Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Winners at War. Here, he weighs in the tribe expansion, the uncomfortable reunion between exes Michele and Wendell, and the Tribal takedown of Boston Rob.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You think about all your tribe swaps and expansions pretty carefully so tell me about why you decided to go from two to three tribes at 15.
JEFF PROBST: It’s really pretty simple. It complicates the game by mixing up the players. No matter how loyal you may intend to stay to your former alliance, when you are in a new tribe and fighting to win challenges, things change. With a group of 20 winners, you have to take every opportunity to make the game more complex. And to their credit, this group of players welcomes any and all twists. They want to play. They like the pressure of having to assess and adapt all day, every day.
We’ve heard so much about the married couple playing in Boston Rob and Amber, but saw the flip side of the relationship game when exes Michele and Wendell ended up on the same tribe together. What did you make of their first interactions together as well as the way a former romance back home could perhaps have major ramifications out on the island?
We’ve never experienced anything like this in previous seasons and it adds a very real layer to the game. Over the past 20 years, a lot of the former players have become friends. They meet each other’s families, they hang out together, they participate in charity events. They make very real bonds outside of the game. And this season we’re seeing some of those past relationships have an impact on the game. First the poker alliance and now Michele and Wendell. It’s certainly tricky. It puts a target on both players' backs if for no other reason than uncertainty. Are they still friends? Could they form an alliance? As for their first interactions…I saw what you saw. It was a bit uncomfortable and I felt for both of them. But there is no getting around it. It’s out and it’s a thing.
I’ve marveled at the way Rob has at times been able to control a tribe of winners almost the same way he controlled newbies— like when he had everyone open their bags at Tribal — but is it that control that eventually got him voted out?
When I was prepping for this season, I took note of the various approaches used by each winner. Everybody has their own style and it tends to match their personality. It made me curious as to which players, if any, would alter their style of play for this season. Ben was very clear out of the gate that he didn’t want people thinking of him as the “idol finder.” He wanted to alter his style of play to try to find a new, less familiar, way to the finish. Rob however, has stayed true to his core. He is a boss. He has a plan. He likes things to go his way. And for most of his life it has worked out pretty well. I have a feeling that Rob knew he would be a target straight out of the gate and maybe he figured his best strategy was the one he was most comfortable with — and so he stayed with it. But yes, I think that is what led to him being voted out. He’s controlling. And that’s scary because if you can’t control him, then that means he is controlling you.
We’ve got a spousal reunion coming next week on Edge of Extinction. What can you tell us about next week’s episode?
We’re getting into the thick of it now. Players have started to find their equilibrium and I think you’re going to see the game play begin to increase. Fill up your popcorn buckets, this story is still a long way from being over!
Enjoy an exclusive deleted scene from this week’s episode above and make sure to check out our full episode recap and interview with Yul Kwon. Also read about Survivor delaying production on next season due to coronavirus. And for more behind the scenes Survivor scoop, photos, and videos, follow Dalton on both Twitter and Instagram.
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