Pop Crave spoke with the fifth eliminated castaway of Survivor 45, Brando Meyer, who was voted off on Wednesday night’s episode.
Check out the full exit interview below!
What was it like watching back your elimination? How have you grappled with it since filming wrapped?
So you know, as soon as I got voted out, the first thing going through my mind was, ‘Oh, my God, what did I even do?’ You know, I went out there, spent 11 days basically just camping because we didn’t go to tribal council, and then I got voted out on my first one. And so part of the last five months for me has been coming to terms with the fact that my Survivor story in Survivor 45 isn’t that in-depth; we’re not going to see that much of it. And so, when it actually started to air and seeing myself every now and then, it was something that, you know, I had already prepared for and that I was ready to see. And so watching last night was pretty great.
You mentioned this being your first tribal council. What were your nerves going into it?
Oh, my God, it was terrifying. I personally felt like I did a really poor job answering Jeff’s questions. And when he went to go grab the votes, I was like, ‘Okay, you know what? We’ll do better next time. We’ll answer the questions about the next tribal council.’ Lo and behold, there was no next tribal council. But the nerves were pretty high going into that one.
It’s interesting to hear you say “next time” [laughs]. Where did you think the votes were falling?
I was convinced that Drew was getting three votes, first of all. But on top of that, I was convinced that Kendra was getting the other two votes. So I didn’t think that my name was even going to come up, let alone be the one that gets sent home. So I was blindsided, to say the least.
What do you think made Emily decide to vote with Drew and Austin, especially considering the preexisting relationship she had with Kendra, who raided Lulu Beach?
Right. I think first of all, she was afraid of what it would be like… If she worked with us, she’s gonna have to work with Bruce eventually. And I think she was afraid of that. I think I could have done a better job convincing her that Bruce was on the bottom of Belo. I also think there was a preconceived idea between Kendra and I that Emily was with us. Because in episode one, we heard on On Fire that Kendra went to Lulu Beach, and she told us at Belo that she was bonding with Emily. So right at the swap, I was convinced that we had three-strong from the get-go. But then, on top of that, too, there was a lot of attention put on the fact that I offered Drew my Shot in the Dark. I said, ‘Okay, we’re gonna vote out Kendra,’ and then I lied about that to Emily as soon as I talked to her. I was so caught off guard by that—that lying was just the gut response to not wanting to get caught. But if I were to do it again, I think there’s no reason for me to lie to her there. I just tell her the truth. She was sitting in the shelter when Drew shut down the Nerd Alliance. So I feel like she would have understood where I was coming from.
You definitely played much more offensively once you were in danger compared to your very tame gameplay style on original Belo. Do you think the threat of tribal council brought that out of you, or was playing harder always your plan as you went further in the game?
I think it definitely would have been. On original Belo, the cards just so happened to fall where Kellie and I were in a great spot. I wouldn’t have had to do that. But going into a swap where the pressure was on, it was guns blazing. I was going as hard as I could.
You brought up Bruce being at the bottom of original Belo, but we haven’t seen much of that. What was the tribe dynamic like having him there?
Yeah. So, you know, we’ve heard a lot that he’s trying to be the fun uncle. But at the end of the day, it’s really hard to sort of bury those instincts to be like, ‘Hey, somebody, go do this, somebody, go do that.’ He’s a natural leader, right? And so part of the perception around camp that Katurah was really pushing for, which we totally see in the last episode when she has her fight with Bruce, was that he was somebody who was not totally meshing with the rest of the tribe. And we don’t totally get that in the edit. But I think had we gone to tribal council, we have that Bando Babes, whatever the alliance was called, with me, Kellie, Kendra, and Katurah. I think we would have stayed pretty strong if we needed to.
Were you always the target over Kendra? Do you think your conversations with Drew made you a target?
I think I might have been the target pretty much the whole time. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. But I know that Drew and Austin were afraid of my relationships, which Kendra might have told them. I mean, we sort of threw each other under the bus. It is what it is. But I do think that there was part of them that were afraid of my relationships with the rest of Belo, and we saw Drew’s faces at tribal council, so I think I might have been in trouble a lot longer than I thought.
You and Kellie had a good working relationship as middle players of the original Belo tribe. How loyal were you to her, and how far did you intend on making it with her?
