Survivor has introduced a lot of wrinkles and new elements to the game since the American version debuted more than twenty years ago. I’m not sure a single one was as poorly received as the now infamous Hourglass Twist, or Change History as Survivor officially calls it. Fans loudly and aggressively voiced their displeasure when it was introduced in Season 41, and they were every bit as loud and aggressive when it came back in Season 42. To the surprise of no one, host Jeff Probst confirmed the twist has been eliminated from the game, but apparently, that’s not the only new wrinkle that’s going away.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Probst hyped up the new season and talked about some of the recent changes sticking around. He said the show is going to stick with shots in the dark, risk/ reward scenarios and smaller tribes, but they have decided to do away with two of the new twists…
Let’s back up real quick and do a refresher on both of these. So, Change History or the Hourglass Twist, was first introduced two seasons ago. One player each season, most famously Season 41 winner Erika, was taken to a private island and given the power to smash an hourglass and change the results of the previous immunity challenge, granting themselves and the losing team immunity, while putting the winning team up for elimination. Fans hated it because the choice basically boiled down to, “Do you want immunity?,” which was no choice at all. The players themselves hated it because it essentially invalidated the results of a fair competition to make the merge. Many very aggressively voiced their displeasure at tribal council and in the media afterwards.
Unfortunately, because of Covid, Survivor filmed two seasons prior to either one airing. As such, the twist was once again included in Season 42. It went over terribly again and produced a second round of WTFs from fans and those on the show. Because of all the outrage, it’s no surprise at all to see the Hourglass Twist get its torch snuffed out ,but it is a much bigger surprise to see the Do or Die Twist gone along with it.
The Do or Die Twist gave contestants, on a specific immunity challenge, the option to sit out. If they elected to not compete in the challenge, they were automatically up for elimination, but if they played and were the first one eliminated, they would face a sudden death elimination scenario, separate from the tribal vote. Reaction was more mixed to positive among fans with many liking the concept but feeling the ⅓ chance of staying was too much of a penalty for someone taking the risk of playing.
Fans of reality television are an opinionated bunch. I know because I’m one of them. I also know because I have Twitter, and every time a new twist is introduced to one of the classic games, people argue about it with life-or-death-like aggression. Is that 87 tweet thread about green energy or the death penalty? No, it’s actually about the stupid Hourglass Twist. As such, I’m happy that Survivor takes risks and introduces new variables, even if it means fans are going to hate some of them. That larger evolution is important for the show.
Also important for a show like Survivor, however, is knowing when to listen to fan criticism and when to trust your own judgement. Sometimes new ideas need a little bit of workshopping, and sometimes they need to be put in a boat and told to row as far away as possible. I’m glad Survivor listened to fans and bailed on the Hourglass Twist. I’m also happy they’re getting rid of Do or Die, but if they end up playing with that one a bit and making some adjustments, I’d be happy to see it return.
Survivor returns this coming Wednesday and on subsequent Wednesdays with all new episodes on CBS. It’ll be the beloved reality show’s 43rd season.
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