Ciera Eastin came ever-so-close to getting her “Survivor” exit interview with her mother Laura Morett.
For several Redemption Island Duels, Laura was dominating and seemed poised to return to the game, but in the climactic Arena showdown, former winner Tina Wesson was more successful balancing a vase on a teeter-totter.
That denied me a paired exit interview with Laura and the doting daughter who voted her out of the game, the only vote cast by a player against their loved one in this “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” season. Of course, we already know what they would have said, since they repeated their love for each other over and over through the season and in the reunion show, but I could have tried to stir up some trouble.
Instead, Tina and Ciera, the season’s fourth and fifth place finishers were like a friendly mutual admiration society.
In this exit interview, Ciera makes a pretty convincing case for her pair of not-entirely-successful big moves, as well as the possibility that she could have beaten Tyson if she’d made the Final 3, while Tina discusses the lessons she learned about New School “Survivor.”
Click through for the full Q&A…
HitFix: OK. Let’s start at the top: Your Jury vote, how hard was the decision and was there any wavering at Final Tribal?
Tina Wesson: No, not really. Katie actually helped me to decide who I voted for. It was kinda up-in-the-air for me. She was the one who helped convince me that Tyson would be the best vote and now, after the season’s over and looking back at everything, I’m glad that it happened the way it did.
Ciera Eastin: Yeah, for me it was pretty easy. I had in my mind, I had so much convincing trying to convince Gerv or Monica to turn on Tyson and the fact that Tyson played such an amazing game to where these two people wouldn’t turn on him, that’s a million dollars. If Gervase would have done something or if Monica would have done something, they could have potentially won and the fact that they didn’t was, I think, a huge testament to Tyson’s game. It was an easy vote for me to give Tyson the million dollars.
HitFix: For each of you, knowing what the composition of the Jury looked looked like and what it probably would have looked like, if either one of you had snuck into the Top 3, do you feel like you had the resume to win? Either to beat Tyson or if Tyson had gone out, to beat the other two?
Tina: Absolutely. That’s one of the things that Ciera and I were talking about, that no matter who got back in the game, whether it was Ciera, Katie, me, I think anybody if they had gotten back in the game, they would have won. The people on the Jury just had a little bit of animosity towards the Final 3. We all knew, of course, that Tyson played a fantastic game, but we all feel as if we weren’t playing just to get into the Final 3. We were playing to win the game.
Ciera: And I totally agree with that. Me and Tina did just talk about that. Anybody next to Tyson, Gerv, Monica, any one of us, just the way the that the Jury was built up could have won.
HitFix: So you’re saying you’d have beaten Tyson? Or that you’d have won if Tyson wasn’t in the Final 3 with you?
Ciera: I think I could have beaten Tyson. I think Tina could have. The thing you have to understand too is Tina’s in the Finals, she not only has Katie, automatically, but she has the relationship she built with my mom and then me. It’s interesting that because of this loved ones season, you do get your individual vote, you really do, but like Tina said, Katie helped Tina with her vote and you don’t always vote together, but it’s kinda assumed that you’re going to. Your minds think alike, so if she got me to vote for her in the Finals, then that means she probably got my mom, too. And if she got Aras, she probably got Vytas’ vote, too. So it’s a totally interesting and unique season and that anybody next to… I think Hayden, me, Katie, Tina or my mom could have beaten Tyson.
HitFix: Speaking of the strange season this was, with the loved ones twist and all that, the people who were in the Final 3, they happened to be three people whose loved ones were voted out even before the shuffle, while you two had your loved ones longer than anyone else. Do you feel like that helped you or did it make it harder for you?
Tina: It made it easier for me, just as far as the emotional stress of being out there playing the game. That time period was just more enjoyable to have your loved one there. You know that it kinda puts a target on your back, but at the same time you spend many, many hours being tormented out there psychologically and it just helped having my loved one out there. I think it might be different for Ciera.
Ciera: It is different for me. I think it was harder because, as you saw, not only did I vote my mom out, but there were times where I didn’t want her to come back in and that’s just because I saw that my alliance was built on people whose loved ones were gone and the potential to have her come back in, people were looking at me like, “OK. Wait a second. Laura could come back in and it’d be Ciera & Laura.” There was always that lurking over me and people wondering that about me, so I would say that that made it more difficult as far as the game goes. But as far as comfort and mentally and spiritually, it’s obviously very nice to know my mom was there.
HitFix: Ciera, you were way under-the-radar for the first half of the season, was that intentional or just a product of being in a tribe that was voting out women?
Ciera: It was intentional. I knew coming into this game that I was not gonna be good at the challenges. I failed PE. I’m not the most athletic. And when you’re on a tribe like that, early on the goal is to keep the tribe strong. That’s the ideal. You want to keep the tribe strong so you don’t have vote people out. So for me, I knew I had to be under the radar, both physically and socially. I just wanted to make sure the target was never on me by not being too loud, by not being too in-your-face and if I could make it to the Merge, I knew at that point with the Individual Immunities, there’s not that pressure. It sounds funny, because there is pressure to win, but if I don’t win, it’s on me. Nobody’s looking at me like, “Ciera, why didn’t you win?” So I knew if I could make it to the Merge, at that point I needed to start making big moves, because now you have to start building your resume to be sitting at the end, because if I kept playing under the radar, it’s gonna be a lot more difficult at the end to get those Jury votes.