My first instinct to work with Kellie was after we had that original puzzle challenge. Where Kellie and I are up there, we knock it out of the park in the first immunity. And ever since then, we were calling ourselves the “puzzle buddies.” We were on the second puzzle, we were sat out for the third puzzle, because we’re not the most, you know, muscular people on the beach. But she was someone who I think I would have been happy going to, like a final three with. In my pregame press, I had mentioned that I wanted to work with somebody who I’d be proud of as a winner, and so she was someone who I would have gone all the way with if I had the chance.
Kaleb immediately recognized the great position Kellie is in with all of Belo. How did you and the rest of original Belo perceive her out there?
Yeah, I did recognize that. And there were conversations at new Belo when I was trying to save myself before tribal council, where it was like, ‘Okay, Kendra, she might be a threat going into the future individual immunity challenges because she’s really physical. Jake, super social; Kellie, everybody loves her.’ Stuff like that. So I did my fair share of throwing people under the bus before I got voted out.
I thought bringing up how well-connected you would be at the merge was an interesting statement to make at tribal council. What was your thought process behind saying that?
I think it was pretty public, especially with the conversations that Drew had with Kendra and things like that. And so it was more trying to spin that into a tool for everybody else and trying to advertise it from a different angle other than, you know, “people on my tribe like me.”
Speaking of those cross-tribe connections, what was your plan for the merge? Who would you have wanted to work with outside of original Belo?
Outside of original Belo, I really liked J. She was somebody who, from the get-go, I thought that we would get along. I really liked Mama J, Julie. She was also somebody who I was looking into hopefully having an alliance with someday. Even Austin, on new Belo, we really hit it off. We had sort of this conversation about how we’re both half Asian, we’re both Asian American, and, you know, we sort of look out for each other. In the long run, it didn’t end up happening, but he was also someone that I was really looking to work with. I think that’s about it for outside of original Belo. I mean, everybody I would have been happy to have an alliance with, but those were the people that I would have really pushed for.
How did you and Kendra initially react to Austin’s retelling of his journey?
I thought it was all really believable. You know, Austin’s a really good liar. The only thing that was a little bit fishy to me was the fact that he mentioned that there were sandwiches, which we learned in the episode wasn’t even a lie. Because in my mind, I was like, ‘There was a fish reward at the immunity challenge. Why would they offer more food at the journey?’ The other two people are going back to food at camp. And so I think, if anything, that was just an incentive for them to go for the amulet. But that was the only part of the story that really stood out to me.
How surprised were you at Drew rejecting your olive branch for potentially forming something with the nerdy players at the merge?
Oh, my God, I was shocked because it was something that we had sort of been hinting towards before we had the conversation. And so I thought that was going to be locked in. I don’t blame him because I was using it as a way for him to vote for Kendra, and then I would still vote for Drew. It wasn’t as much of a me committing to the alliance. But the fact that he just shut it down to my face was… I was flabbergasted, to say the least.
Emily was also there for that conversation, but we didn’t see her reaction to it. How did she respond?
Honestly, I don’t remember Emily having much of a reaction. I think because she was already comfortable with both sides, she might not have cared as much. I think the stakes were a little bit higher for Drew and I in sort of making that agreement.
Did you see any contention between Bruce and Katurah? How did you perceive Katurah’s gameplay?
I personally didn’t see any conflict between Katurah and Bruce, but we were all aware of it. I had heard that it was happening. And so I think that was part of why, had we gone to tribal council as original Belo, sticking with the alliance of the three women plus me, Bruce probably would have been going home. And so I think that had that come into play, she would have maybe gotten what she wanted.
With the merge looming, was there ever any attention giving to possibly just voting out Emily since another cycle of swapped tribes wasn’t going to happen?
So I was under the perspective that there’s a good chance we have one more tribe challenge after the tribal that we went to. And so, never would have been Austin; probably wouldn’t have been Emily in case we lost that other tribe challenge. I think, especially, let’s say I go to Drew and I say, ‘Hey, let’s vote out Emily.’ What’s he gonna do? He’s gonna go to Emily and say, ‘Hey, Brandon wants to vote you out.’ So you know, maybe that’s what I should have lied about to Emily—that Drew wanted to gun for her. Who knows? But yeah, I don’t think there was any world where we end up voting her out there.
I loved the Pokémon segment between you and Drew. I have to ask, what’s your favorite generation?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’m gonna have to go with Gen 3, I think. Hoenn was my first gen, and you know, gotta stay true to that.
Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS and Paramount+.