'Survivor: Caramoan': Jeff Probst talks Phillip, tribal, and two immunity idols

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Image Credit: Greg Gayne/CBS

Each week, host Jeff Probst answers a few questions about the most recent episode of ‘Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites’.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You seemed pretty appalled when Phillip announced he wouldn’t be competing for immunity. At that point, did you secretly hope that karma would come back and bite him in the butt?
JEFF PROBST: First off, some perspective… Any time Phillip says anything, anything at all, I’m interested. When he ups the stakes and declares something important or assigns a Stealth R Us name to another tribe mate, I immediately begin to zone out all other distractions. But when he shares a story of his childhood and it involves something that scarred him for life, I become 100% focused on him and only him.

Now while I most certainly have empathy for his fear of water, because it didn’t seem to bother him in earlier water challenges, I also have a healthy amount of skepticism about his true motive. Sometimes I think people just don’t think they can win and they’d rather just sit out than compete. If I had to bet my own hard earned Survivor cash, that’s what I’d bet. But let me be clear so people don’t hammer me on Twitter — I realize that I am not Phillip. I am not in his head. I am not the cells running through his body. It may very well be true that he simply cannot do certain things in the water and if that’s the case it’s a tragedy.

Did I wish instant karma? Nope. I don’t see the game that way. I never have. Karma doesn’t always play out in the 39 days. Mostly I just love it when Phillip says… or does… anything. I would like to thank Phillip for all he gave this season. There are some who think we featured him too much, some who wish he had shown more of him and still others who wish he was never on in the first place. I am firmly planted in the “love me some Phillip” camp — and I’m sorry to see him go. But boy does it open up a whole new game.

Of all your years of Survivor, where does this week’s tribal council rank on the insanity spectrum?
Ah, it’s up there for sure! I love big moves. Love them. I often reflect back on one of the great lines of cinema from the movie Wall Street. Charlie Sheen’s character is going to meet Michael Douglas. As he stands outside of his office he says to himself, “Life all comes down to a few moments and this is one of them.” The game of Survivor almost demands that you make big moves if you want to win. The key is picking the right moment… to make your move. For me, there are few greater moments than when something completely unexpected happens at tribal and changes the game. Beautiful.

Will both idols go back into play now that they’ve been played?
Good question, Ms. Shaw. We do have a method to our madness and die hard fans have probably already figured it out. So without guaranteeing anything or relating specifically to this situation — I’d say it’s a safe bet that an idol played at this point in the game will go back out.

Hints about next week! I’m curious about who will be exposed as a power player who’s possibly been hiding behind Phillip’s craziness. Who becomes the target now? The ringleader?
I’m most surprised you had no questions about the Dawn drama or the heroic gesture of humanity from Brenda. As to who is now in trouble — it’s a wide open game. I think the Three Amigos are still the obvious targets but this tribal may have opened up the crack they need to bust this game wide open.

I’m not interested in humanity. Which brings me to my bonus question: Who do you like more: Me or Dalton?
If you look at the past several weeks of my quick, clipped responses to Dalton and then compare to this week’s thoughtful, albeit slightly verbose response to you — the answer is clear.

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