The contestants of Survivor: Edge of Extinction are going to have to jump off a boat to start off season 38. It’s a classic move for a show that loves to literally force players to take the plunge into a new adventure.
But what about those moments before everyone started scrambling for supplies and jumping overboard? EW was on location in Fiji for filming and can report that when the 14 new contestants first laid eyes on the four returning all-stars (Joe Anglim, Kelley Wentworth, David Wright, and Aubry Bracco) there to battle them for a million dollars, their first reaction was… applause. Lots and lots of applause. But was it genuine?
“I felt the reaction from the new players to the returning players was 100 percent genuine,” says host Jeff Probst. Cheering for the competition? But why, Jeff?
“I think it comes from the fact that these are super-fans,” explains the host, “and they appreciate that ‘you guys are part of the reason that I’m out here playing. That I watched you play and you inspired me.’ I think in the same way that somebody like Gavin is clapping to see Joe, he’s also going ‘I can’t wait to blindside you. Because I’m a player too, brother. So watch out.’”
But that wasn’t Probst’s only takeaway from the marooning. He also caught a vibe off of the returning players when they stepped onto the boat, and that vibe was… fear.
“Standing close to the returning players like I was, they were nervous,” reveals Probst. “Kelley, David, Aubry, and Joe all had a little bit of that [Deep inhale and exhale] ‘I hope I can live up to this.’ [Deep inhale and exhale] ‘I hope they give me a chance.’ [Deep inhale and exhale] ‘I hope I’m as good as I used to be.’ [Deep inhale and exhale]. So there’s a lot of energy swapping there going on. Because they’re the minority. ‘There’s only four of us. There’s 14 of them, so I have to make myself invaluable.’”
According to Probst, it then becomes all about the sales pitch from the returning players on why they should stay. “This brings us back to that central, dramatic question: ‘Would you really get rid of me? My tribes have won 16 challenges! You’d be a fool! Would you really get rid of me? When you’re scared in the night,’” Probst says of Aubry., “’I’m the one who can tell you, so was I. Hold my hand, I’ll get you through this.’ Same with David. Kelley Wentworth is destined to win this game. She has so much she can teach you. Be careful, because she’s destined to win.”
Ah, but is Kelley destined to win this game this season? Only time will tell.