Survivor: Jeff Probst explains why he looks down at his feet

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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: I thought Devon’s plan of having Ben act as a double agent and pretend to be in the dark on the JP vote to gain intel from the other side was pretty brilliant. I clearly underestimated Devon’s strategic chops in this game. What did you see from Devon in casting and has his gameplay surprised you as well?
JEFF PROBST: The initial take on Devon in casting was divided. We were all in agreement that he was one of the nicest people we’d ever met as you could tell that he had been raised well. But the question mark was would he come alive on the beach or would he play the game more laid back? I was definitely on the fence.

What ultimately sold us on him was the belief that people would root for him if for no other reason than his likability. So as his game awareness became more apparent we were all super stoked. Turns out he can appear laid back but still push the game forward. He’s a Survivor version of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you underestimate him based on his manners, he will swallow you whole. Now he has put himself in a really strong position and at a very good time in the game.

Once again, you tempt players with food during an immunity challenge, and once again people take it — in this case, Devon, Ben, and Lauren, all people that just formed a brand new alliance. I’ve already asked you if, as a player, you would ever take food, and you said you would always compete, but here’s another question: What would be your reaction if people in your alliance took the food, and would that raise your antennae a bit (say if you were a Chrissy, Ryan, or JP in this instance)?
If I competed and anyone in my alliance took food without us previously agreeing, it would be awesome because it would give me the permission to obliterate them later and use this as the reason — I can no longer trust you. Survivor is so easy to backseat drive. You and I talk about this all the time. Watching is not playing.

As a player you have to remind yourself all day, every day — there will be only one winner. We don’t share the title or the money. So everybody is your enemy. By design. The trick of the game is how do you use people to further your game, then get rid of them before they get you, and do it in a way in which they will still vote for you to win the game. Every single action you take is a reason for someone else to be upset, but if you don’t take action you can’t control your fate.

Let’s finally get to the bottom of something you know I have written about for a long time: Why do you look down at your feet when you say “Come on in, guys!” and do you even realize you are doing it?
Ha! I never realized it until… you brought it up! Now I think about it almost every time. Like most of the “things” I do in every episode, it has an origin story. It started as just an honest moment of me thinking about the challenge that was about to take place and trying to remember what the heck I was going to tell them. That look down was a bit of a transition from my own private moment to welcoming them to join me. It’s probably similar to a baseball batter that has a routine he does before every pitch, or [tennis player Rafael] Nadal before each serve. (Yes, I realize I just compared myself to Nadal.) But now, thanks to you, I am aware every frickin’ time! But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. It’s here to stay!

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Joe was finally cut loose by the tribe at the second Tribal Council. Give me your take on that guy, what he brought to this season, and what he might need to work on should he ever come back.
I loved Joe. He lived up to everything he promised to be in casting. He played a beautifully reckless game. I love people who come out of the gate looking to take the game by the throat. He did and said things that more timid players would never try. What Joe understands — that I wish all players could understand — is that your odds of winning are slim. Just based on the number of players, the tribe you start with and the amount of luck required, it’s highly unlikely things will go your way. So, why not try and force them to go your way? I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s so clear to me. If you can remove the fear of losing, it’s so easy to see the value in playing only to win. If Joe played again, my hunch is he plays the same and tries to align with people who see the value in having a crazy wild card as an alliance member.

We really are now in the homestretch. What can you tease up for next week’s episode?
You either love it or you hate it — the loved ones episode. I love me some love and this one is another powerful reminder of the reasons people leave their lives behind to play this game.

Check out a deleted scene from last night’s episode above and also read our full episode recap. Also make sure to rank all 34 Survivor winners, and for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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