From that very memorable (and quite disastrous) first Tribal Council of Survivor: Redemption Island, Kristina Kell seemed to have a tough road ahead of her. She found a hidden immunity idol, which Phillip Sheppard quickly revealed to the team. She plotted to get out veteran player "Boston Rob" Mariano, but Phillip spoiled that too. The final nail in her Survivor coffin? When she had to face the young and physically fit Matt Elrod in her Redemption Island duel. The 46-year-old law student talked with TVGuide.com about her medical issues during the duel, working with "crazy, lunatic, out-of-his-mind, paranoid, delusional" Phillip and why she refers to her former tribe mates as "Rob's zombies."
Watch full episodes of Survivor: Redemption Island
Why do you think you weren't able to beat Matt in the duel?
Kristina Kell: Matt had been on Redemption Island for quite a while at that point. He had been able to settle in, get a good night's sleep and eat something. I walked in and didn't sleep, didn't eat. On top of that, it was the first duel where you actually had to lift heavy blocks. Matt had to suffer the same things too, but I think he had a little bit more of a chance to settle in. It was 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity, I hadn't eaten in a day and a half and I had I to carry these big blocks back and forth. I kept feeling these spells of dehydration pretty heavily; I'm losing feelings in my fingers and my arms. I'm getting tunnel vision. I felt like I was going to pass out a few times and I just kept repeating to myself, "Kristine, don't faint on TV. Don't faint on TV." My ego wouldn't let me faint.
It sounds like you think Matt will be hard to beat Redemption Island because of his strength and because of how long he's been there now?
Kristina: I'm not saying that ... Physically, I think because of Matt, because of his age and his stamina — he's going to be a tough person to beat. Who knows who is going to go there next and who he is going to have to face. I like Matt a lot and I wish him well.
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Before Redemption Island, what were your thoughts going into your final Tribal Council? Did you expect to be voted out?
Kristina: I was hoping it was Phil who was going home. I scrambled and scrambled and scrambled the day before. Talk about naïve — when you take Rob out of the mix, I had a team of the most naïve players I have ever seen on Survivor. Talking to Natalie [Tenerelli] is just like sitting down and talking to a brick wall. Ashley [Underwood] was totally vacant too. ... Look at how Rob is playing them; he's playing them like a fiddle. He's made to look like a really good player this season because he's being compared to these people. Those people were like Rob's zombies, because they just followed him around and did whatever he said.
What was it like working with Phillip?
Kristina: I only had crazy, lunatic out-of-his-mind, paranoid, delusional Phil to work with. For the first couple of days, I completely underestimated his insanity. Like seriously, I didn't think it was possible for a person to be that idiotic, but he's still proving me wrong. ... Phil came to me and said, "I want Rob out." Then he goes to Tribal Council and lies through his teeth, which of course is nothing new. I didn't want to work with Phil. I didn't want anything to do with Phil, but I had no choice. But I didn't have the numbers. I couldn't do anything.
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Why do you think Phillip still tried to keep you in the game after your blowout at the first Tribal Council?
Kristina: After that first Tribal Council, Phil was like, "I never want to speak to you again as long as I live." I was fine [with that]. But Phillip knew he was at the bottom of the totem pole, he scrambled in the most ridiculous way. That whole thing where he went to Rob with the blackmail was a joke.
What was your biggest regret or something you would change about how you played the game?
Kristina: I waited 10 years to play Survivor. I love the game of Survivor. When I finally got there, I was really excited to dive in and play and have fun with it. I think if I were to go back, I probably would have tried to take a deep breath and calm down a little bit. [I would have tried] not to be so hyper about it. But I don't think I could have gotten a worse team. Besides Francesca [Hogi], it was an all-around tough team to play with. The obvious thing for me to say is for me to have teamed up with Rob. What you don't understand is that Rob shut me out from Day 1, he wouldn't look at me, he wouldn't talk to me, and he wouldn't include me in any conversations.
Do you wish you had given him your immunity idol in the first Tribal Council? So that you could have won him over?
Kristina: No way, are you kidding me? They cut it to make it seem like I was actually considering it. But I've seen the show before, are you out of your f---ing mind? Give me a second to think about this ... "no." Thank God, I would have been the laughingstock. Even if I had gone home that night, I still wouldn't have given him the idol.