5 ways that its latest edition, ‘Edge of Extinction,’ ensures that ‘Survivor’ continues evolving after 38 seasons

The dinosaurs became extinct partly because they couldn’t adapt to shifting conditions. That has rarely been the case for CBS’ “Survivor,” the T-Rex of  TV reality franchises that has been on the air since 2000. And it’s still true as the show stomps its way into its 38th iteration when “Survivor: Edge of Extinction” premieres on February 20. This season will feature 14 new players and four returnees (see above) as well as a big honking twist.

Some faithful viewers might still be breathless from the exceptional edition that was “David vs. Goliath” — which turned out to be a rather genius concept — that concluded in mid-December. But rest assured that host Jeff Probst and producer Mark Burnett aren’t going to allow “Survivor” to sink into the primordial any time soon. How they are changing things up:

*Being voted out at Tribal Council is not necessarily the end. Once the tribe who lost a challenge vote out a member, that eliminated player will walk the usual path after snuffing out their torch. But along the way,they will encounter a sign that offers a choice. Either they can give up or they can take another path and board a boat.

*Stamina will be sorely tested. ‘Survivor’ isn’t exactly a picnic even back at camp. But the remote Extinction Island is a far more barren, harsher  and potentially lonelier environment. Just to make occupants feel more at sea, a motif of shipwreck remains whose curved remains resemble dino bones leaves something to be desired.

*Patience is a virtue. Those who choose Extinction will have to wait for a chance to get back into the game. If occupants feel they can’t handle the wait, they can summon a ship by sending up a white flag and give up hope of competing for the million dollar prize and the title of Sole Survivor.

*The first rule of Extinction is no one knows about Extinction. Meanwhile, back on the mainland, players have no clue that the person they just kicked out can make a comeback. All the strategy in the world will not help if a player you cruelly voted out comes back to haunt you and gets a second chance.

SEE ‘Survivor’ season 37 finale recap: Was the $1 million winner Nick, Davie, Mike, Kara, Angelina or Alison?

*Extinction Island is way to add a different plot strand to the traditional trajectory. As Probst has said, “We don’t have to spend five minutes of screen time at Extinction Island. We just have to tell the story in the most dramatic and interesting way.”

*As for the dinosaurs … they are human. Just to make matters extra interesting,  a quartet of  “Survivor” alumni has been invited back. That they are among the four strongest players who just missed going all the way means that they will likely immediately have targets on their backs. Aubry Bracco was runner-up on “Season 32: Kaoh Rang” and made it all the way to Day 37 on “Season 34: Game Changers.” David Wright finished fourth on “Season 33: Millennials vs. Gen X.” Joe Anglim aka “Joey Amazing” killed during challenges on “Season: 30: Worlds Apart”and returned on “Season 31: Cambodia’.” He won 10 individual challenges total and was immune for 29 days during his second season. Kelley Wentworth was the fifth player to get the boot on the family-themed “Season 29: San Juan del Sur” but bounced back on “Season 31: Cambodia” and made it to Day 38.

SEE exclusive predictions: Who will win ‘Survivor’?

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