Survivor: Winners at War

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Survivor: Winners at War
Survivor Winners at War logo.png
Presented byJeff Probst
No. of days39
No. of castaways20
LocationMamanuca Islands, Fiji
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes1
Release
Original networkCBS
Original releaseFebruary 12, 2020 (2020-02-12) –
present (present)
Additional information
Filming datesMay 22, 2019 (2019-05-22) – June 29, 2019 (2019-06-29)[1]
chronology
← Previous
Island of the Idols
List of Survivor (American TV series) episodes

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.[2] 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.[3]

Production[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

Game format[edit]

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.[8]

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.[9]

Casting[edit]

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.[10]

When Probst reiterated his concern about getting a full cast of winners to Kahl, Kahl suggested he try asking the winners again.[11] 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.[12] 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.[11] 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".[12] 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.[12] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

Contestants[edit]

List of Survivor: Winners at War contestants[15][16][Note 1]
Contestant Original tribe Merged tribe Main game Edge of Extinction
Natalie Anderson
33, Edgewater, New Jersey
San Juan del Sur
Sele 1st voted out
Day 2
Current inhabitant
Amber Mariano
40, Pensacola, Florida
The Australian Outback & All-Stars
Dakal 2nd voted out
Day 3
Current inhabitant
Tyson Apostol
39, Mesa, Arizona
Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains & Blood vs. Water
Dakal
Danni Boatwright
43, Shawnee, Kansas
Guatemala
Sele
Sophie Clarke
29, Santa Monica, California
South Pacific
Dakal
Jeremy Collins
41, Foxborough, Massachusetts
San Juan del Sur & Cambodia
Sele
Sandra Diaz-Twine
44, Riverview, Florida
Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains & Game Changers
Dakal
Ben Driebergen
36, Boise, Idaho
Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Sele
Michele Fitzgerald
29, Hoboken, New Jersey
Kaôh Rōng
Sele
Wendell Holland
35, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ghost Island
Dakal
Adam Klein
28, Los Angeles, California
Millennials vs. Gen X
Sele
Yul Kwon
44, Los Altos, California
Cook Islands
Dakal
Sarah Lacina
34, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cagayan & Game Changers
Dakal
Rob Mariano
43, Pensacola, Florida
Marquesas, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains & Redemption Island
Sele
Parvati Shallow
36, Los Angeles, California
Cook Islands, Micronesia & Heroes vs. Villains
Sele
Kim Spradlin-Wolfe
36, San Antonio, Texas
One World
Dakal
Denise Stapley
48, Marion, Iowa
Philippines
Sele
Tony Vlachos
45, Allendale, New Jersey
Cagayan & Game Changers
Dakal
Nick Wilson
28, Williamsburg, Kentucky
David vs. Goliath
Dakal
Ethan Zohn
45, Hillsborough, New Hampshire
Africa & All-Stars
Sele

Season summary[edit]

Challenge winners and eliminations by episodes
Episode Extinction
departures
Challenge winner(s) Eliminated Status Willed token
recipient
No. Title Original air date Reward Immunity
1 "Greatest of the Greats" February 12, 2020 Dakal Natalie 1st voted out
Day 2
Jeremy
None None Sele Amber 2nd voted out
Day 3
Rob
2 "It's Like a Survivor Economy" February 19, 2020
3 "Out for Blood" February 26, 2020

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleRating/share
(18-49)
Weekly
rank
Original air dateUS viewers
(millions)
5831"Greatest of the Greats"1.3[17]TBAFebruary 12, 2020 (2020-02-12)6.68[17]

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.

  • Reward/Immunity Challenge: In duos, the tribes compete to retrieve a ring on a post in the water. The first person to bring the ring to their tribe's post and touch it scores a point for their tribe. The first tribe to score 3 points wins flint and immunity. Challenge from Palau, Caramoan, Millennials vs. Gen X, and Ghost Island.

