Because Kourtney Moon’s elimination in Week 1 was an injury-based decision, on Wednesday (Feb. 22) night, the women of “Survivor: One World” were required to vote somebody out for the first time.
The dysfunctional women of Salani, seemingly incapable of winning any kind of challenge, faced a choice: Either vote out giggling, farting, sheltered Kat, who almost single-handedly cost them the episode’s Immunity Challenge, or Nina, 51-year-old former police officer whose exact skills within the game had yet to be tested.
In the end, it apparently wasn’t a hard decision. Kat had been part of a majority alliance of younger women established on the hike to camp, while Nina was on the outside trying to desperately to get anybody to listen to her plea that the tribe would be weaker with Kat remaining. Alliance trumped logic and Nina was sent packing.
In this week’s “Survivor” exit interview, Nina Acosta talks more about Kat’s liabilities, explains why Men vs. Women was her biggest nightmare and breaks down why only luck will prevent her former tribe from getting routed.
Click through for the full interview…
HitFix: Let’s jump right into things: Was Kat really that destructive a force around camp? Or were you just targeting the person you thought you could get eliminated?
Nina Acosta: I thought she was distracting and really detrimental to our tribe. I really felt that way. I felt that her immaturity was really getting in the way of us focusing on what we needed to do. Certainly I felt all along, like probably a couple other folks, that I was in danger at any time of being voted off and I felt that really she was the one who should go, so I made a play to try to get rid of her.
HitFix: What was actually happening that was so detrimental? We only saw little hints of what her distractive powers were around camp. What did we not see, maybe?
Nina: Well, Kat was just distracting. What was more hurtful was just her behavior during challenge, during the two challenges that I was involved in. Really, ultimately, that’s what I was most concerned with, because if we’re not winning challenges, someone’s going home and if you’re not part of that alliance of five, there are very few options. Yeah, she was distracting around camp, too. She and Colton were friends and I felt that Colton really should stay with his tribe and a few of the women were starting to get a little tired of Colton hanging out with us, but Kat seemed to enjoy it and it was just a huge distraction. We had so much to worry about and it didn’t include Colton and Kat.
HitFix: When you went to that final Tribal Council, were you certain you were done or did you have any reason to believe you might have swayed a few votes?
Nina: I felt there was an outside chance that Kat might go home, but I was packed up and ready to go. I was pretty confident I was leaving. I don’t think I looked surprised.
HitFix: Why do you think more than half of your tribe was so willing to stick with an alliance that they made roughly five minutes into the game?
Nina: You know, if I knew the answer to that, I’d probably still be out there. I don’t know. Honestly, I think if you look at the game historically, the tribes that stay together the longest produce the winner and I am not sure what was said among the five of them, what kind of deal they made, I don’t know, but it seems to me that it would have been better to kinda take a look at everybody’s skill-set, what everyone brings to the table, get to know people more. I don’t think anybody out there really got a chance, except for Monica, to get to know me and what I could have brought to the game and I don’t think they were interested in that.
HitFix: Were you aware as you guys were walking to camp that that alliance was already forming?
Nina: Oh yeah. Yeah. It was very obvious. I had a brief chat with Monica before we got to the flag and I remember her saying something to the effect of, “We’re the old gals out here. We’ve got to watch each other’s back.” And I said, “Yup. I know.” And so it was pretty quick. And, again, I don’t know why and I’m not sure what it was. They’re all pretty close in age. They may have had the same interests. They’re all single. I mean, who knows? But in my case and maybe in Monica’s case, it couldn’t have been a worse set-up. Men vs. Women couldn’t have been worse. Colton complained that this was his worst nightmare. It was my worst nightmare as well.
HitFix: Well tell me more about that. How do you think the game would have played out differently for you with gender-integrated tribes?
Nina: Well, I don’t think my age would have been as big a factor. I think it would have been a little easier for me to mix, even with young men, because it’s an equalizer. I would have been able to fit in a little better. If you look back to last season, to Dawn, I think that helped her, because she could relate to the men and there was some common ground that everybody had. For me, I was clearly the oldest, by a long margin, and I literally had no common ground with the women. As much as I tried to figure out where it would be, it was really difficult and so it was tough. But you know, that’s “Survivor” and that’s the way it is. You have to just accept what’s thrown at you and try to work an angle and it threw me for a loop.
