Each week, host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of Survivor: Philippines.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s get right into Russell’s tirade after losing the immunity challenge. He went on about how he always expects success. That mirrors the mindset of a lot of athletes who say you need to have that type of thought process to succeed. But when that expected success doesn’t come, it can get ugly. Is that type of attitude an asset or a liability in this game?
JEFF PROBST: An absolute liability. I think Russell has a few things that challenge the appropriateness of his tirade. 1) He is not a “bound for the Hall of Fame” professional athlete who just dropped a pass in the end zone in the last few seconds of the Super Bowl. 2) The expectation that he must succeed in any and all things he does is a bit silly and therefore doesn’t resonate with anyone. 3) His point of view is so egocentric that it appears to put most people off because it’s not about the tribe, it’s about his individual performance. 4) This is SURVIVOR – it’s social politics and he played it poorly from day one.
EW: I loved this challenge. Do you guys operate under the premise of “when it doubt, smash things”? Because it pretty much always delivers. And holy smokes, you were getting worked up there at the very end! What caused you to get so caught up in the moment and how much of a rush is it for you when you end up with a challenge that not only has enormous stakes (the pretty much complete destruction of the Matsing tribe) but a super-close finish as well?
PROBST: Ah that was such a fun challenge! Yes, I was definitely into it — it was muddy, it was super close, things were flying, you had to stay on top of it of you’d fall behind and it ended with a spectacular showdown! Even writing about it gets me fired up again! I love those moments most of all because they are truly “live” and there is no second chance. No losers bracket. No “do-overs.” And the moment after a loss, there is always the triumphant tribe that can relax and celebrate contrasted against the losing tribe that must immediately begin to strategize about who they are going to vote out at tribal council.
EW: We talked before the season started about players that we weren’t sure had it in them to play this game. Of those players, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Pete and the way he craftily played Abi-Maria and RC against each other this week. Which player has exceeded your expectations so far?
PROBST: Pete, definitely. I didn’t think he would “get” the game but he’s doing a really good job. I figured Abi for a player but what I didn’t figure her for was a villain. At this rate she may crack top ten villains of all time! Lisa Whelchel has surprised me in that she really did come to play and her story continues to draw me in as I anticipate her next move. Jeff Kent is more than I hoped he would be — I love him. I love his approach to the game, he never ever complains about anything. Malcolm is delivering as expected — we loved him the minute he showed up. Denise has surprised me — I didn’t see her as that much of a physical threat but she is really tearing it up. Unfortunately she is on the wrong tribe and now has a huge hole to dig out of — but it’s Survivor and she and Malcolm could still make it deep, they just need a ton of luck. Skupin has surprised me a bit in a couple of ways — he is more malleable than I anticipated and more Mr. Magoo than I expected. The rest are giving us what we expected from them — overall this is a great cast!
EW: Uh-oh, a Probst visit to a camp beach. That can’t be good news for one player. What can you tell us about next week’s episode?
PROBST: Yes, it’s almost always drama when I visit a tribe camp. I can tell you that it is dramatic and I did find it emotional and it does change the game. That enough?
To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as a video of the cast picking their favorite Survivor moments 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.