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.

  • Immunity Challenge: The tribes must paddle out from shore to retrieve a bag full of numbers, before returning to a series of obstacles in the water (first leaping off boxed stairs into water, then climbing over a rolling pillar, and lastly getting over a cargo net incline before reaching the shore). At their tribe's station, one member must unlock three rings using the 3 two-digit numbers in their bag. Afterwards, two members must toss their rings to hang on paddles. The first tribe to successfully toss all 3 rings onto their paddles wins immunity. Challenge from Blood vs. Water and Game Changers.

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.

5842"It's Like a Survivor Economy"[18]TBATBAFebruary 19, 2020 (2020-02-19)TBD
5853"Out for Blood"[18]TBATBAFebruary 26, 2020 (2020-02-26)TBD

Voting history[edit]

Original tribes
Episode # 1[19] 2 3
Day # 2 3
Eliminated Natalie Amber
Votes 7–2–1 6–3–1
Voter Vote
Adam Natalie
Ben Natalie
Danni Natalie
Denise Natalie
Ethan Natalie
Jeremy Adam
Kim Amber
Michele Denise
Nick Amber
Parvati Natalie
Rob Natalie
Sandra Amber
Sarah Kim
Sophie Kim
Tony Kim
Tyson Amber
Wendell Amber
Yul Amber
Amber Nick
Natalie Denise

Reception[edit]

Viewing figures[edit]

United States[edit]

No. Title Air date Rating/share
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
Ref(s)
1 "Greatest of the Greats" February 12, 2020 1.3 6.68 TBD TBD TBD TBD [17]
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

Canada[edit]

No. Air date Total viewers
(millions)
Rank
(week)
Refs
1 February 12, 2020 TBD TBD
2 February 19, 2020 TBD TBD
3 February 26, 2020 TBD TBD

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Survivor 40 calendar". The True Dork Times. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 11, 2019). "CBS Sets Winter Schedule: 'Criminal Minds' Returns To Original Slot For Final Season, 'NCIS: New Orleans' Moves To Sunday". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  3. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (January 12, 2020). "CBS Sets 'Survivor' Retrospective Special Ahead of 40th Season Premiere". Variety. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  4. ^ Ross, Dalton. "Jeff Probst shares intel on Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Ross, Dalton (January 22, 2020). "Jeff Probst explains the origins of the Survivor: Winners at War $2 million prize". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  6. ^ Ross, Dalton (January 19, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War cast members getting at least $35K each". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  7. ^ Ross, Dalton (January 18, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War will feature all classic challenges from the past". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  8. ^ Ross, Dalton (December 18, 2019). "Jeff Probst shares intel on Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  9. ^ Ross, Dalton (January 15, 2020). "Jeff Probst reveals the big new twist for Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  10. ^ Reinstein, Mara (September 26, 2018). "Jeff Probst Explains Why 'Survivor' Will 'Never' Have an All-Winners Season". Us. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Ross, Dalton (January 21, 2020). "Jeff Probst on the conversation that made Survivor: Winners at War happen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d Ross, Dalton (February 4, 2020). "Jeff Probst on the biggest get for Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  13. ^ Ross, Dalton (January 28, 2020). "Jeff Probst on the player they could not get for Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  14. ^ Ross, Dalton (February 6, 2020). "Jeff Probst on having the oldest Survivor cast ever for Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  15. ^ Ross, Dalton. "Survivor: Winners at War new cast photo gallery". Entertainment Weeklydate=January 15, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  16. ^ Ross, Dalton (January 21, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War tribe division revealed". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Metcalf, Mitch (February 13, 2020). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Wednesday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 2.12.2020". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Survivor Episode Title Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  19. ^ Holmes, Gordon (February 12, 2020). ""Survivor: Winners at War" Premiere Recap with Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits". Xfinity TV. Retrieved February 12, 2020.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Winning seasons in bold

External links[edit]