Each week, Survivor host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of Redemption Island.

Zapatera decided to throw the challenge this week in order to vote off Russell. Is throwing a challenge ever a good idea, because I’ve never seen it lead to anything good?

The biggest risk in throwing a challenge is you give the other tribe confidence and often momentum. It’s leading by fear and it’s not a strong way to play Survivor. I do understand the reasoning. If you let someone like Russell stick around he could form a strong alliance and take over, or you could go to the merge with too many people and the people on the bottom decide to flip. Can’t say it’s always a bad idea, but agree with you, I’ve only seen it backfire. Maybe this time will be different.

This was your first ever duel at Redemption Island. This is a huge format change for you guys, and I also know it is a twist you were very excited about possibly becoming a more permanent part of show. How were you feeling when you finally broke this new ground: excited? A bit nervous?

When we were getting ready for the first duel, I was very excited. I was imagining how it might go, anticipating moments and trying to figure out the right dialogue to set up the duel. (I think I figured it out a few duels in — and all of it was stolen from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”) But I always felt very confident in the format change and I haven’t looked back. I think it’s here to stay. It changes the game in so many ways and as far as I can tell all of them are positive. Ultimately though, the audience will decide.

You told me before the season began that you really didn’t think Russell would be the first person voted off of his tribe. Were you surprised, then, when he was, or were you still too busy trying to understand one single word of what Ralph had said all of Tribal?

I was surprised Russell was voted out first, but I do understand the fear that drove the decision. They were afraid of the “Russell seed” blooming. I also think there was some overall “revenge” that people wanted to extract from Russell and sending him to RI was the way to do it. I don’t know that I would have played it that way, but he was in trouble the minute he grabbed his buff. As for Ralph, I learned to speak “Ralphtalk” very early and now consider myself a two-language man.

Before we finish, tease us up big time for next week.

It’s what so many of you have wanted. Do or die time for Russell. Can’t tease it any better than that!

For more from Jeff on last night’s episode, check out To read Dalton’s recap, click right here. To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as our pre-game interview with Francesca, simply watch the video player below. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.