Survivor, Gillian Larson, Dan Kay, Michelle Chase

Monty Brinton / CBS

As the large-onion alliance forms on one side, so self-destructs the other.

A host of perceived strengths and weaknesses of all stripes were laid bare early on in the two-hour opener of Survivor: Gabon—Earth's Last Eden, the 17th installment of the pioneering reality series, the object of which is to form alliances, chuck the haters and then turn on your frenemies as suavely as possible. (Lots of tests of mental and physical fortitude involved, as well.)

On Thursday's premiere, one tribe dominated while the other was hard-pressed to quit the bickering, leading to two trips to Tribal Council and, subsequently, two eliminations.

Peep the highlights:

Kota Tribe wins the first reward challenge, but Danny "GC" Brown of Fang Tribe is the first member of his team up the hill, meaning he's golden if Fang tanks early. Unfortunately, that gives his mates the crazy idea that he's some sort of a leader.

Michelle Chase, a 24-year-old music assistant from Los Angeles who is picked last by Fang, sports a 'tude from minute one. "The other teams got all these smart, beautiful people, and I'm stuck with these dorks," she says early on when some of her fellow teammates fail to start a fire. 

• Unsurprisingly, Kota Tribe crushes Fang in the first immunity challenge (six people harnessed together run an obstacle course to retrieve puzzle pieces, three others solve the puzzle), receiving "fire in the form of flint" as a reward and sending Fang to daycare, aka Tribal Council.

• At Emmy-winning host Jeff Probst's behest, GC, kicking and screaming and wearing what looks like one of Hurley's castoff shirts from Lost, agrees to be the team leader, despite his fears that he'll lead Fang the wrong way and turn people against him. Yup, kinda the chance you have to take there, man. At least he's somewhat willing, though, more so than Randy "I'm gonna sit on my ass and watch 'em crash and burn" Bailey or Dan "My management style doesn't mesh with this tribe" Kay. Great strategists, or pompous blowholes? 

Michelle Chase, Survivor: Gabon

Monty Brinton/CBS

• Michelle gets the boot, 8-1. Fang gets a flint, and GC sparks his confidence along with the tribe's first fire.

• Meanwhile, the smart, beautiful people over in Kota are falling more and more in love with each other. "It was like magic, like our brains working as one," Charlie Herschel, a 29-year-old attorney from New York, say as he forms a blessed alliance with team leader  Marcus Lehman, 28; Jacquie Berg, 25; and Corinne Kaplan, 29.

• GC steps down as leader. Ho-hum.

• Challenge No. 2, Kota beats Fang yet again, although this time by a closer margin. But almost winning doesn't get you immunity and fishing gear. They send Dan off to Exile Island; we predict he'll come back covered in charcoal.

• And yet he doesn't, nor does he come back with an Immunity Idol after being unable to locate the sandy crater.

• Randy breaks his glasses to make a fishing hook, and some of the others search for worms. Fang is starting to come together, and Randy isn't quite as obnoxious anymore.

Gillian Larson, Survivor: Gabon

Monty Brinton/CBS

• Gillian Larson, 61, a retired nurse from Temecula, Calif., is the next to be eliminated, not for any great reason. Fang is already down to seven people.

So, who do you like, and who needs to be permanently exiled, like, next week? Do you see world domination in Kota's future, or is it all week-one window dressing? And is it just us, or does Jeff Probst totally deserve that Emmy?!

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