It’s hard to make it through 39 days of “Survivor” without making enemies and it’s even harder to make it through 39 days of “Survivor” and lose without feeling at least some bitterness.
Case-in-point? Two consecutive seasons of Ranting Russell lamenting the flaws in the “Survivor” system that left him winless despite two seasons that he dominated on one restrictive level.
On a similar level, Chase Rice and Sash Lenahan probably dominated “Survivor: Nicaragua.” They betrayed friends, manipulated alliances and when they came before the jury, they faced a lot of angry bootees, who preferred Fabio’s social game and his late-stage physical dominance.
And, as you might guess, Sash and Chase are both convinced they should have won this “Survivor” season.
Our full morning-after conversation after the break…
HitFix: I guess my first question would be this: If I’d asked you guys on Sunday afternoon how you figured the vote was going to go, what would you have told me?
Chase Rice: I would have said exactly how it went down. I was dead on.
Sash Lenahan: I knew it was gonna be a really close vote between those two guys. It’s amazing that only one vote separated winner from second place. I wasn’t shocked by the outcome.
HitFix: Sash, you really didn’t expect to get any votes?
SL: No, I didn’t say that. I definitely expected to a handful of votes. I was shocked that I didn’t get any. I knew that the winner, it would be close. I think I even said to Chase yesterday, “I think the winner’s gonna be decided by a single vote.” But I didn’t think it was going to be a 5-4 split. I thought it was gonna be something different.
HitFix: We’ve had two straight seasons where Russell was the chief mastermind, but got routed at the Jury vote. And each time, he complained that the problem wasn’t his strategy, but the strategy of a game that prioritizes making friends over making big moves. Given what happened last night, do you guys find yourselves agreeing with him?
SL: I agree with it. Look, I made some, what I thought to be, bold moves throughout this game. I started playing on Day 1, all the way through Day 39. There was, without a doubt, a bitter Jury. Look, Fabio played a great game. He’s very deserving of the million dollars. But I played my heart out out there. I made some bold moves and half the time, Fabio wasn’t even sure which way the vote was going. But the Jury, they’re able to vote for whoever they want to. Look, I’m a super-fan of the show. I’ve been watching this for 10 years, 20 seasons. I thought I knew all the strategies, all the different angles, but Fabio played a game I’d never seen before, so I have to tip my hat to the guy. He played a really good game.
CR: Just for me to carry on that, I think Russell’s dead-on also, but it doesn’t shock me that a jury’s gonna be like that, because it’s not like it’s people out there looking at it as just a game. It does get personal and we’re all people out there, so when people’s feelings start getting hurt, they’re gonna vote for and go with someone who didn’t necessarily make them mad sometimes. They’re going to just base it off of emotions and that’s what happened. That’s unfortunate for myself and for Sash, but I agree with Sash that Fabio did play a… It was a wild game, but he did what he needed to do in the end and he deserves it.
HitFix: Were you guys surprised at how much anger was directed at you during the final Tribal Council?
SL: I don’t think you can be a great “Survivor” player without hurting people’s feelings. Look, this is a game and we all knew coming into it that only one person could win. I think it’s silly for people to hold grudges or for a bitter Jury to award votes based off personalities, instead of what I thought “Survivor” was, which was “Outwit, outplay, outlast.” I expected it from some people, just not the entire jury.
CR: I was surprised at it from Dan coming at me. I never really… I told Dan, “You’re going home” and I was honest with him. But whatever. It’s a game and that’s the way he felt. As far as Marty, I wasn’t surprised and I didn’t really care, because I didn’t really give a damn about him while I was out there and he didn’t care about me, so that was kinda mutual. So yeah, I wasn’t surprised. Or maybe I was a little surprised about Dan, but not Marty.
HitFix: And Sash, I guess you kinda answered this, but do you think there’s any way to be strategic and not leave people angry?
SL: I don’t regret a single move I made in the game. If I could go back to Day 1, I would play it exactly the same way. I really thought that certain members of the jury would respect the game that I played and give me the votes. They were gonna get hurt no matter what and I thought it was better to be open and honest about the reasons why I was targeting certain people and they ended up getting voted off when they did, as opposed to beating around the bush. Of course, that didn’t happen last night, but I guess that’s part of the reason I was shocked when I didn’t get any votes.
