Redemption Island is a twist used in Survivor and is the eponymous twist of its 22nd season.
Redemption Island provides an opportunity for voted out castaway to re-enter the game and continue their pursuit of the title of Sole Survivor. Those who are voted out will compete in duels where the winner earns the right to remain on the island, and the loser(s) is permanently eliminated. The existence of Redemption Island is known by all of the survivors in the game, in contrast to The Outcasts twist, which also gave previously eliminated contestants a chance to return.
There are two re-entry points that take place while Redemption Island is in play: The day of the merge where the winner becomes a member of the merged tribe, and on Day 36, where the winner becomes a part of the Final Five.
The concept of Redemption Island rooted from three foreign versions of the Survivor franchise, namely, the Island of the Dead of the Israeli version, Isla Purgatoryo in the Philippine version's second installment, and Ghost Island from the Serbian version. Instead of being eliminated for good, players that have been voted off from their tribes will be given an opportunity to re-enter the game and have a second shot at winning the game.
After being voted out, the castaway takes his or her extinguished torch on their way out from Tribal Council and proceeds to Redemption Island. When the next person is voted out, they will be sent to Redemption Island as well, meeting up with current inhabitant and live together overnight.
In the first appearance of Redemption Island, the pre-merge cycle was always a one-on-one showdown. But when Redemption Island was restarted after the merge, "group duels" were used, where more than one person may win and/or multiple persons are eliminated.
In Survivor: South Pacific Redemption Island was reworked to focus mostly on one versus one duels, with all but two of the duels having only two castaways competing. Additionally, only one person could survive a "group duel" while the other contestants were eliminated.
Redemption Island was retooled for Survivor: Blood vs. Water with the potential to keep pairs in the game by giving the opportunity to switch with their significant other, negating the need to be voted off entirely and risk permanent elimination. In addition, every duel was of the "group duel" variety, with three castaways competing against each other.
Similar to a predecessor twist Exile Island, castaways would be living alone at a camp with much fewer supplies than the existing tribe camps. A roofless shelter is provided, and it is up to the castaway to build and maintain the roof. Similar to the regular tribe camps, Redemption Island also has its own Tree Mail informing its inhabitants of the upcoming duels. A short supply of rice is provided daily. As seen on "You Own My Vote", the eliminated castaway would also receive their luxury item from Tree Mail to alleviate boredom.
Built at a considerable distance from Redemption Island, the "Arena" is where the duels are held. It is an open field surrounded on all sides by tiered seating on which the survivors still in the game sit. During the pre-merge phases of Redemption Island and South Pacific, pairs from both tribes, whom either volunteered or chosen by random, witness the duel. After the merge, the whole tribe is in attendance. In Blood vs. Water, all members of both tribes witness the duel to allow a pair of loved ones, one member still in the game and the other being voted out, to switch.
The survivors still in the game arrive at the Arena first, followed by the inhabitants of Redemption Island with their unlit torch. The duel would then commence.
See full article: DuelAfter receiving Tree Mail, the condemned castaways arrive at the Arena to compete in a special challenge called "duels", where the winner earns the right to stay in the game while the loser is eliminated from the game permanently. In this special challenge, the winner of the duel will stay on Redemption Island and continue their quest to become the Sole Survivor, while the loser will be permanently eliminated from the game (this is denoted by the loser tossing his/her buff in a fire wok). Theoretically, should the first person voted off make it to the reentering stage, he/she must win all proceeding duels, meaning the castaway must defeat all subsequent castaways sent in the island.
In certain cases, there are more than two people residing on Redemption Island, with them participating in multi-person "duels." In this format, the number of eliminated castaways vary. A three-person Duel is unofficially known as a "truel", as mentioned by Mike Chiesl, Matt Elrod, and David Murphy in a secret scene before the first three-person Duel took place.
A re-entry point is the final duel of either the pre-merge or post-merge that permits the winner to re-enter the game. The first point is the day of the merge wherein both tribes attend to watch, once the Duel has concluded the players merge and are informed that Redemption Island will reset. The second and final point is when there are four players left in the game with two (or more) players at Redemption Island, once again, all those in-game attend to watch. On completion of the final Duel, Redemption Island is then retired, with all subsequent eliminations following the traditional Survivor format.
Hidden Immunity Idols
In Blood vs. Water the person who places first in a duel will give a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol to whoever they wish. If the castaway wins a game-returning duel, the castaway may also decide to keep the clue for themselves.
For the remaining contestants, eliminating other players would be a more difficult burden. In theory, if a player was removed from a tribe after a blindside vote, and returns after winning the final duel, a more unpredictable series of events would complicate the game. For instance, voting out a physically strong player could be potentially risky, as that player might win subsequent duels and just come back at a later time. Also, if the castaways chosen as observers divulge any goings-on at their camp, this could be fatal, as it would be substantial to the strategies of the potential returnee, and to the rival tribe.
As for the island's current inhabitant, he/she can have a longer time to rethink strategy and how he/she will re-assimilate with his/her former tribemates. The "resurrected" player may forgive the same people who double-crossed him/her, or might show bitterness by making bolder and more rebellious moves to avenge his/her untimely departure, such as creating a counter-alliance with the rival tribe, though all rethinking may all be wasted if they lose a duel. Furthermore, re-assimilating back into the game will be difficult because the inhabitant is oblivious to the happenings at the tribe camps. Additionally, a "resurrected" player is not guaranteed immunity, making him or her susceptible to getting voted out once again, meaning that winning Immunity Challenges could be crucial.
