This Week's Survivor: Winners At War Episode Almost Lost Me

Sandra in Winners at War

Survivor made history when it debuted in 2000, and the reality competition show hasn't slowed down in the two decades since its first season. The franchise has gone on to produce multiple seasons, with Winners at War marking its whopping 40th season in the air. Fans like myself have been waiting for a long time for an all winners season, and for a while it seemed like a pipe dream that would never come true. But it's real, and Winners at War features some of my favorite survivors of all time. But about 10 minutes through watching the second episode of the season, the show very nearly lost me.

Survivor is an ever-changing game, with Jeff Probst and company often implementing new twists to keep both the castaways and audience on their toes. Immunity Idols usually play a major role, and Survivor: Winners at War introduced a new currency system called fire tokens. These can be used in a trade for advantages and more idols, which means there are a ton of twists in play at any given time. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I took umbrage with in Episode 2.

The First 10 Minutes Were Dizzying

After a wild 2-hour premiere, I was jazzed to watch Episode Two of Survivors: Winners at War. With Amber sent to the edge of extinction, you knew there was going to be drama with Boston Rob and Sandra. But I could barely keep up with the opening sequence of the episode, because there were so many idols and advantages being thrown around from the jump. Seriously, if you missed the first 5 minutes you were probably so confused.

The episode opens with Boston Rob receiving a fire token, one bequeathed by his wife Amber after being voted out. The tokens are clearly going to be a major part of the gameplay this season, with Sandra already buying herself an idol with Natalie's coin. Fans will be expected to remember exactly how many fire tokens each survivor has, as well as any idols or advantages in their possession.

After Boston Rob gets his confessional, an idol is found on both tribes. Well, kinda. Kim finds on one the Dakal tribe, although there's a twist (of course). The idol has two parts, so she'll need a trustworthy partner in order to unite the pieces and use the idol. She chooses Sophie, which a definite miscalculation.

The same thing happens over at Sele tribe, with Denise finding the idol and trusting Adam being her confidante. The timing of both idol finds was wild, and by the time Survivor cut to commercial for the first time, I felt dizzy.

There's Already Too Many Advantages

Advantages and idols have become a main part of modern survivor game play. Where castaways once had to rely on their personal relationships and strategic thinking, Survivor has become a much more random and unpredictable game. This obviously makes for good television, but it also leads to messier gameplay. There's practically no alliances anymore, because they often don't pan out. And my issue is that it's only Episode 2 of Survivor: Winners at War, and I already can't keep track of all the idols, advantages, and fire tokens currently floating around the game. Luckily production seems aware of the game's confusing nature, and each castaway's chyron exactly what their current advantages are.

In fact, the fire tokens, Sandra's idol, and the two half idols still doesn't cover all the advantages that are currently floating around Survivor: Winners at War. Natalie continues to look out for her #1 ally Jeremy, even from the Edge of Extinction. She ultimately found an advantage for him titled "safety without power". In exchange for his fire token (ugh), Jeremy can now leave tribal council before voting. While he won't have a say in who goes home, he will be safe from being voted out himself.

Clearly there's a lot going on this season. And considering its only Episode 2 and the fire tokens have the ability to change the game at any moment, we're likely going to see way more advantages and idols in the coming weeks. So you better start watching with a pen and paper to keep track of all the action.

What Saved The Episode For Me

While I was tempted to call it quits after the first ten minutes of Episode 2, Survivor: Winners at War. And that's the winners themselves. In addition to franchise legends like Boston Rob, Sandra, and Parvati, there are also a handful of winners that are returning to the game for the first time. I'm eager to see how Sophie and Yul's working relationship continues, and if the old school players get picked off one by one.

Of course, the myriad advantages will also inevitably screw over some of my favorite winners who are back on Survivor this year. I'm waiting for someone to get the Cirie treatment, who was eliminated despite not having a single vote against her due to idols and advantages back in Game Changers. It's only a matter of time. Tick, tock.

Survivor: Winners at War airs Wednesdays on CBS. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.