CR: I’m not real sure, man. I would have probably changed the way I played. I would have just been more level-headed and just been me. I went out there and kinda lost my mind, because it’s a crazy game with mind games to deal with every day. I’m around people I love. I’m around people I can talk to and am honest with. So I would just try to keep more of a level head and just be me and if it didn’t work, didn’t get to the end, that’s fine, but at least I’d have just been the chill dude that I actually am. But yeah, I’m not gonna look back and try to figure out what I could have done differently, because that’s a waste of my time and I’ve got a life to live now. I’m gonna go on and live my life and I’m lookin’ forward to it.
HitFix: Hypothetical time. Fabio loses that last Immunity and you go to the Final Three with Holly. How do each of you figure you win the game under those circumstances?
CR: A lot of people were, for some reason, pretty bitter towards Holly, as well. They didn’t show that, but they were. I still, to this day, don’t know why. But it would have been a lot easier to beat Holly, than it would have been been beating Fabio. Everyone was all over Fabio because he was the underdog and he kept winning. It would have been a lot different if it had just been us three up there.
SL: I really only saw Holly getting a single vote, probably from Alina. I’m not sure who else would have voted for her. On TV, she came across as making one of the greatest comebacks of all-time and I believe it as well — I love Holly — but as far as that Jury with those members, if the three of us would have gone to final Tribal Council, I think Chase would have won in a landslide.
CR: I wouldn’t have minded that.
HitFix: In both of your answers there, you mentioned the way we may have perceived Holly watching the show on TV, versus the way she may have been perceived in the game. Last night, we already heard there was a good explanation for why Sash turned his back on Brenda. Are there one or two other important things that didn’t get shown on TV that you guys think fans should know about?
CR: Are we allowed to answer this? I mean… They didn’t show… They didn’t show a ton. They have so much stuff to pick from. But some of the things that were perceived as far as me and some of the challenges and as far as some of the things that were said to people and were said to me were 100 percent not true — and I can’t go into detail because that’s against the contract — and that bothers me that they can do that, but that’s the way they do it and that’s TV for you. But yeah, there are a lot of things that go on that are absolutely 100 percent false and that definitely bothers me, but that’s part of the game and part of putting your life in their hands.
SL: Yeah, aside from the Brenda thing that came out last night, a couple other interesting things: I’m not sure if this came out, but the very first Immunity challenge on La Flor, after we had won, as we’re all walking back to our mat, Shannon goes to Fabio, “Fabio, you’re lucky, cuz you would have been the first one voted out.” I really think that if we had lost that first Immunity challenge, Fabio would have been the first one voted off for our tribe. And that’s amazing, because here he is, the winner. It’s just interesting how perceptions can change in the game. Speaking with some of the former Espada members, we lost the second Immunity challenge of the game, which was when when we sent Shannon home, but I think that if roles had been reversed and Espada had to send someone home, then I think Holly would have gone then. So it’s just amazing how quickly things change in this game. People who could have gone in the very beginning ended up making it all the way to the very end. That’s what’s so cool about “Survivor.”
HitFix: Last question: At the final Tribal Council with the Jury, a lot of the same words were being tossed around to describe you two. Chase, people kept saying “paranoid” and “wishy-washy.” Sash, people kept calling you a snake. Obviously the game is going to bring out different traits, but do you two ever exhibit any kind of similar behavior in the real world?
SL: No. Never. Look, I had my game face on the entire time out there. I think the only people who had a problem with that are the people who really don’t respect the game as much as I do. It’s a shame when people can’t separate real life from being in the game, but without a doubt you saw on show me competing at the highest level I possibly could. If you ask anyone in my normal life, they’ll tell you I’m one of the most honest, straight-forward guys you’ll ever me.
CR: Yeah, I’m not paranoid at all in real life, so I don’t know how it got so bad out there. That’s OK. Another thing is that I find it kinda funny that out there everyone was saying that I hurt so many people, but in the end, I never… I rarely sent someone how and didn’t tell them first. Some people don’t respect that, but I’m gonna be honest with you and if you’re going home, I’m gonna tell you. That’s one thing that came back on me was that people were not respecting the way I did that. So that’s weird. But as far as the paranoia and the worrying, that’s not at all who I am in my real life. That’s why I’m glad to be back in real life.