By Dalton Ross
February 20, 2017 at 09:00 AM EST
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Survivor

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Two of the twenty players competing on Survivor: Game Changers are not like the others. That’s because when the rest of the cast began competing in season 34 last June, they had no idea what to make of the new fresh faces that had just finished competing on season 33 (Millennials vs. Gen X), since it would not even begin airing for another three months.

It’s a situation that had come up a few times before. When Rupert Boneham went back-to-back on Pearl Islands and All-Stars, his competition on the latter season had at least seen some of his first outing (which was still airing when All-Stars began filming). That was before Survivor started filming seasons back-to-back with just a few weeks break between. So when Russell Hantz went back-to-back for Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains and Malcolm Freberg (also a part of Game Changers) pulled double duty on Philippines and Caramoan, the other players on their second seasons had no idea what to expect.

So what exactly are the returning players told about mystery newbies Zeke Smith and Michaela Bradshaw? We went to the Hostmaster General for the definitive answer. We asked Jeff Probst out on location in Fiji for Game Changers (which premieres March 8 on CBS) to share what he revealed to the group. “We told them that there were two players this season from last season — Zeke and Michaela — and that all they needed to know is that neither one of them won the game,” says Probst. “And we said, ‘We’re doing a season called Game Changers. Read into that whatever you want, but just know they didn’t win.’”

And for those wondering, yes, this is the same way they’ve handled it before. “It’s exactly what we did with Malcolm and Russell. Everybody knew that they had not won the game, but that they had been asked back. So clearly they had been doing something to impress us. And now it’s on Zeke and Michaela to figure out how to turn that uncertainty into an asset and not fear that makes me go, “I got to get rid of Zeke. He clearly is good at something. I just don’t know what yet.”

Having been in Zeke and Michaela’s shoes before, Malcolm has an interesting take on their situation and how he might be able to use it to his advantage. We’ll see how it all plays out on March 8, but in the meantime check out the video of Probst talking about Zeke and Michaela above, and for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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Survivor

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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  • 40
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