Each week, host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of Survivor: Philippines.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Angie and Russell were arguing at Tribal Council about which of their performances at the challenge was weaker: her not being able to get a piece that was submerged only two feet, or him not being able to climb out of the water and then later coming back without a piece at all. You were there: Which player hurt their tribe more in that one?
JEFF PROBST: In that particular moment, it’s probably a push. Both failed. It happens. But given the expectations going into any challenge, Russell was the much bigger disappointment. I have more to say on this but I’ve read ahead and your next question is compelling me to move on…
EW: Sticking with Russell, I’ve been shocked with how poorly he’s played, really, in all three phases of the game. He is not doing well in challenges, has been a social disaster with his tribe, has no alliances whatsoever, and can’t even find the idol with the clue. Are you surprised at how much trouble he’s been having out there?
PROBST: What’s been most illuminating to me is that in the case of all three of the returnees, their behavior and actions during this season shed a lot of light on how they fared in previous seasons of Survivor. Russell is a great example. The first time he played he nearly died when he got severely overheated during a challenge. The rest of the tribe said he had refused to drink water at camp because he wanted others to have it. So he shows up to the challenge dehydrated and proceeds to take on the hardest role and when our doctors finally pulled him from the game he got very upset with me and God wondering how this could have happened to him? Why me? At the time he went out a hero. Now seeing him playing again he is on the verge of becoming a martyr. Or is it too late? It’s the same actions, but now with some context they have a different meaning. He’s quickly falling out of favor with his tribe because he’s a bossy leader who takes on too much and then can’t deliver. I’m guessing he is very miserable right now as his tribe continues to lose and he knows he needs to right the ship and yet the best way for them to right it would probably be to vote him out. Harsh words I know. I like Russell, it’s just a very difficult game for him to “fit into.”
EW: “Skupin bleeding from the face!” is not something you get to say everyday during a challenge. Was he checked out by medical after the challenge, and how bad was it? Glass on the face doesn’t sound too fun.
PROBST: Continuing with what I was saying about Russell — Skupin is providing an equally interesting contrast to how he played the first time. The guy most famous for falling into the fire has injured himself more times in the first 9 days of this season than most entire tribes endure in 39 days. The responsibility for the shattered facemask is all on Skupin. We tell them not to jump into the water with it on your face but they get excited and want to save a few seconds and before you know it — blam! In 25 seasons nobody other than Skupin has ever fallen in the fire and nobody besides Skupin has had a facemask shatter in their face. So now I’m starting to look back on his actions in Survivor: Australia and realize — it wasn’t an accident he fell into the fire, it was just Skupin. I like Skupin a lot too — and I think people are rooting for him but perhaps more as a Mr. Magoo type rather than the physical hero type that I think he sees himself. Having said all of that, he is a very likable guy. Yes, medical checked him out and he waved them off — after all this is Skupin!
EW: Lots of shifting allegiances this week. What can you tell us about the next episode?
PROBST: The story remains the same — Matsing. Russell’s tribe. They are on their way to becoming an extinct tribe. If they don’t win, how mad will Russell get?
To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as a video of Probst revealing his picks for the 5 best Tribal Councils ever, simply click on the video player below. To read Dalton’s recap, click right here. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.