Survivor Blood vs. Water’s eight (!) twists and cast

CBS today announced the cast and many, many twists that will be part of Survivor Blood vs. Water. There are actually eight twists, including the return of Redemption Island.

As I first reported in the spring, the cast consists of Amazing Race-style pairs of people competing, including Big Brother winner Hayden Moss and his girlfriend Kat Edorsson. The full cast is listed below, and the only difference from list of returnees I initially reported–which many people mocked and/or dismissed, in part for its inclusion of so many Survivor One World cast members–is that Candice Woodcock Cody replaced RC Saint-Amour right before production began.

As if having pairs of contestants competing isn’t enough of a change to Survivor‘s formula, there are eight other twists, which EW’s Dalton Ross explains with assists from Probst. They are:

  1. Day zero, an extra half day starting the night before the typical first day. The pairs will spend the night in the wilderness together, but isolated from the other pairs. That’s happening to fuck with the cast; Probst said, “The whole idea was to try and get them thinking and maybe believing that they would play as a pair.”
  2. Pairs split into two tribes. The pairs will be split up and compete on opposite tribes, which creates a fascinating dynamic. If your tribe wins, and you’re safe, that means your loved one may go home on the other tribe.
  3. First impressions vote. After pairs are spilt into two tribes, the tribes will immediately vote off one person. Because they are returnees, that means their previous relationships will come into play, never mind their previous behavior (good luck, Colton).
  4. Redemption Island. But wait, those voted out won’t go home, they’ll go to Redemption Island for their chance to earn their way back into the game.
  5. Redemption Island swap. But wait, those voted out may not go to Redemption Island, but may stay in the game, if their loved one agrees to trade places with them and go to Redemption Island instead.
  6. Redemption Island truels. Because Redemption Island will have two people to start, and a third will join after the first episode, duels will feature three people, so they’re actually truels. The loser goes home.
  7. Redemption Island swap redux. The swap isn’t just for the opening first-impressions vote. Partners can swap in at any duel, and based on Dalton Ross’ reporting, it sounds like they may be able to decide to swap after getting a sense of the challenge, so the pair can decide which of them is better off in that particular challenge. That also means the tribes may continually change.
  8. Redemption Island power. But wait, there’s more! The voted-out, trueling people will get power: The winner of the Redemption Island challenge will be able to give a hidden immunity idol clue to anyone in the game.

Together, the twists sound like a way to juice up Redemption Island–which I grew to hate for many reasons, starting with the way it robbed even more episodes of having two tribe challenges, for reward and immunity–and to create drama with loved ones having to weigh support for each other with support for their tribe.

That’s potentially a very interesting dynamic, but on paper, this sounds shark-jumpy desperate to me. (Gordon Holmes succinctly summarizes how different this makes Survivor from its first season format: “This ain’t that game.”) We’ll see.

Here’s the full cast:

  • Tyson Apostol (Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains) and Rachel Foulger, dating
  • Aras Baskauskas (Panama) and Vytas Baskauskas, brothers
  • Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains) and Laura Boneham, married
  • Candice Woodcock Cody (Cook Islands, Heroes vs. Villains) and John Cody, married
  • Monica Culpepper (One World) and Brad Culpepper, married
  • Colton Cumbie (One World) and Caleb Bankston, engaged
  • Kat Edorsson (One World) and Hayden Moss, dating
  • Laura Morett (Samoa) and Ciera Eastin, mother/daughter
  • Gervase Peterson (Borneo) and Marissa Peterson, uncle/niece
  • Tina Wesson (Australia, All-Stars) and Katie Collins, mother/daughter

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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.