Image credit: Monty Brinton/CBS[/caption]

Each week, host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of ‘Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites’.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Please say something about Julia since we did not hear her say anything all season long. And what are your thoughts on the flavor vanilla?

JEFF PROBST: Julia. Well, in fairness to Julia I think part of the reason you didn’t hear much from her is because she was playing in the shadow of Phillip, Brandon, Shamar, Cochran and others. Julia is a young person and young people often suffer on our show due to limited life experience, but Julia had life experience so we took a chance. I’m not surprised she was quiet, she was on the quiet side in casting but we really found her endearing. Sometimes those qualities just don’t make it into the game. Now to the topic of Vanilla. Vanilla Ice was clever for a moment. Vanilla Sky is underrated. Vanilla Frosting isn’t worth the calories. Milli Vanilli is almost the same as Milli Vanilla. Finally, Vanilla spelled backwards is Allinav.

EW: In an attempt to preserve some sort of pride, Phillip claimed to Cochran that he threw the immunity challenge rather than got beat at it. Another two-part question: Do you believe that for a second? And, most importantly, do you believe Phillip made HIMSELF believe that?

PROBST: No and Yes. 1) No chance he threw that challenge. 2) But I do believe, even as he reads this that he believes me to be talking about things I know nothing about, that I have no idea what his intentions were, and that he absolutely and without any doubt threw that challenge.

EW: We’re now at the halfway point of the season. Before we look ahead, tell me in terms of game play what has been the biggest surprise to you so far with how everything shook out in the first seven episodes.

PROBST: The biggest surprise has been how involved Phillip has been in the day to day tribe decisions. I honestly thought he would be voted out fairly early. I understand a case might be made that others are actually controlling the decisions but you can’t deny that Phillip is right there in the thick of things. I never expected that!

EW: Merge time next week! What can you tell us about the two tribes becoming one?

PROBST: The game needs this shake up. The Fans desperately need it and there are also Favorites who could improve their lot in this game if they make the right move. I think the merge is probably the most critical point in the game. If you are in control, how do you stay in control? If you are on the bottom, this is probably your biggest and fattest opportunity to turn the game around.

To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, simply click on the video player below. To read Dalton’s recap, click right here. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.