The Coco tribe faced their second consecutive loss on Wednesday’s episode of Survivor 43, leaving project manager Geo Bustamante as the fifth eliminated castaway from the game.
The vote, a blindside led by his tribemates Karla Cruz Godoy and James Jones, proved to be the season’s most dramatic yet as fans entered tribal council with three castaways seemingly on the chopping block. In the end, Geo went home by a vote of 3-2, leaving his #1 ally, Ryan Medrano, on the outs as Coco heads into next week’s long-awaited merge.
Pop Crave caught up with Geo to chat about his blindside, knowing about Ryan’s plan to throw the immunity challenge, Karla playing both sides of Coco, and more. Keep reading for the full exit interview!
In the beginning of the episode, you explained your vote for Cassidy. In doing so, you sort of put the blame on Ryan, saying it was his idea. Was Ryan ever aware of this?
Yes. Actually, Ryan and I had a conversation about that, because he was never really on the bottom. I was on the bottom from the very beginning of the first five minutes of the season. So, because of that, I had spoken to Ryan and I was like, “Hey, if anything happens, is it okay if I tell Cassidy that it was you?” Because I’m the one that’s being looked at as, you know, “You’re on the bottom already, so might as well take you out next!” He was like, “It’s fine.” He even had a conversation with her. I don’t think they showed him explaining the entire situation and why. But yeah, we had a conversation. He knew about that.
You had mentioned in a confessional that you thought Cassidy was completely on the outs. What was the social interaction like around camp to make you believe that?
Well, around camp, she… We had an incident where because I was always on the bottom, I would cook, I would try to do the most out of camp and try to help out with as much as I can. That way, I wouldn’t get voted out because I wanted to stay. One of the times that I remember that her and I had our first difference was when I was chopping yuca or cassava, and she came up to me and goes, “You should chop it up in different shapes so that way we can feel like we are eating something different.” I kind of felt some type of way about that comment, and that’s where everything kinda started going down south. She also expressed a few other things about how nobody ever listens to her, and she started complaining about stuff quite a lot. I kind of felt, like, there’s so many people that want to be on Survivor, that want to play the game. I think complaining about the food and complaining about little things like not being comfortable… This is what we came here for, so that was just my mentality about it. That was rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. Everybody has something negative to say about that right there, that whole entire incident, and different incidents that were happening, or complaints that were happening. That’s why I felt like she was on the outs. I felt like people would want to work with anybody else but her, because she was always complaining. That was just from my point of view, but yeah.
We now know that Ryan threw the immunity challenge. He said in a confessional that it was decided at the last minute. Did he really go rogue in that moment, or did you both discuss throwing it beforehand?
I know that before the challenge, he had mentioned to me that he wanted to throw the challenge just to get Cassidy out. He also kind of worked with Cassidy for a while, but I know he had mentioned that. I didn’t want him to throw the challenge only because I knew that I had a high chance of going home as well, because it was like a 50-50 situation. I don’t know if he did it on purpose or if he did it at the last second and tried not to win, because we were doing pretty good, but that’s just how things went down.
So, you were picked by Vesi to go on a journey with Jesse and Jeanine. While there, did Jesse explain to you why they chose you for this go-around?
No. I think people just looked at me, and everyone kind of assumed that I was at the bottom. That’s what I think happened. Getting so close to the merge, I feel like it’s critical for people to have people to work with, you know? Why not pick on the person that might look like he’s on the outs, or the quiet person? I think that’s the reason why they probably chose me, assuming that I might be the one on the outs. That’s why I think they chose me.
At the journey with Jeanine and Jesse, you were subtly trying to persuade them to not risk their vote and allow you to get the advantage. What were your discussions with them like, and why do you think they ultimately decided not to do you that favor?
I think that everybody, but the three of us specifically, went there to play the game. We didn’t want to have any regrets, and that’s what I kind of gathered from what they said. They wanted to risk their votes, they promised their family members that they were gonna do whatever it takes and risk it. At that point, I was like, “Crap!” But yeah, that’s what I got from them. I went and risked it anyway, because that was my mission: To go to this journey, risk it, and see if I can get the advantage. That way, we [Coco] can go into the merge with some type of power in our pockets.
Fans were a bit surprised to see you relay the truth about your journey to Karla, James, and Ryan, as opposed to only Ryan. Why was that?
I didn’t have time. When I came back, I didn’t have time to talk to Ryan. I wanted to talk to Ryan, but I just didn’t want Cassidy to know. I didn’t want to share that in front of everyone, because I didn’t want Cassidy to know that we had an advantage. I wanted to use that advantage to protect my tribe going into the merge. I didn’t want Cassidy to have that knowledge, because in my head, she was supposed to be out that night and I was supposed to stay. That’s the reason why. I came back and a few minutes later, we had to go to tribal council. I was beating myself up. I was like, “I should’ve done something! Why didn’t I say something?!” But yeah, I didn’t even have time to strategize, talk to people, and see if I can get people not to vote for me, or say something that could have changed my destiny, you know?
After finding out that you received the Knowledge is Power Advantage, Karla voiced concern that it could possibly be used against her. Do you think her concern was valid?