Tina: And I’ve gotta say, Ciera is amazing. To be such a young person and to have picked up all the nuances of the game and play it like she had been out there before, I was so impressed with her.
Ciera: Thank you, Tina.
HitFix: For you as well, Tina. Colton was running around like a crazy man trying to strategize, but you were one of the people trying to tell him to chill and relax. How was that part of your strategy, to not get pulled into gameplay early on?
Tina: There was a great dichotomy in the game between Old School versus New School and Gervase and I were both Old School players, where you form an alliance and you stick with it and then you don’t have to be psychotic the whole rest of the six weeks that you’re out there. Well, that’s not how the game’s played anymore. There were just people who play New School, where they form alliances and then they break ’em and form new alliances and just have their thumb on the pulse of the game. And it really is different. I think I was trying to play Old School “Survivor” when maybe I took a lesson from the game, but if I’m ever gonna play again, I have to play New School “Survivor.”
HitFix: And then after that slow start, you kicked into a high gear, Ciera. When you look back at the decision to vote out your mother and then to force drawing rocks, given where you ended up, how do you feel about those Big Moves that maybe didn’t necessarily move you up the totem pole?
Ciera: I would do those big moves again, because in my mind, I knew coming in that the people who are remembered either win the game or the make big moves. I mean, second and third place? You’re not remembered if you’re not doing anything. You know the people who win and the people make big moves and in my mind, I wanted to either win making big moves or make big moves. I knew I couldn’t do that early on because I wasn’t in the position to, but I definitely would have done it again. Had I not done that and had Tyson carried me all the way to, let’s say, Final 3 and then I sit there? I had no resume. I say, “Well, I sucked at the challenges and followed Tyson around everywhere.” Look at Gervase. Gervase did win an Immunity Challenge, but as far as strategy, it almost felt like Tyson was the leading role in that and I didn’t want to be in that situation and I learned that early on, that in order to win, it’s all about your resume to tell the Jury at the end. It’s gonna mean nothing if you can sit there and say you didn’t do anything. So I would do it all again.
HitFix: So you’re fully comfortable with going for being remembered, when the whole purposes of the drawing of rocks was that you didn’t want to finish fourth, but then you ultimately ended up finishing fifth?
Ciera: Right. And that was exactly went through my mind. It was, “I could not draw rocks right now and I can go all the way to four and try to win the challenge to make it to three, or I could be voted out at four. But what happens if I’m voted out at four and I’m sitting looking back and saying, ‘Ciera, why didn’t you try and do something about that before? Why didn’t you look down the road and see that you were four?'” So at that moment drawing rocks, for me it was all about winning. It wasn’t about being fourth or fifth. If I drew the bad rock at that moment, I go out eighth instead of fourth. What’s the difference? You’re not remembered at eight or four. We came to win the game. I came for the million dollars.
HitFix: And Tina, you’re on this call with the only person this season to cast a vote against a loved one. Were you surprised that nobody else did it? And what do you think of Ciera casting a vote against her mom?
Tina: Oh my goodness! That’s a tough question. You know, I think that what Ciera did was she established herself as a player by doing that. A lot of people go into this game unable to separate life from the game and the people who are able to do that, I think, have an emotionally less-challenging time while they’ll out there. They can maybe even enjoy it more when they don’t take it so personal. So I’m really proud of Ciera for doing that, even though I know it was hard and if Katie and I were in that situation which [unintelligible] and I just think that she’s a very healthy young lady and has a good head on her shoulders and her and her mom have a fantastic relationship and it transcends the game itself.
Ciera: Mmm-hmm. Definitely.
HitFix: And Ciera, are you shocked that you were the only one who did that in this game? Would you have guessed if I’d told you at the beginning that there would be more than just one?
Ciera: I felt there would be more than just me. In the game of “Survivor,” it’s cutthroat and I knew that there would be relationships out there that were going to be like, “Oh, I would never vote out my loved one” and we were often asked that question before going out into the game, “Would you vote out your loved one?” And I said I would, but I said, “But I can’t imagine a situation where that would benefit me,” because having my mom there, it’s always an extra person. Know what I mean? It’s somebody I know I can trust and it’s a vote I always have, so I couldn’t imagine a situation where it could better my game. And then to be in that situation where it did, where for me it was the better move? It was very weird and not expected, but it was the best move for me. I was in an alliance of people who had a relationship because their loved one was gone.
Tina: And does it really matter the difference between whether or not you vote your loved ones off or whether or not you choose to switch and fight your loved one’s fight? There’s only a degree of difference.
HitFix: Tina, how much of a bad taste did being voted out first on “All-Stars” leave in your mouth about “Survivor” and having made it as far as you did this season, does it put an end to your “Survivor” experience or are you still always willing to go back out there?
Tina: Oh, honey, I will always be willing to go back out, maybe in a wheelchair and they’ll have to make it wheelchair accessible, but I’ll go back any time they ask me.
HitFix: And Ciera, I assume you probably feel the same way?
Ciera: Yes, I totally do. Tina calls it the “Survivor” Bug and I’ve totally got that bug. It’s like this sick thing that once you’re out there, you know, I would love to go back.
Other “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” Exit Interviews: