Survivor host Jeff Probst reveals Wardog almost didn't make the cast
Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: One of the biggest (attempted) manipulations we’ve seen on this season was Wardog turning the fact that he kept Gavin in the dark about the Wentworth blindside into a reason for him to be “mad” at Gavin. Do you think Wardog was delusional or just a master manipulator? Both?
JEFF PROBST: Wardog is a polarizing player. He was polarizing to us in casting as well. In fact, it took one of our casting producers stepping up and saying “I will fall on the sword for Wardog” that ultimately got him on the show. We’re so happy she stepped up to fight for him as he has proven to be a very compelling, enigmatic player. I think Wardog is definitely a manipulator, whether he’s a master manipulator is up for debate. He’s definitely not subtle. But as he showed, you can be aggressive with your approach, you can even ruffle feathers, so long as your approach connects with enough others who want the same thing. Most everybody gets voted out, but you have to have a philosophy to your game.
On average, this seems like it may be the least physically intimidating top 8 there’s been on this show. Were you surprised all the physical threats (aside from Aurora) were eliminated so early on? How does that affect the game?
I’m never really surprised at anything anymore, but only because I’ve learned that every season has its own life. Early momentum can often dictate the entire philosophy of the group. This season, there was so much early attention paid to the four returning players that I think it might have created a “have” vs. “have not” feeling and maybe that is what led to physical threats being taken out. And there really is not a right or wrong approach. The game is what the game becomes and it stays that way until or unless it changes. It doesn’t affect anything. It just is. The social unconscious dictates and you have to go with it and play your best game with that understanding.
This episode also had, perhaps, the most vocal and visually responsive jury that we’ve seen other than at a final tribal council. Was that just editing or was this a particularly lively jury?
The jury also takes on a life of its own. For the most part, this jury and all recent Survivor juries have been really respectful at tribal, knowing they will have their day at final tribal when they conduct the grand inquisition. But every so often there are events at tribal that force an unintended response. The jury does have a job to do and that is to gather information. They know they’re not allowed to talk to the players and they’re smart enough to know they don’t want to give the players any indication of what they’re truly feeling. The power of the jury is the million-dollar vote and the thing the players most want is information about how the jury is feeling toward them. So, at times the jury tries to mess with the players with a laugh, or quizzical look or some other heightened reaction, but players have to beware… and not read too much into jury reactions.
Speaking of the jury, some episodes we see a lot of Edge of Extinction and other episodes it’s not even mentioned. How do you feel about how much the audience has seen what’s going on there?
We’re up against a time element as we only have so many minutes in an episode. So the strongest stories always win out. But we’ve been extremely happy with how Edge has played out. Fans seem to enjoy it and I think the players are proving we made great choices in putting them on the show. Edge is no joke. That is some tough living out there, but amazing things happen when you push yourself and we’re seeing that every week.
Wardog was such an instigator and leader when it came to strategy. At the time, how did you feel about him being voted out?
I hate to see anybody get voted out. We spend a lot of time looking for the right group to put on the show and we get to know them. They sacrifice so much to make the time to take on this adventure and it’s never fun to snuff someone’s torch. Wardog has been great. He’s a very memorable player and now he gets to go ruffle some more feathers on the Edge of Extinction!
What can you tell us about next week’s episode [which will feature the loved ones visits]?
Love kicks the game into the next gear!
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from the episode at the top of the post and also make sure to read our full recap of tonight’s episode.
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!"