Jeff Probst on episode 2 of 'Survivor: South Pacific'

Image credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Each week, host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of Survivor: South Pacific.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We’ve seen people constantly struggle on this show navigating the internal battle between good and evil, but I have never seen anything like what is going on with Brandon. He wants to rescue the Hantz name and be a man of God, then blatantly lies to set up Christine and Stacey, and then owns up to lying about it at Tribal Council. And I don’t even know what to make of his treatment of Mikayla, who he wants to ostracize because he is married — even though she has shown no romantic interest in him whatsoever. In 23 seasons, have you ever encountered a bigger Jekyll and Hyde character? 

JEFF PROBST: Brandon is definitely unique and I respect his struggle. It’s an honest admission of internal conflict that is being magnified on Survivor. When you look at his situation, it really isn’t surprising. A former troubled kid who found God, wants to be a good “son” in His eyes but finds himself in the middle of a manipulative game haunted by the legacy of an uncle who is despised by so many. He’s wearing it on his sleeve and one thing is for certain — it makes for very compelling television.

EW: One of the new tweaks to the format this season was that players first had to find a clue somewhere at the beach to the hidden immunity idol before they could find the idol itself. Or so we thought. In light of Ozzy’s discovery, might you finally take my humble suggestion to start hiding idols at challenges? (It could be something only one person knows about via a clue, or something you announce to both tribes to then see who competes to help their team win, and who goes for the idol instead.) C’mon, Probst! I’ve been begging for years! Throw me a bone here!  

JP: Ah yes, the “hide it at the challenge” idea. It is an interesting idea and it is one that we’ve discussed creatively with the team and also with you when you visit location. The biggest hurdle for us is complicating the storytelling of the challenge. With this in play there is a very different story that you have to set up and pay off within a challenge that has its own stakes. It probably doesn’t sound so difficult but even a slight tweak is something we really walk through to make sure it will work. We’ve never been convinced. But as I write this, I am beginning to come around. Who knows… maybe next year?

EW: Savaii had an amazing comeback in the puzzle portion of the challenge, and seemed to know exactly what to do right as they hit the puzzle, which raises a question: Was this challenge won before the puzzle-solvers even hit the course?  The time where you walk both teams through the challenge and allow them to strategize beforehand is super important. Did the Savaii puzzle-solvers do a better job of visualizing exactly what had to be done and whom should do what when they got there so that they were able to hit the ground running, while Upolu simply went in less prepared? How important is the pre-game organization? 

JP: You bring up a good point. The pre-challenge walk through is critical because if you are aware you can pick up clues to how the challenge is going to play and also who should do which portion. Often challenges are lost simply because the tribe put the wrong person in the wrong position. As for studying a puzzle, we don’t give them enough time to figure out anything truly significant, but in terms of gaining an edge? Absolutely. And sometimes all you need is just that, an edge.

EW: Finally, you know we need a tease for next week. Hook us up! 

JP: Brandon’s emotional crumbling continues…

For more from the host on last night’s episode, check out Jeff’s Tout page. To read Dalton’s recap, click right here. To watch Jeff’s special Public Service Announcement for all future Survivor players, as well as an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, simply watch the video player below. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.


Comments (191 total) Add your comment
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  • Terry

    I keep wishing they would just do away with the hidden immunity idols.

    Yes, Brandon’s “internal conflict” does make compelling television, but it is also very uncomfortable to watch at times and I seriously worry that this kid is going to make the news after this season for either doing harm to himself or some poor woman.

    • dally

      Exactly. There’s “internal conflict” and there’s Brandon’s branding a woman as a Jezebel simply because she’s dressed like EVERY OTHER YOUNG WOMAN who plays Survivor. He doesn’t seem to understand that he can’t banish every single woman who gives him impure thoughts. It’s himself he has to work on. (PS – wonder what would happen if he got sent to Redemption Island with Semhar? Would his head explode? Would security have to intervene?

      • Snsetblaze

        Or what would happen if he was on the other team with Whitney, Elyse and formerly Semhar? I’m also guessing that at least one of the women might have caught on in that case. I don’t find it to be compelling television, just creepy.

      • Saline

        But he’ll certainly try.

      • satirex

        Recent converts to Christianity are often pretty neurotic about it, but even worse, they don’t seem to be able to shut up about it.

    • Sean

      My Random Thoughts:

      – Mikayla was preparing to go fishing and taking too many clothes off, which tempted Brandon once again, who was edited to look like a serial rapist staring at her pelvis. I loved how this whole segment was accompanied by the appropriate “creepy guy music.”

      – From what I can tell, the Hantz’s just can’t keep their mouths shut. Russell obsessively told everyone within earshot that he had 17 Immunity Idols, and now Brandon, after repeated claims that he wouldn’t, decides to share his family secret.

      – Thank you CBS, for blurring out Coach’s little dragon.

      After you’re done here at EW, I hope you’ll check out the rest of my recap. I can’t post a link here, but just Google “Sean’s Random Thoughts.”

      • Kayla

        F@ck off Sean. Stop sponging off others, move out of your Mom’s basement, and get a real job.

      • Ginny

        Don’t listen to Kayla, Sean. I enjoy your unique perspective on the show.

      • Nope

        Don’t listen to Ginny, Sean. You’re a parasite, a remora clinging to the underbelly of the sharks known as Probst and Ross.

      • satirex

        Those thoughts weren’t random; they were all about Survivor, for one thing. And they were organized.

      • WifebeatingVaginaEater

        I think Sean is dreamy.

      • Matt

        Wow, what’s up with people being so mean? What’d Sean ever do to anyone here? Yikes.
        Let go of the hate, people – you’ll feel better.

      • bla

        People say this because he has misappropriated the quotes from others for quite some time and called them his own. .

    • Brandon on Survivor: Salem 1640

      WITCH! Burn her!

      • Kelmar

        She turned me into a newt!
        Well, I got better.

      • Buffy Altamont

        It’s a fair cop.

      • minister

        Witches float. Brandon is so dense, he does not.

        But at least he’s not a witch!

    • Chad

      I think when you win your first immunity you get a sack, in it are 9 clues, one clue leads to the idol, the rest are fakes. Then the tribe can decide to look for it together, or each member takes a clue. Either way…the idol is found, but you may not know who has it. Plus you know some people will want to find it themselves and some will want to search as a team which will lead to conflict. Just a thought.

      • Rita

        This ^^. Or maybe the clues have to be put in a proper sequence to find the idol.

      • Tommy D

        That’s a good idea Chad. They should do something like that.

      • elr

        I really like this idea. I hope they implement this next season.

      • Matt

        Or it could just be, you know – Survivor, and they could do away with all the baloney that unfairly keeps people in the game for silly reasons, like hidden immunity idols and redemption “islands” and whatnot. Team and individual immunity? Good stuff, because everyone’s playing for a chance.

    • Norman Alvarado

      Being in a game where you Uncle was so hated by other Survivor is a tough ordeal. I agree with Probst on that one.

    • Mr. Effing Tea Party

      I wish the host would do away with his list name! It sounds fruity! I don’t like it!

      • Matt

        Ohhh, you’re just asking for a good Probsting!

    • feon

      This reminds me of the practice of forcing women to cover their faces and wear burqas in some Islamic countries. Apparently,this is done to prevent men from becoming tempted as men have no self-control. Well, all I can say is that the onus is not on the women to cover themselves but on the men to control their emotions. The same applies to Brandon and Mikayla. It is not Mikayla’s fault if Brandon cannot control himself. Any fault is his and his alone.

    • Megs

      Brandon’s behavior, to me, is indicative of how/why people used to burn women at the stake accusing them to be witches. It’s woman-hating misogyny. Disgusting.

      • Megs

        Also, it’s a real disappointment hearing Coach and Jeff Probst say they understand or respect these feelings of Brandon’s.

    • Pete

      Brandon should move to Saudi Arabia – somewhere where the women are forced to cover up so he doesn’t have to look at them. I guess to him it’s always the woman’s fault when a man can’t control himself. Pathetic.

      • Tommy D

        Brandon is just fine in Texas, Pete. I think it’s you that needs to move to Saudi Arabia to chase after those Arab women. Besides the Hantz family has enough oil in the family. What is pathetic is Hantz haters and their offbase opinions. That’s what is pathetic. And there isn’t anybody at fault here. It’s just a misunderstanding.

  • Rose

    ok so Ozzy finds the ‘hidden’ immunity idol that is conviniently stashed up in a tree that only Ozzy can climb! Come on Dalton – you gotta delve deeper when questioning Probst!

    I hate Ozzy! Wish he gets voted out with an idol in his pocket again! now that would make for compelling television!

    I think Brandon is totally messed up in the head. Its a bit wierd watching him stare at her. I have a feeling hes going to be all crazy and ensure mikahyla is voted out. I feel for the poor girl, she’s done nothing wrong!

    • Norman Alvarado

      But if that happens again Rose, you won’t lose him. He’ll just go to R.I.

  • Cathy

    I’m trying to see Jeff’s points about Brandon, but I just don’t get the part about respecting his struggle. His struggle has nothing to do with finding God; if he were secure in his religious beliefs then he wouldn’t be so freaked out by Mikayla for no reason. Just the opposite- he is trying to punish an innocent woman by lying about her motives. He seriously needs help.

    • SLB

      He’s a psycho like his creepy uncle.

      • Tommy D

        He isn’t a psycho SLB. He’s just got things going on in his head. It happens to all of us at one point or another. Plus the elements of the game of Survivor doesn’t help.

    • Meg

      I agree; there is nothing to respect about the way Brandon is regarding Mikayla. His attitude towards her is very troubling and highlights the worst of rape culture. It’s not something anyone should just accept.

      • Wanda

        He isn’t a rapist. That’s taking it way too far. He’s a reality show contestant playing a game. Nothing more.

      • Sophia

        @Wanda I don’t think she was saying he was a rapist, but rather that his behaviour embodies the “she made me do it with her seductive ways/it wasn’t my fault” mentality that so many rapists possess. I don’t think Brandon’s a rapist at all but the way he’s treating Mikayla because of his own baggage is just so freaking disrespectful and gross.

      • Lilac

        This is exactly what I thought! He keeps saying that he’s “married” as if Mikayla is just there for the taking–HE just has to make a move. I think she would be gobsmacked to know that his marriage is the only thing keeping them from having a torrid affair!

      • Tommy D

        It isn’t troubling at all. He is just working out issues in his head. We all do that. But not all of us are on network television when we’re doing that. He happens to be. You’re no different or better than he is Meg.

      • Pete

        Tommy D – that’s twice you’ve said that Brandon is going through what we all go through. I respectfully disagree. I have never once looked at someone and blamed them for my finding them attractive. He’s not normal – he’s messed up. Survivor is actually exploiting this kid, continuing the recent trend of casting loose canons in the misplaced idea that it is “good television”. It isn’t.

    • Snsetblaze

      I wonder how she must be feeling watching this at home? I also wonder if she was even aware of him watching her during the show (up until tribal council, she gave no indication that she was aware of it. Now she might have more of a clue.) I’m also curious about why Jeff didn’t ask Brandon after he confessed – well why Mikhayla (unless we didn’t see it.) She obviously was the strongest female on the team, worked around camp and did well in challenges. And so far, she hasn’t seemed to really use the flirting card even though she said she might.

      • Saline

        Who cares what that Lingerie Football player thinks when she watches it at home.

      • Barb

        Saline, you must be a man. I don’t think a woman would not care about another woman when a man says what Brandon says. If Brandon does try something bad to her will you say you don’t care what happens to her? I wouldn’t wish what is happening to Mikhayla on my worst enemy.

      • Tommy D

        Hey Sophia, quit judging Brandon Hantz and leave him alone. Pick on that slimy poker player Jim Rice instead.

      • Tommy D

        And I disrespectfully disagree Pete. If you have never blamed a slutty girl that’s a tease for what she does, flaunting everything everywhere then you need to get out more and absorb life for what it is really like. Because some women are teases. Plain and simple. Brandon is as normal as they get. It’s the Hantz haters that are the ones that are messed up. Survivor(Burneet and Probst) aren’t exploiting anything. Lose canons are described as being people like Naonka and Philip Sheppard. Not the Hantz family.

