HitFix Interview: Kristina Kell talks ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’

Kristina Kell was finally sent packing on this week’s “Survivor: Redemption Island,” but her departure had been a foregone conclusion for a month now.
Despite finding a hidden Immunity Idol without a clue early in her “Survivor” run, Kristina never had any security. Instantly targeted as a threat by the cautious Boston Rob, Kristina found herself in a wobbly alliance with mercurial Francesca and erratic Phillip. Although she wasn’t voted out at that first Tribal Council after Phillip outed her Idol, it was only a matter of time. The next Tribal Council her Idol was flushed out of the game and then she was dispatched to Redemption Island, where she ran into Matt, a burgeoning Duel buzzsaw.
I caught up with Kristina this week to talk about Boston Rob’s impact on her game and about her true feelings for Phillip. She held very little back.
Full interview after the break…
HitFix: Normally when we watch the game, finding an Immunity Idol is the best thing that can happen to a player. Do you fell like, to some degree, it was the worst thing that could have happened to you this season?
Kristina Kell: No. Not at all. That wasn’t my problem, really. Finding the Immunity Idol was fabulous and I could have used it a lot better, except I think that, right off the bat, getting on the wrong side of the numbers and pretty much the team and the things I had to work with, were more of an obstacle than finding the Idol. The Idol was a plus and something I’m really happy that I had, otherwise I wouldn’t have even had the leverage I had, which was decent in the beginning. So no, I don’t.
HitFix: Fair enough. Let’s talk about that good moment. How much time did you actually put into looking for the Idol?
KK: I’d been out looking for food and I’d just been a couple hours. I was looking around at natural landmarks and this one particular place really stood out for me, so on my way back to camp, after looking for it, I definitely made a stop there and low and behold, there it was. I knew it was around camp somewhere, but I was happy it was there. I wasn’t really sure where it was. It could have been buried somewhere. I didn’t know. So finding it was definitely exciting.
HitFix: When you found it, what was your plan? 
KK: My first thought wasn’t to tell Fran[cesca] and to tell Phillip about it, but my problem was that I was getting feeling like I might be on the chopping block right off the bat, first couple days, primarily because I had a group of people who were kinda star-struck by Rob and were following him around like puppies. I wasn’t about to go bounding down the beach after Rob like the girls were and like Grant did, so I was kinda getting on the outs. So even though I wanted to keep the Idol secret and I didn’t want to use it right away — obviously, I wanted to keep it and use it when it would be really valuable to me — but I began to feel like I kinda didn’t have a choice and I had to do something about not getting voted out in the beginning, the very beginning.
HitFix: In the balance, how much would you say the presence of Boston Rob screwed with your overall game?
KK: Um, about 100 percent. Boston Rob is an excellent, smart, tactical player. Personally, I think he’s a great guy. But he’s also been asked back four times for a reason. He was labeled a “villain” for a reason. And I knew that. I’ve been studying his game for 10 years. I’ve been watching “Survivor” over and over and over again and even though I liked Rob and he was valuable at the beginning, because of his knowledge of how to build shelter and stuff, but survivors have been doing this game of “Survivor” for a long time without Boston Rob building them shelter. So even though he was helpful, I knew right away that he was definitely going to be a problem. The other team was smart enough to get rid of Russell at the beginning and I thought we should have done the same thing. But there’s not much you can do if the girls were star-struck. They didn’t really have a strategy or gameplan. They just sat back on the beach, did nothing, and followed Rob around. Like everywhere he went, they would just bound along down the beach after him, holding hands, singing Kumbaya. It was kinda rough. Yeah. Rob being there definitely threw a wrench into my plan. 
HitFix: Everything you just said makes total sense. How hard did you work to try to convince Natalie of that, Ashley of that, Andrea of that?
KK: Well, Andrea I definitely worked on. I worked on her for a long time. I kept reminding her, after the Matt blindside, Andrea wasn’t really on-board for that, didn’t know anything about that, was on the outside of that group, it was pretty obvious that she was the last man on that totem pole, so I really worked on her. But she was just too scared to do anything. Natalie and Ashley, they were a lost cause. They’d already drank the Kool-Aide. I couldn’t even get my foot in the door with those two. They just were blindly following Rob and did whatever he said, even to the point of cooking the rice to the exact consistency that Rob wanted. They slept on top of him, they ran after him, they watched his every movement, they did every single thing he said. I called them Rob Zombies, because there was just no getting in with them. They were his minions and that was it. Grant, too.
HitFix: Do you feel like maybe you also fixated on Rob and fixated too quickly on voting Rob out and making that big move in the game?
