So many people sign on for “Survivor” without any tangible strategy and inexplicably get carried through the majority of a season by either a fortuitous alliance or sheer physicality.
That’s why it always makes me a tiny bit sad when I do a “Survivor” exit interview early in the season and I get the sense that the person I’m talking to had a smart and multi-layered approach to the game and just got pushed into an unfortunate corner, perhaps not even making it to a Merge.
Laura Alexander quickly admits that she was the weakest person on her “Survivor: Caramoan” tribe and for that, she was voted out. Might the game have progressed differently, though, if Shamar Thomas hadn’t been medically evacuated from the game shortly before an Immunity Challenge? Without Shamar, the Fans lost a potentially strong player, but mostly Laura lost a number in her alliance as well as a potentially deflective shield for scrutiny.
In her exit interview, Laura takes much of the credit for the majority alliance that has steered the Fans’ voting and explains her attempts to keep her deficiencies from being too glaring and what eventually did her in.
You can decide if you also come away feeling like under slightly different circumstances, Laura could have had a much longer “Survivor” run.
[As I mentioned in Shamar’s exit interview, this week’s cats were a little shorter than normal because there were two of them.]
HitFix: Do what degree do you feel like Shamar being medically evacuated was ultimately what doomed you out there?
Laura Alexander: I think it definitely hurt me in some regard. There were definitely talks of us voting Shamar off that night. It was getting to the point where it was difficult for our alliance to deal with him. We were hoping on just keeping him through that challenge that day, using his strength and then voting him off that night. Unfortunately, he was medically evacuated for a scratched eyeball, so yeah. Then it was myself on the chopping block, I think, with Shamar out of the picture and his distractions aside, all the attention was directed towards me as the weakest link.
HitFix: And do you accept that you were probably the weakest link out there at that point?
Laura: Yeah. Absolutely. It was pretty obvious. I think that Sherri, Julia and I… I don’t think that Julia and Sherri were these amazing, strong challenge competitors. I don’t think they compared to Brenda or Andrea in any way. Or even John! But out of the three, out of the women, out of the men, out of my whole tribe, I was absolutely the weakest.
HitFix: And how quickly did you realize that that was going to be the case?
Laura: Honestly, I realized that before I even went into the game, before I even met the people on my tribe. I know that I’m not athletic. I knew that it was going to be the biggest challenges for me in terms of the game and I knew that I needed to form an alliance and get into the game playing strategically to get myself ahead of that. That was my only way to have any chance to get deep in the game, was to really compensate for that weakness, so I really knew that before I even went in and saw anybody. I think that had there been more puzzles, I could have contributed a little bit more, I think. There were some challenges that were a little bit better for me than others, but… Yeah… so.
HitFix: It seemed, though, like the alliance that you found yourself in was very, very precariously composed. How did you find yourself with that group of people and how confident were you in the group you were aligned with?
Laura: I think, right off the bat, I remember the first few days on the island, Sherri and I, within seconds of getting onto the island, we looked at each other, it was an alliance, done deal. So Sherri was my closest ally the entire time I was out there. Julia and Michael were pretty close right off the bat. There was a lot of scrambling over the first couple of days and I didn’t know exactly how things were going to fall. I was working really well with Allie for a while, but then I realized that Allie hated Sherri, so I was like, “S***. I’m stuck here. I need to get numbers as quickly as possible,” and it was difficult to do that in the first couple of days. Then, I can’t remember if it was Day 2 or Day 3, the Foursome — Allie, Hope, Reynold and Eddie — decided to sleep on the beach. I think more than anything it was out of comfort, because the bamboo wasn’t really doing it, but when I woke up that morning, I realized that this was my opportunity. I looked to Julia and I looked to Shamar when we were laying in the shelter and I said, “That is a threat right there.” They all happened to be beautiful people, they all just got along, they were all the same age and regardless of whether they were couples or not, I looked at them and I said, “OK. I need to tell the people around me right now that those four are a target, because I have six people with me now and there are four people out on that beach, so this is an opportunity for me.” So that’s sorta how things decided to fall. They sorta fell in.
I don’t think our alliance, at any point, looked at each other and said, “This is awesome. This is it.” We definitely didn’t mesh as well as Reynold, Eddie, Allie and Hope did in terms of getting along, but it all worked out strategically for us, I think. And Shamar, Sherri and I sorta had him with us since the very beginning, so those were just easy votes to us. A nd for me, I needed to draw that line in the sand to make sure that any flip-flopping on Matt or Michael’s part, I got rid of that within the first vote, because I was able to draw that line in the sand. Instead of voting for Shamar that night, which may have made for a better few days afterwards, I needed to make sure that there was a majority alliance and a minority alliance so that regardless of who was voted off that night, I could insure that the next person voted off was not myself.
HitFix: But then last week we saw you go to Reynold and tell him you’d vote Shamar out. Was that just you playing Reynold?
Laura: Yeah. That was just me playing Reynold. I think Reynold, at least to me at that time, came off as a little bit susceptible to that sort of thing, so when I went up to Reynold, I think, in my mind, my name had been throw out that day several times and I knew that my alliance was sorta using me as bait and telling Reynold that it’d be me that night. So I knew that I definitely had the votes split, that my alliance was voting to split the vote that night to potentially flush Reynold’s Idol, so even if I had three votes coming my way, it wouldn’t really have made a difference, but at the same time, I didn’t wanna see my name on parchment. So I went up to Reynold and I basically convinced him that instead of voting for me, let’s vote for Shamar and get him out tonight. And the three of them were already on the outs, they were a little bit desperate and willing to believe. So it was sorta my way of making sure that my name wouldn’t even get brought up that night.
HitFix: I imagine you don’t play with any live grenades in your ordinary life, but how much did that feel like what you were doing with Shamar? How volatile did he seem?
Laura: I think there were definitely moments where Shamar’s feathers would be ruffled by Eddie and Reynold. A lot of the time, you’ll see Reynold’s the one actually starting the fight and Shamar happens to be very defensive, so of course he would come back at that. Those fights were definitely difficult to handle and he was angry a lot of the times, but a lot of the time he was sorta on his own, too — sleeping or injuring himself. I think Shamar, he was a key in our strategy and possibly too, too much a part of our strategy, because he was a little bit questionable. It wasn’t a matter of him being volatile or the arguments. If anything, I enjoyed the arguments, because it took attention away from me. What worried me about Shamar, was that he was starting to take his head out of the game and that potential of him quitting or the questionability of the sand in the eye. I mean, regardless, his head was not in the game at that point. He didn’t want to be there. He wasn’t the hero that he wanted to be. So that was not good for Sherri and I, because we needed him there as a part of our strategy, if anything, to make sure that he literally, physically wanted to be there, so that he would vote our way. So yeah, arguments aside, I think that he was just sorta all over the place and that became a liability in terms of our alliance and our strategy.
HitFix: Had you known that your entire alliance ultimately ended up writing your name and were you OK with that from their strategic point-of-view?
Laura: I did not. I was definitely blindsided. I had expected the vote to be split between Reynold and Eddie to flush the Idol, so ultimately it was a surprise for me and unfortunately my alliance betrayed me. So yeah, it was definitely hurtful and it was a surprise, but I think that I played the best game that I could have for what I was able to bring to the plate.