When it comes to Survivor twists, none have been as controversial as the Outcasts twist in Survivor: Pearl Islands, which allowed contestants that had been voted out — and subsequently enjoyed plenty of food and shelter — a chance to return to the game. But the Redemption Island twist was pretty gosh darn close. Introduced in the Survivor: Redemption Island season as a safety net mechanism to keep returning players Russell Hantz and Boston Rob in the game for longer should they be voted out, it sent contestants that had been kicked out of their tribe to another location, where they would then compete to reenter the game at a later point. It was used again in the following Survivor: South Pacific season and then was put out to pasture. Or so we thought.
Redemption Island is back for Survivor: Blood vs. Water (which premieres on CBS Sept. 18 at 8pm), and Jeff Probst explained exactly how it would work this time out right here. While I am a guy that believes once you are voted out of a game you should stay out, I have less problems with Redemption Island than the Outcasts on the basic issue of fairness. I do, however, believe that the twist neuters the show’s signature dramatic moment — the vote off — which is something you just do not want to do. For Redemption Island to really work, it needs to create enough incredible drama to compensate for the decreased punch that Tribal Council now packs as a result, and quite simply, it hasn’t. (To be fair, the twist certainly gave us more memorable moments the second time around when Ozzy sent himself there on purpose, then twice fought his way back into the game.)
In the video interview below taken on location, Survivor host Jeff Probst — who has openly stated his support for the twist — talked about why they brought Redemption Island back from the graveyard. “Well, so first of all, to be clear, the fact that I like something doesn’t mean I think it’s the end all be all,” says Probst. “It just means my personal opinion. I like Redemption Island. As a kid that grew up playing baseball, I like the losers bracket. I like the fact that you can lose on Saturday but still be playing on Sunday and have a shot to get back into the championship. I just like that format. But for people who say it tarnishes the game, I say, “Says you!”
Probst also makes no bones about the fact that Redemption Island offers a chance to keep popular players on screen. “What I like about Redemption Island most is that it keeps good characters in the game longer. To me it’s not about your second shot, which is a story I like. But it’s about Ozzy getting voted out, and now instead of being out of the game, he’s on Redemption, where he’s fishing and he’s vowing to get back in and win. I like that story. So this year when we realized we’re bringing returning players back and we’re gonna have someone like Rupert or Colton back. I like it that Rupert and Colton can stay in the game longer if they’re voted out.” (Colton? Really? Um…okay.)
In any event, as someone who has not been a fan of the twist so far, I am willing to wait and see how all the various other Redemption Island twists (which, are outlined in the video below) this time around will play out before passing complete judgment. And, as I said, I acknowledge that it did at least work a bit better the second time in South Pacific. On the flip side, I’m pretty damn stubborn…so we’ll just have to see. To hear more from the host about the return of the twist and how it will play a bit differently this time out, click on the video player below. And then weigh in with your thoughts: Are you excited or exasperated that Redemption Island is back? Hit the message boards and let us know.