Design by Priya Ganji

Almost three months after the finale of “Survivor” Season 41, Season 42 premiered on Wednesday, March 9, 5 million viewers, including myself, tuned in to watch. Season 41 brought many new twists and turns to the game since the previous season, which aired nearly two years prior, after having to halt filming due to COVID-19. It was revealed in this season’s pilot that Season 42 was filmed directly after Season 41, so the new castaways on Season 42 wouldn’t have knowledge of many of the twists from the previous season that viewers had already been exposed to. As an avid watcher and fan of “Survivor,” I enjoyed the new high-stakes that came with Season 41, so I’m hopeful that this season will reach the bar its predecessor set.

For those unfamiliar with “Survivor,” 18 castaways are sent to an island in Fiji to “outwit, outplay and outlast” their way to the $1 million grand prize. The competitors are initially split up randomly into three tribes of six, where each tribe competes in challenges to win supplies for building a shelter, flint for starting a fire, food (mainly extra rice) and even immunity to keep the tribe safe. The tribe that fails to win immunity is sent to a tribal council where one player is sent home. Season 41 brought with it more hidden immunity idols (which grant the idol holder safety from being voted out), more advantages and more risk than the previous seasons — something Season 42 seems to continue.

The pilot episode already introduced one new twist: A candidate from each tribe could secretly agree to work with a member from each of the other tribes and earn an advantage in the process, or not. It was later revealed that the advantage had a special kind of twist to it depending on how many of the other advantages were left in the game. If all three advantages were left in the game, it counted as an extra vote at tribal council; if two were left, it counted as a steal-a-vote from a tribe-mate; and if only one was left, it peaked in power as an immunity idol. While there is (most likely) still a great amount of game left to be played before these advantages come into play, it will be interesting to see if these players choose to work together as they initially planned or if they will turn on each other in efforts to get more power for themselves. 

The key standout moment of the episode was when host Jeff Probst had to remove one player from the game. Jackson was removed from the game after some health-related concerns came up. Prior to coming to the show, Jackson was on a medication called lithium, something he didn’t disclose to producers until the day before shooting started. The main concern producers had was that hunger and dehydration, conditions which Jackson would surely endure on “Survivor,” magnify dangerous side effects of the drug. While the problem could have likely been avoided altogether by replacing Jackson with an alternate and letting him come on the next season when the medication wasn’t an issue, it certainly made for a more dramatic pilot than it would have otherwise been. 

Season 42 is only one episode in and so far it has been just as expected — and as a “Survivor” fan, there’s nothing wrong with that. What really makes a season of “Survivor” special is the cast. It’s too early to tell who fan-favorite players will be or who has the best shot at the $1 million grand prize, but from what has been revealed about the castaways so far, this looks like it will be another great season of “Survivor.”

Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at