ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, pretty crazy tribe swap here. Two of the three tribes contained all members from a previous tribe, while only Wendy ended up with another group on the third. When you all ran the possible numbers, there’s no way you could have anticipated this. What did it mean for you all to essentially just have two smaller tribe versions of what you already had, plus another Kama group with Wendy?
JEFF PROBST: Those random tribe swaps are really crazy. I still remember years ago we all sat around and asked ourselves, “What if we just commit to always making tribe swaps random?” At the time it seemed such a risky idea fraught with potential problems. What if it resulted in one tribe being too strong or one alliance having control of the numbers? And we sat there for a few minutes and then we asked ourselves, “Okay, let’s say all those things happen. It’s still fair. It’s just another layer of the game and the unpredictable nature of a swap is just another obstacle that players have to deal with.”
From that moment on, that’s what we do. Random swaps! Living dangerously! As for the results, honestly it means nothing to us from a game point of view. I don’t mean we don’t care about the result; I just mean it doesn’t really impact us at all. We certainly make some assumptions about which tribes will do well and which tribes will struggle. And in the case of Wendy, you quickly wonder if she is an easy vote. But as we know from years of doing the show, sometimes the worst possible thing… turns into your greatest advantage. So they put on their new buffs and the game continues!
David Wright did more puzzle prep before the game than any player in Survivor history, and yet this is now two weeks in a row in which he has faltered in the puzzle and cost his tribe a victory. What does that either say about him or say about how difficult it is to replicate Survivor conditions when you’re in your living room or backyard at home?
I think it says more about the latter. It’s really easy at home to set up puzzles or try to make fire or untie knots. But then you get on the island and it might be raining and you haven’t eaten in several days and the adrenaline — that dreaded adrenaline — kicks in and suddenly it’s all a mess. But I do respect how much time and energy he put into it because it says a lot about how he approaches playing Survivor.
He has a point of view. He put thought into it. Anybody who preps for a test or a sporting event knows that you prep and then you let it go and just go with the flow. You know it or you don’t. So, yes, the result hasn’t been what he hoped, but if that preparation pays off just one time, it could be the key to saving him at Tribal or getting him to the end or winning an advantage. It never hurts.
I need your take on this Tribal Council. They were portraying it like a big love fest, with David even calling it the most emotional Tribal he’d ever been to. You buy all that?
Yes, I did. Sometimes the game gets confusing. Devens is a really likable guy too. Not just a strong player but just one of those guys everybody seems to like. And when a tribe is down and not winning, two things often happen: the friction heats up, people become irritable, they look for scapegoats and alliances intensify. But within all that conflict, the bond almost always deepens. They’ve been through so much together. Survivor is extremely difficult. You can see it in Wentworth. She’s a strong woman with a strong sense of strategy and tireless energy and she’s already beat up, fatigued, and frustrated. Reason #781 this game is so addictive.
I have a feeling you love you some Rick Devens, and he seemed to be a real go-to for you at Tribal Council. For you as a host and a producer, what is it like to lose him for Tribal Councils going forward — at least for now, unless he gets back in the game via Edge of Extinction.
The truth is, for the past many years I think our casting has been excellent. And when we get it right, every player brings something unique to the game. Devens is in the category of “every mom will love him.” He’s a dad who makes fun of his dad body, is wicked funny, and has a great sense of self. So yes, I will miss him at Tribal because you know Devens is going to lighten the mood without ever taking his foot off the gameplay gas. But every player on that tribe brings a point of view and that is what makes it work. And I’m not just saying that. If everybody was like Devens, it would not have layers and it would be boring. I think the thing that makes someone like Devens or David stand out is their sense of humor. But long term, I think you will get to know and remember a lot of these players for lots of different reasons!
Okay, sir. Tease us up for next week and tease us up good!
Extinction is kicking into the next gear and the gameplay on the beaches is brutal. Nobody is safe. No matter what anyone says.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the episode at the top of the post and also make sure to read our full recap and in-game interview with Aubry Bracco. Plus, for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.