Survivor: Edge of Extinction presents an interesting two tribe format


For the first time in nine seasons, Survivor: Edge of Extinction has 18 castaways arranged into two tribes. That little detail reveals a lot about tribe swaps and expansions to come.

The wait is over. With the official Survivor: Edge of Extinction press release today, we finally can take a look at Season 38’s cast. However, this article will focus on the arrangement of the two tribes because it’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the past few years. Here are a few trends we noticed and what they tell us about potential tribe swaps and alliances.

Gender imbalance. As my co-expert pointed out earlier today, because there are two tribes of nine, there isn’t an even number of guys and girls on each tribe. This is the first time this has happened since season 29: San Juan del Sur. Could this give Aubry the opportunity to build an all-girls alliance right from the start, since her tribe has five women?

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No tribe expansion this season? Back in season 31: Cambodia – Second Chance, production threw in a brilliant twist of expanding the two tribes into three! As surprising as it was at the moment, it has turned into a predictable pattern as every season since that has started with two tribes has expanded to three.

The only catch is that all the seasons that saw a swap into three tribes began with 20 castaways. With Edge of Extinction having only 18 players, it seems far less likely for a tribe expansion to occur. Although production could decide to switch into three tribes with 16 people left like David vs. Goliath, I think that’s a little too early into the season for that. My guess is that we’ll just see typical swaps instead of two tribes becoming three.

Returnees on the same tribe. With Survivor seasons that had under ten returning players, never has there been two of them on the same tribe. In Guatemala, Redemption Island, South Pacific and Philippines, the returning players were all on separate tribes. This marks the first time returnees will be on the same tribe but still outnumbered by new players.

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It will be interesting to see how this new dynamic works out. Will the returnees work together, form a secret alliance or try to take the other out early? Whatever happens, it’s exciting to see production switch things up with the tribal arrangements.