Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor was a mixed bag for viewers following an unclear edit, a nonsensical vote, and perhaps a bit too many confessionals from a certain someone.
Moving along, individual immunity was up for grabs for the first time this season… but in a different way. This week, players were divided into six pairs and would compete in waves until only four players remained, those of which would battle it out for the coveted immunity necklace. In the end, Gabler outlasted Cody, granting him safety at tribal council.
Back at camp, Vesi and Baka had discussed finally solidifying an alliance together. But similar to last week’s episode, which saw the elimination of Baka’s Elie Scott, this alliance just didn’t seem to be written in the stars. After establishing to vote together and target James, who had openly found a clue to an advantage (which was later revealed as Geo’s respawned Knowledge is Power advantage), Cody and Jesse voiced a different plan, which involved blindsiding one of their own, Noelle or Dwight. While Jesse preferred for Noelle to get the chop, he conceded with Cody’s wish to target Dwight in an effort to make him feel in control of the vote.
That plan went through, leaving Dwight as the seventh eliminated castaway of the season, just a day short of making the jury.
Pop Crave caught up with Dwight to discuss leaving the game with Jeanine’s idol, going into tribal council knowing he had a target on his back, and more. He also shared his thoughts on himself, James, and Ryan being the only players to receive votes last night. Keep reading for our full interview!
You mentioned this in your exit piece at the end of the episode, but you were ONE day away from making the jury. After “Earning the Merge” last week, how bummed were you to find out you wouldn’t be on the jury?
Very. I knew the whole time, too. On the island, I was like, “Day 14 is the last prejuror,” because we knew when the earlier flight home was. We just kind of figured out when the person’s gonna be the last prejuror, so it sucks that the day I feared the most was the day I went home. I was trying to avoid it so much. I was like, “I don’t want it to be me!” It’s actually kind of funny. The whole day, Noelle and I were arguing about whether there would be a vote that day, ‘cause she was convinced there wasn’t. So, Noelle and I were super close, but we were just in a petty argument of like, “No one’s gonna go out today!” I was like, “Someone is getting voted out today! I know I’m right!” Tree mail came so late that she was convinced she was right. I go to get the tree mail, and I was like, “Haha, I told you so! There is someone going home today! There is a tribal council!” The irony was that it was me, so it’s just kind of comedic how it all worked out, but I was super bummed about it for sure. As a fan, it sucks. You think you make the jury and get to see everything, but it happens.
Since merging, only members of Baka and Vesi have gone home, despite you all supporting each other during the tribe phase of the game and you all having discussions about wanting to go after Coco. Why do you think you guys couldn’t keep things together?
For my vote with the Elie vote, that was actually to further Baka and Vesi. I know it seems counterintuitive, but Gabler made it very clear – and I mean very clear – that he was not going to work with Elie long-term. For me, it’s like I’m getting along well with Elie and Jeanine – like, we bonded immediately when we got to merge – but for my long-term game, I kind of need Baka and Vesi, because that’s just strict numbers. If we vote out Elie, then Gabler is satisfied. He really doesn’t have too many allies outside of the Baka/Vesi situation, so he’s going to be with us, and I feel like I can grab the other Baka members as well. That’s eight, and then we can go forward together. My vote, I didn’t realize how much Cody wanted me gone. That’s a blind spot for me. I knew he kind of was wary of me for a while, but I just didn’t think he would take the shot at me so early. That’s what caught me off guard. I didn’t think Jesse would go along with it. So, yeah, it’s weird how we really wanted to use our numbers to get Coco out, and we just keep cannibalizing. I’m just like, “They are literally four strong together, and they voted together in the past two tribal councils! Like, are you blind?” But, you know, you can only say so much [laughs].
At the top of the episode, we saw a conversation between you and Owen where you discussed you, Noelle, and the remainder of Baka working together as a six. What was your relationship with Jesse and Cody at this point that made you want to exclude them from this plan?
