Rob Cesternino talks with the latest player to be eliminated from Survivor: Kaoh Rong in our weekly exit interview podcast. Plus, Rob talks to Jordan Kalish about the moments from This Week in Survivor History
Survivor Kaoh Rong Exit Interview with Scot Pollard:
Scot: Hi Rob.
Rob: Hey Scot, good morning. How are you?
S: Great, wow you have an amazing microphone.
R: Oh, thank you Scot, thank you for noticing.
S: It sounds like I’m in a studio with you.
R: Yes, all right well Scot, excited to be talking to you after a very exciting episode of the show. Maybe not so much for you but really exciting stuff that happened. I have to know, what was your reaction- because it seemed like that you took it very well in terms of Tai not giving you the Super Idol, not using the Super Idol on you, was there more to that that we didn’t see? I would have been “no, no, seriously, come on! Tai! Use the idol!”
S: [laughs] Well I know Tai really well. I formed a really good bond with him. I’m not a beggar I guess. When it happened I was just in shock. I was completely blindsided. I thought for sure we had a close enough relationship he would have shared it and what was going through my mind was that the only reason he still had an idol was because of me, so I figured he owes me that much. Not that he owes me his idol, but just the fact that he still had it. I thought there was a really good chance that he would share it because he seemed to still remember and be appreciative of the fact that he wouldn’t have had an idol if I hadn’t talked him out of using it earlier in the game. So that was surprising to me. I was shocked. There was no reason to be begging him for it, or “come on, man!” I could see it in his eyes that he wasn’t going to share, so I just took the loss and walked out and I don’t have any hard feelings towards Tai. He did what he felt was best for his game moving forward.
R: Yeah I’d still be there. I’d be like “come on, are you sure? Are you sure you don’t want to use it on me? Jeff hold on, just give us one second here, just a slight misunderstanding.” So then in terms of you having Jason’s idol, which turned out to be such a crazy thing that you walked out with it after the tribal council, was that your idea, that you say “hey let me hold on to the idol” or does Jason say to you “here, you take the idol, I’ve got the necklace and then we all have something tonight?”
S: It was the latter. Jason had the immunity and he just, as a sign of trust, handed it to me and said “here, I don’t need this, you may need it tonight” and that way Tai had an idol, I had an idol and Jason had immunity so we felt very good moving into the tribal with that security blanket I guess all the way around.
R: Now something that we tried to wrap our heads around on the outside talking about this game is how much do the other players, like the women and Joe, how much did they know about how the Super Idol worked? Because during the episodes that you guys, you and Jason, had said that the other people don’t know how it works, where people like Debbie in exit interviews have said they did know how it works. So from what you understand, did everybody have an understanding of how it all was going to happen?
S: You know, I don’t know who knew what. To my knowledge, the only people that read the instructions were Neal, Jason, well I guess Cydney and Alecia kind of heard parts of the instructions when we found the original idol on Brawn, and Tai. So outside of that, I don’t know that anybody else actually read the instructions and knew how the Super Idol worked. So, I don’t know. But it’s funny you mention Debbie knew what was- Debbie says a lot of things. [laughs] We don’t know exactly what’s going to come out of her mouth next. To my knowledge, I don’t know that anybody had a clear understanding of how the Super Idol worked. Tai did his best to blow it and talk about it at that one tribal council, so I guess people that didn’t know about it or didn’t understand it got a little bit of an education on it when Tai opened his mouth.
R: Now, was there any talk about you guys using the hidden immunity idols as regular idols instead of the Super Idol? Because you had one and Tai had one, if it was going to get used anyway did you guys even talk about maybe, “hey let’s just play these before the votes get read?”
S: Well there was two discussions, one was yes, why don’t we just do that? That way we’re safe and the immediate answer, I believe, if I remember correctly, from Tai was “I don’t want to use it if I don’t have to”. And that made sense. So from there, we thought “oh okay, well that does make sense, let’s just re-act what we did last week”. Make a lot of noise and try to intimidate them and scare them into voting off yet another one of their own like they did with Debbie and then we may walk out of this and not have to use our idols again and keep them. So that was the thought process, that was what we ultimately decided: that it was smarter to only use them if we needed them because there’s no way they can split the vote and get both of us out.
R: Could we talk a little bit about Tai and his decision to end up defecting from you guys. In sort of looking back on this, have you felt like that you guys didn’t give Tai enough ownership in the alliance? Because from what it seemed in the episode he felt like you and Jason were calling all the shots and he didn’t really have a voice in that alliance of three.
S: Yeah, I mean I guess if he perceives that I have to accept it as truth. But I know for a fact I had a lot of side conversations with Tai, just like everybody does. You talk with your alliance and you talk with the individuals also. We took a lot of long walks on the beach, me and my little Tai buddy, and I thought for sure that he felt comfortable with how things were going. I think it was unfair for him to say he didn’t feel like he had a voice because I definitely am a communicator, and I believe that I was listening to him and in fact trying to let him control- or feel like he was in control- of the relationship that him and I had. Because that’s kind of how I was playing the whole game, was making sure that the people I was in an alliance with felt like they were in control and I was just along for the ride. So, you know, again perception is reality so if he perceived that he didn’t have a voice then that’s how he felt. But I don’t think for a second that he was left out of any discussions. He was very much involved in the discussions and I even took him aside at the point after the one where they showed the three of us sitting on the shoreline, I remember taking him aside after and just saying “hey man, are you good with this? What do you feel? Are you good? Do you like this idea?” So I think it was very much an equal partnership, but again I can’t speak for Tai.
R: Did you guys have any sort of an inkling that he was having some sort of moral dilemma with some of the stuff that you guys were doing to sabotage the camp during the last week’s episode?
S: Well at first, he expressed some hesitation about it. He said no, I said “well this is not in my nature either, Tai. I’m a provider for my family in real life and I love giving to other people, that’s how I am in my real life too. But this is not real life, this is Survivor. We’re playing for a million dollars. If you look at it from that point of view, maybe you’ll think differently. But certainly not telling you that you have to agree with the way I’m looking at it”. And then he sneaks out in the middle of the night and puts the fire out. So you know, that to me showed that he was on board. And I never saw, and honestly, didn’t believe him when he told us that he did it. I didn’t believe him until I saw it on TV. And I’ve hung out with him since the game. I’ve broken bread with him and talked with him. I like Tai, but I still didn’t believe that he had actually put the fire out until I saw it on TV.
R: Now, going back to the sabotage from last week’s episode: a lot of the viewers really did not like that sort of thing being in the game. Did you feel like that it ultimately did have the strategic benefit of being able to get people to not vote for the alliance of three last week, or was that completely chalked up to having those idols?
S: I think it was both. I think that when you get people on their heels, they don’t make decisions in a rational manner that they would otherwise make. So I think it was consistent pressure that they were feeling that we were not feeling that I think made the idol shakeup and the rock, paper, scissors more effective at tribal because there was just consistent pressure on them all. “Why are they doing this? They’re jerks”, whatever they’re thinking and feeling about it, they were not thinking rationally like they otherwise may have about the situation and what was going on had everything been normal at camp and we tried to ingratiate ourselves back in their good graces and bowed down and said “okay, hey we just want to stick around”, or however people outside the game or even they would have preferred us to act. I’ll take ownership of my own character. There’s a lot of people that have a voice on social media to sit there and judge, like you should have done this or you should have done that- well I didn’t. I played it my way and I don’t have a problem with it.
R: Going back to the stuff with Julia from last night where you guys were telling Julia “hey we’re going to vote out Tai, we want to take you to the final three”. Are you guys being sincere to Julia in that moment or are you guys just telling her what she needs to hear to keep her on your side?
S: Both. I think that had it gone to the final three with Jason and Tai and myself, I think we would have had a much harder time of actually maybe convincing somebody other than Tai to win the money. I think with Julia, I feel like I could have made an argument that strategically my game was better; I was a better social player and a better physical player, even though I never won an immunity challenge. [laughs] So I felt like I had a better argument. So it was a little bit of telling her what she needed to hear because we definitely wanted to reassure her that her plans were in our future, but I also felt like I actually maybe had a chance of winning against her as opposed to Tai in that final three so there was some honesty there and some strategy.
R: One of the things that I really had a hard time trying to figure out over these last couple of weeks is how closely is Julia working with you guys? Because I sort of heard it both ways in terms of the exit interviews and what we’ve seen on the show where it looks like Julia is talking with you guys about the plan, like “hey we want to flush Tai’s idol tonight, we’re putting the votes on Tai”. And it seems like that you guys are on board, but if Julia is working with you guys and perhaps Michele too, why not all vote together as five and either take out Aubry or Cydney at that vote?
