When we first found out about Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, our expectations were admittedly pretty low. After all, how could a season filled with new players possibly compare to the non-stop drama and excitement we watched unfold in recent seasons like Second Chance and Game Changers, when some of our all-time favorite castaways returned to the game?! That's why we're incredibly surprised to find ourselves absolutely loving this season so far—it's got all of the makings of a classic already, from advantage discoveries and showmances to paranoia and shocking blindsides. It might be a bit early to call Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers the perfect season, but here are some reasons we have loved every second of it so far!
15 The discovery of a Super Idol
Over the past few years, CBS has slipped more idols and secret advantages into the game than ever before. Some Survivor purists have hated this recent trend, but we love it when an advantage changes the game and forces the castaways to stay on their toes and truly outwit, outplay and outlast their opponents. That's why we absolutely freaked out when Ryan discovered a secret advantage in the very first challenge of this season, while everyone else was focusing on getting food off of the ship and heading to shore! The advantage turned out to be a Super Idol that could only be played at the very first tribal council. He didn't end up needing to use it for himself, but he gifted it to Chrissy after seeing her throw up in the immunity challenge, hoping she'd use it to eliminate a threat like JP or Alan. That's clever gameplay, and we love that it happened in the very first episode!
14 Ashley and JP's adorable "no-mance"
Showmances are a huge part of CBS' other popular reality series Big Brother, but they're often discouraged on Survivor because being in a relationship with another castaway puts a huge target on your back. Ashley and JP knew that, but it didn't stop them from hitting it off from the second they met. They two have had to downplay their attraction to each other, but Ashley has confessed that "JP is becoming dreamier and dreamier as the days go on" and JP stated that "if we're going to be treated like a couple, I may as well get some damn benefits!" We totally agree with him there, and hope that these two finally get a chance to sneak off and hook up after the merge.
13 Alan's paranoia and JP's resulting strip-down
Alan was a hot mess from the very first second he stepped on the island. He, Ben, JP and Ashley could have been a solid power alliance... but he was just way too paranoid to work with anyone. He harassed JP and Ashley by repeatedly calling them a "power couple," and repeatedly accused JP of having an idol (even though it shouldn't have been a problem if he did have one, since they were supposed to be working together). To finally get him to shut up and calm down, JP took him out in the middle of the night and stripped down to prove that he didn't have the idol and could therefore be trusted. Unfortunately, not even spreading his naked buttcheeks was enough to help JP earn Alan's trust. He was a lost cause, and that level of extreme paranoia makes for great television.
12 Simone's proud aqua dump
We always knew that castaways relieved themselves in the ocean behind the scenes of Survivor, but CBS understandably never put too much of a focus on this awkward truth. That is, until Simone came around and couldn't stop celebrating her successful aqua dump! When she took part in this Survivor ritual, she started cheering for herself and called it her "biggest milestone." There's nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments, but Simone reminded her teammates a few too many times that she was an absolute ditz who simply couldn't hack it in nature. When it came time for the Hustler tribe to vote one of their own out of the game, it was way too easy for them to simply eliminate the girl who could barely poop without throwing herself a party—she clearly wasn't ever going to be any use in a competition. Simone may not have been good at the game, but at least she can say she made all of America crack up over her newfound ability to poop in the ocean!
11 Cole and Jessica's love connection
Since Ashley and JP's relationship was cut short because of Alan's claims that they were a "power couple" which needs to be split up, we were desperate for a new showmance to root for this season... and Cole and Jessica definitely delivered! Even though Cole freaked out that Jessica is 30 (which, as we all know, is basically 75 in reality television years), he called her "super cute" and said "I could see myself with her." It turns out that Jessica is super religious and a virgin, but that didn't stop her from planting a kiss on Cole after only a few days of knowing him. Cole unfortunately keeps saying and doing dumb stuff that threatens to make Jessica realize that he's nothing but a pretty face and a perfectly toned body, but we're still rooting for these two.
10 Joe and Cole's idol hunt
Joe is basically the Survivor lovechild of Russell Hantz and Tony Vlachos. He isn't afraid to speak his mind and make accusations against his teammates, and he's shockingly good at finding the idols he just accused other people of already having. Joe found a clue to his camp's idol all on his own, but after he couldn't figure the clue out, he turned to Cole for help. Cole had virtually no reason to help him (and probably should have played dumb and pretended to not understand the clue either so he could go find it on his own later on), but Joe's power of persuasion led to Cole telling him exactly where the idol is hidden and helping him dig it up. Is Joe that good, or is Cole just that dumb?
9 Patrick was that obnoxious guy at every frat party
You know the obnoxiously loud guy at every frat party that somehow always ends up taking off his shirt and putting a lampshade on his head? That's Patrick. The red-headed Hustler's idea of intelligent social gameplay was being the center of attention at all times—if you make people laugh, they'll never vote you off the island, right? Sadly, obnoxious attention-seekers are always only good for a few laughs before the appeal wears off and they become annoying. We all totally sided with Lauren as she openly rolled her eyes and groaned every time Patrick opened his mouth back at camp. He was an amusing character, but we probably would have grown to hate him as much as she clearly did if he stayed on the island any longer.
