Wednesday night’s episode of ‘Survivor 44’ was undoubtedly the season’s best yet, giving viewers a satisfying hour of television filled with storyline, competition, and drama.
The ninth episode saw the elimination of law student Kane Fritzler, who left the game in part due to his decision to sit out of this week’s immunity challenge. The Canadian castaway’s purpose for doing so came after a negotiation with Jeff, where he asked four contestants to give up their shot at safety in return for a bag of rice that would be shared among the remaining players. During the negotiation, the group agreed not to vote out any of the non-competing players: Kane, Lauren, Carson, and Heidi. But hey, this is ‘Survivor’ after all… Despite their promises, Kane’s strategic prowess and physicality posed a threat to the original Soka and Tika members, who sent our favorite D&D enthusiast to the jury by a scattered vote of 5-3-1-1.
Kane talked us through last night’s blindside and revealed that he and Jaime were prepared to split from Ratu later in the game. We also chat D&D, Pokémon, and more. Keep reading for the full exit interview!
We had a dramatic, live tribal council last night. How long did it last, and what were some of your conversations like that we didn’t get to see?
I mean, it wasn’t hours, but it was a long period of time. It’s hard to keep track of time out there. But it unfolded a lot. You kind of see this sort of tension building as everyone is sparring with Jeff’s answers. And then finally, it was like, “I think we need to figure this out.” So, I mean, I talked with Frannie at length. I talked with Carolyn at length. I talked with Jaime at length. I went over and got up out of my seat and talked to Danny at one point. Yam came over and talked to me. Other conversations were going on with other people during that time, obviously. It was sort of like everybody did one last check-in. We didn’t really get that on the island. It was a very chaotic lead-up to the vote, and I don’t think people got their last check-in. And I was also very nervous because, obviously, things were happening and I was the target. And even though I didn’t know that I was the target, things were flimsy and leaky enough and weren’t quite adding up, so I wanted to do my due diligence. And then all of them kept the story very straight, and I just basically talked to everybody and got pulled back into where they needed me for that vote.
Your exit line was hilarious: “Enjoy your rice, you bitches.” Looking back, do you regret your decision to give up your shot at immunity?
Yeah, you know what? I don’t know if I would have fared too well on that challenge. I wasn’t exactly known for my balance out there on the islands of Fiji. And so, to me, it was a risk assessment, like, only one person wins immunity. So we might as well get a bag of rice for it instead of… I didn’t want to be the guy who went up there and lasted like, literally, four seconds, do the walk of shame over to the bleachers, and be like, “I could have just sat here four seconds earlier and got rice.” So I don’t know if I have regrets. But I think if I ever got down to a rice negotiation again, I would, even if I only thought I had, like, a 5% chance to win, just play it. Like, just try, because you really never know; you can surprise yourself out there. And I think I would have rather surprised myself, even if I didn’t win, to last long. So, I mean, it hurts, but also, I don’t know if I would’ve beat Frannie. I don’t know if it would have changed anything [laughs].
Of course, I have to ask: when did you discover that Jaime’s idol was fake, and what was your reaction to it?
I discovered it very, very long down the road. Like when we were all there, I thought… sometimes when there’s a fake idol, it’s sort of like, “Is it real? Is it fake?” But that was not the case with Jaime’s idol. Everyone who knew about it was like, “This thing is 100% verified real,” like there’s no questions asked. So when I left, I thought it was real. I got to Ponderosa with the jury and the jury box, and nobody’s there to verify that it’s not real, so everyone in the jury also thinks it’s real. And it wasn’t until way down the line that that was corrected. So it was kind of this interesting thread where it was such a long-lived idol that nobody could verify was false. It was just basically real [laughs].
When the tribes first merged, it seemed that you were willing to cross tribe lines and ditch Ratu, but things changed after that split tribal council, and the spotlight turned solely on Ratu. What drew you back to being fully committed to Ratu, and did you ever consider breaking from them?
That’s a really good question. So leading out of the Josh vote, I was working closely with Matt, and he was somebody who I could see myself building a strategic relationship with. I was ready to sort of move away from Ratu, but then the split tribal just shook all that up. And then all my Ratu people ganged up and beat the crap out of my new ally, and I was like, “Oh, what are you guys doing!?” So I think that that shocked us back into conversations of like, “Oh, yeah, Ratu is going. Let’s take it to the end.” And I felt very confident there because me and Jaime were so very, very close that Ratu wouldn’t turn on me. So it made sense to move forward. And then again, when Brandon goes home, it’s like everyone kind of shrunk back a layer and was more focused on those tribe lines. I was having conversations with Soka and Tika and trying to do something a little bit different, but Ratu was solid numbers for me, so there wasn’t much strategic sense for me to ditch it. If I knew I was as up against the wall as I was, I maybe would have made a desperation play but it just wasn’t in the math for me.
Going off of that, I’m curious to know how you were able to rebuild your relationship with Brandon after voting for him at that first tribal council.
Yeah, we definitely had a rocky start, which was too bad because I think that if that bug in his ear wasn’t there, we maybe could have done better. And we had a lot of conversations on Ratu. Ratu went on a winning streak. We were building more out. We were bonding. And so we were kind of building up, and then he sort of punched a hole in that again when my name started circulating at the picnic, and he didn’t tell me. Jaime told me, and Carson told me, but he didn’t. And so it was sort of this roller coaster, because then the night before he goes home, we do the challenge together. We’re feeling super good. We’re on the same page. So I think that for me, Brandon, I wanted to see have longer life in the game. I didn’t want him in my final tribal council, but we got to a place where we sort of just had our guns pointed at each other and we’re like, “We know that we’ll come for each other eventually, but we also know that we can work together. And this just isn’t the place to do this.” So that’s basically how it went down.
