Survivor: Edge of Extinction (Full Season)
April 4, 2019 12:51 PM - Season 38 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Fourteen new and four returning players return to Fiji for the show's 38th season that features a new season- a way for evicted players to get back in the game after spending time "on the edge of extinction" on a deserted stretch of beach.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (19 comments total)
This is the first season I’ve watched since probably the very first season, and I am enjoying it. The location is so gorgeous and the personalities are so interesting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:37 PM on April 4, 2019

ThePinkSuperhero, I'm pleased for you on hearing that, because you have a treat coming if you want to go back and watch prior seasons. (In the US, they're streamable on CBS, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.)

The location/nature photography has been a key part of the show ever since Survivor became one of the first shows to present in HD.
And if you're finding this year's cast interesting, there are some very much juicier interpersonal dynamics among other seasons.

I'm on the other end of the viewing spectrum from you, having watched pretty much every season since the beginning. This season is good, it's fine, it's 7 out of 10, it's what the deal is with Survivor being on for 38 seasons now. In that large number there are some visual duds, esp in the early pre-HD years where everything is just muddy brown, or those times when it rains for a month and the teams are just a bunch of wet cats huddling to stay dry.

And there are some casts where it's just a bunch of duds and you don't care to watch them plod through the game - or vice versa, sometimes it's people performing drama for drama's sake or to make sure they end up getting airtime in the final edit. But there are definitely better seasons than this one.

But if you're enjoying this season, the back catalog awaits, in a 'this is something you'd like, if you like that sort of thing', since this one is a fairly average-to-good season of Survivor so far.
posted by bartleby at 7:56 PM on April 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am open to suggestions of good seasons to binge!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:48 PM on April 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah I'm a quite blah on this season - waaaay too much time spent on returning players. They need to stick with the all-new, or all-returning formula that has been proven to yield consistently great results. I feel that outside of Wentworth, David, Aubry and Joe I've barely seen anyone else this season except for Wendy's terrible play and drama.

War Dog is my villain this season.
posted by smoke at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

A best-of list is a tough call, since tastes vary. There's also a hitch that many seasons are intriguing because the gimmick for the run is some form of Returning Player(s) Get Another Chance, and if you didn't see their previous game and root for or against them, you're not already invested.
So since you've missed all of the show, here's a controversial idea for a binge arc: Rapidly Escalating Quality. Watch Seasons 17 through 20, before the formula (and beach location) had completely solidified.
17 - Gabon (African Plains) awkward, low budget, light on charisma.
18 - Tocantins (Brazilian Desert) immediately so much sharper and brighter! Gameplay starts right away and keeps going. A compelling bromance.
19 - Samoa (yay, gorgeous beach!) What if someone came in intentionally to play it evil? How are you with 'Ooh, I hate this guy! But what will he do next?'
20 - Heroes vs. Villains (beach again!) This is some fans' favorite season, but mainly because of that history - the whole cast is made of the most loved and hated players from the first 10 years of the show this time. On one hand you won't get why these people already have bonds and rivalries starting out, since you haven't seen their seasons. On the other, everyone's played and/or won before at least once, so they go hard and with with skill right away, they know all the tricks, and have already gone through the wet socks and cup of rice every day thing. So it's Survivor played by professionals.

That would give you an overview of the show from when nobody from producers to cast knew what they were doing, to when everyone involved has the show and game figured out (or so they think).
posted by bartleby at 12:09 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Or forget all that and just take Tocantins as a compelling non-beach season.
And a bonus tip for bingeing a lot of Survivor all at once:
Not every episode has some compelling big event, but what every episode does have is a 'Previously on Survivor' and "Next Time on Survivor" bump. So you could conceivably fast forward through a season by just watching the odd-numbered episodes, unless informed by the bumps that you missed something important in the last one.
posted by bartleby at 12:50 AM on April 5, 2019

The choice at the end of every episode is really anti-climatic. Of course they want to keep playing. There should be a table with some food, cash, and a letter from home. But you have to give it all up if you want to keep playing.

They did a good job turning Eric & Ron into an instant villains last episode before the boot. Their threats about missing the loved ones visit got on my nerves really fast.

