Shiver me timbers! If you skipped last week's Survivor: Pearl Islands, you missed quite possibly the biggest twist in Survivor history. Executive producer Mark Burnett went overboard with the pirate theme: He resurrected the show's six castoffs from Davy Jones's locker, allowing them a chance to swashbuckle their way back into the game!
Here's the sitch: Burton, Lill, Ryan S., Nicole, Michelle and Trish formed the new "Outcast" tribe. During a reward challenge between the remaining Drake and Morgan members, they exacted their revenge. By solving a convoluted puzzle first, they forced the existing tribes to go to tribal council and evict one member each. In their place, the Outcasts will be permitted to vote two castoffs back into the game. Cool! Yet, is it fair to give these losers a second chance?
"The first ever [Survivor] twist was in Africa, when I switched the tribes around," Burnett tells TV Guide Online. "I remember everyone saying, 'Oh my God, they had their alliances ready. You've totally changed the game. Is this right?' I've always said that assumption basically makes an ass out of you and me. Don't make assumptions.
"The important thing is shaking it up," he adds, "so [contestants] don't start assuming [things], and it is not the same game every time. It is simply a game of social psychology and thinking on your feet, no matter what happens."
However, in order to keep some sense of fairness, the Outcasts were kept on meager rations while they were off camera. Plus, they weren't even sure what they were playing for. "They had no idea they had a chance to come back in the game, until Jeff Probst said it," Burnett explains. "I went to each of them the day after they were voted out and said, 'It is not over. You are going to get back in for one more reward challenge. The reward is going to be a great reward and something you'll really want.' They were probably thinking it was a big vacation!"
While Burnett keeps mum on any future surprises, he does have a previously unannounced tidbit of info about the season ender. This year's final tribal council won't take place on an American studio lot in New York or L.A. "The finale will happen on Sunday, Dec. 14, live in Panama, just for a change," he excitedly reveals. "Also, I like to do funny things. Jeff's arrival at the set this time is a doozy, and this was the only way to do it."