'Survivor': Jeff Probst gives behind-the-scenes intel on the medical emergency
Each week host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, let’s do this in two parts. We’ll get to Joe passing out and everything that happened after that in a minute, but let’s start by talking about that immunity challenge. It seemed like such a simple, non-physical competition, but in that heat, and holding up that weight for that long, it turned into a grueling affair. We’ve seen a few of the challenges this season — like the blindfolded one — just absolutely wreck people. What is it about either these challenges or this location or the indomitable will of these contestants that has people so absolutely drained?
JEFF PROBST: Great question. Let’s start with the elements. Cambodia was and I’m pretty sure, still is, hot. Very hot. Extremely hot on some days. Not hot like “Man, it’s really hot out today.” Hot as in “Holy crap, that’s the sun! The actual sun! And it’s heading straight for us!” So there’s that. But the key to this season is the players. They are, without compare, the most motivated group of players we’ve ever had. The combination of waiting, in some cases, 15 years to play again — combined with the honor of being “voted in” by the fans has given them a sense of duty. They have to live up to the opportunity they’ve been given.
If there was a way to guarantee this kind of commitment every season, I’d give the pinky finger off my left hand to make that deal. That’s what you saw in this week’s immunity challenge. Sometimes, when we test challenges with our Dream Team we will give them an incentive to go as long as they can. It might be an extra hour of sleep or a case of beer (yes, these really are big incentives on location). We did that in this challenge, as we really wanted to see how long it could go. I even had friends visiting who also participated in the challenge rehearsal. Nobody came anywhere close to Joe and Keith. They quadrupled the time our rehearsal lasted. I was in awe. I could not believe how long it lasted. And with their necks craned up it was extremely uncomfortable. I can’t say enough good things about this group of players. This is the new example of how this game should be played.
I’m not sure there is a scarier sight on Survivor then someone losing consciousness, and we saw your immediate concern as you quickly called medical in. Take us through being there when Joe collapsed during the immunity challenge and then everything that happened after that.
Okay, so you are already in my head that this challenge has gone way beyond anything we rehearsed. It’s now become a true showdown between two true challenge threats. Joe who has dominated, and Keith, one of the only people who can truly challenge him. I honestly thought, Joe is going to win again. When Joe dropped, it was completely out of nowhere. There was no warning sign. Joe didn’t utter anything like “I’m feeling light-headed.” It was like one of those inflatable air dancers you see at car lots — suddenly lost all its air. Joe just dropped.
It was so confusing that at first I wasn’t sure what had happened. It wasn’t until I got to him that I saw he was out. We called in medical, who is always just outside of the camera crew watching and waiting. Dr. Joe, who I believe in another life was Errol Flynn, was at Joe’s side within ten seconds. He knew exactly what had happened. Joe’s willpower had pushed his body so hard that he pushed it beyond where it was able to go, so his body had to take over and shut down. It literally just stopped responding to his will — and he dropped. As Dr. Joe said, he used up all of his “energy supplies.” It was an amazing display of determination. He literally went as far as his body could take him.
He responded quite quickly to Dr. Joe’s attention and it was clear within about thirty seconds that he would be okay. Here’s another layer, Keith was not far behind. Keith had also pushed his body way beyond anything it was used to. Had they gone much longer, it might have been Keith who dropped. Both guys should be in the Survivor Hall of Fame based simply on that performance alone.
WANT MORE EW? Subscribe now to keep up with the latest in movies, television, and music.
I’m not going to ask you to pick the most emotional loved ones reunion out there, but … actually, on second thought, to hell with it. Yes, I am! I am going to make you pick! Was there one of these Second Chance loved one reunions that hit you a little more than the others, and what’s it like seeing otherwise composed people just lose it emotionally like that right in front of you?
Ah that’s a very tough question. Since being given the amazing opportunity to become a parent, loved one visits have changed quite a bit for me. I can’t hide my emotion as easily as I did in the past. I have to be honest and say that I am a big fan of love. So I feel the love when Tasha’s cousin hugs her. I feel the love when Abi’s mom comes from behind the trees and Abi finally has someone who understands her. I can obviously feel the love of Kimmi saying “Daddy.”
I adored seeing Keith introduce everybody to his wife, “Big D” because in that moment I saw a truth and vulnerability in Keith that he doesn’t often show. I enjoyed seeing Joe fulfill his vision of having his dad visit (although, just like Savage, “I just want to make the jury,” be mindful of what you tell your brain, because Joe fulfilled his vision and was promptly voted out). Even Kelley Wentworth, who you knew was uncomfortable having her dad join her game, was grateful to have some safe arms wrapped around her body.
But there were two big ones for me. Spencer really touched me because I see Spencer as a kid who could, in another life, be my son. Yeah, imagine that. I root for him to grow as a young man and seeing his absolutely lovely girlfriend race toward him was really powerful. You have to remember, I can’t hear what they are whispering to each other and I didn’t know he’d never said he loved her, so when he did, all of that power was lost on me. I was just happy to see him so open with his love.
And the other big one was Jeremy. In his case, I did know that Val was pregnant, (we have to know important things like that about significant others, just in case an emergency happens) but I didn’t know all the details and I couldn’t hear her whisper to him “It’s a boy.” If I had, I might have lost it. That was pretty powerful. In that moment, I was reminded that every person playing really does have a specific reason and in the case of Jeremy it was pretty primal — provide for my family.
Just two episodes left! Tease us up for the big penultimate episode.
It makes me sad that this season is winding down because as all Survivor fans know, each season is a new adventure and I really hate to let this one go. Next week is a pivotal episode. Seven players left. It’s do or die. The vote here is critical. You are deciding whom you will go toe to toe with in that final week. Nobody is certain of the right move. Plus, another scary situation and another Survivor in trouble.
To watch an exclusive deleted scene as well our pre-game interview with Joe and episodes of Survivor Talk just click on the video player above.