Originally there were supposed to be 20 contestants total, but one pair was forced to drop out after a medical check-up just days before filming began in Nicaragua. “We lost a pair of women, so the way it works out is there are more men than women,” host Jeff Probst tells us. “That’s just the game. We don’t like it that way but that’s the way it’s going to start.” Among the pairs that will be playing in season 29 are a married cop and a firefighter, Miss Michigan 2013 and her boyfriend, as well as a cheerleading mother and daughter team.
Jeff Probst told EW back in May that the Redemption Island twist would return for this season, but then production scrapped that plan when they came up with another idea at the last minute instead — to bring back Exile Island. A twist that was introduced in season 12 (Panama) and discontinued after season 18 (Tocantins), Exile Island is where contestants were sent away from the rest of their tribe to live on their own in between challenges. Making Exile Island even more brutal this time around is that your loved one will be sending you there after a one-on-one duel. “You’ve got to go up against your loved one and here are the stakes,” explains Probst. “Winner gets reward. Loser goes to Exile Island. Where it’s going to really suck. And it’s going to suck because you put ‘em there!”
However, there is a silver lining in the form of a clue at Exile Island to the location of a hidden immunity idol back at camp. “The good news is you at least have a shot at finding the immunity idol,” says Probst. “And it’s up to you if you want to share that there was a clue or not. The complication is, that clue will lead you back to your beach where the idol is hidden, so you’re going to have to dig it up while everybody else is there. So nothing’s going to be easy this season, but I really do believe that the game play is ratcheting it up so we have to ratchet up with it, so we’re trying to complicate it as much as we can.”
Of course, the other twist is the inclusion of John Rocker in the cast. Will he be recognized by the other contestants for his World Series-playing baseball career? And will they recall his controversial statements in a Sports Illustrated article from 1999. “I find John Rocker a perfect fit for this show because of all the baggage he brings in,” says Probst. “I like John Rocker being on the show because he has massive obstacles to overcome."
( 39 days, 18 castaways, 1 Survivor!Collapse )
Survivor: San Juan del Sur premieres on CBS with a special 90-minute episode on Sept. 24 at 8pm
Sources: 1 | 2 | 3
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