I just don’t think I mentioned… I actually wanted to include Jesse, if I recall. As for Cody, I think with talking to Owen, it was more of a, like, “After that happens, then what do we do?” And to be completely honest, this wasn’t the entire truth or how I felt about it, because what am I gonna do? Tell Owen, “Hey, I want to work with the majority of Vesi!” Like, no. I’m going to tell him, “Hey, let’s work with all of Baka and then just little Noelle and I, we’ll be down 2-4, but it’s fine!” In reality, we had Noelle’s steal-a-vote if we still had it at that point. I would’ve wanted Jesse included for sure, and maybe not as many Baka members, so that was just me telling him whatever I needed to to make sure Baka and Vesi stayed solidified. So, that’s what that was. It wasn’t the entire truth. Nothing is ever at face value in the game.
After voting out Elie last week, fans were a bit confused to see Jeanine be so trusting of you, enough to the point where she gave you her idol. How did you two establish this trust throughout the game and after that vote?
I just told her the reasoning. I was like, “Listen, I felt like y’all two were getting targeted pretty harshly by Gabler.” She did have to go there. At that point, it was kind of for the sake of Baka and Vesi. We made that very clear to her. Like, “Baka and Vesi is how we’re gonna get forward in this game.” Noelle was a major part of this reconciliation as well. To be clear, Elie, Jeanine, Noelle, and I got along super well when we met on Day 12, but even after this, Noelle made a good talk to her. You see in the episode of her saying, “Justine went home early, but I bounced back and I recovered.” I think that really helped with Jeanine trusting the two of us again, seeing how we recovered from a blindside. Even though we really helped in her blindside of Elie going home, it’s like, “This is your best option going forward. Like, we have your back. We want to work with you.” We were forthcoming with our reasons, and the others weren’t so much.
Speaking of Jeanine, it looked like she was tapping on your shin or trying to grab her idol after realizing you were going to be voted out. Were you able to get that back to her?
She did not have the idol. She did not get that back.
A segment in the episode showed Jesse plotting against Noelle, until Cody threw your name out and Jesse went along with it. Were you surprised by this at all, and how did you perceive your relationship with them at this point in the game?
Cody, I kind of was wary that he might come for me at some point, but I didn’t think it would be so soon. Especially because the day before, I was going to bat for him super hard of like, “Cody cannot go home! Cody cannot catch votes!” Like, you see Cody didn’t get a single vote, even with a split plan because all of Vesi was going to bat for him super hard. That’s why I was taken aback, like, “You literally saw I was safe and could have come for you… and didn’t.” And then the next day you come for me. From my perspective, it didn’t make too much sense of why. If you see I’m willing to put in a lot of work to save you, even when I don’t need to… Like, my life was on the line. I could just sit back and watch things happen. So, that’s why I was kind of taken aback by why that happened. Also, Jesse turning on me too. I didn’t think the timing was right, but like I said, they have their own reasons for doing things. You know, I don’t know their perspective on everything.
In hindsight, do you spot any red flags that signaled your blindside?
Going into tribal, to be clear, I did know I was catching five votes, which I know is gonna sound weird. It’s like, “Why didn’t you play the idol?” So, I knew Coco’s voting for me, and then Sami’s flip was also pretty evident based on who he talked to right beforehand. So, right before tribal, I was talking to Owen like, “Hey, you need to undo the split vote and vote for James, not Ryan,” and then our conversation gets cut short because we get pulled for tribal at that moment. We had maybe five minutes before tribal, and we had this conversation. Talking to Jeanine at tribal, I was like, “Vote for James, not Ryan.” Our conversation gets cut off because we get called out for whispering. At that point, it’s like, “Okay, do I play the idol, or do I trust that one of them will listen to me and we undid the split successfully?” I went, “Go with trust,” because if it’s someone else’s idol and you play it incorrectly, your game is shot to shit. Like, you’re doomed. So, it was trusting in my allies there instead of giving into paranoia. In that case, the paranoia was my gut telling me what’s going to happen.
You just mentioned being called out for whispering, which is something we’ve seen lots of in the new era of Survivor. Was it shunned upon for Season 43?
Um, I don’t really know. I think Jeff is just being a host. Jeff just notices. He’s doing his job. I’m not saying I got called out unfairly. Like, Jeff’s a host. If I recall the exact wording, he was asking a question to James across the room, and I was like, “Okay, I can talk to Jeanine without getting caught,” and I started whispering to her. Jeff says, “For the first time this season, we have whispering at tribal council!” I was like, “I got away with it! Please! Don’t cut me off!” But like I said, it’s his job. That’s why you have time back at camp to have those conversations, and unfortunately, I found out about Sami’s split so late that I couldn’t have conversations with enough time at camp, so I tried to do it at tribal. I didn’t want to make it a live tribal because that’s just asking to go home the next damn day. Live tribals never work out long term for anybody, so…
Sami was the only Baka member to vote you out, which we’ve spoken about a bit. Were you ever given an explanation for his vote switch?
