Survivor Goes Back to Cambodia for a 'Perfect Storm' of Punishing Conditions

Rob Moynihan
survivor, highlights
Monty Briton/CBS

Survivor serves up a second round of its “brains vs. brawn vs. beauty” twist when the CBS franchise returns to the shores of Cambodia for its 32nd season. Eighteen new castaways are divided into three tribes based on their intelligence, physical ability and attractiveness, but this cycle’s battle to outwit, outplay and outlast is especially challenging, thanks to the unforgiving conditions in Southeast Asia.

“This will go down as the toughest season we’ve ever had,” says host Jeff Probst, who promises at least one medical evacuation. “It was a perfect storm of high temperatures, bug bites that didn’t heal, small cuts that turned into infections and not enough drinking water. People were in a bad way from Day 1.”

Among those competing for the $1 million prize are former Big Brother contestant Caleb Reynolds, and two of the oldest and youngest players in Survivor history: former FBI agent Joseph Del Campo, 72, and college student Julia Sokolowski, 19. “Joe reminds people it is possible to be in your seventies and still do something as demanding as Survivor,” Probst says. “And Julia is one of those young women who has had such great life experiences that she’s a role model for what you can achieve in your teens.”

RELATED: 30 Seasons of Survivor History

The game also puts a new spin on the hidden immunity idols with a “super idol.” If two players combine their individual idols, they can save themselves or an alliance member after the votes are read at Tribal Council. “It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Probst says. “But it requires two people to conspire and agree on how and when to play it.” Let the blindsides begin!

Survivor, Season premiere, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 8/7c, CBS