“Survivor: One World” wrapped up on Sunday (May 13) night with the first all-female Top Five in the show’s history.
Because of timing relating to NBC and FOX upfront presentations on Monday, I wasn’t able to do exit interviews with Alicia and Christina, but I was able to get on the phone with the three castoffs who faced The Jury and were up for the million dollar prize.
That would be 26-year-old Chelsea Meissner, who finished third after failing to receive a single vote from the Jury.
Chelsea, who was partners-in-crime with Kim, as they decimated the entire male contingent after the Merge, had a hand in most of the season’s strategic intrigue, but she probably lost Jury support when she basically endorsed her friend in her opening statement.
In her exit interview, Chelsea discusses her support for Kim, her Final Tribal emotions and tries to explain Christina’s accusation that she hates people.
Click through for the full Q&A…
HitFix: How much of the vote had you anticipated before last night?
Chelsea Meissner: I knew that I wasn’t probably getting any votes and I expected Kim to win. I didn’t know if there were a few other people who may have voted for Sabrina, but it went pretty much how I thought it was going to go.
HitFix: Why were you not anticipating getting votes?
Chelsea: I think because of how final Tribal went, that I stood up and said, “I’ve played this game as straight-forward as I could and I’m not gonna come out here at Final Tribal and play any differently.” I said that I believed that the best person, the person who played this game the hardest, that competed their hearts out is who’s most deserving to win and that’s not me, that’s Kim. After that statement, I didn’t expect anyone to throw me a vote, but I just went in there and I’m my own worst critic and that was probably my fault and a lot of people said I didn’t give myself enough credit, but that’s how it went.
HitFix: At that key moment, talk me through the decision to do that, to pretty much literally throw your own vote to Kim.
Chelsea: It’s just because of how I was brought up. I think that playing the game and seeing someone who has strategically, physically, everything… She honestly was like the Boston Rob of our season. She killed. She absolutely killed it. Honestly, going into Final Tribal, I was like, “There’s no way in Hell that I can convince these people that I’m more deserving of a million dollars and I played this game better than Kim.” So, at that point, I was like, “I’m not even gonna come out here and look like a fool and even try.” Honestly, I can’t stand watching “Survivor” and someone wins and it’s like, “Ugh,” like it ruins the whole season. I just figured she’s the most deserving one and she deserved to win our season and at the time, that’s how it went down and I’m happy.
HitFix: When did you realize that this was the case? And was there a point at which you though, “OK, I can’t win against her, so maybe I need to do something different”?
Chelsea: I knew that the guys, they had no idea that Kim and I went back and forth. Jonas had no idea that I fought for him to stay. Troy had no idea. Jay had no idea. Even Sabrina had no idea when Kim was wanting to get rid of Sabrina and I told her that we had to get rid of Kat first. People had no idea that I went to bat for them. That was probably the worst mistake that I made, because all of these people thought that I was just going along with whatever Kim wanted, and really I tried to keep people around. They said that had they had watched the season before the vote, that it might have been a little different, because they had no idea. But it was my fault that nobody knew.
HitFix: So why was there never a time you decided it might be a good idea to get Kim out?
Chelsea: First of all, I knew that she had the Hidden Immunity Idol and she was winning every single Immunity Challenge, so there were only a couple times when it would have been an option to even try to take her out, but I knew that everyone saw us as a pair, so if she was gone, I was gonna be the very next person on the chopping block. And not only that, but I just felt like I could make it further in game having her on my side, because I knew how good her social game was, that she would try her best to keep me around if other people were trying to take me out.
HitFix: You say that people thought of you as a pair, but there were a number people in the later part of the season who seemed to be surprised that the two of you were working together. We saw the two of you constantly chatting, but how did you keep that partnership as much of a secret as you did?
Chelsea: We would go off where no one knew where we were or she would go off on Reward Challenges and talk Final Three with people and she’d tell them, “There’s no way I can go with Chelsea to the Final Three. She’ll win. She’ll beat me. There’s no way I can go to the end with her.” And people believed her. She would come back and tell me everything that she told them, but she knew all along that that wasn’t the case, but she just got people to trust that she wasn’t trying to go to the end with me, that we looked like we were buddies, but she would be an idiot to go to the end. I think that with the way that she talked to people about our relationship, they didn’t think that we were as close as we were.
