Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s get right to the cyclone. You’ve never had to evacuate an entire cast before, so take us behind the scenes of your meetings as this storm was approaching in terms of figuring out what to do and how to do it?
JEFF PROBST: It started the morning of day 1. Our safety expert, Greg Blandy, had been monitoring a storm that was gathering steam and heading toward our island. But given the change in weather over the past several years, this isn’t a completely unusual situation. We often have storms circling us but they almost always end up passing us. So we took note, and I just asked him to keep us updated.
That night, he informed us that it was still heading toward us, so we got our team together and formed our plan should we need to evacuate. The next morning, Greg showed me a map with the storm pointed directly at our island. We made the call to evacuate. At that point, many different departments get involved, led by one of our key producers, Jimmy Quigley. He executed a seamless evacuation plan that kept everybody safe and resulted in great reality, which you saw last night. As scary as those moments are they are also great reminders of how well our team executes in times of emergency.
What did you do with the contestants when they left the beach? Where did you take them and how did you make sure the game did not continue while the cameras were off?
We made the decision to bring them to base camp so that we would all be together. We put each tribe in a separate room with absolutely nothing in it. No food, no blankets, no pillows, nothing. They were monitored by producers the entire night. And, to their credit, they did not talk or try to form alliances. They honored the good faith agreement we had made. The next morning, we returned them to the beaches and the game resumed.
One other note that fans may enjoy. On the way to evacuate them, I ran into our POV guy, Andrew Metz. He’s responsible for placing cameras inside of challenges so we get those crazy shots of a hand untying a knot or a foot coming down in the mud. Since we obviously couldn’t have any of our camera crew out on the beach during the storm, I asked him if there was any way to put a camera on one of the beaches, just in case we got lucky. He said the battery will die in four hours. But he said if someone has an extended cell phone battery he could hook it up and make it work. Our location supervisor, Michael Glaser, happened to be walking by and said, “I have one. I’ll grab it.”
So Andrew headed out to the beach, set up a GoPro — and that is the shot you saw where the Gen X tribe camp was literally destroyed by one huge tree. Had he not come up with that idea we would not have the shot, and without the shot there would be no way to show just how strong and potentially deadly the storm turned out to be. Reason #3,875 why I love working on this show.
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You know I LOVE whenever the contestants are forced to make a choice, and you did it twice here with them having to choose which items to bring back to camp, and then having to decide whether to take shortcuts in the challenge that would add more puzzle pieces later on. I know your Dream Teamers test out each challenge multiple times. Did there seem to be a correct strategy in terms of if the shortcuts ultimately paid off or not?
Here’s the thing with having Dream Team test those kinds of choices: It’s somewhat irrelevant because they aren’t the actual players. And so much of the choice depends on who is on your tribe and what your assessment is of their strengths and weaknesses. That’s why we do them to test how well you’ve gotten to know each other.
Plus, the Dream Team are all Millennials anyway, so they only represent one half of the idea. But I do get your question, and yes, it was extremely helpful to run various scenarios and then experiment with adding different amounts of puzzle pieces. We approach it mathematically. We took note how much time, on average, a single shortcut saved them, and then added puzzle pieces accordingly to even it back out. The goal was to force them to decide if they were stronger at puzzles or physical. Turns out we’ll never know since Gen X made a pretty questionable call with their original puzzle solvers.
Jessica from the Gen X tribe found an envelope at the start of the game called the Legacy Advantage, which gives her an advantage in the game if she still is there on day 36. However, if she is voted out, she must will it to another player. Two questions: 1.) Does she will it publicly or privately? So will the other players then know it exists and who has it? And 2.) If she wills it to someone and then that someone also gets voted out, does he/she then will it to someone else? So will the Legacy Advantage definitely make it to day 36, even if it is through a series of holders getting booted?
Yes, it will be in the game in the final episode. If the holder of the advantage is voted out, they will the advantage to another player in private AFTER Tribal Council. You would then see in their confessional who they willed it to, but nobody else would have any idea. Then it would show up in that person’s personal bag.
So, if the recipient didn’t even know the advantage existed, they would be shocked to discover it. And if the new recipient is then voted out, they follow the same procedure, willing it to someone else. Then on day 36, whoever is in possession of the advantage can open it to see what power it has for them. So, it could end up being willed to several people or none at all!
Okay, a lot went down this week, and I see Dr. Joe is going to be making a house call next week. What can you say about that and what is coming up?
Ah, Dr. Joe… who doesn’t love Dr. Joe? Yes, he is in action and … that’s all I can say about that. As for the episode in general, you will start to see more divide within the tribes and that is going to make for great struggles for power.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the most recent episode of Survivor above. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.