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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: You’ve run memory challenges before, and surely ran a few tests of this immunity challenge with the Dream Team. Give us an idea of just how difficult it must have been for Michele to memorize every single symbol, as she said she did here.

JEFF PROBST: We did a similar type of memory challenge during Stephen Fishbach’s season [Tocantins] and he memorized a bunch of numbers at once, came back, and won the challenge. I think he connected it to how we memorize phone numbers. But the result was that we realized it was possible for someone to do it, just very unlikely. So we made this one tougher by connecting symbols to the numbers and adding a few more. I honestly didn’t even consider someone would be able to do it in one run — just didn’t cross my mind. So when Michelle got it that fast I was pretty surprised and definitely impressed.

The way the challenge is set up, you don’t have to memorize all of them, you just had to know the ones that were going to be on the answer board. So it’s possible you could just get lucky and memorize the exact ones you ended up needing. The way your question is phrased, it sounds like maybe that’s what you’re implying? I think it’s possible she memorized them all. She doesn’t strike me as someone who would make that up. Michele seems to be pretty straight up about stuff like that.

I haven’t asked you one Joe question all season, which makes sense since he’s been relatively invisible out there as far as airtime. All we’ve really seen from him is being first out in most challenges and refusing to ever change his vote last minute. But just being out there for 29 days now at his age in what seems like the harshest Survivor conditions ever is certainly an impressive accomplishment. Since we haven’t seen a lot of him, give us your take on what you saw and thought of Joe out there on location.

Joe was an instant “yes” when we met him in casting. Very few people in their 70s can get out there and play Survivor. We’ve had two: Rudy Bosch in season 1 and Joe in season 32. I have been absolutely blown away by Joe. He’s a really amazing example of what is possible when you really want something. He has lived his life with adventure as a theme. He goes after what he wants. He wanted Survivor, he went for it, and he got it. To survive these conditions at any age is hard — just ask Aubry — and Joe is thriving. He may not be as malleable as some, he may not be as physical as some, but he’s in this game, and he’s got a vote — and that’s more than the majority of the players who started this game can say.

I do want to be clear: I don’t appreciate Joe only because he’s older. He has a great spirit. I think he is a good person who looks out for others. Yes, his age plays a part in his performance, but that’s expected. It would be a shame if people just saw him as the “older, gray-haired gentlemen in great shape.” What I think Joe offers is a reminder that you MUST go for what inspires you. You MUST seek the adventures that are calling you. Joe did, and we are all so grateful.

Tai asks Aubry at Tribal Council if he should play his idol, and she tells him that she thinks he’s fine. Even though he is in her alliance, seeing as how he is a big threat to win should he make it to the end and has an idol and an advantage, wouldn’t the better play for her have been to tell him to use the idol just to get it out of the game? That way it would be easier for her to cut him later if she wants. What say you?

You just asked the kind of question that keeps players up at night. What IS the right move? On one hand, Aubry could betray Tai or play dumb and say she really did think he was in trouble, so play the idol. But then Tai could turn on her and vote her out or not vote for her if he makes the jury and she is final three or, or, or, or… There is no way to know. My best guess is that Aubry made a move that she thought would connect her to Tai. Tai likes to play from a foundation based on moral code. He seems to respect that kind of gameplay. If that’s true, then Aubry may have just solidified her strongest alliance by showing Tai that you can trust me — “I get you, and I won’t lie to you.”

On the other hand, she could be setting him up for a bigger move by showing him — “I get you, I won’t lie to you” — right before she votes him out next week! And who knows, maybe Tai will now realize — “Wow, that was a great move. In fact, it’s too good a move I need to get her out of this game!” I’m the first to remind everybody that I have never played and would no doubt be voted out early for one reason or another.

Only a few episodes left! Tease us up for next week, sir!

Push is coming to shove. With so few people left, the alliances are going to truly be put to the test. There will be consequences.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap, as well as our exit interview with Julia. 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 $1 million, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "Dig deep!"

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