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An Honest Review of Survivor Season 41 So Far 

I remember exactly where I was when the Survivor season 41 promo video dropped. It sounds dramatic, but as a diehard fan, being deprived of a new season for over a year was getting tougher and tougher by the day.  

So there I was, at an LL Bean in Freeport Maine during a camping trip, huddled up next to my sister in the corner of the store with my phone held up to our ears eagerly waiting to hear what host Jeff Probst was about to tell us. 

Phrases like, “this new season is a monster” and “Season 41? You may as well say drop the 4 keep the 1 because this is a whole new game” were being thrown around in that video. I was freaking out in the best way– the premiere in September now could not come fast enough.  

After two more months, the season finally graced our TV screens. The episode began like every other premiere episode I was used to, castaways split into multiple tribes, talking to Jeff about how excited they are to be on the show, then off to camp life to let the tribe dynamics and strategy start to unfold.  

The season continued like this, however, there was one major noticeable difference so far. The ridiculous number of advantages and twists.  

Episode one had each tribe choose one person to get on a boat, be taken to a secret location to “make a decision” and then return to camp after. The three men chosen from each tribe were taken to a separate island where they spent the better part of the day together hiking up a hill. At the top was a ship’s wheel saying that all players must then choose to risk their vote at the next tribal council, or protect it. If all players chose to protect, nothing changed. If all players chose to risk, then they all would lose their vote. If it was a split decision, players who protected kept their vote, and players who risked received an extra vote.  

This advantage lasted a few episodes, so a few castaways collected extra votes along the way. 

Confused yet? Just wait.  

On top of this, Season 41 introduced the season-long “shot in the dark” twist. According to survivorwiki.com, this advantage is described as, “At the start of the game, each castaway receives a six-sided die. If a player perceives certain trouble  At Tribal Council, they may invoke the Shot in the Dark. To do so, the player will not vote and instead insert their die in an urn smaller than the regular voting urn, after which the player will randomly select one of many rolled-up parchments from a container. When the host asks if someone wants to play an advantage or a Hidden Immunity Idol, the player(s) who used the Shot in the Dark must present their still-unopened scroll, and if it reads “Safe”, then all votes cast against them will not be counted similar to how a regular idol is played. If the scroll reads “Not Safe”, all votes cast against player will remain valid and the gamble is considered unsuccessful.” 

Hidden immunity idols were also more complicated this season. Usually, a player just finds one and that’s it. This season if a player found one, it was not able to be used until 2 people on the remaining two tribes also found theirs. But the tribes can’t communicate with each other, so you’re probably wondering how they would all know these idols have been found. Don’t worry, the Survivor producers have an answer to that! Make the contestants say the most ridiculous phrases imaginable.  

For example, contestant Xander found an idol. To make it known, at the next challenge after he found it, he had to say the phrase “butterflies are just dead relatives saying hi” to signify he had the idol. The other two phrases were, “broccoli is just a bunch of small trees” and “I’m more confused than a goat on AstroTurf.”  

Yep.  

As absolutely hilarious as it was to watch Xander talk about his dead relatives week after week, it also made me cringe and simply wish his idol had just worked when he found it.  

There were even more random advantages thrown into the mix, but I feel like those are the main ones.  

Beyond that, this season has been filled with a lot of great, human moments thanks to this cast. This Survivor cast is the first one after CBS implemented its new diversity rules (in which at least 50% of a show’s cast must be POC), and it has absolutely paid off. Coming off of 2020, a year filled with civil and racial protests, the raw conversations and emotions from contestants involving these topics have been extremely moving and educational.  

The challenges have been action-packed, the blindsides have been juicy, and the emotions have been hitting hard.  

The finale was the perfect mixture of all of those, even though *spoiler alert* I definitely think the winner, Erika Casupanan, should have received more screen time and a better edit. I understand not wanting to make the winner obvious, since some Survivor fans are so hardcore, they will count people’s minutes of screen time or the amount of confessionals they have to try and determine who the winner is. Erika’s strategy throughout the game was to keep it lowkey, she said it herself that she wanted to look like a lamb but actually be a lion, but she was basically invisible in the pre-merge edit.  

Overall, I think she was an extremely deserving winner. I couldn’t have picked a better female winner to claim the sole Survivor title for the first time since 2017.  

To all my other Survivor nerds out there…what are your thoughts?  

Maria D'Agostino is a junior at Loyola University Maryland studying Communications with a double specialization in Journalism and Digital Media. In her free time you will find her either scrolling through Pinterest looking for new dessert recipes to try, obsessing over music, camping, or doing makeup.
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