Interview: Jon Misch talks ‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’

I've said it before and I stand by it: For six or seven votes in this “Survivor: San Juan Del Sur” season, Jon Misch and girlfriend Jaclyn Schultz had more power than any pair of castaways in “Survivor” history. 

Tribal Council after Tribal Council, the week's vote hinged on what the recent Miss Michigan and the former Michigan State Spartan decided, as they flipped back and forth taking out powerhouses and threats, often in blindsides.

This past week, Jon & Jaclyn's “Survivor” run came to an end, fittingly, with a blindside and it was, fittingly, an act of revenge, as Natalie targeted Jon for taking out her only strong non-Blood ally in the game, Jeremy.

As we saw things play out, Jaclyn seemed to be warning Jon that Natalie might come after him, but Jon dismissed the idea. This came one week after a fight between Jon & Jaclyn seemed to derail the season's strategic momentum.

In this week's “Survivor” exit interview, Jon talks about the Tribal Council blindside that saw Missy and Baylor also flip on him and ended with his torch being snuffed, Idol still in his pocket. But if Jon had played that Idol, Jaclyn would have gone home instead. How would he have felt about that? And what was it light watching his lovers' spat play out on national TV? Or watching Alec flirt with his girlfriend?

Jon explains many things in this week's interesting Q&A…

HitFix: Okay, talk me through your level of comfort at that Tribal Council during both the sort of deliberation process and then your reaction as you began to watch the votes play out.

Jon Misch: Okay, step by step here, right?

HitFix: Yep.

Jon Misch: So obviously Jaclyn and I were pretty comfortable. I guess I should be the one that is emphasized there because I was constantly saying you know, “I think we”re good. I think we”re good.” In Tribal there was a little bit of, “What”s going on here?” that they didn”t show just because I was trying to talk to Missy a few times and they didn”t show that. But I was trying to talk to Missy a few times or asking her questions in my answers to Jeff and she wouldn”t respond and it was kind of like something that if I would have trusted my gut, it would have been pretty obvious say, “Hey play your Idol.” But I don”t know. Missy and I had a lot stronger connection than even they showed on the show. And I just could not fathom that she could have been swayed to vote against me. So there was a little bit going into the vote like, “Eh, what”s going on here?” But Jaclyn”s words kind of reassured me when she said you know, “I don”t think we”re going anywhere.” And I was kind of like, “Yeah, you”re right, you”re right. You know we can trust them. Missy wouldn”t do that.” As the votes came out – Keith, Keith. I would go, “Yeah, okay. It”s just going as planned.” That”s when I saw “Jaclyn” and at first I was like, “Why is Keith voting Jaclyn? That doesn”t make any sense.” But I just kind of shrugged it off because I was like, “You know Keith does things nobody understands all the time.” I”m like, “Okay, that makes sense.” And then there was another “Jaclyn” and I was like, “What”s going on here?” And it took me a second to actually realize, “Oh yeah, they”re splitting votes and I”m gonna be voted out. That stinks.” So it wasn”t an immediate realization but I guess I could accredit that to the starvation. 

HitFix: But okay, so there were a couple of seconds but then you realized, “Okay, this is actually turning on me.”

Jon Misch: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. A few seconds I was like, “Man, Jaclyn”s getting voted out, that”s weird.” But then I kind of hit myself in the head and was like, “Jon, you”re getting voted out.”

HitFix: So you said after the episode of course that you wished you”d played your Idol and of course you did but then presumably Jaclyn would have been going home. Would you have been okay with that? What would your reaction have been under those circumstances?

Jon Misch: Well, you know, I actually thought about that and it”s hard because like you said. I hate that I didn”t play my Idol but then Jaclyn would be going home. I would have been frustrated about that but I am, I”m much better about not letting my emotions get in my way. I don”t get frustrated very easily at all. I mean if you ask Jaclyn about this say, “How often does Jon get mad or frustrated?” I don”t know if it”s possible to get me frustrated. When I get frustrated all I want to do is talk and figure out well what”s going on. Like, “Why is this happening? Can we talk about this? Why are you raising your voice? Oh my gosh.” So I think I would have been find going back to camp but I don”t know where I would have fit with people because I would have been mad at Missy. I wouldn”t be sure if she”s actually gonna be taking me to Final Three. I couldn”t go with Keith because Keith didn”t want to work with me anymore at that point. Natalie obviously didn”t want me around and Baylor was just doing whatever her mom was doing pretty much every time. So I mean I don”t know what would have happened. I would have had to win out in Immunity Challenges I think.

HitFix: Now What were your immediate thoughts on Natalie and Missy flipping and have they sort of mellowed as the months have passed?

