Spoilers ahead for the October 6 episode of Survivor Season 41.
Amidst its long COVID-19 hiatus, Survivor underwent some major alterations. The game is nearly two weeks shorter, and there's a host of new twists too that can act as either Hail Marys or the hangman's noose for players. Season 41's new changes are certainly interesting in that regard, but unfortunately, they also are already way too complicated.
Most notably, the new changes take a lot of time away from seeing tribe dynamics. In the case of both the prisoner’s dilemma summit and the three-part hidden immunity necklace, there is more emphasis put solely into seeing them get to those places and making those decisions. This ultimately detracts from the full scope of tribe life and how they interact/strategize with one another in Survivor 41 (opens in new tab).
Without seeing as much in-house strategizing going on, viewers are left in the dark in a lot of ways. For example, we never really saw Brad Reese and Shan Smith bond in any significant way. Yet in tonight's episode, he seemed to believe wholeheartedly, for whatever reason, that she was his number one ally. He even shows her all the advantages he found, which was all good news for Reese, but to me, it seemed out of the blue. Of course, Jeff Probst might say that these added dimensions are necessary for a new era of the game. But what do multiple dimensions really matter if they're largely invisible to viewers?
Moreover, Survivor 41's new changes significantly complicate the viewers' ability to be a couch quarterback or backseat strategist, which is really the most fun part about the game. The rules of the new advantages are so intricate and contingent on so many other factors that you practically have to have a crystal ball at this point to even guess what will happen with them or when they will actually come into play.
The three-part immunity idol, in fact, needs three people from the three different tribes to be united (and only one person now has a piece of the puzzle). So in essence, that twist is feeling more and more like a long con that is irrelevant. There is also a lot of extra votes flying around too, thanks to the summit, but their multiplicity is an overkill.
Plus, the rules for being chosen for the summit are ever-changing as well. First players volunteered for it, then they were chosen by the winning tribe at the immunity competition, and now it seems that they can be chosen by just randomly picking up a "Beware Danger" package off the ground (which was oddly similar to how Xander Hastings found the first three-part immunity idol clue).
In short, the new changes make for a dizzying ride thus far on Season 41 of Survivor. I feel more like I'm doing algebra in my head than seeing Survivor legends and strategists in their own right come to fruition. Last week’s eliminated contestant similarly vocalized that the rules made matters confusing for those playing in the moment.
However, we're only four tribal councils down. There's still a lot of Survivor left to play, so maybe these new changes will manifest some big and unprecedented moves in the future. Growing pains are just natural...right?
Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.
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