After 21 seasons, the producers hope to shake up the Survivor franchise with the introduction of a new twist – second chances! – and a new rule about quitters.
A Chance At Redemption
On Survivor: Redemption Island, which premieres Feb. 16 on CBS, when a contestant is voted off, he or she won’t leave the game completely but go instead to Redemption Island, where he or she will face off against the next person voted off in a duel. The winner lives on to face the next arrival at Redemption Island until one person left standing has a chance to return to the game.
“We did a haphazard version of Redemption Island a few years ago called the Outcasts,” host Jeff Probst explained to Entertainment Weekly. “It didn’t work and it didn’t please the audience and there was one fundamental flaw – we didn’t tell people up front it was going to happen … So I have no problem with people coming back into the game because everybody knows up front [now]. A rule can’t be unfair if you know going in. It’s an equal opportunity.”
Former castaways seem excited about the format change. “I like the new twist,” says Nicaragua player Jimmy Johnson. “It’s cool because there are so many people who are voted off who are just stressed out that I wanted them to have a second chance.”
Adds three-time player “Boston” Rob Mariano, “They always find new ways of reinventing themselves. I think that, combined with good storytelling and a great host and the support of the fans, is why this show has been on for as long as it has.”
Producers Can Quit Quitters
After much fan and player uproar over NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn remaining on the Nicaragua jury after quitting the game, Probst announced recently that producers will now be given the discretion whether to keep quitters on the show or leave them off the jury.
“The most frustrating part for me was that both of them, due to a precedent we already set on the show, were allowed to stay on the jury and have an influence at the end of the game,” Probst tells PEOPLE. “And that was not a judgment call on our end. We had already set that in motion with Janu back in Palau. She was already in the jury phase, she quit, so she becomes a jury member. But there were people who said, ‘Aww man, that’s not right! They should be out of the jury!’ Because they were big votes.”
No one knows that more than Chase Rice, who came in second to Nicaragua winner Fabio Birza by a 4-5 vote. “If I had two quitters not voting, I would have won the game,” Rice says. “I like rule change but I wish it would have applied to our season.”