3 Q's with Jeff Probst:
Okay, Jeff. Tell us about why when you mapped out this season you decided to start with two tribes of 10 and then go to three tribes of six once you got down to 18.
The overall creative theme for this season was “Let them play!” We wanted to present options and twists that would promote gameplay. The 20 to 18, two tribes to three, was based on reversing expectations. We had never done it before and felt very confident that even if the players suspected it or even predicted it, it would still be effective. After 31 seasons it is very difficult to come up with “new” twists that nobody ever considered, so one of the keys is using twists that are foolproof. I was very happy with the results. We had people who improved their status and those who lost status and in both cases the question becomes, “Now what?”
Tell us about the scene after the challenge when Tasha busted Varner for communicating with Kelly Wiglesworth from the other tribe and then Varner started talking openly about who made deals with whom. Looked like a pretty chaotic scene.
I LOVED IT! Varner has been electric. Other players don’t always like it, but Jeff is playing a “balls-to-the-wall” game. This style of gameplay can implode — but these are also the kinds of people who win. Boston Rob, Tony, Parvati. They play BIG. The audience has grown very bored with safe play. Safe players are rarely asked to play again and safe players almost never win. Survivor is a zero-sum game. One player wins, the rest lose. Why play for the jury? Why pretend? Jeff Varner is going for it. He’s trying to play the game outside of the lines — a bit like Donald Trump — and like Trump, at the moment anyway, he is the MOST talked about player this season. By a long shot.
I watched it play out and I still don’t understand it, Jeff: How do the two people on the bottom of a tribe completely flip everything and end up controlling the vote? Especially when the majority of four (Jeff, Woo, Peih-Gee, Abi) all just voted together at the last vote so should theoretically all be on the same page? How does that happen?
That was truly brilliant work by Savage and Tasha. I am with you. I’m still mystified at how well they executed it. When I looked at the aftermath of the tribe swap, I honestly thought they were dead in the water. But the social politics of Survivor can never be underestimated. I think Tasha and Savage did a great job of figuring out what each person in that foursome needed to hear. And they worked those relationships with and against each other brilliantly. It’s one of the best recoveries the game has seen. THAT is how you deal with a bad switch. You dig in and get to work.
Hit us up with a preview for next week, sir!
Two of my favorite challenges of the season. The reward challenge is a “hero” challenge where each tribe puts up ONE PLAYER to run the entire challenge. The immunity challenge is blindfolded and I think you will laugh, gasp and cry before it’s over. GREAT episode. This season is like the Los Angeles real estate market it just keeps going up, up, up.