Interview: Rachel Foulger talks ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’

In this “Survivor: Blood Vs. Water” season in which half of the contestants are returning castaways and half are their newbie loved ones, Rachel Foulger was the first newbie sent home. 
With the return of Redemption Island, that meant that Rachel spent very little time actually with her tribe and got very little camera time, especially on a male-dominated group. 
Still, because we know Rachel’s wisecracking boyfriend Tyson from two previous “Survivor” stints, it was easy to like Rachel because of how emotional her departure made Tyson. After Rachel lost a domino-driven Redemption Island Duel on Wednesday’s (October 2) episode, the worked up Tyson only had one question as he hugged her good-bye. “Did you have fun while you were here?” She insisted she did.
In our exit interview, the graphic designer/cocktail waitress discusses the decision not to ask Tyson to switch places with her for the Duel, the impact of Colton Cumbie quitting the game seconds before the Duel and Brad’s dominance over her Tadhana tribe.
Click through for the full conversation…
HitFix: OK. Let’s go to the beginning of the Redemption Island Duel. Tyson had the chance to switch places with you and he let you decide and you didn’t really hesitate. But in your head, how loud was the voice telling you to let him come in and let you just have a few more days out there?
Rachel Foulger: It was extremely loud, actually. I was very confident in that decision. I knew that Tyson had played twice before me. I knew he was more experienced. I know that he has a great social game and, being that early on, I knew that Tyson was sitting pretty and I wasn’t. I was on the outs from the very beginning just being a woman, so I knew that the best move as a couple would be to keep Tyson in the game. If I were to think that more selfishly or more individually, yeah, I would have switched, because I’m not as good at those challenges as Tyson is. But I was thinking of how far can we go together as a couple and  I think Tyson definitely can go farther than I could in that game.
HitFix: Going into the game, how did the couple-ness of things factor into your strategy and how much did you consider, coming in, the possibility that you might be split up immediately?
Rachel: Tyson and I had talked about that before and we both knew that at some point in the game they were probably gonna split us up. We just didn’t realize it was going to be on that very first day. I think we both thought we had a little more time to talk about things and strategize, but we really didn’t. So everything you saw on there was all improv.
HitFix: Why do you think that everyone was so reticent to believe that it would be an immediate thing? It seems like everybody was working with the same approach as you, that *someday* you’d be split up, but it wouldn’t be immediately. Why do you think you thought that way?
Rachel: I think mostly just because we all really had hopes that we were gonna be playing together. When they asked us to come on the show, it was like, “Hey, do you want to play with Rachel? Do you want to play with Tyson? Do you want to go out there and play together?” and we’re like, “Yeah! That’d be awesome.” So I think it was just kinda hopes that we were gonna be together and be able to play together for a little while, set up a strategy, see how things are going in the game. So as much as we all knew it could possibly happen, I think, for me, I knew I was surprised that it was on that very first day.
HitFix: When you had those discussions before embarking, when did you guys agree that it would be OK for either one of you to write down the other one’s name? Or was it ever gonna be OK?
Rachel: It would never have been OK. We both said, “In what situation would we ever write each other’s name down? That doesn’t make sense!” I would not put Tyson’s name down for anything. I don’t know in what scenario I would have to do that, but having a loved one’s show is the first time in “Survivor” history that you’re playing with somebody that you really do actually trust, like totally trust. You can’t really trust the players fully in seasons before, so why would I vote out somebody that I trusted and relied on the most? It wouldn’t make sense to me.
HitFix: And you think Tyson was going to feel the same way?
Rachel: Oh yeah. For sure.
HitFix: But was there any sense that there was a difference between Real Life and playing a game for a million dollars, which presumably would have benefitted you both?
Rachel: Oh yeah, for sure. We both realize that it’s a game, but again… Give me a situation where I would have to put Tyson’s name down. We were both trying to get to the end together, so I just don’t think I’d ever have to put his name down.
HitFix: Going back to the Duel. All of that stuff with Colton went down just as you were about to have that Duel. What did that do to impact your overall mood, the overall mood in the Arena, etc? 
Rachel: You know what? It definitely was a stress, because I was already nervous walking into that Arena, seeing Tyson — Tyson still doesn’t know that I’m voted out and that’s a whole new thing for him — and then trying to stay strong to fight this Duel that ultimately is my position in the game. And then, out of nowhere, Colton quits, gets up and quits. So it definitely kinda rocked my brain a little bit. It was a distraction, for sure. I had no clue what was going on with Galang and what was happening over there, so it was all a surprise to me, Marissa and Candice.
HitFix: As a competitive person at heart, what does it do to you to watch somebody quit in that situation?
