‘Survivor’ Fans Outraged Over ‘Edge of Extinction’ Finale

After 38 seasons, it’s no surprise that CBS is making changes to the Survivor formula we know and love. The game has always been evolving, with CBS and host Jeff Probst brainstorming and adding interesting new twists and challenges every year. But, naturally, not every twist and change can be a major hit.

On Survivor: Edge of Extinction, we saw the new twist seriously impact who won the game in a surprising upset, and it left many fans feeling frustrated with the results.

What is the ‘Edge of Extinction’?

Gavin Whitson and Ron Clark
Gavin Whitson and Ron Clark | CBS via Getty Images

This season’s twist was all about being constantly “on the edge of extinction.” But what does that mean? According to Probst, it’s all about pushing your limits.

“As we continue to evolve the show, it’s really important to us that we continue to see how far we can take this experiment. We’ve done a lot in the last few years about game play and advantages and twists and really wanting players to come in and play strategically. Lately, it’s also been occurring to me that we should try to get a little deeper psychologically, a little deeper spiritually. Let’s see how far people want to go. Is there a possibility of the spiritual death and rebirth that you seek in life, where you realize something deeper about yourself?” explained Probst.  

When a castaway is voted off of the show, they’re given an option — continue to eke out a miserable existence on Extinction Island, which is barren, or leave the game. The players who remain on the show aren’t aware of Extinction Island.

“It’s truly a situation where you’re going somewhere where tribe life as you knew it on the island will seem wonderful, because on Extinction, you will have to work for everything. And with no certainty that you will get back in the game, it comes down to one question: how badly do you want this? How far will you want to push yourself? How curious are you to see what you’re capable of?” said Probst.

Clawing your way back

Jeff Probst and Rick Devens
Jeff Probst and Rick Devens | CBS via Getty Images

Castaways on Extinction Island had two opportunities to get back into the game. They competed against all of the other castaways on Extinction Island for the right to make their way back into the tribe. If they succeeded, they were awarded an immunity idol.

The first castaway to fight his way back was Rick Devens, the charismatic news anchor from Macon, GA. After playing a socially adept game, Devens came back into the tribe facing enormous odds. He played a fast-paced game, hustling to find idols and win immunity challenges so he could make it to the final four.

Unfortunately, a wrench was thrown in his plans when the second contestant made it back from Extinction Island. Castaway Chris Underwood fought his way back into the tribe when only five remained, bringing the number up to six.

By then, Devens had made a lot of friends on the jury, especially given the strong game he played, and Underwood knew he had to make a move. He was able to blindside Devens, giving up his own ticket to the final three to face Devens in a fire making challenge that Underwood utlimately won.

Why all the controversy?

Fans took to Twitter to vent their frustration with what happened on the finale. Many of them felt that spending a long time on Extinction Island was actually an unfair advantage, not a disadvantage. This is because the castaways on the island had time to rest up and build social bonds with the other castaways on the island, who would end up becoming jury members. Add the immunity idol the returnee gets, and it’s easy to see why they feel that way.

Twitter user D.Hoyt wrote, “Jeff What the?? AWFUL, JUST AWFUL ENDING. I’ve watched from the First show. This is in the top 3 WORST. STOP CHANGING THE BASIC RULES! Yes it is fun to see some new aspects to the game. HOWEVER it is called SURVIVOR. He was present only a few days!#SurvivorFinale.”

User Kristina tweeted, “Someone you haven’t seen in weeks winning the final 4 immunity is hard to care about. #SurvivorFinale”

Fans also felt as if Devens, who had hustled hard and played on the tribe for longer than Chris, was cheated out of his victory. Eliza Orlins of The Amazing Race was irritated as well. She tweeted, “I’m heartbroken. I don’t care what anyone else says, Devens was the star of the season. I’m so disappointed with this lackluster final three. Is it time to switch over to #thechallenge? #survivor”

It’s easy to see why fans might feel cheated on behalf of Devens, given how little time Chris actually spent playing Survivor with his tribemates.