Warning: Survivor 41 spoilers ahead!
Season 41 has introduced several unprecedented twists and advantages to the game of Survivor. There was the prisoner’s dilemma extra vote conceit that, either directly or indirectly, contributed to the demise of at least three contestants. Then there was the multi-tribe super-idol puzzle, as well as the “Shot in the Dark” twist. Yet none have quite taken the cake like the latest addition, which Jeff Probst calls the “Do-or-Die” scenario. It's exactly what it sounds like, but the question remains: should Survivor keep such an enormous gamble around in the future?
The Do-or-Die is, basically, a risk of one's safety for power. Survivor 41 contestants were allowed to choose to play in the immunity challenge and gain the usual protection – but there was one stipulation. If you're in and you drop out first, then at tribal, a 1-in-3 chance determines your fate. Pick the one right box, and you’re safe and the vote continues on per usual. Draw either of the others, and your torch is snuffed and tribal is over. Tonight, Deshawn Radden just so happened to be lucky.
Now in my opinion, this is the kind of twist that needs to stick around because it's the one that really and truly shakes up the show. Unlike the prisoner’s dilemma and the three-part idol twist – which are actually just variations of things done in the past – the Do-or-Die marks an actual change to format. Instead of alliances + votes + strategy = an elimination, it really is up to the “Survivor Gods,” and everything after has to be flexible. Per its rules, there would absolutely have to be a backup plan (not just lip service to one) which would send the strategy into a whole new strata – as was seen tonight by the divide over Liana Wallace and Ricard Foye.
Another bonus of the Do-or-Die twist is that it is definitive and straightforward. A huge problem with the other twists this season is how you have to count on fingers and toes, or anticipate three, four, or five other things happening, for it to really hold meaning or even come to fruition. Such was the case with the Shot in the Dark – which is very similar to Do-or-Die, except for how it is done in secret and at the discretion of players while they’re voting. As a result, players have actually been either too afraid or too confused to know when or if they should use the Shot in the Dark. (Heck, I even forgot tonight that it was an option for Liana Wallace to consider.) The Do-or-Die forces the risk, and therefore intensifies the drama.
However, there should be some caveats for Do-or-Die. If kept around for future use, it should still only take place once and very close to the end of the game as it has in Survivor 41. Allowing it to happen too much or too soon would lessen its intriguing power, as (again) was the case with the Shot in the Dark.
Overall, the Do-or-Die creates the scenario that every Survivor fan loves to see but would previously only ever get the opportunity if there was a double tied vote. Not to mention, the Do-or-Die is the first major change in format since the hidden immunity idol itself – and what a time to be a fan that is! Keep tuning in to CBS on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what happens next on Survivor.
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.
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