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 reveals his pick for the most moving loved ones visit, weighs in on Dean’s defection, addresses all the Tribal Council whispering, and once again has to deal with me asking him about his Final Words of Wisdom… or lack thereof.

ENTERTAINMENT WEKELY: A lot of emotional reunions here at the loved ones reward challenge. Which reunion moved or surprised you the most?
JEFF PROBST: Hands down the pair that moved me the most was Karishma and her husband. That moment illustrated as well as any moment ever has the incredible emotional toll this game can have on a player. Karishma has been a fish out of water from the minute she landed on the beach. She let us inside her legitimate concern that playing Survivor would force her to do things that might be seen as questionable from the Indian community, but she did them anyway. She has been on the outs nearly the entire game, yet she never gave up. And the sequence of events in the middle of the jungle when she found an idol and found incredible clarity about her marriage was one of the most powerful of the season. Then only days later, her husband is there with her on the beach in Fiji. When she fell into his arms, you could feel the security of his embrace, which allowed her to release all the emotion she has been forced to hold inside. I can’t ever recall a loved one visit quite like that one.

Dean ultimately retreats from his new alliance of folks not selected to go on the reward and tells Tommy that the others are voting for him. Do you chalk Dean’s decision up to simply not being able to trust Noura as an alliance partner, and how dangerous is it to align in this game with someone who can be so unpredictable?
It’s a really great and nuanced question. I don’t know the entire truth, but I do think reliability was an issue. Noura really complicates the game because she is playing day to day and in such a carefree manner. I’m only speculating, but my hunch is that early on, Noura wasn’t focused on winning as much as she was just playing the game. If that’s true, it really gives you an advantage because you’re not playing tight. It allows you to say what you want, when you want, because fear isn’t a driving force. Noura is the ultimate wild card, and she has added a very fun layer to the season.

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

We’ve seen more and more of these live Tribal Councils where people all huddle and start whispering to each other. They’ve been exciting to watch, but is there ever a point where you feel you lose something in allowing people to whisper to each other as opposed to having to say everything out to the entire group — which would make every word that is uttered important because you can’t just whisper your plans to someone?
It’s ultimately irrelevant what I think because it’s their game. And from a practical standpoint, you can’t stop players from whispering while sitting next to each other, which means you also can’t penalize a player seated at one corner of Tribal who might want to “whisper” to someone at the other side of Tribal. But from a fan standpoint, I really like it because it keeps the game alive until the last second. I’m all for less rules and more freedom when it comes to gameplay.

I have made it a point to fastidiously chronicle and analyze your final words of wisdom at every Tribal Council, and deeply mourned their loss during the Edge of Extinction season. So you know I’m going to ask you about your decision to essentially forgo them this week and send the players back to camp with a basic “I got nothing for you.” Probst! What gives?!?
I love that you analyze them so much! This really was just one of those nights when the Tribal was so crazy and it was on the heels of so many other crazy Tribals that the feeling was “I just don’t have anything to add…” so we went with that phrase as a bit of a joke! Two funny things about those final words: (1) I have no idea when the final words started, even though I’m the one who says them. And (B) They are often the most difficult part of Tribal because we want them to be connected to the episode and to the events of Tribal and try to move the story forward for next week, and we’re typically exhausted because it’s so late, so our brains are fried!

Only one more episode before the finale. What can you tell us?
Whenever you get down to seven players, the game gets really interesting. This is when people really have to evaluate their final three plans. That often means that players consider making a big move because it’s not so much who you vote out of the game as it is who you keep in the game.

Watch an exclusive deleted scene from the episode at the top of the post and also make sure to read our full episode recap. And for more Survivor intel, 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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