When Survivor returned to air following a 16-month post-pandemic delay, it ushered in a brand new, twist-tastic era: A 26-day game, more diverse casting and smaller tribes weren’t even the half of it. But when Season 43 kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 21 (at 8/7c on CBS), viewers and its castaways are in for some big changes.
While host Jeff Probst has been very clear about which aspects of this new era are sticking around — the shorter game, small tribes, risk/reward dilemmas, earning the merge and Shot in the Dark are all here to stay — he’s put the kibosh on one of the most controversial twists in Survivor history: the hourglass twist.
“Here’s what you won’t see in Survivor 43: Change History and Do or Die,” Probst revealed to EW.
To refresh your memory from Season 41, the players were separated into two teams right before the merge, and were told that the winners would automatically receive immunity, while the losers would have to compete in an individual immunity challenge, after which one of them would be voted out. Erika Casupanan (who would eventually go on to win the game) was sent to Exile Island and offered the chance to “make history by changing history.” If she chose to smash an hourglass with a hammer, the results of the challenge would be reversed. Those who won would be in danger, while those who lost (Erika included) would be completely safe. (In a move that shocked no one, she smashed the heck out of the thing.)
Unsurprisingly, not everyone in the cast was happy with the decision. “Danny [McCray] basically reamed Jeff out,” hourglass victim Sydney Segal told TVLine after the episode aired. “He was like, ‘This isn’t a twist. This is a lie! You told us that if we won the challenge, we would get immunity,’ and there was a long conversation about it.”
When we caught up with McCray following his exit, he elaborated: “It was very important for me to let [Probst] know that the integrity of the game is at risk when you are the host and you’re able to lie to the contestants. If you go out there and say, ‘Hey man, this is what’s happening,’ kind of like the Do or Die twist, then I can accept that. But when you are the person that says, ‘Work hard, dig hard, you have to earn everything this season on Survivor,’ and then you earn it, really just to not earn it, it didn’t sit well with me. Being a competitor, it was difficult for me to process.”
The hourglass twist returned in Season 42. Rocksroy Bailey chose to take Jeff up on the offer, and Lydia Meredith became the unlucky castaway to find the rug pulled out from under her.
The Do-or-Die twist also appeared in both 41 and 42, forcing Deshawn Radden and Lindsay Dolashewich, respectively, to play a game of chance at Tribal Council. They had to choose the one box out of three that would keep them safe, and both players went on to survive the night.
While I, for one, join in the cheers that are fluttering throughout the fanbase, Probst did imply that twists will come and go as the show sees fit.
“I can already hear some fans celebrating and others saying we caved to criticism!” he said. “We love fan feedback, and the feedback on Change History was amazing. People either really liked it or really hated it, but not a single person said ‘Eh, I could take it or leave it.’ And with Do or Die, the drama was electrifying, but we also felt that was one twist we could put on the shelf… for now.”
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