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Entertainment Weekly

TV

Survivor: Jeff Probst on Ben's emotional revelation

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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: You started the episode off with a super emotional scene as Ben talked about his nightmares from what he experienced while serving in the armed forces, using this opportunity to show other veterans suffering from depression and PTSD that “there’s a way to life outside of all that hell.” What was it like when you saw that footage and saw something that was clearly much bigger than the game?
JEFF PROBST: I remember when Ben walked into casting. I remember what he was wearing and I remember the reaction after he left. We were all really drawn to his powerful story but also his strong presence. Ben struck me as a guy who knows who he is, knows who he wants to be and knows what it will take for him to get there. His reason for playing — to help other veterans — feels completely authentic.

I don’t think he is grandstanding. I think he really wants other vets to see in him what they can have in their own life. To your question — one of the many great things about the Survivor format is the people playing the game are always current. They are always “of the time.” And if we do it right, the players represent a cross-section of America. So that creates the opportunity for moments like this because this is what is happening in our culture. I love these moments and I love that Ben is willing to be so vulnerable and so open about what he has been through and what he continues to deal with on a daily basis.

We saw Dr. Mike and Jessica smartly looking for an idol in the same spot on a different beach where Joe found his. Are you all concerned that by putting idols in identical spots it will increase the chance that one person can load up on idols during merges and tribe swaps, like Tai did last season?
Nope.

Ryan chose to keep a possible ally in Chrissy while getting rid of a Healer (who have the most players still in the game) in Roark, but that meant pissing off another ally in Ali, who may never trust him again. His other option would have been to keep the peace with Ali, but that would have meant losing a possible ally in Chrissy and keeping the Healers in a power numbers position heading into a merge. What do you make of Ryan’s choices and his decision?
Ah, another reason I love Survivor. There are so many choices and dilemmas and layers to this game. You know I rarely second guess a decision as much as try to understand it. And I see why Ryan made this decision. He has already invested in Chrissy with the immunity idol from the marooning. He gains a lot by getting rid of a Healer and he may have just sensed a better long-term gain.

What probably made that decision more difficult is Ali. She’s clearly a sharp player and he already had a relationship with her. Boy, this game is so easy to backseat drive. I’m definitely not saying Ryan made the “right” choice. It could come back to haunt him. I’m merely saying that I see the path to his logic.

Judging by the preview, it looks like a scary scene with Cole next week. What can you say about what’s coming up on Survivor?
Ah yes, Cole. Well… 1.) Survivor is real. People continue to question that no matter how many times they see evidence. And 2.) Dr. Mike. He’s nutty. He’s an underdog. But seeing him in the water with a spear trying to catch a fish is one of my favorite moments of the season.

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

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