SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We got to see the second half of that cyclone in this week’s episode as both tribes had a brutal night as they were pounded by rain and were unable to make fire due to everything being wet. Tell us about how you all went about making the decision to give them a fire making kit and tarp to help them recover, because I know that is not something you do lightly.
JEFF PROBST: The night we made that decision is a really great illustration of why keeping the same production team together for years and years is essential to long term success. The rain was, as you say, pounding. And it was not letting up. Around 8 p.m., Henni, who runs the marine department, called to say it will most likely continue all night and maybe even the next day. So, we all talked and made the decision to send them a care kit, which we have only done a couple of times in our history.

At that point, despite our crew already being asleep or at least trying to unwind, various departments kicked back into action. It involved art, marine, production, reality, producers, camera/audio teams, safety and probably other departments I am forgetting. But within 45 minutes, we had the kits built and on boats heading out to the beaches — where our boat captains now had to endure the storms out on the water. And by 10:30 p.m. the tribes had their tarp and our teams were heading back to bed. As a contrast — if this was a new show with an inexperienced adventure crew, that single incident could upend everything and set you back. But for us, I am so proud to say, it really was just another Tuesday night.

We have an interesting scene back at the David camp after they have lost their second immunity challenge where Lyrsa talks about how big and invincible the Goliaths are and how “sometimes it feels like it’s a little unfair too.” But then Bi comes back and says it’s all about technique, not size, and that the group has to get rid of their defeatist attitude. What do you think? What’s the reason for the David struggles? Is it mind or matter?
There is no denying that physical size is an advantage for the Goliaths, but beyond that it is I think it’s too early to assign a label to the David struggle. It’s just the game. You know as well as anyone, Dalton, it is an absolute ass-kicker. It can quickly overwhelm and swallow you up, so you have to continue to fight. Bi is 100 percent correct — there are lots of angles, lots of ways to play Survivor. The key is adjusting as you go, making the right decisions during challenges and never ever giving up on yourself. I say it every season and we see it play out every season – believe in yourself and amazing things can and often do happen.

Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Jessica lied about her age, not wanting people to know she was a teenager. And she certainly did not play timidly. But she also appeared to get a little too comfortable, leading to her blindside. How would you describe her as a player and sum up her brief stay in this game?
I loved having Jessica on the show. We wanted her a year ago, but the theme didn’t fit. So we waited, and the minute we knew we were doing David vs. Goliath, we called her back. To her credit, she was just as excited as she was the first time we met her and she had an extra year of life experience. We’re having more and more young people play Survivor, and it’s teaching me a lot about the differences that life experience bring to the game. In Jessica’s case, I don’t think getting comfortable is a result of her age, I think it’s a result of great game-play by those around her. She’s a sharp young woman, she just didn’t read the room correctly, and as a result, she got blindsided.

This was our first look at the new Tribal Council set. What can you tell us about the theme for this season’s execution station?
Oh, man, I am in awe of this Tribal. Our art department is run by Dax Pointon and Zach Jensen, and they have assembled an insanely talented group of artisans. Every year the bar seems higher than the last year. This year Dax designed something that just blew my mind. One of the key features was an elevated voting booth, which we did both for aesthetic reasons but also because we want to give more privacy in the voting booth. And I’ll tell you something… when you walk into tribal it feels GIGANTIC. It feels like it’s hovering over you. There is no way anything good could have ever taken place in that space.

After the design phase, Muzza Ross oversees construction and he has a whole other team of artists that build it and shape it and give it texture so that it feels so real you forget it isn’t. And one of their strengths is using the existing environment to their advantage. Instead of cutting down a large beautiful tree, they just build it right into the set. It’s brilliant. And while he’s doing that, Zach is overseeing the construction of all the challenges. Challenge builds have their own nutty schedule of deadlines to contend with. It’s a freakin’ three-ring circus at times and yet they manage to always get the job done in time. #respect.

Okay, tease time! What can you share about next week’s episode?
We are really working to go deeper with our stories earlier in the season so people really know who is playing and what’s at stake for them. That is the focus on next week, and you will start to see which relationships are strong and which ones… are in serious trouble. It’s only week three, but it’s game on, full tilt boogie.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene above and also make sure to read our full episode recap. Plus, 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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