S: There was the Michele-Aubry-Cydney dynamic to be dealt with that though Julia felt her commitment to Michele was very deep, she kind of sensed that Michele wasn’t going to turn on the girls’ alliance. She was more affected by the sabotage emotionally whereas Julia saw more of the gameplay and strategy in it. And really, from what I’ve watched, I really like the way that Julia was playing the game in person but also from what I’m watching on the edit and her testimonials. She seems to be the only one that’s playing with her head right now of all of them. Because she’s seeing who she wants to sit next to at the final two or three, and she’s sitting there going “I can beat Jason or Scot” so she’s sticking as close as she can to us while trying to maintain an alliance with the girls. I think she’s using her head and I think she’s playing a great game so far.
R: What ended up going wrong with Cydney after the merge? Because it looked like that the three of you were so tight coming out of the original Brawn tribe, but then when you guys get to the swap, she ends up feeling like maybe Nick is getting closer with you guys and it seems like there is a falling out between you and she with Jason. So what was it ultimately that was the reason why she wanted to flip away from you guys?
S: I got betrayed by everybody I was in an alliance with other than Jason. It was the first one. So the fact that I made it to the final eight is actually shocking to me. But anyway, she did exactly what I told Jason she would do right off the bat. I said you don’t trust a 23 year old. She’s a bodybuilder, I get it, but you’ve got Jenny who’s 39. I’m trusting age over youth, man. I know that she freaked out at tribal council, but don’t do it, don’t get rid of her. And he did it anyway. That was rough for me because I figured that she was going to do what she did. And Cydney played nice and played like she liked us but I could tell that as soon as she had the chance to jump she was going to jump. And the only thing she didn’t do to my knowledge, so far, is spill the beans about Jason’s idol to everybody. But I don’t know, we didn’t see that. But the only thing she didn’t do to betray us off the bat was tell everybody else that she had an idol- or that Jason had an idol. But you know, just saw her as a person and what she was going to do and I ended up being right. I didn’t want to be right but I ended up being right that I sensed that she was going to jump ship as soon as she could. And she knew what she was doing Again, no personal hard feelings in real life about it, it’s just that I sensed that was how she was going to play the game and she did exactly what I thought she was going to do. I’ve told Jason a lot; I’m never going to let him live that down. [laughs] I mean, we joke about it.
R: Yeah. Scot, real quick we’re starting to run out of time, we spent a lot of time talking with people on social media and on the podcast about how the whole Alecia thing ended up coming across. Do you have any regrets or thoughts about how that all went down back in how it was happening in real life, or how it was depicted on the show?
S: No, and the show, there were a lot of olive branches extended and attempts to be cool with her, to be civil, and those were rebuffed. And even you know, at her tribal council where she was eliminated from the game, Jeff asked me as a father to see if I could reach her. It was like he wanted to have a Dr. Phil moment almost. And I talked to her like a father and she just didn’t want to hear it. I really honestly did try to speak to her and she was like “that’s just your opinion, that’s just your opinion, whatever, I don’t want to listen to anything you have to say” and then it crossed over into reality where at this point this girl just doesn’t want to listen to anyone or anything. Then at that point you just go “okay you’re hard headed, you don’t want to hear anything, you think everybody is out to get you when the game is over for you and I was still trying to connect with you. Just saying hey, this isn’t real life. This is a game and we voted you out because you didn’t want to get long with anybody. You thought you were cool with Cydney and she was tolerating you just like the rest of us”. But it turned into something where she tried to create a social media storm because the edit showed Jason and I in a villainous manner and tried to make things up about us or say things about us that just aren’t true. So hey, I don’t have any hard feelings towards her. She’s not my type of person. I don’t think we’re going to be hanging out in our personal lives any time ever but I don’t expect any fireworks at the finale. It’s not about her, it’s not about me, it’s about the show Survivor.
R: Hey Scot, thanks so much for coming on and by the way that your Ponderosa video I thought was especially touching especially when you get those letters from your family. I hope the whole situation with your mom is going okay and I think that if people haven’t checked that out definitely should watch the Ponderosa video from this week.
S: Thank you very much, it’s ongoing you know, health issues- it’s an expensive proposition to die in America, so there’s always issues so we’ll keep our heads up and do what we can.
R: Scot, thanks so much for coming on with me today.
S: Thanks a lot for having me.
R: All right, take care. Bye.
Special thanks to Molly Jackson for transcribing this week’s exit interivew.