Three tribes, three returnees for Survivor 25

Survivor‘s 25th season is being filmed in the Philippines right now, and there’s information that suggests the season will open with three tribes, and three returning cast members. Season 26 is rumored to include many more returnees, perhaps in addition to new players.

A photo posted to a Filipino message board Friday afternoon shows a challenge set-up that features three diving-board like objects, each of which is painted a different color. Survivor set design is usually pretty consistent with bright colors only being used to designate tribes, so the purple, yellow, and orange/red. However, it’s also possible that it’s from a three-team post-merge challenge; the week the photograph was published is around when a merge usually would take place.

There are also “reports,” which I place in quotation marks purposefully, that three past cast members, all of whom were medically evacuated from the game, will return: Michael Skupin, Jonathan Penner, and Russell Swan. There’s not much clear sourcing of that, and there’s some odd circular attribution, with this tweet from previous spoiler Jim Early/missyae suggest the three men being on the show is common knowledge, while other people are citing that tweet as evidence.

Someone on Survivor Sucks who claims insider knowledge confirmed those three names as part of a discussion, but it much earlier, late last year, a different person on Sucks posted that Russell Swan “hinted that we might be seeing him on the show again.”

There may have also been unintentional confirmation of this from Jeff Probst himself. After Colton was evacuated from the game, Probst tweeted that “Skupin was evacuated in episode 6, so was Jonathan Penner, so was Russell Swan and tonight so was Colton.” That the three men were on his mind shortly before production began may be more than a coincidence, and having them each in a separate tribe seems logical, following the model the show has established in recent years. Returning cast members are now the rule, not the exception.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.