The host explains Mike’s move, dissects Cole’s name, and previews what’s next
Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I just don’t understand what Dr. Mike’s move was here at Tribal Council. He slammed the majority for not having high moral character in what I guess was an attempt to get them to vote for him, and then he played his idol. But then he and Joe also voted for Cole, so there was not even an attempt to somehow flip the script and get someone like Ben out. Can you shed any light on what that was all about and what purpose it served?
JEFF PROBST: Mike was making the best out of a bad situation. The key to his game right now is survival. He never really thought the majority would turn on one of their own. He was playing with several different ideas. His primary goal was to make sure it was not him who was voted out, which is why he played the idol. His secondary goal was to keep Joe in the game as he wanted nothing to do with Cole.
That came into play when he and Joe voted for Cole on the assumption that there might be a split vote and if so their two votes would tilt it Cole’s way. The last layer was the havoc he was trying to cause with the majority. That appears to be more of a long-term strategy — if I survive long enough maybe this will bear some fruit. Mike is a nutty guy… but he’s underrated… and that could come back to haunt those who overlook him. Mike is also a great example of what happens when someone feels on the outs — they have less to lose and typically play with less regard, and that can create interesting situations that can flip the game.
We saw Ben basically dictate the vote, telling his alliance to vote out Cole with Mike as the backup. Even when Ashley and Chrissy told him he was steamrolling people, he just kept on steamrolling. This raises an interesting question: What do you do if you are 100 percent sure of what the right move is, but your alliance has other ideas? How should Ben have handled this situation?
It’s hard for me to answer what Ben should do since it’s so personal and so situational. So much of Survivor depends on reading the room. It goes beyond just knowing if someone is happy or unhappy with where the vote is heading. You have to put yourself in their shoes and imagine their best move and then make your move based on the assumption they will make that move. A lot of times, people feign being upset but in reality, they are happy for someone else to take the lead because it works for their game.
I also think Ben is in a unique situation because he knows he is seen as a major threat, so he has to assume people want him out and will be trying to take him out. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — how do you play when your assets are visible and known and you know that people want you out of the game?
My armchair conclusion is you have to double down and play for the win. You can’t rely on an alliance to be true to you or an alliance partner to take you to the final three. It’s not in their best interest so in most cases they won’t. Strong players have their work cut out for them and it’s only getting more difficult. I’m not saying that in some cases alliances will hold true, but in 99.999 percent of those cases, it will be because it works for all those involved — meaning they all believe they can beat the other players.
So Cole came in and clearly was a strong challenge performer, but he also alienated a lot of people with his personal behavior. What is his Survivor legacy now that he’s been voted out?
Unfortunately for Cole, he came in as a big-time favorite based on his physique and his profession of helping troubled youth. Big home run. His love affair with Jessica cost him a few points because fans know that is a bad idea. Then his inability to keep a secret cost him more points — not because he shared the secret, but because of who he shared the secret with. There didn’t seem to be a thoughtful plan in place.
Eating extra food didn’t help. Nobody cares you need 8,000 calories a day. That’s your problem, not mine. So he leaves the game downgraded from when he started. But I will say, watching him on the jury, I think Cole started to figure out his mistakes and I felt like I was watching someone learn from the bench. Not saying he’s a “Second Chance” candidate but I am saying he could be.
We’re starting to hit the home stretch now. What can you tell us about what’s in store next week?
For starters, we have TWO EPISODES next week. Back to back. The game shifts into hyperdrive. If you want to win, you will have to go all out. Nobody is safe from this point forward. Hang on.