Jon Misch: This is very strange. It”s kind of backwards. At first I had just this total acceptance. I kind of walked out, tapped Missy on the shoulder, said, “No hard feelings, totally good.” I made a joke as I walked out about, you know, “I”m gonna eat a huge cheeseburger for all you guys” and good luck and all that. They didn”t show that part but I said, “Good luck” to them. And then as the time went on I got a little frustrated. Not really at Natalie. I thought that was just a great play and, you know, I”d be very hypocritical to be made at somebody for voting on a threat when I voted out Jeremy, you know. But I did start to get mad at Missy a little bit just because we did have such a strong friendship and I thought it wasn”t just a “'Survivor,' we”re playing the game” friendship. Since, I mean in watching this past episode and seeing how hard it really was for Missy I”ve kind of, I”ve realized I need to lighten it up and I”m actually looking forward to talking to Missy about everything. But initially I just thought that it was this easy thing like Missy just jumped ship and I felt really betrayed.

HitFix: You mentioned that you would be hypocritical if you felt bad at Natalie after having voted out Jeremy. She seemed to be really bitter about that vote. Had you realized at the time that she took it that personally?

Jon Misch: Oh no! Obviously! I mean if I had even the slightest clue that she took it that personally I would have tried to get her out earlier or something. I would have been trying to get her off the list or maybe I would have known that I was getting blindsided or something. But I never heard her refer to Jeremy as her “Designated Twinie,” which is what I ended up seeing. And in knowing how much she cares for Nadiya and the connection that they have for her to give that affiliation to someone out there? I mean if I would have heard that it would have been like, “Okay. If I take Jeremy out then Natalie is not on my side. Period.” But I wasn”t one of the people that she had expressed that to. 

HitFix: From the editing we saw Jaclyn sort of makes several suggestions to you that Natalie might have intentionally flipped, that you might be the target and all of that and you kept telling her, “Oh no, oh no, oh no.” How accurate did you feel that was?

Jon Misch: I can”t say that it wasn”t accurate. I mean obviously we were confident enough that we didn”t feel any threat and I didn”t play my Idol. But there were quite a few conversations where Jaclyn and I went back and forth but it wasn”t about Natalie. We pretty much accepted that Natalie accidentally wrote that down. Then when Jaclyn said, “What if she like actually was doing this?” I think a lot of how Jaclyn and I worked out there was that I would make a strategy and then she would verbalize things that could be going against that strategy. So when she said that I took it more that she was just saying, “Hey what if…” because that was a lot of how we kept strategizing was, “Hey what if this is happening, what if this is happening. Let”s play against that.” But I mean that was one of the things where I just didn”t think it was happening. I”m not sure if she actually felt it was happening either or if she was just saying that just to check up on it, you know? So I don”t know. But like I said, strangely enough Jaclyn and I would talk more about can we trust Missy than can we trust Natalie. And Missy and I had a very close friendship like I said. I guess we just couldn”t believe that we were so close that she was just going to bring me to the Final Three when it was pretty obvious that I was the one making the moves in the group. And, I mean, it was basically like saying, “Hey I”m gonna take you to the Final Three and give you a million dollars.” I didn”t feel like that was accurate, you know. Like, “This can”t be true.” So we confided in Natalie more than we did in Missy and that was a huge mistake. [He laughs.]

HitFix: Now talk to me about the fight that we saw basically take up an entire episode last week. What was it like watching that fight?

Jon Misch: That was very frustrating. The way they showed it was extremely accurate. That”s exactly how it happened. It was kind of a little second where I snapped for a second and then she just… the way that she took it was that I didn”t want her opinion and that I just wanted to do this game on my own and that I didn”t value her opinion when it came to the game. And that is a much bigger shot than when you think of just, “Oh Jon snapped for a second and now she”s so mad.” But if you actually look at it from her perspective and think like, “Jon doesn”t want my opinion, he doesn”t care, he doesn”t this,” you know. I mean that is huge in a relationship so we were laughing the entire time when we were rewatching it. And it ended up being a lot bigger than I think she realized at the time because I legitimately did want to talk about the possibility of keeping Reed around. That”s why I was winking at him when Natalie came over. Jaclyn and I like Reed a lot. We do now and we did while we were out there. So the idea or the possibility of working with them was something that we possibly would have gone with. But I mean we had the argument and it didn”t end up happening obviously. 

HitFix: And watching last week”s episode how high was your desire to punch Alec in the face?

Jon Misch: When? You have to remind me when? Why would I want to punch Alec?

