If you’re like me and you’ve seen all 637 episodes of “Survivor,” you’ve heard host Jeff Probst say hundreds of times that tribes with more people must sit out extra players at challenges and that, “You cannot sit out the same person in back-to-back challenges.” In this new era of “Survivor” in which oftentimes there is only a single reward/immunity challenge in each episode, the sit-out rule seems to have vanished. What gives?
Well, as we now know, there was always an asterisk to the rule that stated that the same contestant could not sit out a reward challenge followed by an immunity challenge — in other words, combined challenges didn’t count. That’s why people like Sandra Diaz-Twine (in “Survivor: Winners at War”) and Claire Rafson (in “Survivor 44”) were able to not participate over and over again. Fans have taken to social media to express their unhappiness, and Probst has conceded that the rule “does need to be updated.”
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“In the old days of ‘Survivor,’ we used to have two challenges in most episodes,” the host explained in his latest “On Fire With Jeff Probst” podcast, as reported by EW. “That was designed to make the tribe figure out: Where do you want your weak player? Is the reward where you might get food, or immunity where you get protection?”
Probst continued on, “In this newer era, we sometimes only have one challenge, so that rule doesn’t have the same bite, and therefore Claire was able to sit out of several challenges. I do think it’s something that we do need to put on our whiteboard, and we need to examine if maybe we just change that. Because it does need to be updated.”
For the record, Claire competed in the first reward challenge of “Survivor 44” that took place on Day 1 (when Bruce Perreault hit his head and ultimately had to be medevaced). However, she later sat out of all three immunity challenges. That is part of the reason why her Tika tribe decided to vote her out unanimously in the third episode.
In a new deleted scene from Season 44, Episode 3 (watch below), Claire talks about her decision to sit out over and over again. “You can keep [the tribe] strong in a bunch of different ways,” she says before arriving at the third immunity challenge. “If we’re going brute force strength, that’s terrible for my game. I will be the first one on the block. I will be the first one out. But I think that people understand that there’s a lot of different strength, right? There is social strength, there is emotional strength.” The clip ends with Claire wondering aloud, “Maybe I should do a challenge.”
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