Once the Redemption Island cycle restarts post-merge, inhabitants will have the perfect time buying jury votes, gaining their sympathy as they share similar sentiments, stipulated they are all disposed from the tribe.
During the events of Survivor: South Pacific, Survivor veteran Ozzy Lusth hatched a plan in order to defeat the current champion of Redemption Island, Christine Shields Markoski; their tribe would intentionally throw an Immunity Challenge so that their strongest member would then be eliminated with the intention of defeating Markoski. This plan came to fruition, and although the Savaii Alliance believed it to be a "game-changer," Coach Wade panned the strategy - believing it to be insulting that the Upolu tribe would find it believable.
Redemption Island received mixed to negative response from the fans, stating that this deviation has watered down the show's premise and Jeff's usual opening sentence on every first Tribal Council—having lit torches symbolizes the contestants still in contention, while those who have extinguished torches are out of the game. Also, in the first two seasons this twist was in play, the Redemption Island returnees were disposed right after re-entering the game, or in Ozzy Lusth's case, the first opportunity they had in which he wasn't immune, thus having little to no effect on the endgame. Additionally, many fans found the multi-person duels pointless, because of the large amount of cast members that were still in the game during the finale (8 in Redemption Island, 6 in South Pacific, 7 in Blood vs. Water) that would just be eliminated anyway. Though multi-person duels in Survivor: South Pacific were rehashed by having a "win-or-go-home" mechanism (only the first-placing contestant stays, eliminating the others), the same disadvantages of having Redemption Island still arose. Fans also castigated the "dead airtime" Redemption Island gives, with the goings-on in the Redemption Island camp and Arena having nothing to do with strategy, given that only one person stays there at a time. With little to no social interaction, the driving point of the game, human relationships, is compromised.
Other fans panned the twist because the type of challenge they would perform may have the tendency to not suit the participants' abilities, and would result in an unfair competition (e.g. performing a physically-punishing challenge with a bodybuilder and a physically weak person as competitors) while others speculated that the twist would directly "save" a contestant with whom the viewing audience would prefer, such as returning contestants, or contestants who would bring high ratings for the show. It is often hinted that the twist was to keep returning players such as Coach Wade, Ozzy, Russell Hantz, and Rob Mariano longer in the game should they be blindsided early on for being too big of a threat. This suggestion holds no sustainable evidence, however, as only one returning player, Ozzy Lusth, dominated Redemption Island versus any other returning player who has been sent there.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water's Redemption Island was received more positively due to the accompanying twist of switching places with a loved one and vice-versa. This has led to several strategic blindsides in hopes of gaining control of the game. However, there has been criticism of the twist still being carried during post-merge. In all the Redemption Island seasons, a vast amount of fans felt that once the jury phase began (which started as soon as the merge happened in each of those seasons) the voted off players should just be sent directly to Ponderosa instead of being in the game longer for what would realistically be a minimal chance of re-entering and ultimately winning the game.
- With the advent of the Redemption Island duels, most of the challenges held in the seasons containing Redemption Island are for both reward and immunity. There has been only one reward-only challenge in a Redemption Island season, namely the first challenge of Survivor: South Pacific, which is a one-on-one challenge between Coach and Ozzy, on behalf of their tribe.
- Francesca Hogi is the first person to live on Redemption Island and lose a duel.
- Matt Elrod is the first person to win a duel, and currently has the most wins, winning ten of eleven duels.
- Matt also has the record for longest winning streak at ten straight Redemption Island duel wins.
- Laura Morett holds the record for the most duels won by a female contestant, with six.
- Ozzy Lusth, Andrea Boehlke, and Tina Wesson all have a winning percentage in duels; the only other contestants to return from Redemption Island were Matt Elrod and Laura Morett, who both were subsequently sent back post-merger and lost a duel.
- Four of the six times someone has returned from Redemption Island, they were voted out the next time they were vulnerable:
- In Survivor: Redemption Island, both Matt Elrod and Andrea Boehlke were voted out immediately after returning.
- In Survivor: South Pacific, Ozzy Lusth (both times) was immune from the first Tribal Council after the return point, but was voted out at the second.
- Survivor: Blood vs. Water averts the pattern, as Laura Morett survived three Tribal Councils without immunity, and Tina Wesson survived one Tribal Council without immunity.
- Duels are typically scaled-down versions of challenges which are used in past seasons.
- Challenge props in Redemption Island and South Pacific were colored in greyscale. For Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the three-person duels were in one of three colors, with blue indicating the longest serving duelist, red for second longest duelist and yellow for the recently voted out.
- Having players still in the game as audience in duels was a last-minute addition decided by Mark Burnett.
- Ozzy and Christine were the only contestants to win Redemption Island duels in Survivor: South Pacific
- Survivor: Blood vs. Water was the first season to have Redemption Island in a 20 castaway format.
- Ozzy Lusth, Candice Cody, and Aras Baskauskas are the only castaways to have lived in both Exile Island and Redemption Island at one point in their Survivor careers.
- Blood vs. Water is the first season to have multiple returning players competing in a single duel, and by extension the first season to have multiple returning players be sent to Redemption Island.
- Redemption Island was originally going to be used for Survivor: San Juan del Sur, but it was ultimately cut and the arena would be used for Hero Duels.
- Out of all the people who have been to Redemption Island, none of them have reached the Final Tribal Council that season.
- All seasons with Redemption Island included players returning from past seasons.
- Survivor: Redemption Island
- Survivor: South Pacific
- Survivor: Blood vs. Water
- Exile Island
- Edge of Extinction
- The Outcasts