Everyone’s favorite reality TV show is back! Survivor: Blood Vs. Water kicks off on Wednesday, September 18, with a special 90-minute episode beginning at 8 PM EST on CBS. I’ll be recapping each episode for you – as well as assessing who the power players are and forecasting future outcomes at tribal council – so I figured I’d kick things off by breaking down the new and exciting format for this season – Survivor’s 27th overall.
Survivor: Blood Vs. Water – which returns to the Philippines for the third straight season and was filmed in May through June of this year – sees ten returning contestants paired with a loved one they have brought along to play the game with. The first twist – in what seems likely to go down as the most twist-heavy season in the show’s long running history – is that instead of playing with their partner, they will be pitted against them on opposite tribes, and will have to outwit, outplay, and outlast them in order to ultimately be crowned Sole Survivor.
So who is returning? Glad you asked.
- Tina Wesson (winner – season 2: Australian Outback) and her daughter Katie Collins VIDEO
- Laura Morett (8th place – season 19: Samoa) and her daughter Ciera Eastin VIDEO
- Gervase Peterson (8th place – season 1: Borneo) and his niece Marissa Peterson VIDEO
- Aras Baskauskas (winner – season 12: Exile Island) and his brother Vytas Baskauskas VIDEO
- Kat Edorsson (6th place – season 24: One World) and her boyfriend Hayden Moss ( winner of Big Brother Season 12) VIDEO
- Colton Cumbie (13th place – season 24: One World) (medical evacuation) and his fiancee Caleb Bankston VIDEO
- Monica Culpepper (16th place – season 24: One World) and her husband Brad Culpepper (retired NFL pro) VIDEO
- Rupert Boneham (7th place – season 7: Pearl Islands; 4th place – season 8: All Stars; 6th place – season 20: Heroes vs. Villains) and his wife Laura Boneham VIDEO
- Candice Cody (8th place – season 13: Cook Islands; 8th place – season 20: Heroes vs. Villains) and her husband John Cody VIDEO
- Tyson Apostol (6th place – season 18: Tocantins; 15th place – season 20: Heroes vs. Villains) and his girlfriend Rachel Foulger VIDEO
As you can see, it is an interesting mix of former winners (Tina and Aras), rejects from Survivor: One World (Kat, Colton, and Monica), and players we have already seen too many times (Rupert and Candice). While I love the concept of both playing with and against someone you love – this really should create some incredibly intense moments, especially at tribal council – I have long been against the idea of players returning to the game outside of an All-Star format. Survivor is at its best when the game is comprised of X-amount of contestants playing the game for the first time, and having to put their trust in a group of total strangers in order to advance in the game. You have to forgive my frustrations with the way the show is cast. As someone who has applied nine times and advanced to the second round of casting twice, it is heartbreaking to see the show you love continue to head in the opposite direction you want it to go. But I’ll get off of my soapbox now, and dive deeper into Blood Vs. Water, and fill you in on why – despite its flawed casting techniques – this could be one of the most memorable seasons in the show’s recent history.
Keeping with the tradition of incredible Survivor blindsides, the game will begin at night with each pair of contestants separated from the rest of the players, in what is being called “Day Zero.” This extra evening marks only the second time in Survivor history that the show will extend beyond the conventional 39-day setup (Survivor: Australian Outback lasted 42 days). The following morning, host Jeff Probst will gather everyone together where they will learn their fate of having to play on opposite tribes of their loved ones. Returning players will be called the Galang Tribe (yellow), while their partners will now comprise the Tadhana Tribe (red). Within moments, each tribe will be required to vote out one member of their tribe. Talk about having to make a good first impression rather quickly! What they won’t know until later, however, is that whoever they vote out will not be eliminated from the game, but instead be sent to Redemption Island where they will compete in challenges with two other castoffs (once it gets to three people) in order to return to the game at a later time. In said challenges, the third place finisher is officially out of the game, while the first two remain alive at Redemption Island. In addition, the first place winner will get to give a clue to the location of a hidden immunity idol to any person from either tribe.
And that’s just the first morning!
But wait, there’s more!!
The loved ones of the people at Redemption Island will be given an opportunity to trade places with them prior to the challenges, which could really mix up the game! So if Tyson is voted out of the Galang tribe and sent to Redemption Island, then his girlfriend, Rachel, will have the opportunity to swap places, sending herself to Redemption Island, and Tyson back to the tribe of newbies at Tadhana.
One thing is for sure, this season will be full of twists, turns, drama, and excitement. God help the people who vote out Rupert’s wife Laura, for one thing. And just wait for the first time someone is forced to turn on their loved one…
Light your torches Wednesday, September 18, with a special 90-minute episode beginning at 8 PM EST on CBS.