I was specifically surprised to see Carson write your name down. Was that a vote you were initially surprised to see? How close were you to him out there?
Yeah, man, you’re preaching to the choir [laughs]. I was also very surprised. I remember literally being like, “Ah, dang, like, Carson voted for me too!” just when I was doing the math. And yeah, it’s hard. Me and Carson had a very good strategic relationship and a good, like, brotherly relationship out there. I ran my plays by him. We also just talked shop and hung out. So that was a very good relationship. But I mean, Carson is also a very smart man. And I knew that at some point, he would come for me; I knew that I wasn’t Carson’s end game. I didn’t think it would be that quick. I didn’t think it would be that early. But I think that it was a matter of time before I would write Carson’s name down, or he would write my name down, and he beat me to the punch.
I saw a tweet from Maddy where she said that everyone thought they were your #1 out there, which as a viewer I can definitely see. How true to your game would you say that is?
Yeah. I mean, I don’t know; I’m the wrong person to ask for that. But I think that was how I played. I tried to make friends first and then allies second. And when Maddy was on the island, I ran my strategy through her, and we were working together. And then Maddy left, and Matthew became somebody that I was very close with. And then, I think, when Carson was on Ratu, I was probably his closest ally. And Jaime, for sure, I think I was her number one ally. I was sort of starting to sow my seeds into the rest of the game as I got onto that merge beach, but it didn’t quite come to fruition. So yeah, a lot of people wanted to work with me. We just had bad plans [laughs].
With that being said, who would you say was your true #1 out there? You really seemed to have your hands everywhere in the game.
Yeah, no, I was, like, in the background of every shot. I talked with everybody and had good relationships. But Jaime was the person by the time I went home, that like, that was my last conversation. That was my check-in of like, “Am I thinking about this, right? What are we missing? How does this benefit us?” Jaime and I were prepared to split from the rest of Ratu down the line, but we weren’t going to do it that play. But yeah, Jaime was my number one.
We saw that Soka has now become aware of Tika’s position in the game as middle players. Was this something discussed among the original members of Ratu?
It was definitely a conversation had. It was also a conversation that I had with Soka. I wasn’t too confident with what I thought Soka was doing, but the plan that we had told them was to go for Tika. And it did make sense, but because Carson was a Ratu for a little bit and he wore both colors, we felt that we were anchored to Tika a little bit more. So from our perception, it wasn’t so much that they were playing the middle as it was that they were just looking after themselves. But also an extension of us. And I think that the way they camouflaged their votes for Brandon solidified that and kept me sleepy for one more vote. So yeah, we were aware of that; we knew we had to take care of Tika eventually. We weren’t sleeping on it. But I wanted Danny removed from the game because he didn’t make sense on the board that I was setting up. I wanted it to be a little bit more predictable in how I could get everyone gone. And Danny was the first to go on that list.
Yam Yam had quite the motivation to target you this week for writing his name down a couple votes ago. Did you know how strongly he wanted you out at that point in the game?
No, I didn’t. And again, I think he camouflaged it well by voting with us and not actually voting for Brandon. And I mean, the Matt vote was very much perceived as being him or Matt and Ratu’s choice, right? So it didn’t look like he was targeting me. You know, I didn’t know he had that level of hatred for me [laughs]. And, I mean, I get it. You don’t want people on the island to write your name down, but we’d had conversations and kind of moved through it. It was the same thing with Brandon. I knew that I wasn’t their golden child anymore, but I didn’t think that Yam was trying to actively get me gone as fast as possible.
I loved all of the D&D references you made throughout the season. Did you always see a connection between that and Survivor throughout your life?
Yeah, I think so! My analogies got a little spread thin towards the end, for sure [laughs]. But I mean, I love ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ I love the tabletop community. And it is sort of the same thing, because you are sort of just cast into this rule set, right? And people can change the ruleset. At the end of the day, what ‘Survivor’ is is this big narrative. You sort of get to influence it as you want. You have to make the other players think that they’re making their own decisions, but a good player is also going to be trying to shape it in a way that makes sense. So I think there are a lot of translatable skills that I tried to utilize. And then, I mean, they also gave me a frickin’ sword, man [laughs]. If they didn’t want me to talk about D&D, they probably shouldn’t have given me a sword and a shield and made the merge symbol a dragon. You know, that was a little bit of a misstep [laughs].
I’ve been wondering about this since seeing your conversation with Carson at Ratu beach… What is your favorite Pokémon type?
That’s a good question. I love the fighters. Fighting type is my go-to. It’s not like the strongest or best, but I just love fighters. That was always just what I built my party around, even though it would often not work. I’d always just have like three fighters, and I would just push them to be way higher level than the other members.
Nice. Water and Dragon here for me, probably.
Strong choices. I usually start with water, for sure.
You’re officially the third member of the jury! What are you looking for in the winner of ‘Survivor 44’?
Well, I wanted to win the game. And I’d look for a player who played a game that I respected and respected the way I tried to play the game. So what I would be looking for is to know who’s controlling the game. That’s the bottom line for me. And I don’t want someone at the end who can just sort of figure it out and piece it together. I want to see that somebody was moving with intention and was actually deciding, even if their decision was to sit one out, to go with this vote, or to go with that vote. To know that they were carving their own path. That’s the type of person I like to vote for.
New episodes of Survivor air Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.