim said.
"But Semhar is pretty much useless. Her body is mesmerizing but it's not hypnotizing, and it blows my mind that Ozzy might be actually factoring in that snuggle factor in a million-dollar decision."
The decision came down to Semhar and Cochran, and Jim warned Cochran of the strategy everyone was talking. Cochran, who claimed he absolutely adored the game of Survivor and would be crushed if he was voted off at the first Tribal Council, talked to Mark about the game play. Mark assured him he would be fine and not to worry, because if he was in trouble, he'd let him know.
"It's heartbreaking to hear that Ozzy's saying I'm the weakest person and they should get rid of me for that. So, right now, I'm in high-alert paranoia mode. I'm extremely depressed, really. To be the first person kicked off when I'm on a tribe with Big Papa [Mark] and Semhar and all these girls -- it's like insulting," Cochran explained.
"This is a nightmare. It started off as a dream, but it really is a nightmare now. Tribal Council tonight is gonna suck. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm probably going to hear, 'The tribe has spoken,' my torch is going to be snuffed, I'm going to be sent to Redemption Island like an idiot, and it's just a sad conclusion to my Survivor story."
Later on, Survivor: South Pacific's nine castaways on the Savaii tribe arrived for their first Tribal Council.
Jeff began to ask the Savaii tribe questions about their game playing so far, and Jim came out and took a shot at Semhar by saying "good losers are good at losing." Semhar, attempting to save herself, said she was very vocal about her abilities at the challenge but obviously made a mistake because she couldn't handle the task.
Semhar explained she wanted to step up to the plate and try without being scared of failure or being eliminated if she was to failed. Jeff asked Ozzy whether it was more important to have a teammate who was willing to compete and lose or sit back and let others do the work. Ozzy suggested it would be better to have a more outgoing teammate.
Cochran's hesitation on the wall was then discussed as a reason why he might be weak at the challenges. Mark or Papa Bear, told him he needed direction and that might eventually pose a problem. Cochran tried to convince the tribe that after 11 years of being passionate about the game of Survivor, he'd be mortified if he was the first person voted off and would certainly step up his game if saved.
The voting then commenced and Jeff revealed the votes. One castaway voted for Cochran, while five people voted for Semhar. Five votes was enough to constitute for Semhar's elimination, so the other votes were not revealed to the castaways, but the episode's closing credits later showed Semhar was eliminated via a unanimous 8-1 vote.
After revealing the votes, Jeff extinguished Semhar's torch and she was exiled to Redemption Island, where she will attempt to survive while awaiting her competitor for the season's first duel.