Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of ‘Survivor: Cagayan.’ Also make sure to read Probst giving exclusive intel on the NEXT season of ‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water.’
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tony is probably the most aggressive winner we’ve ever seen. So where does he rank for you in the pantheon of Survivor champs?
JEFF PROBST: Tony is one of the most electrifying players/characters we’ve ever had. You can’t anticipate what he’s going to do and then when he does it you are often stunned at the manner in which he did it. I’m happy he won. I like seeing players rewarded for playing hard. I really do believe Survivor is at it’s best when played by people who go for broke. I also really appreciated the jury rewarding him with the money. That was a key ingredient. They could have been bitter and voted “against” Tony but instead they voted “for” Tony despite their bitterness.
EW: Take your host and producer hats off and put yourself on the jury for a second. Do you give Woo credit (like Morgan did) for pulling a Colby Donaldson and bringing Tony to the end, or does that drive you crazy (like it drove Spencer crazy) because he most likely just handed away a million dollars and in that sense, it was a super bad game move?
PROBST: This is a different situation than Colby and Tina. I think Colby took Tina still believing he could win. I think the Woo decision was based on what he thought he was obligated to do based on his approach to life. I always believed Woo’s life philosophy was genuine. I believe he lives his life by a code of conduct and I think that’s one of the fundamental reasons so many people, kids especially, dig him. I also think he got played by a very shrewd New Jersey cop. Tony knew how to talk to Woo and he gave him a million dollar life lesson.
EW: Okay…FINAL TWO! You know how much I love that and have been lobbying for it to come back. So, two part question: First off, was the initial plan to always do a final 2 for this season, or was this something that you adjusted along the way because Lindsey quit and maybe threw off your numbers? Secondly, and most important of all, after seeing it play out, did this change your feelings about final 2 vs. final 3 at all? (And yes, I realize a Woo vs. Kass final 2 would have been something of a disaster considering you would have lost both Spencer and Tony.)
PROBST: Yes, Lindsey quitting changed our numbers and so instead of a final three we only had enough players for a final two. Fortunately we knew early enough that we could adapt without any interruption. Yes, I loved having the final two and yes had it been Kass vs Woo I would not have been as happy. I absolutely see the simplicity of a season with no Redemption Island and a final 2. I get it. But the truth of the matter is that when we start with twenty people it’s very hard to get the numbers down to a final two. It’s honestly just math.
EW: It’s fun to see these big, epic set pieces for the final challenge, but I do miss some of those old school super long endurance contests you used to end with in earlier seasons where people just had to touch a pole, or hold coins in a painful pose, or hold something above their head for as long as possible because those contests really boiled everything down to one thing: Who wants it more? Any chance of going back to one of those at some point?
PROBST: Hard to say. Sometimes it comes down to scheduling — we simply don’t have 13 hours for a challenge. And also the “scope” of what you want in the show. A big epic final challenge is fun to build, fun to see, fun to run! So the answer is – yes, if things line up we could definitely go back to an endurance type finish. But not sure it will be anytime soon!
EW: This marks two straight seasons without the Rites of Passage tribute to Fallen Comrades where the final contestants wax poetic about the people they voted out along the way. Have we seen the last of that segment, and did you film it but just not run it this time?
PROBST: It’s done. It meant more in earlier seasons; it just doesn’t have any value. So unless we find a way to make it more compelling, I think we’ve seen the last of it.
EW: For the first time, you added some live look-ins and other elements to the finale that gave viewers a sense that they were there with you and the contestants watching it all go down, which was pretty cool. How do you feel it went?
PROBST: I really enjoyed it and could feel the energy. I’ve not yet seen the show played back so not sure how it felt watching it. I hope the fans enjoyed it. If they did, I think we would try it again. Definitely felt like a fresh approach and something that added another dimension to the “shared viewing experience.”
Click on the video player below to watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s finale. Also make sure to read Dalton’s finale/reunion recap. as well as Probst giving intel on NEXT season. And for ‘Survivor’ scoop sent directly to you, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.