Jeff Probst on Unplayed Idols and Potential Return of ‘Touchy Subjects’

Could a classic challenge return?

Photo: CBS

In the latest On Fire episode, Survivor host Jeff Probst, Survivor 45 winner Dee Valladares, and producer Jeff Wolfe discuss the final several players gearing up for the Survivor 46 endgame, the intense challenge of finding an idol, the strategic significance of the final seven, and the delicate balance of playing an idol. Probst also opens up about a notorious Survivor challenge, its potential return, and his feelings about the iconic Rites of Passage.

Probst gives his thoughts on an “ideal” scenario for players to make the most significant move of the season, narrowing it down to the final seven players. He goes on to say why this crucial point of the game is where a player can make it to the end or lose it all. He lists his reasons for this choice: firstly, they would need only four votes to have a majority. Secondly, this moment has perfect timing as it’s neither too early nor too late. Thirdly, it comes down to jury management and the order in which players would be sent to the jury. 

A common denominator throughout Survivor 46 has been players not playing their idols and being promptly blindsided. Probst defends the players’ reasoning behind waiting for the right time to play their idols, as they not only want to survive another day but also play to win, which comes with calculated risks.

“That’s the cornerstone of any Survivor strategy… sometimes you get lucky, your instincts were right, and everything works out. But more often, you’re going to make a mistake, and that will hurt your game in some way,” Probst says. “You can’t win Survivor by playing not to lose. When in doubt, play the first time as though you’re playing for the second time. The hall of fame is filled with great players who have never won Survivor.”

Afterward, Dee reveals she and her fellow Survivor 45 castaways played the fan favourite “Touchy Subjects” challenge once they got back from filming. Dee asks Probst if Survivor would ever bring back the challenge, to which Probst answers that it would be a risky decision for production, as it would reveal too much information that might steal some of the mystery of what will play out. However, Probst isn’t opposed to the challenge making a reappearance if it’s modified to fit the New Era.

Lastly, in the fan questions segment, Probst is asked about his thoughts on the “Rites of Passage,” usually done at the end of every season until Survivor: Caramoan. Surprisingly, Probst admits he hated this ritual. He goes on to say that from a storytelling standpoint, it did nothing to advance the game or show anything new from the final players, and sometimes, people struggled to say something kind about their fellow castaways.

“It’s of zero interest right now. I don’t like the Rites of Passage, I hope we never do it again, and I’ve never missed it,” Probst concludes, crushing fans’ dreams of ever hoping to see this montage on the show again. 

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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