The Hourglass is a game-changing twist introduced in Survivor 41. It allows its user to unilaterally reverse the results of a prior Immunity Challenge, stripping immunity from the challenge winners and transferring it to the challenge losers.
The Hourglass allows its user to "change the course of history". Following an Immunity Challenge, the player who has been handed the hourglass faces a decision between keeping the challenge results as they are, or breaking the hourglass to reverse the challenge results, effectively revoking immunity from the challenge winners and transferring it to themselves and the challenge losers.
The Hourglass was introduced at the "merge" of Survivor 41. The final twelve castaways were told they had to "earn" their way into the merge through a grueling team Reward/Immunity Challenge. The castaways were split into two groups of five, with two sit-outs, Erika Casupanan and Naseer Muttalif. The blue team comprising Danny McCray, Deshawn Radden, Evvie Jagoda, Ricard Foyé and Sydney Segal won the challenge, earning the merge feast and immunity at the first Tribal Council of the individual phase. In addition, the team chose Naseer to join in on the reward, in the process granting him immunity as well. Simultaneously, they made the decision to send Erika to Exile Island, where she would be the first person to receive the Hourglass.
Late into Erika's first day on Exile, Jeff Probst showed up with a decision for Erika to make. She could either keep the game as it is (and remain vulnerable at the first Tribal Council), or smash the hourglass, unilaterally removing immunity from the winning blue team and Naseer, and transferring it to the losing yellow team and herself. Sensing that she was on the bottom of her Luvu alliance, Erika decided to destroy the hourglass, forcing Danny, Deshawn, Evvie, Naseer, Ricard, and Sydney to compete in an individual Immunity Challenge to protect themselves at the final twelve Tribal Council. Ricard won immunity, and Sydney was voted out that night.
Once again, on the cusp of the merge, the final twelve castaways faced the same Reward/Immunity Challenge as in Survivor 41. The castaways were divided into two groups of five, with Lindsay Dolashewich and Rocksroy Bailey sitting out. The orange team comprising Hai Giang, Jonathan Young, Lydia Meredith, Maryanne Oketch, and Tori Meehan won and selected Lindsay to join them on the reward. Then, Jeff Probst told the orange team that they had a decision to make; they could either banish Rocksroy or exile one of themselves in his stead to keep control over the potential advantage on Exile Island, giving up their portion of the reward in the process. It has been implied in exit interviews that the winning team member that opted to be exiled would lose their immunity as a result. Ultimately, at Tori's insistence, the orange team settled on sending Rocksroy to Exile Island.
At the merged beach, members of both the winning and losing teams made guesses about Rocksroy's advantage. Notably, Drea Wheeler would accurately predict the nature of Rocksroy's decision, and alliances began discussing plans against both the vulnerable Chanelle Howell and immune players Maryanne and Tori.
After spending two days and two nights on exile, Rocksroy was faced with, and eventually made, the decision to destroy the hourglass. This forced Hai, Jonathan, Lindsay, Lydia, Maryanne, and Tori to compete in an individual Immunity Challenge to protect themselves at the final twelve Tribal Council. Tori would go on to win immunity, and Lydia was voted out that night.
|Survivor 41||"Ready to Play Like a Lion"||
Danny, Deshawn, Evvie, Naseer, Ricard, & Sydney
|"There's Gonna Be Blood"|
|Survivor 42||"You Can't Hide on Survivor"||
Hai, Jonathan, Lindsay, Lydia, Maryanne, & Tori
|"The Devil You Do or the Devil You Don't"|
The twist was panned by fans as well as members of the Survivor 41 cast. Notably, Danny questioned Jeff Probst at the first Tribal Council following the twist, labeling the twist as a "lie" that undermined the integrity of the game and the sanctity of winning immunity. Sydney believed that the Hourglass was a stroke of bad luck that effectively ended her game, as well as a symptom of the twist-heavy direction in which the series was heading, to its detriment. While the Survivor 42 cast was less critical of the twist, Tori was shown expressing her frustration at being on the receiving end of the twist and losing her immunity.
Additionally, the twist has been criticized for its overpowered nature. Because whoever breaks the hourglass automatically receives individual immunity, there is a heavy incentive for the exiled player to accept the offer, especially since they are isolated from the social politics happening in the game. The decision-making thus requires little risk calculation on the part of the exiled castaway, making it almost certain that they will accept the choice to reverse the challenge outcome in order to grant themselves safety.
- Both times the twist was used,
- In Survivor 41, as a result of the twist, a member of a green starting tribe won the individual Immunity Challenge and a member of a blue starting tribe was voted out. Conversely in Survivor 42, a member of the blue tribe won while a member of the green tribe was voted out.