SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Ghost Island.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I always love the merge because it means the start of a totally new phase of the game. Beyond the Chris and Dom stuff (which we’ll get to in a minute), what was your biggest takeaway from this merge this time?
If you noticed, we started the episode mid-merge. The boats were already traveling and the players were already anticipating the next phase. This is the first time we’ve ever done it that way and it signifies how connected players and viewers are to the show — that we don’t need the setup. Everybody knows what the merge is so let’s just get to it. And this season, I think the merge is going to be very interesting. Can the Naviti vs. Malolo rivalry continue or will the fracturing begin?

Domenick vs. Chris: What was so fascinating to me about this epic feud was how open they both were about it. Give me your biggest takeaways in terms of how this all went down at Tribal Council and on the islands in general.
I think this is one of those times when you must first thank the “Survivor gods” for their gifts. Once again we were blessed with abundance. Dom vs Chris. It started on day 1 and it lasted much longer than anyone believed possible. People who want to play Survivor but have yet to be chosen — take notice — this is how it’s done. This is what we are looking for. You have to be willing to play and be compelling while you play.

For me, the most enjoyable moment was the conversation between Dom, Wendell, and Chris. Chris listened to what sounded to me like a very sincere pitch to join forces, but Chris was not having it. Then, in interview, he says, “Dom and Wendell were pitching me B.S. I’m too suave to just buy it.” The key word in all of this for me was “suave” pronounced by Chris with a little urban flare as “swa-vay.” But the best part was that I actually got a bit of hip-hop education regarding the meaning of the word. I didn’t realize if you take suave and turn it into “swa-vay,” it actually does take on a slightly different definition — confident and intelligent. I’m still learning after all these years… thanks, Chris!

At the merge, Chris discovered a note telling him he could get an idol at Tribal Council if he could manage to sneak away in the middle of the night. Tell me about adding this fun wrinkle into the game and whether you all thought he would be caught or not?
This was one of the highlights of the season. First, the idea; then, the way it would play out and then the execution. All of it worked. And the star of the entire sequence was Chris. He really went for it and it was authentically risky to his game. He had to leave camp, race to Ghost Island, and sprint into the jungle, quickly figure out the mechanics of the game and decide if he wanted to play and then get back as fast as he could.

I loved that he played and that he went for it. That’s honestly what you dream of when you put these twists into the game. You pray for people who want to play. Chris gave us everything we could ask for in a player. And I love that we were able to shoot all of it with firelight. That’s not quite as easy as it seems. But I’ve never been a fan of shooting IR so we are going to continue to experiment with fire at night.

BONUS QUESTION: I noticed that all four times someone has picked a bamboo to play at Ghost Island, the advantage has been in the bamboo on the left. What gives? Is this just coincidence? A subtle mind-game to see if any players compare notes and notice that it is always on the left? Or is it merely the work of a proud lefty on the production side making a bold statement of superiority?
Wow, that’s a fantastic observation. I have no idea. We have never talked about which side the advantage should be on. I’m guessing it’s less on purpose and more just randomness, or maybe, as you suggest, a subconscious statement of lefty superiority! But to be clear, no we did not do it on purpose and never even considered players would compare notes and then assume that we really did have a pattern. But I can tell you this — if we do something like this again in the future, we will flip a coin to ensure it’s always random.

Well, sir, how do you follow up one of the best episodes of Survivor I have ever seen? What’s coming up next week?
Thank you for that very high praise. It means a lot to hear that. Next week, we begin to feel the true battle beginning. People are gathering their troops and gameplay ramps up a bit more.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene above and also make sure to read our full episode recap, our epic exit interview with Chris Noble and our exclusive merge interview with Domenick. 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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