Survivor season 35: Tree mail did exist, but was cut for time

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Not all Survivor traditions have been done away with completely, as Chrissy reveals that tree mail still made it to Survivor season 35 after all.

I mentioned it just before the Survivor season 35 finale, but it seems like it’s rare CBS or the show’s production decides to honor some of its earlier traditions. They did bring back the full opening theme in time for the past season’s finale, as it had only appeared online previously. However, many people on our website’s Facebook group had wondered where things like the Rites of Passage were.

Another one of the traditions I had been hoping to see again was tree mail. The idea of getting a whimsical hint of the next challenge through a letter always centered around the soft-heartedness of the show, and just showing the people who went to get it offered subtle insight into the tribe’s dynamics. Sometimes, you would even get to see some players strategize on the way to tree mail, too.

While I thought the tradition was completely done away with at this point, Survivor season 35 runner-up Chrissy Hofbeck revealed on her Twitter account that tree mail is still alive and well! She posted pictures of three clues offered up as part of the show’s mail, giving insight into the Final 6, Final 5 and Final 4 Immunity Challenges.

Another aspect of tree mail was to get the audience guessing about what the challenge would be as much as it had the players guessing. The Final 4 challenge insists on spelling three little words, although that turned out to be one of the best Immunity Challenges of the season due to its balancing and upside-down letters. The colorblind letter denotes the Final 5 challenge with the color puzzle at the end, while the letter that indicates the player “getting in gear” hints at the obstacle course challenge with the gear puzzle ending.

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As Survivor continues to add a series of ridiculous Secret Advantages and a record-breaking number of idols found and idols played, there’s a good argument that we need to see some of the classic traditions more often. Not everything has to be strategy talk or idol hunting, and the fact that they couldn’t find time to get tree mail into the show is upsetting.