'Survivor: Cagayan': Jeff Probst reveals big changes to the finale format

Jeff-Probst

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of ‘Survivor: Cagayan.’

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: During the immunity challenge you said, “Tony with a huge time advantage. The question is, does he know how to do slide puzzles?” I’m going to go out on a limb and say the answer to that question is a big fat no. These challenge puzzles usually take a very long time to solve so you often have to edit down what we see on the show due to time, so give us your on-the-scene take on just how quickly Spencer got this done, and just how lost Tony was.
JEFF PROBST: The lead Tony had going into the puzzle was pretty significant, but based on past performance I knew there was some question as to how long it would take him to finish. When Spencer bounded up the ladder to start on the puzzle I didn’t necessarily think he could win. I was just happy that it was going to be a better ending because now we had two people doing the puzzle. What was apparent right away was their very different styles. Tony was just slamming pieces back and forth without any clear direction and Spencer was literally just standing there studying it.  So I focused my attention back on Tony, thinking Spencer would be a while — and when I turned around to check on him he was almost finished.  I didn’t actually see what he did to get there. I turned around, saw he was close, and then — WHAM! It was over. Had there been more players for me to check in on. I might have missed the entire thing.  It really was that fast.

EW: Traditionally, the final 5 is the last time one can use a hidden immunity idol, although you made no such announcement to that effect. Does that mean Tony is indeed bluffing by making people think he can use his special idol at the final 4?
PROBST: Hmm, did I miss it? I thought Tony was really clear in saying that it’s only good until final 5 and that he’s bluffing them telling them it’s good until a final 4. [ED NOTE: He did, but Jeff never confirmed at Tribal Council.] Either way, yes, the idol is only good until the final 5 and after that it has no value. So Tony is indeed bluffing. It’s a brilliant move that none of us anticipated. He realized that because it was “new” and had “different powers” that he could create any story he wanted.  This is why we continue to experiment with different ideas. You put in something new and you see what it births. While the power of this special idol was not new, we did think the placement of it as a “one-off” at the merge might yield some interesting results. There isn’t a science to Survivor, we just do our best to think through ideas and the ones that feel solid we give them a shot.

EW: We’ll find out what the jury thinks next week, but if this game ends right now — which we know it does not and there is plenty left to change your thoughts, but if it did — who gets Jeff Probst’s vote for the million dollars and why?
PROBST: Ah, that is an extremely tough question. I honestly think it could go to any of the four of them depending on who they sit next to at the final. Tony has played an incredibly strong game — from the get go. He has hustled and maneuvered on a level with some of the best. He is a great read of people. Spencer has earned so much respect because he has never given up even though he’s the Charlie Brown of this season. He continues to fight even when everything says, “You’re done.”  Kass, evil as many may see her, has played a pretty shrewd game and I think could make a very strong argument that she made some huge moves and deserves the dough. Woo would have to finish strong and then choose wisely. If he puts himself against the right person, I think Woo could charm his way to the money because he really hasn’t made any enemies. How long has it been that we’ve had four potential winners? It’s a great way to finish what has been a fantastic season.

EW: We’re going old school! For the first time since season 1, the Survivor finale will be back on a Wednesday night (May 21). What can you tell us about the final installment of this terrific season and the live reunion that follows?
PROBST: I love that we’ll have our finale on a Wednesday! It just feels new and fresh and fun! We’re changing things up in other ways too. To start with, I’ll be live from the beginning of the two-hour finale. I’ll also be live at the end of every act. I’ll be interacting via social media @jeffprobst with fans at home and in the audience. We’re endeavoring to make this more of a shared event rather than a passive viewing experience. I’m excited. I think it’s going to add a nice bit of energy to the show. As for the finale itself, still more surprises to come regarding how it finishes and two of the most exciting challenges of any finale. Then we have the reunion. where we’ll focus on some of the more interesting relationships of this season — there is definitely a lot of unfinished business that we’ll deal with.  I anticipate a really fun night to finish off a really fun season!

Click on the video player below to watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode. Also make sure to read Dalton’s recap. And for ‘Survivor’ scoop sent directly to you, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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