Survivor: Winners at War
|Survivor: Winners at War|
|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||20|
|Location||Mamanuca Islands, Fiji|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||1|
|Original release||February 12, 2020 –|
|Filming dates||May 22, 2019– June 29, 2019|
Survivor: Winners at War is the 40th season of the American competitive reality television series Survivor, airing on CBS in the United States and Global in Canada. The season filmed in May–June 2019 and features twenty returning winners from previous Survivor seasons to celebrate the show's twentieth anniversary. It premiered on February 12, 2020. This is the eighth consecutive season (a record ninth overall) to be filmed in Fiji, the thirteenth season to feature returning players, and the fifth season to feature only returning players. Edge of Extinction, a twist first introduced in the show's thirty-eighth season, returned for this season.
The season was preceded by a retrospective special titled Survivor at 40: Greatest Moments and Players on February 5, 2020, which featured interviews with past players and series highlights, as well as the first few minutes of the premiere episode.
The season's theme and players were announced at the finale of Survivor: Island of the Idols on December 18, 2019, revealing that the season would consist of twenty winners from past Survivor seasons. The winner will receive $2,000,000, making it the largest prize ever given out on any version of Survivor, and its largest for an American reality TV program since The X Factor. Probst stated that having a season of returning winners and a larger prize came from CBS president Kelly Kahl who had been a proponent for the show at the network from near its start. Kahl had spoken to Probst and the Survivor production team about making this 40th season special with the format and larger prize. The returning survivors were not told of the larger prize until Probst met them on the beach at the start of filming. According to Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross, of the players he had interviewed prior to the start of filming for Winners at War, only Ethan Zohn had guessed there might have been a larger prize for this season. The show's typical payouts for non-winners were higher for this season: whereas in previous seasons the first place out received a US$5,000 payment with an escalating scale, each returning winner in Winners at War was assured a minimum US$25,000 payment for participating in the season, as well as the standard US$10,000 for participation in the finale.
All but two of the challenges during the season were based on previous challenges that at least one of the winners had participated in. While this had been done before in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Survivor: Cambodia and Survivor: Game Changers, Probst stated that they will not draw attention to who had done previous challenges unless there had been a major event involving it from a prior season.
The Edge of Extinction game mechanic from Survivor: Edge of Extinction returned for Winners at War, in which eliminated players, instead of completely leaving the game, are taken to a different island, the Edge of Extinction. On the Edge of Extinction, eliminated players continue to survive under similar conditions until a point in the game where those players are given a challenge to allow one of them to return to the game, the rest either forced to return to the island or wholly eliminated from the game. At any point, an eliminated player at Edge of Extinction may opt to "raise a sail" to leave the game completely, upon which they are picked up and sequestered for the rest of the game. While the Edge of Extinction element had been controversial with fans when it was first used, the mechanic was added for this season as to assure all returning players a possible second chance to get back into the game, a concern that had been raised by some when Probst spoke to them about returning.
An additional twist, a form of currency called "fire tokens," allows players to purchase items, food, and advantages. Probst said that in trying to make this season memorable, they had come up with the idea of fire tokens to emphasize that the game is about creating a society, and these tokens could help in establishing that society. Each player starts the game with one token, and when eliminated by tribal vote and sent to the Edge of Extinction, they must give their tokens up to any player remaining in the game. Tribes (prior to the merge) and players (after the merge) can collectively use their tokens to buy reward items, which can include an advantage in the next elimination challenge. Players on the Edge of Extinction are able to secretly make deals with players still in the game to sell them advantages located only at the Edge of Extinction for their tokens; those players can then use the tokens at the Edge of Extinction to buy luxuries and advantages for the challenge that brings one player back into the game.
In his discussions with Kahl after the filming of Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Probst told him that he had spoken to previous winners in the past about returning, but most said they would not want to return. In a 2018 interview, Probst had explained that such an all-winners season was unlikely, as not all the winners were compelling people to bring back to the show, while some others did not want to spend another month-long period of survival for the prize money. Probst estimated that he had about ten winners that were appropriate to invite back and who were willing, but not enough for a full number of players.
When Probst reiterated his concern about getting a full cast of winners to Kahl, Kahl suggested he try asking the winners again. Probst knew that Sandra Diaz-Twine would likely say yes, despite just having agreed to participate on the prior season Survivor: Island of the Idols, as she had yet to refuse an invitation to return to the show. Probst first contacted the winners he felt were key standouts in terms of memorable winners on returning, Rob Mariano and Amber Mariano, and Parvati Shallow. Probst was unsure Rob would return immediately as he had just also been asked to participate on Island of the Idols, and knew it would be difficult for Amber to leave their four children, but to his surprise, both agreed and, in Probst's words, told him "we're gonna put the biggest target on our back we can". With Parvati, she had just given birth to her first child, and Probst thought she would refuse, but she felt that with her baby was old enough for her husband to care for during filming, she could participate. Subsequently, Probst found it easy to get other past standouts like Yul Kwon and Danni Boatwright to agree to come, and the cast was quickly filled out.
