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Survivor: Jeff Probst on if the reward steal is actually worth using

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Monty Brinton/CBS

Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’ve always gotten really mad at players for sitting out challenges for food for a few reasons. For one, you came out there to compete, so compete! And two, how many times have we seen people assume they are safe so go for the food only to then get blindsided? But is there an argument to be made — that Will made, in fact — that if it is a challenge you are confident you have no chance of winning, that it makes more strategic sense to take the food instead to refuel for future competitions?

JEFF PROBST: Yeah, it’s not as cut and dried as it appears at first glance. Playing the game requires so many moment-to-moment decisions that I think a “one size fits all” approach might actually work against a player. Taking an opportunity to eat when you believe you can’t win is certainly making the most out of a bad situation.

But there are risks that come along with it. Does your alliance resent you not putting up an effort to try and beat out the targeted person from the other alliance? Does your alliance resent you for having food you might use to help you beat them at the next challenge? Does your alliance start to second-guess your overall commitment to them if you’re willing to give up so easily? On the other hand, you do have to survive every single vote and if food gives you an advantage than it very well may be worth the risk. Finally, it’s impossible to know until you’ve been starving for 30 days and then are offered food!

Taylor outs himself at Tribal Council for stealing the food in order to also blow up Adam for having his reward steal advantage. What’s your take: A bad move that sealed his fate or a smart last-ditch effort to try to deflect blame and turn the tide?

I love Taylor. He’s a great spirit and a fun person to be around. Love to have a beer with him and just hear his stories. But… I wouldn’t align with him. Not enough discipline or social awareness at this point in his life. Wait, let me restate that. He may have great social awareness and just really not care. But that’s just as dangerous in an alliance partner.

I actually think Figgy (from a game point of view) would have been better off to have not aligned with him and cuddled with him because I do think his energy is so infectious that he took her down a path that was a touch too carefree. In terms of Taylor’s strategy: Look, there is just no comparison to stealing food and finding a reward. One is great, aggressive gameplay. The other is selfish behavior that hurts everybody else while giving you an advantage. But it was all he had in his holster so he tried his best. In other words, I don’t think it made much of a difference.

We didn’t talk about the reward steal last week. I love the fact that you introduced it and also think you’d have to be pretty much crazy to use it in 9 out of 10 scenarios. Am I wrong? And is this a temptation you all put in to see if anyone gets a little too greedy?

We tried it like we do with most twists — just to see what impact it would have. As you know, there isn’t a science to the twists we decide to use. We just take a look at all the creative ideas we have and then we decide which ones make sense to go together and give them a go. Same with the Legacy Advantage. We just liked the idea and figured we’d give it a try. They may both have a huge impact or both fall flat. We never know. The key to a good twist is that if it’s played at the right time and in the right way, it can change the game. So that’s all we really have in mind.

As far as the reward steal — yes, I think it could burn you… but it could also fully solidify your alliance deep in the game. Imagine you steal someone’s reward that they have just won and instead of them inviting their alliance to join them, you invite your alliance to enjoy it with you. I’d say that’s a pretty good use of a steal a reward. Yes, the others will be mad, but if they’re not in your alliance, what difference does it make in terms of wanting to get deeper in the game? I love Survivor. So much fun to back seat drive!

Finally, hook us up with a tease for next week, Mr. Probst.

As close to a perfect episode as we get. Great stories, great structure, rivalries, and tons of emotion. This season is seriously cranking into high gear. It does not let down. And remember we have BACK-TO-BACK EPISODES next week and they both kick ass. So make sure DVR is set if you can’t watch live.

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 all the Survivor scoop you can handle, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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