Survivor: Jeff Probst explains why Bi was not medically evacuated

Each week, host Jeff Probst will answer a few questions about the latest episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Bi leaves the game after spraining her MCL in the challenge, but I noticed the language she used was that she had “made the decision to leave the game,” and you classified it as a quit rather than a medical evacuation. What can you tell us about the medical team’s diagnosis and Bi’s subsequent decision to leave the game?
JEFF PROBST: This is a somewhat unusual situation where a player decides to leave the game due to a physical condition even though medical does not feel it is necessary to pull them out. Bi is an athlete, and she was concerned that if she continued to stay in the game she might further aggravate the injury and do permanent damage to her career as an MMA fighter. There will be some who will argue that she could have stayed through the next immunity challenge and if the David tribe lost they could just vote her out, but that’s not how Bi rolls.

Bi is a very determined person, and once she made the decision there was no changing her mind. This is a great example of why you can never predict what is going to happen. One simple tweak of a knee and the entire game changes again. I respect Bi for knowing her body well enough to know what she needed to do for her own well-being.

Did Bi leaving the game change your schedule on the tribe swap? Meaning, was the original plan to do the tribe swap in episode 5 after your fourth Tribal Council, with 16 people left in the game, but because you lost a fourth person early you had to move it up an episode?
Nope. That swap was already set for that episode. In fact, I actually removed one buff from the tray, in front of the Survivors, just before we did the swap. Due to time, we cut that from the show, but it did change how we executed the swap. We had a slightly different plan in place — always trying to catch them off guard — that we’ll save for another season. But to the essence of your question, it is conceivable that a sudden quit could impact what we had planned, and in that case we would modify and adapt to fit the situation.

Big twist here with the introduction of the Idol Nullifier that Carl found on Exile Island. Tell us about why you decided to add this into the game, and the decision to have to put it on a specific person and played before seeing if an idol is even used, rather than give it even more power but allowing it to be used after an idol is played, because I’m sure you all discussed all options with this.
We’ve had this idea in our creative hopper for probably 10 years. It’s a fun idea but one that we could never figure out how to properly execute. If you give the nullifier the power to be played later, as you suggest, then it negates any threat of an idol. Because the audience knows that if an idol is played, the nullifier can block it, so there is no actual dilemma. You just wait and see if someone plays it. That’s no good.

The key to it working was the realization that if you force them to play the nullifier BEFORE an idol is played and then you also have to guess correctly who the idol is played for, then you have a true dilemma. This twist also allows the idol to retain some power. Only an assassin with great information can execute the nullifier properly. But it’s fun to have it in the game after so many years. It’s very tough to come up with new twists and advantages, so we definitely celebrated this one.

Natalia goes out in a blaze of fury/glory, just like she said she wanted to. What was her fatal flaw in the game, and how much did you love her reaction to being blindsided (because I can assure you I certainly did)?
I love Natalia. She was an immediate “yes” to being on the show. She’s strong-willed, outspoken, athletic, and she doesn’t suffer fools. It’s a brilliant combination for a human and for a Survivor player. I don’t know what her fatal flaw is, because I don’t think that’s what got her voted out. I think she was simply the victim of an early move by another player. I say this all the time — good players get voted out early every season.

Survivor is a do-or-die game. It’s extremely risky and there is nowhere to hide. If the tide turns against you, for whatever reason, and you are the target of a blindside, it’s very tough to defend against it because you never see it coming. In another season, Natalia could go very deep in the game. She came to play, and instead she got played. It happens. I like her. She stirs things up, she’s great in challenges. I think she’s a fun candidate for a Second Chance season.

Looks like Mother Nature is back with a vengeance next week. What can you say about what’s coming up?
The people who read your column are true Survivor fans, so they already know that Survivor is 100 percent real. But every so often it’s nice to remind the audience that the rain and the accompanying storms are not fake. This stuff really happens. It’s been a wet season so far, and it’s not letting up. Next week is a huge episode. Jam-packed.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene above, and make sure to read our episode recap. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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