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Survivor Winners at War: what we know so far about Survivor season 40

Survivor Winners at War: what we know so far about Survivor season 40
Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine, whose Tribal Council commentary was one of the highlights of Island of the Idols, will return to play the game on Survivor season 40: Winners at War (Image from Survivor via CBS)

The long-awaited all-winners season of Survivor will finally arrive in mid-February, when Survivor: Winners at War premieres.

But it will arrive in the wake of Survivor: Island of the Idols, during which the production clearly illustrated how it failed its cast and viewers, which CBS has finally admitted, saying they “recognize there are things we could have done differently” and creating new rules to prohibit sexual harassment and bias from being “part of gameplay.”

While CBS has announced detailed plans to change the production, those were not in place for season 40. Season 40’s contestants were, however, warned about “personal space” and “inappropriate behavior,” CBS said.

Can Survivor recover from this? I lost interest in watching Survivor: Island of the Idols as entertainment after those two merge episodes, in part because the game itself was tainted by the production’s failure to intervene immediately.

While I have been disappointed by the production’s failures, I’m still excited by the thought of watching 20 winners compete against each other 20 years after Survivor began and changed television by proving that unscripted TV with real people as its stars could be as entertaining—and more highly rated—than anything else on television.

In this story, I’ve gathered together what we know so far about the next season, which is called Survivor: Winners at War. There are no spoilers here about the actual game play or a boot list, but this story does reveal as-yet-unannounced details about the game’s twists.

When and where did season 40 film?

Taveuni, Fiji
An image from Taveuni, one of Fiji’s islands. (Photo by Björn Groß)

Filming began one week after the Survivor: Edge of Extinction finale, on May 22, 2019, and concluded at the end of June.

True Dork Times’ calendar breaks down how the season likely played out, and will be updated with more details as the season progresses.

Where did it film? Fiji, of course!

That’s Survivor’s new permanent home, because Survivor gets a 45 percent rebate on the cost of production. (This interview with Jeff Probst has more details)

When will Survivor 40 debut?

The spring season will premiere earlier than usual: on Feb. 12, 2020. That’s the earliest a spring season has premiered since 2013.

Survivor: Winners at War will have a two-hour premiere, though those will be two back-to-back episodes—episodes one and two—not a long, extended episode one.

As usual, Survivor will air Wednesdays at 8, and just as it did this fall, it’ll face off against Fox’s The Masked Singer.

Who’s on the Survivor: Winners at War cast? What are their tribes?

Nick Wilson, Survivor David vs. Goliath, immunity challenge win
Nick Wilson after one of his three immunity challenge wins during the Survivor David vs. Goliath finale. (Image from Survivor via CBS)

They are all, of course, previous winners of Survivor, including the two who appeared on Survivor: Island of the Idols, Sandra Diaz-Twine and “Boston Rob” Mariano, and so is Rob’s wife, Amber Brkich Mariano.

The winners cover most of the show’s life: from season three, Survivor Africa, winner Ethan Zohn to season 37 winner Nick Wilson, Survivor David vs. Goliath, though most of them are from more recent seasons.

The full list of Survivor 40 cast members is here.

Inside Survivor’s Martin Holmes has published a list of the initial tribe divisions; each tribe will have five men and five women. The tribe colors are red and blue.

What are the twists?

Aubry Bracco, Survivor: Edge of Extinction
Aubry Bracco on Survivor: Edge of Extinction after being voted out with a hidden immunity idol and extra vote. (Photo Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

First, the show is increasing its prize to $2 million for this season.

Fans who were hoping that the first-ever all-winners season would be a pure season of Survivor, with no frustrating twists or ludicrous advantages, will have to wait for a future all-winners season.

That’s because this season will have one new twist, and the return of a reviled twist:

  1. Players will be given money to spend in the game on advantages and rewards (Update: They’re called “fire tokens,” according to the preview that aired at the end of the Island of the Idols reunion.)
  2. The Edge of Extinction is returning

That second twist is one of the most reviled elements of the game ever introduced, because it led to a winner who’d played exactly 13 of the 39 days. The rest of the time he spent on the Edge of Extinction, hanging out with the jury who’d eventually give him $1 million.

The return of EoE means that winners who are voted out—and choose to go to the Edge of Extinction—will still be on TV all season long, so even if your favorite player gets voted out early, they may still be part of episodes, and possibly even win their way back into the game.

The title of the season, Survivor: Winners at War, was revealed by someone who visited Fiji and photographed set pieces at the Mana Island Resort, which the production uses as its home base.

Season 40’s logo—which has two swords and big waves—is in the second photo here:

Is there a Survivor: Winners at War trailer?

Jeff Probst, Survivor Ghost Island reunion
Jeff Probst during the live Survivor Ghost Island reunion, pointing away from the people he now makes Survivor for. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS Entertainment)

Not yet. Typically, Survivor teases the next season at the conclusion of the live reunion of the preceding season.

Tonight’s pre-taped reunion, though, could be different. But I also cannot imagine they won’t tease next season—if only to get people excited about the future so they’ll forget about the past.

Update: The show did indeed preview its next season, and unveiled this trailer.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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