American Idol tops Survivor: Will Redemption Island save franchise?

Survivor gets a new twist in its 22nd season as castaways will get a second chance at the title of sole survivor. Still, opening opposite American Idol Wednesday night hurt Survivor ratings.

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Host Jeff Probst returns to Nicaragua for the reality television show 'Survivor: Redemption Island.'

In the 22nd season of the reality television show "Survivor," creator Mark Burnett and host Jeff Probst arrive in Nicaragua with 18 castaways for "Survivor: Redemption Island."

Have you ever had a favorite castaway who you thought should have stayed but gets voted off by their peers? What if last season's Parvati and Jane were able to come back and try again? How might they treat those who voted them off?

The idea behind this season's show is to give ousted castaways a second chance. Those voted off will go to Redemption Island, but may return later for another chance at becoming the sole Survivor. This second-life could also change how players approach the game.

Despite a compelling episode, last night's ratings were disappointing. It was the lowest audience rating for an opening night of Survivor, just 11.2 million viewers. Of course, opening opposite American Idol (22.9 million viewers), might have had something to do with that.

[Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen the season premiere and are waiting to catch it on DVR, stop reading now.]

In the season's first episode Wednesday evening, two former castaways from "Heroes vs. Villains" and fan favorites Russell Hantz and "Boston Rob" Mariano, arrive by helicopter to join the 16 new castaways.

The two are welcomed with cheers and groans based on reputations of past season appearances; Russell is sent to go with the purple "Zapatera" team and Rob joins the orange "Ometepe" team.

Push it uphill

Around camp as each team works together to build shelter, Rob and Russell try to take on an immediate leadership role for their individual tribes.

The first immunity challenge "Push it uphill" uses a combination of strength and analytical skills, where each team has to push blocks and assemble puzzle pieces. After a tight race, Zapatera wins and receives the gift of fire. Ometepe goes to the first tribal counsel, to decide who gets voted off and be sent to Redemption Island.

Building Alliances

Around camp, the Ometepe tribe starts to quietly talk, in twos and threes, building alliances and trying to make as few enemies as possible.

Kristina finds the first hidden immunity idol and ponders voting Rob out, as she confides in Francesca. Rob considers voting out Francesca, then switches to Kristina. Or does he?

At counsel, the tribe plan backfires and tension begins.

As it turns out both Kristina and Rob make it through to another day, but not without making some enemies. And Francesca gets voted off and heads to Redemption Island with a final word to her fellow castaways, "don't trust Phillip."

 Was that a good move?

This season looks to be a good one. What do you think?

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