For the first time in Survivor’s 42-season history, host Jeff Probst and producers decided to temporarily halt a challenge during this week’s episode.
In the immunity challenge, the three tribes started off by standing on a platform in the ocean. They would then swim to a marker where a ladder was located at the bottom of the ocean floor. After getting the ladder, the groups would take it to another area where it could be used to retrieve a key to unlock a set of sandbags.
When Probst wasn’t praising the Herculean effort by Jonathan Young, he would bring up the incredibly difficult conditions in the water as the castaways were continuously getting pushed off course. “It is one of the most turbulent days ever seen on Survivor,” he commented.
Probst spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the challenge and the choppy waters which got worse as time went on. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that every five minutes it was gaining in intensity,” he said, adding, “From that point forward, the ocean continued to increase in ferocity. It didn’t ever back off, there was never a calm moment, never a chance for players to catch their breath. It just kept pounding, wave after wave.”
At one point in the challenge, Probst mentioned that “this challenge is much more difficult today due to the amount of turbulence in the water.” He elaborated on how the Dream Team didn’t run into these same issues when they went through it.
“When we tested the challenge a few days earlier, the water was calm and our Dream Team had no problem with any of the stages. But we knew today would be much more difficult for the players,” he said. “And just like a tornado, the wind and the swells were gathering steam by the minute.”
With safety swimmers observing the contestants, Probst said the crew wasn’t concerned about their well-being. They were more worried about panic setting in as these people tried to stay afloat and deal with the incessant waves crashing into them. Probst said the entire ordeal lasted 22 minutes before it was called, but also pointed out that despite the circumstances, none of the players called for help.
“The decision to stop the challenge was made because we could see that the conditions were continuing to get worse,” he said. “The swells were getting bigger, the waves more intense. There was no let-up coming and we knew that they had exhausted themselves to the point of simply not having enough strength left to finish.”