Survivor: Jeff Probst addresses this week's panic attack
Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with medical being called in to check on Hannah, who complained of feeling faint and said she couldn’t feel her hands — even though she was not even participating in the challenge. First off, tell us what it was like being on the scene there and how high your concern level was?
JEFF PROBST: It started very early with Bret calling attention that Hannah was having some trouble. So we moved her to the shade but kept an eye on her throughout the challenge. Initially, when we called Dr. Joe in to look at her, I was very concerned, because it was still unclear to me what was happening. Dr. Joe quickly assessed she was having a form of a panic attack and that although it was very unnerving to Hannah, she was absolutely not in any serious danger. We’ve never had a situation like this, and it was fascinating to me to watch someone almost will on a panic attack and then explain that they anticipated and feared that it might happen. It seemed in many ways to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And watching it unfold, I was struck by how real the panic was. Her body was clenched and Dr. Joe explained that this was simply her body reacting to the panic. I adore Hannah. We all have our peculiarities, and she is so open with hers. I know there are lots of people who suffer from panic attacks, and now we all have a bit of insight into how debilitating they can be and how to help someone come down from one. Once again, I have to applaud our medical team. Dr. Joe is really an incredibly calming presence. He and his team have so much responsibility. They will spend large portions of every day just monitoring situations… and then out of the blue they are called into action, and it could be for literally any kind of medical emergency.
As a follow-up to that, we always talk about the physical toll Survivor takes on bodies, but I think Hannah is a probably a good example of what is probably one of the most underestimated things about playing this game — the emotional toll this game takes on players. Is that something that can ever be fully explained to a viewer watching on their couch while they eat food after a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed?
Absolutely not. I can’t “feel” what they are feeling, and I have been there every single day of Survivor. The closest I get to understanding the emotional impact comes from years of watching the energetic shift that happens over the course of 39 days. If you were to ever watch an episode and remove yourself from the strategy and disengage from who is winning a challenge and just focus on body language, it’s very revealing. You can see the stress manifesting in slumped bodies, lines in the face, bags under the eyes. Yes, a lot of this is due to pure physical exhaustion, but the intangible is the emotional stress.
The never-ending question that is pounding inside the brain of every player… “Am I being lied to?” Imagine spending just one day where you second-guessed every single thing said to you. Just one day where you never trusted anybody and were always looking over your shoulder. I’d be a mental case by lunch. These guys do this 24 hours a day. This is why I always say that even the first player voted out has experienced something that will never be fully understood by anyone who hasn’t played. And this is one of the biggest reasons why so many want to play. They want that test. They want to be pushed. They want to know if they have it in them to withstand the storm and still be standing when it’s over.
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I’m not sure we’ve seen someone as unfiltered in this way as Michaela. She barks at her teammate and doesn’t see why that could be unsettling, and then openly cheers for one tribe over the other and has no problem explaining why, even if it runs the risk of making her immediate enemies. As viewers, we love it! But does this make her too naïve in terms of the social elements of the game? Or is she so blunt that at least people know they can trust what she says, which is a pretty valuable commodity?
It’s such a great observation and question, because it gets at the heart of why every season of Survivor is different. The answer to your question will always depend on who else is playing the game. Survivor is so tricky, because you are being evaluated constantly, and it’s not as simple as saying, “I need to be less this and more that…,” because most of the time, you are so exhausted that all you can really be is who you really are. It’s so rare to have someone so in control of their emotions and so socially aware that they can construct a unique relationship with every player and adapt as necessary while holding in their truth.
Jeremy did it recently, and a few others have done it, but it’s extremely tough to do. I really don’t have a great answer, so let me shift the question a bit. I love Michaela. I loved her the minute I met her. I would be so proud if she was my daughter because she is really principled, very bright, extremely driven and ultimately a truly likable person. But in the game of Survivor, if you are going to be a person who “spikes” as Michaela does, then you have to know you risk offending some people. Her game must center on making sure the people she intends to put on the jury are people who respect her enough to look past her outbursts. Boston Rob was one of the best at understanding how critical it was to control whom you voted out and when.
Adam switches sides and joins the Gen Xers, and we could debate the pros and cons of that all day long. But what do you make of Figgy’s obliviousness to why being in a couple made her such a target. Was that her ultimate undoing in the game?
It’s such a fun question to ponder, because it really is a head-scratcher for most fans. Figgy may not like reading this, but I think it was a combination of two things: 1) The power of being “in love” and all the devil-may-care attitude that love can bring on. 2) Pure hubris. She felt she had the game in her palm. She had a foursome that was unstoppable, and she and Taylor would be the Queen and King all the way to the end. I’m guessing it’s a big life lesson for Figgy, because she’s a really bright, observant young woman. She just had a blind spot.
And of course I think being a millennial has something to do with it. When you’re young, you’re supposed to believe anything is possible. You aren’t worried about tomorrow, because you’re still living today. It’s awesome, and it’s a very attractive quality that I was drawn to with all the Millennials — their exuberance for the moment. But, in this case, a bit of Gen X wisdom might have helped.
Tease us up for next week and tease us up good!
Well the big story is about revenge. Taylor is pissed, and Adam is his target. Next week kicks the season into another gear.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the most recent episode of Survivor above. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap. If you’ve ever wanted to compete in an actual Survivor challenge against former players, head here for more info. And for all the Survivor scoop you can handle, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.