'Survivor' host Jeff Probst has a fascinating theory on the huge No Collar challenge fail | EW.com

TV | Survivor

Survivor host Jeff Probst has a fascinating theory on the huge No Collar challenge fail

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

Each week Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: Worlds Apart.

EW: There’s no doubt that any difference can really stand out in Survivor and Nina repeatedly referenced her hearing disability as a reason why her tribe would not accept her. However, her tribe countered that she was the one focused so much on that as opposed to them, and we saw this play out at Tribal Council. You were out there and got a good feel for them at the two Tribals. Were they ostracizing her because of that or was she making too much of her own lack of hearing? 
JEFF PROBST: This brings up two key points that any Survivor player must master if they have any chance to win: #1. You Must Be Self-Aware. You have to be have some sense of how the world sees you, how you come across to others. If you don’t possess #1 then you can’t get to #2 and #2 is the one that gets you voted out. #2. On The Island, Perception Is Reality. Period. So now let’s take the case of Nina, who I think is a really devoted mom and wife and probably has a beautiful life–off the island. But what I witnessed during casting and on the show is that Nina is not aware of how she comes across to others. Lack of self-awareness. Nina does complain a lot. You can make the argument that “you’d complain too if this happened to you” and that’s a fair statement. But on Survivor that complaining is read by others as being a pain in the ass. And worse, she placed her need to complain on the shoulders of her tribemates for not doing a better job of dealing with her hearing issues.

From what I saw of the tribe they did try to accommodate Nina initially…but there was a point where they started to see her as more of a victim. And whether or not that is true, is unfortunately irrelevant. It’s point #2—On The Island, Perception Is Reality. Once they saw her that way, her game was over. Personally, I felt for Nina because I think she really wanted to fit in and be a part of the tribe and I think we saw how tough that is for her to do. And it did make me ask myself—given the same challenge—”How would I do?” It’s very easy to critique from the sidelines and say, “Oh, just deal with it.” It’s another to be the one actually having to deal with it. I applaud Nina for coming on the show and giving it a shot.

I love your big epic challenges, but I also like it sometimes when you just keep it simple, and tonight’s contest was a perfect example as teams had to race back with giant buckets of water—however, with holes in the bucket that needed to be plugged along the way, making teamwork a key component. Tell me your thoughts on these sorts of challenges as well as what you were thinking when you saw No Collar sending Nina away, thereby leaving more holes completely unplugged?  
I love these types of challenges where there is a mixture of physical with strategy under the umbrella of teamwork. Okay, my truth about what I think happened with Nina. I think that as a group, the No Collars are pretty caring humans. I also think they’re pretty bright. When you look at that challenge, so much of the communication is happening without players looking at each other. You’re plugging holes, stepping over obstacles, standing under gushing water—you really have to scream and be able to hear each other scream in order to be effective. Again, this is just my personal opinion and nothing more—but I think they felt she was going to be a liability because of her hearing—but they couldn’t say that for fear of being seen as discriminatory. So they blamed it on vague answers that really made no sense. I felt for both sides. It’s a tough call. There is a million dollar check for ONE winner. It forces you to make decisions that sometimes you aren’t proud of—and that’s what I think happened in this case.

I don’t think you have ever had a season where varying definitions of work ethic have not created some major strife between contestants, and we saw some blow-ups on the Blue Collar tribe this week between Mike and Rodney and Mike and Lindsey. Did it surprise you to see this happen on the tribe defined by their physical hard-working life-style, or is that exactly what you expected to happen here? Plus, who really is to blame for those fights? 
My initial reaction was surprise—I didn’t expect to see such emotion in every aspect of their game. But then I started thinking of our reality crews that shoot the tribes on their beaches. Those people are definitely “No Collars”: They live a life on their own terms for sure—BUT…when it comes to working that beach, they are 100% blue collar. They bust their ASS every day to get the shots and sounds we need to tell the stories of our contestants. It’s humbling how dedicated they are. And when I think about them after work is over, it’s the same. Whether they are drinking beer or playing darts—they are doing it with the same vigor that they have on the beach. They laugh so loud they wake up the rest of the crew. And if an argument breaks out over which Football/Rugby team is better—it can get heated and even more people are awakened!  In other words, they do everything they do with total investment. That was really enlightening for me to make that connection. Blue Collars don’t just work hard, they do everything with intensity. I’m not the first to say it, but without blue collars, ‘merica doesn’t exist. They are the back bone of everything. As to who is to blame for the arguments— who knows. For this I say refer back to question #1. 

Bonus question! Just curious: Would you stand there and watch two howler monkeys have sex and then offer a detailed play-by-play account for your friends? 
Uh, no. I might watch them— that could be fascinating for a minute. But no, I’m not that interested in then sharing every detail with the tribe. I love that Shirin does those kinds of things. I have NO idea if she is 100% authentic or just a really crafty player who is “playing” a bit of a role.  Doesn’t matter, so long as she…is self-aware and knows that perception is reality! Is this getting through yet?! :) 

No Collar is on the ropes and it looks like we have some more drama at Blue Collar coming up. What can you tease for next week’s episode? 
I can’t tease it hard enough—next week is awesome.  Dare I say the best ep of the season? So much good stuff including a Survivor/medical moment. AND…next week we are giving you TWO EPISODES! Two! Back to back! And in the second episode we have more amazing Survivor moments including a Survivor/wildlife moment. I’m really not hyping it—it’s a great two-hour block.

To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, just click on the video player below. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full ‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’ recap. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.