No… Well, honestly, I feel like it was at that moment. I didn’t know it was gonna be me. After leaving, I realized that it was going to be me regardless. Being on the bottom for such a long time, and since things didn’t really make sense for Karla to work with me and Ryan, I realized that it might be me regardless. If she knew I had an advantage or not knowing I had an advantage, I think it just had to be me that night. I don’t think that would have changed anything, Karla knowing or not knowing.
Speaking of that, Karla did find your tribe’s Beware Advantage pretty early on. At this point in the game, what were the discussions like on Coco regarding idols and advantages?
Everybody was playing the game. Nobody was really looking for an idol. I guess everybody felt pretty comfortable. I was looking for an idol. I was looking for food and looking for an idol. I climbed almost every single tree that I saw thinking there might be an idol there. I flipped almost every single stone that I thought looked funny or weird, thinking there was an idol under it. I even opened coconuts, and I didn’t even know how to use a machete. I don’t know, maybe Survivor decided to hide an idol inside of a coconut this summer! I don’t know! I felt like I was looking. I was trying to play the game. Even if I got caught and even if people knew, I was like, “You know what? I don’t want to leave the game and have regrets. I want to play the game and know that I climbed that tree.” And I’m so happy that I did, even if I went home that night. That was the talk about idols, but nobody really wanted to face it or say that they were doing it.
You had mentioned in a confessional that you were confident you had the numbers to send Cassidy home, but the edit mainly suggested that you had a strong allegiance with Ryan. What made you perceive your social standing so well at this point in the game?
There’s a lot of conversations that weren’t shown on the show, as far as me and Karla having a lot of very close moments. We became kind of like friends, almost. I liked her. She was a good person on the show, and I thought she was my friend as well. Playing the game with her, we had many moments where we were about to cry on each other. We were like, “I love you, you love me,” and everything. They didn’t show that part, but I feel like I felt comfortable with her. I trusted her and needed to trust more than one person besides Ryan. After that point, I felt like we had the numbers, because I was trusting someone like my right hand and my left hand, basically. That’s why I felt like I had the power on my side if someone like Cassidy would want to take me out.
We spoke with Lindsay last week who had mentioned that Karla had a close relationship with you and Ryan, and Karla would relay information back to Lindsay, Cassidy, and James. Did you ever have any suspicions that she was playing both sides?
Oh, absolutely! I actually knew she was playing both sides. When I had the incident with Cassidy about the cassava, I remember that I walked away from that situation because I didn’t want to be rude, and I didn’t want to be mean. I walked away, and I spoke to Karla and Ryan about what had happened. I told them that I was kind of frustrated after she told me about the cassava part. Like, “We should chop it differently.” I was like, “Well, maybe you should cook next time if you want to.” She started giving me all this attitude… After I told Karla that information, she turned around and told Cassidy absolutely everything, word for word. Cassidy decided to come back to me, and they confronted me about what Karla had said. I actually used that to my advantage, and I brought it up to Karla and said, “I know you’re lying to us, because you’re giving them all the information that we’re giving you. At this point, I know you’re playing both sides, and I just want to be honest with you. I want to work with you. I know that you’re playing the game that you want to play. We’re all here trying to play the game, but I really want to work with you, and I want to be loyal to you. I don’t want to have to worry that you’re lying to me and stuff.” So I knew she was playing both sides, but I still gave her a chance as far as me wanting to work with Karla. She said… I don’t remember exactly what she said. I think she apologized or something like that. She’s like, “Yeah, you’re right,” and that’s why I trusted her. We had a very good connection, but I kind of knew that she was playing both sides. I just chose not to see it or push it.
In hindsight, do you recall any potential red flags that could have signaled your blindside?
People getting really comfortable. I mean, I just came back from a journey. Up to this point, I still felt like Karla, Ryan, and I were still working together, and James also. I felt like James was pretty cool, so I felt like maybe the four of us could take it all the way to the end. Seeing people be very comfortable, and seeing Cassidy in previous situations of freaking out, giving people attitude, or blowing up people’s games, like the way she did with Karla by showing me that Karla had told her everything, I felt like she was a little too comfortable to not be freaking out about going home that night. I was like, “Something’s weird.” That was a red flag for me, but at the end of the day, I can’t beat myself up because what happened happened. It made sense at that moment. I didn’t say what I needed to say, maybe, or I didn’t acknowledge certain things, and that’s just how it went down.
One of the reasons your tribemates voted you out was because they felt that you were getting too cocky. Would you say you played with a little too much confidence?
So, one thing that I was trying to do was play the game like it was my second time playing the game. I can tell you right now that I am not the most confident person out there. I’m very shy, but I try my best to not look like I’m shy. I’m not blaming it on the edit or anything like that because I love Survivor, but there’s ways to make somebody look a certain way just by chopping certain words, or just saying certain things that could make me look very cocky. I did get comfortable, but I don’t see myself as being very cocky. I apologize if I look like that and if I made somebody feel some type of way, but I didn’t even recognize myself on TV when I saw that. I was like, “Wow, that’s crazy! How did that happen?” That’s just part of reality TV. I’m still grateful that I made it. I have respect for everyone that’s on the show and respect for everyone that played the game, however they played it. They obviously did something better than me and made it one episode further than me, so I’m just grateful for everything at this point.
New episodes of Survivor air Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.