Jeff Probst on Tribal Council Set, Goodwill Advantage & More From ‘On Fire’ Podcast (Episode 3)

Probst and co discussed Episode 3.

Photo: CBS


Survivor host Jeff Probst, former Survivor: Edge of Extinction player Rick Devens, and producer Jeff Wolfe meet for the latest On Fire podcast to discuss the third episode of Survivor 45. They talk about the emotional roller coaster this episode put us through as Lulu won their first challenge and lost a member again by the end. Also, Devens, Wolfe, and Probst speak about the importance of loyalty, advantages, idol-hunting, fan questions, and much more.  


  • Wolfe asks Devens how it feels to deal with the aftermath of a tribal council. Devens responds it is chaotic between people trying to do damage control, people being paranoid and trying to get some answers, and others who don’t even know what just happened. 
  • Devens says it is hard to read people until a tribe goes through a tribal council, as players are unaware of how people genuinely operate. Players must be conscious of red flags and their inner gut feelings to have some sense of hindsight of the game until they go to the tribal council. 
  • How much information does a player have on others when they only hang out with their original tribes? Devens says players spend a lot of time at camp wondering about the other players, as they only “hung out” together pre-game but couldn’t talk to each other and only one another at challenges. People can get labelled by small interactions during these short times, and only after a tribe swap or merge can their assumptions be changed.
  • Was Kaleb’s decision to leave the fishing spear behind a strategy, or was it a humane response? Devens quips unless a person is Jonathan from Survivor 42, who wanted to gain goodwill, everything someone does on the island comes from a strategic mindset. 
  • Devens and Wolfe praise Kaleb’s social manoeuvring of the goodwill advantage; however, Devens points out Kaleb hasn’t been managing his threat level as others know how dangerous he is in the game in the long run. 
  • Devens also praises Drew’s ability to draw information from other players and form strong bonds with even new people, such as Kaleb, as Drew gathered the goodwill advantage from him. 
  • How difficult is a giant puzzle from a physical perspective? Devens replies everything is much more challenging and heavier on Survivor as people are tired, dehydrated, and hungry. Things also get more demanding as players battle time constraints, internal turmoil, and weather conditions to complete the challenges. 
  • Wolfe confesses that as much as he wanted Lulu to win, he was excited about the chaos of them going to tribal council for the third consecutive time. Also, he highlights how much emotional investment there is between viewers and Lulu due to them being the underdogs.
  • Devens says the scramble before the tribal council is one of the most stressful times on the island as people check out with each other until the last possible second. Quick conversations or comments can increase paranoia that carries into tribal councils. He also adds it is incredibly frustrating to balance between answering Probst’s questions in a way he doesn’t continue probing for more information but without giving too much away.
  • Is someone being in the voting booth for over a few minutes suspicious? Devens says it only takes a few seconds to vote, so it will set off some alarms if someone takes longer to return. Though players aren’t allowed to talk at this time, they still manage to communicate through eye contact. 


  • Probst says his favourite part of the episode was the idol-hunting scene as production prepares as much as possible, but they don’t know how everything will unfold until it happens in real time.
  • The cinematography sets Survivor aside from any other show from Probst’s perspective.
  • Goodwill advantage: Probst says he wrote in his notes about the mechanics of this advantage, which translated well to the screen. 
  • Probst says they wanted to highlight Lulu’s devastation of losing yet again rather than showing the other tribes celebrating as it is more compelling from a story perspective, and nothing can be more demonstrative of how highs and lows in Survivor operate than a scene like this. 
  • Devens asks Probst about Sabiyah’s idol and if another player can grab it from the fire to play it instead. Probst says production never considered someone using the tribal council’s fire for melting the candle. Still, it showed Sabiyah’s game adaptability. He added it was fair as instructions never specified this wasn’t allowed and that no one could have grabbed the idol as it was Sabiyah’s.
  • Could Sabiyah give the idol to someone else after getting voted out without playing it? Probst recalls how amazed he was at Sabiyah’s gameplay and how it later backfired as she risked it all but got voted out. Probst once again says that the game is over when he’s done with the votes, so Sabiyah’s idol was dead at that point.


  • How come tribal council looks much bigger this season, and why was it created the way it looks this season? Probst is proud fans noticed this, and he says tribal isn’t bigger per se, but production bought new cameras that have allowed the tribal to be lit only by fire instead of with lights. By removing the lights on the set, the notion of the set looks much grander.  
  • When is the last time players eat before getting on the barge? Do players eat the same thing with the same calories? Devens answers players can eat as much as they want at mealtimes during the pre-game, including the morning of day one, but everyone is so nervous they can barely eat (like Devens), or they stuff themselves as they don’t know when their next meal will be. 
  • Extra tidbit: As there will be a tribe swap next week, Devens wishes Emily and Bruce to end up in the same tribe for more fun chaos.


Written by

Mariana Loizaga

Mariana is a lawyer and a writer from Mexico City, Mexico. She has a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Surrey. Her hobbies include reading, blogging, and of course watching Survivor. The first season of Survivor she ever saw was Survivor: Philippines and she became so fascinated with the game and its many layers that she went back through the archives and watched every single previous season.

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