Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #5

survivor-Probst_lMan oh man. If you have any kind of a heart, you have to be feeling for Foa Foa. It’s been a long time since a tribe has performed this poorly. You’d have to go all the way back to Survivor: Palau when Stephanie’s tribe was decimated week by week until she was the only person left in her tribe.

I have to stand up for all of the Survivors from this season. It was a very difficult shoot. The rain was constant and it took a real toll on everybody, crew included. It’s so easy to sit at home and say ”oh just get over it,” but it truly is an extremely difficult experience to undergo.

99.99% of the people who say they want to play Survivor, couldn’t handle Survivor. It is an ass-kicking, humility inducing, physically exhausting, and mentally taxing test of the human spirit. In spite of all the challenging comments I make about the Survivors, at the end of the day, I take my hat off to them for embarking on this adventure.

I really do believe that at times the contestants are happy to come to tribal simply to get warm. It’s so hard to send them back to camp especially when it’s pouring down rain and you know their fire has been extinguished by the rain and they’re probably going to have another very wet and cold night.


Ah, I’m so glad I didn’t have to sample any of the Survivor Smoothie’s. They were chunky, smelly, nasty concoctions. The guts of a sea slug? Come on. What kind of a sick mind thinks of this stuff? Oh that’s right, we do. My bad.

INSIGHT: The foods that we use for these types of challenges are not just randomly selected. We always have a local person advising us on the types of foods that locals eat on a regular basis. Once we have a list, we then cull it down to the most unusual and ”gross” foods to serve to the Survivors. As disgusting as the food may seem, we always take precautions to make sure the food is ”safe” and is served as it would be to locals. Then again when it’s sea slug guts, there’s really not much you can do other than serve it up.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: The only times I have tried foods in the past are the grubs from Survivor: Borneo, (the crunchy head was the toughest part to get down) the cows blood from Survivor: Kenya (it came straight from the cow into our glasses and tasted like tomato juice), and finally the baked tarantula (I can’t remember which season it was from) which was disgusting. Other than that I always find a way to be ”busy” when there is testing to be done.

Dave Ball and Eric did a good job of getting to Ashlee by making gagging sounds and taunting her about what she was drinking. Challenges like this one are a great example of mind over matter. There isn’t anything in those smoothies that you physically can’t get down your throat; it’s simply a choice where you put your energy and what thoughts you allow in your mind. If you spend all your energy focusing on how bad something is, you are only making it that much more difficult. Ashlee wasn’t able to block it out and she paid the price. The ultimate price.

Russell sent a huge signal to Shambo by sending her back over to Foa Foa, thus eliminating her from the reward feast. Three Galu members sat out of the Survivor Smoothie challenge and yet they all got to eat steak as reward. Shambo was one of the five who had to gut it out and she gets sent away again…? Being a leader is tough, but that move left a mark for sure and it also sent a big message to Foa Foa – Shambo is a free agent. If Shambo makes it to the merge, payback could be painful for Galu.

Russell is really starting to ”feel” the leadership role. The conversation with Russell and Dave Ball regarding making fire was about as annoying as it gets for me. Just step up and make the damn fire. Dave, quit being so passive aggressive. And Russell, when Dave offers to shake hands and make up, stick your damn hand out. Ah, but that is so easy to say when you’re not in the middle of the game of Survivor. Suffering through every minute of every hour of every day…for 39 days…if you’re lucky.

Did you see the rain during the immunity challenge? DUMPING. I love it.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: Nothing makes me happier than rain during a challenge. I am always hustling the crew when I see clouds coming. ”Let’s go, let’s step it up so we’re ready to shoot!” They usually remind me, ”Uh, we are ready to shoot Jeff. Been ready for an hour. You’re the one still fussing with your hair.” Okay that’s a lie, I don’t fuss with my hair, that’s part of the reason I wear a hat. I really do have the greatest job in the world. I throw on a shirt, shorts, a cap and some flip-flops and yell things like ”pick up your coconuts.” Who knew life could be this good? But I will say again here and now – the short sleeve shirts are gone after this season. It was an experiment that didn’t work. I look ridonkulous.

