Those who saw "Survivor" last night witnessed a first for the series: a challenge negotiation. With the reward challenge in a lengthy stalemate, Penner and Skupin took it upon themselves to has out a compromise: Penner's tribe gets the lunch buffet reward in return for handing over all their rice to Skupin's tribe.
Numerous tribe members lamented the deal later, but one person who you won't find complaining is show host Jeff Probst. "I LOVE deal making. Once I hear a deal being made I stop talking and get out of the way. Then I usually recap the proposed deal for the audience and ask those involved if they’re going to move forward with it or not. Even if the deal gets nixed, the fact that somebody suggested it almost always results in conflict back at camp," Probst explained. "Generally speaking, I’m good with most deals so long as everybody on the tribe agrees. In this case, the deal actually saved us because that challenge was going to take a long, long, long time to finish due to the amount of mud. I was concerned nobody would ever score and we’d have to result to a tie breaker."
Indeed, before the reward challenge went to a stalemate things were getting pretty physical. Viewers were treated to numerous bodyslams, Penner putting pressure on Skupin's groin, and Skupin in turn sitting on Penner's face. All's fair in love and "Survivor" says the host. "When it comes to a physical challenge, I always give the same basic speech: 'Physical contact is allowed, but there is no punching or choking. No forearms to the face or head. No cheap shots. If the challenge takes place in the water there is no holding someone’s head underwater.' I also remind them that in order to win the game you need votes. People have to vote for you to win. So if you’re a poor sport or decide to take a cheap shot, your chances of winning the game decrease. Always. This is a social game," Probst said. "After that speech, it’s up to them. The decision of whether someone would be disqualified for inappropriate physical contact is ultimately a subjective call that I would make. I never want to pull someone out of a challenge. I don’t want to have any impact at all."
The question going into next week will be which tribe got the better deal. While Penner's Kalabaw got a nice meal, they went back to a camp with nothing. Despite some tribe mates calling foul on the deal, Skupin's long-game of starving Kalabaw may pay off. "I see both sides. It’s so easy to backseat drive. I think Skupin had a good idea in trying to wipe them out long term by taking all their rice. The risk is they are too strong for the immunity challenge and they steal momentum and you never get it back," Probst said. "From Penner’s side, I think his idea also made sense, especially given how little rice they actually had left in their container. I leave this one to the audience."
Who do you think got the better deal in the "Survivor" negotiation?