'Survivor' Is Shaking Up Its Premise Again For Season 36

Screen Grab/CBS

Survivor 35: Healers Vs. Heroes Vs. Hustlers is wrapping up Dec. 20 on CBS, and it's turning into quite the battle. This season has been filled with idol strip searches, clues under pasta plates, and a whole lot of emotional stories. Fans though are already excited for what will come next. So, when will Survivor return for Season 36? This is a reality show that is forever moving forward; each season brings new players, new strategy, and new stories. Fortunately, the wait won't be long. Survivor is set to return Feb. 28, according to Inside Survivor, though CBS has not confirmed this, with new players and a brand new twist.

The battle for the Season 35 crown has been an intense one: Ben Driebergen has been finding idols left and right and inspiring people with what he's shared about his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Chrissy Hofbeck has been a smart strategist the whole way through. Devon Pinto has emerged as a powerful game player. Ryan Ulrich has been playing a social and fun-to-watch game, and Mike Zahalsky has been the underdog from the start. The finale is shaping up to be an intense finish, kicking off a short break before the show returns. Survivor is the grandfather of reality television and yet it manages to reinvent itself every season and will do it all again in late February.

Before Survivor returns for Season 36, five contestants are still left to battle it out to be the Season 35 winner. Wednesday's finale will also include a live reunion special. While 'final tribal' and the jury vote happens during filming in Fiji, the reading of the votes will happen live in Los Angeles. I was a contestant on Season 33 of Survivor, Survivor 33: Millennials Vs. Gen X, so I understand the player perspective. From my personal experience, contestants must wait months after filming has wrapped to find out who won the show, finding out in front of a live studio audience.

Another important perspective is that of host and executive producer Jeff Probst. Probst spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the final episode of the season and the most recent gameplay. He talked about Ben finding another idol, the fact that this is a very competitive final five, and shared that there are no guidelines for the game. When asked to tease the final episode Probst had this simple remark to make:

"One of the best finales ever. It’s dramatic and emotional and surprising. So good. You’ll be riveted."

Survivor has been on the air since 2000, so Probst saying this is one of the best finales ever is a pretty powerful statement.

Inside Survivor reported on a variety of details about Season 36 of the show. One of the major rumors that Season 36 would be called Survivor: Ghost Island, a never been done theme for the show. (CBS has yet to confirm.) The site goes on to report on rumors of the season's twists, saying:

"Ghost Island will be more similar to Exile Island (but with a twist) than Redemption Island. It will be a separate location castaways are sent to throughout the game for short periods of time... Ghost Island will be populated with advantages from past seasons. These advantages are said to be ones associated with past (player) mistakes."

Again, CBS has yet to confirm the title or the twists. But the Survivor producers have kept the show evolving over the years, adding advantages and disadvantages into the game, so a theme that includes an abundance of secret advantages doesn't come as a surprise. The twist is interesting because it has never been done before, and this should make for a potentially riveting season.

Screen Grab/CBS

Inside Survivor also reported that Season 36 was shot in Fiji, the same location for Season 33, Season 34 and the current Season 35. For fans, this means more beautiful shots of Fijian beaches as the backdrop to the game. For me, I've started to recognize the beaches I once lived on and can't help but relive old memories every time I watch.