Each week, Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Ghost Island.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jeffrey Probst, did I hear you get choked up there during the loved-ones visit when you started to talk about the way Angela had sacrificed her family for her job? What was it that got you so emotional there, and did it maybe hit home a bit for you because of how often you are away from your family because of work?
JEFF PROBST: Yes, I did get a bit choked up. I have definitely seen a shift in my reaction to loved-one visits over the past few seasons as I connect to missing my own family. But in this case, I think it was triggered by some level of patriotism that I imagine a lot of us have, even if never expressed. It’s just so easy to forget the sacrifice made by those who serve our country, and in the case of Angela, she dedicated her entire adult life to it.
Let’s talk about the Laurel and Donathan alliance a bit because I find it fascinating that we have had at least three different episodes where Donathan has talked about wanting to make a move against Dom and Wendell, but Laurel seems to always pull him back. What do you make of the push and pull in that strategic relationship?
It’s been the most central and complex relationship of the season. Donathan and Laurel are down in the numbers from a Malolo point of view, but have a powerful four-person alliance with Dom and Wendell. Donathan is getting antsy and wants to make a move, but Laurel is conflicted. It’s fascinating because they need each other, they both have the same concern about Dom and Wendell, but their style of gameplay is different. Donathan can be chaotic and risky; Laurel wants to remain loyal. Both approaches have pros and cons. Causing chaos can pay off. It can also get you voted out. Remaining loyal can certainly pay off, but it can also make you a patsy. Survivor is a tough game to play, and even tougher to win.
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Wendell wins the exact same advantage in the exact same challenge that Malcolm did back in Survivor: Philippines, and then, like Malcolm, loses anyway. First off, would you have volunteered to go to Ghost Island like Wendell did — knowing you would get an advantage but also putting a bigger target on yourself — and could there be something psychologically about having a do-over advantage, and then the accompanying pressure when you are on your second turn, that mentally sabotages contestants?
Yes, I would have gone to Ghost Island. One hundred percent. My dad would have encouraged it. And yes, I do think the mere thought of “bad mojo” can get in your head and cause you to choke. Just look at this season. The majority of Ghost Island relics have haunted again. Coincidence?
Every season there is someone who just does not show up very much in the edit, and this season — even though she won two immunities — Chelsea was that person. What did you see from her out on the island?
I really like Chelsea. She’s a very nice person and, as you noted, did well in challenges. We never intentionally plan to feature one person less than another, but it is the truth of how it goes once you start putting the stories together. Certain players tend to drive more story, either by their moves or their interview bytes or the way they carry themselves in the game. This season had a lot of very strong, compelling personalities, so it was hard to find time for everybody. I’m sure it’s frustrating for Chelsea. She played hard, she was very competitive, and she was living in that jungle the same as everybody else. It was nothing more than having more story than we had room for each week.
Our penultimate episode of the season coming up next. What can you tell us, sir?
We’re down to seven, so everybody is fighting to stay in the game while one person makes what could be a million-dollar mistake.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene above, and also make sure to read our full episode recap and exit interview with Chelsea. Also be sure to check out the results of our fan poll where viewers voted for every final Tribal Council. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.