It really had no right to be as good as it was.
Survivor 42 was, in essence, a carbon copy of its predecessor, a season plagued with an abundance of game-breaking advantages and underwhelming storytelling. But somehow, despite literally repeating just about every element of Survivor 41, this season was clearly the show’s finest outing since David vs. Goliath.
Yeah, the twists still sucked royally. The hourglass and Do or Die remain antithetical to the concept of the game, and Knowledge is Power once again only paid off due to clever players managing to neuter its effects. The maudlin backstory packages, as well as Jeff’s occasional asides to the camera, continue to feel forced, although the latter at least provided a laugh when the host singled out Applebee’s sponsorship as a new layer to the hourglass twist.
But the casting and editing were at a level that Survivor 41 seemed unwilling to even attempt to reach. Nobody was purpled. There were multiple characters that one could root for without reservations. And there was a decent amount of compelling camp life (such as Hai’s decision to eat meat) and humorous moments (I would highlight Daniel losing Mike’s idol, but pretty much every Daniel scene qualifies) amid some exciting, top-notch strategy. In short, this season really offered something for everyone.
I’m really tempted to make Survivor 42 a Tier A season. Every episode delivered, and I look forward to rewatching it. But it has a little too much in common with Survivor 41 to be classified with the likes of Pearl Islands. Still, a Tier B ranking is nothing to sneeze at, especially when expectations couldn’t have possibly been lower.