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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst on that controversial rice trade

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Every week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of ‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water.’

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is kind of a new one for you guys in terms of a tribe recklessly devouring all of their food supply. Tell us about how you came up with the decision to take all the comfort items back from Hunahpu for more rice. Are there any other options you and the producers discussed before settling on that?

JEFF PROBST: Having a tribe eat through or lose their entire staple of rice is one of the greatest gifts the reality gods can bestow upon a show like Survivor because it creates story. Big story. Once I heard they were low on rice and we were still very early in the game there really wasn’t any other consideration than to take every single thing at camp — other than the most bare essentials. In this case, it was easily justified because there were no mitigating circumstances — they simply ate it all. There has to be a big check for that kind of indulgence. But the big idea I am still circling is this: If you make the assumption that you can always trade for more rice (even if it’s your entire shelter) is eating all your rice so you can stay strong for challenges actually a decent strategy? I would not be surprised to see another tribe take the risk and employ this strategy in future seasons. So in my subconscious I am already thinking of how we might handle this same situation if a tribe didn’t have enough supplies to make a fair trade. Say for instance a tribe that had won no rewards, had only the barest of shelter, but like Hunahpu, also ate all their rice. What is the appropriate invoice at that point? 

Jeremy seemed upset about the trade, saying that they could have made do with what they had food-wise, but shish kebob reward or not, that doesn’t seem possible. They didn’t really have any choice but to make that trade, did they?

I think Jeremy was just frustrated in general. He ended up on a tribe of people, some of whom didn’t regard the game in the same way he did. Jeremy is very disciplined. He could have made do on much less and if he had been in charge of that rice from day one they probably wouldn’t be in that situation. But no, I do not see any way they could have survived without making a trade. Zero.

We saw Natalie volunteer to go to Exile Island instead of Julie. If you’re on her tribe, do you view that as a selfless act, or does that make you immediately suspicious?

I’d be watching Natalie like a hawk. She is an experienced competition reality show contestant. Nothing in Survivor is selfless. Ever. Whether it’s because you want to search for an idol or buy some good will or break up an alliance or keep an alliance together or any of the other myriad possibilities — every move in Survivor is game play. The good players (of which Natalie is starting to make a case) endeavor to make every move a win-win.

BONUS QUESTION! We heard the howler monkeys come out again at Tribal Council. I remember them making their presence felt when I was out there at the first Tribal. It’s nice to hear them howl a bit to give a taste of the ambience but my question is whether there has ever been an occasion — either this season or any one other one — where howler monkeys or some other animal or extreme weather has forced you to stop or pause because the sound became too overwhelming or went on too long?

Nope. I LOVE when the environment makes itself known. It’s really amazing how many times it will just break into rain in the middle of a challenge or a massive bolt of lightning will crack behind their heads at Tribal Council. People ask me all the time — is that real? Yes. And that night the howler monkeys were on fire! It was fun and funny and a great reminder to the players — you really are living in the jungle.

Looks like merge time next week. What else can you tell us about next week’s episode?

One move will really annoy most of our audience and most of the players.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene and our pre-game interview with Dale and Kelley in the video player below. Also, make sure to read Dalton’s full ‘Survivor’ recap. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.