Each week, host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of Survivor: Philippines.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: All the questions this week are going to be about the reward challenge. Because there are a lot of questions to ask! First off, you told Tandang they had to sit out one man and one woman in both of the challenges. Why did you make them specially sit out a man in each, when a tribe can usually sit out whomever they want (as long as those people did not sit out another challenge in the same episode cycle)? Is that because they already had an extra man when Malcolm was put on that tribe?
JEFF PROBST: Occasionally there are challenges that require even numbers of men and women for them to be matched up and in those cases we force them to even up the tribes by who they sit out. It’s a decision that is made ahead of time when the challenge is first designed — long before we have any idea who will be left on which tribe when it comes time to run the challenge. In this case we knew we were going to do match ups and knew it would not be fair if one tribe had all men going up against all women so that’s the story on that!
EW: This was one of those very physical ordeals where the contestants can wrestle, body slam, and — as we learned in the case of Penner and Skupin — even graze one’s genitals. What specifically is NOT allowed physically in a challenge like this? What do you tell them they can and can’t get away with?
PROBST: Ah, Dalton, you’ve been out there when we explain the rules of these kinds of challenges. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ve taken part in rehearsing physical challenges so I know you know this answer, but I love how you play the humble part of reporter and not the “know it all” experienced Survivor dream teamer. When it comes to a physical challenge, I always give the same basic speech: “Physical contact is allowed, but there is no punching or choking. No forearms to the face or head. No cheap shots. If the challenge takes place in the water there is no holding someone’s head underwater.” I also remind them that in order to win the game you need votes. People have to vote for you to win. So if you’re a poor sport or decide to take a cheap shot, your chances of winning the game decrease. Always. This is a social game. After that speech, it’s up to them. The decision of whether someone would be disqualified for inappropriate physical contact is ultimately a subjective call that I would make. I never want to pull someone out of a challenge. I don’t want to have any impact at all.
EW: So, a very unique situation as Skupin offered to lose the challenge (and the food that went with it) in exchange for Penner’s rice. Kalabaw accepted and you officially gave your blessing to the deal. Two part question: What goes into your decision-making process in terms of whether to allow a deal like that or not? And which tribe do you think got the better end of the food swap?
PROBST: I LOVE deal making. Once I hear a deal being made I stop talking and get out of the way. Then I usually recap the proposed deal for the audience and ask those involved if they’re going to move forward with it or not. Even if the deal gets nixed, the fact that somebody suggested it almost always results in conflict back at camp. Generally speaking, I’m good with most deals so long as everybody on the tribe agrees. In this case, the deal actually saved us because that challenge was going to take a long, long, long time to finish due to the amount of mud. I was concerned nobody would ever score and we’d have to result to a tie breaker. As to who got the better deal, I’m still undecided! I see both sides. It’s so easy to backseat drive. I think Skupin had a good idea in trying to wipe them out long term by taking all their rice. The risk is they are too strong for the immunity challenge and they steal momentum and you never get it back. From Penner’s side, I think his idea also made sense, especially given how little rice they actually had left in their container. I leave this one to the audience.
EW: Finally, I’ll trade you all my rice if you’ll give us a tease for next week.
PROBST: Your rice isn’t worth the info I have. But in typical Survivor fashion, the game most definitely changes and results in a huge opportunity for one tribe.
To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as our pre-game interview with Katie, simply click on the video player below. To read Dalton’s recap, click right here. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.