Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Winners at War. Here, he weighs in the vote-out of a legend, why nobody is voting out Boston Rob, Adam’s big gambit, and a crazy challenge finish.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I think there was one long huge collective “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” from the viewing audience when Ethan was voted out. What can you say about his game and untimely ouster from the tribe?
JEFF PROBST: Ethan was one of those players we knew we had to have for this season. He will tell you that we have tried to get him back out to play again for years, but his health was always too much of a concern. This season, everything lined up and he felt ready to come back and play again. It was clear from day one that part of the reason he decided to come back was to show people that you can recover from cancer and you can continue to conquer amazing things. It’s a really admirable mission. But not surprising.
Ethan is one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life. He took his million dollars from Survivor: Africa and started Grassroot Soccer — an amazing charity that has changed lives around the world and continues to thrive today. So, yes, I think you are right, there is a lot of disappointment that he was voted out and sent to the Edge. I don’t think there is a Survivor fan anywhere that would root against Ethan for any reason, at any time. But this is a game, and to their credit, the other players were able to get past their personal feelings and make a move. Now Ethan is really going to get an adventure because if you haven’t heard me say it already — the Edge of Extinction is next level difficult. As you’ll soon see.
We heard all this talk from the Sele tribe about how Rob was too strong and needed to be weakened. But instead of targeting him, when it came to the vote, all the talk was about taking out either Ethan or Parvati. Why is nobody talking about taking a shot at the Robfather himself?
I don’t know. It’s a really great question. I would vote Rob and Parvati out first and second — in any order — but they would be the first two. History has shown they are simply too dangerous. But Rob and Parvati have a way of hanging around just long enough to get their claws into the game and that could be what’s happening right now. If you miss your chance, it may be too late.
But now that I’ve made my case for voting out Rob and Parvati, I will add this — Winners at War is not an ordinary season. There are so many incredibly talented, insanely sophisticated, bright shiny players, that I don’t think it’s quite as easy as I am making it out to be. I could list at least another dozen players still in the game that should also be on the same radar due to their tenacity. And the other five are just as talented, they just play a more stealth game which can allow them to momentarily lurk in the shadows. There are no easy vote outs. There is not a player here who cannot win this season. The odds are going to fluctuate from week to week, but this game is way too complicated to predict what is going to happen.
Adam decided to tell Rob that they were going to vote out his biggest ally in Parvati because “strategically, telling people truths at important times can be very helpful.” Rob and Parvati then mocked him for breaking the cardinal rule of Survivor, while his own alliance felt betrayed after he shared that confidential information. What’s your take on Adam’s gambit?
Adam has really impressed me this season. He came out swinging for the fences, and any time you do that, you risk making mistakes. Let me say it again — mistakes happen when you take big swings. To put it another way: If you want to lead a life where you’re never wrong about anything, then never take a chance — and never have a point of view — about anything. This almost certainly ensures you will lead a perfect life. You’ll never hit it out of the park. But you’ll never strike out. A perfectly boring life.
Survivor players do not lead boring lives. Survivor players do take chances and they do have a point of view about most everything. Any Survivor player worth their buff has made mistakes. The question is how they recover. Adam has to recover. Survivor is a game where you must keep moving forward. Every day presents a new set of problems. The great players reassess all the time, constantly asking themselves what is the best move for them in this specific moment. Based on that assessment, they make a move. If it’s right, they move forward. If it’s wrong, they reassess and… move forward. Always moving forward.
Look, you’re a good guy who wants good things to happen to good people and — unlike me — do not take joy in the misery of others. But be 100% totally honest: You were kind of secretly rooting for Sele to win that puzzle challenge after Dakal finished theirs but knocked their final two pieces out, weren’t you? C’mon! That would have been amazing! It’s okay, you can tell me the truth.
Okay first off, yes, that was another dramatic finish! It’s a bit mind boggling how many times over forty seasons we have had unpredictable and potentially game changing moments happen in the final stages of a challenge. I credit our amazing challenge department for always fine-tuning things…just right! But as for me rooting one way or the other, I’ll tell you exactly what was going on in my head during the end of that challenge. In no particular order I was focused on – counting the number of pieces each tribe had left, paying attention to which players were placing pieces, making sure the rest of the tribe was on their mat, because if they get off the mat then they start blocking camera angles, making sure my own camera angle was clean, making sure I was ready to call a win and knew where I wanted to be when it happened, thinking about the possible story of a massive comeback, thinking about the possible story of another loss by Sele, making eye contact with John Kirhoffer to ensure there wasn’t any issue with the puzzles that I couldn’t see, and trying to remember to glance at the losing tribe immediately after the finish to look for any signs of what might come at Tribal Council.
What was not on my mind is “I hope Sele wins.” I know people find that hard to believe, but when I am inside of a challenge I am driven only by my job and not by the outcome. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a good comeback, I do. I only mean that I’m not watching the challenge the way you do when you’re on the couch. It’s a bit more technical and definitely more intense.
Uh-oh, looks like a potentially scary scene at Edge of Extinction next week. What can you say about the next episode?
We had an idea for how to take Edge to the next level and next week is what we had in mind. Always moving forward!
Enjoy an exclusive deleted scene above from this week’s episode of the the Dakal tribe French-braiding Tyson’s hair, and make sure to check out our full episode recap. And for more behind the scenes Survivor scoop, photos, and videos, follow Dalton on both Twitter and Instagram.