Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The merge is always one of the most exciting points of the game because everything can recalibrate. What was your big takeaway once this whole group came together and how things played out?
JEFF PROBST: What I look for in a merge is to see which players shift into another gear, which players sit back and reassess, and which players feel comfortable enough to actually just enjoy the feast. I’m not suggesting there is one approach for everyone, but this is a point in the game where information is often revealed. And the insight you can gather is usually pretty authentic. It’s as if some players opt to press a momentary pause button and in that tiny little moment is enormous clarity. I think this group is revealing their truth. It’s all there. Some feel extremely confident, others know they’re in a hole and have to reassess their next move, and others aren’t slowing down at all.
You and I have talked a lot over the years about the psychology of when you label someone something in this game like a “Beauty” or a “Hero” or “Blue Collar” or, in this season, a “Goliath.” Now that we’re at the merge, let’s take it one step further. Do you think being part of a group like a “David” or a “Goliath” makes someone more or less likely to stay loyal than if they have just been part of a randomly named tribe? Do you think the labels you all give them forge stronger bonds among people of that group, or perhaps make them want to rebel against that label and break out and show they are more than that? Or am I thinking too much about all of this?
I think it’s a great question with no certain answer. There are definitely bonds that can form by being labeled as part of a group, especially if you believe the label and you find unity with the others in that group. The associations with both David and Goliath are strong and positive, so it’s natural to want to wear those team colors with pride.
But I think the same thing happens when we give a tribe a random name. The bond is ultimately the people and the experiences they share together during those long miserable nights or the blistering hot days with nothing to eat but a handful of rice. You can take it a step further. When the game is over and the players return home to their normal lives, they become part of a new group called “Current Survivor Players,” and that group brings with it a different bond and a different currency. This group has information that family members, friends, and fans are craving. Not only are you starring on a TV show, but you’re the one with all the answers! It’s heady stuff and I’m sure it’s addictive.
In fact, lots of players end up have their own shared viewing parties where they have to resist the temptation to share information from upcoming episodes or behind the scenes stories. So this “group” identity thing is really powerful and at times super complicated. That’s what is happening right now in the game. How long do you stay with your “group” before you branch out on your own and sprint toward the finish?
What’s your take on Angelina’s motive for telling Elizabeth that she was being voted out but that she had really wanted to keep her? Was it just having a “raw human moment” as Angelina claimed, or blatant jury management, as the others seemed to believe? What say you?
My take — and this is purely an opinion, not based on any information — is that Angelina is extremely social. It’s one of her biggest strengths and potentially one of her most dangerous liabilities. I think she was working Elizabeth and it nearly backfired. There is too much knowledge of the game, you can’t be that obvious. She underestimated the other players and thought she could get away with it. I respect those kinds of moves because they are risky but risk vs. reward is the name of the game. I don’t think Angelina has had a single “raw human moment.” And let me be clear that is not a criticism or suggesting she lacks empathy; it’s a testament to how hard she is playing.
Elizabeth was not shy about speaking her mind, which I know you love. How would you sum up her time on the island?
Ah, I loved having Elizabeth on the show. I can’t really explain what it is about her that I enjoyed because it really is just her entire essence. I think she is so relatable and so vulnerable and she wanted this adventure so much. She played with her heart, she played hard, she represented her family well — this is the kind of partner you want in your foxhole. It’s a bummer she’s gone, but that’s why the game is so fun because the stakes are very high.
Judging from the preview, it looks like there could already be cracks in the secret David & Goliath six-person alliance. What can you tell us about next week’s episode?
This is why the merge is such a big part of the game. It blows the doors open and that’s what you’re sensing. People begin to believe they could win, and that changes everything when it comes to trust.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene above and make sure to read our episode recap as well as our exit interview with Elizabeth. Also find out about the Jacketgate scenes you didn’t see via our in-depth merge interview with Angelina. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.