I Hope Survivor Makes Last Night’s Twist a Permanent Change

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I’ve had a blast watching the 40th season of Survivor, one featuring 20 previous winners. This season has featured a few twists and new additions–including the fire tokens, which no one seems to want to spend–but last night’s episode featured a major departure from a Survivor tradition that I’ll discuss below (spoilers for the April 15 episode).

On Survivor, usually when they get down to around 7 or 8 people, the remaining players are each greeted by one of their loved ones (spouse, parent, sibling, etc). They hug for a few seconds, and then the survivors compete in a challenge to determine who earns the reward of spending a few hours with their loved ones. Typically this results in 4 survivors winning that extra time, and the others say goodbye.

I’ve seen this challenge many times, and while it’s a tearjerker of an episode, I’ve never thought of it as cruel (nor do I think it’s the producers’ intent to be cruel). But after watching last night’s episode–in which they tried something different–I can’t see this challenge any other way.

Last night, after all the hugs, Jeff Probst surprised everyone by saying that there was no challenge. Instead, the survivors simply spent a few hours with their loved ones. You could tell that it meant the world to everyone there. For a few minutes of viewing time, we simply watched fellow humans being extremely happy. It was a delight to experience.

Now that I’ve seen it, I hope Survivor doesn’t ever go back to the previous version. As I said, it now seems cruel in comparison–they fly a person all the way out to Fiji to see someone they truly love and who loves them back, and most of them just get a hug before they’re extracted from the beach. You’ve gone through all that effort, just as the survivors have gone through the effort of staying in the game for that long…just let them hang out for a few hours.

What do you think?


10 Responses to “I Hope Survivor Makes Last Night’s Twist a Permanent Change”

  1. Jeremy says:

    When they brought out the kids this time, I felt kinda sick thinking that they were only going to get to see Mommy or Daddy for a few minutes. So I’m really glad for the switch this time too.

  2. Jacqlyn Kennelly says:

    i have never watched the show before… but could they instead do a challenge that he family gets to participate in? so they are spending time with loved ones but also still competing?

  3. Sara says:

    Having waited until watching my recorded episode to respond, I have to give this a resounding YES! I also love that those on Extinction got to see their families too. I’ve always thought it cruel to make people choose others to go – and to see the torture on the faces of those left out of the reward. Too bad they didn’t offer some kind of food for those on Extinction. I love that the kids got to come. I am still red-eyed and sniffly from having watched it. Just took a break to feed the dogs and now will go back to watching the second half of the episode.

  4. Favourite part was the scene at Edge of Extinction, and the Probst group hug at the end of the episode.

    I don’t know if there is anyway to access Australian Survivor in the U.S., but it’s something you could binge. 24 contestants over 55 days. 3 episodes a week, up to 90 minutes long. They just have so much more time to focus on the people, the relationships, and the extra twists and turns they pack in. Last night was very rushed, opening straight into the challenge. There was just so much loved ones footage, that there was no time for Survivor game play.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks Shane! Several people have now recommended Australian Survivor, so I’ll need to check it out at some point. I liked the Probst hug too. 🙂

  5. Andrea says:

    I think they had to switch it up this episode because they brought the kids out. There would have been a few tantrums if the kids could only hug Mommy/Daddy and then had to leave right away. I love the change too and hope they keep it!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s a good point! I read that one or more of the returning survivors insisted that they let kids join the loved ones visit this time.

  6. Chris McGowan says:

    It always rubbed me the wrong way that family members who traveled such a long way would potentially get a few minutes with their loved one if they lost the challenge.

    I also was not a fan of the – “challenge winner” you can pick 2 other Survivor contestants to enjoy more family life. OK, now one more. Come on – that is cruel to put someone in that position in a game.

    The cynic in me suspects that if FIJI AIrlines continues to sponsor this multiple family member’s “family visit” then likely CBS will consider making this change.

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