8 Ryan has been giving off some serious Cochran vibes
Basically any time a nerd makes his way onto Survivor, fans compare him with the legendary winner of Survivor: Caramoan, John Cochran. In Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, we might finally have a nerd who is worthy of that comparison! Ryan's immediate and fairly surprising partnership with Devon proved that he's a solid social gamer, and his difficulty deciding whether to vote out Patrick or Simone proved that he's got a strong grasp of the strategic aspect of Survivor. While some members of the Hustlers tribe were able to pick which of those two to eliminate in a matter of seconds, Ryan noted that "predictability is the best thing I can have in an alliance member,” so voting the unpredictable Patrick out before Simone might be the better move despite Patrick being stronger in competitions. That is definitely a Cochran way of thinking!
7 Project Runway, courtesy of Simone
Survivor castaways are only really allowed to bring one or two changes of outfits, so when an eliminated player leaves an article of clothing behind, it's pretty much like Christmas for the people still in the game. Despite knowing that she was on the chopping block the night she was eliminated at tribal council, Simone left all of her clothes behind at camp, allowing the people who voted her out to jump on all of her belongings the following morning. This unusual blunder led to one of the funniest scenes ever, as Ryan and Patrick of all people tried on her pink pantsuit and knee-high boots. We couldn't stop laughing when Ryan savagely commented during the impromptu fashion show that "finally Simone is showing her worth in some capacity."
6 Cole's hilarious inability to keep his mouth shut
When we aren't busy staring at Cole's ridiculously large muscles and perfect smile, we're screaming at him for being one of the dumbest castaways in recent memory. That boy just can't seem to keep his mouth shut! Virtually any time he has a secret to keep, he runs around telling it to everyone he can find. Cole knew all about Joe's idol (because he bizarrely helped him find it), and instead of using that knowledge to make a big move, he told Jessica, Roark and Desi about it! Jessica we can understand because he had a bit of a crush on her (and telling her did earn him a kiss), but the other two? Come on! He needs to be careful, because good looks can only get him so far if his social gameplay sucks this badly.
5 Patrick proved that you should never put the team on your back
There are some definite pros and cons when it comes to putting a whole team on your back in Survivor. If you single-handedly win a competition for your team, you earn them safety and they may feel inclined to return the favor later in the game. If you do everything on your own and you lose them a competition, however, the fault lies solely on your shoulders and you become an easy target for elimination at tribal council. Patrick seriously pissed Lauren off by being the only one to throw bags at the blocks in an immunity challenge, because she played centerfield for 25 years and could have been a huge asset in that particular challenge. If he had given her a shot and she'd failed, he could have made an argument to stay in the game over her. But he didn't, so he couldn't. Take notes, future castaways!
4 Patrick's complete, emotional blindside
If you ever want to know how not to play Survivor, just rewatch Patrick's experience on the show. Trying so hard to be liked made everyone hate him, and trying so hard to dominate competitions made it his fault when his tribe lost. Oh, and when it came time for his team to go to the second tribal in a row, he went in with way too much confidence and allowed himself to get completely blindsided! For several seconds after Jeff Probst revealed he was eliminated with a unanimous vote, he sat there in awkward silence vefore eventually declaring "you guys are awful" to the rest of his tribe. If that wasn't embarrassing enough, he then proceeded to stare all of them down for several seconds before finally vacating the premises. It was a humiliating display, but it made for some great TV!
3 Cole spilled the beans AGAIN
Just when we were finally getting over Cole's horrible moves of helping Joe find an idol and then telling everyone within earshot of it, he went and did something even dumber. Jessica told him that she'd found a secret advantage that'd allow her to take away someone's ability to vote at tribal, and he immediately ran off and told his two new tribemates, Lauren and Ben. He called Jessica's secret his "olive branch" that he could extend to others in hopes of them seeing him as more trustworthy... but in reality, all it really did was make his former Healer tribemates realize that there's no way they can trust him with sensitive information ever again! We're almost impressed by how brutal Cole has been sabotaging his own game so far, and we're looking forward to seeing him continue to self-destruct.
2 The introduction of disadvantages in Survivor
Big Brother fans are all too familiar with the idea that not all twists help the people who find them. Just this past season, the Tree of Temptation threatened to either reward or dramatically punish the BB houseguests that tried to take advantage of that twist. We've yet to really see anything like that happen on Survivor—until now! Devon played the advantage given to him by Jessica at tribal council thinking that it would help his game in some way, but when he did, Jeff revealed that he was no longer able to vote in that tribal. Will this huge development lead future castaways to not use their advantages or idols in fear of those supposed rewards coming with some negative consequences?! We can't wait to find out!
1 Joe's perfect use of an idol
While Survivor fans are split over whether or not they like the increase in idols and advantages added to the game in recent years, there's one thing every lover of the series can agree on—there's nothing more satisfying than when an immunity idol is used correctly! Joe did everything he could back at camp to make sure that all of the votes would be on him at tribal, instead of Desi. He came on a bit too strong and made it fairly obvious that he had an idol (especially after he stated "you all may be surprised tonight, I guarantee you that"), but in the end, he successfully made Jessica and Alan throw their votes his way so he could play his idol on himself and ensure Alan's elimination. Well played!