Liz is in trouble. Uh-oh. She challenged Russell. Wow, did you see him turn? He turned in a matter of three seconds. He is frightening. ”You’re walking on thin ice. Right now. Let me tell you. Thin ice. Period.” Whoa. That dude is scary. No wonder nobody votes him out. I wouldn’t. I don’t want him mad at me. Liz survived tonight because of the tremendous effort she gave at the Immunity Challenge. That is the only thing that will save her in the future. Big time effort. Russell has his sights set on taking her out and from what I’ve seen ‘ole Russell is not quick to forgive.

For those of you who respond to this blog, I’d love to hear from you regarding your two favorites to make it to the end and the two you’d least like to see win and why. I’m always curious whom the audience is pulling for. Is it the people who are standing out the most? The most likable? Are there any dark horses in the running? Does anybody want Evil Russell to make it to the end?

The most interesting thing about Tribal Council was the two very different reactions that Russell and Natalie had after voting out Ashlee. Russell was his typical joyful self but Natalie appeared truly sad to have voted out her friend.

It’s interesting because as the game continues, those little nuances begin to play a much larger role in the game. Russell had just said he trusted Ashlee and more importantly he sat there as Ashlee said she trusted him. Then he voted for her, they all did. As the votes were read, Russell was almost laughing he was so happy. That sends a signal to the others that ”trust” is a loose word with Russell. I think it’s one of his most glaring giveaways. He can’t control his reactions and sooner or later I think it is going to catch up to him.


INSIGHT: Way back in 2000 at the end of our first episode of the first season, we were getting ready to record the very first ”Next time on…Survivor
.” We were in the voice-over booth and we had a bit of a showdown as I was insistent that we leave enough time in the show for a dramatic pause between ”next time on… ” and ”Survivor.” It was one second. One silly second. But when you put a network show together, every single second counts. I’m not exaggerating. You find yourself trimming one second here, two seconds there. So to ”waste” a second for a pause was not something that was normally done, especially for a seemingly meaningless line like ”next time on.” But from the beginning Mark and I always we wanted the show to look and sound different and this was one of the many, albeit small, ways we endeavored to stay true to that philosophy. To this day the pause still lives…

Next week’s episode features one of the scariest moments I’ve had in my entire run on Survivor. Check that – the scariest. I’m not trying to over hype. I’m just giving you a tease. I don’t want you to get your expectations so high that you’re let down, but I am going to be honest that for a few seconds during next week’s episode I was really worried we were in danger of losing a contestant… forever.

Check out the exclusive deleted scene below and then read Dalton Ross’ ‘Survivor’ Watch.

[ewbrightcove “44767337001”, “44428511001”, “525”, “365”]

Comments (686 total) Add your comment
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  • Hank

    Jeff, of the cast, I’m rooting for Evil Russell and Dave. I like players who provide entertainment and gameplay and I think Dave does that pretty well. As for Russ, I love a good anti-hero and I love how insanely hard he is playing the game.

    Who would I like to least see win? Definitely Jaison as I have little respect for anyone who talks about quitting and doesn’t revel in the experience.

    • Eddy

      I agree that Jaison should not win. He is an Ivy League snob. I was amazed that no one called him on his racism during the Jazmine ordeal. He blanketed the whole south as racists. He needs to go. I like chief Russell and I thought he was spot on when sending Shambo off for a group hug. People like her never learn that you can’t criticize constantly and make friends. They’re obviously doing something right. Right?

    • theresa

      REALLY agree with you, Hank! Love little Russell & Dave!

    • Fun2Watch

      I agree with Evil Russell and Dave, but any player that is truly playing the game are the ones I would like to see in the finals. So far I see: Evil Russell, Dave, Leader Russell, Liz, and Erik. Everyone else seems to be floating along as eye candy (Natalie, Jaison, Monica, and all the other faceless and nameless people of Galu),or very busy doing something useless or senseless(SHAMBO).

      • Breeze

        I agree with Hank too – evil Russell and Dave. I really don’t want Leader Russell to win. He annoys me!! I like Mick too, but I don’t think it’s for his personality!

    • hiiiiiiiii

      I Want BRETT to win! For the first time ever in Survivor I’d like the winner to be someone who is the least known before.!

