Want to know how quick things can change in the game of “Survivor”? Ask Tyrone Davis.
As Wednesday (Oct. 13) night’s episode began, Tyrone wasn’t in a position of power, but with a loose alliance with Marty and Jill, it seemed certain that he would be able to withstand at least three Espada Tribal Councils without breaking a sweat.
Instead, the two tribes were reshuffled and Jill and Marty went off to join the La Flor camp and a quartet of young contestants came to Espada and didn’t appreciate Tyrone’s brand of assertive leadership. They also didn’t appreciate his chicken consumption.
That’s how, over the course of one “Survivor” episode, Tyrone went from relaxed to having his torch snuffed.
HitFix chatted with Tyrone on the morning after his elimination. The full interview is after the break…
HitFix: It looked like you pretty much got screwed by the tribal shuffle on Wednesday. Is that how you feel?
Tyrone Davis: [Laugher.] Nah, I don’t feel like I got screwed, man. I knew anything could happen at any given time, dude. I knew that the target on my back became a lot bigger when we shuffled the tribes. I knew it was about numbers and it was four Espada members and four La Flor members coming together and those four Espada members were really like three-and-a-half, because Holly, she’s crazy. And just like I anticipated her doing, without even seeing the show last night, I knew she was the wayward one. And then it was either myself or Yve and, of the four of us, I think I was the strongest of the four of us, and that made it a pretty unstable alliance, for lack of a better term. It was by default, because Dan’s existence was, I think, pointless in the game altogether, but he was not a threat, so why would they vote him out? Holly was as crazy as I-don’t-know-what. And I think Yve was shady and she’s a little trippy, too. So it was what it was. It happened. I wasn’t totally shocked as some people may have gotten the impression from the Tribal Council.
HitFix: Before the reshuffling, though, how confident would you say that you were in your position?
TD: Oh, I was pretty confident. I was pretty confident with where I was. I think I had a pretty good take on everything. Although I knew Jill and Marty had an alliance, I think Jill was a strength for me, we talked a little bit. Who else was on the tribe? Jane was just kind of aloof. She was like, “Oh, I don’t know. I just want to catch fish!” She wanted to be the busy beaver. And in the older tribe, everybody loves a worker. So I was pretty confident in my position there. I knew who Marty was. Marty was all about Marty and I knew he was going to try to connive and manipulate and so on and so forth.
HitFix: When you saw which members from the younger tribe had ended up with you, did that let you know immediately that you had some jeopardy?
TD: No. I don’t think it had so much to do with the members of the younger tribe, because I didn’t know them from Adam. I didn’t know anything about them really. I thought we’d be in trouble, because when the numbers were equal and one vote could determine what was what, pretty much I knew I couldn’t count on Holly for anything. Holly had some issues. I tried to connect with her early on and at one of the Tribal Councils she said some stuff, you know, that let me know that she was, for lack of a better term, less than comfortable around me. Like yesterday, I think it was her, said in one of the interviews, “Well, Tyrone’s pretty intimidating at times.” And, s***… I probably had said a lot of words… I reached out to her and asked her questions about her kids and her family and tried to connect, as people do. And she was reserved and she said that I didn’t even talk to her. At Tribal Council, she said, “He didn’t even talk to me.” I was like, “What the hell are you talking about? Remember? That was me that came up to you…” So, whatever.
HitFix: It becomes the new tribe and you immediately take that leadership role. You welcome everybody to the tribe and tell them how the tribe runs and all of that. Why did you feel like you wanted to take on that role?
TD: I didn’t necessarily want to take that role. I didn’t do like Jimmy T and ask to take that role. It just happened. What happens is that Marty brought it up. I knew what he was all about from the jump. He was planning. Like “OK, I recommend Tyrone” whatever, whatever whatever. I’m like, “OK, cool.” That’s fine, but I knew that comes with certain inherent risks. So somebody had to do it and I felt like I was leading all along, actually. When Jimmy Johnson was there, I was doing most of the work, but I led through example, not by my words or my reputation. Know what I’m saying? People are gonna listen to Jimmy Johnson just on the strength of who he is. If you get some high-ranking politician who everyone knows and they’re on the show, he’ll probably be there too. That’s kind of how that went.
HitFix: What do you think having somebody as well known as Jimmy Johnson did to the traditional “Survivor” strategy? He was very high-profile and some people seemed star-struck. Do you think that changes the dynamic of the way the game is normally played.
TD: I don’t think it changed it as much as people would like to think it did. No. I personally, I didn’t even know who Jimmy Johnson was. I mean, I knew he was a familiar face, but I was like, “Damn, I know…” And I associated him with football, so I said, “Is that Mike Ditka?” I thought he was Mike Ditka. Shame on me. I play any sport, but I don’t watch much TV, so anyway… I don’t think people were star-struck like what my boy Jimmy T alluded to. Some people were, what did he say, “blinded by the stars”? I think there was only one person who was truly starstruck.
