Survivor Island of the Idols: Could Sandra and Boston Rob sneak in as players?

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

Will Boston Rob and Sandra Diaz-Twine stay as coaches for the entirety of Survivor: Island of the Idols, or will they get another shot to win?

Never in Survivor have we seen a casting or format change quite like this. There will be 22 people who have played the game on the islands of Fiji on location at the same time, which is an instant record for the US version. However, as promised time and time again by production and the players, neither Boston Rob nor Sandra Diaz-Twine will be anything more than coaches.

The worst-case scenario, in my mind, would be these two iconic winners spending time doing anything other than tests on their own island. Imagine two of the most experienced winners in the game having immunity for weeks then getting a chance to jump into the game and a shortened run to the end for a chance at a million dollars?

It seems incomprehensible. It would never happen, right?

Knowing that CBS has done something like that in their reality competition past is the only thing that has me slightly worried that it could be done. Back in Big Brother 14, they also introduced a coaches twist. It was a vastly different format, however, as four of the show’s best players drafted three players each to make their team. The coach whose player wins the game would receive $100,000 as a prize (the winner still wins $500,000 of their own).

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However, on Day 20, Big Brother (the entity of the show) offered America the opportunity to decide whether or not to offer the coaches the chance to come back into the game. As announced on the Day 27 live eviction, America had decided yes, and if just one coach agreed, all four would immediately enter the game as players, negating that week’s eviction.

In this pretense, it was clear from the start that production wanted to keep these Big Brother legends safe for 27 out of 75 days before becoming vulnerable, as they had incredibly high threat levels from the moment they stepped into the house. Despite CBS promoting the show like they wouldn’t play, eventually, they did.

A season format where legends (two of which are winners) start the game toughing it out in the same living conditions as the players, serving as paragons of the game and teaching a new generation of players was a radical format change for Big Brother 14. It sounds eerily familiar to what’s going on in Survivor: Island of the Idols, as the winners making the merge would equate to a similar time frame of safety as the coaches did in the summer show.

Functionally, though, I severely doubt that Survivor would stoop low enough to deceive its audience in this way. The biggest reason why is that having a 22-player cast with Island of the Idols’ season schedule would be near impossible to navigate without multiple episodes of multiple people going home, which would break up the flow of the show way too much.

More importantly, I don’t think Sandra and Boston Rob are coming back for this season for anything more than a large appearance fee. Neither player fits the bill of a “returning player in a mixed season” tier of winner, as it doesn’t make sense to bring these legends back for anything other than an all-winners season or something special like Island of the Idols.

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Logically, there’s no way that Boston Rob and Sandra Diaz-Twine will be anything other than a coach for this season of Survivor: Island of the Idols. However, we just saw someone play 13 out of 39 days of the game and win the season, so logic and reason are thrown out the window. Let’s just cross our fingers, I guess!