Survivor San Juan Del Sur Recap: Copoya vs. Hunahpu vs. Blood vs. Water

Copoya and Hunahpu compete in the first immunity challenge on Survivor San Juan Del Sur
Survivor San Juan Del Sur (Photo: Monty Brinton / CBS)

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur Episode 1: “Suck it Up and Survive” — It’s Blood vs. Water 2: Electric Boogaloo. You know, if they had access to electricity…

After a surprisingly successful attempt at Blood vs. Water last fall, Survivor has gone back to that well to see if the loved ones edition of the game will actually work out. This time around, Redemption Island has been replaced with Exile Island, so once a player is gone, s/he’s gone.


Like in the last BvW season, there is a Day 0 where each pair is left to fend for themselves. This gives us the opportunity for first impressions:

  • Jaclyn and Jon (dating): She’s a two-time Miss Michigan, he’s a student at Michigan State. When I did my pre-show who’s going to win pick, I knew nothing about the players and decided to go with the most ridiculously spelled name. Go Jaclyn!
  • John and Julie (dating): Where have I seen John before? Julie might be a neat lady, but we don’t find out in this segment.
  • Missy and Baylor (mother/daughter): Missy has been married and divorced a bunch of times, causing Baylor to be more of the mom in the relationship. I think they are trying to rehash the Laura/Ciera dynamic from last time.
  • Drew and Alec (brothers): models from Florida. I doubt we’ll get any more substance than that.
  • Dale and Kelley (father/daughter): Dale is one of the oldest players in the game. It sounds like he and Kelley have had some rough patches in their relationship, but both seem to be easy-going.
  • Josh and Reed (boyfriends): Both of these guys are superfans of the show and have friendly auras about them. Had I done my research I probably would have picked one of them as the eventual winner.
  • Jeremy and Val (married): Jeremy is a firefighter in Boston, Val is a cop. CBS really enjoys the Firecop configuration.
  • Nadiya and Natalie (twin sisters): That collective “ugh” you heard was everyone realizing the Twinnies from The Amazing Race were part of the cast.
  • Keith and Wes (father/son): These guys from Louisiana are the token southerners. Keith, with his Sam Elliott mustache, seems pretty sharp. Wes…bless your heart.

Challenge Arena

Jeff Probst welcomes the players to Survivor: San Juan Del Sur Blood vs Water 2 and also Exile Island but we Couldn’t Fit Everything on the Banner. He gets a status check on the players, starting off with who was able to make fire with the flint provided at the Day 0 basecamps. Most of the pairs could. John and Julie didn’t, another pair didn’t, and Keith and Wes broke their flint. After some light mocking from Probst, we move on to the business of divvying up the loved ones. Probst hands out pairs of wrapped buffs. Here’s how the teams split:

Coyopa (orange): Josh, John, Wes, Nadiya, Val, Dale, Baylor, Jaclyn, Alec

Hunahpu (blue): Jon, Julie, Missy, Drew, Kelley, Reed, Jeremy, Natalie, Keith

The first challenge is for reward. One person from each tribe has to unwind a cord from a 7′ cube and release a ring. The ring is used to lasso one of two carts. Once a cart is pulled back to the mat, the player repeats the process. The winner gets flint and a bag of beans; the loser goes to Exile Island. There’s a rock/paper/scissors match between tribe reps, with Hunahpu winning the first choice of who goes up. Jeremy volunteers, which means his opponent will be…Val. Wah wah.

The challenge is more in the wheelhouse of a firefighter than a cop, what with the hoisting of yourself over the top of the cube to untangle the cord. Val puts up a good fight, but Jeremy wins the challenge. He’s not celebrating his wife missing out on the first few days of the game. As a “bonus,” Jeremy also gets to send one of his tribemates to Exile. “Win” has a rather loose definition this season. Jeremy sends Keith because he knows he will be able to take care of Val. I only know Val from these first 10 minutes, but she seems pretty capable of taking care of herself. You don’t need to use up all of your infuriating sexism in the first episode, show. 

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About Mike McComb 1001 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: