Jeff Probst has seen it all over the course of 45 seasons survivor, But even for him, there were some wonderful things to absorb during the period Survivor 45 the end.
For starters, there was a clever and brutal move by winner De Valladares – she didn’t tell her co-showrunner Austin Lee Conn until they were sitting in front of the jury that she had gone behind his back and told Julie Allie to play her immunity idol in the final seven.
There was also the notable fact that Dee was even at the final tribal council to begin with after Katorah Topps – who was desperate to get Dee out – changed her vote at the last minute because she didn’t trust Jake O’Kane to go through with their proceedings. Plan. Speaking of Jake, the Boston lawyer had the ultimate rollercoaster ride during the finale, which included winning a feature, forgetting keys, losing a puzzle piece during the same challenge, leading to his big idol play blowing up in his face, getting eliminated from the final immunity challenge, and finally getting his big moment in A fiery victory.
EW spoke with the host and showrunner in an exclusive interview to cover all that and more from the series Survivor 45 the end. (Also be sure to check out the chat with the host about the next season Survivor.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Dee Valladares becomes the winner Survivor 45. What is the secret of its success?
Jeff Prost: I love when you ask me questions that you know I will answer even though I have absolutely no idea by which to inform my answer. There have been some really great players this season, so Dee’s win is impressive. I thought Dee played a great game overall, which is key to delving into, but if I had to highlight just one thing that stood out, it would be the speed at which she played.
She did a really good job of ebbing and flowing based on each day’s momentum. In the early days, she focused on cementing a strong alliance with Julie, Austin, and Drew. As the game progresses, she decides that she can trust this alliance enough to forge a deeper alliance with Julie. She continued to pay attention and recognize when the game was moving to another stage, and this is what she based her decisions on.
She really didn’t make much of an effort to take charge until late in the game when she could envision a path to the quarterfinals. This approach worked for Dee, and may not be the right approach for someone else. The key to playing this game is to play the game that suits you. It is very difficult to be brave enough to trust your intuition because fear can invade you and you feel anxious about making a wrong move, but in the end it is the only way.
I think the best move Dee made was probably her final move — not telling Austin until that final tribal council that she asked Julie to play her idol — because that made Austin appear to the jury like he didn’t know what was really going on. What was your reaction the moment you dropped that bomb?
I think you hit the nail on the head. And you are not alone. When we talked to Dee on our podcast, on fire, Rick Devins made the same observation, and Dee confirmed that this was her strategy! I thought it was a great insight from Devens, so I have to give you the same credit! For me, I was more focused on my job of managing Tribal’s endgame, so the full impact of its animation didn’t really click with me until I watched it later during editing.
Catora felt hesitant at that first tribal council, and at the last minute, she changed her vote from Dee to Julie. How different would Endgame be if Catora kept her vote for Dee, who she really wanted to go out with to begin with?
Katura and Jake blew it. Jake wanted to make a big move in front of the jury, so he hid valuable information from Catora – that he would play her idol. Catora wasn’t able to fully trust Jake, for obvious reasons, so she changed her voice. Combining these two moves is probably the biggest unforced error in the game. The result was positive for me and negative for Julie. If Julie was there in the end instead of Dee, I think she would win.
Jake got so frustrated after his cups fell that he actually broke the final immunity challenge, even after I warned him against it. What was happening there? And has anyone ever seen the highs and lows of the game more than Jake? He definitely got full Survivor expertise!
I loved having Jake on the show. He was very open with his feelings during the match. He shared the hardships he overcame in his personal life, never giving up, not for a single second during his 26 days. You can’t ask for more from a player. Obviously, him winning the Final Four Bonfire Challenge was important and symbolic and it felt like a perfect ending for him Survivor Adventure.
Now that it’s all said and done, what will you remember most about this season?
From a player’s perspective, I’d put this deck with any deck. They were great to watch, fun for me to interact with, they embraced every part of the game, and gave us a truly entertaining season of Survivor. From a production standpoint, I was really proud of our team who delivered 90-minute episodes. It’s no easy feat and I was really happy with the way the season ended.
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