Thirty-four seasons and seventeen years in, Survivor remains television’s most iconic reality show, and the current season has not disappointed. So far, “Game Changers” has provided plenty of powerful moments for the series, and last night’s episode of the show was chock-full of twists with three never-before-seen curve-balls thrown at the remaining castaways.
In the first twist, Exile Island made a surprise reappearance this week, banishing one unlucky castaway to a secluded island to fend for themselves until the next immunity challenge but not in the same form as it once was. A few things have changed since we last saw somebody exiled on the show.
Instead of being stranded with no food, no fire, and no water, the exiled castaway (in this case, Debbie) was met with a huge feast, a strategy session with former Survivor winner John Cochran, and the choice of three advantages to help her in the game. She ultimately chose to go with the extra vote option and because she ended up with this power, being left without a tribe in the recent swap turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to Debbie’s game. How she utilizes this advantage and whether it benefits her game is yet to be seen.
The other options Debbie could have chosen for her advantage included a fake hidden immunity idol kit to trick her fellow players or a tribal immunity challenge advantage. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, host Jeff Probst said that he would have chosen the immunity idol kit if he had the option. Because it’s tricky to use the extra vote efficiently to make a positive impact and the tribal immunity advantage doesn’t guarantee a win, the kit would be a good way to “sabotage someone,” and the host said he was “shocked and a bit bummed Debbie didn’t take it.”
Never before has a former castaway who was not competing on the current season made a visit to the island as a “reward” for the current players. Also, never before has a player been given a choice of advantage. These three game-changing twists are a unique and creative addition to the longtime Survivor format, showing that this season is definitely living up to its name thus far.
There’s one game-changing moment that overpowered all the others this week, and that was the exit of the show’s only two-time winner, Sandra Diaz-Twine. With an impressive cumulative total of 94 days on Survivor, the Queen’s perfect record came to an end after a 5-2 vote, making her the 6th all-star player to leave the game.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, host Jeff Probst says that Sandra is one of his favorite players of all-time, and there are many things she did very right this season and some things the player ultimately could have done differently this time around.
On the positive side, Probst says that it was “the right move” for her to come in and play as aggressively as she did from the beginning, as she had the biggest target on her back out of all the returning players. “She’s a badass… and she engineered everybody like they were her personal puppets,” which made for great television. On the other hand, Jeff notes that “her inability to be soft and… evolve quite enough to where the game is now” are two flaws in her game that led to her early elimination.
Diaz-Twine did not go down without a fight and put up a good effort by trying to throw the target onto fellow player Tai’s back instead, which seemed like it could have worked at first. But ultimately, her last-ditch efforts were not enough to prevent her from getting her torch snuffed.
About next week’s episode, Probst ominously teased that “the show is able to remain culturally relevant no matter how long it’s been on…and I think it’s a fair statement to say that’s the case next week”. What scenario could play out next week that would make the episode culturally relevant? We will have to tune in to find out.
Also, there’s still the promise of a tweak to the re-voting process this year that has yet to play out on screen, and this is sure to lead to many more Survivor firsts in the weeks to come, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly]