The first thing you’ll probably want to know (and the first thing I’ll admit I wanted to know) is that Kat Edorsson and her “Big Brother”-winning boyfriend Hayden Moss are still together.
Much of the opening act of Wednesday night’s “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” was dedicated to 23-year-old Kat’s concern that Hayden would break up with her over her failure to reach the “Survivor” Merge. The anxiety and tears climaxed in extensive deliberation between Kat and Hayden as to whether or not he should take her place in the Redemption Island Duel, a task that involved Kat’s acknowledged nemesis, puzzles.
Other Kat nemeses included Monica, who she worried was over-strategizing, and Tina, with whom she shared her Monica concerns, but who promptly turned on her and instigated her Tribal Council ouster.
In this week’s “Survivor” exit interview, Kat discusses her relationship with Hayden, her puzzle handicaps and the particular challenges of this season’s twists.
Click through for the full conversation from Thursday (October 31) and to find out what Kat & Hayden dressed as for Halloween…
HitFix: Hey Kat. How you doing this morning?
Kat Edorsson: Fantastic! Happy Halloween!
HitFix: Same to you. What are you dressing as?
Kat: Me and Hayden are gonna be matching bumblebees. [I laugh.] Go ahead. Laugh. Go on with it!
HitFix: I promise I won’t over-dwell on this, but I wanted to start by asking how you and Hayden are doing, couple-wise.
Kat: We are fantastic. Never better. He’s here. He’s supporting me. And [Something else enthusiastic gets lost in static.]
HitFix: From this point now, several months later, when you look back at your insecurities when you arrived at Redemption Island, was it hard to watch last night’s show and to see the things you were worried about?
Kat: Dan, I got up twice. I was like, “Not again! Are you crying again? I’ve gotta go.” I watched it twice. I watched it at home and then I watched it on the After-Show and it was painful. It really was, because the person that you are when you’re out there, all your emotions come out. I mean, call the wambulance! I’m not really sure.
HitFix: There was so much emotion that you showed on Wednesday’s episode. Is that the kind of thing where you’re so caught up in that moment that you don’t even really remember it? Were you watching last night going, “God, I can’t remember any of this”? Or did it all just come to back you?
Kat: Oh no. I remembered all of it. The thing is that out of 27 seasons, there’s not going to be one person that’s gonna be able to understand how much that was, that was so painful to watch me last night, but when you’re actually in it and on Redemption? I mean, none of the Survivors that have played before are able to say, “I played that game,” because it’s so hard. At the time it was really difficult and all of the emotions were real. That was the one part in the game where, yeah, I might have been crying a lot, but it’s because all of the emotions were very real. Just in general, between me and Hayden, Hayden lives in Dallas and I live in Florida. I never see him longer than five days. We’d been dating for a little less than a month. He’d just told me that he loved me. I’d always known that he had, but he just never said it as much as I thought. So when we were out there and he told me that he loved me, I was just kinda like, “Alright. OK. Well, I’m OK. I’m OK.” It was such a new relationship and then to be put in “Survivor,” it was hard. It was very hard.
HitFix: That’s something that we didn’t really get the context for, that this was such a new relationship. When you got this opportunity to go out there together, did you hesitate at all to put such a fresh relationship to this kind of test?
Kat: Absolutely not. I’m marrying that man. I’m gonna be with him for the rest of my life. So if I wanna compete against him, I’m gonna compete against him. That was my game to win and I just wanted to prove that I could be a strong competitor in this game, which I really do think I am, but obviously the cards weren’t in my hand this time. There’s a lot of luck in this game. Hayden and I, our relationship was new, based on the relationships that were out there. That doesn’t mean that our relationship wasn’t stronger, because we never actually got to play together. That just means that there’s a lot of conception on we could do one way or the other. There a lot of questions, like if Hayden were to switch with me what does that mean? If Hayden wins the money is he gonna split it with me? If I win the money am I gonna split it with him? There’s just so many question, because we are a new relationship. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have that bond that Tyson and Rachel had or that Monica and Brad had. It just means that we were so new into the game that I didn’t really know him the way that Brad knows Monica.
HitFix: I’ve been asking everyone this, but when you’d been planning with Hayden before the show, what was the through process regarding when it was going to be OK to write down the other person’s name? Was it ever gonna be OK?
Kat: That’s a great question. Like between you and I, I’ve thought about that. I would say to myself every day before I walked out there. It was like, “OK… ” And I would come up with exactly what I was gonna say. I was starting to come up with what I was gonna say to Hayden after I wrote his name down. I would never tell him that, but I’m telling you… I really wanted to win and I wanted to be there so bad, which is why it was so emotional for me. Right to when I got in that Duel, I said, “Hayden get your butt down here and I come switch with me,” like “I don’t want to leave! It’s not my time to leave.” But then it’s my fault that I got dragged in there anyways and I should be able to get myself out of it, but I guess obviously I can’t do puzzles, so…
HitFix: When you told Hayden that, that you can’t do puzzles, that you can’t even spell, was that truly low confidence in that moment, or were you just trying to make a joke in a tough situation?
Kat: My motto is I’d rather have others laugh at me than not laugh at all. You know? So if I can crack a joke here and there about my disabilities, then absolutely! I don’t mind. You know, I’m not the best speller and vocabulary has never been in the Top 10 things that I did in elementary through college. But Hayden knows that. He knows that I have stronger aspects than reading and writing and stuff, so he understands.
HitFix: You’ve had months to reflect on this. In the Duel, was what Laura was doing cheating?
Kat: You know… Just to answer your question real short: I would have done the same damn thing if I could see, but I couldn’t see! I could not see John’s puzzle. So yeah, it was cheating in a sense, but it’s “Survivor.” Who gives a s***? You know?
HitFix: After the shuffle, your tribe had that strong female alliance and then Vytas. In your mind, the votes the past couple weeks, have they been a sign that Vytas was doing something really smart and well? Or of a certain weakness with that all-girl alliance?
Kat: You know, it was just messed up from the start, honestly Dan. When we had all that chaos in the beginning of the season, it was hard for me and Monica to build back that trust because, honestly, I didn’t trust her. I gave her an option and I said, “Monica, choose right now — Me or Colton,” because she wouldn’t give me an answer. So when Vytas came in, I wanted to make sure that my alliance was fine with everything, so we concerned and we always talked about it and everything was fine, but I wasn’t conveying too much to Vytas, because I didn’t want my alliance… Because on One World, we never did that. We never communicate outside of our alliance, because we didn’t have to, because knew exactly who was going home before that day even hit that day. So with this season, there was just no way for me to be able to come back from how bad our trust was in the beginning because of that whole scenario with Colton. There was no way for me to be able to come back too much. And when Vytas came in, he was really good at manipulating and he talked to Monica a lot and I didn’t want to, because I was afraid that they would think that I wasn’t being trustworthy. It was just a big mess.
HitFix: We only saw a little of what Monica was doing out there that got you to that tipping point. What was happening out there that actually made you have to go to Tina and suggest voting Monica out at that moment?
Kat: Honestly, that conversation, I was just conversating with Tina. In my heart, I never wanted to take out Monica. It would not make any sense for me to want to take out Monica in the game. The only two things that I can come back and say is that it’s my fault that I didn’t tell Monica the truth that I dropped her name. I should have never lied to her. I should have made her feel a little bit more content. But really, was that really going to change her vote? I mean, come on. So I don’t really know exactly what I could have done, but it wasn’t her that really went off the handle. It was Tina that dropped my name, or dropped me to Monica. She shanked me! I really know what to say about it. Monica and I had a conversation. I brought her out and I said, “Hey, is everything OK?” and apparently that’s when Tina just told her that I said, “Let’s take Monica out.” I was just having a conversation with Tina. I didn’t really take it seriously. It was just a point.
HitFix: Was Tina the only person you had that conversation with? Or had you talked to other people?
Kat: No, because before the tribe switch, it was me, Tyson, Gervase and Tina and it was either Monica or it was either me. Depending on the day, it was either Monica or me as the fifth. So when the tribes swapped, it was always supposed to be Vytas, but then Monica heard that I dropped her name, even though I was just communicating with Tina, not really thinking that was gonna be relevant, that’s when Monica went off the handle. Because if I really wanted to get rid of Monica, I probably would have told more than just one person.
HitFix: And what do you make of Tina’s decision to immediately turn around and narc on you to Monica?
Kat: She’s good friends with Aras, they’ve known each other. Think about it, they’ve played 10 years ago. They’ve know each other forever. So I think she thought she’d rather stick with Vytas and Aras more than someone that she barely even knows.
HitFix: You talked about how in 27 seasons, no one had every had the “Survivor” dynamics that this season had. Which was the harder element? The loved ones element or the fact that some of these returning players knew each other and had bonds and alliances coming into the game?
Kat: I would say the loved one aspect was a lot harder. Thinking about, it I’m 20 years old and I was on a tribe with everyone who’s over their 30s and everyone has kids and everybody has a family. It wasn’t just that. Everybody was kinda almost friends. It’s hard. It’s hard to say. I would just the loved ones for now, because this whole season has been so many twists and turns that it’s hard to keep up.
HitFix: I remember when we talked after your first season and you said that you felt your youth was a major disadvantage out there. Do you feel like it was still a problem this time? And do you feel like you were, at least to some degree, a more mature Kat out there?
Kat: I don’t think that my youth too much was it, because my first season I was more unaware of who I was as an individual. This season, I knew exactly who I was, but I got tossed a bad group of apples. Know what I mean? Apparently I just didn’t click with the people, because I know that everybody is friends and I know that I’m coming in as an outsider and I know that we have loved ones on the other side that know each other, so it was hard. There were a lot of dynamics in the game that I feel like were in my disadvantage.
HitFix: Other than not having that conversation with Tina, what is the big play that you wish you had made out there that you didn’t make? How would you change things?
Kat: I wish that Colton Cumbie quit sooner.
Kat: Because it was really hard to play with him when he was making it look like I was such a rat and that I wasn’t trustworthy, basically damaging my name, my name that I’ve worked so hard for, which is being so loyal to my alliances. He was tainting my name for days. When you put a mark on somebody in “Survivor,” it’s hard to get that stain off of you.
HitFix: Why do you think anybody was believing anything Colton was saying anyway?
Kat: They didn’t, which is why he quit, but it took seven days for them to realize that, so if I could take those seven days back and try to play a different way, I would have. But this was just the hand that I was dealt and no matter how many times I tried to avoid it, I couldn’t, because it just key coming at me.
HitFix: Are there any maturing experiences or life experiences that you want to go through before you go out there and play “Survivor” for a third time?
Kat: Yeah, you know, you wanna listen. You want to listen a lot more than you speak and probably work on your puzzles, because apparently “Survivor” is all about puzzles these days. And you have to know that 39 days is 39 days for the rest for the rest of your life to have a chance to win a million dollars. You say to yourself, “What would you really do?” and then try not to get so wrapped up with the whole game, try to just take a step back and let other people play in front of you first and then keep watching and keep the heat off of you, is all I can really suggest to anybody else who would want to play. And if I were to play again, I mean clearly I’m a character of the game, because it’s important for me to always get blindsided apparently, so if I came back and played a third time, I would really just listen and try to stay out of the heat.