“Survivor” Alum Rob Cesternino Guest Blogs the Season 41 premiere for ET (exclusive)


“Survivor” Alum Rob Cesternino Guest Blogs the Season 41 premiere for ET (exclusive)

Throughout the season, Survivor alum and Rob has a podcast host Rob Cesternino will be a guest blogger for ET on the Biggest season 41 moments. This week, he recaps the first, and shares how he sets up the rest of the season.

After almost 500 days since the last new episode of Survivor, the OG reality competition has come back refreshed with lots of new changes in store. Although it has not been on the air since May 2020, Survivor has found plenty of new fans over the past year and a half because of people finding out about the series through a lockdown frenzy and because of two seasons appearing on Netflix.


This first of Survivor promises to usher in a “new era” for the show. No, you hadn’t been hallucinating, Jeff Probst was talking to you, the viewers at home. It’s one of the many tweaks the show has made to try and make the season fresh and fun.

Gone are the overarching themes of each season that have been the show’s signature for the past few years. Don’t expect to identify a group of people simply as Millennials, Healers, Beauties, or “collarless” workers like we did before.

More important again, Survivor 41 features the most diverse cast of survivors to ever play the game. Black Survivor alumni collaborated with CBS to create a casting pledge for diversity to ensure that 50% of attendees on CBS reality shows would be BIPOC. This also applies to the crew behind the cameras working on the series to help better tell the stories of this diverse cast.

This season is also the shortest in the show’s history with a windy weather of 26 days (39 days had been the Survivor staple food since the 42-day experiment in season 2). To compensate for the shorter schedule, Probst and the growers have committed to doing this Survivor‘s the most punitive season and have called this season’s game “The Monster”.

We saw in the first episode how much these Survivor the players received in terms of supplies to start the game. In previous seasons, players were given a supply of rice to start the game and this season they will only get the meager food rations when they win a challenge. In addition, Jeff Probst took away the necessary flints to make a fire to the teams that lost the opening challenge.


To show how this season’s version of Survivor sera, two tribes moved to a tribal council after the first immunity challenge. Typically in a season with three tribes, the first two finishing tribes are immune from voting. In Survivor 41, only the tribe that wins the challenge gets a night off from the tribal council.

The Yase Tribe had a less than ideal start in this episode when they couldn’t even find the oars needed to get off the boat and start the game. Their struggles continued until the first immunity challenge. , forcing them to send home one of the six members of their tribe.

Eric Abraham is a 50-year-old cybersecurity analyst who felt his teammate Tiffany was the one who couldn’t hack him. Eric targeted Tiffany because he believed her lack of athletic prowess was holding the Yase Tribe in challenges.

As Eric tried to rally members of the Yase Tribe to his cause, his plan ended up meeting some resistance. Liana Wallace, a 20-year-old college student, reported to Tiffany that Eric was launching his name there. Evvie, a 28-year-old doctoral student, was not excited about dismissing Tiffany simply because of her challenging performance. For Evvie and Liana, this makes a lot of sense as they have to wonder who could be Eric’s next target if they lose another challenge. Evvie spun around and brought in the tribe’s resident bucket fillers, Alex and David, to make it a first unanimous vote against Eric.

Eric seemed to have been a solid member of the tribe and I hate to see him and his energy disappear from the show. His only mistake seemed to be pushing too hard at first to get out his target and swinging that pendulum too hard in his own direction.


The most intriguing tribal council of the night came when the green chamois wearing the UA tribe attended the second tribal council of the season. While the show teased us that 20-year-old JD Robinson might be in trouble, his name didn’t eventually materialize to tribal.

As JD spoke, we began to see a side conversation developing between 31-year-old flight attendant Ricard, 34-year-old Pastor Shan, and 23-year-old healthcare consultant Sara. It looked like the vote was revolving around Brad, the 49-year-old rancher, but there is often more to these tribal council discussions than meets the eye.

In the immunity challenge, it was Shan and Sara who struggled with the puzzle that made Ua come to this tribal council. After the challenge, Brad had the audacity to tell Shan and Sara that they were on the chopping block for struggling with the puzzle. Sara had looked particularly worried, crying in front of the camera because of her nervousness about heading towards the tribe.

Sara’s discomfort about voting was a problem for people who tried to reject her because of a twist called the Shot in the Dark Die. This new wrinkle in the game allows a player to get a shot from 1 to 6 (some say 17% while others say 16.7%) to gain immunity when voting. Sara told us that she plans to use her dice on the first vote. If the other players thought she could use that emergency lifeline, it could have complicated the plan.

I suspect that when Sara started to scramble, Ricard and Shan tried to give her enough false hope to keep her from playing Shot in the Dark. However, it may have gotten more complicated when JD was made aware of this conversation. Shan was the last to whisper in JD’s ear and told him how to vote. Did she essentially tell him to “stick to the plan”?

Will Survivorthe new era of being able to deliver thrills to the fan base who Survivor built for over 20 years? With a wonderful cast, an enthusiastic Jeff Probst, and a game that’s sure to be action-packed, I think they have more than a shot in the dark to continue the legacy.

Survivor Airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET / PT on CBS.

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