The base criteria of Survivor: Second Chance casting was simply that a contestant had to only play once before and not win. It goes without saying that they couldn't have quit the game, as quitters only ever get asked back in special cases. This criteria is likely that which most of the Survivor fan base agrees is fair. But could this be the end of winners returning or players competing for a 3rd time? Or are we in for Colby vs Jerri season 33 or Heroes vs Villains 2 season 34 with players like Tyson and Tony making a return? In today's feature article American Ozlet Ivan Ornelas analyses where we currently stand in terms of bringing players back and what the future may hold.
Winners Returning: Pros and Cons
The pros for winners returning are that they are a familiar group of players for casual and more passionate Survivor fans alike. Even the lesser talked about ones such as Vecepia and Earl are recognizable because what they did deserved plenty of recognition: become the Sole Survivor. So plan A for bringing back players which would boost ratings on paper would be winners, right? It’s possible. But not always the case. Like previous articles have mentioned, Survivor needs some big characters in each season, and those players are long odds to win Survivor. I’m sure more people find Coach, Corinne, and Courtney more entertaining than Yul, Bob, and Danni, but on the other hand, especially with our diverse and interesting group of winners, they can provide some new and continuing storylines for future seasons. And many fans would relish the opportunity to see if these Sole Survivors can repeat their feat or at least have another strong showing.
However there are many cons. Many of the winners that people would like to see again have expressed they no longer wish to play, they are unavailable, or in the case of Parvati and Cochran they are now (or were) CBS employees making them ineligible. Also, now that we’ve not only witnessed Sandra win her second title but we’ve also seen Tina nearly match that accomplishment in Blood vs Water, unless it’s an all returning player season or there is a very weak cast of newcomers, you would think returning winners would be voted out very soon, at the latest being right after the merge. These players are going to be much more careful to quell these star players and not end up on the wrong side of history. I feel we’ve come full circle and even in another all returning player season it could be season 8 All-Stars all over again with the winners being cannon fodder, best case scenario nearly getting a sniff at a spot on the jury like Ethan Zohn.
3rd Plus Time the Charm?
As of now we’ve had 14 Survivor contestants play 3 seasons: Amanda Kimmel, Candice Cody, Cirie Fields, Coach Wade, Colby Donaldson, James Clement, Jerri Manthey, Jonathan Penner, Ozzy Lusth, Parvati Shallow, Russell Hantz, Stephenie LaGrossa, Tina Wesson, and Tyson Apostol. Two of them, Boston Rob Mariano and Rupert Boneham played 4 seasons. Rob and Tyson won on their 3rd/4th try while Coach and Parvati made it to the end in their 3rd seasons. As much as 4 seasons seems like a lot, I wasn’t shocked that these two would be tied for most appearances in this Survivor series. Just like Blastoise and Charizard are icons for Pokemon video games and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are icons for soccer, you can’t pick many better Survivor icons than Rob and Rupert. Thankfully (I like returning players but too much of a good thing is never a good thing) there is a very small sample size of feasible 2 time players I could see being asked to play again. Besides, 3rd/4th time players usually have a tough road to success, with some major exceptions (Redemption Island). There’s not enough data to make a solid claim that these players will struggle no matter what. For all we know someone like Erik Reichenbach, Danielle DiLorenzo, or Ami Cusack could come back a 3rd time and win it all. But as far as the current group of 3/4 time players go, most of them end up being considered a threat at some point and get voted out. Even Jonathan Penner, who dodged many bullets in the Philippines, and Jerri Manthey, who played a very different and likely her most impressive game in Heroes vs Villains, only got so close yet so far. The biggest issue being that even the best players and even if you switch up your game in a subsequent season (whether playing with other returning players or new players), at some point you end up being a target. There’s next to nothing that can be done.
What Would be Accomplished With This Rule?
I think it will help the show out in the long run. Especially after the aforementioned duo accumulated 4 seasons each, people began to realize sometimes enough is enough and we’ve seen what we have wanted to. Make room for a new face, your legacy can’t get much better now. Considering how some players have been disappointing in their 3rd try, and especially Russell playing in 3 out of 4 seasons from the 19-22 span, at that point players coming back has lost its magic. Between possible and wanted players, there may be several winners like Tony and Mike we would like to see again and maybe having someone like Malcolm or Kass return for a 3rd season wouldn’t be unlikely, but for more examples it requires a bit of thinking.
I don’t think there should or will be an outright ban on 3+ time returning players but I would save them only for all star seasons. Aside from possibly another blood vs water season, I hope we don’t have any more seasons with a combination of new and returning players. They either become one sided, boring, or both. But on a level playing field, seeing either a group of new players or returning favorites compete in this incredible game is a recipe for success and has helped this series stay alive for 15 years and beyond. Survivor Cambodia is off to a great start and while some ideas Survivor has had may not have merited a second take, second chances definitely does.
What do you think about Ivan’s perspective? Is Second Chances the best format for determining returning players? Or should Survivor continue to bring back winners and players who have already played twice or more before?
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