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Entertainment Weekly

Jeff Probst talks opening twist in Survivor: Ghost Island

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There have been a lot of people jumping off a lot of boats with a lot of supplies in not a lot of time during Survivor maroonings over the past few years, but not for the Ghost Island edition premiering Feb. 28 on CBS.

Instead, the 20 contestants will arrive safe and sound on a beach and just kind of walk up onto the sand. Ah, as if it was really that simple. That’s because the players will have to make some big decisions right off the bat. First, each tribe will have to choose a leader. Then those two leaders will have some big decisions to make of their own: They will each pick one athlete and one puzzle solver for an immediate reward challenge.

And then things get a little confusing. The tribes will be informed that they both will be starting the game with only a machete, a pot, some rice, and a fishing kit. But the tribe that wins the challenge will receive a massive shelter building kit, and the tribe that loses will not receive their fishing gear.

Then comes yet another big decision in the form of a twist. If one of the designated tribe leaders forfeits the challenge by a certain time during the puzzle because he/she believes they are in danger of losing, then they (as losers) get to keep the fishing kit. However, that also means the winning tribe receives 20 eggs and a flint (for making fire) in addition to the shelter building kit.

That is a pretty huge choice to have to make while weighing varying factors right smack dab in the heat of competition. And let’s just say it ends up paying pretty big dramatic dividends. “I continue to thank the Survivor gods for what happens out there,” host Jeff Probst told us while on location in Fiji after it all went down.

“The marooning, we wanted it to center around the theme of the season, which is really, decisions,” says Probst when asked about the inspiration for the new opening for the season. “That you have to make so many decisions in this game, but it only takes one bad decision and your game is over. So we built the whole opening around decisions. And as you saw, you had to make some of them with a ticking clock. And you’re trying to figure out what’s the best move.”

Producers often put in new wrinkles and then have to hold their collective breath until they see how it actually plays out. This time it was an exhale accompanied by a smile. “It couldn’t have gone any better,” says Probst. “They chose two very different leaders, who both led in very different ways. And at the end, somebody had to make a big decision. And now they’re going back to their camps in two very different situations. And the game is on. Really, that’s all you can hope for is just a little nudge into the game that’s executed well.”

Let’s hope that nudge lasts for 39 days straight. Check out the video above to hear from Probst himself about the start to the new season.

For a crazy amount of coverage of the upcoming season, check out our Survivor hub and follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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