You can't stop them. You can only hope to contain them.
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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Canada. The home of toques, poutine, and the hilarious comedic stylings of the McKenzie Brothers. But over the past year, the Great White North has become known for something else — absolutely dominating at the game of Survivor.

In a way, our neighbors up north have been making up for lost time. For its first 38 seasons, Survivor essentially told Canadians to "Take off, eh?" That's because even though the program aired and was wildly popular on the other side of the border, its citizens were not allowed on the show. That all changed on season 39, Island of the Idols, when 60-year-old retired NHL player Tom Laidlaw became the first Canadian cast on the program.

Even though he was the fifth one voted out of the game, Tom had a respectable showing and acquitted himself well in his 14 days on the island. But his historic appearance was merely a precursor for what was to come.

SURVIVOR
Deshawn Radden, Erika Casupanan, and Xander Hastings from 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

After a Winners at War season that pitted former American champs against each other, the Canadian floodgates opened with Survivor 41. No player controlled the screen in the pre-merge portion of the game more than Toronto native Shantel Smith. The self-proclaimed Mafia Pastor even had her own evil theme song for when she pulled off ruthless moves, like convincing JD Robinson to give her his extra vote, and then promptly voting him out.

But if Shan dominated the first half the game, the second half was run by eventual champion Erika Casupanan. On the verge of being eliminated after being sent to Exile Island after the pre-merge challenge, Erika smashed the hourglass, and then flipped the script — riding that decision all the way to the million-dollar prize.

But those wily Canucks were only getting started. Survivor 42 featured a trio of powerhouse Canadians that all left a huge mark on the game. Drea Wheeler may have been born in San Antonio, but was living in Quebec as a fitness consultant when she went to compete on the show. And compete she did, setting a Survivor record by possessing four different advantages (an amulet, an extra vote, a hidden immunity idol, and the Knowledge is Power advantage) at the same time.

Unfortunately for Drea, she confided about her Knowledge is Power advantage to another Canadian, Omar Zaheer, who used the information to engineer her exit from the game in seventh place. Omar was the game's biggest player of the season, but he mostly played from the shadows — forming close bonds with everyone before backstabbing them out of the game. The Ontario veterinarian appeared poised to cruise to victory, until yet another Canadian took him out.

Maryanne Oketch
Maryanne Oketch from 'Survivor 42'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Maryanne Oketch was dismissed by many early on as a loquacious nuisance who was an annoyance around camp with her Energizer bunny level enthusiasm. But her emotional exterior and ebullient personality masked a true game assassin, and when Maryanne engineered Omar's ouster at sixth place, she announced herself as a true gamer. And that gamesmanship was rewarded with a million dollars, making her the second straight Canadian to win the game.

So what's with all this Canadian dominance, tearing through the game like the RCMP? We went to Survivor host Jeff Probst for answers. "That's a fun and funny question," says Probst. I have no idea, but you're right, they are kicking ass!"

But wait! Stop the presses! (And by presses, we naturally mean the Toronto Star, Le Journal de Montréal, Vancouver Sun, and, of course, The Hamilton Spectator.) Because Jeff Probst actually does have an idea after all! "Oh wait, I might have a theory…" says the host. "It's forming as I think. Ahh. Yes. Okay, hang on, let me do some quick physics analysis… Let's see, carry the one, move the decimal point…yes, got it!"

Shantel Smith (survivor 41) Erika Casupanan (survivor 41) Drea Wheeler (survivor 42) Omar Zaheer (survivor 42) Maryanne Oketch (survivor 42)
'Survivor' contestants: Shantel Smith, Erika Casupanan, Drea Wheeler, Omar Zaheer, and Maryanne Oketch
| Credit: Robert Voets (5)

So what exactly is this theory, Jeff? "Alright, so going all the way back to the early seasons, Canada has always been a huge, loyal supporter of Survivor," says Probst. "But they could never play. So over time that desire (energy) builds and builds, and, like credit card interest, it compounds every year. Now you combine that with the fact that we're fast approaching our 23rd year and as we all know, 23 is a prime number, which means it's only divisible by itself. So you can't lessen the pent up energy by dividing it. Mind blowing, right?  So we have this giant ball of Survivor energy that is getting bigger and bigger every day… with no way to release. Until… "News alert! Canadians can apply to be on Survivor!" BOOOOM! Two decades of energy explodes! And from that point forward it's been total Canadian dominance."

I mean, it doesn't sound any worse than anything we've come up with soooooooo sure! Giant ball of Survivor energy! Let's go with that. Oh, and for any American Survivor purists that are worried about these crazy Canucks completely taking over the game and winning season after season, fret not! Producers have already found a way to make sure that does not happen: There are no Canadians cast on Survivor 43.

Survivor 43 premieres Sept. 21 on CBS

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Survivor

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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  • 41
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