KK: You know, that’s a possibility, but… Rob’s smart and I’m also smart. Rob felt like I was a threat in the very beginning because I understood the game and I was there to play, I was there to play the game that I love so much. And that’s what I thought about Rob, too. He was there to play the game and he was smart and to me, that was a threat, also, because he was such a leader to everyone else and I felt like it was important to break that up. I also felt like Natalie should have gone too, because that would have also diminished some of his power. In the first Tribal Council, Fran and I were really torn between trying to get Natalie out or Rob out, one of those two, just to try to break up that power that they had, all of those numbers that they had. That’s what our plan was. 
HitFix: What was it like rewatching that first Tribal Council?
KK: The first one was fun for me to watch. I obviously knew what happened. The last couple episodes were a little bit more emotional for me to watch. Not many times in our life to get to go back and actually view what only lives in our memory. It’s like a time machine, kinda. You see it all play out again on TV and everything there is real. There’s nothing there that’s fake. So to see it all play out was… It’s a ride. It’s like a wave that you ride. It’s emotional, though, very, very emotional. The whole game is emotional, right from the very start.
HitFix: Going into that first Tribal Council, how confident were you guys that you had the game in hand? And what do you think went wrong with Phillip?
KK: I wasn’t confident at all. I was hoping that Fran and Ashley and Phil and I would all have a vote together. I was shocked by what Phil did. He’s an absolutely, utter whack-job, that guy. He’s just so unstable and so paranoid and delusional. I saw that he was unstable to a certain degree, but that was our first Tribal Council, we’d been there for three days and the full extent of his idiocy didn’t reveal itself to me until then. Then we knew what was up with him. But I didn’t quite know the extent of his insanity. Phil absolutely surprised me by what he did. It was out of the blue. I didn’t tell Phil about the Idol because I wanted to. I told Phil about the Idol because I absolutely had to. I had no choice, because he’s jumping up and down at camp, ranting and raving about how he wasn’t going to vote with us unless he knew how we were going to secure the vote and how we were going to do this, how we were going to do that. He threatened to blow the whole thing. I was like, “Phil. Just calm down. Calm down. We’re going to be OK.” “Why are we going to be OK? You don’t tell me why we’re going to be OK, I’m out of here… I’m not going to be in your alliance.” So I was like, “Phil. Look. We have an Idol.” That was two hours before Tribal and I was like, “Calm down. We have an Idol.” I had to show it to him. I didn’t want to. At all. I didn’t want to show anybody, but it all came out of what I thought was necessity at the time. Phil, he thought… I don’t know what he thought. He thought he was going to get blindsided. He wanted everybody to know about his secret agent powers and how he could fly over buildings and stop trains and whatever he thinks he can do. I underestimated his lunacy. That’s for sure.
HitFix: So what we’ve seen, that’s the man? It’s not a weird edit that he’s getting?
KK: No, no, no. He’s that and more in real life. He’s insane. He’s one of the most unstable people I’ve ever come across in my life. And delusional. That’s even moreso. He’s just a completely delusional person. He calls himself this secret agent or whatever, this federal agent, but who knows what he did? He could have been at a desk filling out paperwork and had gotten a pamphlet on people’s body language when they’re being untruthful and all of a sudden he reads the six pages and now he’s an expert. Who knows with that guy? Who knows? I would trust absolutely nothing he says and anything he does say, as a complete exaggeration of whatever the truth may be. The guy’s paranoid and delusional.
HitFix: As a last question, how was Redemption Island and are you rooting for Matt now?
KK: Redemption Island was really tough. The night I was there, it was just torrential rains. I didn’t get much sleep, didn’t eat. Before the duel, I hadn’t eaten in almost 48 hours, or a day-and-a-half at least, hadn’t slept the night before because of the rain. So Redemption Island was really tough. I knew I had a tough battle with Matt, because he’d won it a few times in a row. That was his house, that was his neighborhood I was walking into, his turf. I definitely knew I had a chance, but unfortunately, I was pretty weak and the blocks I was moving around were really heavy and it took a toll on me physically and mentally. I definitely thought I could win, but Matt beat me. 
Matt is a fabulous, awesome guy. He’s smart, level-headed, he’s kind and if I was going to get beaten by anybody on my tribe, absolutely and for sure, I would have liked to get beat by Matt. Unfortunately I did get beat, but yeah, I’m rooting for Matt. I’m definitely rooting for Matt. He’s an awesome guy.
Previous “Survivor: Redemption Island” Exit Interviews: