'Survivor' retired puzzles for season 45 due to 3-D printers

"We're aware and we're on it," says Jeff Probst.

California Dreams was better than Saved by the Bell. There, I said it. 3d Puzzle Hogwarts

'Survivor' retired puzzles for season 45 due to 3-D printers

Carson Garrett broke Survivor. The NASA engineering student took challenge preparation to an entirely new level by 3-D printing pretty much every Survivor puzzle and solving them before he ever hit the island for Survivor 44.

In truth, Carson was not the first person to do such puzzle prep. Folks like David Wright and Evvie Jagoda had also figured out specific puzzles before going on the show. While it didn't really help David in the game when he returned for the Edge of Extinction season, Evvie stunned host Jeff Probst on Survivor 41 when they recognized a buoy puzzle they had been practicing at home and proceeded to solve it within seconds.

After Carson then showed up and easily solved many puzzles he had diligently 3-D printed out and practiced at home, the question became: Have players now cracked the code on difficult brain teasers and taken the drama out of what was supposed to be a dramatic mental battle? Had rote memorization replaced genuine mental acuity? And had the players finally caught up to producers?

The game between producers and players on Survivor is almost as intriguing as the one between the contestants. Players are constantly seeking a way to gain any advantage in the format — and much in the same way Russell Hantz once realized you did not need to wait for clues to find hidden immunity idols, Carson gamed the system on the belief that he could figure out often recycled Survivor puzzles from the comfort of his living room. And that is what he did. So now the new question becomes: What are the producers going to do about it?

We reached out to Jeff Probst to ask him exactly that, and the host and showrunner reveals that Carson was not the first Survivor applicant to use that tactic. "The backstory is we had been aware for years that players were making 3-D puzzles, because we would see it in their audition videos," reveals Probst. "And we jokingly anticipated that one season things are going to line up and a player was going to end up on the show who actually made a 3-D puzzle and that same puzzle will be in the season."

Which is exactly what happened on Survivor 44. "When it happened, we really liked it," says Probst of Carson's puzzle prowess, "because we felt like it was a bit of a reward to the superfan, and we appreciated the meta moment of something like that."

While the host enjoyed one particular player winning that round against producers, it is not a trend he wants to see continue, which is why steps have already been taken to counter it. "We understand that the idea can run its course and we feel it has," says Probst. "So we did retire some puzzles, and we have new puzzles in season 45, so I think it's unlikely that we will find ourselves in that spot again simply because we aren't looking for it anymore."

Of course, as much as producers change the game — including a brand-new coral puzzle in episode 2 of Survivor 45 — there are always contestants anticipating one step ahead. "Never say never," Probst warns of more puzzle-busting. "Survivor players are very crafty, and they could surprise us, but we're aware and we're on it."

Consider that a challenge, all future Survivor cast members.

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'Survivor' retired puzzles for season 45 due to 3-D printers

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