‘Survivor’: Jeff Probst talks about that tsunami of loved ones and his tribal council group hug from the jurors

Entertainment Weekly once again interviewedSurvivor” host Jeff Probst and asked him questions about the most recent episode of the long-running CBS reality TV show. Since this special 4oth season celebrates winners from the past and pits them against one another, the competition has been quite intense. But on this week’s 10th episode, “The Full Circle,” love was the theme of the show. At a time when many fans of the show are self-isolating and separated from seeing their own friends and family, it was especially moving.

Yes, it was the traditional loved ones visit but on steroids and it didn’t require winning a challenge in order to participate. Probst, the old softy that he is, broke the rules. Usually only one loved one is invited to the island locale and only certain castaways have to earn the right to enjoy time with their friend or family member. But this time the emotional floodgates opened, with not only spouses and other relatives visiting but also the players’ children.

“One of the underlying goals of this season was to make it a celebration of everything we love about ‘Survivor,’ including the amazing players who have given so much over the past 20 years,” Probst says. “So when it came time for the loved ones, started thinking about the history of these players from the eyes of our audience.”

He notes that when Rob Mariano first played in 2002, he was single. But then he met fellow castaway Amber Brkich in 2004, they got married  and together have four kids. Probst wanted to have devoted fans celebrate all these “Survivor” families — including those stranded on the Edge of Extinction. You might be thinking, “Wasn’t flying all these people out to Fiji where ‘Survivor’ is filmed very expensive?” But the host relied on the kindness of the CEO of Fiji Airways to partner with the show.

One special behind-the-scenes moment that came at the very end of the episode was when the jurors at tribal council hugged the host and thanked him for allowing them to see their families, too. Prosbt’s reason for sharing that moment on the air? “In terms of expressing how I personally feel about ‘Survivor’ players, the loved ones gesture comes the closest to expressing my truth. I am in awe and forever indebted to everyone who has played the game.”

The host also gave a preview for next Wednesday’s episode: “Next week, yet another layer is added to the world of ‘Survivor’ capitalism,” which likely refers to fire tokens.

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