He just got pulled in last minute and just kind of said, “Okay!” So, nothing crazy. He got told that they have the numbers. If I recall, he did not know Jesse and Cody were in on the plan. He just thought he was the fifth and breaking the 4-4, and that’s why I didn’t play that idol, because I also thought he was the fifth. I thought we had 7-5 on them.
A secret scene was released that shows Karla trying to convince Gabler that Lindsey went home with the Coco tribe’s beaded immunity idol. Elie also told us that Ryan told her that Karla did in fact have the beads. At that point in the game, who did you believe truly had Coco’s idol?
I definitely didn’t give it any thought, to be honest. I knew it wasn’t Ryan. That’s all I knew for certain; it wasn’t Ryan because he would have (1) probably told me, and (2) he was on the outs, so I feel like he would have used some kind of leverage or something. I didn’t think it was James because the way he behaved with Knowledge is Power… he acted desperate, like he needed an idol. He was focusing on the idols a bit much, so I was like, “Okay, it has to be one of the girls on Coco.” I didn’t know who. Elie figured it out from Ryan that Karla had it, but she was so focused on trying to survive that she didn’t pass that information onto anybody. So when she left, so did the knowledge of Karla’s idol; Karla’s idol is the only one that’s secret. Cody told Vesi that he had the idol, and that spread pretty quickly, and Jeanine’s was made public immediately.
Did anything in particular catch your attention or give you any further clarity to your exit than what you already knew?
Ah… The only thing I wish I knew further up to, like, why… how do I say this? I knew Cody was against me. I didn’t think he’d take the shot then. I wish I knew why he wanted to do it then, because like I said, I thought I showed enough loyalty to be like, “I know we’re not like BFFs, but I still want to work with you!” That wasn’t reciprocated, but everything else kind of aligned with what I expected or was told. Coco was given a name, it was told it was me, Sami was given the name, told it was me, and they just got the numbers to get me out. It’s fine [laughs]!
Final question, and this is a little bit of a tougher question to ask. The only players to receive votes were you, Ryan, and James. Fans are wanting to know your thoughts on only Black players receiving votes, and what you think the motivation of that was.
Yeah, so that’s actually in part to why… Did I tell you I talked to Ryan about that before I left? I can talk about that later, but yeah. What happened there… Baka and Vesi, of course, we had our whole alliance. I think in the water, it was Noelle, Jeanine, Owen, and they came up with the plan to split it on Ryan and James. Then, we were told as a cast by Jeff before the challenge, like, “Hey, by the way, five of the first six votes have been women! Just an observation!” We were told that. Jeff just being a host, he’s being completely neutral. He’s just giving us information. Five of the first six votes were women, saying that’s historic. Coming back… it was unspoken. It’s like, “A woman’s not going home tonight.” Like, that’d be bullshit. For them in the water, they were like, “Okay, well, Baka/Vesi is a thing, we can’t vote out the women of Coco, so then it has to be Ryan or James.” At the same time, in parallel, Cody and Jesse are trying to get me out of the game. So, as the day is going on, I’m realizing the three Black players are the ones getting votes. That’s why later on in the day, I see Ryan, and I actually felt close to Ryan out there. I was, like, crying my eyes out to him. I was like, “This is not how I want it to go,” but like, that’s how things are happening. He calmed me down from that. That was nice, and I really appreciated that from him as a person. It’s unfortunate how all the Black players got votes on that episode. I think it’s so many factors as well. It was tough to even be a part of that. It’s like, “One of us is going home.” That’s not what I wanted. Going into the game from my perspective… I really didn’t want to vote Nneka out either! Even on Vesi, I didn’t want to vote Nneka out but I also couldn’t vote Cody because of challenges at that point. We didn’t want to keep losing, and then I don’t think I could have convinced them to vote out Jesse, so it had to be Nneka at that point. It was just… it was a nightmare for me. That day was a nightmare, the only options being me, James, or Ryan. That was really tough.
New episodes of Survivor air Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.