'Survivor: Philippines': Jeff Probst says Abi belongs in the 'Survivor Villain Hall of Fame'

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

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

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You have two types of “villains” on Survivor — those that know they are villains and almost embrace it in a way, and those that have no clue whatsoever. Abi-Maria would seem to clearly fall into that latter category. As a producer, how are they different in terms of what they bring to the show?

JEFF PROBST: Another interesting question…. I guess it would come down to behavior. Russell Hantz enjoys being a villain, likes creating chaos and on some level is always doing it for the audience enjoyment. He’s fascinating to watch because we know he is fully aware of what he is doing when he burns someone’s socks in the fire. Abi-Maria is completely clueless about the impact of her behavior on others. This is equally fascinating because we are amazed that she has no idea! I do think some of it is cultural, but the part that is cultural is the awareness of her behavior. The behavior itself is not cultural — that’s just selfishness and entitlement. Regardless of her approach, she has planted herself firmly in the Survivor Villain Hall Of Fame, which I would have never predicted pre-show. I thought she was very charming and funny and that she could flirt away deep into the game. I never saw this coming. Equally interesting is the fact that she is still in the game, and at this point is someone it makes a lot of sense to take to the end.

EW: There was a lot of confusion among the contestants during the reward challenge where they had to turn over their drums to reveal a logo and their opponents’ drums to cover their logo. I was curious if the Dream Teamers running this in rehearsal also had trouble keeping things straight. Also, how much in general do the rehearsals match the real deal?

PROBST: This was the first time we had done this challenge and while it is a very solid concept, it did prove problematic. When the Dream Team rehearsed it, we had a completely different outcome — they got extremely physical with each other. They would quickly get entangled in a wrestling match to keep the other from moving to the next ring. It resulted in lots of bruises and cuts. We were expecting a physical challenge from the Survivors, but instead they just started sprinting. I’d say that 30% of the time the Dream Teamers do something different from the Survivors.  Most of the time it goes according to plan. One of the benefits of having the Dream Team rehearse a challenge is that we learn the places where you can “cheat”, and at that point we can decide whether to close those holes or leave them in the hopes that a Survivor will take advantage of it.

EW: I’ve bugged you about this before and am going to bug you again right now: the multi-stage immunity challenge. Why do these when it can mean that the one or two people that need to win more than anyone — in this case Pete and Abi — can get knocked out in the first stage, thereby draining a lot of the tension out of the rest of the competition?

JEFF PROBST: Usually these multi-stage challenges are a necessity due to production constraints. It takes quite a bit of people power to build our challenges and if we have any hiccups in their production — such as rain delays or we build a challenge that doesn’t end up working — and have to improvise, these multi-stage challenges are typically smaller builds and therefore a get out of jail free card. Totally agree that it doesn’t always work for the best drama. Sometimes you have to make the decision that allows you to finish production and it trumps an individual moment.

EW: I promise to give much thanks this holiday season if you give me a killer tease for next week’s episode.

PROBST: Abi is in trouble — can she find a way out? And alliances are shifting once again.

To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as our pre-game interview with Pete, 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.

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