Survivor: Winners at War is an acceptable home for Edge of Extinction

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS Entertainment 2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS Entertainment 2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

If 35 days’ worth of chances to win $2M brought 20 winners onboard, then Edge of Extinction is an acceptable tradeoff for bringing us Survivor: Winners at War.

I’ve brought it up countless times during the airing and conclusion of Survivor season 38, but I absolutely hated the Edge of Extinction twist. I’ve provided a few reasons why, as it stood, it was an institutional failure to what it is to play the game, so I was not very excited to hear that we were given a monkey’s paw when Winners at War was announced as season 40’s theme this week.

Although 20 former winners are coming back to fight for supremacy and the chance to win $2 million, we’ll be getting a ton of twists added to the game. In addition to fire tokens that allow players to buy luxuries or possible advantages, winners voted out will be taken to the Edge of Extinction, allowing them to confer with other members of the jury for up to a month before one of them tries to win the game outright midway through the season and on Day 35.

Though there were plenty of things that Survivor got wrong with the Edge of Extinction twist, it seems as though some of the problems it created have been addressed. For starters, as part of a Dalton Ross interview, Jeff Probst and production told all the players up front they would have at least one extra shot to get back into the game.

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Everybody knowing about a shot at re-entry before playing removes the fundamentally broken part of the game where players can’t strategize about something they don’t know about. Additionally, since these winners have had at least 39 days’ worth of journeys playing Survivor, qualms about editing balance don’t matter as much for players like Boston Rob, who will be appearing in his sixth season.

The Edge will keep entertaining Winners at War characters part of the show in subdued amounts. Think about how much better Game Changers would have been had Tony Vlachos been part of the show (and secret scenes) throughout the season. If he goes early in season 40, he could easily occupy the Reem Daly role as the King of the Edge.

We don’t know exactly how Edge of Extinction will operate as of Winners at War, but the hope is that production learned from the hard lessons provided by the results. I would hate to see people from the Edge grant advantages to those still in the game, and it would be excellent if it ends at the merge. Even if a jury begins from the first boot, it’s more palatable for all 20 players to have an impact on the show’s 20th-anniversary season.

Call it bold-faced optimism or lying to myself that everything will be alright in the end. However, considering the fact that the winners were brought on specifically for the fact they will get multiple chances (potentially) to win Winners at War, I’d rather have Edge of Extinction tacked on than to not have the season at all.

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Let’s hope we feel the same way after it’s all said and done.