Multi-season: Survivor and the problem with the first vote
Published: July 31, 2020
Jeff Pitman's analysis of the challenges facing Survivor's Black, Indigenous, and People of Color contestants when their tribe makes its first vote. Running the numbers, it's clear they receive a higher percentage of those first votes, and this problem has grown over the past decade. With suggestions for fixing this, and broadening Survivor's story-telling resources.
Episode 14: The friends they made along the way
Published: May 19, 2020
The Winners are finally no longer at War, and the season finished on a high note, and one surprisingly steeped in emotion. A solid finale that reaffirmed the core Survivor game, with a well-earned win from an entertaining winner who somehow played an even better game this time around.
Episode 13: Ending Edge of Extinction
Published: May 11, 2020
With Edge of Extinction and fire tokens both (mostly) ending this episode, Jeff takes this pre-finale opportunity to assess their impact, what should be kept (hint: only one), and potential improvements in their execution. Hopefully leading to a bright, distraction-free conclusion to Winners at War.
Episode 12: The long and short of challenges
Published: May 4, 2020
This episode featured a stark contrast between a grueling Edge of Extinction task and a spectacularly short 'endurance' immunity challenge. That probably wasn't by accident, and was probably intended to boost the audience's opinion of the Edge. Sigh.
Episode 11: This one goes to (Episode) 11
Published: April 27, 2020
Tony Vlachos dusted off the old Cagayan songbook, got the old band back together (with ongoing auditions for a new Woo), and cranked the amp all the way up this week, Episode 11 of Winners at War. Jeff looks at this, a potential SurvivorAU comp, and two people challenging a record that may surprise you.
Episode 10: So many loved ones!
Published: April 20, 2020
The many, many loved ones took up a lot of time, but they were worth it. Was it also worth it to intentionally trigger an advantage avalanche in the same episode? Jeff explores that, some potentially prophetic editing, and more.
Episode 9: End Survivor whispers
Published: April 13, 2020
What was once Survivor's shiny new toy - the alleged 'Live Tribal' awash in whispering - has become a narrative crutch, deployed seemingly at random to give the illusion of an up-in-the-air conclusion. They rarely actually are, leaving the audience with little more than unintelligible confusion. Please stop.
Episode 8: Emerging questions
Published: April 6, 2020
The Winners at war are now battling against each other on one tribe, and how that changes the game at large still feels like an open question. The merge episode raised a lot of questions overall, actually, which in some aspects is a good thing. Jeff explores those questions here.
Episode 7: The ebb and flow of the Edge
Published: March 30, 2020
Winners at War is now perched on the precipice of the merge, which also portends the (first) returnee from Edge of Extinction. With that in mind, Jeff takes a mid-season look at how this version of the Edge has fared . (Spoiler: Surprisingly worthwhile, or at least it would be if it ended here.)
Episode 6: Big moves, big food, big episode
Published: March 23, 2020
As the merge approaches, the Winners at War gameplay finally ratcheted up to the intensity of its title. As the culling of the legends continues, a new crop of contenders are making legendary moves of their own. It's real, and it's spectacular.
Episode 5: A nice day at the beach
Published: March 16, 2020
With its swap episode, Winners at War returned to the promise of its premiere, indulging in its characters and focusing exclusively on the actual game of Survivor. A lot of strategy and social game, a lot of scheming, except for the poor Yaras forced to just stare at each other all day and talk about cookies. But overall: A lot of fun.
Episode 4: Edge of Extinction vs. Survivor
Published: March 9, 2020
This episode, with its spotlight dive into Ethan's physical struggle during an Edge of Extinction task, demonstrated clearly that it's possible to love something and hate it at the same time. Compelling TV, deeply affecting to watch, but also an artificial construct that stole a quarter of the episode from the actual game.
Published: February 29, 2020
Winners at War marks the second season in a row where idols and advantages are flying off the shelves, yet not every player has access to them. Does Survivor's attempt to even out distribution in this manner actually make them less fair?
Episode 2: Fewer Edge letters, more ladders, please?
Published: February 20, 2020
Winners at War's second episode was a mixed bag, even after being dumped out at Tribal Council. Despite asserting that Survivor is a game of relationships, almost none of those were shown in the first half of the episode, focusing instead on various idols, tokens, and advantages.
Episode 1: Winners at war with the record books
Published: February 17, 2020
Strong, beloved characters and fierce competition made the Winners at War premiere a huge success, albeit one that could be watered down substantially by the season's twists. But until then, Jeff looks at the many Survivor records that can and/or will fall this season.
Pre-season: Winners at war with the game itself?
Published: January 22, 2020
If you've been wondering 'What could Survivor possibly do to screw up something as bulletproof as an all-winners season?', don't worry. Jeff Probst has a plan for that. Can the best cast ever break free of the showrunner's shackles? All we can do is hope.
Jeff Pitman is the founder of the True Dork Times, and probably should find better things to write about than Survivor. So far he hasn't, though. He's also responsible for the Survivometer, calendar, boxscores, and contestant pages, so if you want to complain about those, do so in the comments, or on twitter: @truedorktimes
Other TDT recaps:
Jeff Pitman has been writing about Survivor for far too long. Here are some options for further reading...
Survivor: Winners at War | Island of the Idols | Edge of Extinction | David vs. Goliath | NZ: Thailand | Ghost Island | Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers | Game Changers | Millennials vs. Gen X | Kaoh Rong | Cambodia | Worlds Apart | San Juan del Sur | Cagayan | Blood vs. Water | Caramoan | Philippines | One World | South Pacific | Redemption Island | Nicaragua | China | Fiji | Cook Islands | Vanuatu | The Amazon | Thailand | Marquesas | Africa
See also: The full True Dork Times index of past seasons.