The current season, “Survivor 41,” has seen a rapid rise in new twists, such as the “Hourglass twist“, the “Shot in the Dark” and “Knowledge Is Power” advantages, and, as of Wednesday’s episode, a fresh new twist called “Do or Die.” Anyone who has seen the episode knows how it works: the first person out of the voluntary immunity challenge (in this case, contestant Deshawn Radden) is forced to take a 50/50 chance between “life” in the game (basically immunity) or “death” (immediate elimination without a vote) in a Monty Hall-type problem.
These twists have not been received warmly by fans of the game, a sentiment which has been echoed by the likes of popular former contestant Malcolm Freberg, who has taken to Insider to plead with Probst and “Survivor” production to cut down on the twists and let the game create the “magic” by itself.
Here’s what you need to know:
Malcolm Says ‘Survivor’ Is Losing Its ‘Magic’
After the airing of episode 11, Malcolm, a three-time “Survivor” competitor best known for his first two appearances on season 25, “Philippines,” and season 26, “Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites,” wrote an editorial for Insider, declaring that “Survivor” used to be “anyone’s game,” but that the twists and advantages are “ruining what makes the show special.”
Saying that it felt like he was “screaming into the void,” he explained that the audience is now “drowning in new twists,” and that the twists “hamper our ability to meet new players.”
“When an hour-long episode needs to spend 30 of those minutes explaining how 15 different advantages work,” Malcolm wrote, “we lose that time to get to know the castaways, who are the heart and soul of the show.” He added that while “Survivor” is meant to be a social game at its core, the relationships among the contestants are now largely dependent upon who has which advantage.
Malcolm went on to call out Probst’s hypocrisy in championing the diversity of the cast, while also letting the advantages dictate the course of the game instead of the players and their own unique skillsets themselves. This echoes a common sentiment by fans, who have pointed out a number of iconic moments in the franchise which happened naturally, without being manufactured by advantages, such as Cirie Fields getting Erik Reichenbach to give up immunity in season 16, Jonny Fairplay and his iconic “dead grandma” lie in season 7, or Parvati Shallow‘s legendary “double idol” play in season 20, “Heroes vs. Villains.”
Malcolm closed by saying that contestants’ “[personalities], real-life experiences, innate talents, and developed skills” has “produced some of the best television in history.”
“That’s the magic,” he emphasized. “I hope we get it back soon.”
Other Contestants and Winners Feel Similarly
Malcolm is hardly the first contestant to vocalize his issues with how production is handling the game. Original “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch recently said that “we fans lose our game” with the addition of the new “horrific” game changes, and called Probst a “terrible influence.” “Survivor: Tocantins” runner-up Stephen Fishbach called the “Knowledge Is Power” advantage “one of the worst twists in show history,” and added that the twists are making the audience “miserable.” “Survivor: South Pacific” winner Sophie Clarke also said in a recent interview that the sheer number of new twists are “hard to track episode to episode…having to remember three episodes later who has the extra vote is impossible.”
Fans reacted positively to Malcolm’s comments, with one user on Reddit noting that this season “has had almost none of the twists work. The Shot in the Dark amounted to nothing, the merge twist didn’t have much impact…It’s been such a treat watching this great cast sidestep all of production’s bull**** and play an excellent old-school game instead.”
Another user added that Malcolm “really hits the nail on the head…if [the twists are] entirely manufactured or utterly contrived then it just won’t carry anywhere near the same impact.”
Both seasons 41 and 42 have already been filmed, so if Jeff Probst or production are moved by any pleas from fans or contestants, it won’t have an effect until at least season 43.
Be sure to catch the final two episodes of “Survivor 41,” airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.