SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Big twist here as you split up all the players into two temporary groups, with each group having an immunity winner and each group having to vote somebody out at a separate Tribal Council. Tell us about where this idea came from and what you all talked about in the planning stages in terms of what such a move could potentially give you and do for the game?
JEFF PROBST: One of the invoices for having 20 players is that we usually have to do at least one episode where we vote two players out. We don’t like doing it, but if we don’t, we end up with too many people at the end. So we are always looking for new ways to accomplish that difficult task. This new idea came from executive producer Matt Van Wagenen. It was a fun experiment and definitely threw the players off their game. We may do it again in the future, but probably not the very near future, as we like to keep them guessing.

Let’s talk about that first Tribal Council, where everybody just wanted to get right to the voting. What do you think that was about? Did they not want to inadvertently give anything up? Were they worried someone else might change some minds? Did they all just feel so safe that there was no reason to continue? What was your take on that?
That was a weird night. I think that was just a perfect storm. I think each player knew what they wanted to do, they were exhausted, and to your point probably didn’t want to risk anybody messing up their plans. When a moment like that happens, it catches me off guard. It’s easy to forget that Survivor is not scripted. When something happens, we just deal with it, and when that happened, my primal instinct was, “Okay, let’s just vote.” But there was definitely another nagging voice in my head saying, “What are you doing?! Slow down, ask some more questions, you dummy!” Fortunately, that voice was overruled and we voted.

The Finish Line Is In Sight
Credit: CBS

Usually someone gets some time to process and reflect and pull themselves together at Ponderosa after being eliminated, but Jenna had to go straight to sitting on the jury for the immediate second Tribal Council. How hard do you think that was for her, to not have any of that downtime and perhaps still be in a state of shock?
I think that would be hard for anybody. I will say that Jenna is pretty composed. I was impressed the entire season with how she carried herself. I think she’d be very good in a crisis. But the aftermath of being voted out is never easy. I would assume she buried those feelings on a back burner and waited until she got back to Ponderosa to start sorting through it all.

That second Tribal Council was a total free-for-all, with Kellyn’s paranoia causing votes to fly all over the place. There’s so much I could ask you about this Tribal, but I’ll hit you with this: How much murmuring and confusion was there when you announced five votes from five people and then said, “One vote left”? We’ve seen some instances in the past two seasons where players are so in the moment that they haven’t been counting missing votes to even realize the numbers don’t match up. Did everyone here in that moment seem to catch on that something was amiss, and what were the aftershocks of that realization?
So glad you asked. I think that was a turning point in the show. You’re right, the first couple of times an extra vote was used, it seemed to fly past some of the players. But now it’s out there. People will be counting. I thought it was electric. I love those moments. That’s why people want to play Survivor, for those kind of game changing dynamics. And not to be forgotten, Kellyn misplays the extra vote and another Ghost Island curse lives on.

Fate Is The Homie
Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

I’m not sure there has ever been as impressive a player at such a young age as 18-year-old Michael, who finally met his end here. Give me your take on his game.
I can’t remember anybody making this kind of impression on the audience. EVERYBODY likes Michael. I mean everybody. Everybody. He’s a really impressive young man. What he’s going through now can be overwhelming. He was living a somewhat normal life, and then he’s suddenly thrust into a spotlight like Survivor. But I think he’ll be okay. So much of his charm comes from an amazingly healthy sense of self that is not tilted too heavily one way or another.

I would invite him back in a minute, I would align with him in a second. He was a massive threat from very early in the game. I can’t say enough nice things about him. He’s just a very well-rounded and likable guy. And if I was a smarter man, I would hang up the Survivor snuffer and represent him as an agent.

Okay, hit us up with a tease for next week!
It’s time for love … Survivor style.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene above and also make sure to read our full episode recap and exit interviews with Michael and Jenna. Also be sure to vote for every final Tribal Council in our Survivor fan poll. 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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