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For the 40th season of Survivor, former winners will return to compete for the largest cash prize in reality television history, $2 million. The season includes the return of a controversial twist as well as the addition of a new game element.

Of course, fans already began criticizing the twists before seeing them in action. Host and showrunner Jeff Probst defended his “creative ideas” in an interview with ET Canada.

Jeff Probst
Jeff Probst | Earl Gibson III

Twists for ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’

First incorporated in Season 39, the controversial Edge of Extinction twist will return for Winners at War. When the players are voted off the island, they have to live on the Edge and await an opportunity to return to the game.

The competitors also live on limited food supply and have the option of quitting by raising a white flag. Additionally, showrunner Jeff Probst and team created a new game element in the form of currency called “fire tokens.”

Probst described Survivor as a society and explained they created the tokens because every society develops some currency over time. Every contestant begins with one fire token but must will it to another player when they are voted to the Edge of Extinction.

The players on the Edge can find advantages and then sell them to the competitors in the game for whatever price they want. Even though the deal is done in secret, the contestants only have until sundown to complete it.

While tokens are of no value while on the Edge, they can be extremely valuable to a player if they return to the game as they can buy advantages and last longer.

Fans criticized the twists

When fans found out the Edge of Extinction twist would return, they were upset because they hated it the first time. In Season 39, Chris Underwood’s tribe voted him out on Day 8, and he won the second duel to re-enter the game on Day 35.

He then won the Final Immunity Challenge but gave up his necklace to take out the largest threat to win the game, Rick Devens, in a fire-making challenge. Underwood succeeded and then won the title of Sole Survivor, mainly due to the relationships he created with the other juror members on the Edge of Extinction.

Fans deemed it unfair, essentially because he won over two people who were never voted out of the game. Additionally, some viewers expressed disinterest in the fire tokens as they believe it will be hard to keep up with and a distraction. Others think it creates way too many advantages. 

Host Jeff Probst responded to the criticism

In an interview with ET Canada, host Jeff Probst acknowledged the criticism and his “bad ideas.” He stood beside his “courage to be creative” and explained that the audience leaves once they get bored. Probst also noted that even though fans claim they don’t want so many advantages, they wouldn’t be as intrigued without them.

Additionally, he explained that regardless if viewers don’t like the twists, they enjoy there’s at least something there to criticize. Probst promised his Survivor fans that he would “always try to make it unpredictable and find a way to go deeper into the human experience,” as that’s his main interest.

He defended the Edge of Extinction twist and described it as a twist “about spiritual death and rebirth.” The host noted it also “had a game element” because the players had a chance to re-enter. However, his “main focus” was on how far the players would go for an opportunity to return and what they could learn about themselves in the process.

Watch Survivor: Winners at War on February 12, 2020, at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.