After watching the “success” of Survivor’s Edge of Extinction twist unfold, Big Brother 21’s producers are trying their hand at it with Camp Comeback.
While some will argue that Survivor is the ultimate test of physical, mental, and emotional fortitude, I’d argue that how Big Brother affects the mental and emotional wellbeing of its players are unparalleled. I’m not knocking the insanely brutal living conditions of Survivor; I’m just saying that being stuck in a confined house with others for close to 99 days cut off from society would break anybody down.
Many have compared both shows throughout the past few decades they’ve been on television, but where fans see contradictions, CBS sees comparisons. After the first live eviction of Big Brother 21, producers have arguably taken one of the most controversial twists in Survivor history and applied it to their show, albeit pulling on different strings.
As detailed in an interview with Parade, Big Brother 21’s first four evicted houseguests will not leave the house right away. Instead, they will live in a derelict room of the house as part of Camp Comeback (think Have-Not sleeping conditions). They are still out of the game and cannot participate in any of the show’s events but still live in the house and can socialize with others.
Once the fourth player is “evicted,” there will be some way for one of the four to earn their way back into the game, in which three players will be eliminated for good. This is on top of the “Whacktivity Comp” contests for the next two weeks, meaning all these twists should be revealed or awarded in two weeks’ time.
There are a few differences between Big Brother 21’s Camp Comeback and Survivor’s Edge of Extinction, although it’s hard not to see some inspiration. For starters, it ends after just four eliminated on Day ~30, which would be the equivalent of Day 12 or Day 13 in Survivor.
This means that, for example, we won’t see someone come back at the Final Four, be granted the equivalent of half a Power of Veto, compete for the Final Head of Household and have the chance to win starting on Day 96. That would be silly, wouldn’t it?
Additionally, the Edge of Extinction saw players voted out and given an option, secretly, to fight for their opportunity to return at an unknown date with other players voted out. They didn’t live with the people who voted them out, and the players who voted them out had no clue until the merge.
Ironically, a twist-heavy game such as Big Brother 21 is approaching Survivor’s twist idea in a more balanced approach, although it has its unintended consequences. For example, since the game has a “merged tribe” for the entirety, the dominant alliance can win Head of Households, isolate the lesser players and maintain their hold through the Final Eight. Plus, it will be harder to get the alliance to flip with one of them coming back and all four living amongst them.
Still, it’s interesting to see that CBS saw the backlash for Edge of Extinction and try to salvage the twist in Big Brother. It allows the returning players to be just as involved in the social game as to not isolate themselves and offers some level of fairness in a twist for a game that’s inherently unfair by nature.