The latest casualty of the Villains tribe is veteran Survivor Boston Rob. Read on as he explains what he thinks of the "new" game of Survivor and how he feels about Russell's trickery and Coach's wishy-washiness in this conference call:
It seems like you were pretty laid back this time. Was there anything we didnít see? What was your approach with Jerri and Coach?
You know what, from day one you build alliances, and we did while we were out there. But Iíve learned in the past that you have to make good decisions when you make your alliances, and not just jump into things that you think youíre going to be wishy-washy. So I tried to avoid that for a little bit, and feel people out, look at the situation and try to adapt to it. As far as Jerri goes, Jerri was on the wrong train in the beginning. Jerri was being manipulated from the outset. Russell had said that Jerri wanted Parvati voted off, and Jerri had the idea that her, Randy, Coach, me, Tyson, and Russell were gonna vote off Parvati.
But Jerri didnít realize that Russell never had any intention of voting off Parvati. I mean, those two were together from day one, and it wasnít gonna happen. Russell was feeding her the Kool-Aid and she was taking it up, so I was like, ďYouíre on the wrong train, you better get on the right train.Ē In hindsight, she did get on the train, but it was too late. I should have went about it in a different way. At the same, time, I think she may have been harboring some ill will towards me because of what happened in All Stars. I mean, I didnít vote her out, but indirectly I guess I was the reason why she went home. I think that was in the back of her mind. But in retrospect, everybody had targets on them, everybody had a past. Unfortunately for me, the person I needed help from in the end was her, and I didnít get it. I didnít really expect it, either.
So you werenít surprised that you were voted out?
Nah, I wasnít surprised. I was hoping that Coach would do the right thing, his spiel is always about loyalty and integrity, and here he had the perfect opportunity to prove it. Unfortunately for me, and probably his reputation, it went a different way and he chose another path.
Why was it so hard to get rid of Russell early on?
Well, in the beginning we made a mistake. We gave him the benefit of the doubt in the very first vote. Had anybody seen any of his previous season, there's no doubt he would've been the first to go. Randy was just a miserable guy around camp, so we booted his ass first. After that, by giving him the benefit of the doubt, at that point it was too late and we kept winning and winning and winning immunity challenges.
The next opportunity we had to get him out, I obviously had a foolproof plan that would've made him or Parvati go, and Tyson screwed that one up. The next opportunity I had to get him out was obviously last night. All of Coach's loyalty and honor and integrity didn't come through. But I did my best.
Coming in to this game, you knew nothing of Russell. What was your impression of him, what did you think?
All we were told is that he played on the past season, and that he couldnít talk about what happened on that season. And... read into it what you want. I mean, here you are, twenty seasons in, with 300 possible contestants to choose from and they pick someone that just got finished playing - he had to have done something pretty devious to earn his reputation, his spot, as one of five men on the Villains tribe. So we knew he couldnít be trusted, but like I said earlier, we made the mistake of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Had anybody seen any of his play, thereís no question: he would have been the first one off.
Do you understand Russell and his gameplay now that you've watched him in the Samoa season?
Russell's strategy and attitude is to make his tribe look weak so he looks strong. I mean let's face it, we've all seen over and over again how he is the greatest. I think heís more of a legend in his own mind then he is as an actual legend. What he is doing is something I would never do. I would never, well I shouldn't say never, but I wouldn't do knowing what I know now. I wouldn't try to sabotage my own team and stuff like hiding the machete and burning people's clothes. Because in the beginning it is a team game and as long as you win immunity for your team everybodyís safe. You should be working together in that respect.
What was different this season is you have cross tribal alliances and you people that have relationships that have played the game in the past, and have met up and whenever you do an All Star season that comes into play. So thatís another factor to think about, so his thinking that by making his team weak as long as his alliances are intact works fine. As long as his alliance on the other side is intact as well.
So in a normal season where you go trying to keep your team strong so that you get to the merge and your team has more numbers so that you can pick off the other players, doesnít really apply this season if indeed you have enough players on the other side that your alliance will actually be the majority when you merge. So in that respect, it does make sense.
Do you think thereís a possibility that he could win this game, or has he totally screwed himself?
Heís in a good spot right now as far as his tribe goes. But the strategy that heís playing, like I said, I think itís a compliment to me, but itís eerily similar to what I did in All Stars. And you guys saw how that ended up, right?
Did you ever consider working with Russell in the game?
Yeah, it was an option in the beginning, actually we talked about it. We talked about from day one as soon as we got out there, he said letís get together and letís do this, and I was like, okay. And then like 30 seconds later, I see him doing it with everybody, you know? And Iím like, okay, Iíve seen this before, I know how this goes. Letís see what happens. And then it just got to the point where the island was too small for both of us. You know me, what you see is what you get. Youíre either with me or against me, and he was against me. He was a cancer that was eating the tribe, and I want something like that gone right away.
At the same time, Iím sure he felt the same way about me, and thatís why we were at each other. Itís kinda nice for people like Danielle, just sitting in the background. But her name even came up with the whole Tyson thing that time, when we targeted Russell the second time. I could see in Tysonís eyes that he was uneasy about the tie, and I actually said it, I said it out loud: thereís another way to do this. Me, you, Courtney and Sandra can all get together and we can vote Danielle out, nobody will see it coming, sheíll be gone. And thatíll be it, and weíll still have the numbers.
As far as the vote (when Tyson was evicted), was it explained to you how a tie would be broken?
It was explained to us in the rules, we get the rules before we go out there. And everybody receives a copy of the rules. Obviously, I always read the rules to find out what the scenarios are. So I knew what the scenarios were. I think he (Tyson) was a bit unclear about it. And when his name was up, I think he panicked a bit. I mean, letís face it - nobody likes their name to be up and have other people on your tribe telling you, look, thereís going to be a tie but youíre going to be alright. And not know for sure that youíre going to be alright. I think thatís just what got the better of him. Had he done what we told him to do, he would have been fine.
Why didn't you mention to everyone last night about the decision that if anyone went for the hidden immunity, they would be the next to go?
It was brought up at camp. We went on and on and on about it, but the fact of the matter was how at that point the tribe was clearly divided. We had three and three, and obviously you saw Jerry and Coach were swing votes. Jerry was too wishy-washy and I knew she wasn't coming on our side. At some point in this game you have to put your trust in someone and my eggs were in Coach's basket. Unfortunately, even with Easter coming up, the bunny didn't deliver.
What did Amber think you should've done differently?
Nothing, really. I mean, she watched the show and it was entertaining. She enjoyed it. She thought I did my best and she was proud of me, you know?
What do you think it is about Russell and how easily he can sway people? Everyone knew he couldn't be trusted, so how did he do it?
You know, I don't know if this is a compliment to me or not, but I think Russell is playing a combination of the first two seasons I played on Survivor. His strategy is eerily similar to the way I played in Marquesas and in All-Stars. Unfortunately for him, I learned that that will only get you so far and it's effective only to a point. I don't think he's learned that yet. I don't see how, in the end, he's going to be able to pull it off. The reason why people are doing what he says...first of all, let's back up a little bit, okay?
When Tyson voted the way he did, I don't really believe that Russell influenced Tyson's vote that way. What happened was: Tyson got scared about his name being up on the block. When I was trying to convince Tyson on how a tie would work, I looked in his eyes and I could tell he was still uneasy about it, he wasn't sure that what I was saying was correct. So anytime your name is up there, you're nervous. And I think he thought that there's no way Russell is going to give the immunity away so Parvati is going to go home regardless. Let me throw a vote Parvati's way and that way Russell will go home and I'll still look all right in Russell's eyes in case I need him at some point later down the road.
What he failed to realize was that if Russell did give immunity to Parvati, then it's his ass going home, which makes no sense, because if you do it the way I do it, if he does take that chance - which he shouldn't, but he did - if he does take that chance, Parvati goes home and he goes next. I don't think Russell believed for one minute that his plan was gonna work. I think he thought, "I'm probably going this week or next week, so let me try to save a shred of dignity and throw the idol Parvati's way and pray that something happens."
Luckily for him, something did happen. So he caught a good break there. I mean, it happens. You've got to get lucky to win Survivor. You've got to get lucky in the game all the way through, and he did get lucky. Unfortunately, at the same time, I got very unlucky about what happened and there was nothing I could do about it.
I think everybody was shocked when you went down early in the competition. What was going through your mind after that happened?
Well, after it happened, I was shocked too. I mean, I didn't know what happened. It was a complete, like, blackout for me. So I don't remember any of it. When I watched it on TV, I saw it for the first time, too. I walked over, I sat down, I wasn't feeling good, I was dizzy and I had a really bad headache. The next thing I remember is Probst was there with the medical staff and it took me a minute to realize what was going on. In the moment, it's all a blank to me. I don't have any memory of it. All I know is that they told me I was really sick.
Did that factor into how you played the game after that?
You know what, they gave me some medicine. In the water bottle, there was some kind of medicine. I felt better after and that was it. It didn't really change my...I just felt sick for a minute, passed out, and then I was fine.
In between what Tyson did to you and what Coach did to you, how much do you hate Survivor: Tocantins right now?
