Survivor South Pacific might seem nearly identical to last season on paper–returning players, a Hantz, Redemption Island, Samoa–but there’s a significant and long-overdue change: the first immunity challenge does not conclude with a puzzle. Also, Jeff Probst finally admits Tribal Council is all about him.
First, puzzle equalizers have been featured for years now, and while not on every challenge, they usually end obstacle course-style challenges. The always-great TV Guide Network preview includes an interview with challenge producer John Kirhoffer, who says “it was one of our few opening challenges in recent history that didn’t have a puzzle.”
Xfinity’s Gordon Holmes has a detailed run-down of the first immunity challenge which, of course, contains spoilers about the actual challenge. And he also details the rehearsal for the challenge, during which he almost killed Jeff Probst by hitting him with a coconut.
Speaking of Probst, in the TV Guide preview, Probst says that Tribal Council is “where you have to come to face the wrath of me.” I’m sure he’s joking, but it’s one of those jokes that’s become too true to actually be funny.
Here’s TV Guide’s footage from the challenge rehearsal: