Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS
SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Neither of the teams could figure out the reward phrase of “A reward with all the fixin’s,” even with your increasingly obvious clues. How do those clues work? Do you have it mapped out beforehand in terms of, “If it goes this long I’ll say this,” or is it more organic than that? Also, were you shocked at how long it took them? Was the Dream Team (who test out the challenges) as stumped as the contestants?

JEFF PROBST: That was a fun one for us because going into it we didn’t have much of an idea how long it would take. A lot of our Dream Teamers are fans, but a fair amount are locals as well so we couldn’t rely on them as a true gauge. As far as the clues, believe it or not, we do talk through ideas of what I could say just in case it happens. But I’ll admit this one went way beyond anything we ever even considered. I also thought it was interesting that Sierra wasn’t listening to me and Carolyn was—because I do talk so much during challenges that it’s not a bad strategy to block me out. Unless… I’m saying something that might help you! There was a point where I thought to myself, “Hmmm… maybe we went too far with this one!” Fortunately they pulled it out!

We’ve seen hardly any individual reward challenges this season. I like those because then you always have the drama of whom the winner will choose to take with them. Remarkably, the Survivor gods have once again smiled down upon you and you’ve gotten that picking drama anyway because of Rodney continually asking for someone to give up their slot. But why the move away from individual reward challenges? Was the thinking to give viewers a bit of both: team challenges for reward and individual ones for immunity?

There are a variety of reasons. Sometimes we decide to go the route of using reward challenges to see if we can mix up alliances by having, say, four people who don’t normally “talk” end up on the same “team” for that reward to see what it does to the dynamic. Sometimes we just have challenges that we want to use and they’re more “team” oriented. In seasons when we merge with a lot of people it’s also very hard to get proper coverage on 11 people, so sometimes we use team rewards until we get to a smaller number. But totally hear you and agree with you that for the most part we are better off doing individual rewards.

Now that it has played out in full, give me your thoughts on your first double vote advantage. I liked it because it is a threat out there, but not too powerful in that it can’t save you if A) Too many people vote against you, or B) Someone uses an idol. It is not a get out of jail free card, yet can unleash subtle wrinkles in play and a potential game-changing moment at Tribal Council (although not this time). What are your feelings on its application, how Dan used it, and whether we may see it again?

I really liked it. It was a big deal for us as a creative team to go for it. We’ve talked about it for years but felt it might be too much power, but clearly we’re beginning to ease up on that kind of thinking! I thought Dan played it well based on the information he had—you can’t blame someone when they get blindsided. Overall I was really happy with it and yes, I could see us using it again. Just a matter of when and where…

Big finale and big announcement of the new fan-voted Survivor cast coming up at the reunion next week. Tease us up, sir!

We have a great finale. I hope the fans like it. Lots of drama and fireworks and surprises. Plus some love! Mike still has his back against the wall — will anybody team up with him or will he remain a lone wolf? Carolyn has played a strong game and if she can get to the end she has a good argument. Rodney, despite his frustrations about his birthday, has played a very strong and “quiet” game of keeping his alliance together and would love to see him get a chance to plead his case. Sierra needs to make a move otherwise she is going to face a tough jury. This is what I mean when I say you have to make moves, otherwise you find yourself deep in the game with very little resume. Will has the tallest hill to climb. He’s the long shot at this point. It’s not out of the question but he’d have to really turn it on these last few days.

For next season, the voting for Second Chance is really fun to watch play out. I see the results daily and the top 10 is most definitely “in play.” I thought it would be very predictable, but it’s not. So fans who are voting, those votes are having an impact. I’m very excited to reveal the cast “live” next Wednesday during the reunion show. The selected players will leave directly from CBS Studios and begin their journey to location! Super cool!

To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, just click on the video player below. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full “Survivor: Worlds Apart” recap. And for more “Survivor” scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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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