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Paranoia can get the best of us, and for this week’s eliminated castaway on Survivor 43, a little too much of it unfortunately caused her demise. 

After losing their first Immunity Challenge of the season, it appeared that project manager Geo Bustamante would soon be the first person voted out of Coco, and the fourth eliminated castaway of the season. A clear majority had already been established among Karla, Cassidy, Lindsay, and James, so it only made sense for this group to execute their plan and take control of the tribe. 

But, their immediate agreement on a target seemed too good to be true for pediatric nurse Lindsay Carmine, leading her initial suspicion to turn into doubt. As a result, Lindsay managed to unknowingly talk her way into becoming the target all in a matter of two hours, according to fellow castaway, James Jones. 

Despite Lindsay eventually realizing the perception of her actions and still voting with her alliance, the group found that it would be too risky to keep a player like her in the game. After a lengthy discussion at Tribal Council, Lindsay became the fourth eliminated contestant by a vote of 4-1-1.

Pop Crave caught up with Lindsay to discuss her elimination, Vesi’s bold move in the Immunity Challenge, what she thinks of Karla’s gameplay, and more. Keep reading for the full exit interview!

So, you finally made it onto Survivor after waiting 22 years to play! How does it feel to know that you’ve lived out this lifelong dream? 

I mean, it feels so amazing! One of the things that you guys don’t know is that I was chosen to play on Season 42. 12 hours before I was supposed to fly out, I got COVID. After working the front lines of COVID and taking care of COVID patients for so long, I was absolutely heartbroken. I was so worried that that was my one chance and that I wasn’t going to get the opportunity to play again. For me to be able to come back out on Season 43 after such a long time of wanting to play was an absolute dream come true. When I first applied for the game, I was 20 years old. I was young, inexperienced, and naive, and I thought I would be able to win when I was 20. When I was 42, after watching the game for 22 years, I was wondering, “What are people gonna think of me? What kind of game can I play?” I knew that women historically make it to the end but aren’t able to win the game. I was scared that if I didn’t come out guns blazing and showing everybody that I’m a fierce competitor, that they wouldn’t take me seriously. I wanted to be able to say that from day one, I was playing the game hard. I think I did that. I think I had a great social game, and I think I was great at challenges. I wasn’t necessarily the most strategic person out there. I always joke that Karla’s out there playing chess, and I’m playing checkers right now, right? I really wanted to get my footing out there, really solidify my social game, and be an asset in challenges. That way, I could kind of go into the second portion of the game having built that trust with everybody. Knowing that in a game where you can’t trust anybody, you can trust me! I’m trustworthy, right? And I was willing to stay loyal to my people out there. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay loyal to me.

Courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

In last week’s episode, James went on the journey that Noelle ultimately got a Steal-A-Vote from. Was he truthful to the Coco tribe about what happened during it?

I’m glad you brought that up, because that kind of led to part of my paranoia. James has game out there. He’s not getting enough credit for his social game, I think. The girls and I all thought James was our number one, and we thought we were James’ number one. I think that speaks for the game that he was playing out there. But I lived in Philly long enough to know he’s a smart cookie. He’s from Philly, he’s got game, he’s tough. He’s gonna cut throats, he’s gonna play a fierce game, but we weren’t seeing that happen out there. A lot of times, James would say, “Hey, Lindsay, nobody’s around. This is a great time to go look for idols!” And I’m like, “Well, are you looking for idols?” And he’s like, “Oh, no, that’s not my game. I’m not doing that.” I also feared that James was worried that if he stayed with the three women, he would be on the bottom of our alliance, but James didn’t see it that way. James knew how tight he was with all three of us, so he wasn’t concerned about that. There was a time when Cody came to raid our beach, and I brought up the Noelle and James journey. James had told us that he didn’t risk his vote and that he wasn’t willing to risk it. While I wanted to believe it, and I really wanted to be able to trust him out there, I didn’t. When we brought that up to Cody, James started getting a little weird, and he kind of shut the conversation down. At first, I thought, “Is it just me? Am I reading into it?” But after having a conversation with both Karla and Cassidy, they felt the same way. That was one of my first red flags that maybe I wasn’t able to trust my alliance as much as I thought I could.

When Cody came to raid Coco’s camp following the reward challenge, you were not afraid to tell him that there would be some retaliation if he were to take the tribe’s machete. Was that something you truly would have held against him?

Oh, absolutely! I mean, I am definitely all about the revenge. In a game where anything goes, that’s fine, but there are going to be consequences. If you do me dirty, I will definitely do you dirty. I will stay loyal to you. I am loyal to a fault, but the second you turn on me or do anything that’s going to mess up my game or mess up the vibe that we had in place, I’ll come for you. I’m not afraid to do that.

Courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

Vesi helped Baka with their puzzle in the Immunity Challenge, which was clearly a targeted attack against Coco. This caused a lot of discussion online, so I was just wondering… Objectively speaking, what are your thoughts on this kind of gameplay?

