Credit: CBS
SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Credit: CBS

Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of ‘Survivor: Cagayan.’

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tony has to be one of the most paranoid players you’ve encountered, right? But I wonder how the spy shack actually works. It always surprises me when a player is ostensibly hidden from sight (a la Tony) and other players (Trish and Jefra) come strolling along and there’s a camera guy just hanging out alone by the water well filming some random bush. How do you ensure the camera operator doesn’t spoil someone’s plot? Should or shouldn’t his presence throw up a red flag to Trish and Jefra?

JEFF PROBST: Ah the magic of stellar producing by our crews in the field. It’s one of the questions most asked by contestants before the game begins — “Won’t the camera that’s following me give away what I’m doing?” To give some context, we have as many as five cameras at camp at any given time and the key to never giving away anything is that we shoot everything! So you have no idea if what we’re shooting is important or not. We have more footage of people talking about their mom’s favorite recipe for banana bread than we do strategy talk about the game! We are shooting all day. We follow everybody! Our camera teams are very good at concealing what they are shooting because they give away nothing. They could be shooting the most boring conversation in the world or a conversation in which the entire game is about to be flipped upside down — you’d never know by looking at them.

EW: Thanks to the spectacular early fail of the brains tribe, it seems the merge happened pretty early and we didn’t get that much exposure to the brains-brawn-beauty conceit of the season. But during the reward challenge, we saw former brain members Tasha, Spencer and Kass elected to figure out the puzzle, and brawn folks like Woo and Tony climbing around the boat and being super physical. What, Mr. Probst, do you make of this self-fulfilling prophecy?

PROBST: First let me correct you, we did not merge early because of the early fail of the Brain tribe. The merge almost always falls around the same spot. I think you bring up an interesting point and it’s one of the most fascinating aspects of Survivor. When you “label” someone, how much impact does that label end up having? If Spencer had been on the Brawn tribe would he have believed he deserved to be there? Tasha could have easily been placed on the Beauty tribe — how would that have impacted how she played? I have felt it in my own life when someone refers to me as simply a “game show host” — drives me nuts! So, I don’t have an answer but I do share the fascination.

EW: Sometimes players go on these wild goose chases for idols and it blows my mind when they get lucky and find them—Tony’s being a perfect example. What is that like for you when a player eschews clues and reason and launches into this uninformed scavenger hunt, only to find the idol that you have hidden oh so well? How does that make you feel?

PROBST: It makes me excited. I love anybody who plays hard. They are almost always the people we end up inviting to play again. Because they are playing the game! Not sitting around. Anybody who is out digging for an idol or forcing a blindside or betraying an alliance to better their position in the game is a dynamic player and that’s why you see them returning as “all-stars” in future seasons. As for finding an idol in particular — here’s the deal… we hide them so they can’t be spotted just by walking by, but we don’t hide them so well that they’ll never be found. So to all future players — yes you might be able to find an idol without a clue, simply by looking. But, it will take effort — so if you’re a coat tail type of player who is sitting in the hut “waiting for the game to happen” — your chances of finding the idol are slim to none (about the same odds you have of winning the game) but it’s possible. One of the keys to Survivor is you can never give up. Huge turnarounds can happen and they almost always happen to people who come to play.

EW: BONUS QUESTION! Jefra’s well-timed letter from home—could you even dare plan a coincidence that narratively serendipitous?

PROBST: Well, If we were like many of the “loosely scripted” reality shows that are currently on television, then I’d say yes — you could “plan” for that coincidence!! Why not! :) But, we’re not scripted. Our show plays out based on the actions of the players. Sometimes you get lucky and the events we have planned complement the game in a way that’s so delicious you just can’t get enough! To make my point, I already have the entire season of approved challenges for our next season which will be shot this summer. In the next few weeks I’ll also have the entire list of approved rewards that will accompany those challenges. Our show is based on number of players, so challenges and rewards have to be planned out in advance. Letters From Home are definitely a staple and we always try to include them later in the game because we know that’s when the impact will be the strongest.

EW: It’s auction time! And it looks like Tony’s paranoia is getting worse. Give us a tease for next week.

PROBST: OH MY — one of the greatest moments in an auction — ever. And it’s another Survivor first!!

Get up to date on this week’s episode with Marc’s recap—filling in for Dalton for one week only!

Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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