By People Staff
Updated February 13, 2009 12:00 AM
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Jeff Probst began the 18th (18th!!) edition of Survivor by saying repeatedly that the theme of the Tocantins: The Brazilian Highlands season would be “first impressions.” Add hard-to-pronounce names, unbearable heat, and inland oppressiveness to the list. It will also be a season of balanced teams, waterfall scenes and smart voting. After all, as Carolina Eastwood, a 26-year-old bartender from Hollywood learned, you can look hot, but as soon as you start nagging, you are gone — even with a crazy older lady on your tribe!

Takin’ It From the Top: “Tocantins” is pronounced “Toe-Can-Cheens.” In addition to that, Jeff announced to the 16 contestants, who endured a bumpy Jeep ride to their drop-off point, that in 60 seconds, they had to take whatever they can from the Jeep to help them in their journey. The Black Team of Timbira worked quickly to secure food and water; the Red Team of Jalapao was left with not so much. Jeff then said they had to hike for four hours in 110-degree heat to get to their camps. But before the hike, teams had to vote for one person to skip it based on first impressions. An angry Sandy, a bus driver, was singled out by Jalapao for no other reason really than being ‘an older lady,’ and zebra-top model Sierra was picked on by Timbira for looking weak. Luckily for them, they got a helicopter ride to camp.

Camping Out Day 1: Among Jalapao is Spencer, a 19-year-old student and a fan of the show, J.T., a cattle rancher who was used to heat and mosquitoes, and Stephen, a corporate consultant from New York City. At their site, Sandy discovered she could use the time she had to look for a hidden immunity idol or help build camp to curry favor; she didn’t seem to succeed in either effort. On Timbira, Erinn, a hairstylist, said she hadn’t camped since the 7th grade; Jerry was hiding the fact that he’s an Army sergeant; Coach was delivering “renaissance man” wisdom. Opposite to Sandy, Sierra, a model, decided not to look for the idol. “I built an entire shelter for 8 ,” she told her team when they arrived.

Camping Out Day 2: In a bit of foreshadowing, Carolina actually suggested to her Jalapao tribe that they should build chairs. Huh? Sandy used the excuse of potty time to look for the hidden idol but after finding the first clue, got tripped up by what a ‘pace’ is. At Timbira, Tyson, a pro cyclist, became the first to go naked.

Raising a Flag: In the first immunity challenge, a multi-part race-and puzzle number, Sandy proved her strength by orchestrating a quick staircase build. In the end, though, Timbira finished the final maze-puzzle first and claimed immunity. As soon as they got back to Jalapao, Carolina jumped into the water with her teammates and started in on how little they got accomplished during the day and how they needed to pick up around camp. A stunned Taj, a former pop star, said, “Clean up the outdoors? Are you kidding me?”

First Elimination: Spencer’s mind was changed about Sandy after the challenge and he started professing his doubts about kicking her out to the group. Taj called out Carolina’s nagging and told her to watch it. In a first during tribal council, Jeff didn’t beat around the bush but asked Sandy flat out, “Are you a little crazy?” To which she replied, “Yeah, a lot crazy.” But crazy won out over carping as bartender Carolina was unanimously voted out. — Cynthia Wang

Tell us: Should Jalapao have voted out Sandy instead? Which team looks the strongest? Who is your early favorite to win it all?Monty Brinton/CBS