Again, anything goes in this game. I went through Geo’s bag. In pregame, you talk a lot about what you are willing and not willing to do in the game. I know there’s two camps on this: “Do you go through someone’s bag? Is that crossing the line?” I’m never gonna go out there and trash people and badmouth them, but this is a game of Survivor. I knew that if I wasn’t willing to play a cutthroat game, the game was going to pass me by. These people were going to be doing whatever they could in order to win, and I knew I needed to do the same. What you guys didn’t see out there is in the challenge before that when James and Noelle are picked to go on the journey, Dwight asked Baka to pick Noelle. Baka did pick Noelle to go on the journey, and so their way of thanking Baka for making that decision was helping them with the puzzle. We were a threat out there. I mean, we were Coco strong, we were really dominant in challenges. While it feels great to be on the winning side of that, because I genuinely hate to lose, I knew it was putting a target on our back. I don’t blame them for targeting us. We were the tribe to beat out there.

Your alliance seemingly would have had the numbers and an easier path moving forward had you stayed in the game. Why do you think you were ultimately a bigger threat to their games than Geo?

I think I was playing the game harder. I think I had an extremely strong social game, which unfortunately, you guys didn’t get to see out there. I knew my social game would be my strength out there. I had really great relationships with each one of them individually. I’m a people person, I’m a nurse, it’s what I do. Like, I’m extremely social. I think that was a huge concern. Cassidy definitely brought that up to Karla within the first couple of days while they had some time off by themselves. Cassidy said to Karla, “Are we worried about Lindsay here? Lindsay is really personable, and she’s getting along with everyone while she says she’s with us. What’s going to happen when the merge hits? Is Lindsay gonna go off and make all these bonds with other people?” So, that definitely put a target on my back. They were also able to see that I was really strong in challenges. I was performing really well. I was doing well in puzzles. I was one of the strongest women in the game in my personal opinion, and so I think that definitely put a target on my back as well.

Courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

Going off of that, some fans are wondering if there was more to the story behind your alliance turning on you so easily. Was there anything besides your paranoia that led them to voting you out?

Sure! Karla was concerned, and she was playing both sides. While we knew that she had a relationship with Ryan and Geo, our take on that was that she was going to them, pretending like she was on their side, gathering information, and bringing it back to us. I was perfectly fine with that because at any point, I may have to work with Ryan and Geo, and I didn’t want them to ever feel betrayed by me again. In a game where you can’t trust anybody, I wanted to be the trustworthy person. If Karla wanted to do the dirty work, let her do the dirty work, and that can bury her later as long as she was bringing information back to us. Her game was starting to get messy in the sense that she was having a hard time keeping up with her lies and playing both sides. Geo was getting a little bit more confident and comfortable in the game. He wanted to call the shots, so Karla and Geo were having some issues as to who’s the real decision maker. Karla got worried that Geo was going to tell me just how much information Karla was feeding to Geo and Ryan, and it was going to blow up her game. Karla needed me to get paranoid in order to flip it, but Karla deserves more credit! She didn’t. She didn’t try to get me out and get everybody on board to vote me out just because I was paranoid like that. That would have been a horrible decision for her. Karla was able to use it in order to justify voting me out. She couldn’t tell everybody, “Hey, I’ve got the idol! Hey, I’m playing both sides!” So, this was her way of saying, “Let’s get Lindsay!”

It was mentioned at Tribal Council that discussions about the vote were going on until the very last minute. How set in stone would you say your elimination was? Are you aware of any last-minute conversations to potentially flip the vote back onto Geo?

Um, I’m not sure how much I can say on this [laughs]! I know that my tribemates were hoping that I would make it a live tribal. They did not want me to go home. I think at a certain point, they realized that while I was paranoid, it wasn’t good for their game long term. It was a pretty quick decision. I mean, they saw me kind of spiraling out of control those last couple hours. I was solid and not paranoid the entire time. Geo had been our target from day one, and so while I think Karla was pretty solid on her decision, I think for James, his mentality was like, “Hey, as long as it’s not me!” I definitely know Cassidy didn’t want the vote to be me that night. I think she felt cornered to send me home, and then I think Ryan was the same way. With Ryan and Geo, it was always Cassidy going home, as far as the two of them were concerned. I think when Karla went to Ryan and Geo and said, “Hey, in order for you guys to solidify your alliance with me, let me be the decision maker here. Let me be the one that picks Lindsay, and then I’ll give you guys the pick next time,” and that’s what ended up happening.

Courtesy of Robert Voets/CBS

You were unfortunately the fourth consecutive woman voted out of the game. Was the elimination order at this point in the game something that worried you or the women of Coco?

We weren’t! I was never concerned with my placement in the tribe. I always said that I wanted to have an all-girls alliance, but I wasn’t willing to just do any girls. I really loved Karla and Cassidy, and I was really excited to work with them. I think Cassidy cared more than Karla did about the boot order. Cassidy did not want women being voted out of this game, and I think that’s what made the decision to send me home a lot harder. I think they also thought, “If we don’t take her out now, when are we going to have the opportunity?” Especially because we were winning so much.

Who would your potential allies and targets be had you made it to the merge?

I really wanted to work with Elie! I really loved her vibe in pregame, and I just thought she was a force to be reckoned with. I was really excited. Gabler and Cody were really rubbing me the wrong way in pregame, and so I definitely didn’t want to play the game with them or take them to the end. I really, really wanted James and I to go to the end as well. I absolutely love James, and I probably felt most betrayed by him when I found out they voted me out.

New episodes of Survivor air Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.