Just one episode in, the new season of Survivor New Zealand: Thailand has already gotten surprisingly cut-throat.

Tonight's debut episode saw teams formed, three massive challenges take place, alliances quickly start to form, and an early upset at the tribal elimination.

In the first challenge, Jose quickly emerged as a leader and a threat, as did Matt who came in a close second place. The two became team leaders and chose their tribes in a "good old-fashioned school yard pick", with Matt's yellow team becoming Khang Khaw and Jose's blue team becoming Chani.

Matt whizzes through the challenge to lead his team to a win. Photo / TVNZ
Matt whizzes through the challenge to lead his team to a win. Photo / TVNZ

There were secrets from the beginning though, as Matt and Dave revealed to the cameras they were long-time friends, but played it down to the other Survivors so they could have a secret alliance for when the tribes merge later in the game.

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Meanwhile, within their first hour together, five members of team Chani - Eve, Dave, Arun, JT, Frankie - already formed an alliance leaving leader Jose, weakest link Karla and the blissfully naive Liam out of the loop.

Then, the first team challenge saw contestants fight tooth and nail in the mud, with some wrestling, kicking, clawing and even trying to hold their opponents' heads under the muddy water to get ahead.

But the real kicker came when Chani fronted up for the first tribal elimination and Jose - who went in feeling confident - was voted out with a majority vote of five to two (not counting her own vote against Karla).

This, despite the fact that in every single challenge Jose had been their strongest player. However at camp some had complained about how she took charge and was too outspoken.

Host Matt Chisholm told Chani: "Well if you thought it was hard to win challenges with Jose, I'd say it'll be a whole lot harder to win them without her".

The episode left Khang Khaw with a sturdy shelter, a tonne of team morale, full bellies and two fire flints. It left Chani exhausted, demoralised and leaderless.

Bring on episode two.

Franky looks torn up...but is it because she's sad or guilty? Photo / TVNZ
Franky looks torn up...but is it because she's sad or guilty? Photo / TVNZ

*Survivor NZ: Thailand airs Sundays at 7pm on TVNZ 2.