[laughs] It's a game, and I get that, and I don't really harbor any ill will towards either of them. It was unfortunate what happened, and I think they'll be kicking themselves later for it. But what are you gonna do? You can only do so much. You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.
As an old-school Survivor, there were really only a handful of you guys on this season. Is there anybody else you would have liked to see on this season?
You know what, it's really not up to me. The only person I was surprised wasn't there was a guy named Ozzy a few years ago and he was really good at challenges. I expected to see him there, but he wasnít, so. As far as who was there and who I played with, I don't care. It doesn't matter to me, I just love to go out there and compete. The game has changed, though. You mentioned the old-school vs. new-school - itís like a totally different school of thought. Itís changed so much. The things that used to be valued in the past, like work ethic around camp and providing food and building shelter and fire and stuff, thatís out the window now, it means absolutely nothing. It's all alliances, all the time.
Which, in a way I kind of get it - the game has evolved. But still there's a part of me that misses the whole adventure aspect of it that it used to be.
Speaking of that, what is your honest opinion of the hidden immunity idol? Does it help or hurt the game?
From a television perspective, it definitely adds another layer and another dynamic to the game as well as from a strategic point of view. You saw me in the sand, we didn't have hidden immunity in my season and all that, but I watch all the seasons, Iím fan of the show. I know what it is and how itís played and how it's used.
So it wasn't like I wasn't privy to what it meant to have, but at the same time when the hidden immunity idol came up for us to find at our camp, I found the clue to it under pretty bad circumstances - everyone standing there around me. For a split-second I thought to myself ďLook, I'm going to pick this up and say this is a note from Sears, congratulations to you, life well spent.Ē You know, make up something...but I figured they were too smart for it and someone was going to pick it up and read it too. Then they'd realize I tried to pull a fast one and then the target's going to be on me.
So I decided to read it out loud, and when I did Sandra was the one that actually said ďAlright, whoever finds it, you're going to be marked. We're gonna flush this idol out since it's not fair for one person to have it and not the other.Ē So thatís how we went about it. But we all looked for the idol - you didn't see it, you know, everybody was looking for it - but we were sneaking away from everybody else trying to look for it.
As a new dad, what role do you think being a father played for you this time? You clearly had a more heroic edit. Did it make you want to nurture your tribe more than in the past?
Let me say this - the first time I played the game was 10 years ago, I was 25 years old. I'm 34 now, married, I have a kid. I think I've changed and grown up a bit as a person. My mindset for the game is always what it is. Amber and I sat down before I left and made a decision that I was gonna go and once I decided that, that was it...you know, that was a conscious decision, game was on. I was going to use my wife and my daughter as a motivator for me, I wasn't going to let it be a hindrance. I was going to play hard, and play hard for them. So I don't think that it hurt me in any way. I think that I have matured a bit as a person but I don't think that my intensity or drive was lacking in any way, because of that or anything.
Why do you think Coach voted for Courtney? To prove that he wasnít a liar?
Well he is liar, lets face it. He said point blank that he was going to vote for Russell and he didn't. He voted for Courtney to try and skirt the issue and stand in the middle. But thatís Coach being Coach, thatís him trying to make sense in his own mind and to keep his own loyalty and honor and integrity in his own warped mind. But in all actuality, anybody that looks at it sees that he didnít do what he said he was going to do. What he did was create a major problem for himself when he gave his allegiance to me and then did the same thing, gave it to Russell. Knowing full well that then and there, that we were against each other, we were targeting each other. So heís standing there in the middle of the road now, and thereís nothing left for him to do but get run over. He didnít pick a side. I think by not picking a side, in all actuality, he was picking a side - against me. And he knew it.
How do you feel about him now?
It's a game, itís over and done with and I have no ill will towards him. He chose his decision and went the way he went and it's unfortunate for him because I think people will realize all his spiel about honor and integrity is nothing more than a figment of his own imagination. Having said that, I got no problem with Coach. I like Coach, I think heís a good guy and he has made some bad decisions there. It happens.
Speaking of Coach, do you think he may have had a mancrush on you, Sir Lancelot?
[laughs] Nah, again, I think thatís just Coach in his own world, with dragons and fairytales. Coach is a good guy and heís got a good heart and he lives by his own code which is a code that doesn't exist in the real world, you know?
What was your proudest moment this season?
Just going out there and giving 110% every time. Just fighting from day one, I mean, everybody had targets on them. I felt like maybe mine burned a little bit brighter, and I knew the only way to get through this was to win. So I did everything I could, everything in my power that I could to provide for the team and to help them to win. Because I knew as long as we won we werenít going home. So as a whole I think I did myself justice by doing my best, and thatís really all I could do.