HOLLYWOOD─I have been waiting, and I mean patiently waiting for the 40th season of “Survivor.” Let’s be clear “Survivor” has not been airing for 40 seasons, but 20 years, with two seasons airing each year, it explains how we’ve reached 40 seasons. However, after two and I mean two dreadful seasons in a row, ‘Edge of Extinction’ and the abysmal ‘Island of Idols’ fans deserve a good season.

So how would “Survivor” celebrate its 40th season? By bringing back 20 winners, yes we have an all winners season and the victor will not only earn the potential to be a two-time winner, actually three if we’re talking about Sandra Twine-Diaz, with a cash prize of $2 million. Yes, $2 million the largest prize in “Survivor” history. I mean we have the best of the best in a general sense, there are a few players who people wanted to see that are not part of the cast looking at you John Cochran, but I mean we have Paravati Shallow, Sandra, Rob Mariano, Kim Spradlin, Tony Vlachos, Ethan Zohn, Amber Mariano, the list goes on.

Of course some names are known to the American public, while others are not, but that makes this fun. We get to see the greatest of the greatest compete against one another, so this will not be a cakewalk. Well at least that is my hope. I’m dreading seeing another outcome similar to season 34 known as ‘Game Changers.’ I mean who wants to see the biggest threats in the game taken out perjury and be left with a bunch of actual players, not Game Changers. Sorry, but there were a lot of people on that season who were NOT game changers, and if we see all the big threats go out perjury, I fear the fandom will not be happy with the outcome of this season.

With that said, we all wanted to know how the players would be divided and who would be playing with whom. This was a loaded episode with so much content it was not 1 hour, but 2 hours and I was living for every single moment. It was a jam packed episode, so let’s begin with our winners declaring war on their opponents. This is epic people; I just can’t believe we’re seeing some of the best of the best playing against each other. Per usual we have two tribes: Dakal and Sele. On Dakal we have Tyson, Sophie, Yul, Wendell, Tony, Sarah, Sandra, Amber, Kim, and Nick. On Sele we have Rob, Ethan, Danni, Natalie, Denise, Adam, Ben, Michele, Jeremy and Parvati.

I like how these tribes are broken up. Finally, we learned about the fire token, which each player started the game with 1 token. If voted out, the contestants must give their fire token to another player still in the game. In addition, the players were told upfront about having a chance to get back into the game with the Edge of Extinction (ugh). The first tribe was a brutal fight where strength would matter greatly. The contestants discovered the first challenge was all about immunity. Yul proved his physical prowess people; he’s a threat, as well as Kim.

Takal won the first challenge sending Sele to Tribal Council. They learned they have an extra night before Tribal Council; this is interesting because it allows plenty of strategy right away. Sandra was worried about her threat level considering she has played with both Tony and Sarah. It looks like Sandra and Tony might be allies. Over on Sele everyone was bonding over their children. Ethan seemed to make it clear that he is here to really play the game, as Denise and Adam started to bond. The fact that they disappeared placed potential targets on their back.

Tony was back to being his true self, but realized looking for idols right away would raise his threat level. Amber was busy searching for an idol to ensure her survival in the game. Yul and Sophie bonded, but considering they’re both a bit of ‘know-it alls’ it makes sense, as they both deduced who were aligned, and who they wanted to eliminate from the game. Tyson and Parvati were aligned and Danni was gathering the troops to target Rob early on in the game.

Ben spilled tea to Rob that he was in danger, and Rob immediately confronted Danni. Um, not certain if that is a good move, but it led to a Danni, Parvati, Ethan and Rob alliance, aiming to target the new school players. Everyone was nervous about being the first person voted out the game. Its utter chaos and I’m loving it. Adam was unraveling at the thought of being a target, but mentioned splitting up Jeremy or Natalie. It was utter chaos people. This first Tribal Council was full of theatrics America, and Adam started tossing out threats beyond himself and Parvati alluded to a potential threat that unnerved Jeremy, Michele and Ben. It did not surprise me to see Natalie be the first person out, after it was teased earlier in the episode.

Jeremy and Michele were speechless at the result, which means a war is about to brew between Jeremy and Boston Rob and I’m all for it. Seeing the arrogance on Parvati and Rob makes it clear that targets on their backs will soon emerge. Natalie gave her fire token to Jeremy before heading to the Edge of Extinction. Fire tokens increase a person’s chances to get back into the game (so that is an interesting development).

Back on Dakal, Yul and Sandra bonded with Sarah. Sandra was livid that Rob lied to her about never playing “Survivor” again and she had an axe to grind with Rob, and targeting his wife Amber. Yul is really playing the game and his foursome including Wendell, Nick and Sophie is powerful. “Survivor” you have totally redeemed yourself after the past two seasons. The strategy in the first hour of this premiere has been epic. Back on Sele, Michele felt blindsided and really wanted to prove herself. Ben started to realize he had to align the new school players to go after the old school players.

Jeremy has 2 fire tokens and wanted to get revenge for his fallen solider. So to have an idol it costs 3 fire tokens, and Natalie started to realize that this game is going to test our contestants in a way like never before. She found an idol that she could sell to any player on the losing tribe for 1 fire token. So ‘Edge’ really impacts the game much more this time around than before. I like this twist people because it’s a game of strategy versus just advantages. So I was speculating rather we’d have two vote outs in this premiere episode because it was two hours, and I was right. The second immunity challenge witnessed Dakal have a hefty lead, but Sele caught up and thanks to Jeremy won his team immunity. So no team is dominating people, and Dakal is now headed to Tribal Council. Intrigued to see how dynamics are about to shift as Rob seemed concerned about Amber.

Nick and Sandra were the names being tossed out, as well as Tyson, so the chaos at camp was unbelievable. I love this. Sandra proved herself to be Queen, how? She was offered the opportunity to get a hidden immunity idol, and she purchased it with her fire token because she senses chaos. Sandra was playing stealthily, but Tony was at war with Tyson now, and that poker alliance is a huge threat. Tyson realized that courtesy of Yul and he decided to save himself over Kim and Amber. Now we have Km worried about her safety, and realized how she played the game before where she was in control, is a lot different when you don’t have it.

I will admit I felt like the second half of the premiere episode was rushed a bit in terms of the pacing, but I like a game that moves faster than slower. Tony and Amber traded a few spars, and it became clear that the ‘Poker Player Alliance’ were targets. Kim was agitated and I liked seeing that; she was on edge people and we saw a side of her no one has been seen before with her back against the wall.

I honestly have no idea where this first vote is going, and the fact that Queen Sandra is not spoken about as a threat, its amazes me. It came down to a battle between Kim and Amber, but it was Amber who was sent packing. Right choice, she has Rob in the game so taking her out prevents her and Rob from aligning. Of course her fire token was bequeathed to her hubby. Yeah, Amber just wasn’t cut out for this season; she was out of the game way too long people.

Next week looks good, Rob’s mad at Sandra for getting Amber out, Ben is under fire and more chaos is erupting, oh, “Survivor” you are back in epic fashion. Thank you so much ‘Winners At War,’ we fans needed this! Until next week “Survivor” lovers.