Rachel: It’s a little bit frustrating, because I did fight that Duel. I fought it as hard as I could to stay in the game. I was fighting to stay in that game, so it was hard to see somebody give up and quit so easily. But it’s his choice. He can do what he wants, you know?
HitFix: The episode did not take us there at all, but how was your brief time on Redemption Island with Candice and Marissa?
Rachel: It was interesting. Any time somebody shows up to Redemption, that person has a little more information to give them about the game, so when I told Candice that John’s name had been put down that night also, along with my name, she got really riled up. You have nothing to do out there but to kinda talk and kinda get riled up. Marissa was really riled up about Brad kinda running the show out there. It gets a little bit heated, which is why we walk into that Arena and, you’ll see it next week when Candice flips him off, and I think it’s because of all that downtime you have to kinda talk about the game and get upset about it.
HitFix: How much did you approach what you were doing out there as being a strategic part of the game? Obviously you could have not told Candice about John’s name, you could have not contributed to the riling.
Rachel: Yeah, I could have, but the great thing about Redemption Island, for that moment, is you don’t really have to play that social game so much, just because you’re not voting each other off, essentially. You really just have to be strong at the challenges and win the Duel. So yeah, I could have done that in seeing if I would have made it way further in the game and I would go back on one of the tribes and play with them, but it was kinda a relief to get to Redemption Island and kinda put that social part away and just kinda be yourself. If that makes sense?
HitFix: And what was the comfort level out there? How “Survivor”-y did that feel?
Rachel: It was comfortable. What do you mean by “Survivor”-y?
HitFix: Just that people talk about the hardship of “Survivor” and how arduous it is. And it doesn’t necessarily look like Redemption Island is on that level. It almost just looked comfortable.
Rachel: Yeah, it was a beautiful beach. Both of them were. Not that the guys on my tribe were that helpful, but we definitely were cooking our food and chopping the coconuts and we were doing well, but I think it was about the same on a “Survivor”-y level.
HitFix: From the beginning, it looked like the Tadhana women were lambs-to-the-slaughter. Was there anything you did that maybe we didn’t see or anything that you could have done to prevent Brad’s Reign of Terror, as it were?
Rachel: Sometimes I think about, earlier on in the game while Marissa was still there, if we could have pulled one of the guys, if maybe the girls could have come together and turned on the guys a little bit? But being so soon in that game, I don’t know if we could have gotten anybody. Honestly, my strategy there was really to just align with those guys and get in with them as good as I could, because I don’t think we could have pulled anybody. I don’t think that would have worked. But that’s the only thought that comes in my head.
HitFix: Why do you think the guys were able to mobilize as fast as they did? And is that sort of a frustration that the numbers were against you from the first second and that was all you could do?
Rachel: Yeah, it really was. It was frustrating to get on that beach and the guys kinda walked off immediately. We knew that they had made an alliance, so it doesn’t feel good to kind of be fighting your way from the very beginning of the game. So yeah, it was a little frustrating. But that’s what they did. It was out of my control. 
HitFix: It seems as if people are getting increasingly aware of what Brad is doing. How aware were you that he was the ringleader, the tyrant, the whatever?
Rachel: Oh, he made it completely obviously. Any little thing that you would do or suggest or say, it was either “Yes” or “No.” He kinda dominated everything. He wasn’t secretive about that at all.
HitFix: He seems to think he’s making it look like he’s a team player. What do you think it says about the other guys that they’re going along with him? Or are they going along with him, do you think?
Rachel: I think, for sure, with his dominant personality, everybody was going along with him, but I think we all knew, in the back of our heads, that the guy was kind of ridiculous, so everybody knows, “OK. This guy. He’s fun. He’s our entertainment. But he’s not really playing the game very well.” So I knew that probably people were having their own thoughts.
HitFix: So even though it looks like he’s in control, you don’t view this as being reflective of a good game so far?
Rachel: Right. Exactly.
HitFix: And in Wednesday’s episode, there was that very sweet moment where Tyson asked you if you’d had fun. That was sorta a different side of Tyson that maybe we haven’t seen in his first two times on “Survivor.” Is that the Real Tyson? Or is “Survivor” Tyson also part of the Real Tyson?
Rachel: You know what? They both are. Tyson is such a funny guy. He’s so free-spirited. But when it comes down to us, to me and him, we do have a really strong relationship. He was really worried about me out there and we kinda got to see that side and that’s actually a rare side for me to see of him, too, but it is there!
HitFix: And how about the other side to you? Do you have the funny, edgy, troublemaking side that we didn’t get to see out there?
Rachel: Yeah, for sure. We both can get a little goofy.
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