Survivor Island of the Idols: Probst explains Boston Rob and Sandra’s role

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

In an interview with Josh Wigler, Jeff Probst revealed the power Boston Rob and Sandra have over Survivor: Island of the Idols.

It’s official, with Monday’s cast reveal, the preseason of Survivor: Island of the Idols has begun! Due to time restraints, Josh Wigler will not be releasing his intriguing First One Out podcast as he typically does before the start of a new season. That said, he did get a chance to have a chat with Jeff Probst on location as season 39 was underway. Thanks to the Series Regular Podcast, you can listen to this fascinating interview on the Hollywood Reporter.

Warning: The following article contains minor spoilers from the premiere episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

For months now, we were aware of Boston Rob and Sandra’s roles as mentors in Survivor: Island of the Idols, but we didn’t exactly know what that role consisted of. Probst cleared up the confusion in his podcast with Josh Wigler, and here are some of the key takeaways.

Boston Rob and Sandra are definitely not playing!

Probst was clear on this point. These two legends are not eligible for the prize money and will not participate as regular castaways. They are simply there as mentors, and they want to help the newbies who are sent there important lessons about Survivor. The two winners will actually be residents of this island for at least a majority of the game, living off the land and making their own shelter and camp.

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There will be a lesson followed by a test during each visit

Coming into this season, many fans assumed Island of the Idols would be similar to Ghost Island, where the castaways will play a game of chance to earn an advantage, and then will get to talk to the mentors after. However, the focus seems to be on the expertise of the mentors as opposed to the advantages themselves. Jeff even confirmed that theme is referring to Boston Rob and Sandra as idols, not a physical Hidden Immunity Idol.

How the island visit works is a castaway will first be taught a specific lesson from Boston Rob and Sandra. This will include stuff like learning how to make a fire, upgrade a shelter, catch fish or how to plant a lie. After they learn the lesson, it’s test time. Jeff gave one test example from the first episode which involves Boston Rob challenging the castaway to a fire-making competition.

The mentors basically have the power of a producer

It sounds like each test will be optional and it will change during another castaway’s visit to the island. For instance, Jeff mentioned that Boston Rob will give the castaway an idol to use for the next Tribal Council if they beat him in making a fire. If they accept the challenge and Boston Rob makes fire first, that castaway would lose their vote during the next Tribal.

Now this is where things get interesting. Production is giving these two mentors freedom to bargain. So if the newbie refuses the test, Boston Rob might offer them a two-minute head start, or an idol that can be used at the next three Tribal Councils instead of just one. The mentors are almost like producers in a sense, being able to negotiate with the players and toggle with the power of an idol or advantage.

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This unique theme does sound like it will bring some entertaining moments, and I like how the lessons and rewards will change throughout the season. That said, I’m hoping Boston Rob and Sandra don’t take too much airtime away from us getting to know the twenty new castaways.