HitFix: And that was?
TD: Yve! She was wearing his drawers, man! She was walking around the island wearing this dude’s drawers. That was crazy!
HitFix: You’re the second straight contestant who’s tried telling me that Jimmy’s presence didn’t make a big difference, but that’s not the way the show made it look for his few episodes. Were you surprised, when you watched those episodes, how big a deal Jimmy appeared to be? Did that seem out-of-proportion?
TD: I don’t know. I know from watching the show that he was definitely gonna get a lot of TV time. He’s a celebrity and that’s the draw! OK. So everybody asked me, “Why didn’t you vote with Jimmy Johnson? What happened to Jimmy?” Well who gives a s***? If his name wasn’t Jimmy Johnson, you wouldn’t be asking me this question. We’re playing a game. So it is what it is. To be quite honest, I tell people “Were you not watching the Tribal Council when Jeff asked everybody on our tribe, ‘Do you consider yourself one of the weaker players?’ And Jimmy Johnson was the only one to say, ‘Yeah, I consider myself to be a weaker player.’ And Jeff asked me, ‘What do you think when you’ve got a proven leader like Jimmy Johnson that says he’s one of the weak…’ And I said, ‘S***, Jeff. That’s pretty great. You asked him a direct question and he made a self-assessment and I think it’s pretty clear.'” I was not at all enamored with that. You can put me up next to anybody right now and I wouldn’t be intimidated, star-struck or none of that stuff. At the end of the day, we’re all people. That’s just the way I look at it. I’ll respect or whatever or applaud them for their accomplishments, but that’s it.
HitFix: So what was your interpretation of the Chicken Incident? Did you eat more chicken than anybody else?
TD: No, I probably ate less than anybody else. What happened was that I made sure that everybody ate. I sat back and watched and made sure that everyone ate. That’s something I do every day at the fire department. If we go out to eat at some fast food joint or wherever for lunch, if we go out to eat, I make sure my firefighters eat before me, because if we get a run, an emergency call, at least they’ll have their food and I can go without for a little while longer. That’s how that works. So I made sure everybody ate. I said, “Did you get enough? Go ahead and get some.” Then I got mine. I took what was left. And I didn’t take all of what was left, either. If you look back at the show, if you look back at it, all they showed was me eating bone and I was eating gristle and bone marrow. It’d be different if I was doing like Fred Flintstone and eating one of those big ol’ dinosaur legs or whatever. But no! It wasn’t like that at all. It was a perception thing. And they did a good job at what they wanted to do. So to answer your question, “No.” I didn’t eat any more chicken than anyone else.
HitFix: Going back to the original speech you made to the newcomers to the tribe…
TD: It wasn’t a speech, but go ahead. It was a conversation. Go ahead.
HitFix: It played out on TV like a speech. How about that?
TD: Oh, I feel you. And some of the kids said that too. Go ahead…
HitFix: Immediately, we saw the kids looking annoyed and maybe turning on you. Did you feel that at the time? Did you feel as if they were turning on you?
TD: I don’t know if I felt or realized that they were turning on me, per se. And I don’t know how much that had to do with anything, because when I talked to them, I also said, “What do you think about this? How did you do things over at La Flor? Maybe you guys did something a different way from we did and we can benefit from it…” So I did incite a dialogue and what have you. You know. A lot of that had to do with the generation gap. It’s kids and grown folks, period. That generation, if you look at how it played out on TV, we were all organized and structured on our side. We tried to make sense of things. They were just haphazard, very individual. So I guess that played out in this case, too. They wanted to do what they wanted to do. That was the portrayal, of course, that I was dictating and I was calling the shots and whatever. No. I welcomed them. It was like, “Hey, welcome to my home. This is where the sugar is. Here are the extra blankets if you need them.” Know what I’m saying? That’s the same deal. That was my intent. Some people, no matter how you say things or present it, if it’s not the way they want to say it or the way they would have said it, or whatever, then it’s not going to be received.
HitFix: As a last question… If you look back at the way things played out in this episode and the episodes before, is there anything you wished you’d have done differently? Anything you would have changed?
TD: I probably would have made much more of an effort to connect with Holly. I kinda tried to commission Yve to connect with Holly, because I tried to connect with Holly early on in the game and she was kind of reluctant to do so, for whatever hang-ups she has, so I had to talk to Yve about it. I told Yve that the target was on my back and her back, because we were the only two potential threats from the original tribe. I knew that Holly was going to vote with them, regardless, because Holly knew she was skating on thin ice for a long, long time. So that’s what I would have done differently and maybe placated the kids a little more, the Youngsters.