Survivor: Jeff Probst says Devon had to play his (dis)advantage

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Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us about the idea for the first time to put a disadvantage into play at Tribal Council where someone (in this case, Devon) thought he had a big advantage, only to then find out the horrible truth that he was not allowed to vote.
JEFF PROBST: This is the season of secrets. The idea is to add another layer to the game. The original note was an advantage. Jessica could block a vote. That’s an advantage. The second layer was, if she did not go to Tribal she could block a vote of someone who was going to tribal. This is where it gets really fun. A secret “advantage” (which it is) shows up in Devon’s bag. Anybody would assume this is a good thing. And that’s what Devon assumed. But it’s all about perspective. It is definitely an advantage — for Jessica —  to be used against Devon. She wisely wanted to protect her own and disrupt the others.

So what would have happened if Devon had not stopped you before voting to play what he thought was his advantage? Would everything just have carried on as normal and he would have been allowed to vote since he had not attempted to play it? And if so, does that mean contestants in the future might have to weigh the risks and rewards as to whether to play something?
The note very clearly instructs the player on when and what to do, so it’s unlikely we would have that issue. Survivor has been very lucky to have maintained an integrity within the game and that integrity is set by the players. We almost never have a situation where a player attempts to “cheat” the game in any way. It remains one of the unseen hallmarks of our show. We try our best to have very few rules and let the players go play their game and they respond by playing within the implied expectations. But if for some reason Devon forgot, I would have kindly reminded him and it probably would not have reflected well on him as others would have realized he was trying to pull a fast one. So in answer to your question and for future players… um, yes we are paying attention.

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Jeff, let me ask you something: WHY CAN’T COLE KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT?!? Once again, here he is blabbing things to people for no reason — in this case telling everyone about Jessica’s advantage. Here’s my question for you: In a game where secrecy is key, how worried would you be aligning with someone like that?
This is why Survivor is so fascinating. You think he’s blabbing, but he thinks he’s building trust. I happen to agree with you (and Jessica) on this one — it’s troubling. But I can easily put myself in Cole’s shoes and see that in his mind this is a bonding moment. I would imagine that this is something he may reconsider if he plays again. Cole is a sharp guy, he’s just making some early mistakes. It’s SO easy to backseat drive on Survivor, and let’s face it — it’s fun, too! But we have the advantage of watching the impact Cole’s blabbing is having on others. He doesn’t yet fully realize it. If I aligned with Cole and I saw this behavior early, I would blindside him. I’m only playing to win and he’s a liability.

Do you really think Joe was reading Ashley’s facial expression at Tribal Council before deciding whether to play his idol for Desi or himself, or was he just bragging and being a showman?
Oh, yes, 100 percent. I saw it all go down. She gave the slightest reaction and he knew what to do. You can say a lot of things about the way Joe is playing — some of them positive, some of them negative. He’s aggressive and he can be rude and he doesn’t care who he hurts in the process. But Joe is much sharper than people give him credit for. It was one of the most subtle, well thought out plays and she fell right into it.

Okay, tease us up for next week, sir!
One of my favorite things about Survivor is that because we put new people on the show we are always “current” with the culture and what is happening in our country. You get a taste of that next week. It’s a small but very powerful moment that I think will resonate with viewers.

Check out a deleted scene from last night’s episode at the top of the post and Probst’s Foo Fighters Easter eggs in last night’s episode in the clip above. Also make sure to read our full episode recap. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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