The ghosts of ‘Survivors’ past

New twists and changes create interesting gameplay


Shaye Holladay McCarthy, Magazine Editor

For 35 seasons, spanning 18 years, 20 castaways have been stranded in remote locations across the world going from the South Pacific to Thailand, Australia to China, Africa to the Mamanuca Islands or the Maya Empire. Each year has its own challenges for immunity with the common interest to outwit, outlast and outplay everyone else and earn the title “Soul Survivor.” The game is full of interesting plays and is an enjoyable show to watch on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Each season has a set of unique challenges, and some are being brought back from seasons past. Along with certain challenges, seasons include hidden idols, tribe swaps, and every so often the chance for stressful second chances. New advantages fall into play, tribe swaps and the merge test the loyalty of former tribe mates.

Without question, Survivor is a series that if followed, close attention needs to be paid. Alliances are constantly changing much like the tribe changes that are taking place early days before the merge. Then once the merge occurs, the game picks up speed as the contestants race for a spot in the final three. It’s a fun, fast and emotional game that really puts the players’ abilities to the test.

Survivor is a game that doesn’t only focus on someone’s physicality, but it’s also a game that requires strategy. The game is also focused on creating allies to further your position, or doing what you can to prevent a threat in challenges from moving forward. However, some players choose to go a different way to further their game by painting targets on someone else’s back, blindsiding an alliance member or causing chaos with an unknown curveball last minute at tribal council. When a tribe loses an immunity challenge, they must vote someone off the island.

In previous years, there has always been a player who makes one crucial mistake that costs them the million dollar prize and title. Whether it’s not playing a hidden immunity idol against their better judgment, giving up individual immunity to prove your trust and security in your alliance to another player or revealing an advantage to another player, all these mistakes can cost a player the game. This season, for the first time, players have the chance to reverse the curse.

Season 36 has started, but there is an unusual twist. In certain prior years, a member from the losing tribe could be sent to Redemption Island and win a challenge to get back in the game. This season introduces Ghost Island. Following a similar concept of Redemption Island, a member of the losing tribe is sent to this island safe from that nights tribal council, but they are unable to play the social game and build alliances with their tribemates.

For the first time in Survivor history, the idols and advantages of the past have returned to “haunt” the castaways as they play this season. On Ghost Island, if players are lucky enough, they will get a shot to recover one of the misused or unused advantages or idols of previous seasons. The player is briefed on what the advantage is and how it was most recently misplayed and by whom so they don’t make the same mistake.

The first advantage that was discovered is known as the Legacy Advantage first seen on Season 33, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X before reappearing on Survivor: Game Changers the following season. The Legacy Advantage grants the castaway who holds it immunity at the first tribal on the day of the merge or when there are six players left.

On Survivor: Game Changers, the advantage was found by Sierra Thomas when the tribes were first being marooned on the Mamanuca Islands. Thomas decided to tell Sarah Lacina, her tribemate that she would will her the advantage if she was voted out before she could play the advantage. Thomas was later voted out before making the merge. She kept her promise to Lacina and gave her the Legacy Advantage. Unbeknownst to Thomas, Lacina was one of the people who voted her off the island and orchestrated her departure from the game.

This season on Survivor: Ghost Island, the castaway that found the Legacy Advantage, Jacob Derwin of the Malolo tribe, is instantly required to will the advantage to a player on the other tribe. He wills it to Margan Ricke of the Naviti tribe as a way to show they could be allies if they both make it to the merge. When Naviti wins the immunity challenge on day six, they send Donathan Hurley to Ghost Island. Derwin is the second castaway voted off the island.

With all sorts of twists and changes lined up for this years cast, only time will tell what other advantages that were misused from the past will haunt castaways sent to Ghost Island.