In case you hadn’t heard the news, maybe you weren’t paying attention, or like me, had no idea the show was even still on television, last night, Marlins President and noted garden gnome, David Samson, began his journey as a contestant on the newest season of Survivor: Cagayan. Like Big Brother, Survivor is somehow inexplicably in its 4,230,826th season, despite the fact that everyone stopped watching a decade ago. In another four years, Survivor will be heading off to college.
When Jeff Probst began his career as the host of the reality show, he looked like this. Now, he looks like this. How is this something we constantly allow to happen on television? I feel like we’ll be having this same conversation about Patrick Dempsey when Grey’s Anatomy is still on in 2023.
Anyway, it’s worth noting that I haven’t watched an episode of Survivor in, well, basically, ever. Not a single one. I know that the object of the show is to be the last remaining contestant, but I have no Earthly idea how one would go about doing such a thing. Apparently, a lot of the game centers around being extremely sneaky, forming alliances, and then using those alliances to blame others when things go wrong. To that extent, David Samson should feel right at home.
Samson’s tribe, labeled the Brains Team, consists of six contestants: Spencer, a 21-year-old chess master; Kassansdra, a middle-aged attorney-slash-mom-slash-huge bitch; Garrett, the valedictorian of his high school, who apparently did all of his studying while bench pressing the entire student body; J’Tia, a comically inept nuclear engineer; and Latasha, a generic black woman you won’t know exists for the first 58 minutes of the season premiere.
The Brains Team arrives by helicopter. David Samson, apparently unaware that he’s about to be on an island for forty days, elects to dress in his best bar mitzvah attire — khaki pants and a blue dress shirt with a black jacket. Yes, David Samson wore a jacket. To Survivor.
There are also two other teams, a Brawn Team and a Beauty Team, but there’s literally nothing interesting about either of them, except for former Portland Trailblazer Cliff Robinson, and Morgan. More on Morgan in a minute.
With all three tribes now standing on the beach, Survivor host Jeff Probst assigns the teams their first task: select a leader. Knowing nothing about any of their teammates, the Brains Team immediately huddles together and chooses David Samson to lead them to victory. (Stop laughing.) His decision to be stranded on a remote island dressed like middle management has already been rewarded.
Kassandra, who doesn’t seem entirely convinced that her tribe made the right decision, makes a remark about not trusting a man in a suit, to which David Samson eventually retorts, “Just for the record, the jacket doesn’t match the pants, so it’s not a suit.” Which is one of those sneaky David Samson sleight-of-hand distinctions, like:
It’s not a fire sale.
We’re not cutting payroll.
We have no intention of trading Jose Reyes.
The leaders of each tribe are then tasked with choosing one player from their respective teams whom they feel is the weakest link. Samson chooses Garrett, the strongest and seemingly most athletic contestant on a team of nerds. This is probably a sound strategy on Day 23 of Survivor, but when your first move on the first day is to get rid of the guy who clearly poses the biggest threat to you, you just wind up looking like a huge a-hole. In a shocking twist, though, the three contestants chosen as the weakest link are whisked away to another portion of the island, where they’re given a head start on setting up camp, finding Immunity Idols and plotting their teammates ultimate demise. A fine start to the competition by David Samson.
Garrett, not-so-silently furious with the Marlins president now, finds the Immunity Idol and more or less vows to crush David Samson’s soul. We’re ten minutes into the season premiere and Samson has already managed to make a terrible decision and piss off his best player. Sometimes these jokes, they write themselves.
Back to Morgan for a minute. While Garrett is out looking for his idol, so too is Morgan, who was also deemed by her tribe to be completely useless. This, we find out, is hogwash, as the cameras catch Morgan searching for the Immunity Idol…in a bikini. Morgan in a bikini might be the least useless thing known to man. In fact, I can think of roughly thirteen things off the top of my head that Morgan in a bikini would be useful for. Morgan in a bikini is easily the deadliest contestant on the show. Bless the producers of Survivor for hiding important items in the water. But I digress…
The Brains Team now meets back up with Garrett and decides to build a shelter. Unable to secure funding for a new shelter, David Samson turns to J’Tia, the nuclear engineer who may or may not have lied on her Survivor application because, I mean, Jesus H. Christ, her wooden sticks keep falling apart. It’s a disaster. As we head into commercial break, we see that the shelter is in pieces and that the city of Miami is somehow on the hook for the entire bill.
Now comes the first official challenge. It involves treasure chests (one of Samson’s favorite things!), wooden carts and puzzle pieces. I’d describe the object of the game to you, but the details aren’t nearly as important as these bullet points:
• The winner of the challenge receives an Immunity Idol, which looks like some bizarre monkey totem pole. David Samson’s eyes light up at the thought of winning this challenge and immediately turning the idol into a new home run sculpture.
• Samson opts for a more business casual look this time around, discarding his jacket and pants, leaving him to compete in only an oversized dress shirt and underwear. The look could best be described as Risky Business meets your nightmares.
• Within a minute, it’s clear that Team Brains is actually Team Dysfunction. They’re in dead last, their cart is a wreck, and they can’t stop dropping the treasure chest and having to pick up the puzzle pieces that keep spilling out. It’s exactly like watching any Marlins season over the last ten years.
• Jeff Probst is actively trolling Samson’s team now, making constant references to being in last place and calling it “one of the worst performances in the history of Survivor.” I don’t even know if Probst knows other teams are competing. He’s having way too much fun making fun of Team Dumpster Fire.
After the challenge, David Samson puts on his best David Samson face and begins trying to convince Kassandra that J’Tia is to blame, despite the overwhelming evidence that everything Samson touches, anywhere in life, immediately turns to poo.
Fast forward to the Tribal Council, where it begins raining on the contestants. Somehow David Samson manages to make it through this embarrassing ordeal without threatening to move the whole show to a new location or commissioning J’Tia to build a retractable roof over the hut. A noble act of restraint by the Marlins president.
Now it’s time to choose who goes home. The logical choices are J’Tia (incompetent) and David Samson (insufferable). Before casting his vote, Samson looks right into the camera, holds up a paper with J’Tia’s name on it and whispers, “In the real world I may hire you, but in this world, not tonight.” Yes, you read that correctly. In the real world, the president of the Miami Marlins would hire the nuclear engineer who couldn’t figure out how to make sticks and leaves stay together. This is how things like John Buck and Heath Bell happen.
After some overly-dramatic music, the final votes are cast and the first person voted off of Survivor: Cagayan is…
Cocky from the start, woefully outmatched throughout, and sneaky till the very end, you couldn’t write a more perfect script for the man who helped ruin baseball in South Florida. Before he disappears from the lives of most Americans forever, he leaves them with these words:
“No hard feelings. I consider myself the luckiest man in the world.”
I’ll admit, it would’ve been a privilege to write more of these recaps for you, but ultimately, the joy I get seeing David Samson fail miserably once a week is far surpassed by the joy I’ll get from never having to watch Survivor again. No, David, because of that, I consider myself the luckiest man in the world. My only regret is that, in the end, they chose to put your torch out instead of lighting you on fire with it.