There were supposed to be 10 pairs of loved ones competing on this season’s Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water (which debuts Sept. 24 on CBS). But then, just days before filming began in Nicaragua, one of the couples was forced to bow out after a last minute-medical check turned up something that gave the Survivor medics pause. The same thing actually happened during the last Blood vs. Water season when RC Saint-Amour and her father had to drop out while on location due to medical reasons involving the dad. In that instance, Candice and John Cody were flown in at the last minute to replace them. (They arrived in the Philippines less than 24 hours before filming began.)
No such luck this time around with replacements, so producers had to adjust the game from 20 players down to 18, which also created an imbalance in the amount of men and women playing. I sat down with Survivor host Jeff Probst on location on day one of the game, where he told me all about the last minute change. “We started this with 10 pairs and it does happen,” says Probst. “It’s rare, but it sometimes happens that for different reasons somebody is pulled from the game. We lost a pair of women, so the way it works out is there are more men than women. That’s just the game. We don’t like it that way, but that’s the way it’s going to start…. It changes your show. It changes your Tribal Council because there are two less people to get rid of.”
But, wait — if we’re down to only 18 players, does that mean we may get a final two again instead of a final three? Not necessarily, cautions the host. “Yeah, it’s possible,’ he says of the chance of a final two. “It depends what happens over the next 39 days. As it is right now — no. But if somebody were to be evacuated or to quit, now we’re getting to a small amount of numbers in order to finish our show.”
Probst and I have good-naturedly sparred over the merits of a final three vs. final two — I am a fan of the latter — for years, and the host once again shared why he prefers the former. “I don’t think the final three is better than the final two,” he says. “But I do think the final three gives you a better chance of somebody likeable or an interesting dynamic happening. Case in point: last season had Woo chosen Kass, you have a Kass-Woo final. No offense to those guys, it’s not as interesting as a Tony-Woo final. To me, it only proves my point more as to why a final three goes into play.” “
We’ll see what it ends up being this time, but you can hear more from Probst on the Survivor team that never was, as well as why he was so ecstatic about what happened in the very first few minutes on day one of San Juan del Sur by clicking on the video player below. In fact, you can see him officially welcome the players to the game! And why the heck is he name-checking the Medallion of Power? You’ll have to listen to find out. Plus, for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.