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Survivor Host Jeff Probst Shares What He Thinks Is The Defining Moment Of Season 41

survivor's jeff probst
(Image credit: CBS)

Warning: some spoilers below for Survivor 41!

Survivor 41 has certainly been a season of firsts. The tradition of 39 days on the island was cut down to a meager 26, thanks to Covid-19 protocols. Executive producer/host Jeff Probst is no longer saying things like, “Come on in, guys!” A ton of new twists and advantages have also been added to the mix – and some of the contestants are not happy about them. But the same old scheming, scrambling, plotting and blindsiding have endured. Out of it all, Probst weighed in on what he thinks is Season 41’s most defining moment so far.

And to reiterate, the options are plentiful. When considering the defining moment of the season, fans might suggest the hourglass twist that changed the course of everything post-merge. Or Xander Hastings’ fake idol scheme that exposed true loyalties. However, Jeff Probst shared to TV Line that the nexus of this season was the Shan Smith vote-out. He said:

My vote would go for Ricard turning on Shan as the defining moment of the season. As a pair, you have to put them up there with JT and Stephen, Domenick and Wendell or Denise and Malcolm. But their relationship was really unique because of the way they fought like brother and sister. It kind of blew my mind how fast they became like family and how openly they talked about eventually taking each other out. It was fascinating.

I'm leaning towards agreeing with him. Shan Smith was the odds-on bet for Sole Survivor right up until her elimination. But the big move came at the expense of the show's first ever all-Black alliance – opening up huge dialogues later on about how much representation and background play into the game. Also, to the host's point, it set down a winner’s path for another fantastic strategist/comp beast in Ricard Foyé. According to the veteran producer, in fact, it was the ultimate clash of two worthy opponents. He continued:

And both were great players who shared equally in the decision making and then fought for credit. You could see their showdown coming, yet you didn’t really want it to happen because they were so fun to watch. The way it went down was so unexpected and yet so inevitable… a brutal betrayal. Shan knew that Deshawn and Danny were targeting Ricard, but instead of joining them, she stayed loyal to Ricard and told him. And what did Ricard do? He saw an opening and seized the opportunity. He persuaded Deshawn to join him and took out Shan with a devastating and brilliant blindside.

Ricard Foyé, Xander Hastings, Heather Aldret, Erika Casupanan, and Deshawn Radden are all now in the final five of Survivor 41. On her way out the door, though, Shan Smith told Foyé that she was voting for him to win the million-dollar prize. Who knows if that's still the case – because a few other remaining players should have a story to tell at the final tribal.

The finale, much like the season itself, will be a little different this year as well. Instead of a live reading of the votes by Jeff Probst back in the states, the Sole Survivor will be crowned immediately after the jury cast their votes on the island. Additionally, Probst explained that the cast will then go into a one-hour aftershow with the final three still “in their game clothes, in game mode, still starving, still exhausted.”

At least it's been confirmed that there is a final three instead of a final two, the latter of which many fans had speculated might happen. But unfortunately for them, Heather Aldret and Erika Casupanan likely will not be the winners of the season as a result. They could have duked it out together in a final two but, with one of the boys slipping into one or all of the seats, the odds are now stacked against them. To find out what happens, tune in to Survivor 41's two-hour finale tonight on CBS at 8 p.m. EST!

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.