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The 21st edition of Survivor, Survivor: Nicaragua, premiered with two fun twists along with some serious star power. Jimmy Johnson of football fame with the University of Miami and, most notably, the Dallas Cowboys would be joining this season of Survivor. Before anyone has a chance to get to know the famous football coach, the castaways are introduced to the first wrinkle, the Medallion of Power, but not told exactly what power the medallion brings.
The castaways walked to the initial meeting area in groups of ten, presumably their tribes. Before discussing tribes, they are sent on their first challenge - find the Medallion of Power in the adjacent lagoon which will be used to help their tribe. Brenda manages to get the medallion first and is quickly congratulated by her presumed tribemates. However, the second twist is revealed when the castaways are told that they will be divided by age to determine tribes – those over 40 years of age and those under.
With the tribes properly assembled, the young tribe - La Flor, of which Brenda is a part of - are presented with their first decision regarding the Medallion of Power. Use it now to obtain a fire starting kit and fishing gear or save it for potential power to be described later in the game. Whichever decision the tribe makes the older tribe – Espada – will get the other end of the decision. La Flor decides to take the fire and fishing gear leaving the medallion for Espada later in the game.
As the tribes head to their respective camps, Jimmy Johnson’s presence in the game is quickly the first topic of conversation. The older tribe, Espada, are excited to meet the football legend, but he is quick to try and dismiss his celebrity and fit in as any of the other people there for the adventure. He informs the tribe that he doesn’t think he can win the $1M because of his celebrity, but would be happy to help one of his tribe members get to the end and walk away with the title of Sole Survivor.
La Flor take a moment to share their reactions to seeing Jimmy Johnson in the game, but quickly move on to make evaluations about their tribe. Free spirited Jud gets most of the initial attention because of his long, flowing blonde hair and his klutz-like tendencies early in the game. Kelly B. drops her own bomb on the tribe by disclosing her prosthetic right leg and given a round of encouragement from her tribemates.
The initial challenge is for immunity and pits the two teams in a two-part challenge. For the first part, the tribes must orient a series of gutters to get water from the top of a tower into their bucket. When enough water is in the bucket, a set of puzzle pieces will be released for the remaining four tribemates to solve.
From the start of the challenge, NaOnka helps the La Flor tribe by not rushing to pour water down the gutters. La Flor uses the small lead gained from the first part of the challenge to solve the puzzle faster than Espada and win the first immunity challenge.
Faced with tribal council for the first time, Espada wrestles with who to remove from the tribe to improve their chances of winning. Jimmy Johnson tells Holly that he thinks the two weakest members are himself and Wendy, but that Wendy brings less to the table than he does. The tribe reluctantly agree before heading to tribal council and Wendy’s rant at tribal council only makes the decision to vote her out of the game easier.