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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Kaôh Rōng.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We saw Alecia and Jason both scrambling for the key to open the box with the immunity idol that Scot had released by pushing the key out from up on the tree. This brings up an interesting logistical question in terms of idol ownership in that usually the person who finds the idol gets the idol, but this situation was a bit more complicated. Everyone knew where the idol was (in the locked box) but they needed the key. Jason got the key, but here’s the question: Would it be within the rules for someone to have gone and taken the idol box and hidden it somewhere else to prevent anybody else from getting the idol, key or no key?

JEFF PROBST: It rarely comes up, but there are certain things that we would not allow, and that is one of them. The idol box was a “fixed” item, and we would not allow someone to move it or hide it. As you said, the real trick was finding the key, and that was complicated by Alecia first telling Cydney, thinking she could trust her, and Cydney then telling her alliance, but then not bothering to look for it herself. So much going on. Let’s analyze, shall we?

The single biggest factor was Alecia’s inability to read the room. There wasn’t a single good reason to tell Cydney that she found the idol. Cydney is already in the majority of three. By telling her, you give away your ONLY weapon, the possibility of a blindside. Had Alecia found the idol in secret, her one vote would have changed the game. And what a move by Cydney. By telling her alliance about the idol, and then letting them go look for it themselves, she put herself in a really potentially powerful long-play position. She proved herself incredibly loyal and willing to sacrifice for the good of the tribe. Obviously the idol could be used against her, but if she makes it to the merge and those three go deep, she has earned a lot of good will.

Beyond serving as a source of food and protein on this show, the chickens given to tribes always seem to have an impact in other ways — whether comically (through chasing the escaped birds) or dramatically (through a vegetarian not wanting to see them killed). This time it was lover-of-all-creatures Tai being remorseful after feeling the chicken’s life draining of its body in his hands. Pretty emotional stuff. How do your conversations with vegetarians and people like Tai go in the casting process in terms of discussing their views and how they will be able to handle what might happen once out on the island?

Surprisingly, we don’t spend much time at all on that kind of stuff. Back in the old days… circa ’01, ’02 we would investigate this stuff more thoroughly because it was all still so new. Now we focus almost solely on the ability to tell a story and where we think someone would fit in the tapestry of what we are planning creatively. We’ve learned to trust our process and the format.

“For all the talk tonight about how smart this tribe is, the vote illustrates that Survivor is always about emotional intelligence, your ability to pick up on social cues. That’s what gets you to the end.” Pretty insightful words from you there to end the episode. Is Peter the latest example of someone who has just failed to realize that book smarts do not translate into Survivor smarts? Also, what’s his deal?

Yes, I think he’s a great example that in a social situation, brains are a fun party trick, but social awareness gets you invited back. Here’s the thing though — everybody thinks they are good at reading the room. I can’t think of a person I’ve met who said, “The one thing I really suck at is awareness. I just never get what is happening around me.” We all have our blindspots — yes, Dalton, even me.

I also think tribes like “brain tribes” are handicapped because super smart people who are certain they are the smartest person in the room don’t seem to do well when paired with other super smart people who are certain they are the smartest person in the room. I’m mostly just glad that I am certain that I am never the smartest person in the room. Makes life so much easier.

As for Peter, I don’t think he’s that unique in terms of his hubris. Sitting in the Survivor casting room for 16 years, I’ve come to realize it’s much more common than you might think. And I’m sure there are people right now reading this thinking that I am not different than him. “He thinks he’s all that…” Which is why I am glad I host and don’t play Survivor.

That was a pretty intense preview for next week. What can you say about the medical emergency that appears to be looming?

The most dramatic and maybe most compelling episode we’ve ever done.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap. For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter: @DaltonRoss, and check back soon for our exit interview with ousted Liz.

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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