      • yoyoyo

        I agree. I want Brett to win. Wait a sec, who’s Brett again?

      • Eveleaf

        You just made up that name, didn’t you? :D

    • MARIO


      • Greg

        CAP LOCKS!!!!!!!!!!

    • Marcus

      Jeff, I absolutely love the pause in “Next time on… Survivor.” It makes the show stand out!

  • tdunf

    thanks, as always, jeff. getting your insights to the game always seem to give it that little extra something….but please, i hated fear factor and i hated the first bit of the show tonight. my face still hurts from wincing so hard. i LOVE evil russell and so far dave from galu, but even though we’re 5 eps in, it seems we still don’t know enough of the contestants to truly have faves and foils…but did i mention that i LOVE evil russell? the most interesting competitor in a while, if ever.

    • Dr Zechariah Zenith

      If there is one person I don’t want to win, it is definitely Russell H the Hustler. He plays the game as a bully more than anything else. But he is a definite sure-in for the Villains.

      So far the fan favorite for me is Kelly the Hairstylist and Natalie the Southern girl. They are not as pretty as Sydney or Sierra, but they would make top 10 hottest female Survivor.

      I am still hoping there won’t be any tribal shift soon. I have a bad feeling about it when everytime you do it. If there is any, it should be voluntarily. Like Shambo wants out why not. But not force the situation and let it play NATURALLY.

  • Brad

    I was rooting for Galu at first but since watching i’ve switched tribes and I now go for Foa Foa- I’d be glad to see anyone from that tribe win, except Natalie- she’s just boring. I can’t wait for Russell S to go, especially now after he sent Shambo over to Foa Foa for a second time, even after she pleaded for him not to. I hope Shambo does flip and takes out the members of Galu!

    • Andi

      I agree.

    • naynay

      Totally agree

    • Adam

      Flipping to a decimated tribe is not exactly a power move. Besides, if Galu wants, I’m sure every single member of Foa Foa will be looking to disassociate from their hapless tribe and will be ripe for picking.

      • KD

        You never know. Depends on the way things play out from here to the merge. Think about it: if Galu loses a couple more people (and it could happen), Foa Foa will become more united–and if Shambo goes over and is willing to flip, then just for the sake of sheer numbers they would stay together. After that it would be anybody’s game because that’s when the opportunity for other alliances to form comes around. I don’t know if Shambo is smart enough to create a power alliance on her own, but if she makes it to the merge and feels like she isn’t such an outcast, things might just start to click in her head a bit.

      • DC

        I agree with KD. Galu has not had to cement alliances- they’ve just not been to tribal enough. I believe Liz is one of the few left on Foa Foa that could be called an “outsider” with no real alliance of her own. Therefore, it seems reasonable that Foa Foa will stick together more than Galu and that the people in Galu might be more open to joining with Foa Foa’s tight alliance. And for the record- evil Russell is my fav. He’s playing the game HARD.

    • JCity

      He shouldn’t have made Shambo compete if he was intending on her not partaking in the reward challenge. Russell fails.

      • KD

        Always, always, always Russell fails. I’m really starting to hate that guy. More than Evil Russell!

      • Shelly in NoHo

        I hated how Russell S. sent Shambo to the other tribe, also. But since she was out of the previous challenge on the last episode she couldn’t sit 2 challenges in a row. So she had to compete, but then sending her to Foa Foa was just cruel!! I want BOTH Russells OUT!!

      • bluzdude

        I was thinking that as well. She choked down that vile stuff for you, dude, you can’t take the reward away. Avenge your chicken another way.

      • notluvin

        Wasn’t Shambo the one who helped them win the chickens in the first place?

