Former ‘Survivor’ Contestant Slams ‘Survivor 41’s’ New Twists

Survivor 41 castaways at challenge

YouTube "Survivor 41" contestants assemble for a challenge in episode 5.

“Survivor 41” has been very liberal in introducing new twists to the game, and it has fans polarized. Two-time “Survivor” contestant Stephen Fishbach, who formerly blogged about “Survivor” for People magazine but retired in 2019, continues to stay updated and podcast with Rob Cesternino. Shortly after the airing of last Wednesday’s episode, Stephen sat down with Rob for a “Know-It-Alls” podcast, and didn’t hold back about his thoughts on the new season.

Stephen Says Production Made Fans “Miserable For So Many Weeks”

Survivor 41 Know-It-Alls | Episode 7 RecapLIVE after the east coast episode, Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach bring you the Survivor Know-It-Alls in their recap of the Survivor 41 episode 7. Rob and Stephen discuss all their initial reactions to the episode, take questions from the listeners, make predictions for the rest of the season and more. #Survivor #Survivor41 #SurvivorKIA2021-11-04T02:30:38Z

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of the number of twists and advantages introduced in the newer seasons of “Survivor,” even among its strongest fanbase, and many fans are frustrated. The most recent episode showed contestant Erika Casupanan deciding to “turn back time” in the new “hourglass twist,” reversing the outcome of the previous episode’s immunity challenge and forcing those who thought they were immune to compete in a whole new immunity challenge of their own, whoever losing becoming vulnerable at the next Tribal Council.

In the newest “Know-It-Alls” podcast, Stephen called the twist “ridiculous,” slamming it for its apparent unnecessary nature. “What are they even playing for? What was the point of that?” he said. “What even is this show, if everything we saw just, like, does not matter at all?”

Stephen also slammed the “Knowledge Is Power” advantage introduced in episode 5, whereby a contestant can force any player to reveal whether they have an idol or advantage. He tweeted during the episode that he “truly” believes it is “one of the worst twists in show history… Forbidding the players from deceit cuts against the entire identity of the show. They CANNOT LIE? Who is making them tell the truth? It’s like a stupid card in a board game.”

Stephen expounded on his criticism of the twist in “Know-It-Alls”, saying it “didn’t work” because no one other than the person who had received it knew of its existence. “I do think that’s a bigger statement to when these twists work vs. when they don’t work,” he said. “They work when players know what they are, and it’s really fun to see them think about it, prepare for it, create strategies out of it. And when its just some random thing that arrives out of nowhere, it’s not fun for the players and it’s not fun to watch!”

He explained further:

The reason I love “Survivor,” the reason I become invested in it, is to see the players create a strategy around the game that they see and then execute that strategy. …It’s so much more fun to see them act out of knowledge rather than some magic superpower they found hidden in a shipwheel.”

Despite his criticisms, Stephen did speak positively of episode 7 overall, especially after the hourglass twist, calling it “great.” He said he thought the Tribal Council was “really fun, [I] had no idea what was going to happen,” and said of Sydney Segal’s elimination: “What an ending, it was a great ending… Explosive, great, drawn out, tense tribal council.”

Nevertheless, he said that the merge episode, which is usually “an explosive episode” anyway, didn’t rectify the mistakes made by production over the last six episodes: “I don’t think you give like all these terrible decisions you made, made us all miserable for so many weeks, now because we had a great merge episode somehow are validated.”

He also added that the “Shot in the Dark” twist – whereby a contestant, in this case Sydney, could risk sacrificing their vote for a 1 in 6 chance that they become immune – “added some drama.” He said, “I thought it was fun. I’m not totally opposed to the Shot in the Dark …and Sydney’s vote mattered, as she said when she left, ‘I should’ve voted’.”

“Survivor’s” New Twists Has Many Fans In an Uproar

Xander Hastings and Liana Wallace in "Survivor 41."

YouTubeLiana Wallace uses her “Knowledge is Power” advantage against Xander Hastings in episode 7 of “Survivor 41.”

Stephen Fishbach is not the only “Survivor” fan upset about the flurry of twists added in recent seasons. Many fans have voiced their criticisms about certain twists before the current season even aired, including “Fire Tokens,” introduced in season 40, the final 4 fire twist, introduced in season 35, and the Edge of Extinction, introduced in season 38. Only the fire twist has continued until this season, though fans have pointed out the sizable increase in new twists and advantages in recent seasons, diminishing the impact of the social game and making luck in finding advantages more impactful.

The heavy involvement of production in the game has even led fan favorite Erik Reichenbach to tweet to production asking them to read a Reddit post made by fans pleading for production to cut down on the number of advantages. The post says about the number of new twists:

It’s just all too much to fit in a hour, and it leads to cutting dynamics not relating to advantages as they keep introducing more in the game while not really knowing much about half of the cast.

As ScreenRant summarizes, “It’s a clear sign that Survivor is becoming too complicated when some of its most loyal superfans are finding themselves confused by the number of idols, extra votes, lost votes, and steal-a-votes in the game and how the rules of these advantages work and interact with one another.”

Whether or not Jeff Probst and the production team listen to the grievances of fans and former cast members is an open question, though both seasons 41 and 42 have already been filmed, so it’s likely we will be seeing no shortage of advantages for at least another year.

“Survivor” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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