7:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Survivor: Caramoan': Jeff Probst Spills Secrets on Sunday's Finale (Q&A)
And then there were five.
Following the blindside of Brenda Lowe on Wednesday night's episode of Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites, the remaining castaways who'll be competing for the $1 million prize in Sunday night's finale are "favorites" John Cochran, Dawn Meehan and Erik Reichenbach and "fans" Sherri Biethman and Eddie Fox.
Ahead of the two-hour finale -- airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS, followed by the live reunion show -- host Jeff Probst gave The Hollywood Reporter a preview of what viewers will see and weighed in on some of the season's biggest moments.
The Hollywood Reporter: Without revealing too much, what can you tell us about Sunday's finale?
Jeff Probst: The final episode starts off with a pretty major turn of events that completely changes the way the game will finish. What I like about this season's final five is that there are at least three who could win in any combination of finalists. Cochran, Eddie and Eric are all legit threats to win if they can just get to the end. Dawn could win with the right people sitting next to her. I think Sherri is an absolute dark horse at this point.
THR: By my count, assuming you stick with a final three, there will be an even number of jury members (eight), whereas there is typically an odd number so as not to ensure a tie. Is that accurate? Or can we maybe expect a return to the final two?
Probst: You're accurate, and yet there will still be a final three. We will have a jury of eight, and we do have a plan for how to deal with a tie. It only took us 13 years and 26 seasons to figure it out!
THR: Are you surprised that the favorites have dominated this season so far?
Probst: Kind of a boring answer, but I'm never really surprised anymore. The game has so many factors that contribute to its outcome. But generally speaking, I think the advantage of having played will always far outweigh the enthusiasm of playing for the first time. So … no.
THR: Does Eddie or Sherri have any shot at winning at this point?
Probst: Eddie absolutely. Look at the jury. He hasn't offended anybody. He hasn't voted any one out of this game. He's very likable. Unfortunately, I don't think Sherri has the same good will. Sherri is a lock for final three because she can't win. Fortunately for Sherri, she doesn't need to win; she's already a very successful entrepreneur.
THR: This season has been full of huge moments, from Malcolm's big move with the hidden idols to Brandon's meltdown and the impromptu tribal council to Andrea's huge blindside in this past week's episode to Cochran actually winning not one but two immunity challenges. What has been the defining moment of the season so far, in your opinion?
Probst: Great question -- not sure I have a great answer. I guess I'd say the collection of blindsides as a whole is probably the defining set of moments for me. Every time someone got comfortable this season, they were gone the next tribal. That's the wildcard going into the finale -- will there be another blindside? Could there be a blindside in the vote? It's been a very unpredictable season.
THR: When someone like Malcolm, who is so clearly a fan favorite, doesn't make it to the end, is that disappointing for you as a host/executive producer? Or is it better to see someone making the big moves like he did, even if it ends up getting him voted out?
Probst: It's hard not to root for someone like Malcolm simply because, like most of the audience, I like him too. He's got it all. But Survivor is a format that works regardless who wins, so in that sense we don't lose a lot of sleep. I will admit that it's been a long time since someone has garnered this much audience enthusiasm. People were so bummed when he was voted out. Is it too soon to bring him back again?
THR: Cochran's transformation has been impressive -- and somewhat shocking. What do you make of the new and improved Cochran 2.0?
Probst: I love it. Absolutely love it. I wanted Cochran back the moment he was voted out. We all did. He represents something so important -- and that is that on any given day … anybody can do anything and amaze you. I'm really proud of his growth. To make it this far is impressive. To win challenges would have been unimaginable two years ago. There are a lot more people like Cochran than Malcolm in the world, so to see him represent the underdog so well is inspiring.
THR: Overall, how do you think this season compares to past seasons?
Probst: I continue to learn the hard way that the audience will tell you where it fits in terms of ranking. I was very open in sharing that I thought this was going to be a great season. I'm going to stop doing that and let the audience tell me. I'm gonna stick to hosting! I will say that I think we are finishing very strong with some amazing back-to-back-to-back-to-back episodes.
THR: Can you give us any teasers about season 27?
Probst: We are in fact going to give a teaser about next season during the live show. I'm very stoked about what we're doing. It's another big twist to the game. Risky for sure but that's what makes it so appealing.
Watch a preview of the finale below.