Survivor Philippines will be CBS show’s 25th season, bringing back three men who “have paid the ultimate price, pulled from the game with one question in their hearts: what could have been,” according to Jeff Probst’s preview of the new season. While it showed images of Jonathan Penner, Michael Skupin, and Russell Swan, it did not explicitly name them as the returnees, and instead showed silhouettes.
Probst said that “three castaways who were airlifted out will get a second shot,” and said they will be part of “three tribes of new players.” He described the location as one of their “most treacherous locations yet” with “a dark and sinister secret,” including “ravenous sharks,” “deadly snakes,” and “furious storms.”
Probst told EW (which doesn’t identify the returnees, because it’s EW) that the three tribes was the first change producers made as “an effort to change up the way the numbers were playing. People were locking into these alliances of five.” As to bringing back evacuated people, he said, “I love second chances. I love the losers bracket in sports. I love all of it. So I love these guys coming back.”
Having those three men return is a nice change from the recent trend of bringing back obnoxious characters immediately or within a season or two–Colton, for example, fit with this theme but thankfully did not return. In part because of the fact that Penner has had two chances now and that Skupin was evacuated back when the show was far more popular, the man who was on most recent season, Russell Swan, may be the most unfamiliar (if you don’t recall him, read my pre-Samoa interview with him, and his post-evacuation interview).
That may change the dynamic between the returnees and the newbies, though I suspect the returnees will still have a strong advantage and make it far, since they’ve done this before and that does create an advantage. Also, they’re alpha males, and so Probst will probably toss them an immunity idol before each Tribal Council.