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Entertainment Weekly


Survivor: Jeff Probst on that 'brutal blindside'

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Each week Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Ghost Island.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You all mixed up the tribes after only two Tribal Councils, but instead of splitting off into three tribes, as you sometimes like to do with 18 people, you kept it as two. What’s the thinking behind switching it up so early, but also sticking with only two tribes?
JEFF PROBST: I’d like to tell you there was a well thought out, psychologically based reasoning behind it. But the truth is, we get together and lay out the season based on all of our various opinions, or the mood we’re in, or the kind of waves challenge producer John Kirhoffer caught on his morning surf. After 35 seasons, we have so many different ways we can structure a season between marooning, switches, advantages, etc that we just lay it out on the grid and when we all like it, we go for it!

I thought Chris was going to have a self-awareness issue in this game, and maybe he does judging by his own tribemates wanting to vote him out this episode, but what do you make of his Ghost Island experience where he broke down talking about his mother? Obviously it was very touching and emotional, but he also showed me some game maturity in talking about how the experience was giving him a chance to get rid of all his negative energy there to reboot. What did you see from Chris out there?
I think Chris is an easy guy to make fun of at first glance. He can be boastful, he can be bossy, he can be lots of things that are easy to criticize. But that moment on Ghost Island really showed not only his emotional depth, but also a peek behind the vulnerability behind the bravado. He’s been through a lot in his life. In terms of players who make you want to watch, Chris is an all-star. Anybody willing to share that kind of pain and be open enough to suggest that he might be able to change while playing this game is someone I root for.

BONUS QUESTION! Kellyn kills it on another puzzle, leading her tribe to another challenge win. We always hear contestants talking about needing to keep the tribe strong and the necessity of having big bodies. I totally get that, but isn’t a strong puzzle solver actually the best pre-merge asset to have? What say you?
I say… it all depends on your individual game plan. Advantage is an interesting topic because it all depends on context. Who do I want to be with in the merge? Who do I want on the jury and ideally when would I like to put them on the jury? Who is in my alliance? Who is trying to take me out? So, even if you believe that a puzzle solver is a great pre-merge asset to have on your tribe, ultimately it is still just one of the many ingredients that go into the stew of who to keep and who to vote out. This game is SO much more complicated in season 36 than it was in season 6. I sometimes get exhausted just thinking about the mental work it takes to stay “aware” for 39 straight days.

Let’s talk about Tribal Council. The old Naviti members turn on their own and vote for Angela (even though she wanted to vote with them), while the old Malolo members stick together and take out Morgan (even though they could have joined the others in taking out Angela and then most likely Chris), giving them control of the tribe. What sort of vibe did you get being there in terms of what guided the Malolo decision? Did they just not trust Domenick and the others, and figured this was the safest move in case they were being lied to?
I think it’s the latter. I think they thought that because Morgan was not on anybody’s radar, they would never see it coming. It was a brutal blindside. Poor Morgan had no idea. She was just a random victim. I hated to see Morgan go so early. I think she had a lot of game left to play. I’m sure she feels the same way. And we have our first Ghost Island curse that was not reversed! That part of the blindside made me very happy. That damn Legacy Advantage is haunted. It’s haunted, I tell ya!

Tease us up for next week, sir, and tease us up good!
I still can’t believe I’m about to say this again.. but another GREAT episode. Ghost Island is back and perhaps another curse will get the chance to be reversed.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene above and also make sure to read our full episode recap and exit interview with Morgan. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Jeff Probst leads adventurous in the ultimate (and original) reality series.
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