Baseball fans treasure Johnny Vander Meer’s two consecutive no-hitters as one of the sport’s great records. It’s unbreakable. And what makes it unbreakable is that not only has no pitcher in major league history even come dangerously close to equalling the feat, but after you tie it, you’d then have to go another nine innings without giving up a hit to break the record. You could pitch two no-hitters, retire 26 batters to start the next game and give up a single and you’d still only have tied Vander Meer’s record. Unbreakable.
In a way, Francesca Hogi is the Johnny Vander Meer of “Survivor.” She’s played twice and she’s been eliminated first twice, an achievement she has exclusive claim to. Even if “Survivor” were to do the periodically discussed season made up only of first-out contestants (or at least one Tribe only of first-out contestants), that would just raise the possibility of somebody tying her. That person would then have to get brought back a third time and, let’s face it, the contestants eliminated first on “Survivor” are only occasionally memorable.
To her credit, Francesca was memorable when she went head-to-head with Phillip Sheppard on “Survivor: Redemption Island” and that interaction was memorable enough that “Survivor” wanted her back alongside Phillip on “Survivor: Caramoan,” a second “Fans vs. Favorites” season.
The results were, for Francesca, oddly similar. Francesca’s team of Favorites won their first challenge in Wednesday’s (Feb. 13) premiere, but lost the first Immunity. Initially, Francesca seemed to be in a stable early alliance and made repeated comments to the camera insisting she wouldn’t be voted out first again, vowing to even eat a rock if that’s the way things went.
Instead, it was Andrea worrying that Francesca’s loyalties might be divided and joining forces to work with Phillip to vote her out first again.
And that’s how I found myself talking to the Johnny Vander Meer of “Survivor” this week… In her exit interview, Francesca discusses her [relative] satisfaction with her two one-and-done performances, her ongoing perception of Phillip and what she vows to eat if she returns to play a third time.
HitFix: Being the first person voted off first twice on “Survivor” is one of those records that, realistically, is probably unbreakable. [She laughs.] Can you take some satisfaction in that, at least?
Francesca Hogi: Mission accomplished. Yeah, I do take some satisfaction from it because, you know… First of all, getting voting out of “Survivor,” it’s not something that you want to happen, but when it does happen, there is upside to it, right? There’s only one winner, so everyone loses, right? So it’s just about how much you have to suffer before you lose. I think I had to suffer the least, so there is some satisfaction in that. And there’s some satisfaction in the fact that on one end of the spectrum you have Sandra, who has played twice and won twice, and now you have me, who has played twice and been first-out twice, and all the other hundreds of people who’ve played “Survivor” are somewhere between me and Sandra. So that’s kinda cool, that I’m like the polar opposite of Sandra. Going out first, my second time, is better to me, personally, than going out like second or third or fourth, because that’s like, “Eh. Yeah. It’s a little bit better, but… you know…” you just suffer more for the same result, which is going out early. So I think I’ve got this down to a science.
HitFix: So I’m watching last night’s episode and all I kept thinking was… Surely she knows how “Survivor” editing works. When you were out there, why were you giving them all of those foreshadowing ammunition quotes?
Francesca: Well, you know… I was being asked direct questions about being the first person voted out. What am I supposed to do? I have to answer! Yeah. You know… Honestly, I definitely went into the game not thinking that I would be the first out. I did not think that it was a realistic possibility. But that just goes to show you. See what happens when you assume? “Survivor” is very unpredictable and that’s what makes it interesting.
HitFix: But you give that rock-eating quote, you have to know in your mind exactly where that’s going to be edited into the episode if something happens, right?
Francesca: Honestly, and maybe it is just because I’m not an experienced “Survivor” player, I’m not that calculating in what I say in my interviews. So, no. I’m not somebody who’s out there saying things, thinking about my edit. I’m just talking. But it’s so funny. That rock quote? I have no memory of saying that, but I guess I did, because it appears to have been on the show last night. But… yeah. What are you gonna do? I shoot from the hip, off the cuff.
HitFix: Go back a-ways. What was your reaction when you first got the call to come back and play again?
Francesca: When I first got the call, I figured… Honestly, I wasn’t someone who wanted to play “Survivor” again. When I got asked the question, “Would you play ‘Survivor’ again?” I always said, “No,” but I also figured it would never even be an issue. It was like, “I wouldn’t, but I also would never get asked, so why are you asking that question?” So I was definitely surprised, but I figured, “You know what? They’re just kinda feeling me out and they’re exploring all their options and there’s no way I’m ever going to get cast so I can just say ‘Yes’ and I’ll never really have to deal with the consequences of saying ‘Yes,’ because this will never happen.” That was my attitude. I was very surprised. “Survivor” just continues to surprise me in every way. But I’m really done now. This is it.
HitFix: What was your reaction to being brought back as a “Favorite”? How had people reacted to you and your “Survivor” experience over the years?
