Surviving to the merge with her early alliances decimated, Eliza Orlins couldn’t last past the first vote of the new Dabu tribe. Eliza is a type-A, successful law student whose resume is so impressive that Survivor probably doesn’t even get a mention when she’s job hunting. But out in the wilderness, the personality traits that make her a success in the corporate world only grated on her fellow players. In this interview, she discusses many aspects of the game, including why she chose to play the “stick” – even though she knew it was false.
Q: Eliza – why play the idol when you knew it was fake?
A: Well, I figured it didn’t hurt to have a strategic move right at the end there, and after being voted off, when Jeff announced that the idol was fake and I knew that I was going, I got to out Ozzy for having the real one. I got to say to everyone who was still around, “Hey guys, you’re going to write this guy a check for a million dollars if you don’t get rid of him soon.” Not only is he great at challenges, but he’s got the hidden immunity idol and he just admitted it. So, it was a strategic move even knowing I was doomed.
Q: Was it really unknown at that point that Ozzy had the idol, or were people guessing that he had it?
A: He had told Amanda, Parvati, and James, but no one else knew. I think Cirie suspected, but no one else knew until I confirmed it. Alexis, Natalie and Erik were completely shocked.
Q: What did you think when Alexis talked about you in the past tense, and Jeff called her on it?
A: I think that it was harmless. It was unintentional on her part, but it was kind of a foregone conclusion that I was going, so I wasn’t exactly being treated that well at that Tribal Council.
Q: Who do you think has the biggest target on their back at this point?
A: Well, I think Ozzy, thanks to me! (laughs) I think Ozzy is a pretty big target. I think that Jason has proven how strong he is in challenges, and also the fact that he was the only person left on the outside of the last vote, so I think both of them are pretty big targets.
Q: What was your first thought when you saw Erik at the merge?
A: I was completely devastated. I was paddling up, so you don’t get to see my facial reaction when I was looking over at the Malakal boat, and I was thinking, “Why isn’t Ami wearing a shirt? Wait, why does her hair look different? Oh my God, that’s no Ami, that’s Erik!” It was total heartbreak, stomach – pit – just awful.
Q: Did you believe Parvati’s story when she was telling you about Ami?
A: Well, at that point I was just kind of trying to make conversation with Parvati. I had spoken with Cirie about Ami, and she had said she wasn’t really with us, and she wasn’t going to be loyal, and we had to get rid of her. I was really sad about it – so I had already talked to Cirie about it at that point. But I was trying to see if it meant they were definitely not going to stick with the favorites.
Q: What are your thoughts on Ozzy?
A: I think Ozzy’s pretty cocky. I think you could tell that from the Tribal Council where Chet got voted off. Ozzy was like, “I don’t need to play the immunity idol.” Everyone there kind of knew he had it, and he was just like, “I’m pretty confident here.” He was laughing at me when I played the stick even though it was outing him – that was pretty cocky, too.
Q: When Jason showed you the stick, what did you think?
A: It was definitely a good moment, albeit unfortunate for me. I saw the stick in my bag and I actually thought that Jason was trying to pull one over on me because he had told me he had the hidden immunity idol, and I thought he couldn’t possibly think this was the hidden immunity idol, so he must be putting a stick in my bag to mess with me. That’s when I confronted him on the beach and found out that no, he actually thought that was the real hidden immunity idol.
Q: Was he ignorant about the game or just stupid?
A: Those are both pretty negative things. No, he had watched the show, and he saw the little face – and I think it was a product of just being so hopeful. He had properly followed all the clues, he had gotten to the spot where the idol would have been hidden, so I think it was a combination of being naïve and being so hopeful that this was in fact the hidden immunity idol that made him believe that it was.
Q: All the women bailed on the underwater immunity challenge first; why do you think that was?
A: Well, I was the last woman standing and Erik only bailed a second after I did, so I deserve not to be lumped in with them, please. But I think – well, Cirie has admitted that she’s not very strong in the water. I think Alexis was particularly nervous about that challenge. Amanda was careless; I don’t know how she did that. I don’t know. I think they felt safe, so I don’t think they were trying as hard as they could, or maybe they’re just weaker in challenges.
Q: When Ozzy didn’t win that challenge, how did he appear to the other tribe members?
I think everyone was pretty shocked. Ozzy has never lost a water challenge in the history of his time on Survivor. Everybody kind of thought, “Gosh, Jason walks around talking the talk, but can he really walk the walk? Can he really beat Ozzy in a challenge, his idol, who he says is that he’s as good as if not better than?” I think that Jason really impressed people. You saw Ozzy’s face when he came up – he did not look good. And Jason said he could have gone for another 5 minutes easily. He had made a good little snorkel thing for himself. Jason was very strong in challenges.
Q: Did you get the sense that Ozzy was cuddling up to Alexis or was that just editing for the viewers?
I think Ozzy and Alexis became friendly when they went to Exile Island together. I think that was more strategic; I don’t think Alexis was moving in on Amanda’s man or anything. I think that was made to be more of a big deal that it actually was in the editing.
Q: When you read message boards, you’re one of these Survivors where people either love you or hate you. Do you read the boards, and what’s your take on it?
A: Absolutely, I read it all. I love it! I even love reading about people that hate me, who call me an alien and stuff. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I think that I’m somebody who has self-confidence and I’m really happy in my life. People who feel the need to criticize me or hate me really don’t get to me. I have pretty thick skin. But I enjoy reading that stuff because those are the people who are big fans of the show, and I consider myself one of them. I love reading the message boards. I read them before I was ever on the show, so I wasn’t going to stop just because I went on.
Q: You said Ozzy and Alexis got friendly on Exile Island. How friendly do you think they got there?
A: I think honestly most of it was just strategy talk. Maybe she thought he was cute. She’s not that kind of girl. They were showing it as though something was going to happen, but what they were talking about was keeping Eric around, which was an idea she had put in his head back when they were on Exile Island together.
Q: Did you know that Amanda was targeting Alexis during this whole time?
A: No, but I wish I had know that, because that would have given me something—even though I really liked Alexis.
Q: What did you think of James eating the bat at the merge party?
A: It was disgusting and unnecessary! There was so much food there; there was no reason to eat the bat.
Q: Was this time on Survivor harder than your time on Vanuatu?
A: Both of them were definitely tough in different ways. In both somehow I ended up on the outside. I don’t know that I could say that one was tougher than the other. The first time around you’ve got kind of a blind optimism, like, “Maybe tomorrow they’re going to give us hamburgers!” But in the second time you kind of know what’s coming. But the second time is easier because, I did it 37 days the first time, and I’m certainly as capable of doing it as hard as it ever gets, it’s going to be fine, and I’m going to make it.
Q: What would have happened if Ami had stayed and Eric had left?
A: It would have been great to have Ami there. Ami and I would have figured something out. I guess Ami kept me in check, and tempered me, kept me from going crazy so everyone would want to vote me out.
Q: Besides Ami, were you close with anyone else?
A: I was actually really close with Cirie. I talked to her about everything, but unfortunately there was not much to be done. And before Jonathan was voted out we had talked to Natalie and Alexis, but once Jonathan was gone that kind of fell by the wayside—they were kind of, “we can’t have an alliance with just you, Eliza.”
Q: What is Micronesian for “good,” do you know?
A: There’s no such language as Micronesian! I knew that at the time but I didn’t want to stir things up. He was like “I looked up Micronesian”—no you didn’t, but I didn’t say anything, I was already in trouble.
Q: Every week we watch contestants go on and on about voting Ozzy off, but he’s still there. What’s the deal?
A: They’re just not very smart, apparently, because Ozzy is just playing a great game. I think he’s playing a better game than he played in Cook Islands, where he was kind of anti-social. This time he’s talking to people, he’s making friends, he’s bonding with everybody there who’s going to be on the jury, and he’s still the same great physical competitor that he always was. I think Ozzy’s a very dangerous player, which is why I tried to out him.
Q: Cirie’s under the radar lately. How far do you think she’s going to go?
A: I think Cirie’s a power player. She makes great alliances, and once you get to the merge, she’s not a challenge liability to anyone but herself, which in a merge situation is a good thing, because Cirie isn’t going to be anyone who wins any individual challenges, and everyone knows that, so once you get to a merge, why vote off Cirie?
Q: What do you think of the game that Parvati is playing?
A: I think that Parvati’s game could either be really great for her or blow up in her face. She’s making all these side alliances with people, but these are the people who she’s ultimately going to have to vote out if she wants to end up in front of the jury.
Q: At what point did you feel on the outs with your tribe?
A: Once Yao-Man was voted out I was really on the outs with Malakal tribe. So – really early. Once Cirie turned on us, my whole alliance got picked off, and I happened to be the last one in my alliance. It was a struggle. I’m glad I made it as far as I did, considering that it was almost me, instead of Yao-Man, back on day nine.
Q: Did anyone ever throw any challenges that you know of?
A: Absolutely not. Airai just dominated. And I asked the girls, when we merged, “You couldn’t have been that bad at puzzles without me, could you?” and they insisted they never threw a challenge. And Tracy had accused them of throwing the “build it up take it down” with the sticks, but that was a reward challenge, and if anything, they’d want to win reward challenges, so we’d be demoralized. There’s no way they’d throw the challenges—Ozzy is fiercely competitive, and came back looking really dejected.
Q: Do you still keep in contact with Jonathan now that the game’s over?
A: Absolutely. Jonathan is an amazing, amazing guy. I was devastated to see him go, and I’m certain we’ll be in touch forever.
Q: What did you learn about yourself when you were there?
A: I think I am actually fairly self-aware, so I think maybe the fact that I annoy people is just something I have to live with. But they annoyed me right back. What you didn’t see was this LA alliance. 90% of the people left are from Los Angeles. They all go to the same bars, know the same people, and get their facials at the same place on La Brea. So it was really an annoying thing that I couldn’t participate, because I’m not from LA, and have no idea how to be from LA. It was just girls who spend their lives cocktail waitressing and bartending against me, a law student.
Q: Who do you think is in control now that you’re gone? Are there any real alliances or is it up in the air?
A: I think the next episode will be really telling, because, yes, I’m gone, and is it really Fans vs. Favorites? We’ll have to see if the favorites stick together. Because if they do, Cirie might be the puppet master, but Ozzy was definitely calling the shots over at Malakal, because Amanda and Cirie were definitely not going to vote Ami out, so Ozzy really pulled off that one. I promise that Tribal Council won’t disappoint you guys.
Q: Who’s your favorite Favorite and who’s your favorite Fan?
A: My favorite favorites are Ami and Cirie; they’re both just wonderful, sweet, amazing people who I love, and I think my favorite fans are Jason and Alexis. Jason gave me what he thought was the hidden immunity idol, which was very sweet, and Alexis is amazing—you guys aren’t really seeing as much depth as there is to Alexis. She honest to a fault, but she’s wonderful.
Q: Would you prefer to be in an all-girls alliance or an all-guys alliance?
A: It depends who the girls were, or who the guys were! But in general, probably girls, but that’s a tough one.