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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst says injured Missy would have been pulled if earlier in the game

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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 WEKELY: You told me before the game you thought the twins would really thrive apart from each other. That prediction did not look so good when Nadiya was the first one voted out of the game, but it turns out you were half-right! (And more right than I, who thought they would both be early boots.) Now, Natalie appears to have just pulled off the move of the game in ousting Jon. How would you assess her play so far, because she is a sneaky Sally out there!

JEFF PROBST: I think Natalie has been playing a very aggressive game for quite a while. She seemed to be inspired after her sister Nadiya was voted out to just go for it. It was as if she was playing for both of them. Once Jeremy, her only other ally, was gone she became a bit of a “nothing to lose gunslinger.” I love that kind of play. I say it every single season and I don’t think people really believe it’s true—but I don’t think you can win this game without playing big. You rarely hit a home run if you are not swinging for the fence.

The risk with big play is it can fail and you can lose. Yes, that happens. Good players go home early all the time because they were playing to win. Josh and Jeremy both fell victim to that—but it’s because they were playing the game. If you’re coming here to hit a single and make the jury, then we cast poorly. I think in Natalie’s case—feeling she had nothing to lose has made it much easier to play big.  ‘m looking forward to the live reunion show after next week’s finale so we can talk through the entire season!

Whenever someone gets injured, viewers always fill our message boards wondering what kind of medical treatment players are allowed to receive without being pulled from the game and what they are not, so why don’t you talk about what happened specifically here with Missy hurting her foot, and also generally in terms of what medical assistance would constitute the need for someone to quit playing.

It’s not a hard fast rule because every injury is so specific. But here’s the general approach—if you are in a life-threatening situation, we pull you. Period. That could even be a tiny little cut on your little finger, which we fear could get infected and get in your bloodstream. If so, you’re out. This happened to James way back when. But if you’re not in danger then it’s up to you. You can choose to leave the game due to pain or injury, but if medical doesn’t pull you then it’s still considered a quit, even though it may be unbearable. But if you fall in between—you’re not in a life-threatening situation and you don’t want to quit—then we assess on a case by case basis.

What we won’t do is anything that will give you an advantage. For instance if you are really weak from lack of food we won’t give you an IV to get you nourished and feeling better. But, what we can do is lance a boil that is really bothering you, or give you stitches for a small cut, or a wrap if your knee feels a little wonky. In Missy’s case the question centered around whether the foot was broken or not and how best to treat it. Because there were only a few days left in the game, our doctor felt fine protecting the foot and giving her some sticks to help her walk. Had this been early in the game she would have been pulled—no question about it. So what we did for Missy did not give her an advantage, it just allowed her to continue on, albeit at a major disadvantage. Hope that makes some sense. It’s tricky without a specific situation.

You want challenges to be exciting and physical but I know you also don’t want people getting injured doing them—hence no more Schmergen Brawl. So did Missy’s injury make you rethink the giant teeter-totter, or was that just a fluke injury?

Total fluke. Would never avoid challenges like this one. What makes this especially memorable is this challenge was conceived by a 13 year old fan who we met through the Make-A-Wish folks! Austin Russell visited our location with one simple goal—create a challenge that would get past the gauntlet and actually make it onto the show. That is no small feat. Dozens of challenges get pitched for every one that makes it on the show. And as much as we loved Austin, we couldn’t put a challenge on the show just to make him happy.

Austin knew that and he was determined. He pitched a great idea to the challenge guys—it really was a great pitch! Then he worked with the challenge department to make it come to life. So the bonus for Austin is that his challenge was not only exciting, but it actually created new reality because of Missy’s injury. Missy can no longer compete in challenges with any real shot. That is a game changer for Missy and everybody else still in the game. It’s not Austin’s fault—we ran that challenge in rehearsal many times and nobody twisted their ankle. It was just a total fluke. Missy could run that twenty more times without a hitch. It’s just the luck of the moment.

Finale night, here we come! What can you tell us about the final chapter, and any changes or bells & whistles for the reunion we should know about?

Well, in a season filled with a lot of “non-players” I feel lucky that we have so many players still left in the game. I think at this point it is up in the air— depending on what happens in the last few challenges and the decisions made at Tribal, I think a lot of people could make a case for being the best player this season. If I were playing I would be feeling that I need to make some kind of a big move. It’s too wide open. Someone can steal it if they’re willing to go for it. It’s a million bucks. Everybody is nervous, nobody wants to blow it. We will be live the entire night starting from the top of the final two hour episode all the way through to the end when we promote our next season -#30 – which I will tell you right now — is going to be GREAT.  Thanks for another great season of hilarious recaps. I know how much time it takes to write those—they’re beasts! You’re a good, long time friend of the show. We appreciate your honest assessments of each week and each season and we appreciate your series long support. Thanks, Dalton.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene and our pre-game interview with Jon and Jaclyn 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.

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