SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols. This week, he weighs in on Chelsea’s ouster as well as all aspects of Noura’s trip to Island of the Idols.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Chelsea gets voted out by the women in her women’s alliance, with seemingly her only crime being the perception that she was in a showmance. Was her mistake getting too close to Dean to begin with, or not working hard enough to convince her alliance-mates that they were her priority?
JEFF PROBST: I feel like I should give you another question, as I don’t have much of an answer for this one! I honestly don’t know the truth. But here’s what I think: There was never a showmance, but even the perception that Chelsea and Dean might have an alliance within an alliance is enough to shine a giant spotlight. And if you ever feel that light shining on you, you have to find a way to climb the lighting tower and move that bright beam over to someone else. Poor Chelsea, she applied for so many years, she worked hard at camp, she found an idol and then was voted out with it in her pocket. But I will say, that’s the kind of gameplay we look for and expect from today’s Survivor player. Yes, she got blindsided, but most do. It’s just how the game goes.

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Okay, I need your thoughts on a lot of aspects of Noura going to Island of the Idols. Let’s take this one at a time. First of all, what do you make of her volunteering to go when everyone else was worried it would put too much of a target on their back?
It kind of echoes the answer above in this sense: We look for people who come to play. Sometimes the play is to step back in the hopes that someone else will step forward. In this case, Noura decided to be the one to step forward. What I like about the move is Noura is not waiting for the game to come to her, she is seeking opportunity. A visit to Island of the Idols offers opportunity, and historically speaking the best Survivor players always seek opportunity. I’m not making any predictions about how Noura’s game will ultimately be rated, I’m merely stating that she is in good company.

Jeff, that lie Noura told her tribe when she got back how they had to unanimously agree to the role she would play in the next challenge before even telling them what the challenge entailed was so bad it was painful to watch. I probably would have just not told them anything and then promoted myself as the caller once the challenge was announced. What did you make of Noura’s story, and what would you have done in her position?
As I said last week in our tease of this episode, this is my favorite Island of the Idols visit so far — specifically because of Noura and the funny way Sandra and Rob interacted with her! Noura is certainly unique. It’s been a long time since we’ve had anyone as spontaneous and open with their decision-making process (or lackthereof), and that makes her very fun to watch. But regarding the execution of her idea… well, it’s easy to backseat drive… but in this case, I have a feeling Noura might even take the wheel herself. But oh man, it was fun to watch!

Noura Salman
Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Okay, now let’s talk about the tribe’s reaction. Noura tells them that in order for her to describe the challenge they all have to agree to give her the position of her choosing. But then later at the challenge they tell you that Noura is going to sit out, essentially calling her bluff and denying her the caller spot she coveted. What do you think of that move?
I don’t think Noura ever had a shot. The basic logic of her story just did not make sense. A good lie has to have some basis in reality, especially on Survivor. There were other ways she could have maneuvered to be the caller, but the minute she told the tribe that story… she was done. And although I wasn’t inside the conversation, my guess would be that the tribe knew if it was actually mandatory that Noura be the caller, then at some point I would have said, “Hold up! Noura must be the caller.” That was one of the many plot holes in Noura’s story, there were so many ways to cross-check it. And although I think it would have been very entertaining to see Noura in the caller role, I think the tribe made the wise choice.

Finally, it looks like it’s time for a tribe swap next week. What can you tell us?
I love it when I know an answer to one of your queries. Okay, let me explain! So, a tribe swap is a phrase that indicates players on all tribes will have to draw new buffs and potentially swap tribes. It’s designed to mix up the game by forcing you to form new relationships and test the strength of existing alliances. It doesn’t always happen that you actually swap tribes. Sometimes you end up on the same tribe. Crazy! But technically this moment is still referred to as a swap, a.k.a. “switch.”

It’s something we first did in our third season in Africa, and it was met with a lot of controversy. Oh boy, fans hated it. Thought it was soooooooo unfair. Fortunately, Survivor doesn’t have controversial twists anymore, other than when I don’t wear a blue shirt. Other than that, our audience adores everything we do, and they have for many years now! I can’t think of the last time someone complained about a creative idea. Anyway, so yes, from 3,000 feet that is the working and current definition of a Survivor tribe swap. But since I still have a few characters left to use, I could give you a bit of a tease for next week: Our biggest reward of the season and another killer Tribal Council!

Watch an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read our full episode recap, as well as our exit interview with Chelsea and our look at why men keep winning the game, 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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