My previous Survivor Mexico article was a first impression based on the first episode of the season, so it’s necessary to update my thoughts on the format now that we’ve seen an entire elimination cycle.
Firstly, all four of the following episodes (airing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday) had a feature-length runtime of 150 minutes! This includes two and sometimes even three challenges per episode. Again, the show is mostly focused on the challenges. Although some strategy talks and social dynamics start to appear, most of those scenes are used just to fill up time before more challenges.
The challenges themselves continue to be long and extremely demanding, often repeating several rounds within one challenge. For example, a mud run kind of challenge was repeated 36 times! And this was only to win rewards such as sleeping bags, flashlights, eggs, or small pieces of chocolate. Also, the castaways were informed that “Immunity Totems” were hidden in an area nearby each camp; anyone who found a Totem could use it for themselves or give it to another player.
Friday episodes are built around Immunity challenges, where both Tribal AND Individual Immunity are up for grabs. First off, players from both tribes compete for the an Individual Immunity necklace (this first week was a Broken China-like challenge). Second, tribes then compete against each other in a further TWO challenges to win Tribal Immunity. This is where things get a bit complicated. If a tribe wins both Tribal challenges, then all members of that tribe are safe. However, if the challenge wins are tied, then all castaways, except for the winner of Individual Immunity, are at risk.
Tribal Council is attended by both tribes. The castaways have torches, but there is not even the smallest reference to fire representing life on the island. As the same tribe won both challenges, castaways from the winning tribe are only there as viewers and commenters. It was not stated if a joint Tribal Council or a Double Tribal will be used in case of a tie in Immunity Challenges. In general, Tribal is as slow and boring as everything else on this show. For instance, the voting process took more than ten minutes, and stuff like this just drives me up the wall.
Elimination works as follows: It is based on nominations, where three nominated castaways compete in, you guessed it, another challenge, to determine who stays and who leaves. All members of the tribe vote, as usual, and the two players with the most votes are automatically nominated (even if there is a tie). The third and final nomination is decided solely by the winner of Individual Immunity.
The Immunity Totems can be used only after the nomination process is done, much like the Super Idol in Survivor US. This means the Totems cannot be misplayed. If a Totem is played by or for one of the nominated players, then that player becomes safe and another player must take their place (no more rules were explained beyond that).
Once the nominations were set, the three nominated players competed in a two-round challenge to secure their spot in the game. At this first Tribal Council, they had to hold up a weight in a full extended arm until they dropped it. In the first round, the last person holding their weight was safe, and then the other two played again. Finally, after 750 minutes of air-time (more than a complete season in the US), the first castaway had been eliminated.
As a final thought, I want to share what host Arturo Islas said in an interview back in June regarding similar TV shows. “Let’s be honest, Survivor is top of the heap,” Islas said. “Without this show, others wouldn’t exist, in the end, they are copies, and this is the original. Survivor is the formula of success.”
I couldn’t agree more with Islas, however, the truth is that the Mexican version of Survivor is nothing but another bad copy of the original show, which indeed already had the formula for success.