SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Each week, Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols. This week, we also followed up on last week’s interview and asked about fan reaction to the installment in which one contestant (Kellee Kim, who spoke about the ordeal here) had to deal with repeated unwanted touching from a male player (Dan Spilo), and whether there will be any changes in terms of production protocol moving forward in such situations.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get into this week’s episode and double elimination, I want to circle back to what happened in last week’s installment. We already spoke about everything that occurred in the episodes with regards to the inappropriate touching, but obviously there has been a huge reaction from viewers about what went down. What has been your biggest takeaway in terms of the reaction from both fans and former players who were upset by what they saw and the way it was handled?
JEFF PROBST: It’s an unprecedented and unfortunate situation that is still very raw for a lot of the players and fans. We are all trying to learn from it.

These events all took place about seven months ago. Upon reflection, is there anything you wish you all had handled differently from a production standpoint, or anything you plan to change moving forward in terms of if behavior is observed that appears to be crossing a line or making someone uncomfortable?
We will definitely be using the lessons learned from the Dan situation as a guide in how to handle similar situations in future seasons. We have already started discussing ideas for how to change things in the future.

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

Missy had a nice moment at the end this week, which we’ll get to in a minute, but we also saw her talking down to Karishma while admitting to us that her apology later was just “blah, blah, blah.” Karishma has said several times this season she felt she was being bullied out there (which Tom disagreed with in an interview, as did Elaine). How hard is it to distinguish the line between regular personality clashes and something more serious?
Bullying is something we are all sensitive to and nobody likes it as it can cause so much damage and impact each of us in different ways. Karishma has clearly had a hard time bonding and we’ve seen it play out with personality clashes with a few players. I’m sure there are many fans who feel she is being bullied and others who may feel it is just gameplay.

Regardless of what you think of how Karishma has played this season, it was beautiful to watch her have an empowering episode. She had an idol and she was in control of the vote. She could have chosen to work with Missy, but instead took her out. But much more powerful was the discovery of her love affair with her husband. Sometimes it takes being stripped to your core to really discover what matters to you most.

Pretty interesting moment as Missy stopped Tribal to point out that two African-Americans had won immunity last week and how important that was in terms of representation. You then gave a very candid response that you weren’t sure if that had even occurred to you and that you probably would have been reluctant to bring it up out of fear that it might imply that it was something that was so unexpected. You mentioned that “Even I’m learning now.” How was your perspective impacted by that exchange?
Well, first and most important — I loved that Missy said it because I could tell it meant so much to her. It was very powerful to see the pride she had in calling attention to it. She reminded me to always ask more questions and to put myself in the shoes of every player as often as possible.

My response to her was genuine. I honestly didn’t consider it. Missy is athletic, Aaron is athletic. Had they not both been voted out, I imagine they would have won more challenges, which is part of the reason they were voted out. There is nowhere to hide in this game and I’m always learning.

You decided to randomly divide the players into two groups for the immunity challenge and then had two Tribal Councils with each group voting someone out, which ended up being Aaron and Missy. You all always carefully think out your twists and when and why they should occur, so what was the thinking behind unleashing that one at this point in the game?
This isn’t really that big of a mystery! Let me explain. When we have 20 players, we have to have at least one double elimination episode. And we try to do it later in the season so we can keep as many people in the game for as long as possible. So, when it comes to marrying it with some creative, we look at what other creative ideas we know are coming before it and after it and put something in that makes sense.

This time the idea was to randomly divide them into two groups and then keep them separated so they couldn’t make a master plan about who to vote out. Those kinds of twists really test loyalty and how well you know the members of your alliance. And sometimes you just end up on the wrong side of the twist. Missy and Aaron were two very powerful players — both athletically and strategically – and they were in strong alliances. That’s the triple threat. So, they knew they were targets. It’s always hard to snuff the torch of any player. They give up so much to come play the game and yet these are the stakes that make the game worth playing.

Looking ahead, what can you tell us about next week’s episode and what the repercussions of that double vote-off will be?
Rob and Sandra are still living on Island of The Idols and they’re starting to feel like an old married couple. They have a new test ready for another visitor!

Watch an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read our episode recap, as well as exit interviews with Kellee Kim and Jamal Shipman. And for more Survivor news, 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 a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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