The host talks about the latest secret advantage, the new challenge twist, and more

By Dalton Ross
September 28, 2017 at 06:02 AM EDT

Every week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Here we go again, sir, with season 35! Let’s talk about the secret advantage, which was a super idol that could only be played at the first Tribal Council and had to be willed anonymously to someone from the losing tribe if the owner’s tribe did not come in last place. Tell me about the decision to have it only be good for the first Tribal, and why you all decided to have it be given anonymously.
JEFF PROBST: We are trying a new idea this season centered around “secrets.” It came from the notion of sending someone an anonymous love note in school. What if you could do something similar on Survivor? You impact the game anonymously and then decide if and when you revealed your role. We are also very curious how the currency of knowing about a secret will be used. Will you share or will you keep it to yourself? As for the “one time” idol use, that is designed to force a move early in the game. It’s one of the most fun parts of the job — figuring out how to twist the game just a little bit.

My daughter pitched you all this idea of having three choices for a challenge, but instead of letting everyone pick the same thing, the first team got first choice, second team picked from the remaining two options, and last team was stuck with what was left. Challenge producer John Kirhoffer gave you the credit for suggesting during the planning for this challenge that the twist might work here. So how do you think it went and could we see something like that again?
First off, thank you to your daughter for a great idea. It was the perfect timing! We loved it and it definitely worked. We had three different finish mazes and each required a different set of skills. So, each tribe had their eye on a specific maze but they had to finish first in order to get first choice. And the last tribe to arrive got stuck with what was left. Those are great stakes out of the gate. And anytime we can force a choice to be made, it usually works out pretty well. Also, please have your daughter send all future ideas directly to me so I can take full credit.

Alan forms an alliance with Ashley and JP, then publicly attacks them as a power couple and makes JP dance around naked to prove he doesn’t have an idol, but then votes with them anyway in the end. What’s your take on this guy? Is there a method to the madness?
That’s a great question — is there a plan in place for Alan? My initial hunch is yes, he knows he is coming off a bit scattered, but it’s a worthy risk. He also may really believe that he saw something happen between them and so he’s hedging his bet a bit. Survivor is tricky; it can play with your mind. But regardless, he committed to his strategy. And it’s pretty amazing how a simple accusation can cause such havoc. When information is king and there is very little… the game can go sideways fast.

BONUS QUESTION! We got the rare orange hat trifecta as you busted it out for the “1 Survivor!” shot, the marooning, and the first challenge. Have you finally and unequivocally accepted it as the ultimate Survivor chapeau?
That’s funny! I am not sure I should admit this, but I don’t pay that much attention to the hats. I’m clearly an island fashionista and so it shouldn’t surprise you that most of my shirt, short, hat combinations all work together. It’s a bit like kids clothing. Any combo works. I just grab one and go! But I do like the orange a lot! Who wears an orange hat!

What can you tease for week number 2 of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers?
Next week is a KILLER episode! You will get to know much more about a few of the players, there is some great underwater fishing sequences, and the search is on for the idol.

Enjoy an exclusive deleted scene from the premiere above as well as a supercut of all 35 of Probst’s death-defying intros at the top of the post. Also, make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap.

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