Survivor: Winners at War premiere counts as just one episode

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Though there will likely be two players going to the Edge of Extinction tonight, a Survivor exec confirms Winners at War’s premiere counts as one episode.

For the past few years, Survivor has opened with extended episodes to capture the hearts and minds of the audience in getting to know the castaways better competing on their season. Ninety-minute episodes have typically seen one player booted from the game in one episode, while premieres like those found in Ghost Island saw two one-hour episodes stringed into one continuous block of television.

This time will be a little different, although it comes with the caveats and twists that are provided in a season with the Edge of Extinction twist and a record-breaking 20 players and 22 opportunities to win (if two players return). Executive producer Joe Lia has answered a fan question about tonight’s Winners at War premiere, confirming its standing as just one episode.

“You’re in luck, it’s a standalone 2-hour episode,” he answered in contrast to television listings. “Conceived and structured that way before filming began.”

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As part of the preseason interviews, we do know that there will be a Day 1 Immunity Challenge, and that much is shown in the episode 1 press photos that were made available weeks ago. Players will be toasting to their successes tonight before heading into a water-based ring collection challenge to avoid being voted out on the first day of a 39-day journey.

However, with two sets of challenges seen in the press photos, it’s clear that there will likely be a Day 3 or Day 4 Immunity Challenge for a second boot going home in tonight’s premiere. That much has been hinted at by those who were in attendance for Monday’s Los Angeles premiere, although footage stopped short of airing Tribal Council for whoever the second boot will be.

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What does this mean for the Survivor: Winners at World viewing audience at home? It means that in a typical season, you get 14 episodes, with the final being episode 14 heading into the bonus episode considered the reunion. That means we’re getting an extra hour of Survivor content this season; a fitting touch considering the number of eliminations we’ll need to cover and the stories needing coverage at the Edge of Extinction.