SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the season finale of Survivor: Edge of Extinction.

Each week, host Jeff Probst has been answering a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction. Here, he weighs in on the season finale, including the latest winner, what doomed the runners-up, and moving the final four fire-making contest.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY For the first time ever, someone voted out of Survivor just won the game in Chris Underwood. Let’s put you on the jury for a moment. How would you weigh the big moves Chris made in just a few days versus the quieter games of Gavin and Julie over 39, because there are certainly arguments to be made supporting both sides on that?
JEFF PROBST: I think Julia said it best at final Tribal: “The game evolves.” Wardog also made an astute comment, “The theme is not on trial.” If you are a Survivor purist, then you hate Edge of Extinction and will probably put an asterisk next to Chris’ name. But you know my feelings on this topic: You cannot hold on too tightly to the idea of “what is should always be.” Things change. And part of the fun of this game is seeing how well you can adapt in the moment and pivot in a new direction, whether it’s a switch, or a new advantage, or a format changing element like Edge of Extinction.

It’s impossible for me to gauge their individual games because I didn’t play alongside them. But I absolutely see the merit in voting for Chris as a winner. He pulled off something very difficult. He was voted out very early, survived on Edge for a long time, then won his way back in, stayed alive, made it to final four and then gave up his immunity and took on his biggest competitor. A true go-for-broke move. Pretty strong.

This was perhaps the best use yet of the open final Tribal format in terms of the interplay between jurors and finalists. The majority of jurors said they were undecided halfway through. Being there, what was it about Chris’ messaging that ultimately won them over, or was it his big move to take on Devens in fire from the night before that resonated the most?
I think it was a combination of both layers. Chris made a strong case for himself with how he presented his story. He is well spoken and did not back down. In fact, he came on strong. He didn’t apologize for the Devens move, nor did he give Gavin any breathing room to make a run at him. If you wanted to beat him you were going to have to take him down.

I think the lesson for Gavin is you have to have a stronger point of view. He obviously did a lot of things right and got votes for the win. That’s really impressive. But to seal the deal you have to be persuasive and passionate. Julie was much more passionate, and fought for her case. She just had a bigger challenge in terms of her Survivor resume. But I have to acknowledge that Julie accomplished her goals. Thirty-nine days in that game is a lifetime. She proved a lot to herself and should be really proud.

SURVIVOR: Edge of Extinction
Credit: CBS

In another first, you all had to have the final four fire-making challenge in the voting confessional booth due to the high winds. You know I love going behind the scenes, so tell us how and when you realized there was an issue and then the process of coming up with the solution.
That was a tough situation for us. The winds started kicking in that morning. It was the very end of back-to-back seasons, so everybody was stretched thin. We were prepared for rain, but we never anticipated wind coming in at that pace. We could not have done the fire challenge on the main floor of Tribal Council. It never would have finished. So, that morning we hustled over to Tribal and started exploring options. That was the only spot we could find that was protected from all sides. It was less than ideal from a visual point of view, but we managed to squeeze two cameras in that very tight space. It doesn’t seem that big, but it was a game saver by our team and it allowed us to hold what would turn out to be a million-dollar fire-making challenge without a hitch.

Quick question for the record: Two idols were played at the final 6 vote that sent Victoria home, but only 1 replaced idol was found after (along with two fake ones that Devens had planted). Was there another idol out there that was never discovered, or was only one of the two idols rehidden?
Can’t tell you that…! Too many people read your column… and some of them will be future players.

He didn’t win, but Rick Devens found a million idols, won a ton of challenges, and — judging by the constant jury fawning over him and the standing ovation when he was ousted — had an incredible social game. Is he one of the most complete players you all have had in a long time?
I love Devens. We loved him the minute he walked in the room. In fact, I remember very clearly saying, “You could win. And that will be your biggest obstacle because everyone else will know it too.” It’s a great question regarding “complete player.” I don’t know. He’s definitely a threatening player, because he’s charming, he hustles, and he pulled out some key immunity wins when he needed them. The definition of a complete player is a bit elusive, at least for me, because of the ever-changing game. As an example, a player who won an early season of Survivor might have been called a complete player in their era, but they could not play the same game today. But Devens is certainly a modern-day Survivor player in that he brings a strong sense of game play, a fun personality, he’s willing to make moves and he’s very enjoyable to watch!

Also make sure to read our season finale recap as well as Probst sharing intel on next season of the show. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning $1 million, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "Dig deep!"

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