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Survivor 41 didn’t show us what really happened post-twist: ‘the integrity of the game is at risk’

Survivor 41 didn’t show us what really happened post-twist: ‘the integrity of the game is at risk’
Danny McCray on Survivor 41 episode 1, during his summit with Xander Hastings and Jairus Robinson. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The first Survivor 41 player to be voted out after the merge said there was far more drama over the hourglass twist than we saw, including host and showrunner Jeff Probst asking the players to help him redesign the twist that they hated so much.

Sydney Segal revealed all of this, saying there was “a long conversation” after Erika returned from Exile Island.

In the second merge episode, did see us Deshawn telling Jeff Probst that this is “not the game I’m used to.” The episode also included Danny’s frustration back at camp: “I busted my ass on that challenge. To learn that it don’t matter any more is really tough for me to process,” he said.

But at least according to Sydney, there was more we didn’t see.

This photo of Danny McCray is from Survivor 41 episode 5, but I imagine might be the look he gave Jeff Probst when the hourglass twist was revealed
This photo of Danny McCray is from Survivor 41 episode 5, but I imagine might be the look he gave Jeff Probst when the hourglass twist was revealed. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

In Sydney’s exit interview, TV Line asked Sydney “to share something from the night that didn’t make the edit,” and that’s when Sydney gave this amazing answer:

Danny basically reamed Jeff out. He was like, “This isn’t a twist. This is a lie! You told us that if we won the challenge, we would get immunity,” and there was a long conversation about it.

Put Danny McCray’s words on t-shirts and billboards! In just eight words, he said, much more powerfully, the same thing it took me 2,128 words to express.

Obviously, though, those eight words are not a transcript. Danny is still in the game, and not allowed to give interviews, so they are the words of Sydney Segal, who was the first person voted off after the merge, and whose exit interviews have been a joy to read.

Update: Danny confirmed this in his exit interview, although he disputed the tone that she suggested he had:

“I’m not a confrontational type, and I love Sydney, but I wouldn’t say I was yelling at Jeff or anything like that. But it was very important for me to let him know that the integrity of the game is at risk when you are the host and you’re able to lie to the contestants.

If you go out there and say, “Hey man, this is what’s happening,” kind of like the Do or Die twist, then I can accept that. But when you are the person that says, “Work hard, dig hard, you have to earn everything this season on Survivor,” and then you earn it, really just to not earn it, it didn’t sit well with me.

Being a competitor, it was difficult for me to process.

Earlier: It’s also worth noting that this is Sydney’s version of a conversation that took place last spring, and she even used almost the exact same phrase in her exit interview with EW, but this time not attributing it to Danny, just saying it herself: “I mean, it’s not even a twist — it’s a lie. We’re told one thing and then something else happens.”

While Danny himself has not publicly said those things, he did basically confirm and/or affirm Sydney’s version.

On Twitter, Danny wrote “I love Syd” after re-tweeting a fan who’d tweeted a screenshot of Sydney’s answer. (Danny also tweeted earlier, “So much I could say about last nights episode… But I’ll save it for now.”)

Jeff Probst asked the players for help

Sydney Segal on Survivor 41 episode 5
Sydney Segal on Survivor 41 episode 5 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

So what was “the long conversation”? In her TV Line interview, Sydney elaborated about that conversation:

Jeff’s like, “OK, well maybe I can make it better for future seasons. What can I change?” I’m thinking like, “Really, bro?” I don’t want a change to go benefit someone else that I don’t fucking know because I don’t have empathy for them. What the hell do I care? This is about the now, and it’s about me getting fucked over. That twist was intended to get a threatening player out, and I said during my pre-game interviews, in order to win Survivor, you can’t be the best at anything. So looking back, I was fucked from the beginning because I’m the best at everything.

First, I adore Sydney’s humility. And by the way: Sydney also told TV Line that, even though she wasn’t in the show much in part thanks to Luvu’s winning streak, “the edit did me justice. When people say, ‘Oh, Sydney’s wild and putting on an act for the show, and it’s a very exaggerated, hyperbolic version of herself,’ it’s not. If you see me on the street, it’ll be the same fucking song and dance.”)

More importantly: I really, really want to see that conversation! Release the deleted scenes!

On the one hand, I can appreciate that Probst is willing to hear criticism and suggestions about the twists he designed, especially since he’s publicly claimed that every Survivor twist is hated then loved.

On the other hand, maybe just do better at game design so your cast doesn’t mutiny in the middle of the season because they’ve realized that they’re now playing a game of chance instead of the game they signed up for?

Again, these are Sydney’s version of events, but Jeff Probst asking the cast how to change the show in the middle of the game is not implausible. After all, he did that twice in episode one, with his “come on in, guys” nonsense.

Sydney’s argument that the hourglass twist “was intended to get a threatening player out” is an interesting one. It certainly did make the stronger pre-merge team vulnerable to the first post-merge vote. If that was actually the design, it’d be the reverse of the final-four twist that Jeff Probst implemented to keep certain men in the final three.

This story was updated with Danny’s version of the conversation, which he shared during an exit interview after he was voted out of the game.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    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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Happy discussing!


Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Oh, get over it. If Survivor was "fair", would half the people who made the merge be pitted against the other half for immunity? And coincidentally one of those halves was almost all the weaker players?


Monday 8th of November 2021

This was the worst twist in a while, possibly ever. Danny phrased it very well (or Sydney phrased it well for Danny, whichever).

I said it on Twitter last week, but I feel like Jeff is bored with basic Survivor, and keeps changing things up to keep him interested, assuming everyone else is the same boat. The man just can't stop tinkering. One of the secrets to Jeopardy's sustained success is that is has a format and sticks to it. Nothing changes, except for the host (for the time being, and for good reason). Survivor could learn a lesson from that.

I'm glad to hear there was a discussion at the time about the twist. I'm also glad nobody seems to be mad at Erika, because she would have been a fool to not break the hourglass and be the only person on her tribe were eligible to be voted out. With her own tribe of six still intact, they should have been able to control the vote and vote out someone not in the alliance, but that didn't work due to the bevy of other twists and advantages in the game.


Monday 8th of November 2021

If you *are* going to do something like that, which, no, we didn't need to do...then you literally *redo* the immunity challenge. No 'up is down', but make it that the first one 'never happened'.

Ideally, you want the challenge, in that case, to be something people can learn from their first attempt on -- and then the second time around, it's benefits those who were paying attention the first time.


Sunday 7th of November 2021

YAY!!! Comments are back!!! :) Yes, it was an extremely stupid twist. They should have just given the player on exile island an immunity that can only be used at the next tribal council.