Pop Crave caught up with Jaime following her elimination to discuss how she feels about her edit, why she remained loyal to Ratu throughout the game, being surprised at Wednesday night’s vote, and more. Keep reading for the full exit interview!
What a joy you were to watch all season long! What was it like seeing the episode?
Well, it’s always surreal watching your experience transpire. And then you’re watching with friends and family. It was amazing. I loved watching. I loved laughing at it. It’s silly, and it’s fun. You know the strategy, and you kind of get to see the other side, so it’s very exciting. I loved it. I love ‘Survivor,’ so it’s fun to watch.
I want to go back to last week’s tribal council. Carson suggested that he worked with you and Lauren on that vote to get Danny out. Can you speak a bit about why you and Lauren voted out Heidi instead of Carson?
I think what’s not really shown is my relationship with Yam Yam, Lauren’s relationship with Carson, and then our relationship as a foursome. We had started building a relationship really early on in the merge, and so it was easy to trust. They had enough trust built with us, and for me and Lauren, the goal in that vote was to make it to the next day. At the time, we didn’t really know where the Tika idol was. It was like, “Is there another idol? Who has it?” So we were anticipating [that] there could be one or two idols played. And so for that, it made sense that if we want to get Danny out, we need to split the vote in case there’s an idol played and there’s a vote thrown on one of us. The safest bet for both of us to make it to the next day was writing Heidi’s name down and working with Tika to split it.
You had an interesting edit, to say the least. At some points, many fans thought that you were a shoe-in for the final three. How do you feel about it?
It’s always interesting to watch yourself back and to kind of know what happened on the island in real life and what your experience is versus the story that they’re kind of trying to tell. And so they’re reverse engineering what happens to make it make sense why someone makes it to the final three. And so, watching it back, I thought it was interesting. Each vote. You always want to see your own gameplay. But for me, the overwhelming storyline was the idol: How am I navigating this idol that I think is real but is really fake? So I think that it was interesting, but I think there were a lot of missing elements to my gameplay and the reasoning of, “How did she get to the final six?” And that was by building really strong social bonds and relationships and, obviously, working with Lauren. I don’t know if you could tell that or not; I’m not sure.
But it was interesting watching it back. I mean, it’s fun to laugh at yourself. And I think with the people that are there, we have all of the knowledge of what happened, so you have to really just take it at face value. It’s like, they only have 42 minutes to create this story. Unfortunately, not everyone’s story or perception is going to be told in that time, and I think you go into it understanding that. You have to just have fun watching yourself back and know that it’s like, “Oh, it’s gonna be silly, it’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be awkward or cringe. But ultimately, it’s just fun.”
You had the chance to work with Soka but ended up staying Ratu-strong. I think you voted for a Soka member at all but one tribal council — last night’s! Why did you decide to remain so loyal to Ratu?
So when I went to Soka, I knew that, A., it would have just been an easy vote. You know, you’re inserting yourself into this tribe, and so I knew that there was really no reason for them to be honest or want to leverage me if they’d already created bonds. Obviously, I knew that Frannie and Matt were really close. I knew that Danny and Heidi were really close. So it was kind of like I was in the middle again, just as I left Ratu. But because of the time spent on Ratu, I made a decision even before I got there that I was going to keep everything that happened at Ratu Ratu-strong and stay loyal to them. And in anticipation of a merge, going back, I was like, “Could I gather some numbers?” So that was my intention when I went to Soka.
But you kind of realize very early on, like in my conversation with Matt, that he made it very clear that he wasn’t going to budge and didn’t want to work with me. And so, for me, it didn’t make sense to work with them because it’s like, “Wait a second, but I know other people that are playing in a game.” And so I think at that moment in time, I was like, “Okay, they’re not going to share anything, so I’m not going to share anything.” So they made it very easy for me to stay Ratu-strong. And then immediately at the merge, I was like, “Hey, by the way, I’m back.” And actually, at the merge feast, there were a couple of things where it was very telling between Brandon and I that I was going to stay Ratu-strong because we kept our stories aligned during that merge feast.
Was there any chance for you, Lauren, and Heidi to come together for this vote, or was that idea dead in the water?
Yeah, I think that it was. We worked really hard to get Heidi on our side. Obviously, we had no idea about the idol; otherwise, I think we could have maybe shifted her into leveraging that tool in a certain way. But at that point, I knew that she felt very alone in the game after Danny left, and she was in it for self-preservation. And so I don’t blame her for keeping the idol to herself and playing it for herself. As much as we tried to reel her in, it was too far gone. It was hard to then explain, like, “Hey, by the way, you were the split vote every time. We love you, but it was just in case. It was insurance for us, and it just so happened that we wrote your name down.” But I love Heidi so much, and you know, it says a lot about someone when you can write their name down, and we’re still very, very close. So yeah, at that point, it was too far gone, although Lauren and I worked very hard to convince her that Carson and/or Carolyn were a huge threat, much more than Lauren and I, and that it would make sense to vote that way. And so prior to going to tribal, we had thought that Heidi was going to vote for Carolyn with us, but she kind of had other plans.
Your name was thrown out several times throughout the season, so you were clearly a threat to your tribemates. Did you get to talk with the jury at all and get an idea of how they perceived your game once you arrived at Ponderosa?
Oh, yeah, it was so fun getting to Ponderosa because then we got to tell all of our stories. My intention going into this was always to manage my own threat level and use my tools by building social relationships and kind of sending out people to do the dirty work so that there’s no blood on my hands. And a big piece of the feedback that I got was that the idol put a huge target on my back. That idol that haunted me the entire season was what they perceived to be the most threatening piece of my game. And also, going to Soka, I was going to be Ratu-strong. I lied to Soka initially, and that was also a hurdle to overcome because they weren’t going to believe anything that I said at that point. And I wasn’t going to believe anything that they said, because that’s kind of how our relationship started. It was like lying meeting lying. And so they knew that it would be Ratu-strong at the merge. They also knew that it would then be easy for me to lie about an idol or not lie. So from their perception, going into the jury house and listening to them, I had no idea how much of a target that idol put on me. I mean, I tried to mitigate it, but it obviously wasn’t successful and ended up haunting me for the whole season.
While you were in the game, did you have any idea just how much people didn’t believe your story about Kane leaving with the idol?
I had a little bit of an idea because people would come up to me and say, “Hey, by the way, nobody believes you. Like still, no one believes you.” And so that’s why, to me, after having all these individual conversations with everybody and no one believing me, it was like, “Hey, guys, let’s make this just public information and save ourselves some energy. This is what I’m telling everybody, and everybody can confirm it here.” That’s why I brought it up again in tribal council by saying, “Hey, by the way, let me tell you the truth.” And I was aware, and I am aware, of how unbelievable it sounds. I think I said that in the episode, like, “You guys are probably thinking, ‘It’s not real.'” I put myself in their shoes, and it’s like, “Would I believe that?” I mean, it’s a pretty silly lie to tell. I don’t even know that I would believe me. And really, you’re out there not believing anyone, so it’s really a mind game. It was just, you know, the idol that haunted me.
Yam Yam seemed very close to voting for Carolyn. Based on your interactions with him at camp, how close do you think he was to actually doing it?
Yam Yam and I had a relationship that started right at the merge. We watched the very first sunset together, which was such a special moment to me. It’s very easy to fall in love with Yam Yam. He’s so charming that building a relationship with him was really important to me, and that’s something that’s really not seen: how much we would talk strategy together. You know, he was using his resources, me being one of them, very wisely in order to advance his game, and going into that final vote, Yam Yam and Carson had a goal to have Lauren and I believe that Carolyn was the biggest threat there. And at the time, Lauren and I — I won’t speak for Lauren — didn’t really believe her to be very threatening. To me, it was always Carson. It’s like, “Wait, but Carson’s a threat in this game, and Yam, why don’t you want to? But okay, I’ll go with it if this is where we’re going to put the votes this week. Then sure, let’s put it on Carolyn. And wow, I had no idea. I’m glad you’re telling me this now that she’s threatening.” Carolyn did a very great job at managing her threat level. And so, seeing the way that the final votes came out, I was surprised. I was surprised that someone would want to take that big of a risk. But then it wasn’t surprising, because I wasn’t really aware of Carolyn’s game, so to me, I would want to sit next to her because she was really great at hiding her threat level and positioning herself so that she had Yam and Carson bring her the information. And so I was shocked. But there were a couple of telltale signs, like right before tribal, Carson came to me to double check, like, “Hey, this is what we’re doing,” and that was something that he never really did. So at that moment, I was like, “Wait, oh my gosh, it’s going to be me! *Gasp!* This is weird.” You just get that intuition. There’s something eerie that happens when it’s your time… You just kind of know, and you’re like, “Whoa, wait, everything feels a little different.” And so yeah, to answer your question, long story longer, it was interesting to see that that’s what Yam Yam decided to do last night because I thought, “Am I a threat? I’m not a threat? Am I a threat?”
You’re officially juror #6! What are you looking for in the winner of ‘Survivor 44’?
I am looking for a socially strong player who can articulate how they moved through the game and got to the final three.
New episodes of Survivor air Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.