Francesca: For the most part, it’s been very positive. I’ve been surprised by how many people have remembered me from the show. I’ve been surprised by how many strangers still come up to me in the street and… either they think that they know me from high school and that we were best friends, or say that they really enjoyed seeing me on “Survivor.” That still happens to me and that’s been really surprising. I think I just kinda was in a situation my first season that I was maybe the voice of reason and maybe a little bit more relatable to the average person? That left an impression. It’s very nice and flattering and for all the haters, I’m very good at ignoring them and just pretending that they don’t exist. So I just focus on the positive feedback.
HitFix: Did you have an instinct or inkling when you got that call that having you back might potentially mean that they’d also be bringing back Phillip for the friction there?
Francesca: Oh yeah, yeah. For sure. I was not surprised to see Phillip. No. I think we’re kind of, unfortunately, linked in a lot of viewers’ minds, so yeah, I would have been shocked if Phillip hadn’t been there.
HitFix: I know there’s kinda that “Survivor” Circuit that a lot of you guys go on and a lot of former contestants bump into each other at a lot of random events. Had you bumped into Phillip regularly, semi-regularly, at all over the past two years?
Francesca: I think I saw Phillip once. I have lots of friends that I know through “Survivor,” but I don’t attend a lot of those events, so I think I’ve seen him once over the years. Yeah. Maybe twice? But I don’t think so. I think only once. I know that he blames me for a lot of the bad press that he got our first season, but he’s pleasant enough to me in person when I saw him at the finale and the one random time I’ve seen him over the years.
HitFix: In the episode, you said that your opinion of him remained unchanged, but that was early in the episode and early in your three days. Did anything that happened or that you saw in the episode cause any reevaluating?
Francesca: I did not watch the episode, but from what I hear, no my opinion hasn’t changed. He is a moronic lunatic buffoon and… yeah. That’s what I thought about him two years ago or four years ago or however long ago “Redemption Island” was and that’s what I think about him now. So yeah, my opinion of him hasn’t changed.
HitFix: Why didn’t you watch the episode?
Francesca: There are a few reasons. I didn’t watch any of my episodes the first time either. You know, it’s like how you don’t like to hear your voice on an answering machine. I have no interest in seeing myself on television. So that’s why I didn’t watch. I also happen to be in China right now. I could have watched it online, but instead I slept.
HitFix: Did you watch subsequent “Redemption Island” episodes? And will you watch the rest of this season now that you’re gone?
Francesca: I watched subsequent episodes of “Redemption Island” and I might watch some episodes this season. This season is gonna be an interesting season. Everyone will have forgotten about me, because there are many more interesting things that happen this season, so I think I probably will want to see a few of those.
HitFix: On a tribe of known commodities, you were probably the least known, or the least known other than Malcolm, I guess. How do you think that impacted the way the other Favorites interacted with you and what eventually went down?
Francesca: I don’t know. I think that’s more of a question for them than it is for me. I don’t think that anyone felt like, “Wow, we really have no idea how Francesca’s gonna play, so we need to be careful and just get rid of her right away.” I don’t think that was anyone’s thinking. Maybe they would say differently, but I don’t think the fact that I was an unknown quantity had anything to do with my getting voted out. I think if anything, it’s probably what they did know about me is what had to do with me being voted out.
HitFix: But what they did know about you was from such a small sample. Was that even right, do you think?
Francesca: Well, no… I definitely don’t think… I have no idea why Andrea felt that she had to target me, because I wasn’t targeting her. Yeah. I don’t get that at all. But yeah, that’s a question for her and that’s a question for Cochran and that’s a question for Dawn. Those were the people who I actually thought were on my side and weren’t. Phillip and Corrine and Malcolm, I never thought they were on my side, so I take no issue with anything that they did, but yeah. That’s a question for Dawn and Cochran and Andrea. I wasn’t targeting any of them, so I don’t know why they thought that they needed to target me.
HitFix: It looked like the “Vote Andrea Out” plan was conceived very shortly before you guys went to Tribal Council. Would there have been differences, do you think, if you’d had a few hours to maneuver and react to that?
Francesca: I don’t think so. At that point, it was clear that the Andrea plan was a good one, just because she was obviously running around and not acting quite right and I think there was nothing that could be done. Andrea wanted me out and Cochran wanted me out and Phillip wanted me out, so I don’t know what a couple more hours would have done to change that. I think that was just the way that they wanted to go, so that’s where they voted.
HitFix: You already kinda answered this on the call and answered it at the end of the episode, but surely if a year or two pass, you’re going to get an itch to potentially come back and see if you can last two or three episodes in a “Survivor” season, aren’t you? Can you imagine a circumstance in which you might reconsider?
Francesca: I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would reconsider. I cannot.
HitFix: If you reconsider, would you eat a rock?
Francesca: [Laughs.] If I were to reconsider, I will eat rock candy, which I don’t like. No. I’ll eat a rock. I’m not gonna play “Survivor” again. And no one wants me to play “Survivor” again, so I think I’m really in the clear this time.
Stay tuned in the weeks to come for many, many, many more “Survivor: Caramoan” exit interviews.