    • Jackieoooo

      Jeff I gotta give you a big thank you for your honest and insightful
      blogs. I thoroughly enjoy your way
      of thinking… You go guy…
      As to my favorites: I like Dave and Liz to win. I would like to root for Shambo, but she is soooo
      gullible and frankly making some
      really stupid mistakes. I’m not talking about the chicken or the
      spear fishing thing. She is trying so hard to impress her tribe
      by boasting about being good at these things when she isn’t and shouln’t set herself up to look so stupid. And as for giving away the
      idol, what’s wrong with you girl?
      It won’t win you any allies, just
      people who think you’re a fool. I really like her alot, but she just
      doesn’t have the mental skills or
      social skills needed. I do hope she makes it to the merge,however, and feel that Russel is so hung-up and big-headed about being the leader he’s turning into a real jerk. Sending Shambo was just plain cruel. Maybe He should’ve gone for choosing the comfort stuff… Shambo just didn’t deserve that and I’m mad at her whole tribe for not supporting her even a little bit. I hope she
      kicks all of their butts off before it’s over.
      I didn’t mean to write a BOOK, but I just couldn’t help it. Bye all

  • Midge

    I’d love to see Shambo in the top 2 but I don’t think she’ll get there. I’d also like Russell to stick around for a while for the entertainment value, but not for the top 2. Maybe one of the Galu guys? Still don’t know them well enough yet…

    As for bottom 2, not liking Dave or Galu Russell so maybe them. Actually the Galu gals seem kinda bitchy so don’t mind if they go soon…

    As for the episode I LOVE that they couldn’t strategise before tribal council. I’d like to see a season where alliances were forbidden – it would be a completely different game and would be interesting to see how peoples strategies change.

    Or maybe have a twist where one random tribal council is an ‘open vote’ meaning you have to read your vote in front of everyone – you’d have to write down your vote so other people didn’t influence yours. Could you imagine if you were voting for someone who thought they were in alliance with you, and they didn’t get sent home? Would completely shake up the game :)

    • elr

      I like your ideas, especially the open vote. I was thinking they should all be like that but no randomly changing it would be best. I don’t like either Russell, because Evil Russell is a jerk and Galu Russell is an idiot for not taking the tarp. I’m not sure who I “like” and want to win at this point, maybe Liz though. She was awesome in the Immunity Challenge.

  • Jas

    Russell, Natalie and Dave

    • Katie R

      Eric and Dave

      • D

        Eric and “Evil” Russell.

  • madduxfan

    I would like to see Liz win..I like her strength at the last challenge and she is mentally sharp. I just wish she would not have confronted Evil Man…hopefully she will make it a little farther. Erik is playing a good game…we really don’t see enough of Galu to get a real good gauge on everyone, but so far he is my favorite from that tribe. But,as in the past, my favorites have not always been the winner.

    • Angie

      After last night, Liz is one of my hopes for top 2. Also , love to hate Russell.

      Least fave: Dreadlock Russell and Dave. That conversation about the fire was utterly ridiculous and both acted like children.

  • Anon

    I am really hoping that Shambo makes merge because I’d love to see a Foa Foa + Shambo combo. It would be a pleasure for me to see Galu get Timbira’d as I’ve rooted for Foa Foa since Day 1. Seems I always root for the dysfunctional tribe (like Fang in Gabon, Timbira in Tocantins, Zhan Hu in China, and Ravu in Fiji). Anyone from Foa Foa to win the game would be great because they’ve really gone through a lot and it’d be a good thing to see them rise againts Galu, despite being outnumbered.

  • Shams AKA Sir Effingvivor

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ASHLEY NOOOOOOOOO!!! I’m heartbroken!! I haven’t rooted for someone as much as I was for Ashley in a long time. She seemed like she really wanted to be there and although she did poorly at the food challenge it’s like she was really looking forward to being part of a classic Survivor challenge. I root for these people on Surivor, it’s the enthusiasm (I don’t think anybody could top Micronesia Erik but same deal).

    >>> Two contestants I’m rooting for? I’ve been rooting Russel day one as far as far as his balanced game is concerned (both physical and strategic), and Ashley as a personal fav. Now that she’s gone I gotta say Dave Ball. Last week I was starting to warm up to Natalie but this week it cooled down again. Yes Dave was shooting himself in the foot today over the fire, but I feel once he’s figured out everyone’s angle his smarts will come into play.
    >>> I’m starting to not like Russel Swan, at first I liked him, nice guy…a friggin tank physically, but this whole leader thing is too much for him. He doesn’t know how to handle it.
    >>> Tough break for Shambo, I’ve been busting her balls a bit over losing the food sources…twice, but she stepped up today and I agree with what you said before, she’s on the wrong tribe, end of story. I think around the right people she can just be Shambo without all the frustration of fitting in and eventually shine.

