Survivor Edge of Extinction: Eric Hafemann is episode 1’s MVP

Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Although the first episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction didn’t give us much in terms of gameplay, Eric stepped up and crushed his preseason persona.

It’s always tough to pick a castaway as the Survivor player of the week after just one episode, not to mention a rushed premiere. The easy option is to go with Joey amazing. He performed well in the challenge like he always does, he started fire in no time and he secured extra food for his tribe as part of an unseen advantage.

However, it was Eric who really surprised us, especially for those who watched his pregame interviews. His personality came across as shy and quiet, which isn’t a good mix for Survivor, reminding us of JP from Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. But it didn’t take long for Eric to shatter that preseason perception of him.

Right away he built a bond with Gavin and expressed his conviction to blindside the returnees. He even displayed his awareness of the game by recognizing the need to keep Joe for a little while, not simply to win challenges as a tribe, but to use him as a shield. If Eric can develop bonds with the rest of the newbies he might have a chance to pull off a big move.

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Eric was also a force in the Immunity Challenge, owning the balance beam and the rope crawl. Although Joe took charge for the slide puzzle, it was Eric who helped their tribe get back on track after they stalled. If Eric can make it to the merge without Joe, I could see him possibly going on an immunity run.

There was also a subtle but interesting conversation in the premiere when Eric was talking to Joe about the theme of this season. Although Joe sounded a little oblivious to it, Eric was quick to pick up that there might be more to it than just a name. This scene demonstrated Eric’s awareness of the game, which might come in handy later in the season.

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It will be interesting to watch how Eric’s game progresses because we’ve seen in the past how targeting returnees tends to backfire. For the first episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction though, Eric proved the critics wrong and displayed solid social, strategic and physical gameplay.