HitFix: At the Final Tribal, it was mentioned a couple times that you had to become cold and emotionless during the game. That didn’t really seem like what we saw on TV. Were you surprised by how little of that made it onto the show?
Chelsea: No. I think when Christina got up there and was like, “Why do you hate people?” That was so out-of-context. Even Jeff Probst came up to me afterwards and was like, “That was ridiculous. We all know that’s not the case with you.” She was just trying to get a reaction, whatever else. I think Final Tribal made it seem like I was more cold-hearted than I really was and it was just that I didn’t develop those friendships with people. It was like I said, I realized that I couldn’t be BFFs with everyone on the show and then backstab everyone, because that’s what my main problem was on the show, is I had such a hard time voting people out. So I just figured, “Well, if I’m not all buddy-buddy with them, it’s not gonna be as hard to get rid of them and they won’t be as mad, because maybe they’ll expect it more.” So I think it came across at Tribal a little different than it really was out there.
HitFix: Certainly Christina’s comment did feel like it came out of left field. We saw very little of the dynamic between the two of you. Did you not get along well with her specifically?
Chelsea: No, Christi and I didn’t get along from Day One. We really didn’t. I think the reason why you don’t see that on camera is that it’s not that we would argue or bicker back and forth. We just kept our distance from each other. It was like I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me, we didn’t really cause a ruckus, we just didn’t really hang out or talk. We just kept our distance from each other. I guess that’s what pissed her off.
HitFix: The unprecedented all-female Top Five, do you think that’s something you ever could have pulled off if the tribes hadn’t been gender-divided at the beginning? Was that essential to what came afterwards?
Chelsea: I think so, because whenever we were split up, Men vs. Women, immediately the men became our enemy and when we played the first half of the show, the men — we wanted to beat ’em, we wanted to beat ’em, we wanted to beat ’em. Then as soon as we merged, it was like that feeling never really went away. We were still like, “Ugh, we’ve still gotta beat ’em.” I think because it started out that is why it ended the way it did. I think it weren’t Men vs. Women, it wouldn’t have been five. It could have been, but I think it would have a little different.
HitFix: But surely the Men should have been thinking the same way. Do you have a theory for why you guys were able to keep it adversarial and keep together after the Merge, but the men were perfectly happy to split off and trust you and trust Kim?
Chelsea: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if their mistakes were more of an ego thing, that they wanted to take the strong guys out, I don’t know. The whole way the guys played the game just blew our minds and a lot of it we didn’t get to see until we got to watch it back on TV, but I don’t know if it was kinda the Girl Power thing that started from the very beginning, that we just felt like we had to stick together. We all knew that it’d be a lot harder to win the game against a group of guys than it would be girls. So we just decided to try to take it to all women and may the best woman win and I think that’s how the season ended.
HitFix: What were some of the things that most blew your minds?
Chelsea: There were a lot of things when it was still Guys vs. Girls. We had no idea how how evil Colton was. We had never seen those Tribal Councils. I never saw him over there on the Monano side and the stuff that he did there. I had no idea how hard he was playing the game and how he was getting in everyone’s heads. That shocked me, watching the season back. But some of the moves that the guys let… Like the fact that Kim could convince Troy to take out his best friend in the game, Jonas, when it was six guys and six girls. That was nuts. You know?
HitFix: You seemed fairly moved a couple times during that Final Tribal…
Chelsea: I was a mess!
HitFix: Were you just caught up in the moment?
Chelsea: Yeah, I think it was just like, “Oh my gosh. I’m at Day 39 and I’m about to walk into Final Tribal. This is nuts.” At that point, you’re just so exhausted and just ready to get the hell off the island. And, at the time, people were asking you all of these really in-depth questions and you had to think about the every word you were saying to these people and it just… I don’t know. I think at that point, I was just so drained that everything was emotional for me. Yeah. I was a wreck.
HitFix: When you look back at your “Survivor” experience, like you say, the person who deserved to win won, etc. Do you view this experience entirely positively, looking back?
Chelsea: Oh yeah. I really do. There are a lot of coulda, woulda, shouldas and I’ve lost countless hours of sleep over it, but at the same time, I don’t think it could have ended any better. Obviously America loved Kim, because she was Fan Favorite. They see that she played the best game and was the most deserving and I don’t think it could have gone any better.