Other than that, Ron has a played a really quiet game so far. I knew him only as the guy with the facial expressions during Tribal Council. I did not know that he won The Price is Right, has been on Oprah, or that TNT made a TV movie about his life. I expect big things from him at some point this season.
posted by Gary at 11:35 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

There should be a table with some food, cash, and a letter from home. But you have to give it all up if you want to keep playing.
That wouldn't work, since they're about to get all those things at Ponderosa anyway.
(Ponderosa being the production facility on another island where exiting players/jury members are sequestered until the game is over. The self-consolation as vote-outs walk away from Tribal Council and get on the boat is "well, at least I get a cheeseburger and a shower tonight".) But yeah, the quit now or keep playing sign is kind of a non-choice.

The thing I was puzzled that we didn't get to see, was last week when two players in Exile quit after choosing to stay earlier that day. What would cause them to not televise the footage of that conversation?
I'd also like to see in general what goes on at that camp of Exiles. In a lot of past seasons, there would be a filer/recap episode around the 3rd-to-last episode to catch viewers up on the season up to that point. I wonder if there's good footage to make a "meanwhile, in the other camp full of Exiles, the last few weeks went like this" episode instead.

And just as an aside, am I the only one who misses the Survivor Auction? I know it burns up half an episode, but it's also a bit of levity at a point where the endurance part of the game really starts to weigh on people, and a chance to watch players get excited about bidding on a plate of nachos or a letter from home is a nice break.
posted by bartleby at 10:21 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I miss the auctions, I actually think challenge quality in general is way down.

Obstacle, obstacle, knots, puzzle. Repeat every week for rewards, alternate holding stuff vs balancing stuff for immunities. They've had such a great diversity of challenges, I know the budget has been slashed but they could stand to mix it up a bit, eg I also miss the memory/trivia tests.

Also they should make more "pick who comes with you" reward challenges, it always introduces a great strategic element.

The Australian seasons have their weaknesses, but the challenges have been stand out in both seasons. Truly epic.
posted by smoke at 11:05 PM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

The survivor auction was good, but they didn't change it up enough. Eventually the contestants knew to hold onto their money until the end and get the advantage in the game.

Similarly, a fun challenge was Q&A where each player has 3 vases/ropes/whatever and if you answered the question right you could cut another player's rope. It was a good way to reveal where people stood in their alliances and shake up the game. But one year the lead alliance conspired to throw the challenge to one of their own and we haven't seen it since.

Also they should make more "pick who comes with you" reward challenges, it always introduces a great strategic element.

Those tend to come later in the game. I agree these are good because even though they're a staple of the game people rarely seem to discuss what they're going to do ahead of time. Plus, even if you try to be strategic it means someone in your alliance doesn't get to go and ends up resenting it.
posted by Gary at 1:39 AM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really like the current season's idea of the larger jury, with what I'm assuming will end with the final players forced to stare down the barrel of 39 days of their voting histories and justify even the earliest in-game decisions.

I like how they're including idol status when they show the players' names. I always forget who has what.

And I'm especially happy that Jeff has apparently stopped yelling LET'S GET IT ON at the start of every challenge, which was super squicky and weird.
posted by mochapickle at 7:29 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like how they're including idol status when they show the players' names. I always forget who has what.

Survivor fan's tweet idea to Jeff Probst becomes part of the show
posted by Gary at 8:07 AM on April 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ooh, a fix a broken mechanic / Survivor Idea thread? Here's one:

Two things are percieved to be 'broken' in the auction:
Letters From Home, because the players had figured out how to game the system (except the time one person tried to cheat).
The letters are redundant as long as they're still doing the Loved Ones Visit episode, which is better TV, so leave them out.

Game Advantage, because players would just hold on to their food money to bid only on the advantage.
A couple of ideas to fix this. Pre-bidding, Jeff anounces that:
- One of the items has a secret advantage attached, to be revealed after the auction. (Look under your trays, one has a red X, come get your advantage)
- The advantage has a twist: the winner can't keep it themselves, they choose someone else to give it to. (bid accordingly, choose wisely)
- Two sealed envelopes, one has an advantage (extra vote in next Council?), one has a disadvantage (can't vote in next Council?). You're bidding on the chance to open ONE envelope.

This last is a big one, so maybe save it for Game Changers 2 or whatever:
Jeff: "In the past, we auctioned off an advantage in the game. This year we're doing something different. [puts box on table] The Dynamite. Might be good, might be bad; it might blow up someone else's game and move you ahead, or it might blow up your own game.
But it will certainly blow up the game. Survivor is about big moves and this is definitely A Big Move."

Someone wins a bid on The Dynamite, opens the box, finds a scroll they have to read there in front of the tribe and...
- Anyone who has a Hidden Immunity Idol, reveal that to everyone right now or it gets cancelled.
- This says one of you has an Idol. You have to give it to me, and I have to give it to another player, before the next Council.
- We're doing Tribal Council. Here and now. Someone's going home, right from the Auction.

Of course, maybe nobody wants to mess with opening The Dynamite box, even with Jeff's 'Big Moves are how you Win This Game' pitch.
So we never see what could have been, The Dynamite never goes off. Phooey.
So maybe instead, Jeff reveals a Wheel of Fortune, and players can bid on a chance to spin it. The Wheel has
Extra Council Vote
Forfeit a Council Vote
Excluded from next Reward
Automatically Included in next Reward
Immunity Idol Nullifier for you
Idol Nullifier goes to someone else
Shower and Fresh Clothes
Pizza Party
Someone's bound to take their chances, and once one player does it, someone else probably will.
posted by bartleby at 12:08 PM on April 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, the reason they don't do the auction any more is because you have to constantly be gaming which means it isn't that fun to watch. I would like to see them bring back challenges that weren't all endurance or puzzles though. Make'm eat more gross things!

I came into this season expecting to hate Extinction Island but the twists they have added (they're on the jury! it's mean! they make them do things!) liven it up a bit. At first Reem irritated me but I enjoy her incredibly bitter attitude now.

It still takes away from the main game and is the main reason I can't identify a fair number of the people still in it. Eric? OK I guess he was there somewhere.
posted by graventy at 8:33 AM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

This season is okay, last season was extremely extremely good. I'd start with watching that!

It's crazy that Wentworth has lasted this long for real.
posted by likeatoaster at 4:09 PM on April 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

"This is the first season I’ve watched since probably the very first season, and I am enjoying it. The location is so gorgeous and the personalities are so interesting."

Enviable position, Survivor back seasons can be great fun to binge, it's also like a neat time-capsule of culture and attitudes for a few decades. I got back into Survivor last season, after not having regularly watched from the very earliest ones and maybe an errant season here or there. After I started binging from season 1, I came to realize how much I liked the show, and a few friends had pointed out to me that they'd noted I had an unusual interest in it for years I was apparently oblivious to. Hope you have a blast exploring this past, it's a wild ride, be prepared to have strong feelings towards strangers from 10+ years ago lol.

Regarding auctions, I also miss them and share support for some of the proposed solutions. Same topic came up in the forums I usually discuss Survivor on, seems like everyone's got good ideas to fix auction while addressing the gamebot issues with it. Hope they implement some of them, they seem receptive to audience suggestion or demands.

This season so far has been okay, there were stellar episodes like the day they did 2 episodes in a row, thqat got crazy and felt like real Survivor fun again. Returnee seasons always have the same problem and this is no exception, the editing revolves around them, strategies seem to center around how foolishly long they keep returnees in, and as a consequence half of the cast are basically unnamed strangers who are lucky to get a confessional or line in the episode.

I think Extinction Island is much better than the usual loser-island gimmick, though it does still waste episode time, which could be solved with longer episodes or supplemental video online. Reem has been perfect for Extinction as the resident curmudgeon. Latest guy arrives on the island saying something "oh not so bad" about the shelter or whatever and Reem barks "Don't get excited, dude."
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2019

So I just caught up on this week's episode, with the increasingly intense live tribal council.

I really do enjoy when the TC goes off the rails -- the whispers! the formenting! the jury reacting! But this season seems to be so much more of the trend of CHALLENGE - VOTE SCRAMBLE - TC - CREDITS that I feel like I don't know any of these people, and therefore I'm not really all that invested in what's at stake, which would make the live TC derail that much more entertaining.

Didn't there use to be more interviews & interactions at camp? People dealing with the logistics of food in bellies and fronds over their heads, so you could get a sense of each player's character vs. gameplay?

I hardly know these people.
posted by mochapickle at 9:47 PM on April 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I hardly know these people.

I agree completely.

It didn't help that the Kama tribe didn't go to tribal at all until the merge. The losing tribe gets more attention because they're going to vote. Pile on top of that checking in on edge of extinction and the four returnees getting so much air time. There were 7 people on Kama we barely met going into the merge.

So we've now had 3 tribals of Kama eating their own and we haven't spent enough time with them to really understand why. This last tribal was amazing, but would have been even better if Julia or Aurora had gotten even a third of the airtime that David gets.
posted by Gary at 12:55 AM on April 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Loving Rick Devens and his dramatics at tribal council last night.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:02 AM on May 2, 2019

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