    • Lorna

      There might be a legitimate cross-over episode with Criminal Minds or CSI for this Brandon guy. Watch Matthew Gray Gubler discuss Brandon’s paraphilias.

      • Saline

        Yeah I must be a man. That’s why my parents named me Richard, Barb! Only women take things to these dramatic stupid levels blowing everything out of proportion. Making mountains out of molehills. That’s all this is. And everyone’s misguided hatred for the Hantz family. Hantz rule forever! You have to keep hope alive.

    • Norman Alvarado

      His struggle is with turning away from his bully nature that he admitted was a part of his personality back in high school. Once a bully always a bully. You can’t struggle with who you really are and try to be somebody else. Forced goodness or forced religion never works.

      • Channing Taintum

        Spot on, Norman

      • jj

        Or spit on Norman.

  • sockigal

    Jeff & Dalton- Help us! Atlanta’s CBS station started advertizing onscreen while Survivor is on! It is so distracting having a huge banner in red, white and black constantly rolling by during most of the episode. For emergencies this is OK, but to advertise a news program on how to get pregnant if you are having a hard time conceiving? And seeing the same thing over and over again when trying to enjoy our family Survivor fun night? It was so annoying!!!! Please help! What can we do? Went to CBS Atlanta website to try to find email address. No contact information is given. I went ahead and emailed through the news tip line. My tip is to not interupt programing while in progress. We watch the commercials breaks already. Makes us not want to tune in. Probably have to go ahead and watch via internet streaming if we can’t get the CBS to stop this horrible practice. :(

  • Leo

    Enough with the overly religous players who can’t stand alpha females. I mean its truly annoying already how these people claim how much they are in touch with God and can’t stand to see a strong woman. It’s hypocritical if anything. Just like Russel his nephew can get lost. Both think they know everything when all they know is how to make trouble. Boot him next and enough with the Russel Stories already. He and his family have had their 15 minutes of unneeded fame, time for the next star to be found here.

    • Josh Blank

      Coach will keep Brandon in check. That’s why the Dragonslayer is there. He already slayed the female dragon that was named Christine and made her eat her own words with that temporary player nonsense. Now he must slay the Hantz Dragon. Go Coach Wade!

    • LisaL

      And I say enough with returning players already. Next time let’s go back to basics with all new players.

      • John Dreska

        Those days are over with LisaL.

    • Norman Alvarado

      Spit on yourself jj!

    • RF246VT

      If they start praying again this season….I’m gonna have to find another show to watch..

  • dexter

    I’ve seen people like Brandon a lot. They are troubled and have issues they need to face up to and work through, but when they find religion, they assume that religion solves everything for them. Instead, it gives them the opportunity to put their problems outside of themselves–blaming everyone else for their own problems.

    • Father John Garkowski

      The part you said about religion my son is not true. It only appears to be true for some that view it that way.

      • Brother mark

        or maybe it only appears untrue for those who view it that way.

      • cupcake

        Father my a$$.

  • Eaton Beaver

    I think Brandon has the NAMBLA love for Coach.

    • TCin NJ

      Brandon is an adult so your reference is off. He may have a crush on him though

    • Cupcake is from hell

      How dare you insult a man of the cloth you demon!

      • Father John Garkowski

        It only appears untrue for those that view it that way is not correct Brother Mark. That’s just people convincing themselves that something is untrue or true when it isn’t to serve their own needs.

  • Mark

    Jeff, I was glad to hear you talking about how important assigning the right people to the right position is to winning challenges (last week’s brief scene about Samhar wanting to shoot baskts was the first time I ever recall seeing this discussion televised). I’d really like to see more of this. Are positions assigned based on size, age or gender? Is it whoever asks first? Who decides if two people want the same job? How much resentment does rejection cause? These would be a interesting views into the tribe’s dynamics, and I think audiences would enjoy seeing it.

