Survivor: Comparing Edge of Extinction to BB21’s Camp Comeback

After seeing the “dramatic” results of Survivor’s Edge of Extinction, Big Brother’s Camp Comeback brought its own vision to a game-altering twist.

Spoilers for Big Brother 21 feeds including the current HoH, nominees and veto results, as well as Survivor: Edge of Extinction.

Survivor’s motto is “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast;” a fair bit different from Big Brother’s “Expect the Unexpected.” We’ve talked about the similarities between the shows as the long offseason continues, but one thing brought up by the summer reality competition program evoked serious Edge of Extinction vibes.

As we reported weeks agoBig Brother 21 introduced Camp Comeback as the show’s major twist to fit into the glamorous camping theme the season has evoked. The first four people removed from the house (the last three being evicted, the first being banished in a Day 1 twist) would play in a competition to get back into the game.

However, instead of leaving the house, they essentially became non-active players living in a Have-Not room. They could still talk to others in the house, but they could not compete in any challenges or attend any official house meetings (nomination, veto, voting ceremonies).

What’s interesting is that CBS saw the blueprint provided by Survivor, saw the outcry surrounding its implementation and still tried it again. Even more compelling is that Camp Comeback is, arguably, a greater version of Edge of Extinction, immensely fairer and still produced a less-than-pleasant finish despite getting it more or less “right.”

Want your voice heard? Join the Surviving Tribal team!

Write for us!

In Survivor, the first six players voted out of the game were secretly given a choice to either tough it out on an island with bare necessities or quit the game. Nobody knew that voting out players could result in them returning to get revenge, nor that they would scavenge the island for advantages they could gift active players in the game.

Additionally, Survivor’s version saw somebody voted out on Day 3 make the jury and have the option to return on Day 35 out of 38 days capable of being voted out. Both returning players were also given a split Hidden Immunity Idol, allowing them to form a bond and retain safety immediately. The latter version was so powerful in that it allowed them to be able to potentially be voted out just once out of two possible rounds of Tribal Councils.

Sounds extraordinarily unfair, right? Somehow, even though Big Brother prides itself on production-influenced twists that shape the course of a season and potentially save their favorite players, the current season’s Camp Comeback twist played like the Edge of Extinction while being shockingly fair.

Half of the players in Camp Comeback were, indeed, sent out of the house before the cast knew about the twist, but it was crazily unfair that one person voted by the house to be the Camp Counselor had the power to banish a quarter of the house in the first place. David finished last in a four-player competition, but he and the first evicted houseguest, Ovi, were shocked to learn about the twist.

From there, the entire house knew that the next two evictions could produce someone coming back into the house. Furthermore, the banished and evicted players could still build up social capital within the house and return with just two evictions shy of making the jury. Finally, they couldn’t compete in weekly “Whactivity Competitions,” which allows one of four to five players to win a challenge granting them a secret power.

There are drawbacks to that twist, but let’s look at the nitty-gritty of the aftermath. Camp Comeback ended at the Final 13 out of 16, meaning it doesn’t overtake the majority of gameplay. In the timeline, it ended on Day 30 out of 99, meaning there’s so much natural gameplay left to enjoy. Even the Whacktivity powers will run out short of halfway through the game.

Most importantly, the player who returned from Camp Comeback, Cliff Hogg III, was evicted the same night he returned to the game. That may be a bit of fortunate timing for him, but a clear distinction between Survivor and Big Brother is that he wasn’t granted a week of immunity. Instead, he had to compete for the Head of Household just like everyone else but the outgoing HoH.

Oddly enough, Big Brother has granted players a week of immunity in a variety of different ways in the past, making this a conscious decision by the producers to level the playing field. It’s a huge step up over how Survivor handled Edge of Extinction, granting two players the potential to use a Hidden Immunity Idol after their first round of vulnerability returning to the game.

When Big Brother, a competition built on early twists shaking up the foundation of the game each season, does its big twist fairer than Survivor, you know you have some significant problems.