The host also notes that Joe almost didn't make it on the show and that 'Jessica blew it'

By Dalton Ross
November 09, 2017 at 12:01 AM EST


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

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: During the immunity challenge, we saw you ask a rhetorical question about how many people would be spinning a ball on an inner circular track on a Sunday afternoon, and as soon as Mike decided to answer you by saying, “Not even me, Jeff,” he lost his ball and was out. This brings up an interesting question: Should contestants completely tune you out when they are competing in something that requires focus and concentration? How would you handle yourself if you were a player in that situation?
JEFF PROBST: It’s a great question and requires a layered answer. On a typical endurance challenge like the one from this episode, I do tend to talk quite a bit. But the real truth of it is that I am talking with the intention of keeping players focused, not to try and trick you into messing up. I think if you asked most players, they would say that I am constantly encouraging them. I remind them to stay in touch with what they are doing, to not let their minds waver, to not get swept up in the monotony of the ball rotating round and round.

I am never intentionally trying to throw them off course. And before I ask questions, I usually ask them if they’re up for a question and only continue if they say yes. And when we get down to the final four or three or two, I pick up the intensity because I want them to last as long as they can, until their bodies can’t take it anymore. The other thing that true fans know… is that every so often I say something during a challenge that can help you… I give you a clue to the answer to a puzzle, that kind of thing. So it’s not as simple as “That Probst, he’s trying to get me…!”

Do you sit there thanking the Survivor gods every time Joe opens his mouth at Tribal Council? And were you surprised he played the idol after what appeared to maybe be a bluff move when he took it out and put it around his neck?
I love Joe. We loved him the minute he walked into the room. He wasn’t an easy sell to CBS. Sometimes we all agree on who we want on the show and sometimes we don’t. Joe took some work, but he got on and he’s fantastic! And it’s not simply because he says such great stuff and makes moves. We like him because he is delivering on what he showed us in the room. Big, bold, funny, and relentless. That doesn’t mean you have to be big, bold, funny, and relentless to get on the show — it means that is what Joe showed us and he has held up his end. Everybody has their own story. We just want you to deliver on that story.

Much like Figgy with Taylor in Millennials vs. Gen X, Jessica really seemed to have her game undone by a showmance with a less savvy partner, in this case Cole. Is that a fair assessment? What was your takeaway from her game?
Jessica blew it. She may not have known it then but I am guessing she knows it now. This is just my personal assessment, so take this for what it’s worth… which is roughly a 32-ounce iced coffee at your local Coffee Bean. I think the truth is that LOVE is a big thing for Jessica and she met a guy that she thought she might really like and it overshadowed her otherwise savvy game sense. She’s a better player than she showed. She’s a good “Second Chance” candidate. Survivor is hard. It can get you from so many different angles.

BONUS QUESTION: Ben said he wanted to work tactically instead of emotionally, but we also know he was (by his own admission) annoyed and even “offended” by Cole. Do you think his decision to turn against his new Yawa tribemates was a move made based on strategy, personal preference, or a little bit of both?
That’s a tough one to answer. Ben is complicated. I think he’s probably a pretty good guy and he wants to play a “good” game in the eyes of his family, friends, and Survivor fans. But… this game gets personal and when people mess up your world, it’s almost impossible not to have a reaction. But if I had to answer, I would say strategy. I think Ben is able to keep his emotions in check, remember why he is playing, and let gameplay dictate his moves.

Okay, we have a merged tribe that still feels to be in flux. What can you tease up for next week?
Another NEW twist! We’ve wanted to do this one for years and it finally felt like the right time…. enjoy!

Check out a deleted scene from last night’s episode above and make sure to read our full episode recap. Also, make sure to enjoy our merge interview with Ryan as well as 35 former Survivors revealing their most painful moments. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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