  • UGH

    I wish Jeff read these comments.
    If he did, I wish he would bring to the table to “reboot” this show and get rid of recurring contestants, immunity idols, and redemption islands.
    Starve these people again.

    • tim

      i know–i hate the hidden immunity idols—so frustrating to see Ozzy win won–and Jeff Prosbst–i hate him too—always trying to pretend the game is more exciting than it is–there has been very little conflict on the island so far—-these people shuold be fighting right off teh bat.

      • Cathy

        The hidden immunity idols have really run their course. There is nothing surprising about them anymore, and people are depending on them being found. If there were no idols, they would have to go back to square one and rethink once again how to strategize. I think this would be a good thing.

      • AB

        Dude, Jeff’s job is to pretend the game is more exciting than it is. If he didn’t do his job, you’d be complaining that he had no enthusiasm. Jeez.

      • Norman Alvarado

        This is a good season though.

      • Jerri

        Watch Big Brother. Or WWE, lots of fighting there…

  • vera

    This is your third time to Samoa. Jeff, please remember that every vowel is pronounced in the Samoan language. The mispronounciation becomes irritatating.

  • bobC

    “compelling television” really means Lil Russell will be around for a long time. The facts that he lied to Coach (and admitted it) and has a penchant to “get” Mikayla for no reason, other than his throbbing Johnson, should set him up for immediate extinction. Mark my words, it won’t and he’ll survive much longer than he should.

    • Tommy D

      And that’s a good thing. Always great to have a Hantz around.

    • Steve

      I think he’ll stick around, too. I’m expecting his secret to come crashing down late, when they do the family member episode and Russell shows up. You know they’re hoping for that!

      • Lo

        Actually, i kept hoping for Jeff to say at TC, “So, Brandon, what do your tribemates think about you being Russell’s nephew?” LOL! Now THAT would be compelling tv!

  • PickyCourt

    I say give the person that the tribe sits out at challenges a clue to hidden idol at the challenge. Tribe has to decide is it really best to sit out the “weakest?”

    • Maria Perez

      Brilliant!

    • Meg

      Interesting idea!

    • Chad

      THAT is a great idea! Please see my idea posted above in reply to the first post.

    • Greg

      Not a bad idea…

    • Tommy D

      Jeff Can’t interfere with the game in that way Lo!

  • Al

    Bury the immunity idol. Then, they would need the clue to find it.

    • Laura K.

      Except that they don’t (need a clue). It’s been buried before. In order for a clue to be effective, they still have to mark the place in some way. The players look for things that seem unusual or out of place, the kinds of things that MIGHT be mentioned if they had a clue. So they’re just as likely to be able to find something buried at the beach as up in tree.

  • Shannon

    Brandon totally creeps me out. I feel bad for poor Mikayla! I think the reason Savoi killed at the challenge is that Mr. Marijuana is a puzzle guy. And we’ve learned that when you have a puzzle guy on your team you kill in the challenges. The biggest key is figuring out who, if anyone, is your puzzle person and making sure they are always in the position to do the puzzles.

    • duude

      The reason Upolo failed is b/c they put the big guys in the puzzle without a thought as who should direct it. Clearly should be Sophie or Edna.

    • Saline

      That creep has two names. Jim the Jerk Rice or Marijuana man.

  • Snsetblaze

    Actually Jeff – just hiding the idols better would be a good idea and making them really work. Remember when (I think it was) Cirie had to go swimming back and forth to find it. Remember when Yauman had to dig? And then was able to hide a fake one? This one was hidden better tha most lately but it was still too easy to find. It seemed like this one — while harder to find that a lot of them — was tied into Ozzy’s strength this time. How many people would have gone climbing up that tree like Ozzy did?

    • bobC

      Compelling television = scripted
      scripted = the show is fixed

    • RCB

      Did Yauman find a fake one or he made the fake one for the 4 horsemen?

      • Saline

        Yauman made a fake one but nobody ever found it. Bob Crowley from Season 17 made two great fake idols that looked better than the real ones. He used glue and beeds from the camp.

    • pirate

      And don’t forget the added benefit of there being a camera aimed at the idol’s position. That should be a clue in itself!!!

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