    • dohrayme

      Your eyesight seems to vary from most of the rest of humanity’s. Ashley wasn’t dislikeable but she only took up space–not really any good at any challenges, not engaging TV-wise, no grit, no definable reason why she merited supporters.

      • D

        I think the eyesight is ok, it is just the brain that I wonder about.

      • Shams AKA Sir Effingvivor

        She had heart, I like that. Which is more than I can say for some other characters.

  • a.e.

    From Foa-Foa, rooting for Liz. Jaison has been really negative and whiny last few episodes (its like his awesomeness when ousting Ben took everything out of him), Mick and Natalie are furniture, Russell is a borderline psychopath.

    From Galu, its hard to root for anyone b/c so few of them get screentime, and those that do are not that fun to watch (e.g. Shambo, Dave, Black Russell). The most compelling person on their team is Eric. He seems to be trying to play the game as much as possible while laying relatively low. Plus, he’s not too hard on the eyes either.

  • Jason Burchfield

    I really disliked Evil Russell the first couple weeks. He is growing on me though. I still don’t know if he is as smart as he thinks he is but it’s looking pretty close. If nothing else you have to respect his commitment to the game. I’d like to see him go to the end.

    I also like Elizabeth. I don’t know how far she will go in the game but there is a strength in her that I like. I’d like to see her do well.

    I’ve also got my eye on Monica. I’ve got a hunch that she is going to be a major player and will go a long way in the game.

    • D

      Who the heck is Elizabeth?

      • dohrayme

        She’s more commonly known as Liz.

  • a.e.

    One more thing, I really don’t think Shambo is the sympathetic character she’s made out to be by some. She DOES seem like she’s irritating. She’s constantly condescending and has no appreciation for nuance and blending in. Basically, her social game sucks and I think its because she’s probably IRL kind of obnoxious. Its easy for Foa-Foa to take to her when she’s there only for 24 hrs at a time and is putting on her sad sack routine and oversharing game clues with them. But if she was on that team, I really don’t think she would have fared that much better.

    • D

      Disagree. Foa Foa has an oddball culture about it as opposed to the Club Med thing going on at Galu.

  • S.

    Most: Liz is my top choice. She’s tough and smart and sees right through Russell’s BS, not to mention the fact that she rocked the last challenge. I’m still semi-cheering for Jaison, but he’s been getting a bad edit lately. I like all of Foa Foa, though, even Russell (at least a little bit).

    Least: Russell from Galu is horrible. Definitely don’t want him to win. After him, pretty much anyone else from Galu, with the exception of maybe Shambo. I think that’s because we don’t know them though. It’s hard to want someone to win who has only been on the screen for about 2 minutes total (Kelly? Brett? Laura? I’m not entirely sure they’re actually on this season).

  • kimmer

    Liz for the win. Please let her be the one to expose Russell. The doc is fun to look at so he could hang around til the end. Agree with “S” that we don’t know Galu well enough yet-except for Russell and Dave “chest bumping” display that made both of them unlikeable.

  • rac

    I do NOT want Shambo or jaison at the end–she’s annoying as heck and he whines too much. I would like to see Erik and Natalie at the end–they seem to be playing, loved that Natalie put friendship aside and voted out Ashlee

    • Judy

      Amen to Shambo being annoying. I am amazed that so many are sympathic to her. She shrugged off losing the fishing gear and losing the chicken.She is completely self-centered. And yes, Jaison is a whiner. Geez, I have no one to cheer for this season.

  • Julia

    The only thing I got from this episode of Survivor…. was that Russell from Galu is the real life incarnation of Cleveland Brown from Family Guy. And Evil Russell still sucks.

    • Kim

      Julia, that was too funny, and yes he also reminds me of Cleveland. I really don’t like Liz, don’t know why(could be her eye brows), I would like for ER to make it to the end he has really grown on me, and I might be in the minority here, but I like Shambo, and hope she atleast makes it to the merge.

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