Certain notable past winners are not included. Survivor: Borneo winner Richard Hatch was not asked to return due to his inappropriate behavior from Survivor: All-Stars, according to Probst. John Cochran, winner of Survivor: Caramoan, was one Probst wanted back but declined to return. Probst said that there had been a concern that the winners from earlier seasons of the show could not keep up with the newer changes to the game, but once they started making calls to the winners from early seasons and found them ready to accept, they focused their potential casting across the entire run of Survivor.
While none of the cast of Winners at War are the oldest players to play the game, the average age of the players for this season is the highest of any other prior season at 37.85 years, beating out Survivor: Nicaragua's average age of 37.6 years, and much higher than the average ages of players from several of the past recent seasons which have skewed younger. Probst said they did not even consider the age of the players when asking the winners to return, though did feel that older players are more interesting to watch, as their maturity brings unique facets to the game.
|Challenge winner(s)||Eliminated||Status||Willed token|
|No.||Title||Original air date||Reward||Immunity|
|1||"Greatest of the Greats"||February 12, 2020||Dakal||Natalie||1st voted out
|None||None||Sele||Amber||2nd voted out
|2||"It's Like a Survivor Economy"||February 19, 2020|
|3||"Out for Blood"||February 26, 2020|
|Original air date||US viewers|
|583||1||"Greatest of the Greats"||1.3||TBA||February 12, 2020||6.68|
20 returning winners arrived in Fiji to play an All-Winners season of Survivor. The two tribes of 10 (Dakal in red and Sele in blue) were informed that the grand prize this season would be $2 Million, and that the Edge of Extinction was in play. Lastly, Jeff introduced the Fire Tokens to the cast, where at their camps the tribes found out they could use their fire tokens to buy advantages and luxury items whenever they were at challenges.
After Sele's loss at the immunity challenge, Rob and Parvati found themselves as an unlikely duo. The new school players scrambled to put out a name, with Adam and Denise's early separation looking for water putting a target on their back. When Ben approached Rob for strategy talk, he spilled that Danni had suggested Rob as one of the options. Rob confronted Danni and, impressed with her honesty, formed an old school alliance with her, Ethan, and Parvati. When Adam found out that Denise and himself were targets, he tried to shift the target onto players with previous relationships like Natalie and Jeremy, the two having previously played together in San Juan del Sur. While the tribe scrambled before Tribal Council, Rob and Parvati found themselves dumbfounded that they were not the targets.
At Tribal Council, Denise and Adam pushed for prior relationships to be targeted over second-time players. Eventually, a majority of the old school alliance decided to send Natalie to the Edge to split up her and Jeremy. As Natalie left Tribal Council, she chose to bequeath her fire token to Jeremy. During her first day on the Edge, Natalie received an advantage and luxury item menu and was informed of finding ways to earn new fire tokens. Following a clue left by the Edge Sail, she discovered a hidden immunity idol that works for the next three Tribal Councils, which she could sell to anyone on the losing tribe.
The first two days were relaxing for Dakal, with Sandra and Tony patching things up from Game Changers, and Yul and Sophie gathering other first-time returners into a group. After the immunity challenge loss on Day 3, Yul and Sophie started gathering the former Game Changers trio (Sandra, Sarah, and Tony) to target Amber, Kim, and Tyson. Sandra discovered an offer for an idol had appeared in her belongings for a fire token, which she accepted under the impression that Natalie had made the offer from the Edge. Prior to the season, Tyson, Rob, Jeremy, and Kim had played in a televised Poker tournament with Tyson casually suggesting an alliance if the four of them were playing Survivor again. Kim and Amber felt overwhelmed by the pace of the game already, with Kim shocked to find herself being actively left out of strategic talk by the majority of Dakal. At Tribal Council, all three tried to convince the tribe that there was no Poker Alliance in the game, with Amber and Kim trying to convince others to take out Nick for being the most recent winner. It was to no avail, with the disconnected players and the Game Changers voting Amber out and sending her to the Edge in fear of her husband, Rob, over at Sele. Before arriving to the Edge, Amber chose to bequeath her fire token to Rob.
|584||2||"It's Like a Survivor Economy"||TBA||TBA||February 19, 2020||TBD|
|585||3||"Out for Blood"||TBA||TBA||February 26, 2020||TBD|
|1||"Greatest of the Greats"||February 12, 2020||1.3||6.68||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|||
|2||"It's Like a Survivor Economy"||February 19, 2020||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|3||"Out for Blood"||February 26, 2020||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|No.||Air date||Total viewers
|1||February 12, 2020||TBD||TBD|
|2||February 19, 2020||TBD||TBD|
|3||February 26, 2020||TBD||TBD|
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- Winning seasons in bold