HitFix: We saw last night that Chelsea was a little receptive to your point of view and that Kim also seemed to be wavering. What do you make of those two and why they weren’t willing to shake things up this early?
Nina: I think they were staying true to their alliance. I don’t really think they had a strategy as to why to keep Kat, other than that maybe she wasn’t threatening and if they kept her along in the game, she could have been eliminated later. Would she have been a threat to them? Maybe I was more threatening because I was becoming more vocal? But again, I think they were considering my argument that, “Hey, we need to stick together as a tribe and we need to start winning some challenges or the guys are going to pick us off one by one.” I think they actually considered that for a little bit, but I think ultimately there just wasn’t enough time for me to make that argument and they just stuck with what they knew.
HitFix: You mentioned that you were becoming more vocal. Players always talk about how the first few days in “Survivor” are the toughest because your body is acclimating and whatnot. The editing seemed to suggest that you had a rough first couple days, but you got a second wind by the end. Was that accurate?
Nina: Physically or just all the way around? Physically, I was fine. I never really felt I was coming apart. I felt good. I felt ready. By looking at it and maybe remembering back, I was a little quiet because I was observing. As a former law enforcement, that’s what I do. You observe people. But it was difficult to get a word in edgewise, to be honest with you. It was just a bunch of women and they’re talking and I just listened. Conversations were really not focused on the game. There was a lot of just chit-chat, which was fine, but it was really hard to get a word in edgewise.
HitFix: Everybody’s making these big statements about how “This is what happens when you get a bunch of women in a tribe and this is how they communicate.” Do you think the same thing would have happened with any team of all-women? Or was it the particular composition of this tribe?
Nina: I think people can make the argument that women do do this, but I think it was in particular with this group of women. I have a lot of women friends, but we have similar backgrounds, where a lot of us have chosen careers that are predominantly male-dominated and we come from backgrounds of sports and things like that, so I tend to pick women who are like me, who are moms and so we have kids and lots to talk about. I think with this group in particular, it was difficult for someone like me, someone like Monica, to really find common ground that we could talk about. I didn’t want to talk to them like they were my kids. That would have been, I think, a death sentence. But to try to pal around with them, that wasn’t going to happen either. It was really tough.
HitFix: You mentioned observing earlier. What other skill-sets from your experience as a cop, from your real-life experience, did you think was going to be a benefit to you in the game?
Nina: I had a pretty good idea of what people were like, as far as what they were going to bring to their table and in watching the two episodes, there’s a lot of conversation that I don’t get the benefit of seeing until I watch it on TV myself, but I think I had people pegged pretty well early on and I could have used that if I’d stayed in the game long. I also feel like I’m able to handle the elements. I smashed my face and I didn’t really think too much about it. That’s just “Survivor,” so I think you have to deal with being uncomfortable and I had no problem with that. I was definitely uncomfortable and you just had to move on and take what’s thrown at you and I was pretty sure I could do that.
HitFix: What was the extent of that injury on the first challenge?
Nina: It looked a lot worse than it felt. Initially I felt like my face hit the concrete. It stung. I thought I broke my nose. But I wasn’t able to see it. There are no mirrors on “Survivor.” Looking back on it, man, it looked bad, but I got my face in the salt water and it cleared up pretty quickly. Yeah, it hurt for a little bit. It was just uncomfortable.
HitFix: In your interview after your elimination, you said that you expected the men were going to be able to pick off the women. From what you were able to see, did you have any particular respect for the men in the game? Or was this just a lack of respect for the women you were playing with?
Nina: I didn’t get to know the men individually or collectively as well as I would have liked to. I was impressed with how they handled the second challenge. I thought they worked beautifully as a team. That challenge was not just about balance. That challenge is about trust, if you think about it. You’ve gotta trust that person who’s going to get you over to the other side. So that showed me that they really trusted each other and depended on each other and they were working together as a team, so I did have a lot have a lot of respect for them and not so much for us. I think the only way the women’s tribe is going to succeed collectively is if they get a lucky break somehow and something happens, but it’s not going to be by design. As Monica said, perfectly, there’s total anarchy out there. That’s exactly what it was, every woman for themselves.
Previous “Survivor: One World” Exit Interviews: