Why Survivor's Jeff Probst Thinks Ethan's Medical Scare Was So 'Inspirational'

Ethan Zohn Survivor: Winners At War CBS

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Survivor: Winners At War episode "I Like Revenge." Read at your own risk!

Survivor: Winners At War had a shocking blindside last week, and Ethan Zohn made his way to the Edge of Extinction with the rest of the eliminated competitors. There, the four tackled what may have been one of the most physically demanding challenges the season had seen thus far. Each player was tasked with carrying a sizable piece of firewood down a mountain, and then back up for more in order to get Fire Tokens.

The challenge took most players to their absolute limit in terms of exhaustion, and things got really scary momentarily for Ethan Zohn. Zohn had to be evaluated by medical staff in the middle of the challenge, out of fear that he may faint due to exhaustion. Ultimately, the former Survivor champion and cancer survivor decided to buckle down, and push through his light-headedness. In doing so, Jeff Probst said Zohn gave the CBS series an "inspirational" and "beautiful" moment.

The medical moment with Ethan was unexpected and as so often happens on Survivor turned into a truly inspirational moment. Ethan came back to play again because he wanted to show you can recover and thrive even after cancer. I am certain he didn’t anticipate it being this hard, but what you saw was the heart of a lion. Ethan has so much in his emotional tank that it allowed him to finish something that was physically punishing. And the other three accompanying him for his final trip was one of the most beautiful moments in our history.

It certainly was one of those Survivor moments that was about more than the game, so credit to Natalie Anderson, Amber Mariano, and Danni Boatwright for joining Ethan Zohn on his final walk up the mountain. With Winners At War comprising of all previous winners, obviously there's some added camaraderie between these competitors even though they're all still very much in competition for that $2 million prize.

Jeff Probst confessed to EW that the winners exceeded his and the crew's expectations, and that they expected more failure. Probst said the challenge was constructed and meant to be so difficult that they actually didn't know if any of the competitors would be able to get it done.

This effort task was Herculean in terms of the amount of effort it took to accomplish. One single trip to the top of the Edge will wind the most fit Survivor player. Then you have to walk back down. Then you have to do it again and again and again. Twenty times. We knew it would take them all day but we didn’t know if anyone would finish, let alone all four. It’s one of the most dramatic sequences we’ve ever done on the show. I was blown away by the effort of all four players. I can’t stress how difficult that task was and they’re not eating anything other than a handful of rice every day.

Climbing a flight of stairs on only a handful of rice could be challenging for the average person, let alone a mountain. The context makes Ethan Zohn's decision to continue on all the more inspiring. He and each of the others should get a second chance at heading back to the island based on that challenge alone, though we all know that's not how it works. Will Zohn be the one to return to the game, or will another on the island end up making a comeback instead to finally take a shot at Rob or Sandra?

Survivor: Winners At War airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on the competition, and to stay up to date on all the latest major news in television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

I like good television but also reality television. His day largely consists of balancing his workload between reporting on the latest and greatest news in Star Trek and other sci-fi, as well as 90 Day Fiancé, WWE, Big Brother, and more.