When I spoke to Survivor‘s Jeff Probst earlier this year after the success of the Blood vs. Water season, he mentioned that the Redemption Island twist would most likely only return in future Blood vs. Water seasons. Then when I spoke again in May upon the announcement of the upcoming Survivor: San Juan del Sur season (which premieres Sept. 24 on CBS), Probst confirmed that the twist would indeed be back. So imagine my shock when I showed up on location two weeks later — just 48 hours before filming began — and learned that Redemption Island had been axed.
Yo, what’s the deal, Probst? The host sat down with me on location in Nicaragua on day one to explain why they swapped out the controversial twist. “We were going to do Redemption and we had been trying to come up with a new idea,” says Probst. “But we didn’t have it, and so my feeling was, if we don’t have a better idea, let’s go with what we know works. And then another idea came to me and I ran it past the guys and suddenly it was ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That’s what we should do!’ And then everybody contributed their two cents and we birthed what we’re doing today.”
That idea they birthed was bringing the Exile Island twist out of mothballs. In the video interview below, Probst explains why they made the switch and how Exile Island will work this time around. He also wants to make it clear that Redemption Island is a twist the show still likes and may trot out again. “I am not opposed to Redemption Island,” says the host. “We didn’t get rid of it because people didn’t like it. We got rid of it because we wanted to find something new. It just took us a while.”
Click on the video below to check out more from Probst on the Redemption Island/Exile Island shake-up. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.