Survivor Winners at War: Will the mentor role help or hurt Rob and Sandra?

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

Boston Rob and Sandra are back for Survivor: Winners at War, but will they be dragged down by their involvement in Island of the Idols?

It’s not an easy task to return in consecutive seasons of Survivor, especially when they are filmed back to back. Boston Rob and Sandra Diaz-Twine were given a unique role in Island of the Idols, as they lived on the titular island for roughly 39 days. Even though they didn’t compete, they weren’t staying in a hotel either. Let’s dive right into the ways their mentor status will help and hurt them coming into season 40.

Ways it could hurt their performance

Affect their physical health: After Malcolm Freberg played in back to back seasons, he mentioned how it really took a toll on him physically. And that was coming from a 25-year-old athletic guy. Boston Rob and Sandra are roughly twenty years older than Malcolm was, and they weren’t in the same shape as him either.

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It’s true that they didn’t have to participate in challenges and they had plenty of food at their disposal as well, but it still was physically demanding for them. We saw in various secret scenes how Sandra dealt with a nasty infection, and both mentors felt the pain of sleeping on bamboo. Let’s hope that the one month between filming seasons 39 and 40 provided a long enough time for them to fully recover.

Puts an even bigger target on their backs: We won’t know until preseason coverage begins just how much the other 18 winners will know about Island of the Idols. That said, there’s a good chance production will tell them about Boston Rob and Sandra’s involvement, just like they informed the Edge of Extinction cast about the Idol Nullifier.

The other castaways might see this as an extra advantage; that they got to get back into the flow of Survivor sooner than anyone else. If these two legends didn’t have a big enough target already, you can add participating in a new era season to the mix.

Ways it could help their performance:

They are now masters of camp life: Being able to stay on a Fijian island for thirty-something days just under a month before returning to Fiji is a ginormous advantage. They’re more familiar with the resources of the island than anyone else. Both Boston Rob and Sandra got the opportunity to practice making fire, as well as gathering food and building a shelter. So I can’t see the two suffering from a lack of food, and they already have their fire-making down.

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Up to date with strategy and advantages: Prior to season 39, one of Rob and Sandra’s greatest weaknesses was their not so great history with advantages or idols. Plus, Boston Rob hasn’t played in nearly ten years, and the game has completely evolved since then. Watching new school Survivor on TV is one thing, but actually being out there and helping these castaways strategize is a whole nother story.

Getting into the mindset of thinking through different idol situations, vote blockers, Idol Nullifiers and more is a massive boost to their games. Being able to physically discuss plans with castaways and see the results at Tribal Council gives these two mentors even more experience. With all the time Rob and Sandra had on the island together, there’s no doubting that they had plenty of opportunities to think and discuss Survivor strategy, which will only get them more prepared for season 40.

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Participating in Island of the Idols is shaping out to be more of an asset than a liability to Rob and Sandra’s games. They’re back into the Survivor routine and received a nice strategic boost from spending lots of time thinking about and discussing idols and advantages. That still might not be enough for them to shake off their enormous targets, but at least we know that these two legends are in prime condition for a return.