Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the most recent episode of Survivor: Game Changers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Words cannot properly express how much I loved this joint Tribal Council, where two tribes combined together to vote out one player. Before we get into everything that happened there, tell us about the genesis of this idea: where it came from and the inspiration for trying it out.
JEFF PROBST: I can’t remember the exact details of the origin of this idea but I can give you a pretty good idea of how ideas like this one come to be. When we are not shooting, we have periodic creative brainstorms, usually over conference call. We just start throwing out ideas and the list begins. For Game Changers, our mantra was, give them lots of opportunities to play. So this twist was a good one because it had two prongs to it. The first twist sucks you into thinking you know what it is and you never see the second one coming.
I’ll admit we rarely do this. Typically we tell you the twist and that’s it, but this is a special season so we pulled out all the stops. And yes, the results were insane. I don’t think that has as much to do with the twist as it does with the level of gameplay across the board on Survivor. People are playing very aggressive and with one goal: WIN. If you are a player, you better be tracking the game and how it is evolving because I assure you most of the other players are and you do not want to be left behind.
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I’ve never seen a more chaotic Tribal Council in my life. You had two giant huddles at one point, along with several other smaller huddles, side conversations, and whispering at various times. You also had JT playing double agent and relaying voting information to Brad while Hali was either pretending to play double agent or legitimately trying to get Brad out — I’m still not 100 percent sure. Tell us what it was like on the scene there and what struck you most about this insanity.
Tribal was electric. It was thrilling. For me, the reason it was so exciting is because I had a ringside seat to watching some truly great players going full tilt boogie knowing they were risking everything with every move they made. What you saw is exactly what happened — it just broke open. It makes sense if you take away emotion and just look at it from a gameplay point of view. You come into a situation with one really big unknown: Where are the alliances? So if you are sitting at Tribal, you have a pretty decent fear that it could be you. Everybody knows how good the game is at blindsiding players. So you evaluate your choices. Hold tight and “stick with the plan” or call an audible. It doesn’t take much for the panic to set in and people begin to call audibles.
You want to survive the vote so you have to do everything you can because Survivor is always an all-in game. Someone is going to be out. You do not want it to be you. It’s MADDENING. What struck me most was the lack of certainty that was hovering above every player. Nobody had any idea of the truth. You could feel it. There was so much tension because everybody was on edge. Finally, you reach a point where it’s time to vote, which is the same as showing your cards. You take a deep breath and write down a name and hope you’re right.
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BONUS QUESTION: Malcolm looked legitimately shell-shocked and we actually saw him shed some tears in his final words. How would you describe his reaction to what went down?
I think you described it really well. He never saw it coming. How could he? How could anybody in Malcolm’s shoes ever anticipate it would be them? Things were going so well for him, too. That’s part of the reason it was so devastating. And make no mistake, that was as devastating for Malcolm as you imagine it to be. Like every other player, he had to give up so much to come back out and play again and to go out like that and that early has to be maddening. MADDENING. Everything is swirling around you, you are doing your best to stay “in” the conversation and you end up unknowingly being betrayed by the one guy who you thought you could count on. That is why Survivor is so damn fun. Because it is so real and so absolutely impossible to predict.
A twist that will get far less attention in light of that Tribal Council craziness is having only two players compete for each tribe in the reward challenge — essentially putting everyone that did compete in a hero or goat situation. Why go that route and go for a two-on-two-on-two battle so early in the game?
This is really just another example of keeping them off-balance. At this stage in our run, our only weapon is that we have so many weapons that you don’t know which one we are going to pull out. So you can anticipate all you want, but you can’t ever be certain you have it right. So forcing a two on two match-up forces a tribe decision that has massive stakes. Although, this time it was only for reward, you could end up being voted out at Tribal Council after losing a challenge you didn’t even compete in. MADDENING.
Okay, sir. Hit us up with a tease on what to expect next week.
Oh, I really don’t want to spoil it in any way. But I want to deliver a tease so let me say this… Things explode in a way we haven’t seen in a while and it’s so good you’ll want to watch it more than once.
Check out an exclusive Survivor deleted scene at the top of the post, as well as the ousted Malcolm’s pre-game interview above. Also, make sure to read Dalton’s recap. And for more Survivor scoopage, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.