There were 11 players but only 10 votes at Tribal Council, and none of the players seemed to notice
SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
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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: We saw a big wrestling match under the tribe flag for an idol that was not even there because Ryan had already gotten it. But what would have happened there if two people grabbed it and wrestled over it? We know that one person cannot take an idol that already belongs to someone else, but what if two people are both grabbing it at the same time and both claim ownership? How far would you let people go in terms of trying to wrestle it away from each other?
JEFF PROBST: Fun question. The short answer is we always endeavor to let players figure it out on their own. So if you’re in a wrestling match for an idol, don’t let go! But interestingly, that is never a problem. There is this strange integrity that is shared by all players when it comes to the unspoken rules of Survivor. Everybody understands there is a format and a few very small rules that you don’t mess with.

A somewhat similar situation is when one player finds the clue to an idol and shares it with their alliance member and it’s the alliance member who ends up finding the idol. There is no debate about who should get it. You may be frustrated, but players don’t whine about that stuff. The longer the show goes, the more admiration I have for those who play. It takes a lot to deal with everything Survivor throws at you.

Interesting twist here by making the reward feast winners eat one at a time, with Joe picking the order. First off, if you were on that reward, would you want to pick the order or not? And if someone picked you to go first or second, how much would you eat?
This format is so damn good. You can’t say no to winning a reward, but winning a reward always comes with complications or an invoice of some kind. In this case, if I won and had to choose the order, I would go last. I would trust that my amazing generosity would work out for me in some way — if not with this actual reward then maybe down the line when I needed a favor. But if I was chosen to eat first, I would eat more than my fair share and then lie about it. This game is about seizing the best opportunity of any situation. I can go light or dark. Angel or devil. It’s a game.

Take me through how you all workshopped this advantage idea of someone being able to not cast a vote and save it for a future Tribal Council and why you all decided to put it into play?
We did just what you suggest. We workshopped it. We talked through it as a creative team, which means we role-play and try to find problems. We did the math repeatedly to make sure this wouldn’t create a problem down the line. We anticipated tie votes and how it might play out. We run every scenario we can think of, and if we find a problem we can’t solve, then the twist is out. We take no chances.

From our standpoint, this was a fun one because it required the player to “act” and do a fake out. Lauren played it beautifully. Talk about a player who is surprising people. She is so savvy and now she has a powerful advantage. This is maybe the best part of the job. A bunch of us goofballs sit around in a room and come up with fun ideas to throw into the middle of a great game. How did I end up here?

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: There were 11 players at Tribal Council but only 10 votes read because Lauren played her advantage. Did nobody notice that a vote was missing, or did some people ask about it but that got cut out in the editing?
Cut out of editing? Are you nuts? We were HOPING someone would notice and have it cause an issue back at camp. That was the risk Lauren was taking. But as you’ll see next episode, barely a word was spoken. One reason for this, and a reason we felt safe trying this, is that expert Survivor fans know I don’t always read all the votes. I only read as many votes as I need to until we know the verdict. So if you have eight votes and one player gets five, then it doesn’t matter whom the other three are for. It’s game over. That’s what makes this an advantage we can use again. If you get lucky and play this advantage on a night when there are extra votes…. nobody would ever know.

Okay, it’s time, sir. Hit us up with a tease for next week.
I don’t have a specific tease but holy smokes the game is on fire right now. People are playing BIG and anytime you play big, you risk making a mistake. I love big players because I still believe, despite what some think, that in order to win you have to be willing to go for it. Otherwise, you are simply living a lie in which you are actually okay with “just making the jury.” I stand by this 100 percent. Go big or just stay home. We have a lot of people who are playing big. Much more story to come.

Check out a deleted scene from last night’s episode above and make sure to read our full episode recap. And 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 a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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