Survivor host Jeff Probst on that 'devastating' boat accident and evacuation
Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, let’s start with the injury Pat sustained after the challenge that knocked him out of the game. What can you tell us about what exactly happened and how you all responded to this terribly unfortunate incident, which, as you mentioned, was a first for this show?
JEFF PROBST: What a lot of fans might not know is that we often have to transport the players quite a distance to get to a challenge, or even Tribal Council. So we have boats that are designated only for their travel. We pick them up at their beach and take them back. We never include it on the show because they are in lockdown, and so nothing is happening from a gameplay point of view. And in 37 seasons of doing this, we have never had an issue until now.
The David tribe was heading back to their beach after losing the immunity challenge. The weather was quite bad and the sea was rough. The boat hit a big wave and Pat got rocked. The pain was so intense that our boat captain immediately turned around and headed back to the challenge location. Medical was called, and when Dr. Joe arrived he assessed very quickly that Pat would have to be pulled from the game because there was too much uncertainty surrounding the injury.
It was a devastating moment for everybody. Pat and his family had sacrificed so much to get the time away from work and his loved ones, and despite a bit of a bossy start, he was genuinely liked by everybody on his tribe. And perhaps the worst part of all of it was how it happened… while being a passenger on what should have been uneventful boat ride back to camp.
What happened to Pat after he was officially pulled from the game and got on that chopper?
As you saw, our medical and safety team was on it very fast. Pat was transported, along with one of our doctors, via helicopter to a hospital where they were waiting for him. He underwent testing to see if there was any severe damage, and I’m happy to report there was not. That is not to say he was not in tremendous pain. He had trouble walking for a few days, but has made a full recovery.
You’ve been in a lot of gnarly weather before, but take us through that immunity challenge. Just how bad was it, and did it impact the contest in terms of the players being able to hear their callers or anything else?
That was one of my favorite challenges ever on Survivor because of the scope of the challenge and, as you noted, the gnarly weather! I loved it. It was raining so hard that I couldn’t even hear my own voice. And we all know what a big “voice” I have. The rain was sideways. But what you saw in terms of strategy was how people deal with crisis. Both leaders, Christian and Alison, did a great job in their own way of managing the stress. I was really impressed with how calm they remained. I can’t fully explain the adrenaline rush you get when you know you are shooting something that cannot be repeated; the stakes are huge, and beautiful Mother Nature decides to pop in and add another layer of conflict and drama.
When you all were mapping this opening challenge on the boat out, who did you feel had the advantage going in: the Goliaths in picking the players without knowing exactly what the contest was, or the Davids in picking all the stages both teams had to perform throughout?
We didn’t know. That’s why it was so exciting. I haven’t been that nervous for a marooning in years. Truly nervous. It was a giant, risky idea. Could we pull off a challenge that illustrated the theme of the season — which is, “It’s not who has the advantage, it’s what is the advantage” — in a way that was unpredictable and fair? I think we achieved it. I am so proud of our challenge team. It was a monstrous task. And once again, the Survivor gods gave us a gift when Christian slays the slide puzzle with his secret weapon. Right on theme. Sure, you could ask for more from your opening challenge, but you’d be a greedy fool.
Okay, rough start for the players with the cyclone and all. What can you tease for next week’s episode?
The weather continues, relationships and alliances really start to form, and you finally get to see Tribal Council and it is outstanding!
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode above. Also make sure to read our recap of the Survivor: David vs. Goliath premiere and read our raw and emotional exit interview with the evacuated Pat, and for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.