HitFix: Just well, I mean various reasons, but just with the flirtation that was going on back at camp while you were at Exile.

Jon Misch: Oh okay! So I actually thought that was funny. Maybe it looks a little bit different when you watch it on TV now but when you have been out there and you”ve seen everything and you”ve been in that setting, it wasn”t a strange thing for Jaclyn to be lying in the shelter. And me, Jaclyn and Alec would talk very often about how like we”re gonna hang out in Ft. Lauderdale and we”re all gonna hang out when we go back home and he”s got his jet skis and yada, yada, yada. And Drew and I had this great friendship even though he came out as kind of a dick on the show. But that was really just the first time that they showed Alec talking about that. And everybody kind of took that, “As Alec”s flirting with Jaclyn. He doesn”t mean that Jon can come. He just wants Jaclyn to come around,” but since we had talked about it so many times before that it wasn”t strange to hear him saying that. I actually didn”t see anything that I legitimately thought was flirting. The only reason I said that maybe Alec gets a little friendly sometimes was because one of the girls actually came up to me and said, “All Alec has done is flirted with Jaclyn all day,” come to find out they were trying to get me to throw a red flag up on Alec because I was working Alec a little bit because I wanted to work with him after we voted Keith out. But that didn”t end up becoming an opportunity because Natalie got Alec out first. 

HitFix: You had all of those votes where the two of you guys were the swing votes where basically you were the deciding point. You”ve had months to think about it. Are there any of those decisions that you made that kind of eat at you where you sort of wondered, “Okay, what if we went with the other alliance in that circumstance?”

Jon Misch: Well, you know, obviously voting Jeremy out is what sparked the anger in Natalie to take me out. But I wouldn”t say that that means it was a bad decision. That would be the only one that I would second guess. But the reason I don”t think it was a bad decision was because being a Blood vs. Water season, Jaclyn and I had to strategize as a couple. Jeremy, we knew that Jeremy did not like the idea of having couples on his alliance. That may not have been something that he was telling everybody but people knew that around the camp. And being a couple in the Jeremy alliance, we had to strategize and make sure that we got him out before it got to us. And in watching his “Survivor Live,” it became known to me that he was gonna try to get Jaclyn out next. So if I would have even waited one vote and then gone up to Missy and said, “Hey, I’d like to vote Jeremy out now,” he would have been telling Missy, “Hey, I want to vote Jaclyn out.” And of the two Missy would have voted Jaclyn out. And now I”m stuck in a situation where Jeremy is still in control of the game. He”s built up an even closer relationship with Missy so she”s not gonna blindside Jeremy now. And I would still have been at the bottom of the alliance now by myself. So a lot of people I”ve seen them comment on how it was the wrong timing and for my individual game I completely agree with that. I think that that would have been a terrible move for me to make if I was out there by myself. But since this was Blood vs. Water and I had to strategize for me and Jaclyn or for Jaclyn I had to strategize as a couple it had to be done right then if she and I wanted to go as far as possible together.

HitFix: Going off of that you talked about the contingencies you had to make because of it being a Blood vs. Water season. Having had this experience do you think you were a better “Survivor” player under these circumstances or do you think you might have been a better “Survivor” player out there on your own in a regular season?

Jon Misch: That”s really hard to say. I like the way we got to play together because Jaclyn and I were great together because I would throw a strategy out and then she would ask all these questions about it. It was a great way, you can voice whatever you”re thinking and then fact check it, you know. Like she was the fact checker. Like, “What are we doing. Okay, well have you thought about this. Have you thought about that?” So that was the right to have. If I was playing by myself, I”m not really sure how it would be different. I mean I think it”s very hard for me to just say how I think it would be. I do feel like everybody thinks that being the swing vote so many times was kind of a luck thing but it more came down to that Jaclyn and I kept relationships with both sides whereas a lot of people in our alliance would not really keep that relationship. I mean Jeremy obviously isn”t gonna be somebody that you approach to say, “Hey, let”s take down the Jeremy alliance.” And then Missy and Baylor weren”t really keeping great friendships with everybody on the opposite alliance. They were kind of stepping on toes. Natalie is extremely close with Jeremy, you can”t approach her. So we were kind of the ones that we kept that relationship with the other alliance so that we were approachable. I think that that”s how I would play as well in an individual setting but it”s so hard to say, you know. I”m not sure.

Other “Survivor: San Juan Del Sur” exit interviews:
Alec Christy
Reed Kelly
Wes Nale
Jeremy Collins
Josh Canfield
Julie McGee
Dale Wentworth
Kelley Wentworth
Drew Christy
John Rocker
Val Collins
Nadiya Anderson